Sunday, October 16, 2011


And just like that, the work in Joplin, Missouri ended.  The company Todd and I were working for asked us to return with them to New Orleans, Louisiana with promises of work, help paying for school...the moon, the stars and we decided to take the chance.  So we loaded up the trucks and we moved to New Orleans....Mandeville really, which is just across Lake Ponchetrain.
The first few days were very fun and exciting, with visits to Bourbon Street, and checking out all the fun tourist trap places.  Although the temperatures were not as hot as they were in Joplin, the humidity was non stop and made me feel as though I was wet all the time.  The only relief being the daily mid afternoon thunderstorms.  Otherwise, the air conditioned 19 foot condo was our sanctuary.
Todd began working as general labor on a boat in the middle of a bayou on some of the levee's that help protect New Orleans from the tropical storms and hurricanes.  Sounds exciting....but in the heat for 12 hours a day....and for $10.00 per hour, it wasn't ideal and not what we expected at all.  This was not going to pay our bills, especially with the cost of the campgrounds and the $200.00 a week in gas that it was costing him to drive there and back.  However, they did promise work for me eventually, so we decided to give them a month to get him into the job he was promised and get me to work.
Since Sarah and Doug and Baby Doug decided to go with us, the 19 foot condo was getting quite small.  While they slept in a tent at night, when it was cooler, during the day, the heat was unbearable and we were all inside....getting on each others nerves!  After two weeks though, Sarah and Doug had both found good jobs and began saving money to get an apartment.
This of course, made me a full time grandma for Baby Doug.  I have said over and over that I am NOT a kid person, especially babies, but this time for me became the best time of my life.  Baby Doug was so good for me, most generally smiling and laughing, and always taking his nap or going to bed so nicely.  Being a grandmama was the best, his smile as he took Choppers leash and walked him with me everyday was phenomenal.  Watching him and grandpapa, Todd, playing the 'uh oh' game before bed each night, gave me so much joy!
But the month quickly came to an end and still Todd and I were not making it.  Something had to be done, and as we watched the approach of a hurricane headed straight for us, we decided to hit the road.  Sarah and Doug found a great apartment and decided they were staying.  We rushed to get them the basic things they would need into the apartment and prepare for the possible coming storm.  We had found a great church and made contact with them and informed them of the kids decision and they helped so much and promised to keep an eye on them.
One week later, as the beginning of the hurricane hit us, we were ready to go.  Our goodbyes said, we were packed and spending our last night, in non stop rain at Fountainbleu state park.  I can't tell you how anxious we were to leave, even the Spanish Moss which I had thought so beautiful when we first arrived began to look like it was strangling the trees.
We had decided to go to Tennessee, Madison to be exact, where my aunt Sue lives and has a small guesthouse, which sounded like a mansion to me.  We left the Saturday morning before Labor Day and drove through the rain all day, arriving late that evening.  The small guesthouse did indeed look like a mansion once we were in it!  Dry for once, exhausted, and with job interviews already set up for the following week, we felt like we were finally on the right road.
Once again, God had provided for us, I was hired and began work that very week.  A temporary job, but at least we would have a place to sleep and an income right away.  Todd began work a week after that, again, with a temporary assignment, but this one would last through the end of the year.  Aunt Sue has been an inspiration, she is so independent, helpful and faithful.  I began going to church with her, and feel like my walk with God is so much stronger now.  Todd prefers to go to church on Sunday, so we have been trying out different churches where he is comfortable as well.  I feel so blessed to get to worship God on both Saturday's and Sunday's.

My job assignment has now ended and I am again back to looking for work.  I'm not sure what God has planned for us next, but we are giving the Nashville area a chance while we have the help from Aunt Sue.  While we hope to be able to find work in Michigan eventually and return, Tennessee feels so right to me.  I know that I speak for both of us when I say that we miss our children and our family and our friends back in Michigan so much.  We are so hoping and praying to get home for a week around Christmas.  Right now we are still playing catch up with our bills, but if I find work soon, that will help.  I know God will help me do this, he has been so faithful with us, providing everything we need just when we need it.  I will wait for his answer to this problem, he will never let me down!

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Ladies Room

First off, let me just say that there is nothing more important than how far away you are from the ladies room!  Not only is it necessary, but it's a great gathering place for ladies to chit chat about stuff while they fix their hair and makeup and such stuff.

That being said, I will now tell you that the 19 foot condo has no ladies room.  The ladies room is in a building about 150 feet from the condo, which isn't too far....assuming you don't have to go so bad that you have to walk with your legs crossed to get there.  It's clean and always cool in there too.  Well lit with 2 "necessary" stalls and 3 showers.  The last one works the best!

