Monday, September 26, 2005

Back in NJ For Now

Interesting trip to say the least. The Florida Gulf Coast remains a target but I can't solve that problem without a lot more time discussing the price of oil in China and the solution to world peace with my 5 AM coffee club at the Tom Thumb at Chumuckla Crossroads. So, I am back in New Jersey.
I agreed again to put the Sussex County Community College, student newspaper together. Last year, in the Fall, I managed to put out four or five of them from my virtual location in Milton, FL. This year, I was only gone for two weeks and the next issue was not due until I got back. We don't get many hurricanes in NJ, so you would think putting out a campus newspaper from Sparta would be simple. But, alas my computer's Window's XP video drivers were destroyed by a video game my son downloaded on my computer. He will survive, and the therapy will probably do me a lot of good.
The barn is not yet done 'down home' but is near. Scott, who is doing the work is one of my favorite personalities (I hope to tape him one day for Last year he was arrested for having a half dozen loggerhead turtle shells in his posession. He was cleared. They were not endangered and they are not restricted. However, the courts did not relase the shells to him after he was acquitted. I think maybe one of the lawyers needed a wall display for his rec room. I am ordering a few more sheets of tin from South Alabama Metal Works in Brewton, today. That should let Scott finish the barn. More later. I am about to go tape a philosophical point of view by Dr. L. Harte, here in Sparta. Instead of preaching about taking care of teeth after taking Alex's braces off, he gave a 3 minute philosophy of life that I consider to be one of the most succinct and direct sets of instructions for living I have ever heard. So look for it soon on

Saturday, September 24, 2005

RITA - Reports from Houston

Dear friends and family,
Rita has been a fickle woman. She turned away from us and we were not at all disappointed to have her go another way. Of course, we've got enough bottled water to last 2 weeks & batteries for a lifetime.
Our son & family called their friends that stayed in the Houston area & received reports that the power went out for a short time but was up and running. They headed home about 2 hours ago. They wanted to beat the traffic they had to deal with getting here. It normally takes 3 1/2 hours from their home to ours but took them 9 to get here. All of the gas stations,
restaurants and stores were closed down along the way. They were fortunate because there were some people that had been on the road almost 24 hours coming in from the Galveston/Nassau bay area.
I want to thank you Floridians for your Survivor Tips. Especially Jerry Ranger offering a place to stay. Only thing, we would have had to drive a northern route to swing down south to Florida because the normal I10 route goes through Houston and is destroyed in some parts in Louisiana.
Our family from DeQuincy, LA (just outside Lake Charles) aren't able to plan their return just yet. We are trying to stay in touch. Rumors have it they have been hit hard. We are going to keep an positive outlook on things. The news here told us we would catch some of Rita at a level 1 with winds up to 100 mph. It goes to show you how our news media can sometimes (?) be over zealous, our weathermen can only guess with a hurricane, how unpredictable
these storms are and it's in God's hands. Hopefully, our DeQuincy family received at most minimal damage.
I need a day to catch up on washing linens, etc and will be back to the old routine and responding to emails in no time.
The easterly course coupled with the weakening storm and, our western location resulted in essentially zero effects in Cat Spring. We did have some breeze overnight (10 knots) and, perhaps 0.25 inches of rain ... not nearly enough to result in a lifting of the burn ban which has been in effect for the past several weeks due to our extremely dry conditions.
So, all in all, good for us.
John & Toni

