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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Hell's Gate

Continued from 2 posts down...

When I arrived at Magz place it was mid afternoon and hot and sunny, a pretty nice day actually. I pulled up and climbed out of my car to open the gate and then the moment I touched it the skies darkened ominously, dark heavy clouds rolled in and I heard a loud rumble... the ground vibrated and shook beneath my feet... then suddenly flashes of lightning from out of nowhere... startling me out of my wits. The sound of the thunder booming just in front of me was earsplitting and I was so afraid that I nearly ran back to my car. Was this some sort of warning I wondered as I regained my composure. I slowly pushed the gate open wide and the rusted hinges made an eerie creaking noise, this was just too much I thought. I figured that if I knew what was good for me I should just turn back now! This was just too weird! I decided after a few moments that I had nowhere else to go and decided to go on in.











I pulled my car up to one side in the inner driveway and got out and closed the gate behind me before I walked up toward the house. There were 3 horses in a small corral that I had to pass by on the way, they all looked up in my direction with nervous glances to see who I was, the way they acted was a bit strange but stranger still was the two very large black dogs that came running at me, seemingly from nowhere. I stood still for a moment, motionless, afraid to move, not knowing if they would attack or not until I realized their tails were wagging. They were glad to see me! That was a relief, it's good to have Rottweilers on your side! I always seem to have good juju with most dogs, they like me and I like them.

I walked around the horse pen toward the house and I noticed a few other animals in the yard, two pretty good sized turkeys and a few chickens and a rooster. They all eyed me warily, especially the rooster and the turkeys. Maybe they were afraid I was gonna eat them! Just then I realized that the skies had cleared and the lightning and thunder had stopped, how extremely odd I thought as I walked up to the door and I yelled out "knock, knock". I could see the windows were open and I had assumed that anyone inside would be able to hear me, then a voice answered "come on in!".

I stepped into the darkened room and I saw Magz sitting at her PC with a big smile on her face. I had completely forgotten about how foreboding everything looked when I had first arrived as we greeted each other with a hug. Then... darkness.

I woke up, my eyes straining to adjust to the darkness, I looked around as best as I could only to find myself tied down to a large, rough wooden rack of some kind, surrounded by a hundred burning candles in a small, very dark room. My arms and legs were bound with thick heavy ropes, I could barely move at all. Slowly I was able to make out that the walls were covered with cryptic symbols of all sorts and splattered with what appeared to be blood! I was afraid! I looked down at myself and noticed that my shirt was wide open and there was a circle and more symbols painted on my flesh. Then I heard a rustling sound near my head, I strained my neck to look around and saw a figure in a black cloak and hood, holding a gleaming, jeweled dagger! It was Magz, and she began chanting something in a low strange voice, moving closer to me and waving the dagger over my chest making circles and patterns with it and then I yelled at her, demanding to know what was going on! "You've been a naughty boy Sev, I must fix that, it's time for you to pay!" she said with a laugh. "Stop it! What are you doing? Stop this right now!" I screamed at her. She ignored my screams as she raised her arm high, gripping the dagger tightly and then, and then...




Happy Halloween!!
Wednesday, October 26, 2005

No Title

There's been way too much stuff going on around here that I want to post, I'll have to continue the journey story later. One of my uncles died early last week from a heart attack. He was about 80ish I think. His health had been rather poor before he had to evacuate his home, he went to stay in an assisted living home in Shreveport. That's where he passed away. There was a small memorial service and a funeral in which I was one of the pallbearers. I didn't know him all that well in the later years, our families were much closer when I was a child however and he will be missed, one really great guy. In a way I suppose you could say he was an indirect victim of the hurricane.

Then, I also had an aunt die late last week, her health had been poor for some time as well. I knew her much better, a very dear lady. She was also about 80 years old. Her funeral was yesterday, there was no burial however, she will be cremated. To top off a really ugly week, my doctors finally got their hands on my blood test results from when I was in Dallas and immediately scheduled me for a liver biopsy.

