Toolshed Kitty

My father had decided that his several cages of breeding bunnies were too much for him — about the time Hurricane Gustav hit, he came to that conclusion. Yesterday, my daughter and father-in-law finally had the opportunity to drive out to Daddy’s place to pick up the rabbits, to carry them to daughter’s husband’s uncle Steve. Ol’ Steve raises just about any critter you can think of, for the table and freezer of course, so he was naturally interested in the rabbits.

Daughter also brought me a kitten from her Pappa’s place. He has about a dozen cats around there, and wants none of them! But, my step-mom and her daughter love their kitties, and nobody can afford to get them "fixed".

They are in a residential neighborhood, not out in a rural area with a barn — in such a setting, perhaps a dozen kitties makes sense. Not so, the way they live today.

I certainly can’t afford to spay and neuter so many. Maybe I can offer to help send them to the ASPCA in New Orleans, or find some other low-cost situation. I’ll look into it.

Meanwhile, my daughter brought me a cat. A silver broken tabby, with the stripy spots arranged as we see on some of the wild cats and big-cat offspring.

It was the only male. That’s what I prefer.

His mother had birthed the litter in Daddy’s tool shed. Since then, he’d let her out daily, but he’d kept the kittens locked in there. Not sure why — perhaps, with the cane fields all around his neighborhood, there are still enough wild things about to eat the little ones? Or maybe the six or so always lounging on his front porch were enough for him.

Anyway — All those cats are delicate, dainty things, little fairy-cats, compared to the great rangy bruisers I prefer. And this one now here with me is almost the size of those adults. So that can’t be a little six-week kitten, as Daddy recalls. It’s got to be two months old or even more.

And it’s shy, and wants to creep into corners, and it’s apparently never seen a dog before — calmly slept in a shoebox next to their kennels after its bath yesterday. Only decided to hiss at Loup last evening when he was running loose and investigated the new kitty with his usual enthusiasm.

The little guy is a bit bony. I’m not sure he was ever fed cat kibble – daughter says he was still nursing.

Not my usual cat. Timid, skinny, mentally warped from never being out of the tool shed, needed bathing for fleas and medicinal oils for his dirty (probably mite-infested)(huge bat-like) ears.

But, we needed another cat, since the missing Earl appears to be permanently missing. *Sigh*

When I was in the checkout line at KMart yesterday, buying some kitty litter etc., a lady asked me if I wanted a kitten. I told her I didn’t particularly want the one I’d just received! Turns out I couldn’t have taken her kitten, anyway, since it was a storm foundling and still bottle-fed. No time — I work.

Its little eyes had barely begun to open when the storm hit. They found it stuck in a fallen tree, amongst debris in the branches. No sign of its mother or littermates.

Ah, well, I already have the one project kitty. That’s enough.

Wade in the water…

Here is my sister’s report from the recent Hurricane Ike flooding:


"Our house was not threatened by flooding, but my son’s was. Reports from their neighbors told us to expect 3-4 feet of water in the house.

"We were finally able to get inside Bob and Suzie’s house yesterday evening. On our first attempt just after lunch, she and I walked as far as we could in knee boots, but they wouldn’t take us any closer than 15 feet of the house. The flood water is smelly and looks toxic with ooze and slime and an oil layer on top in places, so walking in without boots is to be avoided!

"We borrowed her neighbor’s pirogue (a first motorless boat experience for either of us) and made it to the door, only to realize the tools we brought were not what we needed to take the board off the door. After paddling around to a front window that was not boarded, we realized the windows were too high to reach from the pirogue. Even with no personal experience, we’ve heard enough stories to know that the one thing you should never do in a pirogue is stand up! So we parked the boat and left in search of better tools and hip boots or waders.

"We returned better prepared after 4pm and Bob joined us. I’m sure we were a hilarious sight! I was wearing waders big enough for an average man. Bob, who is 5’8" with a 29 pant size, was wearing waders big enough for a pro linebacker. Suzie, about 35 weeks pregnant, sat in the pirogue as we escorted her gently past obstacles. That’s determination!

