And climb the stairs to the beach...

Saturday, March 31, 2007

morning folks March 31 2007

Today I am grateful to be alive and kicking. Last night just hours after I posted yesterday's blog about tornadoes, etc., we were getting ready for dinner when this ungodly blast came over the loudspeakers telling us that "there is a tornado warning for this area. Please remain calm. If you are on the first floor, proceed to the central area of the lobby. If you are floors 2 through 5, exit your rooms and go into the hallway. Sit down on the floor as far away from windows and doors as possible." This was followed by continuous loud alarms and repeated messages. Ed was relaxed and said "better grab a book". Of course I thought of grabbing the Gideon Bible, but the novel I had been reading was closer. Ed kept wandering back in the room to check the TV reports while I frantically text messaged people who I thought would respond. I did manage to scare my kids and my friend Linda, who called me back and begged me to return to Massachusetts.

However, within a half hour everything was once again calm and no twister touched down. We went over to the dining room for dinner and as we emerged we saw the most beautiful rainbow. A double was starting to form. I managed to snap it with my camera phone. But for some reason I can't send Pix messages from here. But here is a link to a slideshow posted on one of the local news stations for you to enjoy.;s=10;dm=ss;w=400&taf=ny

So I am grateful to be here in sunny Oklahoma this fine day.

In addition to the sun shining, today is also my special friend's birthday. I have known Sue since we were both 3 years old. I am not going to tell you for how long we have been friends, but it is over 50 years. So Happy Birthday, my friend. I hope you have a wonderful day!

And the rest of you have a great day, too!



Friday, March 30, 2007

Morning Folks 03 30 07

Morning Folks from the USPS National Center For Employee Development in Norman OK.

Ed has been here in Norman since March 20 and I flew out yesterday to join him. I will be here while he is continuing his classes. We will both drive home next Saturday the 7th.

As I am writing here in the hotel room, tornado watches are everywhere around the area. A map of Oklahoma is in the corner of the TV screen on every channel, with color coding identifying hot spots in bright green.

Yesterday morning there were people killed in a tornado in the panhandle. And yesterday afternoon, as I watched on TV a very destructive one touched down just a few miles up the road. I watched on TV as it unfolded live. The TV station didn't use cameras but a computer program that actually tracks the velocity of the raindrops, allowing them to pinpoint exactly where that particular twister is. They can identify the very address where it is with the GIS mapping available nowadays. They show the map generated by the computer and in real time you watch the graphics change as the tornado moves up the street. They then tell people who live in that certain neighborhood to get to their shelters NOW. Then as it passes that neighborhood, they tell them to come out and issue the warning to the next neighborhood in its path.

Yesterday it was moving along and picking up speed and strength when suddenly it was gone. All of a sudden the numbers dropped and just like that it dissapated and evaporated into nothing. Film of the devastation quickly followed because they could send the crews out to a particular spot while it was happening. It was exciting, but very scary, too. Technology is truly amazing.

Everything happens so fast when it hits. I was wondering how it feels for parents of school children when these things start up near the schools. You could be miles away from your kids. I suppose they are safe in shelters at schools, for the most part. But yesterday this occured about the time schools were letting out. What about those kids in busses or on bikes on their way home? Scarey stuff.

So, yesterday I did learn that when there is a threat of a tornado you are supposed to get as low as you can and put as many walls between you and the outdoors that you can.

I never thought much about tornados as a kid. There aren't many in Massachusetts. We did worry about hurricanes, but not like the people in Florida do.

Or earthquakes! Now earthquakes have scared me since I was a little kid and saw some movie with people falling down into cracks in the earth right beneath their feet. I had nightmares about that.

And volcanoes! Imagine living in Pompeii? I remember those pictures in National Geographic showing those ash people. And remember there was a dog?
That was terrifying to me when I was a kid. But even now it is eerie, isn't it?

Or the tsunami?
Not that the tsunami is a particular threat to me here in Oklahoma, but still...

Wow. I think I better stop thinking. Actually, it does point out to me that we all have a certain amount of faith to even get up in the morning.

I better go explore this hotel and find out just where I am supposed to go when the sirens start to blow. I have faith, but being prepared is always a good thing.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Morning Folks 03 27 07

Morning Folks-
Here is Hal's wrap-up letter written after they all arrived safe and sound back in Sudbury. If any of you are interested, I am sure they can use the help next year!

Have a great day.