Then there is the work trailer, no ladies room, and in fact no ladies room closer than 2 miles away!  Ok, I take that back, there is a...not sure what you would call it, I believe it is supposed to be a porta potty, but I can't confirm since the smell keeps me from going within 50 feet of it.  Hard, tough men have advised me against going any closer, and I for one believe them and will never open the door!  So, when I need the ladies room, I run out to my car, drive 2 miles to the "ladies only please" Porta potty down the road, which IS clean, or to the nearest gas station depending on if I also need anything else. 

Once upon a time, I was never any further than 25 feet from a ladies room....oh, those were the days!  One of the guys did suggest depends, but I'm not quite at that stage yet, I have some dignity left, although in the middle of the night, when the trees look closer than the ladies room, I have considered other options. 

Dear Ladies, be thankful for your ladies rooms!  And when your in there, think of the less fortunate me....

Monday, June 20, 2011

Faith and Hamburger Helper

I have to say that the least enjoyable part about owning a 19 foot Condo is cooking in it.  We haven't bought a grill yet, and I have never cooked on a grill, but am thinking it's time to buy one and learn.  I have a small stove with 3 gas burners, a microwave and a tiny crock pot.  And since we came down on Faith and Hamburger Helper, I'm trying not to be cynical here. But, I'm really sick of hamburger helper now....

Hamburger Helper, Tuna Helper....I've gotten it down to quite a science.  The first thing we realized was that we should never make an entire box of hamburger helper for just the two of us.  We have a small dorm size fridge, and keeping leftovers is not a good option for us.  So, I first have to measure out the ingredients in the box of HH or TH and split them in half.  Then there is my very limited supply of pots and pans, which must be washed everyday....doggone it!  I spend more time hauling hot water up to the camper then I ever thought I would.  Luckily I don't have to heat it on the stove, but I can't wait until we have a camper with a hot water heater....and sink....and shower.  The second big realization we had is that when we open a can of veggies to eat with supper, we must eat the whole can....again, the small fridge thing.

I have gotten in the habit of stopping at the grocery store each day on my way home from work.  If nothing else, we need a bag of ice in the cooler each day.  Our fridge does have a tiny freezer in it, and it's possible for me to buy meat for 2 or 3 days and fit it in.  I found a store in Joplin on my way home (I researched on the internet for grocery stores in Joplin, but half of them in my area don't exist since the tornado) called Food 4 Less.  Food here is a bit more expensive than in Michigan, especially milk!  So anything for less is a good thing!

We have been able to cook some yummy food in the tiny crock pot, but I have run out of idea's.  Todd's allergic to peppers of all kinds and cooked tomato's give him awful heartburn...which is so sad to me since I love all kinds of cooked tomato's (but the lack of peppers doesn't bother me at all!).  I have a great crock pot cookbook at home....wish I had thought to bring it with me. 

So, once or twice a week we buy deli meats and eat sandwiches every other day and I cook every other day.  Ok, Todd eats a sandwich, but since I rarely eat bread, I eat a "meat, cheeze, veggie" roll up!  Some nights are just too hot, or we have worked too hard to want to cook anything, so sandwiches are a great option....but again, I'm getting bored.  I think in addition to a grill, I need a toaster oven.  That would really enhance our meal options!

Yes, Faith and Hamburger Helper have actually gotten us a long way.  Michigan to Missouri, jobless to 12 hour/7 day a week jobs for decent wages...I shouldn't complain.  What I should do, is beg for simple recipes that you all may have that I don't know about!  So, drop me an idea or two in the comment box below and I will try them out!  But not tomorrow....tomorrow is small group with the new church friends I made....and they are having a Greek night!  NUM NUM!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dorothy, we're not in Kansas anymore!

