His Name Is Dave. Ian Hit Him Hard.

Right about the time my running shoes logged mile 12 on Monday the 3rd of October, I met Dave. He was hard to spot, hidden at the end of the carport and screened from easy view by a pile of cherished belongings that had been destroyed by Hurricane Ian. (Out of respect for Dave, and the others I met, I will only show photos of our volunteers and staff.) 

Friday's look: they asked me to come as Santa to hand out toys to the children. The ones who got flooded out with the storm surge had lost all their toys. Santa was a big hit with the little ones.

Friday’s look: they asked me to come as Santa to hand out toys to the children. The ones who got flooded out with the storm surge had lost all their toys. Santa was a big hit with the little ones.

Setting up the mobile kitchen in Everglades City. I went there three times in the first four days to serve meals and hand out box lunches, MREs, toys and water.

Setting up the mobile kitchen in Everglades City. I went there three times in the first four days to serve meals and hand out box lunches, MREs, toys and water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As part of a Salvation Army disaster team, we were improvising as fast as the incident commander could come up with new ideas. I’ll get back to Dave in a minute, but the background is vital.

This was lunch on Friday. Fabulous quality turned out by the cooks in our kitchen.

This was lunch on Friday. Fabulous quality turned out by the cooks in our kitchen.

Maria Ramos: she's the great wheel around which my volunteer work revolves. One amazing lady.

Maria Ramos: she’s the great wheel around which my volunteer work revolves. One amazing lady.

I’ve been a volunteer for the Salvation Army since I moved to Florida. As Santa, I got to hand out the toys when they partnered with the Toys For Tots program. I’d started my Santa journey decades ago with the Marines as their Santa and it grew from there. In Minnesota, I’d worked with, but never for, the Salvation Army on a lot of projects with Toys For Tots and other charities, and had great respect for all that they do. So, here in Florida, I got to meet the leadership of the local Corps (Salvation Army) as Santa. When Ian hit, I contacted my friend Maria Ramos and left messages that I wanted to help.

Serious windshield time on the way to Everglades City. Pablo at the wheel, we made good time but it was congested and still had some water on the road down Hwy 41.

Serious windshield time on the way to Everglades City. Pablo at the wheel, we made good time but it was congested and still had some water on the road down Hwy 41.

My driver/partner Alex and Patrice, our team leader down in Everglades City. We worked well together and she's a superior leader.

My driver/partner Alex and Patrice, our team leader down in Everglades City. We worked well together and she’s a superior leader.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Help is always in short supply after a disaster. People are pretty good about chucking some money in a kettle, or clicking the button and donating on the website but often forget that the way the meals get out, the elderly get a knock on the window to check on them, and the toys get to the children who are flooded out is via teams consisting of a Salvation Army driver and a handful of volunteers. We team up and hit the road. 

This is Sandra's team. Nicest group of young ladies you can imagine. We hit local neighborhoods distributing food and water - along with some prayer and hope.

This is Sandra’s team. Nicest group of young ladies you can imagine. We hit local neighborhoods distributing food and water – along with some prayer and hope.

Super cab pickups fit in a lot of help. Here we are on the way to Everglades City!

Super cab pickups fit in a lot of help. Here we are on the way to Everglades City!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the first three days I variously cooked hamburgers, opened plastic bags so other volunteers could put in condiments, moved pallets of food and water, loaded trucks, unloaded trucks, stirred ground beef so it had spices mixed in for spaghetti sauce, organized pickup truck beds with cargo, explained to other volunteers what we were doing, drove to the south of Florida with a mobile canteen three times to hand out toys, MREs, hot meals, boxed lunches and water. I also spent a lot of time out in front of the truck walking up driveways where the doors were open and the people laboring inside to clean up, or just cope with their damage, and offered help in the form of a hot meal, water, a box lunch, or prayer.

Everyone has a role on these teams. My friend got the nickname "Condiment Queen" the first day, but on her second trip with us she became "Scoopy" because she served up the hot food out of the back of our F-150 "tactical canteen" truck. I was simply Santa. It's easier than memorizing all the names of all the great people you work with for a bit here and there.Pablo and Todd in the mobile kitchen. They rocked the house and worked super hard.