Good Tuesday morning,

We are pleased to report the safe return of the Back Bay Mission crew.
Of course, the "Flyers" arrived home late on Saturday Evening. Those
driving got into town at about 3:45 yesterday (Monday) afternoon. Their
trip was relatively uneventful but did include some heavy traffic in
the area of Bristol, Virginia where the NASCAR fans were lined up on
Interstate 81 trying to get to the Bristol Motorway and at a couple of
other locations along the way.

We hope you have shared the excitement, inspiration and satisfaction of
the Crew through our messages this past week. We thank all involved who
helped to make the week the success that it was for the Crew, for Back
Bay Mission and for the individuals whose lives were touched by our
efforts. A very large percentage of the congregation has shared in this
ministry including:

* The Christian Education Committee which organized the M&M Campaigns
in 2005 and 2006 that raised several hundred dollars.
* A donor who matched $500.00 of the second M&M campaign.
* The Outreach Committee that provided $750.00 from its 2006 budget.
* All who donated generously to the "Bundles for Biloxi" fund raiser
this winter.
* Bettie and Wade Kornegay and Sue and Ed Eaton who hosted the
"Drivers" on their trips to and from Biloxi.
* Karen Ross who drove the "Flyers" to the airport for their 6:00 AM
* Nick Ward who picked the "Flyers" up after their 10:48 PM arrival
back in Boston.

Of course, the Crew has appreciated the continuous good thoughts and
prayers you all have offered.

What was accomplished? I do not think we can put into words the
satisfaction that we all feel as a result of the weeks efforts. Most,
and perhaps all, would describe the event as life changing. We saw
another world that we do not confront in our daily lives here in
Sudbury. The people of Biloxi and Gulfport where we worked are among
the poorest of the poor and yet they demonstrated to us they are
wonderful people with hopes and aspirations that we could all share.
Having the damage and disruption of Hurricane Katrina inflicted upon
such lives could easily be overwhelming but was not, at least in the
lives of the people we worked with. We believe the work of the Back
Bay Mission through its staff and volunteers is an important reason for

The physical work we accomplished also provided a great deal of
satisfaction. Our main focus was the home of Lucious and Clementine
Breeder in Gulfport where we installed insulation in the walls and
ceiling, sheet rocked about half of the walls and ceilings, removed a
couple of exterior windows and re-sided over the resulting holes and
patched multiple holes in the floor through which critters might enter
the house. The attached three photos show the progress of this work.

Terry worked at another house with folks from the Wisconsin Crew that
shared the week with us at the BBM. That house was nearing completion
of its renovations. Terry trained others in that crew in the
installation of crown moldings and trim on the finished walls (Note:
crown moldings are not a luxury item in these houses. They are required
to conceal the unavoidable imperfections in drywall installation due to
the lack of square corners and straight lines in the structure.) Terry
and Hal worked at a third house where they jacked up a section of
flooring and installed partial floor joists to correct problems caused
by rotting of the original floor joists.

We were all struck by the constant "thank you"'s for our efforts
offered by local people we spoke to at gas stations, at stores and
restaurants, behind the deli counter, the Wednesday church service and
virtually everywhere else we went.

Would we go again? You bet we will, during the week of February 17
through 23, 2008. We have already signed up for that week based on the
interest of this year's crew and multiple expressions of interest by
others who could not join us this year. If we get more than 14 persons
who are interested, we might even sign up for another week.

In the words of Old Miss Jones of the skit performed by the Youth Group
during the commissioning service on March 11 'MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!"

Monday, March 26, 2007

Morning Folks Addendum

Hi again everyone. This is a later edition of today's blog. If you have already read the earlier posting, please take a moment to read this letter from George Connor who was among the Biloxi crew who flew rather than drove down there. George is a close friend of mine and I was a little mad at him since he chose to fly rather than come visit us in Chattanooga. George was the one who suggested the driving crew stop at our home along the way and that turned out to be so much fun that I am not mad at him for not coming anymore. And besides, I know he will come for a visit with his wife Melinda soon. George is the Treasurer of our church. (I am the retired Assistant Treasurer so he was my boss.) He is affectionately known by church members as St. George. I think he has probably earned that nickname, although I am not sure Melinda agrees with me. But I understand that on this trip he went by George the Foreman. He assures me he did earn that nickname, too.
George is on the far right.

Here is the letter from St. George.

Well, I have returned from my trip to Biloxi, Mississippi and I can
honestly say that it was the most rewarding, fulfilling and enlightening
experience of my life. None of us wanted to leave on Saturday and would
liked to have stayed for another week or more, but we all realized that
we had accomplished what we set out to do and that completing the
construction work was not the objective, but rather to help the people
in their quest to rebuild and survive and to broaden our knowledge and
understanding of what they go through everyday and how they live.

