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Posts Tagged ‘hope’

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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Did you know, dear reader, that cardinals are considered visitors from heaven? Many cultures believe they can travel between the heavenly realm and the earthly realm. These beautiful backyard birds also represent a sign of hope for those who are worried or feel anxious.

Imagine my delight when spotting one perched on a squirrel feeder in my backyard yesterday morning after my slow, uncomfortable walk around my neighborhood. This morning, I should have done my third run/walk session for this week. Sadly, that did not happen because both of my knees still feel EXTREMELY achy when I run (and walk fast). And, I am not even running fast. My running is more like jogging. So, I begrudgedly walked instead for 35 minutes just to continue my walking streak.

Did I progress too much, too soon? Perhaps. Ugh! I am immensely disappointed by this setback. I really had high expectations when I started my run/walk program. I think my knees are hurting because I am still carrying too much weight, and I need to strengthen my legs with exercises other than just walking. Therefore, this upcoming week, I will repeat Week #1: Walk 30 minutes a day, at least three times a week. I will practice self-care and nurse my knees. I may attempt to ride my bike if I can do so with no discomfort. Seeing that cardinal has given me hope. Good things come to those who wait…a lesson in patience. I am not an Olympic athlete, and I have nothing riding on when I can continuously run for 30 minutes. It is a personal goal, and this setback is a just speed bump, telling me to slow down. As a result, I will eat healthy foods, strength train, cross train, and walk at least 30 minutes per day (at least three times a week). I’m starting my Clean & Lean program on 01 September (Wednesday) which should help me shed some more weight.

Now, that all sounds terrific and doable as long as my family and I are not severely impacted by Hurricane Ida which is coming directly towards Louisiana. Hurricane Ida is predicted to make landfall tonight (the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina). It is also a Category 4 storm. What does that mean for my neck of the woods? Lots of rain, storm surges which contribute to flooding, winds up to 85 mph, risk of tornadoes, and loss of electricity. I am staying put in my home with my hubby, our two sons, and our four fur babies. We have food and water, as well as gasoline for the generator. We have natural gas, so we can still cook meals. Items outside have been picked up and put away, and the gutters have been cleared of leaves and debris. Our bathtubs are full of water in case we need it to flush toilets. We are ready. All we can do now is patiently wait for the impact of Hurricane Ida and pray that everyone in her path remains safe. I hope my cardinal brings us good luck.

Before I sign off, I want to share a video chat I had with Kelsi where we talk about the slasher film, Sleepaway Camp, we both watched as part of our Summer Slasher Movie Marathon in July. If you watch it, please consider hitting like, leave a comment, and subscribe to Kelsi’s YouTube channel. She also vlogs, reviews books, and talks nostalgia from the 60s through the 90s.

Despite not being able to run/walk this morning, I am truly grateful that I was able to enjoy my morning walk before it started raining. As you go about your day today, dear reader, please keep the residents of Louisiana in your thoughts and prayers. Hopefully, my next post will be filled with good news that we weathered the storm with little or no issues. Happiness!

“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

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Happy Easter Blessings, dear reader! Jesus Christ has risen today and on such a gorgeous Sunday spring morning. It will be a low-key kind of day for me. My hubby drove my Daddy to Kentucky where they are visiting my Uncle Manuel for Easter. Son #1 will be celebrating the day with his girlfriend Kayla and her family. Since it is just Andrew and me, we decided to celebrate the day with a Mexican fiesta. I will be cooking bacon ranch chicken taquitos and tacos. We also plan to have chips and queso. Afterwards, Andrew will spend some time at his girlfriend’s house while I plan to watch a horror movie related to Cinco de Mayo. I admit it is not our traditional Easter celebration; however, it will suffice for this year. Additionally, I will not be attending Mass this morning because I attended the Easter Vigil last night.

I have a Godson! Since the end of September, I have walked with Mr. Mike (Shelly’s bonus dad) as his sponsor on his journey to becoming a Catholic. Last night, was the end of our journey together and the beginning of his journey as a member of the Catholic Church. Mr. Mike, along with five other catechumins and one candidate, entered into full communion with the Catholic Church last night at the Easter Vigil celebration at St. Margaret Queen of Scotland Catholic Church in Albany, Louisiana. Mr. Mike received the Sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation. I am overjoyed for him and all the others who made the commitment to walk with Christ.

The Easter Vigil was a beautiful celebration. Fr. Jamin and everyone who participated made the evening really special for the congregation and the newest members of the Church. Thankfully, Shelly and her husband Kerry attended the Easter Vigil as well. She took a bunch of pictures of Mr. Mike receiving all of his Sacraments. In addition, Mrs. Carol (Shelly’s mom) sponsored her niece Danielle who also became a member of the Catholic Church at last night’s celebration. What a wonderful evening!

May your Easter season be filled with joy and a renewal of hope, dear reader. Enjoy this special day with a song of love in your heart and peace in your soul. Happiness!

“We proclaim the resurrection of Christ when his light illuminates the dark moments of our existence.” ~ Pope Francis

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Easter BasketAlthough this Easter will look a bit different from Easters of the past, the fact that Jesus Christ has risen today remains the same. And, that brings about a peaceful feeling for me. Even though we did not celebrate Easter Mass at a physical church this morning; we still celebrated with a FB LIVE Easter Mass with Fr. Jamin, pastor of St. Margaret Church. The Easter Bunny still made a stop at the Loyacano household. Instead of hanging out with extended family today, I’ll be hanging out with the hubby and Andrew. What we do today doesn’t really matter to me. We are alive, well, and ready for a rebirth.

