Wednesday, October 31, 2007

one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish

One fish
two fish
Red fish
Blue fish.

New fish
Old fish
Live fish
Dead Fish

RIP, Valentine

It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of 'red fish'. Sometime, between breakfast and today's Halloween buffet our beloved red fish (also affectionately known as Valentine) sunk to the bottom of his fish tank. Red fish leaves behind one sibling, his brother, blue fish.

Red fish will be sincerely missed. Valentine had been with us longer than most employees. Several years ago both red and blue were left behind by a colleague who was moving out of state. Since that time red and blue fish have been tenderly cared for by J-. J- helped Valentine valiantly fight several illnesses, including a year ago when he was nursed back to health by the magic power of cooked peas. Our sincere thanks go to google who provided the resources that lead to the discovery of the medicinal quality of peas.

A funeral service was held today at the edge of the back parking lot. It was an intimate gathering of close friends. After sharing memories, red fish was given a final send off with a green and purple 'silly string' salute.

Special thanks to A.F. for providing photographic services.

Silly String Salute!

CNN Breaking News... From The Situation Room

Breaking CNN News Coverage - NOT about the wild fires!

Top Story Click here

Follow up Commentary, click here

Fave Quotes
When asked if he'd known he was related to VP Cheney, Obama replied, "We had kept it hidden. He's the black sheep of the family."

Ellen: "You got some moves. You're the best dancer so far of the presidential candidates."
Barrack: "It's a low bar but I'm pretty sure I've got better moves than Giuliani."

Clip Of Barack Obama Dancing With Ellen

Firestorm Relief

Want to get hands on with the Fire Relief Effort?

Click here for more info or
drop me an e-mail me and I can share with you opportunities to help!

Hi Team
Another team was out tonight helping a family in RB clear their household remains. It is incredible to see the number of volunteers helping at all hours of the day and night. Thank you volunteers for making a difference in this families life and doing such a great job of getting all the debris cleared.

Today will be another work day. I'll let you know if I get anything set up for Thursday or Friday but for sure we will be back out on Saturday from 8:30 to 4pm and on Sunday from 2pm to 6pm for debris removal and sifting. Let me know if you will be joining us.

I would love someone to coordinate the "filling of sand bags". This will be the next huge effort as the raining season begins to set in.

We are also looking for donations to make meals for these families as we put together welcome baskets.

If you know of a family needing help please let me know.


Donations tax deductible -
mark Firestorm 07 Relief
mail to
12463 Rancho Bernardo Rd. PMB #158
San Diego, CA 92128

Donations will be used to buy materials for sifters, rakes, shovels, goggles, particle masks, etc, to have on hand for the work days. Donations also needed for Gift Baskets and meals.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Canadian Dollar Rises Above The U.S. Dollar

Today at lunch I had to run to the bank to deposit a cheque. The Bank of America ATM is prejudiced -- every time I try and feed it a cheque written on a CDN bank account it spits it back on me. So today, I finally went in to the local branch (does anyone do that anymore?) to make a deposit.

Imagine my surprise when the total deposit was 58 cents more than the face value of the cheque. How cool is that?!?

Oct 31, 2007 12:45 AM ET
Currency Exchange rate
Canadian Dollar 1.0490 USD
US Dollar 0.9533 CAD

Shriek Manor

My sister and her family go all out for Halloween. Over the years their display has continued to grow and grow and grow. It is now attracting alot of attention.

They now have a website dedicated to their Halloween display. Click here to visit Shriek Manor.

Click here to see the CBS website coverage. Scroll down to the section labelled Denver, Shriek Manor.

I made my geeky contribution to the season at work on Friday. I wrote a custom database exeption that logs the following whenever a data save fails -- "Uh oh! Something Scary Just Happened!" O.K. probably not descriptive enough to make it to the production version of the product - but it is fun for now.

In LaJolla Shores there is restaurant that rivals my sister's home. Wouldn't you like to be eating lunch with these guys looking on!?!

Ghouls of LaJolla Shores

Monday, October 29, 2007

She found her RING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It is late and I was going to skip reading e-mail before bed. Scared I may find that my unread messages may now exceed 200.

One e-mail has a subject line of almost all exclamation marks - "She found her RING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" caught my attention. Glad I stopped to read it. A good reminder at how a small gesture here or there, like hauling metal to the curb, can create ripples and trickle down and in such positive ways.

It can be discouraging sifting through the rubble. You can see it on the families faces. Having people join along side and sift with them helps raise their spirits. We were encouraged to intentionally celebrate each item we found. Hearing shouts of joy help include everyone around you in the celebration and provides motivation to keep looking.

Tonight I share with you this families' joy and ask you to celebrate with me!

October 29, 2007 09:50:21 PM PST from Phil

Hi Team
I received a call from Maureen, Jerry and Curly's daughter. Today the family went back to the site and continued sifting through more ash. They were able to sift areas that they hadn't before because of all the heavy debris removed from the property. Now that it was all gone, thanks to all of you, they found the Jerry's wedding ring!!!!!!!

Maureen said we were the first one she called. She said "if it weren't for the team they never would have found it." Her tears said more than the words. She wanted me to tell you all how grateful the family is for all the hard work and helping them
find this precious treasure.

Thank you Team.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sifting Through The Rubble

Click here for more pictures of our workday in Ranch Bernardo.

This morning I got up early and headed to the Taco Bell in Rancho Bernardo. There I met up with about 40 volunteers. We were all responding to a request asking for volunteers to help families sift through ash and rubble looking for valuables. As I looked at the rag tag group assembling in the parking lot- I noticed that a number of people were wearing souvenier T-shirts from the Gulf Coast. So many of the group had made trips with Friends and Family Community Connection to help rebuild after Katrina - now that experience was coming in handy here at home.

Our Team. Front Row Are The Families Who Lost Their Homes In The Fire

We headed as a caravan to a cul de sac where we would spend the morning doing recovery work at three homes. We broke into teams with shovels and rakes and began to search, sift and clear. At each home we worked along side the homeowners and helped them in the search. The homeowner I met was a collector of china. She showed me where in the house the china cabinet had been. I went to work collecting as many remnants of china that I could.

Salvaging Pieces Of The China Collection

The next home I helped at belonged to a frail 80 year old couple. The rubble was too much for them to navigate. I held the lady's arm and helped her out of the rubble to the side of the road so she could sit in a lawn chair and observe. One of the greatest joys of the day was when we found a china cup and saucer and a crystal elephant intact. I took them over to her in the lawn chair and handed them to her with a big smile.