The 10 of us arrived at Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, MS on the 18th and
stayed in a large trailer with bunk beds and two bathrooms. It was very
comfortable and far better than what many other groups had as
accommodations. We were joined by 17 fellow volunteers from Wisconsin
and we prepared our own meals and shared many stories as well as many
bottles of wine and Corona's. We spent the week working on a house in
Gulfport which most of us thought should have been torn down, but it was
all that the family had and it was salvageable so we installed
insulation, drywall and checked off a punch list of various jobs that
needed to be done. For the perfectionists in the group it was time to
forget all that you had learned during your lifetime about square
corners, plumb walls and such and simply learn how to "improvise." The
owners, Lucious and his wife Clementine were nothing short for amazing
people and willing to do anything for us and were most appreciative of
our efforts. They were living in a small trailer( parked in their front
yard) for the past 18 months, but they were not bitter or angry about
their circumstances...I'm not sure I would be as understanding if put in
their shoes. Lucious cooked us a lunch on Thursday that would equal
anything that "Woodmans of Essex" could put on...fried and grilled
shrimp, catfish, steak, chicken and ribs...this was his way of paying us
back for everything we had done to rebuild his house.

We found that everyone in Biloxi and Gulfport were so appreciative of
the work that the volunteers were doing from the police to the casino
workers to the cashiers at the restaurants and stores. The federal
government has done basically nothing to help the people of the area; it
has been entirely the work of volunteers like us.

We even spent an afternoon in New Orleans enjoying the downtown area and
the French quarter as well as driving through the lower 9th ward...which bad if not worse than the reports. Biloxi and Gulfport are
rebuildable, but the future for parts of New Orleans is far more bleak.

I know that not everyone can, but if given the opportunity, I would
encourage you to go to these hurricane damaged areas and spend some time
helping the people. You will get back far more than you give and you
will have a lifetime of understanding about what is important in your



Morning Folks 03 26 07

Morning Folks.
My Biloxi buddies did return to Chattanooga on Saturday evening, relating lots of stories of the experience they had. They met some wonderful people and were so moved by the way some of our poorest citizens have been living and in some cases will continue to live. And yet the spirit of these people was remarkable. They left yesterday morning, heading north to Burtonsville, MD on their way home to Massachusetts.

They're Baaaaaaaack!

Although Hal hasn't posted a "letter from Biloxi" since Friday's he and his fellow travelers have many stories to share. Indeed they are already looking for a week next year for them to return to Biloxi. Many of the weeks are already taken by the various volunteer groups from all around the country, but chances are it will be next February or March. However, they have determined that flying will be the way to go next time.

If Hal sends a wrap up letter, which I am hoping he will do, I will certainly post it here.

We did have a wonderful visit. We went to dinner at the Olive Garden so they never had to have the cornflake topped casserole I was going to serve. We had dessert back at my house and I got to see hundreds of pictures that Hal and Betsey had taken. Some of the pictures are amazing and if Hal will share them with me, I can post some of them here. I know they got a picture of the group on my deck having a glass of wine and I hope he sends me that one, too. (Frank: FYI Dr. Beckermann- Auslese, Rheinhessen in a lovely blue bottle!)

The next morning we ate biscuits with our morning coffee and I bid them farewell as they headed off to the Kornegay home in Maryland. They expect to be arriving back in Sudbury this evening after their 3rd day on the road.
(Click on this picture to enlarge and you can see their van on their way up the hill)

There are 9 turns between my house and the main drag. But at different points in that mile and a half maze I can actually see people from my back deck. I could see them coming on Saturday night and saw them leaving on Sunday morning. If you look closely, you can see their white van heading up hill on their way home.

It was a wonderful treat for me to have them at my home. I hope to see them next month when I am back home in Sudbury for the first time in 6 months.

Have a great day!



Saturday, March 24, 2007

Morning Folks 03 24 07

Here is the update from the Biloxi Crew for Thursday and Friday evenings. I was saddened to read about the number of homes that are still uninhabited, abandoned and destroyed or badly damaged after so very long. I can't even imagine what it must be like to lose everything and have no way to rebuild. How does one start over after that? For me it has become much more real hearing it from people I know and not just seeing it on the evening news. I am sure these folks from home will be changed after this week as will be those to whom they tell their story.

It sounds like the crew has met some wonderful folks, like themselves. And they have learned a few things about insulation and sheetrock, I reckon. It will be good to see them again tonight as they stop on their way home.

I am a little concerned, though. They have been eating so well that I am worried about just what they'll think of my casserole topped with cornflakes!

Have a great day.

"Hello again,

This is our Thursday evening report from Biloxi.