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Notes from Down Home

I got to visit a lot of folks while I was 'down home' even though Ivan and Dennis took up most of my time. Here are some photos: and the descriptions are here in this text. The miltary people are Navy Officer Candidates at Pensacola NAS where I attended Church last week. I nearly had a flashback to my own OCS experience at Newport RI in 1970. Fortunately, with therapy, I am ok, ok, ok, o.... today (almost normal - neck still twitches). I had coffee every morning at about 5 or 6AM with the "DP" club at the Chumuckla Tom Thumb. This is where you learn how to find help to fix a barn, or get a bulldozer or how to buy tickets for the Biloxi gambling bus (for now you get tickets to Las Vegas ... or maybe Vicksburg) or explore the psychology of why land prices on the water soar after a hurricane. I went to Bonifay with Jim and Mom on my birthday and ended up with a bunch of cousins, Aunts and my Uncle Bobby presenting me with a birthday cake. Uncle Bobby (shown picking scuppernong grapes (niagara) told us the best stories of growing up in the 'canebrake' and my video batteries were dead. Later that day in Pensacola I had another cake at my sister's house. Earlier, I had gone to the "OPRY" in Chumuckla. I don't have photos of the Farmer's Opry, but I did tape some great material from the Sawmill Band that I may present on the video blogs from . Just as I was leaving to come back to NJ I had a short visit with Marion Tidwell who was working on the Elizabeth Chapel grounds (destroyed by Ivan) to get ready for the groundbreaking ceremony on Sunday. It is his niece, Mary Jo Trenkler who writes the poems about the area that are on I wanted to get MT videotaped in an old truck with a small child to illustrate "riding in granpa's truck" which is one of the poems MJ has now provided with audio. That will come later. I had to catch a plane back to NJ.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Update Sept 17 The Barn

I am getting the barn near to completion. The tin is yet to go up but Scott has it ready - almost. I confirmed why education is not a good thing ... again. After stripping the roof with treated 2x4 lumber to accept the new tin, the tin people (South Alabama Metal Works) told me that the new treatment used on lumber (yellow wood - or ACX), because of the copper in it, will react with the tin and the zinc screws and destroy them. I was happy before acquiring this piece of education and would have gone home with my tin and screws and happily completed the job - ignorant of future damage. Ignorance is happiness. Education just makes you aware of more things to worry about. Well, we solved the problem of the treated wood by placing felt on top of it and by using stainless steel screws which are twice as hard to use because they are not 'self drilling'.
Peanut season is in full swing and I got some raw green peanuts to boil (Lowry Farms). I will bring some home. They guys at the Sparta Lake Mohawk barber shop are bemused by boiled peanuts. Cotton is said to be doing very well. The bolls are heavy. It will be late October before cotton harvest. Frank Lowry sold out his cotton equipment last year after Ivan and prior storms and bad years soured his appreciation for the crop. Of course this year, cotton prices are sky high and Frank is in peanuts - which - he tells me - are not grading out as well as hoped.
Weather has been very good these two weeks. low humidity. No rain. Perfect for peanut harvest. I have visited a lot of cousins when not working and taped some interesting conversations. I hope to put some up on my stations when i get back. Will be back in office on Sept 19.
The people around here continue to pull a lot of resources together to send over to the Mississippi storm area and some to New Orleans. Nawlins and Miss Gulf Coast need heavy duty help. Most smaller church / service club groups go in for several days with relief help for the locals who are worn out from 24/7 stress and service to those in need. A lot of them see it as their duty and honor as a 'payback' for all the help that came this way after IVAN. Lots of 'refugees' are being settled into this area for temporary shelter/care/jobs and etc. I don't know who was upset being called a refugee and insisted on being called an evacuee ... but the correct word is refugee. You don't have to be from some poor African country to be a refugee. If you need refuge -- you are a refugee. They need all the help they can get. Well, at least people here understand. They are still recovering from IVAN and DENNIS, but whatever they can do for Katrina victims they are doing. Chumuckla's firehouse is to house a family with two sets of twins and were looking for a washer and dryer to donate. Aunt Mary (of Aunt Mary's Deli ... my cousin) told this to me. I am sure one will show up. I have to say, I had the best hamburger ever (or in a long time anyway) at Aunt Mary's Deli. It is a picturesque place. You can eat your take out hamburger while looking at the latest damage reports on TV (from Katrina) while trucks full of debri from Dennis are rolling past on Chumuckla Highway and people with Ivan damage are buying some take out meals for barn repair workers.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Folks here are not recovered from Ivan but are opening their homes, hearts,wallets and all they can to Katrina victims (Mobile, Biloxi, New Orleans). My home county expects 2000 new student enrollements from Katrina (and it is not a populous county ... Santa Rosa .. no big city or even small city). Salvation Army and Red Cross need volunteers all the time. Smaller church organizations are doing all they can. Hope to be home and organized enough to attend the event below... Vic
Cameo Productions, Ltd "There are No Shows like Cameo's" Memorable Melodies - Intelligible Lyrics Jacqueline Kroschell - Artistic Director

