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Archive for September, 2021

Fall

Haiku by Katherine Loyacano

Crisp leaves tumbling.

Amber skies and pumpkin pies,

awaken my soul.

Happy Fall, Ya’ll! My favorite season of the year finally arrived last Wednesday, and I welcomed the season by displaying a few fall decorations on my front porch and inside my home, and I engaged in a couple of enjoyable activities to make the autumnal arrival more meaningful. I recorded a vlog of my first day of fall afternoon, which Kelsi graciously edited for me, and I now get to share with you, dear reader. I hope you enjoy it. Happiness!

“And all at once, summer collapsed into fall.” ~ Oscar Wilde

KUDOS: Many thanks to Kelsi for editing my vlog and adding both music and graphics along with my audio recording of the the poem, ”Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost. You’re the BEST, Kelsi!

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Autumn has officially started which means the month of October is just around the corner. Last year, I created a Halloween Fun List with all sorts of fun and spooky activities. Reading books, short stories, and poems was one of my favorite activities on the list. This year, Kelsi and I thought it would be fun to create a readathon with prompts based off of horror movies. We created a video explaining the prompts and announcing which books we will be reading for the readathon.

PROMPTS

1.“You know it’s Halloween. I guess everyone’s entitled to one good scare…” – Halloween

Read a book set on or around Halloween.

2. “Nothin’ can call it off.” – Pumpkinhead

Read a book with a pumpkin on the cover.

3. “Whatever you do… don’t fall asleep.” – Nightmare on Elm Street 

Read a book at night or in the dark to elicit nightmares! 

4. “Who ya gonna call?” – Ghostbusters

Read a book featuring ghosts or ghostly beings. 

5. “Being normal is vastly overrated.” – Halloweentown

Read a more innocent (but still spooky-themed) book geared towards kids, middle graders, or young adults.

6. “Wolfman’s got nards…” – The Monster Squad 

Read a book featuring any kind of monster…vampires, mummies, werewolves (because…nards), blobs, sea monsters, gremlins, aliens. Any monster or creature would be fang-tastic!

7. “Ding dong, you’re dead.” – House

Read a book or story featuring a haunted house, hotel, apartment, or any place that’s haunted. 

8. “If you believe in God, then you gotta believe in the Devil.” – The Last Exorcism (BONUS)

Read a book that features an exorcism or some kind of possession. 

9. “Susie, do you know anything about… witches?” – Suspiria

Read a book that features witches, wizards, or any kind of magic/black magic.

10. “What do you look like? It depends on who is looking…” – The Mothman Prophecies 

Read a book or story featuring something unexplainable, mysterious, or eerie.

11. “This one night changes everything for me.” – House of the Devil 

Read a book/story set in the 80s, published in the 80s, or a book that has an 80s feel/vibe. OR Read a book having to do with cults or devil worship.


12. “It will consume you.” – Color Out of Space

Read a book with a bright or neon-colored cover.

13. “You gotta see the shape of this fn’ guy that just walked in.” – Terrifier 

Read a book with creepy clowns, menacing mimes, or dangerous dummies. These are supposed to make you laugh, but some end up trying to murder you instead! 

Kat’s Picks

Kelsi created a bingo-style card (featuring a visual of the horror movies to accompany the prompts) for anyone who wants to join us in our spooktacular reading adventure. The card includes a bonus square for overachievers like Kelsi and me.

The terrific part of this fang-tastic readathon, dear reader, is you can tailor it to fit your reading needs. You can read novels, novellas, graphic novels, short stories, or poems. You can read something different for each of the squares or one selection could be used for multiple squares. And, you are under no obligation to choose every square…just pick and choose which prompts appeal to you. This readathon is designed for all of us to add a little more thematic fun during the Halloween season. Happiness!

“Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and caldron bubble.” ~ William Shakespeare, MacBeth (more…)

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Hurricane Ida has come and gone, but her visit has left an indelible impression on anyone she inconvenienced during her stay. For many of us in Louisiana and beyond who experienced Ida’s wrath, the effects left in the wake of her fury will continue to be felt for the remainder of this year and well into the next.