China Cup and Saucer and Crystal Elephant Found Here

At one home we found backyard lawn furniture, plants, fountains, sculptures and a BBQ -- all completely untouched by the fire. The house, however, burnt to the ground. You could see the family had done everything right when it came to fire prevention. Tile roof, big fire break zone - a ravine covered with ice plant. Yet, the fire jumped the ravine and the green space, completely jumped the backyard and hit the house. They lost everything. The house next door had no damage.

Backyard and BBQ UnTouched

After lunch went a couple of streets over and started work on another set of three homes. One house had a truck in the garage - well under the collapsed garage. We cleared the debris so that the truck could be towed away. Parts of the garage door was under the truck, which no longer had any tires. We had to lift the truck to clear the garage door.

Garage Debris Cleared Away

Below is a picture of the view from the backyard of the final house of the day. This couple left at 4:30 am on Monday morning for a mission trip to Peru. They drove to the airport not knowing that there house was in immanent danger. When they reached their stop over in Miami they learned that an hour after they left their house burnt to the ground. We were helping them search for some Navy Medals and Cuff Links that had been presented by President Reagan.

Cross Stands On Burnt Hillside

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Smoke Over San Diego

I stand at the foot of the cross on Mount Soledad and look north. Smoke hangs over the city - as far as the eye can see.

Smoke Hovers Over San Diego

The evacuations have been lifted. Folks are returning home to sift through the debris. Last night as I watched the news I see a family searching in the piles of ash -- amongst them a familiar face, a big smile as always, despite the devastation. He runs across my TV screen and gives the family a high five when they find a ring amongst the rubble.

It is a has been a long week and I am tired. Tomorrow I will awake early and meet up with that familiar face. Just a month ago we were working together in Biloxi - helping families rebuild after Katrina. Tomorrow, here at home, we will search with our neighbours for hope amongst the ashes.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Peace Jibbitz

A Souvenier from New Orleans

2 Hamsters, a fish and tub of Haagen Das

Everyone in San Diego this week has a story to tell. The last few days - at Starbucks, at Denny's I have asked people, "Have you impacted by the fire?" Sharing our stories is an important part of the journey together.

Today, I eased into my work day. First, I spent some time talking to my colleagues and listening to their stories. Here is one evacuation story.

The knock on the door came at 6 am Monday morning telling them to evacuate. The family madly rushed and packed up and was ready to leave in 15 minutes. Even though there were three kids to wake up and get out the door, my friend took the time to ask her children what it was that was important to them and let them choose what to pack up and take. When they were ready to pull out of the driveway --- the mini-van packed with three kids, two hamsters and a fish – her oldest son very proudly proclaimed that he had brought along a tub of Haggen Das ice-cream!

If you had to leave on a moments notice and everything left behind will be lost – what would you take with you? After you know your loved ones are safe -- what would you go back for? You would be surprised when the time comes - how little in life is irreplaceable. On Monday, I helped several people load up their cars ready for evacuation. I carried boxes of family photos/videos, a favourite toy for the kids -- but not one TV or DVD player.

Events like Katrina or the California fires have a way of putting things into perspective.

Fire Monologue

I normally watch very little TV - but this week I have watched a mind numbing amount.

24x7 disaster coverage.

I miss the levity of my evening routine of watching Ellen’s monologue. I connect with her quirky observational humour. I found the monologues from the past few days online. They perfectly reflect both the events and my thoughts the last few days.

Monologue from The Ellen Degeneres Show
Wednesday October 23,2007

We are very fortunate people.

This is the grateful show.

There are fires from Malibu to San Diego and there are people evacuating and trying to find a safe place to stay right this minute. There are already over 1,500 homes that have been lost. My Dad and his wife and their cat are at our house because they live in San Diego and had to evacuate. The are now at our house.

This is horrible. They say it is the largest evacuation since Katrina.

I think I can speak for all of us. Our heart goes out to all of you out there who are going through this. Our prayers are with you.

I have been through this. I was in Ojai when there was a fire and we had to rush out. You are just grabbing things and it really puts things in perspective because you realize when you are trying to flee from a home and there are ashes falling and fire - you look around … and it is stuff, just stuff. I grabbed the animals and my mother grabbed the photographs. God forbid we loose those photos of me in the 80’s with the mullet. Get them Momma! Don’t loose the mullet!

It happens so fast – you just start throwing things in a bag. You are in the car later on going what did I grab and you have your National Geographic collection and some incense and a couple of hats and an orchid. You are like ... alright then?!?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sun Rises From From Smoke and Ashes

Sunday: the fire starts in the rural area of Witch Creek.
Monday: early morning the fire crosses into the city of San Diego and half a million people evacuate.
Tuesday: the fire continues to rage out of control in the city
Wednesday: the weather starts to change, air support is able to fly, the fires started to turn back out of the city.
Thursday: I stand on my balcony, give thanks and take a picture of the sun rising above the smoke and ashes.


Some choices will choose you. How you face these choices ... is what will define the context of your life."

-Dana Reeve, 1961-2006

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Firestorm Prayer

Dear Lord,
Today we pray for those who have lost their homes and those whose homes are at risk. We pray for protection, faith and hope. For firefighters and emergency personnel who are risking their lives to save others, we pray for strength, rest and protection. For government officials who are making decisions for our county’s welfare, we pray for wisdom and discernment. For all of us, we pray that we would trust you and see your hand in the midst of this disaster. Empower us to comfort others even as you comfort us. Amen.

-- Prayer by Pastor Mike McClenahan of Solana Beach Pres

A Community Gathering of Prayer and Support
Solana Beach Presbyterian Church
Thursday 7:00pm in the Sanctuary

Our gathering will include a time of singing, sharing and prayer. Please bring your children, students, friends and any needs you may have. If you are able to volunteer your home or your time, please come prepared. There will be an offering taken for relief efforts.

The Winds Are Changing

The hot, dry, easterly Santa Ana winds are calming and being replaced by the normal westerly wind off the Pacific Ocean. Last night, I could actually feel the cooler moist air coming in off the ocean. What a tremendous relief. This morning it felt scorching hot and dry again - but the news says that the breeze coming in off the ocean is building. The air support that is so critical to getting the fire under control is now starting to fly. It is re-assuring to see and hear them up above.

The onshore winds are a mixed blessing. It is great for us on the coast, but a problem for mountain communities where the fire is now doubling back and could re-igniting some hotspots in areas already burned over. Some communities are now being hit by a second wave of fires and houses missed the first time are burning.