Subject: Me, Myself and God to Benefit Katrina Victims .... Hi this is a rush due to the sudden need of the Katrina victims - we can use all the help we can get to fill this church with spirit and send a good donation to the victims Sept 25, 7 PM, 1st Presbyterian Church of Berkshire Valley Katrina victims to Benefit as Me, Myself and God, rallies to inspire anduplift In the wake of Katrina, Cameo Productions, Ltd. and the First Presbyterian Church of Berkshire Valley are giving an inspirational, uplifting concert on Sunday, September 25 at 7 PM. The proceeds of the program, which is based on Me, Myself and God, will go to benefit victims of hurricane Katrina. Me, Myself and God is a spirit filled work by Steve DePass, "America's Singing Poet", an international star whose work has thrilled several Presidents at the White House, the Queen of England and audiences the world over. Written by Steve DePass, "America's Singing Poet" and composer of over 2,500 songs, the program of all original songs inspired by God's Word and the journey of the soul of Man, will be performed by DePass, along with Sparta's Jacqueline Kroschell, Denville's Carol Middleton, and Domenic DiGioia of Clifton. The First Presbyterian Church of Berkshire Valley, 635 Berkshire Valley Road, just west of the junction of Route 15 and Berkshire Valley Road, 2 miles north of Exit 34b off of US 80, has a limited capacity. Tickets for a suggested minimum donation of $20., can be ordered in advance by calling 973-729-5524, with all unspoken for tickets available at the door one half hour before the concert.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Progress Is Slow

Ivan, Dennis, Katrina --- people here are sick of hurricanes. With Katrina past, we are now into the peak of hurricane season. HA! Take THAT Carbeza DeVacca who wrote the first narrative history of the New World and was one of 4 (out of about 600) who survived the expedition in North America (which included this area of the Gulf Coast).
Much has improved here from a year ago after Ivan. Dennis messed up some more but as these things go .... there is stability now in Pensacola and area. People are awed by the damage in Nawlins. Many many people here who are just recovering from Ivan and Dennis are providing relief to Katrina refugees. One lady who works with my brother at NAS Pensacola, has taken in over 20 family and friends out of Nawlins who no longer have a home. One of our neighbors in who has a combined income less than $40K annual and lives in a FEMA Trailer while his own 1000 sq ft home is under full blown repair work ... is offering a displaced family space until they can get more facilities available. Churches are taking in people all over the region. The Govt can only do so much - and in the short term the fastest help is neigbors helping neighbors as best they can.
Meanwhile, I have made some progress on one barn and have plans underway for the other. Moms roof is new since I was here and her place is about buttoned up. I do need to chisel plow around the house and barns to prepare the ground for reseeding and re-make the roadways into the farm and house from the highway. My Mother-in law needs some help but mostly her flooded home has been put back in order except for one room.
It is a big challenge to handle all these crises by people in their 70's and 80's. I am glad I can help if only a little.

Friday, September 02, 2005

New Orleans - Lord Help Them

I will be in for two weeks beginning Sept 3 PM. I will be doing what I can to help my Mom and my Mother in Law and others to get some things back in order after Ivan and Dennis. My cell is 973-670-4069. I hope to meet up with some friends when opportunities permit. I'll try to keep up some notes on this blog while there. Note the blog where I recently put a farmers opry video feature of Henry Botts.
While it is still a few years from normal in the Ivan/Dennis path, it appears that New Orleans will be DECADES in recovery. As bad as Ivan and Dennis were, our population is not even close that in the path of Katrina. The pain and devastation are on an order of 20X Ivan because of the dense population and the standing water in the low-level city. As much as we need help, there is no question now has the priorities.