"I was reassured that contact with the water didn’t mean sudden death or injury when I noticed life in the water. There were lively, healthy looking blue crabs swimming gleefully all around us!

"Finally inside, the odor was almost sickening. Amazingly, the water had not risen more than 10 inches above the floor! Almost equally amazing was the rate at which a sofa can mold under these conditions! That was the source of the odor. The 2 year old brown microfiber sofa and love seat were covered with a layer of fuzzy light gray mold! Yuck!

"We carried out lots of clothes and small valuables that we could dry out and clean and save. We could not remove the furniture, so we filled a spray bottle with bleach and water and sprayed every bit of mold or mildew we could find. Instantly the house smelled better–almost pleasant!

"Today’s adventure will begin in a few minutes. First I have to drop off rescued dress clothes and a prized leather jacket at the cleaners. Then I will head down to Montegut and see what I can get done, depending on the water level. Removing molding furniture is the #1 priority, but it requires water lower than wader level and 3 or 4 able-bodied men.

"Second is to take boards off windows so we can get air and light. This might also require people bigger than me, but I’m bringing a ladder and I’ll give it my best shot. I’m the only one available. Everyone else I’ve contacted is working until at least 4pm. If it has to wait, so be it. But the sooner these things are done, the sooner we can avoid further loss.

"Even if I can’t get the furniture moved this morning, I can at least make a pass through the house and remove obvious trash. The less there is in the house, the less opportunity for mold and the easier it will be to clean up.

"Their losses so far are a sofa and love seat set, several mattress sets, an entertainment center, some vinyl flooring, and smaller miscellaneous items that just happened to be low or on the floor. I expect the appliances to be fine after a few days of drying out, but we may not know until Friday or so, when we will attempt to run them.

"That’s our flood report for now. More soon."

Any Sort In a Storm III

We rolled our caravan of two cars and two trucks into Brookhaven, Mississippi, as darkness was falling, the Sunday night before Hurricane Gustav fell upon the coast of Louisiana. The others poured out of the vehicles to stretch their legs and walk the two dogs while I called the emergency information number. There wasn’t a hotel room to be found south of Missouri, we knew, so we weren’t even thinking that way. We wanted to take shelter with any reasonable place that’d have us all.

A United Way worker manning the call center provided us with the two or three Red Cross shelters in town. A Baptist and a Presbyterian church had space, and helpers, and the Red Cross was sponsoring shelters there, I heard.

I dialed. The Presbyterians didn’t answer, and First Baptist was full up; they referred me to Central Baptist, set to open up when First was full.

We snagged the last six slots. There was no provision for pets, but we had expected to keep ours kenneled, the six of us taking them out for exercise and "The Potty Run". This was OK with the church, so we headed for Central Baptist.

There wasn’t the ragged exhaustion and high-level worry at that little church gymnasium, not to the degree I experienced it when we fled Katrina. Then, we landed at a Red Cross shelter in a university gymnasium — awfully similar situation, but many of our fellow Katrina evacuees had fled New Orleans proper, running from the storm herself.

There was a particularly anguished atmosphere there. Folks who’d heard preliminary reports that the storm hadn’t done much, folks who’d dared to feel some relief and hope, saw TV weathercasters, standing on upper floors and highway ramps, reporting the new disaster, the flowing mounting crashing flooding, as the levees breached.

With Hurricane Gustav, of course people were worried — but that particularly poignant twist-of-the-knife loss, felt by New Orleanians during Katrina, never materialized. Thank God.

We were an eclectic bunch, the Gustav castaways at Central Baptist Church. Some of the earlier arrivals had a choice of classroom space, which was probably a great blessing to them, helping them keep a close eye and a closed door on those toddlers and preschoolers. Turned out great for me, too! The older I get, the less patience I have for The Young. I swear I’m getting crotchety and curmudgeonly.