Evacuation orders have been lifted for the coastal communities of Solana Beach, Olivenhain and Del Mar, Del Mar Highlands and Carmel Valley. A portion of Rancho Bernardo also is allowing people back. That means my guests are able to go home and my office is back open - so off to work I go...

I want to give a "shout out' to Alice for letting Picky and I bunk in with her for the last few days!

I am sitting here rather tired trying to work through some technical issues. The upside is that work is air conditioned and that is a welcome relief from the heat.

It is exhausting watching the fires hop scotch through the city. I have to say, it is heart wrenching watching on T.V. a disaster happening right in your own back yard. When the fire is moving fast and jumping around life pretty much turns into 24 hours a day watching the TV to figure out when/if you need to evacuate.

Late in the day Monday some of my neighbours started loosing their phone, cable etc and heavier smoke began to roll in. Once the mandatory evacuation zone made a move south towards us the level of panic really started to increased. I helped several neighbours pack there car, but then explained that pre-emptive evacuation may sound like a good idea -- but once there 1/2 a million people under mandatory evacuation and flooding the freeway searching for safe place ... it is really better not to add to the mayhem. Their evacuation plans were going to take them through mandatory evacuation zone and along 100 miles of freeway that was currently averaging speeds of 5 miles an hour. Talking with my neighbours, I began to realize how confusing it is for people new to the city and especially those with English as a second language to know how to decipher and respond to all the emergency broadcast information.

The always handy Cal Trans Map that shows current Freeway speeds.

Here are some local info on the web about the fire situation.

  1. Fire Map. Click here
  2. Sattelite photo of smoke blowing out over the ocean. Click here
  3. Slideshow of pictures taken by local San Diegans. Click here
  4. UnOfficial Lists of Burned Homes. Click here or here
  5. Local Newspaper. Click here
  6. Local TV. Click here
  7. My church's Fire Relief Page. Lots of good info and links. Click here

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


is not the fulfillment
of what you want,
but the realizeation
of how much
you already have.


Fire Update

I found some nice digs for the day -- a local Starbucks with free WiFi AND air conditioning. There are about a dozen people that have been camped out with me here all day with their laptops working. One of my colleagues who had a house full of evacuees for the last 24 hours also swung by to visit and escape for a bit.

All day yesterday things were too chaotic for any "numbers" in the news reporting. The numbers are starting to roll in - and they are very sad. At noon 500,000 plus evacuated, more than 2,000 structures and 250,000 acres burnt. The fires still continue to rage out of control.

There is some good news. In some areas planes have been able to take off and start an arial attack. Also, a couple of previously evacuated areas are now being proclaimed safe and people are allowed to return.

Most non-essential services are all closed through the end of the week.

Picky and I continue for now to stay with a friend. The air quality here in PB is quite good - much better than to the north. Until we return home or the mandatory evacuation is cancelled for my place of work -- Starbucks is my internet service provider and office!

Fire updates here

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fire Continues To Burn

Click here for the latest updates.

5:30 am
Rancho Bernardo has now been evacuated. 48 power outtages through out the city. The fire jumped freeway 15 just south of Pomerado at West Bernardo Drive. Parts of freeway 15 are closed.

"The situation has gotten dramatically worse overnight," said Chief Bill Metcalf, the area fire coordinator for the county. Instead of calming, winds increased overnight, pushing the fire westward with flames shooting up to 200 feet in the air, he said.

6:00 am
Evacuations expanded to Del Dios and Rancho Santa Fe.

6:30 am
Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for a huge swath totaling 100 square miles and ranging from Interstate 5 on the west across Interstate 15 to the east, and north from state Route 56 to Lake Hodge. Among the communities in the evacuation area are Rancho Sante Fe, Carmel Highlands, Rancho Bernardo, Del Mar Heights and Fairbanks Ranch and parts of Rancho Penasquitos. Qualcomm Stadium set up as evacuation center.

7:00 am
Emergency officials are urging people to avoid using major roads and highways within the county today. With highways already clogged with evacuees and emergency vehicles, authorities asked residents to avoid all non-essential trips, and to stay home from work if possible.

8:00 am
Officials also ask that people keep their cell phone use to a minimum to keep lines open for emergency officials to communicate.

9:00 am
Houses are burning in Rancho Bernardo just off Pomerado Road.

"We have more houses burning than we have people and engine companies to fight them," said San Diego Fire Captain Lisa Blake. "A lot of people are going to lose their homes today," she said.

10:00 AM
250,000 people have been evacuated from their homes.

Dozens of home in Rancho Bernardo are burning and there are now reports that some homes in 4S Ranch are also on fire.
San Diego City Fire spokesman says that fire is burning both north and south of Lake Hodges. He also said there is beginning to be some fire activity in Rancho Santa Fe.

11:00 AM
All of Rancho Santa Fe is now under mandatory evacuation.
"No matter where you live, pay attention, look to the media for updates and be prepared to evacuate" - The Fire Marshall

All Solana Beach residents told be ready to evacuate.

The Navy is asking only essential personnel to report to duty.

The San Diego Wild Animal Park was evacuated at 5 a.m Monday, with a selected group of smaller and endangered animals taken to a veterinary hospital on site. By late morning, the park was enveloped in a blanket of ash and smoke. 30 employees deemed essential were left behind, including keepers, veterinarians and operations staff.

The Del Mar Racetrack's 1,800 horse stalls are full and it's unclear where any more horses will be held. As of 9:45 this morning, there were only 100 stalls left and by 11 a.m., people were told they were full. Officials were bringing horses to the Scream Zone area temporarily and were also considering double-stalling the horses, housing two horses per stall.

After a power outage knocked Clear Channel Communications' nine radio stations off the air earlier today, KOGO AM 600 and its sister stations are back and broadcasting.

Part of Rancho Bernardo Baptist Church, located at West Bernardo Drive and Duenda Road, has burned.

Fire evacuees with motor homes or other large vehicles can go to the Silver Strand State Beach in Coronado or the Torrey Pines or San Elijo state beaches in the North County, officials said.

Cars have been streaming into the Qualcomm parking lot at a steady clip all morning. A concession window was opened, and free slices of pizza and hot dogs were being given out.

Police and fire officials were on hand, as were representatives from the San Diego Blood Bank, which was accepting donations. Lynn Stead, of the San Diego Blood Bank, said they only had a two-day supply of blood.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders is encouraging residents and business owners to donate the following items in support of fire evacuation relief efforts at Qualcomm Stadium: prepared foods, water, tents, cots and blankets.

All donations should be delivered to Gate P at the Qualcomm Stadium.

1 pm
Mandatory evacuations ordered for Fallbrook and Valley Center.