I had to drive all the way up to Baton Rouge at 4 AM Monday morning to have that done in their same day surgery unit. They kept me for most of the day before I could drive home. Damn, they stuck a looooong ass needle in my abdomen to get a tissue sample, It didn't really hurt because of the local anesthetic but it sure looks horrible when you can watch them do it!! Gahh! I won't know the results of that testing for a few days though. They want to see how much damage my new liver has sustained since the transplant. My fingers are crossed! I guess this is a prelude to the chemotherapy they are planning for me.


I thought I would throw in a few pics of some of the shit that's going on around here. Below is a pic of the house a couple months ago.


Below is a picture from a few days ago.

This one is a look at the pile of debris in front of our neighbors house. They have apparently stripped most of the damaged materials from the inside walls and threw it all oput front. This is a job that remains to be done at our house, we are still waiting on a reply for how much the flood insurance will pay for the damages 3 weeks after the adjuster has come out and did the survey.

Things are starting to return to a somewhat more normal state. They finally came out and removed all the debris from the trees yesterday and this morning which is soon to be replaced by all the debris from inside the house LOL

A lot more stores and businesses have been opening as well but the traffic has been horrendous and ridiculous. Man I am so ready for all this shit to be over with, we gotta get this city fixed up for next hurricane season! hahaha
Sunday, October 23, 2005

Las Cruces and Beyond

I had always kept most of my CD collection in my car for convenience. I have a 10 disc changer hidden under the back of the passenger seat, an in-dash controller/receiver, with power amps and a huge speaker box with 12" woofers in the trunk. I like my music LOUD when I'm cruising, heavy metal, head banging, neck snapping rock is what I love to listen to, especially on the open road with the cruise control locked on to the max speed limit. It makes me feel alive and alert, country music is ok as long as it ain't the tearjerker, somebody stole my wife and my truck and my dog and peed in my beer bullshit, that stuff puts me in a down mood, I can't understand why so many people like it and I probably never will. Unfortunately, I had listened to most of my collection making my way to Fort Worth the previous day and besides I was now hungry for news about Katrina hitting New Orleans so I turned on the radio by the time I hit Abilene.

People, there is something inherently wrong when you scan all the frequencies on both FM and AM looking for music and news and the only goddamn thing available on the radio is in either Spanish or country music for hundreds of miles. I mean it was just totally depressing, I did pick up bits and pieces of news info although the only word I could understand from the broadcast was "Katrina" with the rest being spoken in Spanish. WTF? I wasn't that close to Mexico that I was picking up stations from across the border, these stations had to be inside of Texas itself! If you can only find 7 stations on the dial and 6 are in a foreign language inside your own damn country, well that's just a bit tough to comprehend. That's just not right!

I had passed thru the eastern side of Texas late at night, but what I could see of it was quite nice, rolling hills, nicely wooded areas, clean highways, a pleasant ride by all accounts. The scenery that I was looking at passing thru west Texas was abysmal, apparently the only thing that grows there are oil derricks and gnarly looking shrubbery. Man that is some of the most depressing looking countryside I've ever seen in my life. Mainly because there is NOTHING to fucking look at and it never changes, the next 100 miles looks exactly like the last 100 miles you've passed thru. After about 4 or 5 hours of that shit you start hoping to see a car crash, or vultures hovering over a dead cow carcass or something, any fuckin' thing at all besides mile after mile of desolate land, shrubs and creaky, rusted oil derricks.

By the time I reached Midland I was starting to get pretty damn tired from not enough sleep the night before and I realized I wasn't going to be able to make it all in one day. I called Magz on my cell and we decided that it might be a good idea for me to stop in Las Cruces, Nm. for the night. She said it would be a much better place to stay than El Paso, which is what I had suggested although I had never been there before. She looked up some motel phone numbers for me on the 'net and I called ahead and made reservations at a Super 8 just off of I-10. We also decided that she would head out from her place and meet me there later that night.