Hurricanes are part of the package when you reside in Louisiana. They are ferocious, destructive, and unpredictable. I have lived through several hurricanes in my lifetime, and in my experience, Ida has been the worst in my community.

Ida made landfall in Louisiana near Port Fourchon (about 130 miles away from my house in Hammond) just before noon on Sunday, 29 August. This happened to be the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a hurricane that wreaked havoc in southeastern United States and devastated the city of New Orleans and surrounding areas with major flooding.

Around 12:30 in the afternoon, we lost electricity for about an hour. There was a slight breeze, but the rain had not yet started. My family and I continued prepping for our uninvited guest. We really started feeling the effects of Ida’s arrival between 6:00 and 7:00 in the evening (light rain and winds gusting).

7:07 pm on 29 August 2021

About 45 minutes later, I had showered, microwaved a bag of popcorn, and had nestled in my bed to watch the second episode of The Walking Dead. Then, the electricity went out and chaos ensued shortly afterwards. The eye of the storm was right at Laplace. Between 8:30 and 9:00, my hubby and I heard a loud thud not far from our bedroom window. He grabbed a flashlight and headed out the front door. The pear tree on the side of the house near our garage had uprooted and fallen down either on or near Andrew’s car. It was too dark to tell at that point. I told my husband NOT to tell Andrew.

Shortly afterwards, about 9:30, all hell broke loose when a large oak tree crashed onto the roof of my house right above Andrew’s bedroom. He had been sitting up in his bed, talking to his girlfriend Aileigh when sheetrock debris from the ceiling fell on top of him, getting into his eyes. Then, water started coming in fast and furious where the plywood in the roof above had separated and the beam had been broken. There was a crack across the ceiling from point of impact to the other end of the bedroom. As soon as we knew Andrew was safe, the four of us worked feverishly to minimize the damage to his room, his belongings, and the rest of the house. My husband and Barry, Jr. went outside, climbed onto the roof and tried to seal the area while Andrew and I quickly started removing his belongings from his bedroom. The tree had also knocked the chimney stack off of the roof, causing a small leak in the fireplace. Parts of the ceiling started falling into the room. With the help of my husband and Barry, Jr., we were able to remove everything that belonged to Andrew, except for few items left in his closet which were unharmed when we checked the next morning.

We could see bubbles in the ceiling in other areas of Andrew’s bedroom, so we knew there had to be other leaks. Barry, Sr. climbed up into the attic and discovered the tree had punctured two more holes in the roof. We were going to need more buckets.

Thankfully, Barry, Jr. emptied the buckets throughout the remainder of the storm (hours) which included repeated trips up to the attic to empty the bucket under the bigger of the two holes in the attic. He was exhausted; we were all exhausted. However, we had survived a frightening experience. I am not sure how I was able to finally fall asleep because the ferociousness of the gusting wind, the creaking and cracking of the trees, and the fearful thoughts of another tree falling on the house assaulted my mind. I later found out from my sister, who lives in Atlanta, that we were hit by sustained winds of 80 mph with gusts up to 100 mph. Ida beat the crap out of us for hours.

I was not prepared the next morning for the destruction that Ida left behind when she left town. The ceiling in Andrew’s bedroom had collapsed, and I could now see the sky through the two holes. Debris covered the floor.

Uprooted trees littered the backyard outside. Another tree had fallen in the front yard, missing the house by about two feet. And, the pear tree that we thought might have landed on Andrew’s car spared it. It knocked the cover off of the mirror on the driver’s side of the car, but snapped right back on when it was discovered under some tree debris. My yard and my neighborhood looked like a war zone.

Walk the Backyard

A couple of days after the storm, I recorded some video footage of the trees that had fallen on our property. It was heartbreaking to look at all my beautiful, healthy trees on the ground. I was worried about all the squirrels, birds, and bunnies that live on our property. I sent the video clips to my friend Kelsi, and she graciously edited them together so I could share with you, dear reader.