As of 1:45 p.m mandatory evacuations are ordered for the folowing area:

Everything south of Scripps Poway Parkway
North of MCAS Miramar
East of Interstate 15
West of Highway 67.

Governor Schwarzenegger held a press conference in San Diego and declared the fires in San Diego to be the worst in the history of California. 800 National Guard Troops will be diverted from the border to help with the fire effort.

3 pm
I hear my neighbour stuggling down the stairs with her suitcase. I went out and helped her load her car. She is packed ready to go. Her daughter and three grand children are in the area and getting antsy. My downstairs neighbour came out and asks us if he think he should evacuate. He has two young children. We compare notes on the news and traffic and decide that the freeways are clogged with a quarter of a million people who under evacuation orders. For now it looks like staying put is the best option.

4 pm

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has directed the California National Guard to increase the troops available to 1,500 guardsmen to the firefighting efforts.

San Diego Sheriffs Department has called for a mandatory evacuation of Scripps Ranch, Harbison Canyon and Crest. All areasd devastated by the 2003 Cedar Fire.

A new evacuation facility has been opened in Orange County for people leaving Fallbrook.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is preparing to evacuate its detention center in Otay Mesa, includes a state prison, a county jail and a juvenile detention facility.

The Mesa Grande Indian reservation was evacuated.

The El Cajon Animal Shelter, will be open today to receive domestic pets and small livestock animals for emergency boarding.

The Westfield Parkway mall, , has opened an area in the Southeast corner to large livestock since Lakeside rodeo grounds have filled. They've also opened up the Northwest section of their mall parking lot for RV's and campers.

The new Home Depot location at 298 Fletcher Parkway, have opened a section of their parking lot to large livestock, RV's & Campers. They also have water available there and port-a-potties available.

Granite Hills High School, located at 1719 E. Madison Avenue has opened their parking lots only for large livestock, RV's and campers.

There is a serious lack of horse trailers to transport these animals. Anyone with an available horse trailer can call the San Diego Animal Support Foundation immediately at 619-847-8755.

Night Time
Shortly after dinner the evacuation area expanded again. I have friends that had evacuated and stayed at the office of their family business. As the evacuation zone moved south they needed a place to stay. The gang has settled in to my place. Rather close quarters but they are upbeat and staying positive. So my apartment is now home to 5 adults and 2 children.

The Pickster and I have headed a bit further south and are staying with my friend Alice in Pacific Beach. We packed up before we left - since if the evacuation zone moves further south we won't be able to return and get our things.

No high-speed internet at my new location so I will probably go quiet now.

Fires Burning in San Diego County

Witch Fire: is 10,000 acres, 0% contained. The fire is still spread westerly. Currently there is 28 engines, 1 dozer, 14 fire crews, 2 water tenders, 18 overhead (369 firefighters). Multiple structures have been destroyed. There have been no injuries to firefighters and one injury to a civilian. Communities threatened: Highland Valley, City of San Diego/Rancho Bernardo, City of Escondido, City of Lakeside, Barona Indian Reservation, City of Poway, Wild Animal Park, Mt. Woodson, Muth Valley. Wind driven fire with spotting up to 1/2 mile. Rapid fire spread burning down hill, down canyon. The fire is burning primarily in unburned fuel between the 2003 Paradise and Cedar Fires.

Coronado Hills/San Marcos: The San Marcos Fire Department says reverse 911 calls were sent out to 4,062 residents in the community of Discovery Hills and the Red Cross has set up an evacuation center at Escondido High School. There are reports of structures burning and more than 200 acres have burned, threatening structures in the Coronado Hills area near California State University at San Marcos.

Mission Fire/Fallbrook: A new fire is being reported at East Mission Rd. and Davis Dr. No further details are available at this time.

Descanso Fire: According to Cal Fire a fire has broken out in the Descanso Valley area near Interstate 8. It has burned 200 acres. No further details are available at this time.

Harris Fire:is 20,000 acres and 5 percent contained. They are currently mapping the fire. Aircraft is periodically grounded due to high winds and visibility. The Southwest Powerline was shut off yesterday and to remain shut for unknown duration of time. San Diego County Sheriff and U. S. Border Patrol are handling immigrant issues including the rescuing, medical treatment, and identification of individuals. Otay Lakes Road is next fire decision making point for impact to San Diego City and Chula Vista. Multiple structures have been destroyed. There are 55 engines, 4 bulldozers, 9 fire crews, 6 helicopters, 5 airtankers (assigned), 6 water tenders (400 firefighters). The cause is still under investigation.

McCoy Fire:is a U.S. Forest Service fire it is at Boulder Creek and Eagle Peak. It is 400 acres and 5% contain. They are looking at full containment on October 23rd. One structure has been destroyed. Currently they have 5 engines, and 3 overhead which is about 30 firefighters. The cause is under investigation. The Rice Fire is 300 acres 0 percent contained. The location is in Rice Canyon in the northern part of San Diego County. The fire started on October 22 at 4:16 am. 250 structures are threatened and 1 has been destroyed. No mandatory evacuations at this time. The cause is under investigation. Firefighters are attempting to keep the fire in the area of Rice Canyon to east, I-15 to the west, Rainbow Heights to north and Hwy 76 to South. The fire is currently burning into agricultural areas.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fires Are Burning

Today has been a very warm and windy day. The Santa Anna winds started to pick up early afternoon and the temperature soared to the high 80's and humidity dropped to 6%. The weather conditions eerily reminded me of a Sunday four years ago when we woke up to find San Diego on fire. That day it was dark by noon and ash was falling from the sky. I wasn't sure if it was my imagination but I thought I could smell smoke today. The sky was clear, but I decided to check the news online just to be sure. CNN has scary pictures of the fires burning in Malibu. Nothing about San Diego. I check the website for the local newspaper and the Malibu fire is the top story there as well. Perhaps my neighbour has started smoking again. Nobody around here smokes - so whenever he lights up the smell permeates the neighbourhood.

Mid Afternoon
I decide to go for a run through the park and enjoy the warm weather. Half way through the park my eyes are irritated and itchy and I walk the rest of the way. By the time I return home the sky has gone dark and you can now taste the smoke in the air. This time I skip the internet and turn on the local NBC affiliate. They pre-empted hours of programming the last two weeks for the LaJolla Mud-Slide and the burst water main by Sea World. Surely, they will be covering the smoke filled sky. The T.V. tells me there are two fires burning in San Diego The Harris Fire and The Witchcreek Fire. Even though the air is heavy with smoke and it looks like the city is on fire around us -- the flames are currently 70 miles away. The Santa Annas have blown the smoke to the coast. The same thing happened during the Alpine fire. So far 1 dead, 9 injured. The T.V. tells us to be rest assured this is not another Cedar fire. The fire protection equipment and staff is so much stronger then 4 years ago. Everything was put in place ready for fire season on Friday. The air tankers were on standby at the airport before the fire started. By late afternoon 6,000 acres have burned. The Cedar fire was 400,000 and took a month to put out. A little perspective for those are panicking with the dark smoke filled sky, we are told.