The families staying out in the gymnasium were given large dividers, rather like big rolling chalkboards, to create a little bit of privacy and an illusion of… normalcy? These had been used for Vacation Bible Schools I’m sure, considering all the scenes painted on them. It was rather like having a big picture window with a terrific view in your living room.

More later…

C’est la vie

Local newspeople interviewed, a few years ago, a man who had been flooded out by a hurricane; a older, retired parish official mentioned him again today in a Hurricane Ike-related broadcast.

The official was down in the far south of the parish — Pointe au Chenes, Isle de Jean Charles, one of the areas that always takes a big hit. He came upon a man, seated on the ground before his home — on a thick layer of baked, caked post-flood mud —

"Well, Dardar, I see y’all came through another one by the hardest."

"Yah, Mr. Paul, but we still heah. We ain’t goin’ nowhar."

"You took so much water, an’ your house has two feet of mud in it!"

"Mais, I’ll shovel dat out."

Just then the Salvation Army came by with a hot meal for the residents and cleanup crews. The disheveled but grateful resident smiled up at the official, and stood up, dusting off his clothing.

"We got t’ree meals a day down heah, Mr. Paul. We gon’ be OK."

An’ yah know, chere, we will.

Ah, well…

If something happens to pull back Hurricane Ike’s hand just a little —

Say, a bit of high/drier pressure weather to scalp the top off him, or water cooler than expected as he churns up the Gulf of Mexico —

Then maybe, just maybe, he will be a great big expensive inconvenience, and any deaths that happen because of Ike will be conveniently easy to forget or blame on controllable factors.

You know, like maybe he killed 20 instead of his potential several hundred, and those 20 were… Horribly unfortunate due to poverty. Or perhaps they were stupid. Or maybe they were whacked by a freak tornado spawned by a freak weather condition out in Ike’s skirts, even as they attempted to evacuate.

And therefore we can shove the idea of a hurricane’s destruction to the back of our minds and merrily continue on our way in life.

And of course fewer will evacuate next time, even if they are not held back by depleted finances.

We are blessed every year with disasters not fulfilling their full potential, and we are lulled by that into remaining where we are, where we love to live, where we’re used to living.

We are consoled within our own minds into not making the sacrifices — sometimes horrible sacrifices, true, equivalent to a trapped animal chewing its own foot off — sacrifices it would take to enable us to move somewhere "safer". We control what factors in life that we can, some factors of time and place, and make ourselves feel we’re in a safe place.

Which is a non-existent place, of course. Even some few factors you can control, factors of your own behavior, or choices of where you live within the parameters your income allows, will not help you when an Ike comes along at full strength, or an earthquake hits, or a prairie fire/canyon fire roars at you.

Or when a meteor strikes, or when a randomly insane person decides your queue at the tamale cart would be a good one to take out with his 1978 Impala.

So we do what we can, and we don’t do what we think we cannot, having weighed the factors involved and having found them too grievous to take on for the sake of a little more safety. And we get all fatalistic about what we can’t change.

All of life is a gamble. You find your meaning in service, in expression of your talents (whatever they may be). Hopefully you do that within the circle of the arms of the Good Lord.

Any Sort In A Storm II

Any Sort In A Storm II

It is a given that you meet many interesting people during a hurricane evacuation. It’s not as if most modern Americans live any kind of rigid, protocol-laden lifestyle, anyway, so of course a grand event like bugging out ahead of a hurricane will toss us all together like a salad. You’re cooperating with, traveling with, bedding down next to folks you’d perhaps never meet otherwise. Certainly you’d seem to have nothing much in common with them on the surface; but, for the most part, people are people are people.

We left Hurricane Gustav’s bull’s-eye, Terrebonne Parish, Sunday afternoon. We were a caravan — Middle Son having taken his young family out the day before, and extended family all having their evacuation plans in place, we were only four vehicles. Navigator was the Spouse, driving point in his Great White Explorer, carrying the youngest son and two large dogs in kennels. I mean, the dogs were in kennels. Not the son. You know what I mean!