Thankfully the scenery started to change by the time I got past Pecos, there were some mountains looming off in the distance and man what a welcome change that was. Going thru the rocky pass just beyond where I-20 meets I-10 was pretty cool although there was tons of road construction going on, I got stuck behind a convoy of slow moving 18 wheelers where the road was reduced to one lane in both directions, man I thought that was never gonna end!



This was a welcome site, a nice big pile of rocks! And many more to follow! Not a bad photo, with my camera hanging out the window at 70 mph.

I finally hit El Paso, Tx. and it was just about rush hour but not too bad overall, the most striking feature about the place was an imposing looking mountain on the northside that was pretty cool except for when you got close enough, the thing you noticed the most about it was that it was bristling with TV and cell phone towers and antennas, man that stuff just looked like crap sticking out all over. The coolest looking thing in the area was unmercifully marred and defaced. Too bad.

The sun was setting when I finally pulled into Las Cruces and I easily found the motel where I had made my reservation. Magz showed up within an hour and we greeted one another heartily, I finally got to meet her. Short blonde hair, a black dress and dark glasses, she looked pretty cool! We chatted for a bit in the parking lot trying to decide what we were going to do, I was sorta undecided about the motel, the Motel 6 next door looked nicer for about the same price but I already had a reservation. I checked in, the place didn't look too bad from the outside but the inside was pretty crappy, even for a cheap motel. Sadly the decor could only be described as "early mental institution" with drabby yellowed paint and curtains and a beater old TV that had a malfunctioning remote control. I didn't care much though, just so long as I was able to get the major news channels on the satelite.

For the life of me I can't remember if we went out to dinner that evening but we did hit a bar across the highway for a short while. A shitkicker dive, kinda rowdy and loud with a lone guitarist playing and singing requests from the crowd. He was pretty good actually but I was wanting to watch more news of New Orleans on the TV so we didn't stay very long. We went back to the motel and talked quite a lot actually before turning in for the night. Magz is bright and funny, wild and just a wee bit crazy with a wacked sense of humor. For those that are curious, yes, we did spend the night together, and we got along very well. If you want more details than that, well too bad! hahaha!

The next morning Magz decided to leave very early and head back to Arizona to care for her horses where I would meet her later in the day. I wanted to hang about in Las Cruces for a few hours, catch up on more news about Katrina on the tube and eat some breakfast before I checked out of the roach motel. I found this great little mexican place that served up a killer breakfast of bacon and eggs, damn I was hungry! Finally, by midday I left and headed for Benson, Arizona, the small town that Magz lives near. I had almost 200 miles left to go and the trip was pretty cool, especially crossing over this one mountain range in particular, the rock outcroppings were awesome! There were HUGE boulders strewn all about, lining I-10 on either side as the highway wended it's way thru the high windy pass. Very picturesque, although I didn't stop to take pictures until my return trip from Magz place a week and a half later.

I found the exit off of I-10 and made my way north on a dirt scrabble sideroad looking for the gate to Maggiez Farm. I actually passed it up because it's set back from the road just a short distance. I pulled up at the gate and here is a picture of what visitors see when they arrive. I told you she has a crazy sense of humor.

To be continued...
Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Sunday before the storm...

The morning before Katrina hit I was still unsure whether evacuation was necessary until I turned on the news. We were hopeful that it would take a turn in either direction away from the city and spare us, but, it looked a bit too close for comfort and the damn thing was still listed as a category 4. Very dangerous! We had stayed in the city for several hurricanes throughout my life without any major repercussions but this one looked especially bad. So, I packed a few belongings in a carry on bag and a small suitcase, just a couple pair of pants, a few shirts, an extra pair of shoes and my entire stock of medications. I was very thankful I took all my meds as it turned out. I was thinking we might be away for only a couple days at the most, certainly not the more than 3 weeks that passed before we could return.