We began our day by leaving the BBM at about 8:15 AM for work at two
separate sites. You should know that departure time involves being up
at 6:00 to 6:30.

All of us except Terry and Hal were initially at Lucious' house to
continue the installation of dry wall. Two teams worked in separate
parts of the house installing dry wall while Sue did the spackling of
screw holes. Terry and Hal were back at Amil's house fixing some
sagging floor joists.

The work day ended at about 12:00 noon so we could enjoy a barbecue
feast of steak, ribs, fried and grilled shrimp, fried catfish, chicken,
coleslaw and potato salad prepared by Lucious. The attached photo of
the gathering includes Lucious on the right side.

While we were having lunch, we became aware of a backhoe operating in
the neighborhood and the noise of breaking lumber. The attached picture
shows what was happening: a nearby home was being demolished. This was
still happening at many locations, especially.

After lunch, we climbed in the two cars and drove two hours to New
Orleans to see the devastation in that city and also to visit the
French Quarter. The trip on Interstate I-10 included travel over some
temporary segments of the bridge over Lake Ponchartrain that replaced
the bridge deck that had collapsed in Katrina. Driving on the
interstate road just a few feet about the water level in the
surrounding area

The vastness of the damage due to flooding is impossible to imagine
even after seeing a small portion of the area close-up and realizing
that we could not see the end point of the damaged area. The Ninth
Ward, for example, is not merely a neighborhood but rather a large
town. If we drove by 100 houses on our trip through that area, 98 of
them were abandoned and no doubt damaged beyond repair. There were
occasional occupied homes, some of which had been repaired and some of
which had not been repaired but were occupied nevertheless. There were
scattered FEMA trailer villages but certainly not enough for the large
number of displaced individuals and families.

We did enjoy some time in the French Quarter where things seemed to be
relatively normal to those who had visited New Orleans in the past. Of
course, that area was not flooded in Katrina but was subjected to heavy
rain and wind.

You may have been wondering about the weather all week. We would have
to say it could not have been better. The daytime temperatures were in
the upper 60's or low 70''s except in the attic at Lucious house when
Hal and Sue were there installing insulation. We've been able to have
our dinners on the deck between the two trailers every evening.

The plan for tomorrow is for a long day at Lucious home hanging drywall
for all except Lisa who will be flying home. It will be very satisfying
to see the results of our efforts even though the overall project will
be far from complete. We will be following the completion of the job by
email contact with the BBM staff."

FRIDAY-Good evening on our last full day at the Back Bay Mission,

We concluded our work at the home of Lucious and Clementine Breeder
today with an intense drywall installation effort. We completed the
living room and the ceiling and two closets of the master bedroom by
splitting up into to teams. Eddie, Mary and Joe worked in the master
bedroom where they did two closets and almost the entire ceiling. Of
course, the closets are very difficult with lots of cutting of small
pieces. Mike, George and Hal continued the installation in the living
room and entry hall. Sue and Betsey "mudded" most of the drywall
screws and joints. Terry worked on the carpentry required to prepare
one bathroom ceiling for drywall.

You can see in the attached picture that the Betsey-mobile was
deputized as a BBM vehicle for the week by installation of a magnetic
sign on the driver's side door. The picture was taken in front of
Lucious' home in Gulfport.

The day's formal activities concluded with a "shrimp boil" at the BBM
trailers prepared by Don Morgan of the BBM staff. In addition to the
Wisconsin folks in the other trailer, we were joined for the meal by a
group of work campers from Hickory, North Carolina, who had
accommodations elsewhere. Shari Prestemone, Don Morgan, Lea Lyman and
Pam and John Small of the BBM staff also spent the evening with us.
Between dinner and dessert, all were invited to comment on their work
camp experiences. The testimonies confirmed all had had a memorable,
and, for some, a life changing experience. There was great satisfaction
for the way we had touched some people's lives and excitement about
new skills learned (drywall, insulation, installation of trim on walls,
working with new tools). We enjoyed getting to know our fellow MCC
campers better and meeting new friends, There was also disappointment
that so much remains to be done.

Tomorrow (Saturday), Sue, Terry, Hal and Betsey will begin their return
trip by car in, they hope, better weather. Mary, Mike, Eddie, Joe and
George will catch a 2:00 PM plane from Gulfport/Biloxi airport to
Atlanta and then on to Boston. Thanks to Nick Ward who has offered to
pick them up at the airport at 10:48 PM.