Late Afternoon
NBC decides to air the football game and crawl the news during the game. The live news feed continues via streaming video on their website so I continue watching the news online. In the midst of all the re-assurances that the fire is far away and not a repeat of the Cedar fire the newscasters gently suggest that now is the perfect time to get together as a family and discuss evacuation plans. The screen flashes with the list of things to take with you in case of evacuation. Important papers, family photos - the things that can't be replaced. All the things I remember the people I met in the Gulf Coast mourning that they had lost.

An hour later we learn air bomber are not flying. The smoke was too thick for them to take off. High winds are causing the fire to jump around and the path is unpredictable. The winds are too high for the helicopters to fly. Communication has been lost with one of the fire crews.

7 PM
We are up to 14,000 acres burned between the two fires. 1 dead, 19 injured. To the south the fire crossed the border to Mexico - the Tecate border crossing has been closed. To the north, the residents of Ramona are on evacuation alert. 2,000 mandatory evacuations and 7,000 advisory evacuations so far. The Harris fire is currently 5% contained. The Witchcreek Fire is 0% contained and continues to head southwest towards heavily populated areas.

There is no rain in the forecast. Sadly, this is only day 1 of the Santa Anna's. It is expected to get hotter and drier as the winds continue to pick up for 2 more days. The optimistic tone of the news is starting to change. NBC is now saying that attempts to stop the spread of the fire have been unsuccessful. They are now warning this fire could be worse then the Cedar fire (click here for the 7pm news update).

Govenor Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency for several counties in Southern California. The Govenor will be flying down to San Diego tomorrow. The fire is now approaching the area where the Cedar fire started four years ago.

9:30 pm
They are using the reverse 911 system to send out mandatory evacuations for all of Ramona.

10:00 pm
Evacuations continue to expand. They now include North Eastern Areas of Poway and San Pasqual. Firefighters from other parts of California are starting to arrive to provide aid. Air quality for San Diego has now been declared unhealthy and school closures are beginning to be announced.

10:30 pm
Evacuees that were sent to Poway High School are now being asked to move to Mira Mesa HighSchool due to the thick smoke and poor air quality in Poway area. Reporters are now confirming that the fire is following the same path at the Cedar fire that burned into heavily populated areas of San Diego four years ago.

11:00 PM
The Mayor gave a press conference to announce that the fire is progressing faster than anticipated. It is expected that the fire will cross into the San Diego City Limits between 1 am and 2am this morning. The city has requested outside help in the form of 100 strike teams. Some resources from Northern California are now en-route and should start arriving sometime tomorrow. The Witch Creek Fire is being considered the most urgent of the California wildfires and will be the first to receive outside resources.

It is requested that people not evaculate until the order is given. For those in the path of the fire it is suggested that people start packing so they are ready to go when the order is given. Roads are already extremely congested with the large number of people fleeing the fire.

It was hoped the winds would taper off overnight. Unfortunately, the winds are picking up. Time to close the windows for the evening and pray for a change in weather.

Click here for the local NBC streaming live coverage.

Kingdom Of Heaven

A suffering soul on the way to the kingdom of heaven
Held up a sign that says god hates America

He said there is a love that is so hideous and destructive
We must drive it from earth to save all of our children

A suffering soul on the way to the kingdom of heaven
Prayed in the dark, death to the infidel
He strapped on his desperate pain and his faith to his body

A suffering soul on the way to the kingdom of heaven
Shouts on the news, they are the godless ones
The anger inside and the fear that it hides never leave her.

People come on tell me where is your kingdom of heaven?
Where is your faith, where do you put your fear?

My God is love, my God is peace, my God loves you, my God loves me

Excerpts From The Song By Melissa Etheridge From the 2007 Album Awakenings

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Reading At The Beach

Happy Saturday!

I headed out this morning with great enthusiasm for a 2 or 3 hour bike ride and beach tour up the coast. I havent ridden for over a month ... well turns out that just riding up the hills to get out of my neighbourhood was all the challenge I could handle. I only made it as far the golf course before I turned around. Sigh.

Right now is a busy time for reading and studying. I am in the midst of another Spanish Class and also trying to ramp up on a new programming language and technology related to my recent job change. I decided to pack up my books and plunk myself down at the beach for an afternoon of reading and studying. I have found that studying doesn't seem as arduous when you do it at the beach!

Surf Or Swim?

I decided to take a break and walk into town. There is a restaurant that is all decked out for Halloween and I wanted to check it out. LaJolla Shores is also home to The Cheese Shop. In addition to being funky and having great sandwiches they sell Canadian Chocloate Bars!!! Sure they cost three times what you would pay for them in Canada. But, if you don't want to mail order a case at a time, the Cheese Shop is a pretty good option. Alas, by the time I took my break they were already closed for the day. On my way back to the beach I popped in the local market. Not sure why, it isn't like I was expecting they would have a stock of Canadian chocolate bars. Along the back wall were some fridges with a wide variety of drinks - so against all hope I decided to check it out for my ever elusive favourite drink. That brings me to the HIGHLIGHT of the day --- with great joy I discovered one really over priced bottle of - Sobe Zen Blend.

Walking Back Triumpant With My Zen Blend Drink

Friday, October 19, 2007

Say It's Possible

Terra Naomi asked people from around the world to film themselves answering the question "what would you do/want if anything were possible?" in three words or less.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Apache Blessing

May the sun
bring you new energy by day.
May the moon
softly restore you by night.
May the rain
wash away your worries.
May the breeze
blow new strength into your being.
May you walk
gently through the world and know its beauty all the days of your life.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Free Iggy!


This is *the* topic of conversation today. Everyone keeps asking, "did you hear?!?" Even our 'heads down, serious, perpetual cone of silence' office was a buzz with the story. Even before the melt down aired on Tuesday there were clips on TMZ and lots of rumblings on the internet after the backstage webcam photo was posted.

Pretty surreal. A classic case of not seeing the forest for the trees. Doesn't look like there will be any happy endings on this one.

