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Archive for September, 2008

For several days now, Master Naturalist Buddy John has been asking me to stop out to his back deck on the Arcadia Bayou and enjoy with him, watching a flock of migrating Hummingbirds swamp his bank of nectar feeders.

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The late September evening light on the Arcadia Bayou grasses are beautiful to behold, as seen from John’s back deck.

So, this evening, after leaving my day job at the Center, I grabbed my Nikon digital camera and headed out to see John and Emily, to see if there really were the hoards of migrating Hummingbirds flocking to his feeders like he said there were.

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Upon arriving out there, and climbing the stairs to his deck, I was immediately surrounded by buzzing little birds, skitting all around the back deck area, including the large Black Gum tree which sits adjacent to the deck and four feeders John has out for them.

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John was telling it straight, as he always does. There were at least 30 of the little Ruby Throat hummers buzzing in and out of the feeders, during the 45 minutes or so that I was there with John, snapping images of the evening feeding frenzy.

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John says that this particular flock of hummers has been visiting his feeders for a number of days now, on their way to migrating to South America for the winter. He has had other flocks previous to this large one, and expects that after this flock moves out, there will be another one or more coming through behind them.

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He explained that the flock is especially active at the feeders early in the morning, and in the evening, between 5:30pm and 7:00pm. He says he has gone through many gallons of nectar during the past few weeks.

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While driving back from John’s home, the sun was setting across the Bay of St. Louis, and the scenery was just incredible. One of the images I was able to capture was approaching the high draw bridge, of the warm orange and pink colors in the western sky, just north of Pass Christian, and this image I am dedicating to my good friend and fellow Center worker, Andrea, who is also an accomplished artist, and who has a special interest in and appreciation of the warm colors of the sky during sunset.

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I hope that some of you who read this post also have the special privilege of witnessing the Fall migration of the hummingbirds through the Gulf Coast.

It is a special treat!

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TIME TO PLAY A BIT…

Melissa over at Green Girl in Wisconsin tagged me this week–and 6 Random Fun Facts about me hopefully will be more interesting than the wall-to-wall news stories about the Wall Street screw-ups that are going to cost us all a ton of our hard-earned money. This is the first time I have ever done one of these…

The “rules” of the game are as follows:
1. Post the rules on your blog
2. Write 6 random things about yourself
3. Tag 6 people at the end of your post
4. If you’re tagged, DO IT and pass on the tag

6 Random Facts about Coast Rat:

1. I, too, am double-jointed in my left thumb.

2. I once worked directly for someone who is now a billionaire, and learned that although money can buy almost everything, it can’t buy happiness.

3. I have been truly blessed to have the family and the friends that I have. Truly blessed!

4. In early July, 1998, I was privileged to participate for five days with some 28,000 other Civil War Reenactors at the 135th Anniversary Reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg, on a 2,000-acre ranch just two miles from the actual battlefield. An incredible personal experience!

5. Helping others has long been an important part of my life, especially families in need in Mississippi, where, during the past 28 years, I have been privileged to have made just over 100 mission trips to Mississippi over that time period, many with my wife and children, and most with other, equally dedicated, caring volunteers.

6. As some of you are aware, I attended a one-room elementary school, housing all 8 grades, located in the middle of a tamarack swamp in south central Wisconsin, during most of my grade school years. It was a mile walk uphill, both ways, through the frozen, snow-covered swamp in the winter. Really.

Now tagging…

I’m so flattered that SSG at Confessions of a (Sometimes!) Serendipitous Girl asked me to be pinch hit host during her recent trip to France, that I’m tagging HER. Melissa the Engineer/Chef at Alosha, is a very talented and interesting soul that I’m sure will have some awesome Facts. Mandy at Mommy Cracked is a Mississippi Delta buddy who is a connoisseur of fine Mississippi Down-Home Cooking. Carissa at Good and Crazy People, now a ‘Duck’ in Oregon, I’m sure can “sew/sow” some awesome Facts, too. Kim at Achorn Farm is a sweet soul, and has a beautiful farm, a beautiful family and a beautiful blog, and no doubt, some beautiful Facts. And last, but certainly not least, is my Wisconsin Buddy, Maggie of Okayfinedammit; she is amazing in so many random and non-random ways.