The days following Ida’s unpleasant visit just seem a blur now. The holes in the roof were covered with tarp, the opening in the chimney was securely covered, a claim number (thanks to my sister Rachel) was issued by the insurance company, and we got an estimate from a tree guy. Andrew’s eye healed completely from getting ceiling debris in it when the tree hit the house. Thankfully, my sister-in-law Natalie, who works in eye care, looked at his eye on Monday afternoon after the storm and did not see anything in his eye; therefore, she said it was probably a scratch which would heal within 48 hours. And, she was correct! Communication with others outside my neighborhood was almost nonexistent. The first few days were extremely rough, but I remained hopeful.

Then, Tuesday, 07 September arrived with many blessings. Garbage service and mail delivery resumed, an insurance adjuster visited the house and assessed the damage, and the electricity came back on later that afternoon. My glimmer of hope just got brighter.

Rise and Fall of the Tree

The next morning, B N R Investments removed the tree from the house. What a relief! I felt like we were finally making progress. I recorded video footage of the tree removal and sent the clips to Kelsi, so that she could edit them together. She is SUPER awesome! She even included graphics for both videos.

It has been three weeks since Hurricane Ida made her forceful entry and exit, dear reader. While my circumstances are improving, there are still challenges. My hubby has used the chainsaw to cut up the pear tree and the oak tree in the front yard. Barry, Jr. and I spent days piling up a great deal of the debris from both of those trees near the street plus debris from trees in the backyard. I am still waiting on the results of the insurance adjuster’s visit. I have no internet/cable tv at my home, my cellular service is weak, and restoration of these services cannot be determined by the provider. It is as if I live in a dead zone. My hubby returned to work on Friday, 10 September. I returned to work on Friday, 17 September for a staff meeting and quite a few changes due to the damage my school sustained because of the storm. School resumes for both Andrew and me on Monday, 20 September. Barry, Jr. works remotely, so his biggest challenge is finding a place where he can access the internet. He may be spending his days at a local coffee shop or SLU’s library.

Despite the damage, the inconveniences, the unknowns, as well as the stressful and overwhelming moments, I am eternally grateful and feel blessed beyond measure. My family and friends who dealt with Ida are all safe. My sister Rachel helped my family immensely with getting the insurance ball rolling and provided me with much-needed emotional support. I am thankful for the provisions we received through the generosity of my neighbor Rita and my husband’s company. I can still live in my house while Andrew’s room and the chimney are being repaired. I have ELECTRICITY which is huge! Our vehicles were not damaged. A volunteer group cut up many of the trees (for free) that insurance will not pay to remove. I have firewood for my fireplace for several years. My squirrels and birds are returning to our yard. My husband and I both have our jobs. The list goes on and on with all the blessings that I am currently experiencing while dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. As I have mentioned before, my community and I will prevail. Happiness!

The Lutheran Early Response Team left my family this memento from one of the trees they cut on our property.

“No matter how difficult the situation is, it won’t last forever. What follows the night is the day; what follows winter is the spring.” ~ Tony Robbins

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Kat standing in front of neighbor’s tree after Hurricane Ida.

Good morning, dear reader! Due to Hurricane Ida, I am currently unable to access internet at my home. Today, I went into the city of Hammond with Andrew to take care of an issue at the post office, and we decided to stop at PJ’s, a local coffee shop, to access the internet and take care of a few online tasks. Just wanted to say hello, let you know my family and I are fine, and will be publishing posts when I can get back online.

Yes, that is me standing in front of an oak tree that uprooted in my neighbor’s yard during the hurricane. It was one of the many trees that uprooted in her yard as well as in my own.

Despite challenges that Hurricane Ida has presented in my personal life, my community, Louisiana, and other areas of the United States, I am grateful, hopeful, and have faith that with time, we will all prevail and regain some normalcy. Happiness!

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

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