The traffic was backed up for miles in every direction headed out, gridlocked on some roads, but, the state police had enacted a plan that allowed all the roads and interstates to become one way only, with all lanes going outbound. The plan helped a lot but still it wasn't enough. It took me nearly 10 hours to travel a distance that would have normally taken less than 2 hours. I had pulled out of my driveway expecting to go to my brothers home in Hammond, La. but a call to my cell phone from my mom informed me that he and his family had decided to evacuate too, at the last minute, and I now had no place to go except for Fort Worth, Tx. where my sister lives. After a couple of quick calls to my sister, I confirmed that I could stay there and that I would try to make it there that same day, I really didn't have the money to start spending on motel rooms all over hell and back. Unfortunately, Fort Worth was a long drive and the traffic was crawling and people were driving like satan on wheels trying their damndest it seemed to cause accidents. The highways were just incredibly jammed with dumbasses, apparently never having driven a car before that very day!

Then I thought about my friend Magz, in Arizona who had been making plans to come visit me in New Orleans the coming weekend. I knew that wasn't going to be a good idea and she would have to postpone, after all, a major hurricane was bearing down on N. O. and no telling how bad it was going to be. I decided to call her from my car and we talked about the situation and we decided that I should come visit her for a few days instead. Now I had a plan, I would spend one night at my sisters home in Fort Worth and haul ass out to Arizona the next morning. It was an ambitious idea but I decided to go no matter what. I was still in bumper to bumper traffic in Mississippi and heading northwest on some backroads now trying to make my way to Fort Worth.

Finally I crossed the Mississippi River at Natchez and found myself creeping along inch by inch in some tiny town when I realized my steering was feeling awfully heavy and my car was leaning. I jumped out and looked in the middle of the road and godamnit, I was getting a flat tire!! Sumbitch! Just what I needed, stuck in a small town on a late Sunday afternoon with a low tire and I knew the chances of finding an open place to get it fixed were slim and none. Hell, everyone knows that the only places open in small town Louisiana on a Sunday are liquor stores and convenience stores (that also sell hard liquor), and I couldn't recall ever seeing any that both sold liquor and fixed flats. I knew I was sunk and I would probably have to stop and change it. That idea sucked because I had so much shit in the way in my trunk, no way did I want to unload all of that to get to my spare and jack.

Amazingly, I saw an Auto Zone just about a block away and I figured I would get some Fix a Flat and pump it up and hopefully it would hold till I hit my sisters house. I put 2 cans in and discovered that it was the valve stem leaking, cut by the stupid hubcap that had loosened and rotated on the wheel, slicing the stem. Shit! What lousy luck, I began cursing the assholes that had worked on my car last for not putting the hubcap on tight enough. Suddenly, the idea of an open liquor store was sounding pretty damn good! Then I remembered I had a small electric airpump in the trunk and between using that and the Fix a Flat stuff I was able to get it filled enough to continue, hoping I could make it to Monroe, La. where I knew my chances of getting it repaired were much higher.

I pulled back out into the crawling line of traffic and found a small backroad going in the general direction I wanted to go, finally hauling ass at a pretty good speed and spewing Fix a Flat juice out of my tire all the way to Monroe. I had to stop for gas and inspect the tire and I asked a couple people where I might get the tire repaired and they directed to me to a shop up the road that repaired heavy trucks. Luckily there was an old guy there that was just locking up the place to go home for the day and thankfully he decided to have mercy on me and my situation and he took the wheel off and replaced the valve stem, only charging me 8 bucks! I think I gave him a $5 dollar tip, thanked him profusely and hit the road again. Now I was finally on I-20, headed west towards Fort Worth/Dallas and things were looking up. But I still had a long ways to go. I finally pulled up at my sisters house at about 2 am, Monday morning, whipped out and bleary eyed from the long day, I had been on the road by myself since before 9 am the previous day!


I slept like the proverbial log and got up very early the next morning, washed up, said my hellos and goodbyes, thanked my sister for putting me up on the sofa sleeper and headed out on the road again. Arizona was a long, long ways off and I had high hopes of making it the same day, hoping to avoid paying for a room along the way. I did catch some news just before I left though and it was just about the same time that Katrina was actually passing over N.O. It didn't look too good! I was glad I had left and now I was looking for some fun on this trip, trying not to worry too much about the welfare of my family and my personal belongings back home.