Enjoy and have fun, and check these great sites out for their Random Facts!

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The Weather on the Gulf Coast.

Could it actually be ‘Fall’ here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast?

This is the kind of weather that residents who live here, or have lived here, love about the Mississippi Gulf Coast, for much of the year!

There is a favorite saying that many coastal locals have about the weather here: “The weather on the Mississippi coast is beautiful, EXCEPT for June, July, August and much of September; then you want to be someplace else.”

For the past three days, the daytime temperature here on the Coast have been in the 80s, instead of the low 90s, and the nighttime temps have been in the 60s, rather than 70s or 80s.

And, the HUMIDTY, Thank You, Jesus, has just not been too bad!

And with the moderation of temps and humidity, people’s personalities seemed to have perked up and are more cheery.

That’s good!

Some topics of interest this week:

Brother Norman’s Visitation Service.

I was able to make the four-hour drive last Saturday afternoon, up to central Mississippi to attend the Visitation Service of my friend, brother Norman Cobbins, Sr., in Winona. Once I arrived in Winona, I had to stop and ask for directions about four times, before I was able to find the Funeral Home, but I eventually did make it there OK.

The Funeral Home had an overflow crowd for the service, as I expected it would. Norman had a large family and many, many friends.

It was good to see and talk briefly with his children and their spouses, many of the grandchildren, and mutual friends who were there.

I sat with my long-time friend, Ruthie A., who I have known for almost 30 years, and her sister during the service.

There were so many beautiful, touching tributes and songs for Norman, including those by several of his children, grandchildren, other relatives and friends. The beautiful service ended with the Cobbins Family Singers, composed of four of Norman’s sons, Norman, Jr., Vernise, Dewitt and Lee, singing two beautiful songs, in tribute to their Daddy.

After the service, there was more visiting by everyone there, and then, slowly, everyone began to leave.

Norman, and his soul mate of over 70 years, Willie, raised a wonderful group of children, ten in number, Sallie and Vi, the girls, and Bobby, Shaq, John, Nathan, Vernise, Norman, Jr., Dewitt, and Lee, who, in turn, have raised wonderful children of their own, to be very proud of.

One of the distinctively beautiful characteristics of the stature of Norman and Willie, as parents and grandparents, was the very high level of esteem and respect in which they were (and are) held by their family members. During the approximately 20 years I have known Norman and Willie, every single time I saw one of their grandchildren speak to either one of them, the grandchild always addressed their grandparent as “Yes, Ma’am” or “yes, Sir.,” when asked a question.

The Cobbins Family is large, close-knit and beautiful!

For me, it was another four hour drive south, on I-55 and US-49, back down to the Coast.
I had expected the return trip, late in the night, to be trying and a test to stay awake. Surprisingly, it wasn’t too bad of a drive, as I listened to Mississippi Public Broadcasting all the way, where there was a two-hour special tribute to the life and singing of Johnny Cash.

I learned a lot about his life, the people in it, and how many of his songs came to be. It was a neat two hours.

Co-Worker Mark Ruesing’s sudden passing.

This past Friday morning, my fellow co-workers in the Maintenance Department at the South Mississippi Regional Center in Long Beach, received a severe shock when it was discovered by our Director Don and co-worker Kerry, that Mark Ruesing of our department had passed away in his sleep during Thursday night, of an apparent heart attack, at the age of 43.

Friday morning, when Mark had not arrived or punched in for work by 8:00AM, our Director Don became concerned, because it just was not like Mark to not call in if he was running late or was sick, and decided to stay home and rest.

After a short while, Don tried to call Mark on his cell phone, but there was no answer. Finally, fearing that something might be seriously wrong with Mark, Don decided to drive to Mark’s trailer home to check on him.

Upon his arrival, Don noted that Mark’s pickup truck was parked in his driveway. Don knocked on Mark’s door several times, with no response. He then called Mark’s long-time friend and fellow employee, Kerry, who had served in the Coast Guard with Mark before either of them came to work at the SMRC, to have Kerry go to his own home and bring an extra key Kerry had been entrusted with by Mark, up to Mark’s home.