Some links

  1. Monday's Taping ... No Monologue, no dancing - just Kleenex.
    Transcript Video
  2. Backstage webcam Picture
  3. Stop the Death Threats Video
  4. SPCA Weighs In Open Letter
  5. Video Interview The Night It Happened. Click here
  6. Ellen On Air With Friend Ryan Seacrest Click on Listen under Ellen's picture.
  7. Emails demanding Iggy be returned Clickhere
  8. Free Iggy Petition Click here

Take a deep breath and back to the loving place !

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Living With Intention

“Begin each day as if it were on purpose””
-- Mary Anne Radmacher

New Socks!

Picked up half a dozen funky new socks at the Gap the other day. About 7 years ago I found some socks I liked at the Ralph Lauren Outlet in Carlsbad. I bought a dozen white and a dozen grey. So that is what I have worn day in and day out since then. Thought it was time to shake things up a little.

Cool new socks

Monday, October 15, 2007

God's Custodians

Our earth is God's creation. We are its custodians. We can no longer look the other way.

The good news is that people and institutions of faith all over the world agree. This gives me great hope.

--U.N. Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon

James Blunt 1973

You are getting older
Your journey has been etched on your skin

Live Performance, Including A Dance With Ellen on the Piano

Official Link to interview and clip of performance.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sunday Dinner

Not sure what possessed me to subscribe to the NY Times TiVoCast called "The Minimalist" - but I am hooked. When I first subscribed I must have thought it was a lifestyle show about living simply. Turns out Mark Bittman (a.k.a. The Minimalist) writes a food column in the NY Times and his TiVoCast is a cooking show.

The other week he made a Zucchini-Pear Soup that looked intriguing. With the help of Google I was able to track down the recipe.

This weekend was cooler (we dropped below 70 deg F) and cloudy (there were a couple of white fluffy things in the sky). So I decided it was the perfect opportunity to wind down the weekend with some homemade soup!

Dinner Is Served

Work In Progress...

Cultural Mandate

Cultural Mandate has been historically interpreted to mean that into humankind is breathed an inquisitiveness, an exploring nature, a thirst to understand and use all things for God's glory. Economics, art, music, literature, architecture, politics, science etc. -- we are able to celebrate God's glory and beauty in all He has created.

- adapted from fund raising letter written by Dan Bird Minister of Music and Worship at Solana Beach Pres

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Old Fashioned Movie Theatre

This evening I took a trek down to the Kennsington area of town. My destination was The Ken, the only single screen movie theatre left in San Diego. It was reminiscent of going to movies as a kid. One person selling tickes, two in the concession stand -- no stadium seating or other fancy add ons - just a big screen and sticky floors.

Before the movie started the manager of the theatre came out and welcomed everyone and told us the names of the people that were working in the theatre this evening. He told us the film we were about to watch was an important one and that he hoped we were moved by it and enjoyed the show! No advertisements or previews - just the film we came to see.

What a refreshing movie going experience!

Let it Rain

We had rain last night!!

If you don't know San Diego - rain isn't a frequent visitor in these parts. I loved hearing the sound of rain falling in the night and waking up to wet pavement. In honour of the occasion - a poem!

The Engineer

Let it rain!
Who cares?
I’ve a train
With a brake
Which I make
From a string
Sort of thing,
Which works
In jerks,
‘Cos it drops
In the spring,
Which stops
With the string,
And the wheels
All stick
So quick
That it feels
Like a thing
That you make
With a brake,
Not string ....

So that’s what I make,
When the day’s all wet.
It’s a good sort of brake
But it hasn’t worked yet.

– A.A. Milne

Friday, October 12, 2007

Alice's Tea Party

My friend Alice has been researching local dessert options after last week's post detailing my adventures with cup cakes in Beverly Hills.

This evening we enjoyed a tea party at Heaven Sent Desserts in North Park. Great find Alice!! It is a very cool little dessert cafe. Completely my groove - I loved the ambiance. When you order you are given a Beatrice Potter book that acts as a stand/holder to put on your table to display your order number. Alice asked if we could have The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin for our order holder. The server smiled w-i-d-e-l-y. I am guessing they don't have alot of those kinds of special requests!

I ordered the Alice's Tea Party Cup Cakes (with a name like that -- really how could I resist?!?) and an Earl Grey Tea. Alice had a mini coconut cream pie and coffee.

With the chill in the air tonight -- it was the perfect evening for hot tea!

Yes, they really are called Alice's Tea Party Cup Cakes!!!

Our Heaven Sent Desserts

What Happens Tomorrow?

I believe if I look hard enough
I will see
That there can be enough
I believe I can think clear enough
To conceive
A place where there's enough

If you become the change
You want to see
you change

If not now, when
If not today then
What happens tomorrow
What happens tomorrow

I believe that we are waking up from the spell
That those that profit from the fear
Cast so well
Good people of the earth now can tell
There is no us and them

Excerpts from Melissa Etheridge's song What Happens Tomorrow
2007 The Awakening

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Can You Say Yum?

Last week Ross claimed to be the Albert Einstein of healthy living by inventing the 200 calorie pizza. After listening to him gush for 10 minutes over his creation. I decided to try creating a healthy pizza of my own.

So here it is... Tippie's Low Cal Pizza!

  1. One whole Grain tortilla, lightly toasted
  2. Smear with marinara sauce or if you are boring plain old tomato paste
  3. Cover with a handful of low-fat Mozarella
  4. Add sliced bell pepper, red onion slivers and smother with shredded pineapple.
  5. Add a little more low-fat Mozaarella.
  6. Put in under on broiler for 2- 3 minutes or until cheese is gooey.

Tippie's Low Fat Whole Wheat Tortilla Pizza - Fresh From the Oven


"Labels are for filing. Labels are for clothing. Labels are not for people."