The BBM Crew wishes to thank all in the congregation for their support
and encouragement and specifically for the funds contributed over the
past year and a half that we brought with us to Biloxi. Your
generosity was noted by Shari Prestemone when we presented an MCC check
for $6,500 to her on Wednesday afternoon and acknowledged again this
evening when she thanked us for our "very generous" donation.

The crew has agreed that this is an experience we want to repeat and
offer to others. Therefore, be on the lookout for future announcements
about another trip to the BBM next year and talk to any of us about how
you might support the BBM in the meantime.

Mary, Mike, Joe (front), Eddie, Lucious, Rev. Lisa, Sue, George, Hal(front) and Terry.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Morning Folks 03 23 07

Here is the latest letter from Biloxi. The group will be heading back to Chattanooga Saturday where they will spend the night at our house. It sounds like they accomplished a lot. They learned some interesting history of the United Church of Christ in Mississippi and how the Biloxi Mission has evolved. It will be good to hear their stories in more detail on their return visit Saturday night.

"Good Wednesday evening (a day late because of internet connection problems),Another full day in Biloxi is complete and we've added a variety of new activities and experiences.We all began our day at our project sites. Betsey, Lisa, Joe and Sue finished the insulation project at Lucious' home. At the same time, Mary, Mike and George completed the installation of the dry wall in one bedroom and started the installation in the living room. Eddie completed his installation of the dryer vent.Terry and Hal were at a new job site where they installed extensions of some rotted floor joists to correct a problem with a sagging floor.

We all quit work for the day at 2:30 to 3:00 and returned to Biloxi from Gulfport to get cleaned up in time for a 4:00 PM meeting with Shari Prestemon, the Executive Director of the BBM. Shari gave a talk about the history of the BBM, its ministry before Hurricane Katrina and how the focus of its ministry has changed as a result of Katrina. For example, the BBM has become a strong advocate for affordable housing and, in cooperation with other groups, is working to build new affordable housing stock.

The story of the UCC churches in Mississippi provides an interesting example of the cost of discipleship. There were three all white UCC churches in the Biloxi area in the 50's and 60's when the civil rights movement swept through the south. At the urging of the national church, the local church leadership and some members took up the civil rights issue. Needless to say, the issue split the congregations. The rift weakened them to the point where all three had disbanded by 1974.

After the end of the meeting with Shari, George Connor presented Shari a check from MCC for the sum of $6,500 while Mary, Hal and Lisa looked on. Most of that money had been raised in the past year and a half in the M&M coin collection effort and in recent weeks in the Bundles for Biloxi Campaign. It also included a $750.00 contribution from the MCC Outreach Committee. George also presented a separate check for $350.00 from EMC made available through a matching gifts program at EMC.

This evening we attended the Wednesday evening worship service at the First Missionary Baptist Church, the African American church at which Don Morgan, the BBM project Coordinator, is associate pastor. Don is an ordained UCC pastor. Needless to say, the service was quite a contrast to our traditional New England congregational service. We did get to sing the *Matsithi to the congregation.Our late evening has seen some people off to bed while others have been playing Yahtzee.Tomorrow we'll have another short day on the job sites so that we can travel to New Orleans and see the conditions there."

The Biloxi Crew

* Hal refers to singing "the Masithi" at the worship service they attended. This is a South African amen that our church at home in Massachusetts sings after the benediction. It is sung in very close harmony and usually ACapella. The tune is very melodic and the men in the congregation start it off by themselves. There is a verse in Swahili and one in English. We have sung it for at least 10 years, I think.

I actually found the music for it on the website below. Those of you who read music might be interested.

Have a great day everyone.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Morning Folks 03 21 07

For the last few months I have been trying to learn about the state I now live in. It's actually a lot of fun for a gal who had never moved more than 8 miles from her first home in the Bay State. Here is a little info on Tennessee's nickname. (The exact origin of the word Tennessee is not known, but it is thought to be Creek or Cherokee and probably refers to the bending of the river. )

Tennessee is nicknamed the Volunteer State.

University of Tennessee's football team is called the Volunteers, or affectionately referred to as the "Vols". I really dislike the orange team colors, however, and they display it everywhere! I have never been partial to orange, although I am getting somewhat used to seeing it on everything. I guess I am used to the more sedate colors of the Patriots. But, I suppose that Celtics Green and the bumble bee colors of the Bruins might look funny to anyone not from Mass.

The nickname The Volunteer State originated during the War of 1812, in which the volunteer soldiers from Tennessee, serving under Gen. Andrew Jackson, displayed bravery in the Battle of New Orleans.
Although The Volunteer State is the most popular nickname there are others.