Pablo and Todd in the mobile kitchen. They rocked the house and worked super hard.

 

Everyone has a role on these teams. My friend got the nickname “Condiment Queen” the first day, but on her second trip with us she became “Scoopy”  I was simply Santa.

That’s how I met Dave. He was all alone on his driveway, the ruins of his life shielding him from the street, utterly in shock. He had that 1000 yard stare that victims of PTSI/D have. I asked him if he was hungry. He whispered he was fine and asked me to take care of others who needed it more. It was clear that Dave was in need, so I gently told him that he looked like he needed some help and we’d be honored to serve him. I talked to him for a minute, found out he had a wife and child in the house (Dave was approx 80) and I scooted back to the truck which we’d turned into a mobile canteen. Two volunteers dished up and prepared hot meals for our new friends from their place on the tailgate of our “tactical canteen” while I ran meals and ran ahead to scout out the needy.

But when I delivered Dave’s meals, he had tears in his eyes. I stopped and prayed with him. I’m not a holy-roller, but prayer makes a huge difference to people who are shattered. As a matter of fact, I spent a great deal of time on Monday holding the elderly in my arms while they shed tears and prayed over them. The meals were good. I got in my 1/2 marathon training in steps  for the race at the end of the month (I guestimate I did 12-15 miles). But most of all, I comforted the afflicted and tried to brighten their days. It’s what He would want.

Super cab pickups fit in a lot of help. Here we are on the way to Everglades City!

Super cab pickups fit in a lot of help. Here we are on the way to Everglades City!

This is Sandra's team. Nicest group of young ladies you can imagine. We hit local neighborhoods distributing food and water - along with some prayer and hope.

This is Sandra’s team. Nicest group of young ladies you can imagine. We hit local neighborhoods distributing food and water – along with some prayer and hope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am thankful to the Salvation Army for giving me the opportunity. I’m off from that for a few days to take care of my wife after surgery, but I’ll be back out there later this week. 

Don’t hesitate to support the Salvation Army via this link:

Salvation Army

They do  good work. And it will go on for months in this area: we got clobbered. If you’re in SW Florida and want to help, hit that link and look for the volunteer information. We can use your hands and feet to serve others.

 

My favorite photo: our volunteers packed this sack lunch (by the thousands) and wrote messages on many of the bags. That message of hope meant a lot to me as I saw it sitting on the table where we were helping out an 85 year old woman who was all alone in a soaked house.

My favorite photo: our volunteers packed this sack lunch (by the thousands) and wrote messages on many of the bags. That message of hope meant a lot to me as I saw it sitting on the table where we were helping out an 85 year old woman who was all alone in a soaked house.

Possibly the saddest sign of the week. I really needed coffee this morning at the hospital.

Possibly the saddest sign of the week. I really needed coffee this morning at the hospital.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a gallery of all the photos I can share from the past few days. More to come!

Possibly the saddest sign of the week. I really needed coffee this morning at the hospital.

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Possibly the saddest sign of the week. I really needed coffee this morning at the hospital.

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Bette David Eyes & The Lanai

The past week I’ve been taking my laptop out on the lanai (fancy word for screened patio) and working on a writing project for NAVIGATING ADVERSITY. It’s one of those things where you dig in, set a writing goal for the day and just hammer keys until you get to the finish line. I’ve got a way to go, but I’ll meet the deadline. (Full revelation: I screwed around for months “thinking” and didn’t really see what I had to do until I got trapped in Saint Louis for an extra day after the ACFW conference. Amazing what being locked away for a day does for one’s focus.)

Anywho, the lanai is a wonderful place to work. I’ve got a gigantic ceiling fan right above me to keep the sweat at bay, I can watch the construction across the canal, and I can hang out with the dogs because they love it out here. Perhaps best of all, Kip is on the other side of the house working in her office and I can BLAST 80S MUSIC AT FULL VOLUME WITHOUT ANY COMPLAINTS. Mind you, “blast” is relative, I’m only at about 5 on the 1-10 scale, but it’s still fun to sit here and listen to the songs of my tribe in my youth. 