Upon Kerry’s arrival there, he and Don entered Mark’s home and found that their worst fears were confirmed, that Mark had passed on, apparently in his sleep.

Mark’s sudden passing was a shock to our department, to his friends and other fellow employees on the SMRC campus. Those of us there working in Maintenance Friday, kind of went about our work orders in a daze, as it were, upset at what had happened to Mark.

Last evening, a Memorial Visitation was held in north Gulfport, with a large crowd attending.
Monday afternoon, Mark’s sister and brother stopped over to the Maintenance Department to meet and talk with all of us department members.

Mark was our AC/Heating and Ventilation specialist in the department, and could fix just about anything he attempted to work on. He was a kind, jovial man, with a hearty, distinctive laugh, who enjoyed cooking and who also has done home repair and modification work in the homes of many of the SMRC employees. He was respected by his fellow employees as being very knowledgeable and hard-working. The closest blood family Mark had was in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, where his sister, Mary, and his brother, Matthew, live. Mark will be buried Friday in Ft. Worth, Texas.

Mark was a good fellow and will be missed by many. Sincere condolences to Mary and Matthew.

45th High School Class reunion

This Saturday, my High School class in Wisconsin will hold its 45th Class Reunion. Unfortunately, being down here on the Gulf Coast, I will not be able to attend. But, I do wish all my classmates who are able to make it, a great reunion! Maybe next time…

Grandson’s 5th Birthday

Yesterday, was my oldest grandson’s 5th Birthday. When I talked with him on the phone last evening, he was having an exciting time, opening his presents and playing with the new things he received. He even let his little brother play with some of his new toys, a nice sharing character trait that his proud working parents have instilled in him over the years.

Southern Mississippi football

Saturday morning, I will take the day off and join host Master Naturalist Buddy John, in driving up to Hattiesburg to attend the Southern Mississippi – Marshall football game at the USM campus there. John says he has good tickets for the game, and it will be kind of exciting watching a game in the stadium where Brett Favre played his college football. Normally, John’s brother and friend from Alabama attend the USM games with John, and I feel privileged to be invited to see a game there. Hopefully, the weather will be nice.

It is a relief this week, weather-wise, to have a quiet Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic basin. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with all those families in the U.S. affected by Hurricane’s Ike’s passing by them during the past several days.

There will be much rebuilding work for U. S. hurricane relief volunteers to help out with over in the Galveston bay area during the next 12-24 months. Please keep checking Hurricane Ike relief web sites for those opportunities.

Thanks to all of you for stopping by, and have a nice weekend!

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I very much appreciate the opportunity to be a “pinch-hit” host for my friend, Sometimes Serendipitous Girl, one of my very favorite bloggers. This true story was written to also appear on her blog during the time she will be on her upcoming trip to France.

Have a great trip, SSG!

LISTEN, AND I WILL LEAD YOU…

By Coast Rat

More than a dozen years ago, early in the morning on Thanksgiving Day, a small band of travelers, eight in number, were making their way down across the southern United States, from Wisconsin to Mississippi, on a annual mission of mercy.

The group traveled in two 24’ rented Ryder box trucks and a borrowed passenger van, with the trucks loaded to the gills with over a thousand boxes of donated clothes, bedding, and many other items, destined for disadvantaged families in the poverty-ridden delta area of north central Mississippi, home to some of the poorest counties in the United States.

This had been an annual pilgrimage for several of the travelers, who had made this Thanksgiving trip many times in the past, leaving their homes in southern Wisconsin on Wednesday evening, driving all night on a southward journey though Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Tennessee, to arrive in northern Mississippi Thanksgiving morning, where they would begin delivering their precious cargo to more than a dozen locations in the Magnolia State.

On their long journey south, the group would stop only for fuel, or to use the restroom, normally arriving in West Memphis, Arkansas in the early morning, for breakfast and fuel, before proceeding on their journey.

On this particular trip, though, something strange, something very different, happened.

