At Peace

Husband is on his side of the bed with the view. Dog took over my side. They’re both snoring. They are in a happy state, of course Zoe chases rabbits in her sleep. Luckily he doesn’t chase women!

I wish I could sleep so well. Both of them snore all night, and that keeps me up. Someone could light a stick of dynamite (I would not know how to do that, it’s a reference from old Wile E Coyote cartoons} and they wouldn’t awaken. Hurricane Ike, a Cat 5 hit us in Houston and they slept through the entire thing. Nine hours. They weren’t afraid.

After a while I wasn’t afraid anymore (should have been) but as I watched the palm trees sway to unbelievable bend-ability I saw Bayou rise 20 feet. It was just a drag to try to get food or clean water to drink, or gasoline for the car for weeks for some folks. We had to find a way to get to see my mother across the land in hospice. In the end every one of our neighbors had damage. Except us. Many of the glass windows in the corporate towers 1/4 mile away shattered.

Early the morning after, my husband sucked the garage flood out of a garden hose he found, while a fellow neighbor cleaned out the street’s storm drain for a place for said water to go. His wife and I went door-to-door on the first floor to make sure everyone was OK. We couldn’t get them anything at the grocery because there was nothing. FEMA would have received good reactions if their actions were not disorganized in an appalling way, however they were also a sad effort, disrespectful, denigrating to all, but especially the poor.

FEMA had cars lined up for food and water for three hours using gas the car owners could not replace, and were telling the poor in the neighborhood who had no cars that they could not walk up and get their two gallons of water and rations. The reason is that the neighbors may come back and try to steal another ration from us. Us is the USA and no-one ever made a film or wrote about Ike, when the Mayor made us stay in place.

During Ike, staying in bed was not the answer to being frightened of the winds and horrific rain. I got up by the windows and blogged it until we lost power, water. Every place was damaged except ours. Maintenance and management didn’t arrive for days. It was up to us. Making myself useful gives me energy and peace.

I know why they husband and dog slept through it, my watching windows blow out downtown 1/4 mile away. They knew we’d each have a job to do, and I love watching them sleep. As I said, ours was the only place that was un-damaged. Somebody was looking out for us.

Peace was my creating a space for volunteers who wanted to help save animals. Most other leaders had two teams and two projects a month. I created 14 projects per month with willing volunteers and tough projects. One was three-hour Sunday shifts caring for Greyhounds right off the racetrack. They ate horrible food on the track, being in crates all day, and were malnourished. After rescue, docs spayed and neutered them and checked for health abnormalities. We released them in order of gender in separate play areas, took them back, in, they were used to crates, fed them, administered their medications then said good night and went out to bleach and clean the play areas.

I started coming up with themed names for them because no-one had a name. Music, presidents, philosophy, literature, prime numbers, First Ladies, Civil Rights pioneers, famous rabbit, cat and squirrel names? They would never keep that name with the home to which they were adopted but there were about eight of each gender coming in each week and I wanted them to have a temporary name to make the transition.

Another project was even more difficult. Spaying and neutering feral (wild) felines. No, I’m not a veterinarian. Somehow the “client” asked me to conduct training then supervision for cage cleaning, transport and breathing and as liaison to “ER.” That was a van run by my team leader, she was great. Plus tarps and setting up traps so they could awaken from anesthesia and be left with their caretaker (the right ear was tipped so the caretaker would know who’d already been done). It was a sweaty, minimum 6-8 hour venture. They provided the cats shots as well, flea medication and grooming. These were smart cats. There was no way they’d enter a trap again, even with mackarel!

The attention to detail of this small volunteer organization was amazing, the training manuals were incredible and when I had a thought to better the wake-up procedures, they copied a page off my printer and everyone received a copy. We were always in a hot part of town so I’d go trolling the mall (we were always in a back parking lot in heat, wind or rain) and get a Diet Coke and they’d ask what we were doing out back. I told them and inevitably they came out, the entire staff, with sodas, water, donuts or whatever they had to donate.

When I arrived home I was exhausted and needed to shower and change. Knowing that I made a difference for what used to be about 300 cats each month, now more as we moved, and our volunteers, that and the Greyhounds were two of my most challenging volunteer projects. That I got through the projects every week (dogs) or month (cats) was a testimony that I could get hot and sweaty, do the work well and achieve peace.

Be brave, in life, work and volunteerism. Find something you like and read books to kids in the local library. There are volunteer organizations all over. Or if you grew up on a farm, that’s your after-school volunteer work. Cheers and happy holidays to you, family and friends. Be at peace with yourself. Dee

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