To be continued...
Friday, October 14, 2005

A Farewell

It's not a particularly happy day here for me. I have to say goodbye to an old friend. I planted this tree when I was just a kid, it was barely 6 ft tall, a mere sapling, barely more than an inch thick. The tree cutters came out today to take it off of the house and I'm really going to miss it.



I missed watching it grow for many years when I moved away but I've gotten so used to enjoying it's wide reaching branches, always full of life and the many hours of comfortable shade that it has brought to the yard for the past several seasons since my return to this city. It dominated the scenery behind the house, the branches just outside the upstairs bedroom windows were a comfort to me on many ocassions. I also enjoyed many hours of sitting out back, watching the squirrels and birds playing in it's all encompassing reach. Watching the guys carve it up and haul it away is a lot more disturbing than I had expected. How do you say goodbye to a tree?
Saturday, October 08, 2005

Elated

Finally!! My internet connection is back and just as fast as ever... weeee!!! After nearly 6 weeks of hit and miss, varying between extremely slow and non-existent I have to say I was seriously jonesing over here! LOL Ahh hell, at least I didn't whine about it over the local radio waves!! With that comes the cable TV of course but I hardly ever watch television these days. I can make up better crap in my head and watch that instead of the tripe that passes for television entertainment lately. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about, reality shows, with not a shred of reality involved in the making. A piss poor excuse for actual programming, what more ccould the networks ask for? They don't have to shell out a load of dough to a bevy of writers, the hapless contestants are the ones doing the entertaining and they still show shitloads of commercials, raking in the money, hand over fist.

Lately it seems like they run 5 minutes of commercials for every 7 minutes of actual program time. WTF is that about?? Totally ridiculous in my opinion, but hey you get what you pay for right? It's free and you don't have to watch it, which is exactly what I choose to do!!! There is one show in particular that captured my imagination last year when it started airing though, it's called "LOST".

The story as it unfolded was rather fascinating, the idea of so many people trapped on an island in the aftermath of a horrendous plane crash was captivating. A good story line, well acted, very nice location shooting in Hawaii and a wide variety of people from all walks of life struggling to survive. I started to get seriously pissed off with it though about half-way through that first season when I realized that they were just going to continue opening up new new story lines all through the show's airing without solving or explaining a single muthafukkin' mystery. Not ONE!! Another freekin' soap opera!! Well they "lost" me with that crap!! I stopped watching and I hope many others did too.

Dammit, I need to see things being resolved in a reasonable amount of time and to not feel like they've hooked me on dime bags of crack every time I tune in. I have always rejected shows that made me feel like I "must" tune in each and every week just so that I can stay caught up with the latest cliffhangar ending that doesn't get solved in the following episode at least!

Well damn, that's not what I had in mind to write about at all! I had planned on telling you guys a little about my adventurous journey to Arizona, running from Katrina, and meeting Maggie and Becka and tCj on the way there and back. Next time!!

I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to several wonderful people for sending me sizeable cash money donations thru Paypal, they are in no particular order: Rachael of Always Rachael, Old Hoss of Old Horsetail Snake, Vickie of Always Victoria and Lisa of LisaBinDaCity. It was most unexpected and very much appreciated, thank you, thank you, thank you! If you guys ever need anything, well, you know where to find me!! Hell yeah!
Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Change of Pace

I'm getting awful sick of the doom and gloom I've been putting up here lately, how about some humor? Hurricane humor that is.

I was sitting in a lawn chair out in the driveway yesterday enjoying the pleasant weather when one of our neighbors stops by. She mentioned that it would be nice if we had one more hurricane and then the property would become ocean front. Then I would have a nice view of the waves from the driveway. Wouldn't that be nice!

Overheard on the radio, a local county/parish official exclaiming about the very high number of hurricanes on record this year, asking "What's next? Hurricane freaking Zorro?"