Then came the daughter and her spouse, in their brown Taurus; then me, blessedly alone in my little brown Saturn. (Oh, bliss!! To listen to all the overexcited radio reports I wanted to, then to listen to any style of music, or to have utter silence, if I wanted it, with no complaints from anyone else!) Bringing up the rear, watching for disoriented sheep as it were, was Dad-in-law in his big red one-ton diesel pickup, carrying its load of Useful Items, among them several bright red plastic containers of gasoline.

The routes we use for evacuation tend to be lonely. Long, straight stretches of sameness, empty of traffic. Just the thing for a Sunday drive, lots of wildlife, good fishing spots in the canals dug out along the raised roadbeds through marsh and swamp and forest.

We were zipping along one such stretch, in the beautiful desolation between little towns, when we met a stranded traveler.

Let me establish the scene, here, you’ve simply got to see this:

Visible in snatches through the trees, off to the left, is the raised road, the high-rise highway, a road yards above our heads. The traffic is heavy but flowing smoothly at about 60 mph, a steady stream of evacuees headed eventually north, northeast, northwest. All that activity is only visible in brief flashes through the treetops, though. Perhaps because of the distance, or perhaps because of the oppressive overcast day, there are no traffic sounds.

The two-lane road is “blacktopped”, coated with a thick layer of tarry black asphalt stuff, usually mixed with gravel. It’s laid down in patches for upkeep and repair, and the whole roadbed layered anew with about a foot of blacktop every few years. If we’re lucky, the foot or more added in each resurfacing just about compensates for the inevitable subsidence of these soft-land roads.

This being Southeastern Louisiana, the aging blacktop on the old roads turns salt-and-pepper, then silver-gray, due to the white clamshells instead of gravel in the mix. The shoulders of the raised roadbeds were for many years also blinding white clamshells. Some roads still sport sparkling limestone-white borders. Beyond that gleam lies black water, or beds of bright green duckweed or emerald-and-violet water hyacinths, or the shadow-and-light of dark water between cypress trees’ knees.

No fishing or hunting traffic on a hurricane day. Only our four-car caravan on that perfectly straight endless road, swamp and marsh and water-loving trees all around, the only clearing the road itself. It’s a silver-gray ribbon with white and yellow striping under the dimly blue overcast sky, the end invisible in the distance as all those straight lines meet on what passes for a Louisiana horizon. On we glide, making good time with no other traffic.

Can you see it?

Then, small in the distance – something up ahead. On the left, on the shoulder – the speck becomes a dot becomes a blob as we draw near. The blob resolves itself into a mid-size car, a brownish color not unsuited to the colors of Nature around it. Two cars – behind it, another similar car, similar color. They are parked trunk-to-trunk as if they are two mating dogs grown tired of the experience. Adding to that reproductive imagery is a length of green garden hose stretched from gas tank to gas tank.

So far, nothing seems out-of-the-ordinary. One expects to see exhausted automobiles (every possible pun intended) on the side of the road in a mass evacuation — out of gas, out of luck. Neither is it so odd that someone fleeing a potential natural disaster would try to siphon much-needed gas from an apparently disabled vehicle into his own.

But now — now we see the unexpected. Someone waving. A lady in distress? As the caravan glides to a halt by the stalled cars, we see a lone figure, a woman, one supposes, en deshabille, hair wildly protesting any rumor that it may once have been restrained.

I say, “one supposes”, because a closer look reveals a rangy musculature reminiscent of Wesley Snipes’. That’s a man, standing there in little-girl jammies, cute little top pulled up and tucked into the band of his lacy black brassiere, due to the heat, one again supposes.

Can you see him? Standing there, apparently a city guy… certainly a girlish guy… shining deep ebony limbs and hot pink girlie sleepwear and hair every which way but loose? Wilderness all around, earth and sky and trees and swamp, and four vehicles filled with rough-dressed Cajuns coming to the rescue?