So today I got out of work early, really early….before 11am early!  I rushed home, finished a large portion of my final accounting project, and about 2:30 decided that it was too nice to sit inside and do more homework.  After all, I brought my motorcycle, and had only ridden it to work and back thus far. 
So, on the motorcycle I hopped, and headed into Joplin, where I heard that 7th street took you all the way into Kansas.  Turns out, this is true and a half hour later, I found myself in a no bit small Kansas town.  So small in fact that I can’t remember the name, of course, I never can remember names, ok, it was Galena (I looked it up).  After I blinked and was almost out of town, I finally found what appeared to be an abandoned gas station…with lights turned on inside.  I pulled in and to my surprise, it was open for business. 
A young man stood behind the counter and his wife was seated at a table in the middle of the store.  I found my ice tea and some very dusty postcards to buy, and asked them what there was to see or do around here.  She replied, “In Kansas?” 
Um….ya… Kansas. 
“Well,” she says, “If you keep following this road to the roundabout, and then turn left and go about 6 miles, you will hit Oklahoma!” 
“Oklahoma?  Oklahoma, Kansas?”  I ask.
“No, Oklahoma, the state,” she says. 
Ooooooooook, apparently, there is nothing to do or see in Kansas and she was hurrying me into the next state.  Well, what the heck, on to Oklahoma I flew (like Dorothy in a tornado).  I meandered through another small town on my way and managed to find my obligatory Kansas shot glass, before making it to Oklahoma.
So what the heck is there to do in Oklahoma???  Nothing looked to be of interest, but as I traveled further down the road, I saw a sign for a casino.  At the very least I could find my postcards and my official Oklahoma shot glass there!  Another 6 miles and another huge sign found me pulling into what appeared to be the smallest lil casino in Oklahoma….or anywhere else I have ever been for that matter.  Not that I am a huge casino connoisseur, I much prefer to keep my money instead of donating to their cause.  But, what the heck Dorothy, we ain’t in Kansas anymore…
I walked into the air conditioned casino and at least I knew I would get some relief from the heat, and found a little bar where they served the spiciest bloody mary’s known to man.   An older Indian gentleman sat next to me at the bar and I figured I would strike up a conversation, “Hello,” I croaked.
“Did you know your throat is melting and your hair is singed?”
Oh, a joker….I managed to choke down half my Bloody Mary while trying to hold a conversation with this man before I made a mad dash to the restroom to wash my face and burning throat down with water.  And with that, I was back on my bike and about an hour later, back at home….in the 19 foot condo….in Misery…Aaaahhh….Misery is good!  LOL!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Got a job!

Surprise, Surprise!  Was I looking for a job?  No.  I was going to concentrate on my accounting class and once that was over with, I would start looking for one!  But the job came looking for me instead, so what could I say?

Todd called me shortly after he took his class to start his new position today and asked if I was interested in working for the same company in one of the on site offices.  Details, I said!  Twelve hour shifts, seven days a week for a decent rate of pay.  No, sorry, not acceptable!  I have my two Chihuahua's to think about and there was no way I would leave them locked in the 19 foot condo for 12 hours everyday.  I told the guy I would work 8 hour shifts and not a moment more, he said he would call me back.

Ten minutes later, my phone rang!  Off I ran to Joplin, where his trailer was parked in the Walmart parking lot to fill out my application and work papers.  Now picture this....I've been doing office work for many years, most recently at Dow Chemical where "business casual" was a little dressier than most places, so when he said "business casual" I assumed he didn't quite mean as dressy as Dow.  So, I show up in a nice pullover tee shirt type shirt, tan capri's and my pink slip on shoes (which are the only shoes I brought that weren't heels or sandles) and he laughs!  Turns out I am WAY overdressed!  Business casual means, Jeans, Shirt with at least sleeves of 4 inches, steel toed boots, a hard hat, safety glasses and a very fashionable yellow reflective vest (which I have actually always wanted for when I am riding my motorcycle in the dark).

So, he gives me a nice blue hard hat, the vest and let's me borrow his safety glasses and....takes off his steel toed boots and tells me to put them on and go to the safety class.  Capri's and steel toed boots...did you hear me?  Let me say it again, CAPRI's and STEEL TOED BOOTS!  Donning all my gear, (sweaty steel toed boots, with no socks....not pretty) I head off to this safety meeting, only to stand in the sun for an hour before the guy sitting at the table gives us a 15 minute talk on pretty much common sense stuff, gives us a card and a sticker and we are done!  Back to the job trailer I went, off came the boots, gave back the safety glasses and Ross says he will call me or Todd to give details of when and where I need to be tomorrow morning IF they approve me to work 8 hour shifts.

I headed to the local Walmart in Carthage to buy my steel toed boots since the Walmart where he was had sold out.  $40.00 later I had everything I needed to either start work, or make a return trip to Walmart to take everything back if I didn't start work.  But Ross called this evening and I was approved to work the 8 hour shifts.  So, I'm a working girl again as of 7:30 (that's 8:30 to all you Michigander friends of mine) tomorrow morning!

I'm a little worried about the accounting class, but I think I will have enough time for homework.  If I can ever figure out why I am off almost $230,000.00 on my final project.  I've been over it and over it, and I am sure it is a simple mistake.  But it must be a mixture of 2-3 numbers that I have wrong, since nothing stands out to me.  It's driving me crazy....I'm taking next semester off!

So, if you don't hear from me quite as often, it's not because I have forgotten about's just that I am overworked again.  I accept all forms of pity if you would like to send them my way!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ticks, Chiggers and Precious Moments

And what better way to start out your married life then in misery...errr...Missouri!  After long deliberation and viewing our savings accounts, we realized that something had to be done immediately in the job department.  Since Michigan has no jobs, we decided to hit the road in our 19 foot condo...err...camper.  But where to go.  We considered Alabama, but heard rumors of the heat and low paying jobs.  Joplin had been hit by the tornado the day before our wedding and we figured that there must be something for us to do here.