On that cold, November, early Thanksgiving morning, as the group was traveling through southern Missouri, the van driver radioed to the lead truck of our small convoy, that he would need gas soon for his vehicle.

I happened to be driving the lead Ryder truck in the little convoy, and replied to the van driver that I would take the next exit in the interstate that had all night gas stations, so he could fuel the van. The two trucks, equipped with large saddle tanks, would not need to be fueled until we reached West Memphis, a couple of hours ahead.

Shortly thereafter, we approached a small town just off the highway, and I turned onto the off ramp to stop at a station. The time was approximately 5:00am or so.

As I came to a stop at the end of the ramp, tired and anxious to continue on to our breakfast stop, a couple of hours down the road, I saw that there were two gas stations open directly across from stop sign where our three vehicles sat.

As I pulled the lead truck away from the stop sign, for some reason, I drove past the first open station.

And then, remarkably, I drove past the second open station.

Why?

I continued driving on down the access road that swung around to the right, and preceded on for about a quarter of a mile, where I turned into a small, Mini-Mart, with two gasoline pumps out front.

As I led the other Ryder truck around the back of the station, I radioed the van driver to go ahead and fuel up at the pumps in front.

After arriving around the other side of the station, I parked the truck, and myself and the second truck driver, one of my favorite people in the world, Chuck, walked inside the station and proceeded pour a cup of coffee, and then walked up to the counter in front, to pay for it and the gas that the van had filled up with.

As Chuck and I stood there talking, the woman clerk took my money. As she was giving me back the change and receipt for the gas, she asked us if we would consider putting some of the change in a coffee can setting on counter there, that said: “Fire Fund.”

She went on to explain that one of the mini-mart employees had had a fire the day before that, and although she and her two children had escaped without injury, her mobile home and everything in it, had burned up.

On the coffee can, were listed clothing sizes for the young, single mother and her two children.

When she asked that, I looked at Chuck and he looked at me; I put some of my change in the coffee can, and then kind of chuckled and said: “I think we may be able to help a bit more than that, too.”

I told the clerk that we were from out-of-state, and traveling to Mississippi for a few days, and that we would be coming back through in 2-3 days on our way back home, and that perhaps we could stop and help the fire victims a bit more.

We then mounted up, and continued on our journey south, had breakfast about two hours later, at Shoney’s in West Memphis, as we had for so many years previously, with our long-time friend, Gretchen waiting on us, and then drove through Memphis and down into Mississippi to deliver our cargo to many of our charitable coordinators in several counties in the delta.

Two days later, in the darkness of Saturday evening, on our back way up I-55, in southern Missouri, we took the off ramp back towards the same little Mini-Mart we had stopped at on the trip down, on early Thanksgiving morning.

Driving the lead truck again, I led our little convoy around to the back of the mini-mart building, where we parked the two trucks, and I walked around the building to talk with the clerk on duty.

As I walked into the store, I saw that the clerk, a younger female, had a rather worried expression on her face as I approached.

As I got to the counter, I saw that she hand her hand on the telephone and had actually picked it up (probably on the verge of calling 911), as she waited for me to say something. Who could blame her, having seen three vehicles drive to the rear of her store and then not come back out, and now there was a man with a beard standing in front of her at 9:00pm at night.

I proceeded to explain to the nervous clerk that I was part of a small group of travelers from out-of-state, and that we had stopped early on Thanksgiving morning, purchased gas for our van, and had learned then about the tragic mobile home fire that her fellow employee had suffered, where she lost everything.

As I talked more, trying to put her at ease that I was not there to hold her up, but was there to help, she finally put down the phone and her expression sort of relaxed a little.

I explained that our group was at the back of the store, waiting for her to open the door so that we could leave some things for the woman employee and her two children.

Finally, she accepted my explanation of what our mission was, and we walked to the back of the store, through the storeroom, where she unlocked and opened the back door.

As she opened the back door, her mouth dropped open, as there were two large Ryder trucks backed up there, with the back doors open, and eight people sitting on the backs of the two trucks, talking, waiting for the door to be opened.