There is the “Big Bend State,” which refers to the Indian name for the Tennessee River; “The River with the Big Bend”;

and “Hog and Hominy State,” now obsolete but once used because “the corn and pork products of Tennessee were in such great proportions between 1830 and 1840”; I am glad they stopped using that one!

hominy for grits

and “The Mother of Southwestern Statesmen,” because Tennessee furnished the United States with three presidents .

Can you name them? (answers below)

Hope you enjoyed the little bit of trivia.

And speaking of volunteers, below I have posted the Tuesday letter from the Biloxi crew preceded by a few quotes I found on the subject.

Have a great day.



Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart. ~Elizabeth Andrew

The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings. ~Eric Hoffer

The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention. ~Oscar Wilde

Volunteers are love in motion! ~Author Unknown

Here is the update of the Biloxi crew:

Hello again,It's late evening on Tuesday and all is well with the BBM Crew. Rev. Lisa arrived safely last evening at 10:38.We've had another very productive day at our work site in Gulfport. Sue, Joe, Hal and Betsey concentrated on installation of insulation in the ceiling of the one story house. By the end of the afternoon at 5:00 PM, they had covered 80% of the area of the house. George and Mike began installation of sheetrock in one of the two bedrooms of the house. Mary and Ed spent the day patching holes in the wooden floor, demolishing a small section of an old ceiling and installing a new dryer vent.

Today we met Lucious, the owner of the home that we are renovating. He is living in a trailer in the small front yard of his home with his wife, Clementine. Lucious works at the port of Gulfport as a cargo handler while Clementine works as a custodian at the hospital in Biloxi. Among his previous jobs, he was a caterer and is planning to cook lunch for us on Thursday.Terry was at another work site helping with the finish work in a home that is nearly ready to be reoccupied.

There is a real contrast between the conditions in Biloxi and in the adjacent areas inland areas. The shopping areas along Interstate I-10 remind us of the Framingham-Natick area with sprawling malls and large stores such as Lowes and Walmart. If they did sustain much damage in Hurricane Katrina, it must have been limited. That area is from 3 to 5 miles from the coast.In downtown Biloxi, right at the coast, hundreds, if not thousands, of buildings are missing or still in place but heavily damaged. The first and second stories of multi-story hotels and apartment buildings are completely destroyed due to the storm surge and wave action. In some cases, the upper stories are badly damaged because the windows were blown out. Still other buildings, including the small homes of Biloxi's poor residents, are being gutted or now being rebuilt. Individual trailers are scattered through the neighborhoods at homes that are not livable or are being repaired. At other locations, groups of FEMA trailers form "FEMA villages" where large number of displaced families and individuals live. This evening we again shared dinner with the two groups from Wisconsin, this time a Mexican theme meal prepared by them. We continue to enjoy their fellowship.It's now 11:15 PM CST and Betsey, Joe, Mary and Sue are preparing tomorrow evening's dinner for the three crews. Then it''s off to bed to get some sleep before an early morning and another busy day.

Tennessee Presidents were Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson and James Polk

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Morning Folks 03 20 07

Happy Spring everybody!!!

Spring is nature's way of saying, "Let's party!" ~Robin Williams

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. ~Charles Dickens

It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! ~Mark Twain

Awake, thou wintry earth -Fling off thy sadness!Fair vernal flowers, laugh forthYour ancient gladness!~Thomas Blackburn, "An Easter Hymn

Spring really is here in Tennesee. The first day of spring here is more like what would seem like late spring for you New Englanders. Daffodills, cherry trees, forsythia, redbuds, dogwood, hyacinth, crocus, tulips even some early iris all blooming as we speak. I am loving it! But I do feel for my northern friends. And for y'all maybe the following is more appropriate:

The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month. ~Henry Van Dyke

No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow. ~Proverb

Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush. ~Doug Larson

Have faith, those of you whose ground is frozen and branches are bare. There are redbuds and tulips, dafodills and dogwoods in your future!

Have a great day.


Biloxi Back Bay Mission update. (see yesterday's blog if you don't know why I am including this letter. Just click on March 19 in the Previous Posts listed on the righthand side of the page.)

Good evening,This is our Tuesday report from Biloxi.We're exhausted....... but very satisfied with our day's efforts.We were up at 6:30 (some earlier) so that we could be in our cars and on our way to our job site in Gulfport by 7:30 AM.

Nine of us spent the day at a home in Gulfport putting things back together. Mary, Betsey, Sue, Joe and Mike spent the day installing fiber glass insulation in all of the exterior walls. Hal removed two bathrooms windows, closed in the window openings and reinstalled the vinyl siding. Eddie patched a number of holes in the walls and floors. George fixed the flashing around the vent pipe and did several other odd jobs.Terry spent the day with some of the group from Wisconsin at another house installing trim and molding. He was the master carpenter teaching a couple of women the art of installing trim.