We can’t hear all of the conversation, but we can piece it together from later discussion —

The Football God husband steps down from his SUV to see how he can help. Such contrasts between his height and build and that of the pink-clad… transvestite? Never did settle on the correct term…

Anyway, there’s the tall, broad Spouse, welder-bronzed, dressed for emergency travel in cargo camouflage walking shorts, T-shirt and a baseball cap bearing the logo of his college football team – and joining him, his leathery Marlborough Man father, dressed the same as every other retired trucker in Cajun country, in jeans and a cotton shirt. (Dad always appears ready to buy you a cigarette and coffee and breakfast in a greasy spoon diner.)

Both of them listen solicitously to the twitchy, gesticulating fellow, standing there in his rosy sleepwear. Dad is just as courtly and congenial as he would be toward any… lady. Hubby is, in his usual choleric take-charge way, mentally solving all the man’s problems in order to save his life – I can almost see Mike having visions of the sadly drowned fancy man, afloat on a hurricane tide.

I roll down the car window and hear a snatch of conversation from the Man in Pink: “ … I know it looks funny, me trying to siphon gas out of that car…” No, it looks perfectly normal to me, that he should take such steps to get away from Hurricane Gustav. What looks funny – or at least, very incongruous in that semi-wilderness – is his choice of outfits in which to enact his great escape from New Orleans.

Ahead in the second car, my daughter thinks “Oh, the poor thing!”, while her artist husband is undoubtedly mentally adding the man to his catalog of character portraits. Up front in the SUV, youngest son is wondering of we’re going to bring Lingerie Man along with us… and if there’s a suitcase in that car packed with a toothbrush and a rainbow of various pajamas.

Aha! The conversation concludes itself. Action!

Grandpa ambles back to the pickup to grab a red gasoline container, and pours the fuel into the brown car’s tank while the Husband and the Pink Person continue to chat… about routes to safety, I imagine. The fellow already had the right idea, having chosen the back roads – possibly his city-boy raising never taught him about extra gas cans.

With a glad flurry of thanks and good-byes, our Pajama Party Pal roars away to safety. My menfolk gaze after him a moment, then walk back to their vehicles, each shaking his head, slightly stunned. I guess they never expected to meet a man dressed in pink pajamas and a black lacy bra, stranded in the heart of the Sportsman’s Paradise.

We drove into Brookhaven, Mississippi, in the waning light of early evening. Unlike the brilliant weather before Hurricane Katrina – she sucked everything to herself, leaving behind a pleasant sunniness until she hit us – with Gustav, there were driven ahead of him nasty stretches of dismal gray day, alternating with the feeder bands of thunderstorms and potential tornadoes. The driving was clear and relatively speedy, at least, even if the scenery was depressing.

Other than one mind-numbing eternity-long stretch of perhaps 10 miles on the Official Government-Planned Contra-Flow Route, we kept to the old roads, the ground-level roads, the roads from town to town rather than the Interstate Highways. If it was a favored route of the Model T and the horse-drawn buggy, then we were interested in following it. Those would be the ways less traveled and therefore, theoretically, smooth sailing. And for us, and for one unique other, it proved to be so.

Any Sort In A Storm

You always meet interesting people in a hurricane evacuation.

We’re sheltering in the gymnasium of a Baptist church in Mississippi. The few classrooms around the edges of the open area are "home" to some families — I smile when I see how that worked out, because it helps to corral some of the restless younger set away from me!

The rest of us are divvied up into (basically) family groups. My own bunch is one extended family; others are similar groupings. There’s usually an elderly family member, or an infant, or someone in a wheelchair or with a cane. Young healthy families and single men don’t evacuate as readily as will a family that starts to plan how they will take care of a newborn or Grandpa in the face of a hurricane.

Come to think of it, nephew and grandkids are my tender young family members, and they all left sooner than I did and went different ways. All of us left are pretty much healthy and able… I guess what drove us out was the knowledge that Hurricane Gustav would almost certainly come to ground right there in our back yard. We aren’t all that far north of Terrebonne Bay; we’re in Bayou Cane, a community overgrown by the big town of Houma many years ago.