-- Martina Navratilova

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Red Umbrella

Faith Hill

Sometimes life can get a little dark
I’m sure I’ve got bruises on my heart
Here come the black clouds full of pain

It aint gonna drown me after all
I’m gonna be ok, so let it rain
Oh Let it rain
Let it fall, I’m gonna be ok, so let it rain

Complete Lyrics

Sometimes life can get a little dark
I’m sure I’ve got bruises on my heart
Here come the black clouds full of pain
Yeah, you can break away without the chains
Your love is like a red umbrella, walk the streets like Cinderella
Everyone can see it on my face

So let it rain
Just pour it on the ground, and let it fall
It aint gonna drown me after all
I’m gonna be ok, so let it rain

You can wear your rock and roll rain coat
Can save your tears in a bottle made of gold
Glitter on the side walk always shines
Yeah even God needs to cry sometimes
Your love is like a red umbrella, always there to make me better
Mend my broken dreams fallin from the sky

So let it rain
Just pour it on the ground, and let it fall
It aint gonna drown me after all
I’m gonna be ok, so let it rain
Oh Let it rain
Let it fall, I’m gonna be ok, so let it rain

Let it wash my tears away, tomorrow’s another day

So let it rain
Just pour it on the ground, and let it fall
It aint gonna drown me after all
I’m gonna be ok, so let it rain

Let it rain
Let it fall
It aint gonna drown me after all
I’m gonna be ok, so let it rain

Oh let it rain, let it fall
I’m gonna be ok
So let it rain

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Zucchini-Pear Soup

Published: October 3, 2007 The New York Times
by The Minimalist

3 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil, or a combination

1 medium carrot, peeled and diced

1 medium onion, peeled and diced

1 medium potato, preferably high-starch (“russet” or “baking”), peeled and diced

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, or a pinch of dried thyme

Salt and black pepper

4 medium zucchini, trimmed and diced

2 medium ripe (but still firm) pears, peeled, cored and diced

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or use water

Mint leaves for garnish (optional).

1. Put butter, oil or combination in a large skillet over medium heat; when butter melts or oil is hot, cook carrot, onion, potato and thyme with a healthy sprinkling of salt and pepper. Stir occasionally, adjusting heat so vegetables do not brown. When onion is softened, about 5 minutes, add zucchini and continue to cook until everything is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Add pear and cook until it has softened, about 5 minutes more. Add liquid and bring to a boil; taste and adjust seasoning. Cool mixture, then purée. Serve cold or reheat and serve hot, garnished with mint, if desired

Monday, October 8, 2007

Life In A Cube

Yesterday I was longing to be home in Ontario enjoying the fall colours and having turkey with family.

But for me, it was back to work ...

For official Dilbert click here

Happy Thanksgiving

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Thought For The Day

"Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains,
at the huge waves of the sea,
at the long courses of the rivers,
at the vast compass of the ocean,
at the circular motions of the stars,
and they pass by themselves without wondering."

Saint Augustine

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Snacking My Way Home Again

On my way back from Santa Barbara I decided to make a snack themed tour through some of the trendier areas of LA.

I started in West Hollywood at Pinkberry.

Pinkberry With Fresh Mango, Rasberry and Banana

Sing along with me ...

Sorry Ice-Cream
I am dreaming of a different dessert
Frozen Yogurt and Shaved Ice
Sorry Ice-Cream
I'm on my way to Pinkberry
Pinkberry for me

Check this out. Only 25 calories per serving!!! Zero Calories from Fat.

On my walk over, I am pretty sure I saw Wanda Sykes coming out of the Bohdi Tree Bookstore. With my snack theme for the trip, I had my sites on a different bookstore - Book Soup over on Sunset. It reminds me of The Different Drummer Bookstore in Burlington -- without the cats curled up in the corner!

A Literary Snack At Book Soup

With all the calories I saved at PinkBerry I decided to head over to Beverly Hills and splurge on some Sprinkles cupcakes.

Yes, you too can wait in line out on the street for over half an hour just to get into the store! By the time I had purchased my prized cupcakes it was already 4 pm. That meant I would spend the next 3 hours snaking my way through LA on the 405 parking lot. Looking back, I have to say the cupcakes were worth it. I would do it again in a heartbeat!!

Sprinkles in Beverly Hills

My Prize!!

Relaxing In Santa Barbara

The freeway was busy for the drive up - but other than the Hollywood Freeway traffic was moving well. When I reached Montecito I pulled off the freeway and took a scenic drive through town and along the coast. Stopping along the way to eat the picnic lunch I packed.

I am staying at a small Inn across the road from East Beach. I choose it because it received rave customer reviews on the internet. It was also the most economical option in the area I wanted to stay. All the internet reviewers raved about the Inn Staff. Well, now that I am here - I have to agree. Even better, they were out of standard rooms so I rec'd a free upgrade to a suite. I have a full kitchen, a fireplace, King size bed and of course free wireless -- on the beach and for less then staying at a Super 8 by the freeway. Schwing!!!

I love East Beach - you can walk on the beach for what seems like forever.

This wasn't meant to be a shopping a trip - but after the sun went down I left the beach and took a stroll up State Street. It is an ecclectic mix of little shops and eateries. Along the way I stumbled across a Territory Ahead and a Crazy Shirts. I came away with a new jacket and a couple of new shirts. I guess it is a good thing that I am heading back to work on Monday!

Room With A View

Strolling East Beach Santa Barbara

Rainbow Sculpture

Friday, October 5, 2007

On The Road Again...

Well I am back from Mississippi and home again in the land of fruit and nuts!

In all honestly I am exhausted. I had planned to read on the trip home - but instead I slept on and off and watched the movie. So now I have arrived home with my night and day all turned around.

Only a few more days and it is back to work at the new/old job(don't ask it is complicated?!?).

I have decided to make a little personal retreat before returning to work. My favourite place to kick back and relax - is at the beaches right here in San Diego. Since I have the opportunity 'get away' I am going to sieze it and drive up the coast to visit the beach in Santa Barbara.

My favourite part of the trip is on the edge of Ventura County when you turn the bend and all of a sudden the ocean and mountains appear. At that moment you are rewarded for persevering though all the traffic and the concrete jungle of L.A. and Ventura. No matter how many times I make the trip - turning this corner always takes my breathe away!

Turning The Corner

East Biloxi - A Place Of Contrasts

noun. a distinction drawn on the basis of contrast.

That is my one word description of present day East Biloxi.

  • The Beau Rivage Hotel and Casino looms large on the coast of the Gulf with a gorgeous view of the water. A big beautiful V shape - a buzz with activity and tourists. Half a block away and across the street is a 20 story apartment buliding. Blown out and abandoned.

  • In the heart of East Biloxi is The Volunteer Village. It is alive with volunteers who have travelled many miles to join with the residents in the rebuilding effort. Across the street is a little corner store. We asked not to frequent the store - drug deals go down there on a regular basis.

  • The police request that we not walk in the neighbourhood alone at night. If we go out in a car after dark, go in a group and let someone know you are leaving. Yet, we spend our evenings in the homes of beautiful people who live in the immediate area. Each night they invite friends, family and neighbours and we enjoy visiting and sharing with each other.

  • From the porch of a home we are working on I look across the street at a beautiful field and enjoy the open space. I am told that before the storm the field was full of homes. One half of the neighbourhood completely gone, wiped out - now an open field.

  • Across the street from one of the homes we are working on is a modern looking school building. But, after a few days we realize we have never heard or seen any kids playing. As we pass by at recess we see only a handful of kids outside playing. Where have all the children gone?