We had a wonderful evening meal with the folks from Wisconsin and Pam and John Small, the volunteer coordinators here at the BBM. Betsey prepared her "ham roll-ups" with rice pilaf. We closed the dinner with Mary reading her poem about our trip and Hal reading the script of the Mission Possible skit that was presented by the Youth Group Players on March 11. Both were received well by our guests. We are providing copies of both to the BBM staff and the Wisconsin crew for their possible use in other settings.

It will be an early evening for most of us but George and Hal will be going to the airport to pick Rev. Lisa up at 10;30. Please pass the ibuprofin.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Morning Folks 03 19 07 Mission to Biloxi

Morning Folks. Hope you are as ready to welcome SPRING in as I am. According to the calendar the first day of spring is tomorrow and I am looking forward to seeing what pops up in my flower beds.

In the meantime, we were happy to welcome 4 members of Memorial Congregational Church, (my church in Sudbury) into our home over the weekend. These folks are part of a group of 10 who are in Biloxi this week helping the Back Bay Mission rebuild the Katrina ravaged mission and surrounding area. The other 6 decided to fly. Those traveling by car set out on Friday morning in a nasty storm and stopped at former MCC members Betty and Wade Kornegay's house in MD Friday night, heading on to our house in Ooltewah. We had a really nice visit and it sure was nice to see some familiar faces. Hal is writing letters from Biloxi during the week and I have included the pictures he sent along with his message following this entry.

Those 4 who stayed with us on St. Patrick's Day will return here next Saturday night. Ed did the cooking for this past weekend. On the return trip, Ed will be in OK and I will be on my own. Most of you know I have no real talent when it comes to cooking. And I have asked several differnt friends to come down to help me cook, but nobody responded. Fair weather friends, I guess! Oh well, there's always McDonalds!

Some of you will know these people and others won't. Those of you who are more interested in the Back Bay Mission in Biloxi and the project can go to this link. Click on the left side of the home page on Upcoming Events and Workcamp Schedule. People from all over the country are joining in. You can see Memorial Congregational Church listed there for this week.

In addition to sending the crew, our church was hoping to raise $3000 to present to the Mission when they arrive in Biloxi. I don't know if they reached their goal or not, but I am sure you can still send donations to Memorial Congregational Church, 26 Concord Road, Sudbury, MA 01776 and mark on your check "Bundlies for Biloxi". I know they can use the help.

Hats off to these folks for giving up their week and making a difference.

Terry and Hal in our dining room. Hal is going to make a slide show of the trip. That should be fun.

Sue Whelpley, Terry Keeney, Ed, Me and Hal. The weather in Tennessee was far better than up north.

Sue, Terry, Betsey, Ed an Hal just before loading into the Cutler mobile.
I bought these cocktail napkins just for Hal. It was Saint Patrick's Day and I thought it was appropriate for someone having just travelled 1000 miles on a mission!

Have a great day everyone. Enjoy the last day of winter, wherever you are!



Hal is posting letters each day now that they have arrived. Here is today's:

"Greetings from Biloxi,This will be the first of our "Letters from Biloxi" in which we will report on our excursion to the Back Bay Mission (BBM) for a week long work camp.You heard some of the story of our travel experience this weekend. Sue Whelpley, Terry Keeney and Betsey and Hal Cutler left at 9:00 Am on Friday too drive Betsey’s van full of tools, sleeping and wearing gear for the group to Biloxi. The got to Hartford before there was any serious accumulation of snow on the roads but from Hartford to Bettie and Wade Kornegay’s home in Burtonsville, Maryland they had to contend with snow and slush on the road. The trip that was to have taken them about 7 hours stretched to 13 hours. Fortunately, they avoided involvement in any of the many accidents they saw along the road and arrived at 10:30 PM to a wonderful dinner and late evening visit with Bettie and Wade. The total mileage for the day was 432.

Driving from Sudbury for 13 hours in a snowstorm, Captain Hal got the crew to Maryland safely. Front row: Hal Cutler, Sue Whelpley, Betsey Cutler. Back row: Bettie Kornegay, Wade Kornegay, Terry Keeney.

The traveling on Saturday was pleasant by comparison with dry roads and less traffic. After about 10 hours on the road, covering about 600 miles, the van arrived at the home of Sue (Petersen) and Ed Eaton Our arrival at 7:30 allowed a more leisurely dinner prepared by Ed, with Sue’s help, a nice evening for visiting and a relatively early bedtime.