My walking streak continues. Because of the threat of impending bad weather, I chose to walk early this morning. I encountered a few sprinkles at the beginning of the walk and right at the end. I am still walking daily with Levar Burton (skipped Thursday with Levar to finish listening to the latest episode of Office Ladies). This will be the routine until I catch up with the episodes or start run/walking, whichever comes first. This week I listened to episodes #49 – #54. As always, I enjoyed all six stories; however, “Shoggoths in Traffic” (nod to H. P. Lovecraft) and “Cuisine des Memoires” were my favorites.

#49: “The Simplest” by Nicky Drayden
#50: “Shoggoths in Traffic” by Tobias S. Buckell
#51: “Cuisine des Memoires” by N. K. Jemisin
#52: “Small Medicine” by Genevieve Valentine
#53: “Face Value” by Sean Williams
#54: “Blur” by Carmen Maria Machado

Lily

My friend Ming sent me a photo of her beautiful lily.

Each day I feel as if I am improving with my productivity. I have been sifting through and discarding old paperwork. I have started to clean out my master bedroom closet. I ordered some dies for scrapbooking; therefore, along with my new grid paper, I really am hoping to get some layouts completed in the next few weeks. I completed the book of short stories (Full Throttle) by Joe Hill, and immediately started a collection of four short novels (Strange Weather) by him. I learned how to ZOOM and zoomed twice with some of my teacher friends. My hubby and I purchased a new dryer since ours gave out last Sunday. He was able to order one from Lowe’s and picked it up on Thursday evening after work. He is officially on vacation, so I am hoping we can complete some projects around the house during the upcoming week.

My Easter wish for you today is to have an enjoyable day, dear reader. May your Easter Sunday be filled with joy and a renewal of hope. Happiness!

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair: We are the Easter people, and Hallelujah is our song.” ~ Pope John Paul II

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BromeliadSpring has sprung! Daylight Saving Time is in full swing. Plants are springing up and are abloom. The sun is making more of an appearance, and temperatures are getting warmer. This season should be a time of celebration and new beginnings after encountering dreary weather and limited daylight hours. Instead, our world has been exposed to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and is facing an uncertain future. Understandably, this is leading to fearfulness and anxiety. Stress levels are rising with the temperature. And, this is only the beginning. What is the new normal, and how long will it last? For starters, social distancing has been strongly recommended by government officials to limit the spread of this disease.

My household has completed its first week of social distancing. My school closed on Friday, 13 March. The faculty, staff, and administration met throughout the day on Monday, 16 March to discuss the plan for continuing to educate our students during the time we are closed. Hence, remote learning. The educators at HGCS have all stepped up and are doing a phenomenal job. My job is to help the teachers and administration. Thankfully, I can work the majority of the time from home.

As for the rest of my family, they continue to navigate through their obligations, taking one day at a time. Son #1 came home safely from Singapore on Saturday, 14 March. He had been working there since 22 February. He had to report to work (locally) on Thursday. He does not currently live at my house; however, we remain in touch via text messaging and phone calls. My hubby drives a chemical truck for a living. He works out of town during the week. Thankfully, this past week he was able to find accommodations and places to purchase food. I expect as the weeks progress, this will be more challenging for him and other truck drivers. Andrew and his roommate were notified on Wednesday that they could no longer stay in their dorm at SLU, and they officially checked out yesterday afternoon. Therefore, Andrew is back at home, and I’m relieved. He will continue the spring semester remotely. My parents and my mother-in-law are doing well and are in good spirits, and they remain in contact with us daily.

Love LeafSo, what is next, and how am I handling this new normal? Basically, I am following my regular routine with a few adjustments. While I enjoy going out and socializing, I also like being at home. Many of the activities that I enjoy happen at home: praying, reading, scrapbooking, writing, organizing, watching television, listening to podcasts, talking on the phone, computer games, social media, coloring, puzzles, cuddling with Puar and Tooty. I can also go outside to garden, play with my dogs, or go for a walk. During the work week, I will stay in touch with the faculty and staff at HGCS and help them in any way that I can. I will do my part and stay home, only going out when absolutely necessary. I’m hopeful that this is a temporary situation and pray continuously for everyone affected by this virus.

With that being said, I’m extremely grateful for the men and women who must be out working in our community and pray for them daily: medical personnel, grocery store/gas station/restaurant employees, truck drivers, law enforcement, military, and sanitation workers. I’m grateful that my family, friends, and myself are feeling well. I’m grateful for our government leaders who are trying to keep us safe. I’m grateful for running water, electricity, food, shelter, and the ability to communicate with others.

Dear reader, I will be praying daily for your safety and well-being. How are you handling this difficult situation? Keep in touch and let me know what you are up to while engaging in social distancing. If you want to add a happiness boost to your day, check out Gretchen Rubin’s website. Try to remain calm, hopeful, positive and grateful during this uncertainty. Happiness!

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”     ~ Isaiah 41:10

 

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Movy

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