So, we departed from our home on June 2nd and arrived in Carthage, Missouri at Ballards Campground.  Very friendly people, very helpful and the campground is clean and shady.  However after setting up the camper and spending an hour inside, I realized the heat was going to kill me.  We immediately headed into town and purchased a fine small air conditioner and as I write, I'm as comfy as an Eskimo in an igloo!

The following day we headed to Joplin to look at the destruction and search for jobs!  The tornado actually hit one of the main drags, it didn't take long at all to find the tornado hit area.  It's really hard to write about the devastation, it's just so incredible.  We found a store that was hit.  The building is just torn apart, there is rubble everywhere, the only thing clear are the city streets.  The whole parking lot was full off cars, although everywhere you looked there were cars upside down on sidewalks and lawns even!  I walked up to a house and took a picture through a window, the inside was completely torn apart, the only thing left was a lazy boy chair.

There are organizations everywhere working in neighborhoods cleaning things up, cooking for victims and volunteers, passing out blankets, pillows, clothing and other necessities.  You could eat breakfast, lunch and dinner for free everyday if you wanted to.  We stopped to talk with one of the churches that had a food stand set up by the Kroger parking lot, they directed Todd where to start job searching and then offered us lunch.  We had just eaten, so we didn't partake, but it looked good and they were some great people!

My first Sunday in town I went to First Christian Church, where I was blessed with a $100.00 gift card to a local meat market!  Talk about surprised, the lady at the visitors welcome station said that God put it on her heart the day before to purchase the gift card for a visitor at church.  Since I was the only visitor, she assumed he was talking about me!   Well, we came out here on faith and God is providing!

Todd and I also visited the Precious Moments Chapel which is in Carthage.  I have long had a passion for precious moments, however not the funds to be a collector.  It was a real thrill to get to know the history and look at all the beautiful artwork!  My lovely new husband patiently followed me around taking pictures and NOT asking if I was ready to leave, I'm so proud of him!

And so, we have been here a week.  I am missing my family and friends, however email and Facebook help quite a bit.  The only unpleasantness has been the spotting of 6 ticks in as many days.  3 on the dogs, who luckily have been treated with Frontline and 3 on Todd and I (who have not been treated with Frontline...but we will consider anything that helps!).  I had a lengthy conversation on my way to the restroom with a group of campers who informed me of all sorts of interesting things about ticks and some little bugs called Chiggers.  I immediately rushed back to the camper in a panic to do some internet research on both bugs.  I am happy to announce that most of what I heard is old wives tales and that I am much better informed on these pests.  Check out my links below.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Married Life and Prayers

Ahhhhhhhhhh....Married Life!  I have to admit, I'm still having a bit of trouble remembering my new last name, and that Todd is now my husband instead of my boyfriend.  But all in all, it's good.

The second morning of married life was a bit rough....Todd woke up and screamed about me not knowing my "wifely duties" such as "where the heck is my breakfast!"  But like the dutiful wife, I immediately got up and began cooking him a gourmet breakfast of bacon, eggs, Belgium waffles and toast.....NOT!  Ok, I actually slapped him around a bit, and he cooked finally!  I ate breakfast in bed, with fresh wildflowers while he fanned me with olive leafs.  And the husband training has begun (my mom in law would be so proud)!

On to our next issue, lack of funds....what to do, what to do???  After much discussion and deliberation, we researched area's where Todd could begin working and decided on Missouri.  Joplin, MO to be exact, where they have experienced the worst tornado since the 50's with 139 people dead at last count and no license required to be an electrician.  They are also number 8 on the list of highest paying jobs for electricians.  And the packing of the 19 foot condo began, we leave June 2nd after Lucky is seen at the vet for her vaccinations.

I then began to deliberate on my new journey.  What would I do?  Sure, school is increasingly challenging, and will keep me busy.  My wedding scrapbook is calling to me to be worked on....but what would I do for God?  I feel a pull on me to help people, to be a voice for him to people who don't know him, although I barely know him myself.  And then I went to church this morning and heard a young lady speak about graduating from pastoral school and getting a job that she was just sure she should quit because she didn't know how to do it.  Her message, like David defeated Goliath knowing only that God would give him the ability to do it, she would do this job because God would give her the knowledge and tools to do it.  Wow!  What an incredible belief in God!  What trust!  What guts!

I can do this, with God directing me!  I trust that he will put us on the paths that will lead us in the direction he wants us to go, that he will give us the tools we need, clothe us in his armor of love, and we will defeat the giants in our way, for they are nothing in his presence!  God is good, all the time!

Pray for our safe journey from Michigan to Missouri, for Todd to find work that sustains and satisfies his desire to do what he loves.  Pray for our family and friends who we leave behind us, we want them safe and well while we are away.  Pray for me to be a good vessel for God, to do his works and be successful in my studies.  Pray for each other and know we will pray for you as well!  :-)