On Sunday, the van crew said good-bye to Sue and Ed at 9:15 and headed southwest for 479 miles to Biloxi. This trip was also on dry roads with not too much traffic except in the metropolitan areas near Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama. They arrived at 5:15 PM (4:15 Central Time) and were welcomed by some of the BBM staff and the lead crew who flew to Biloxi.After that first day of tense driving in the snow, the trip settled into a routine……. but too much of a routine for Hal. As the trip dragged on, he had to keep reminding Sue, Terry and Betsey that the group was on a mission to get to Biloxi safely and quickly. As Terry tells it the group was told not to think of the trip as a vacation and that they were forbidden to look at the scenery in the Blue Ridge Mountains or take note of the Civil War history of the Shenandoah Valley. Hal, on the other hand, indicated that keeping potty and food stops short was like herding a bunch of elephants…. very slow. After all that, the group was still speaking to each other and ready for a rewarding week at BBM."

This is most of the group traveling by air. Front row: (St.) George Connor, Mary Bernier,Joe Bausk. Standing Eddie Hawkins and Mike Vai. Not pictured: Reverend Lisa due to arrive in Biloxi today. (George's wife Melinda claims to be a good friend of mine, however, she would not fly down to TN to help me cook for the 4 traveling by car. Imagine that!)

The group that flew to Biloxi had a much easier time…….. that is if you don’t mind getting up at 3:00 AM to assemble at Cutler’s house to be driven to the airport by Karen Ross (another saint) to catch a 6:00 AM plane. Their trip went well, including a change of planes in Atlanta, and they arrived at the BBM by mid afternoon.The early crew spent some time with the BBM staff traveling to the house in Gulfport that we will be concentrating on this week. We’ll be repairing the roof, installing and fixing drywall, installing insulation, closing in a couple of windows and fixing vinyl siding. We also went to another worksite in Biloxi to unload some supplies.It’s time for a late dinner, so we’ll sign off now and file another report tomorrow.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Morning Folks 3/6/07

My daughter in law, Robin, sent me some Tennessee tidbits I thought I would share with you. It was coincidental that she would send them today since just yesterday my dental hygienist told me a story and I overheard a conversation at the Mall that I thought I would share with y'all.

Here are some of Robin's tidbits:

Possums sleep in the middle of the road with their feet in the air.
Onced and twiced are words.
It is not a shopping cart; it is a buggy.
People actually grow and eat okra.

Fixinto is one word.
There is no such thing as "lunch." There is only dinner and then there is supper.
Iced tea is appropriate for all meals and you start drinking it whenyou're two. We do like a little tea with our sugar!
Backards and forwards means "I know everything about you."
DJeet? is actually a phrase meaning "Did you eat?"
You don't have to wear a watch because it doesn't matter what time it is.You work until you're done or it's too dark to see.
You don't PUSH buttons, you MASH them.

You measure distance in minutes.
You've ever had to switch from "heat" to "A/C" in the same day.
You install security lights on your house and garage and leave bothunlocked.
You only own four spices: salt, pepper, Tabasco and ketchup.
The local papers cover national and international news on one page, but require 6 pages for local gossip and sports.

You find 100 degrees Fahrenheit "a little warm."
You know all four seasons: Almost Summer, Summer, still Summer andChristmas.>> Going to Wal-mart is a favorite past time known as"goin' Wal-martin" oroff to "Wally World.

A carbonated soft drink isn't a soda, cola or pop . . . it's a Coke,regardless of brand or flavor. Example: "What kinda coke you want?"

Fried catfish is the other white meat.

I left off the things she had listed about spiders and snakes because I just don't want to know about those things!

My new dental hygienist, Karen, is a recent transplant from Michigan via Florida. She and I were laughing about the language barrier for those of us not from these parts. She told me a story about her 5 year old who had been born in Florida and never seen snow or hail. So he was very excited to see hail one morning before he went to school. That day he told all his classmates about the hail he saw at home that morning. He was abruptly taken aside and reprimanded for using a curseword. Of course he had no idea what he had said that was wrong.

Then, yesterday in Penney's there was a woman my age with her daughter and her newborn baby. After learning that the baby was a month old, the sales clerk exclaimed that she was so tiny. The grandmother said, "She's a lot bigger now than when she was born. She was real little. But she is still small enough to swaller whole." I loved that!

So, I will be listening and trying to collect the more colorful colloquialisms to share with you Northerners.

I was watching Good Will Hunting last night. I had forgotten how melodious that Massachusetts accent is. It may be a small world, but there are times when it feels very big, indeed.

Have a great day.

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