Sunday, April 27, 2008

My brother Benjamin

My brother Benjamin died young. He had one daughter, Tam, to whom I am Auntie. I was nine years old when he was born and I remember it well. The most vivid thing I remember about his birth was that he kicked our brother, David, out of the of the "only male grandchild" and "the baby" category all at the same time with some results that we will not go into since I value my brother David.

Benjamin was an instigator all his life. I use that word deliberately where some might use "trouble maker" but many of the things he instigated were not trouble. He had a good friend when we lived in Bauxite. What those two could not think up could not be thought up. We lived in a company house that had the whole Hurricane Creek bottom as a backyard and in those days children were free to roam as they pleased. We roamed. We did things I am sure my mother would have lost her mind over if she had known. But one vivid and I mean VIVID memory I have is of the afternoon Ben and his friend found and killed a huge black snake and then threw it at me.

His grin was infectious and he had more energy than anyone I have ever known. In adulthood that energy went into his career and his daughter, Tam. He made friends everywhere, he was very much like Daddy who never met a stranger and always knew all our neighbors no matter where we lived.

We kind of got out of close touch during the last years of his life, so I will treasure always Christmas 1984. I had been evacuated from Bogota because of a kidnapping threat against me so was home that Christmas just by chance. Because of that we were all at home for Christmas for the first time in years. I remember him that Christmas, particularly one day when he got a call from his office and he was standing in the kitchen at the Prattsville house of my parents in a green and while striped polo shirt, talking on the phone trying to explain something to someone who just wasn't getting it.
By the next spring he was gone, in body, but not in spirit. I see so much of him in Tam, the restless energy and interest in everything. He would have been proud of her.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


I have seen many rainbows in my life and travels, including an awesome double rainbow one afternoon in Kent (UK) on one of those typical English days when it was raining on one side of the road and the sun was shining on the other. But last night's rainbow trumped even that.

I worked late at the bookstore and was coming come in a rainy twilight when the clouds in the west broke and the setting sun peaked through. Just as I came over the top of a hill I looked out to the east over a field with a tree line at the back to see a rainbow. It appeared to be rising up out of the trees and did not go high enough to actually form a bow, but there it was in the dusky rainy early evening, God's promise to the world "and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh."

I would imagine that promise is a little hard to believe for the people of this state who have been flooded out of their businesses and homes--with 3-5 more inches of rain promised for today and tomorrow.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Life on the Wild Side!

Yesterday was not a pleasant time to live in Arkansas. We had been warned from midday that severe weather was expected later in the day. I got busy doing something and did not have the TV or the radio on so I was alerted at about 9:00 p.m. by a phone call from a weather alert service provided by a local TV station that we were under a Tornado Warning and should take cover.

I quickly grabbed the portable radio, Bella's carry case, my purse and a telephone and we piled into the walk in closet in the guest room. It is the most inside room in the house and hence the safest place to ride it out. I have a stool in there and lots of pillows, blankets, etc. that are stored there. I put Bella in her carry case and we got set to wait it out. For the non-cat people reading this, cats freak out when their house blows away around them and frequently are never found, so I wanted to be sure she was closed up. The thunder got closer and closer and there was one particularly close lightening/thunder episode and then it was over and on its way toward JW and her family. I was not too worried about them, they have a safe room in the garage and use it when necessary. It was a little scary when I heard that the storm was moving right up route 107 which goes by their house.

Right at the end of our storm, the lights went out and that was when I discovered that in my haste I had forgotten to bring a flashlight with me. So we sat in the total dark for a few minutes. I felt a little pat on my ankle and put my hand down and Bella had her front paw stuck out through the grille door on her case and was patting me.

When we came out and I turned the TV on, I found out that there was significant damage in a neighborhood very close to my cousin and I called them to be sure they were okay.

I also discovered on the TV that the storm that had just gone by us was out in front of the main squall line and we had more coming in another hour of so. In fact, it was after midnight before things calmed down enough that I felt comfortable in getting undressed and going to bed. Then just before 5:00 this morning I was waked up by the sound of thunder and we had another little session.

We had 3 inches of rain in my area, and a lot fell on those areas of the state that are already under water. There was significant damage in a bedroom community about 20 miles to the west of Little Rock and in a neighborhood in Little Rock fairly close in. But thankfully no serious injuries or deaths. That can be attributed in a large part to the fact that the radio and TV stations do such a good job of warning people.

So since March 1, Arkansas weather has been:

Ice Storm
Snow Storm
Snow Storm

Makes me wonder why I live here--but not for long. Mild winters, long hot summers, warm, welcoming, friendly people, low housing cost, a growing economy, and a dropping unemployment rate. I could do a lot worse!