Right now Kim Carnes is singing Bette Davis Eyes. I love the song. The video is perplexing, but who am I to judge. It worked for her. 

 

Now, I’m done goofing off, Men With Hats are doing A Land Down Under and I just realized that’s a pretty strange video as well.

 

Strange: a word that fits my life.

 

I Apologize For Wandering Off

I’m back. Last week I was at the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference in Saint Louis. I hadn’t been to one in about 4 years and needed the spark rekindled to produce a fire. 

Mission accomplished.

Not only did I hang out with a bunch of old friends who write, but I got to listen to the incomparable Tosca Lee lecture twice.  I wouldn’t say she’s a friend, but she does tolerate me and know my name. Seriously, she’s an extraordinary giving person who mentors a lot of new authors. And, she’s funny. The kind of slightly snarky wit that I love.

Perhaps most importantly, I went there to teach a class and it was well received by my students. I love giving info that helps them as writers and people. I also set a goal of stopping to encourage all the first time attendees that I spotted, which is easy since they all had a ribbon on their credentials that identified them as new people.

That’s the best part of the conference. New authors always need encouragement because they have one ribbon on their credentials and old goats have 3, 4, or 10. It can overwhelm them. And you meet the nicest people that way.

I came away from a conference where I pitched nothing to anyone except my audio book narration service with a publisher who wants to talk about potential books I might write, an agent who is interested in what I might write with them as my agent, and an audio book that I’m going to audition for the minute I post this one.

Last night I returned to my church for bible study and got the nicest surprise of the week involving writing. One of my church members is reading my book NICHOLAS OF HAITI and told me that he’s been in Haiti for three hours this week. If you can write something that takes a reader to the place where the book takes place and get them lost there in the work, you have done your job as an author. I really like that feeling.

 

Well, now to the microphone and the ancient world where I will become an Israelite guard at a pagan temple. I love living in these worlds!

Well, Crap. It Appears I Am An Enemy Of The State.

The question is, “Joe, are you upset that the President described you as an enemy of the state? A Threat to the Democratic Republic?” Nope. First, we’re not the Democratic Republic of the United States of America. We are a republic. Democratic Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, I could go on, but they’re all dictatorships. If that’s what Joe B wants, I am an enemy of the state.

I’d also be an enemy of the state for a lot of other reasons. I’m pro-life. I’m heavily in favor of a lot of traditional things in this country. I have kind of a long list of things Biden has pointed out in the past, but the fact that I was a cop and a military veteran probably take the top tier.

For those that didn’t see his red-lit stomp-a-thon with clenched fists, he declared around 40% of the country to be enemies of the state. Seems kind of high when he wouldn’t even brand ANTIFA, who really did attack the state, as being a threat. 

I guess I’ll just have to put aside my retirement plans and go hide out somewhere. Anyone have a bunker.

Nope?

Well, I guess I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. Supporting sane law enforcement, maintaining my oath to the constitution, helping others, and creating art for people to enjoy while obeying the law. Executive orders, which are not the law, don’t garner the same level of respect so maybe not those. 

Amazing. Trump has been out of office 18 months and this demented old fool is worried about the people who voted for him two years ago. Hmmmm. 

Well, if it’s of any interest, we’ll hold a barbecue and protest here soon. Most of us “enemies of the state” are busy living our honorable lives so we have to schedule it for a weekend. 

 

I’ll get back to you on the timing.

 

Oh! It’s That Kexel Woman’s Story. I Can’t Wait!

Janelle. If you read the COVID QUARANTINE CANTINA stories, or some of Kathy’s other works, you will recognize this woman. I love this character. Today she’s the star of the show in: LABOR DAY MISADVENTURE.

 

We hope you’ll visit the other authors who comprise this collection: Paul BennettRobert Cely,  Derek ElkinsJamie D. GreeningKathy Kexel, and Joe Shaw. As always, there’s no fee, we’re doing this to help you pass the time. We do ask that you buy our books/audio books to help pay the freight here. But that’s up to you! Mine are all on the right margin of the blog.