So we packed the vital things and the dogs and we rolled our caravan of two cars and two trucks North.

Bug Out!

Latest models seem to have the main line, the heart, of the "cone of uncertainty", landing the eye of Gustav right in the middle of Terrebonne Bay. My back yard, you might say.

Much depends on exactly how he lands. What Category will he reach and maintain on his trip across the Gulf? Will the high pressure systems in surrounding regions even have any effect at all on him?

If he drives straight in like a freight train, he could be pushing a storm surge ahead of him the likes of which we have never seen in modern-records times. Morgan City is vulnerable — the whole Atchafalaya Basin could be dreadfully flooded. Parts of my parish, Terrebonne, and neighboring Lafourche, are right near sea level — and even the most modest storm surge predictions are around 12 feet.

Parish presidents and mayors are ordering mandatory evac of their cities and parishes. West Bank New Orleans is supposed to bug out at 8 a.m. Sunday; really, officials have been urging folks to get out since yesterday.

Even Wal-Mart shut down at noon today. Ye gods! Wally World never closes.

There are curfews in place — folks have no business anywhere but at home. No sheriff or city cop is gonna get stupid about it — I mean, the prisoners have been evacuated already! Where will they put you if they arrest you? I guess men will head for Angola and women for St. Gabriel. But if they find you around about without a darn good reason, especially not at your own property or business, especially after dark, you risk arrest.

Evacuations are an odd thing. You’re grateful for the warning — one doesn’t get so much lead time to prepare against an earthquake or a tornado! But, still —

All the patterns of normal life, normal employment, normal commerce, all are disrupted. People try to be brisk and efficient about their arrangements. Watching my husband and the youngest son as they bought some boards today was eerily like watching a Three Stooges movie. Everyone smoothly ducking before they took each others’ brains out with the swinging lumber…

Elderly and ill are nosily quizzed, do they have someone to help them, what do they need, where are they going?

One’s belongings are mulled over and prioritized and thought about — do we take the family photographs? Which computers to take and which to wrap up and store high? What about the guns?

Windows boarded up? Doors too? Vehicles gassed up? Extra gas cans filled, loaded in Grandpa’s diesel one-ton.

Have the grandbabies left town already? Good! Did their Daddy, our elder son, remember to gas up before he left town? No? Bad! Call them! Have they found fuel yet? His Bride says yes. Good!

What’s in the freezer? Gee, I’m glad we hadn’t bought and filled up that deep freeze yet!

The daughter and her hubby brought fresh shrimp. His Daddy had spent all last night trawling. I suppose the shrimping is good before a storm…

And Hagen-Daas! Their buddy works for Blockbuster; the store needed to get rid of its freezer items before they boarded up… so we inherited a wad of decadent ice cream treats. Eat ’em up! No power, maybe, in days to come! Empty that freezer, cook it all, eat it up!

Maybe that’s why Earl grabbed that squirrel this morning and ate it all up, hoof, horns and head. He slept it off all day long, lolling in the same laundry basket, dead to the world, like a lion full of a gazelle. Maybe he knows he ought to stock up.

Individuals, families, entire communities are securing their home bases and getting ready to Gypsy out of here. Loading up their cars and trucks, sometimes towing their boats and Harleys and four-wheelers… heading out reluctantly, heading this way and that, each family with its own plans and ideas about where to go and how far and how fast.

It’s like Autumn leaves scattering, scurrying off in different directions before a penetrating insistent wind.

The Earl and His Breakfast

Earl Gray the tomcat has reminded us that he can take care of hisseff.

This morning before sun-up I took the dog, Loup, out to… erm… leave messages around the property. Um… yeah. That’s what dogs do. Loup had to go check his pee-mail. *Snort*

Anyway, as we were walking back up the drive to the main door under the carport, Earl did his usual sinuous weaving about under equipment and around table legs on the carport, there in the pre-dawn dark, wanting to come inside for his usual morning shot at the kitty kibble. Or so I thought —

It occurred to me that he was oddly silent, but I didn’t catch the significance at first.

