Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Project Isaac

I plan to leave South Padre Island on Feb. 5, 2007 and return to MS for the month of February as a Katrina volunteer.

I'll be going with my old work crew from Central IL hoping to add to the progress of a new home being built for Isaac and his mom. Contibutions would be welcomed at:


Their story:

Hello, my name is Isaac. I am four years old. That’s me standing with my mom, Rhonda in front of our new house in Bay St.
Louis, MS. I have four brothers and a sister. Their names are Julio (8), Joseph (15), Pedro (20), Daniel (21) and Elisa (18).
Daniel is currently serving our country in Iraq. We are very proud of him. Elisa is married and on her own. Julio and Pedro
are living with my dad in California. Joseph lives with me and mom but he has gone to California to get his new prosthetic
eye. He lost his eye due to cancer when he was four years old. He even had a heart attack caused by the chemo treat­
ments and almost died.
We moved here after my mom and dad got a divorce because my mom wanted to be close to her sister. Mom used all the
money she had to buy our house so she wouldn’t have a mortgage. We moved in and got everything fixed up two months
before hurricane Katrina hit. Mom even had a good job at Oreck Corp. Of course, all that changed when the storm hit. I
remember being really scared when mom packed us up in the car and took us to Stennis Space Center to hide from the
storm. We didn’t know at the time that we would be there two weeks before we could go back home. When we went back I
couldn’t believe the mess. The house was still there but it was broken to pieces. Mom was able to save her jewelry and coin
collection but that was about all. She also found our old tent and we camped out on our deck for five weeks until FEMA
could bring the trailer that we have now. I like camping but it was pretty miserable with all the bugs and mosquitoes; and, it
was hot too! I remember mom was really worried about our safety.
Well, we have been in that FEMA trailer for a year now. Mom has been working hard on trying to get our new house built.
Somehow she got set up with Walls of Hope. Those nice people brought volunteers in and put up the foundation, walls and
roof. Mom had to buy the materials so she has spent all the FEMA money she got. I heard her say she didn’t have insur­
ance because she didn’t know we were in a floodplain. She even traded her jewelry and coin collection so a contractor
could put shingles on the roof. She has no way to buy anything now because when she went back to work after the storm
they said they didn’t need her or 60 of her friends who worked there. The only money we get is from mom babysitting my
cousin while my aunt works. She has been looking for another job but she can’t do much until she has an operation. She
recently found out that she has uterine cancer, whatever that is.
Oh, one more thing. We had to move out of the FEMA trailer for a while because it got smashed recently when a big thun­
derstorm came through and made a tree fall on it. I don’t know how but my mom still has a good attitude. She says “the
government doesn’t owe us anything”. She believes people should help each other. She even volunteers with Walls of
Hope to help others. If there is some way you can help us that would be good. We don’t really have anywhere else to turn
right now. Thank You

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Spring Break 2007 . . . A Winter Texan Looks Back

For over ten years, from our 12th floor condo, I have had a panoramic view of spring break. To the South my view includes, swimming pools, tennis courts and balconies of three other buildings in our complex. To the East, the beach . . . as spring breakers trudge with their kegs and set up camp. Looking North is the Radisson, Coke stage, the prime meeting space for all daytime activity. To the West, the view extends the length of the causeway and much of Padre Blvd.

Not only do I observe from the 12th floor, but every day in March I walk the area; early morning and in the afternoon at the peak of the Radisson activity. In the evening and often into the night I observe the cruising and often walk the Blvd. (See some of my yearly reports at; http://www.dad-cam.com/ )

Why do I do this? Because I enjoy it!

Now, many of my winter Texan friends (and my wife) think I'm crazy. I listen to them and I observe . . . and I keep coming back. So do more and more friends from the North.

As they begin to realize. the first two weeks of March are not much different than the last two weeks of February . . . except that often the weather is better. Those that have not left, play tennis, golf and hang out around the pool and often engage the kids in conversation. It's fun!

The first weekend of Texas week the tempo picks up and reaches a crescendo Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, but even those three nights, over the years, the activity has lessened. It's downhill from there and by the next Sunday the Coke Stage is quiet and another spring break is history.

I'm certainly no expert on SPI commerce, but I do know the kids pay big bucks to stay here, tote groceries and beer to their rooms and must be spending some money at the clubs, restaurants, bars and T-shirt shops.

And each year, from my perspective, the number of visitors decline.

It is my understanding (but I'm not sure) that local-Texas schools now have a different spring break than the colleges, accounting for the relative calm during the week. So it does come down to a couple of weekends - - and falling.

Maybe by shifting gears so dramatically for spring break we are chasing away the very best (in my opinion) clients that frequent the island.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Rose . . . A New Look

The beautiful rose of my November post has completed its journey . . . But the seed hasn't! It continues to defy the onset of winter and is struggling to give us at least one more . . . but it didn't happen.

So much for roses in a Michigan winter. I'm discovering that Texas roses have their own struggle. Among the many beautiful, tropical plants blooming in Cindy's Texas back yard is her rose garden. Once flourishing and beautiful they now struggle to find their place in the sun. The natives are winning and slowly choking off the sun so essential for roses to grow.

So, while Cin was in Puerto Rico I raised up a new deck so she could get back into the sun and see over the top of her lush garden. It provides a fresh view of the tops of the trees where flowering buds are getting ready for their spring debut and butterflys dart in and out.

Which brings me back to the lyrics of my favorite song . . . "The Rose."

A giant cactus plant, grown from seed, not occupies space adjacent to Cin's Rose Garden. In a previous post I compared the cactus and the rose. While a rose is soft and gentle on the outside and firm and solid on the inside, the cactus is hard and prickly on the outside and soft and mushy on the inside.

The last stanza takes on new meaning.

Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows . . .

Lies the seed (I'm the seed)
That with the sun's love (the sun/son is Jesus)
In the spring (Now is the spring)
Becomes the rose (I am becoming the rose/cactus)

Fortunately, the sun/son shines equally on roses and cacti. While I want my life to stem from firm inner convictions and show a soft, gentle appearance, I know that sometimes my prickly exterior often belies a mushy interior all too ready to compromise. Fortunately the SON understands this.