  • The waterfront on both the Bay and the Gulf are nearly completely rebuilt. Casino after casino - the image of opulence. Yet right across the street is a blown out and abandoned home. One block away is a home we were working on. The family and people they have taken in - all crammed into a couple of small FEMA trailers and dreaming of being in their home by Christmas.

Different Faces Of East Biloxi

What is in a symbol?

These spray painted symbols are a frequent site on the homes in Biloxi. I took a picture - hoping I would be able to find someone to tell me what it means. With a little help from google this is what I learned...

Every house in the flood area was marked with a spray-painted "X" after it was searched. There are four sections and each has a meaning.

Top Quadrant - date the home was searched
Left Quadrant - initials of the search squad
Botton Quadrant - body count
Right Quadrant - notations for hazards such as gas and water leaks, downed wires, infestations or dead animals

Taken from "For tales of life and death, the writing's on the wall"

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Good-Bye To Biloxi Beach

So I end my trip to Biloxi where I started. This time there is no storm warning. It is a beautiful bright day!

Flowers in the white beach sand

Remains Of The Docks

Damaged Trees In The Distance

Cool Trees Surround A Damage Building

Tree Snapped In Two

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Did You Guys Do Any Work?!?

After reading the last few posts you might think that we spent the days hanging out on people's porches visting and the evenings eating shrimp and fried chicken ... but we actually all worked pretty hard.

Some of what we did...

Installed Kitchen Cabinets In Two Homes

Addressed Plumbing Issues

Built Stairs and Installed a Railing

Hung Lots and Lots and Lots of Doors

General Clean Up

... and applied lots of drywall mud.

For a little change of pace I also had an opportunity to repair a corrupt operating system on someone's PC!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Jumping Tracks and The Importance Of Porch Time

As I reflected back over the week during my journey home, the scene from the play/film "The Guys" came to mind. (The true story of a Joan a writer in NYC who helps Nick a fire captain prepare eulogies for his fallen men after the tragedy of Sept 11th review Trailer).

Joan reflects ...

"We all travel in our track - neighbourhod, job, friends, parents of your children's friends. No matter how big a city gets, the only way to live in it, is to live in your village. You get to a certain age, and the next person you meet has a logical connection to the ones who came before - a friend of a friend. Nick and I weren't suppose to meet. You couldn't create another sequence for his life that leads to me. Or for my life that leads to him. After Sept 11th, all over the city people jumped tracks."

Through the rebuilding effort, an opportunity was made for me to jump tracks and visit a community in East Biloxi. I was able to meet people who due to our differences in geography and life circumstances - otherwise probably would have never met. They received me with such a warm embrace and I was blessed by their candor as the shared their stories of journey through adversity and God's provision in the midst of tragedy.

All the homes we worked on were with in a few blocks of the stadium. The whole time I was there I probably travelled no more than a mile each day. I realized a real sense of neighbourhood and living in community which I have not felt since living in Canada. One of our team members described what he calls 'porch time'. You see in this area everyone has front porches - and they use them. People sit outside and talk and visit. In California, we are always rushing too and fro. Everyone is always so *busy* with *important* things. It can take a month to connect and arrange to share a meal with someone. However, we arrived in Biloxi and at the drop of a hat each evening there was someone wanting to have us for dinner and in no time the house would be full and alive with friends and family. The introverted part of me wanted to go back to the stadium and process the day - but the listener and observer in me was thrilled not to be rushing off someplace or working to meet a deadline - but rather enjoying an evening sharing in community.

During these evenings I sat and listened to people's stories. I don't talk alot large groups -- but I am quietly present in the moment and soaking it all in. This for me was truly the highlight (well my first hot shower in 5 days runs a close second!) of the trip. Everyone had a different story - but they all shared the same theme of losing everything and walking through the valley of the shadow of death -- to find the gradual revelation of restoration, hope and abundant blessings on the other side.

One lady told the story of how she evacuated, but her elderly neighbour refused and stayed in her home. They were on the phone with each other as the storm descended. Her friend gave her a play by play from her porch as one roof flew off and then another. As the water came, her neighbour went into the house to wait out the storm. Her friend was sitting on the bed with her toes in the water and then the phone dropped and the line went dead. It would be weeks until she would learn that her friend had survived the storm. I met her friend the day before - sitting on the porch beaming and anxious to chat with anyone that passed by!

Another lady stayed in her home and she sat on the kitchen counter, her head inches from the roof. The water rose and rose and rose until it reached shoulder height. Just when she thought all was lost - the water stopped rising. Outside the water had risen over her head, but her doors and windows held - the water came up through the floor and never reached the heights it has outside and she was spared. She is now plays a key role in identifying people in need and connecting them with volunteers.

One family shared of being relocated to a variety of different cities - and when they first came back they slept on air mattresses in the yard. Wild dogs, pets who had been abandoned and were hungry that would circle their campfire at night. When a storm came they went into the house to sleep and became ill from the mold. They now live in FEMA trailers on their property. They hope to be back in their home by Christmas.

It was sad to hear the stories of those who did not make it through the storm. Heart breaking to hear of those who lost hope. Many came back and were overcome with despair and died in the months following Katrina.

Two of the men (Mr. Electrical and Mr. Drywall) from our team were on the ground North of New Orleans a day after the storm. They also were in Indonesia after the Tsunami. They have been trained by their church to do mass cooking/feeding. When disaster hits the Red Cross calls them to volunteer in mobile disaster relief kitchens. They worked cooking for several weeks in trying circumstances after Katrina hit. The meals that they cooked would be shipped out - but they never saw the faces of the people who rec'd them. One night we were invited to be the first dinner guests at the home an earlier team from San Diego had helped restore. As we sat around the dinner table and listened to stories - the conversation shifted to the first days after the storm. Several people described sitting in despair, having lost everything - and not knowing how they would even eat (there were no stores or gas stations open anywhere in the area) ... when down the street appeared the Red Cross with towels and blankets and meals. In that moment - sitting across the table from each other were the men who cooked those meals as a labour of love and tangible expression of their faith and the very grateful recipients who received the meals declaring them manna from heaven. That evening was a divine appointment.

I helped with drywall and other tasks - but at the end of the day the people I met in Biloxi gave me so much more then the little drop in the ocean of help I was able to provide.

Porch Time

Finishing Touches On The Front Door

More Porch Time... and Doors to Hang!

Plenty of good home cooking - fried chicken, fish and fresh shrimp!

I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, O Lord,
make me dwell in safety.

Psalm 4:8