Usually Earl is very vocal. That, and his snakelike rangy ways, and his litter-mates’ coloring, all that leads me to believe he’s got a Siamese grandparent somewhere. You know how they are — lots of "talking".

But, ol’ Earl Gray was silent, and even more discreet and stealthy than usual in making his way indoors to the spot where I feed him.

I unleashed the dog, hung up the leash; Loup made sure everyone else who was awake received the obligatory wet dog nose "Good Morning".

Still no vocalization from the cat. He hadn’t much kibble left down under that chair where I keep his bowl… and he’d never been happy with scattered remnants of kitty kibbles. He wants fresh, and if possible a canned treat atop the pile. He says so, insistently and loudly, with much ankle-stropping.

But, this morning, nothing.

Hah! Turns out, he didn’t fuss for more food and attention, and he hadn’t anything to say, because his mouth was full! When I finally had a moment to bend down and look at him more closely, I found him very efficiently munching on the final third of a squirrel.

He ate it all, too. Down to the end of the tail and the tippy-tippy toenails. And he let Loup know, with one almost-silent growl, that he was in no mood to share.

So, I am reminded that I need not worry about Earl if/when we have to evacuate. Not any more than one always has concerns about a cat outdoors, anyway. No extra worries in bad weather, really — he has plenty of places to hole up. And if I am trapped out of town for a day or two… I doubt the fella will starve… and if, God forbid, I am unable to come home for a week or even two… Frankly, a weather-disturbed neighborhood with no people usually has quite a few bold, careless rats. I suspect Earl would clean up.

What hurricane?

The news crawl along the bottom of the TV screen said something about my parish starting evacuation at 4 p.m. tomorrow. We’ll be glad to leave if a big enough hurricane is headed directly-enough towards us. If Gustav is a smallish hurricane by the time it gets here, especially if he’s not aimed right at us, we won’t leave.

Plans are in place for loading the kennel cages into the back of the Explorer I bought recently for Mike — I notice he didn’t grumble too long about me buying it when it turned out 1) it was meant for him, and 2) it’s useful for bugging out.

Hee hee. HE will be burdened with Loup the Canine Earthquake and his overenthusiastic wriggling sidekick Lola the Lab Mix. (That’s daughter’s dog… the two dogs mix like itching powder and ball bearings. Not a restful combo.)

I, on the other hand, will be driving my little Saturn. Either alone (blissfully) or with daughter — and Jess seldom stops talking. Hours and hours of chick-time. Not a bad deal, really.

Back back back roads! Scenery! Lighter traffic! Taking one’s time, stopping for dinner at interesting little cafes. One can almost forget for a little while exactly why one is taking the road trip…

Life goes on and things still have to happen, hurricane or no hurricane. Today we had a couple of patients in after lunchtime, kindergarten-age twins, longtime asthma sufferers. Their Mom manages their care so well, there’s seldom a major crisis — but today, the little girl had a blood oxygen level of 83 that simply would not raise up.

What was Mom to do? She was a Katrina evacuee herself, who’d settled in our area far from close friends and family, and was faced with accompanying her little girl in the ambulance while her other small kids got off the school bus several towns away with no one home for them.

So, one of my doctors called for someone to volunteer to take the ambulance ride, and that’s what I did.

I figured I’d see Mom back again about the time I would’ve gotten off work, and I was right — despite the long drive home, and settling her other kids with their grandma in yet another town, and the crazy hurricane-related traffic she had to negotiate, she still made it back to the ER by 5:30 p.m.!

While she was gone the little girl had to endure some terrifying needles, and standing in weird positions for X-rays, but over all she hardly cried at all.

(The office will pay me for my whole workday, no problem. But — don’t tell them — I’d have clocked out and gone on my own time.)