Directly across the street in our neighborhood someone painted on a fence... Help Us God 911

I thought that was hilarious for so many reasons. I guess it was a prayer of sorts and since it was an emergency they added in the 911. I wonder if he ever showed up? LOL

And then there's the dumbasses that just don't get it and never will. One local radio station was fielding questions from callers all over that had serious concerns about a myriad of problems and the station was being extremely helpful in trying to get answers. Is the water safe to drink, what areas were they doing power repairs, Red Cross information, etc. were the types of questions people were asking. One dumbass calls in and goes off on a serious rant about all his neighbors having freaking cable TV but his was still off, he couldn't believe that they hadn't restored his precious fucking cable TV after a month of being off the air. This guy was outraged! Waaa, waaaa waaaaa!!! It didn't bother him one bit that he was using up precious airtime with such a stupid and frivilous question when so many people don't even have a house to live in or even a fucking TV. If I had been the DJ on that station I would have clicked that bastard right off, instead they let him rant on and on. I hope his neighbors overheard him!!
Sunday, October 02, 2005

Nuked

Everywhere you go, everywhere you look, you can see the evidence of Katrina's passing. It seems like not a single structure was left untouched. Homes with entire walls and roofs missing, businesses with all their signs blown away. Trees down, or branches broken, laying across power lines, across roads, telephone poles broken, the ones that weren't destroyed are leaning precariously, ready to let gravity take over. Wires and cables strewn haphazardly in tangled messes, mangled debris in the trees. Almost every single home you pass by in our neighborhood has a huge pile of belongings out by the curb, wet carpet, broken dishes, destroyed sofas, refigerators and all sorts of other appliances. If the water didn't get it the wind did.



My mothers 100 year old family heirloom buffet with solid marble top, probably unsalvageable. Once belonged to my great grandmother.



The wall unit in the living room where my mom had all the old family photos and memorabilia stored and displayed, a lot of that stuff is now gone forever.




Some of the furniture that we hauled out into the backyard.

Almost everyone you see on the roads seems to be in some sort of a trance, they drive around listlessly, gazing off into the distance, wandering around like they have no place to go and nothing to do. It's the craziest thing I've ever seen, it's like mass sleepwalking, maybe a form of shell shock? Everything is changed, finding gas can be a chore, getting medicine at the very few drugstores that are open means waiting in line for long periods of time. Going shopping at the few places that are open involves standing in line just to get inside the door, with long lines already in place long before the opening hour. Once inside the shelves are mostly empty, and you can't buy much that needs refrigeration anyway. Your refrigerator is out by the curb.

Even the cell phone networks are totally screwed, you may have to try 10 times to get a call out and I have yet to be able to reach my voice mail since before the storm. All the radio stations are down that weren't part of the emergency broadcasting network and are off the air, the ones that are on, are broacasting local news only, the few local TV stations on the air are all broadcasting from studios in cities that were out of reach of Katrina. If you have cable you are very lucky, if you had satellite TV, good luck if the dish didn't get blown off your house or the receiver destroyed in the flood waters. The big thing right now is waiting, waiting, waiting for the insurance adjusters to finally make it to you, out of the million others that are doing the same thing, just to find out if you will receive enough money to recover a small shred of your formal life or any part of your sanity. The sheer amount of destruction is beyond imagination, mind boggling and overwhelming. What's even more insane is that we were some of the "lucky" ones, the gulf coast areas of Mississippi and Alabama and also many areas of New Orleans on the east bank of the river were hit even worse than us. I shudder to imagine what they are going thru right now!

This city is going to be fucked up for a long time to come and it will never be the same. Welcome to Third World America.

One thing that I wanted to mention was that I created this creepy, spooky looking template for the Halloween season, several weeks before the hurricane hit, including the line "City of Dread". Weird how that came true huh?




On a positive note, I had just completed a new template for a very dear friend right before the storm for Allie over at Cocktails with Allie and I didn't get to show it off!! Check it out!! Annnnnd, I just finished one yesterday for a new friend named Laurie over at Stranded in Suburbia. Very cool!! Check her out, I think she has spotted some yuppie terrorists in her very own neighborhood!! She also has another very cool blog over at LaurieParkinson.com

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!!!