The clerk said to me: “Oh, my God, you weren’t kidding!”

One of the people waiting there was my oldest son, Lucas, who was a junior in high school then, but who now is married, has two sons and lives in North Carolina. Another there was his best friend from his high school, Kristina, a year or two older than Luke, who had made the trip so she and Lucas could put on a special art fair for a number of kids in one little neighborhood we stopped at two days earlier.

I then asked the clerk if it was all right to stack the items we had in the store room, until the employee could get them. She said that would be fine.

As we started to unload the items from the trucks, the clerk just kept shaking her head in disbelief, “Oh, my God, I can’t believe this is happening!”

As she continued to watch us unload, she saw the following, mostly used, but very nice things, go from the trucks into the storeroom for the fire family: 3 beds and mattresses, a kitchen table and 4 chairs, refrigerator, electric stove, small TV, small microwave, small portable heater, 2 couches, 3 boxes of clothes for each of the children and the mother (we got the sizes from the coffee can earlier), a box of dishes and silverware, a box of kitchen glasses and cups, 2 boxes of towels, 2 boxes of hand-made quilts and blankets, a box of sheets and pillowcases, 3 pillows, a washer & a dryer, a box of wrapped Christmas presents for each of the children, and a couple of presents for the mother.

During the previous two days of unloading our trucks in Mississippi at our coordinators, I had made a mental list of items to save and keep on the truck, for this last, very special stop on our Thanksgiving trip.

As we finished unloading the trucks, the storeroom of the mini-mart was virtually full of things for the family who lost everything just 4 days before, in the fire.

As our volunteers pulled down the back doors of the trucks and loaded into the three vehicles to continue on our journey, I turned to the disbelieving clerk, and asked her to tell her fellow employee that we hope that these things will help her and her children to recover from their tragedy.

And then I turned, got into my truck, and we continued on up the highway.

I had not even told her or the other clerk who we were, where we were from, my name or what our true purpose was in traveling through during that weekend.

We in this small convoy all left with a special feeling in our hearts that night, warm and loving, that I think all of us has yet to this day.

We had left the north to help families in Mississippi over the Thanksgiving weekend, as many of us had for years. And during that trip, because the lead truck driver, for some reason, hadn’t stopped at the first, or at the second available gas station to fuel the van, but had driven on instead to yet a third station, we ended up being in position to reach out to a special family in timely need, in southern Missouri.

About a year and a half later, during a spring trip my wife and I were making to Mississippi to visit some of our friends there, I swung by the little Mini-Mart, had a cup of coffee, and as I was paying for it, asked the clerk if she knew what ever happened to the mini-mart employee who experienced the mobile home fire, just before Thanksgiving almost a year and a half earlier.

The clerk replied that, the women who had the fire, didn’t work at the mini-mart any more, but she and her two children were doing well. She said that the woman’s spirit was just crushed when the fire happened and she lost everything.

But then, the clerk said, an amazing thing happened a few days after the fire. She said that a group of strangers traveling through then during the night, had stopped there and left a large stack of things, clothes, bedding, appliances, beds and other household things, for the women and her two children, who were living with her parents after the fire. Nobody knew who they were or where they were from.

She said that the woman cried and cried after finding out about the strangers generosity to her a few nights after the fire. The clerk added that all the store employees were amazed at what happened.

The clerk said that after the strangers had stopped, area people found out about happened after the strangers left all those things in the middle of the night, and the town then rallied around the family with money donations, and raised enough money to buy them another mobile home.

She said that in the newspaper article the little local paper did about the whole thing and the traveling strangers slipping in and out in the middle of the night to help out, the paper had called the unknown strangers,

“The Angels of the Night.”

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SUNDAY UPDATE:

KATHRYN IN TEXAS –

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Kathryn, of ThisCouldGetUglier, in Houston, Texas.

In a cell phone conversation with Kathryn of ThisCouldGetUglier, late this afternoon, she relates that when they heard that the electricity in her community would probably be out for two to four weeks, she and her husband went looking for a generator this morning.

They were able to drive to a Home Depot in her community, and found that, low-and-behold, a truck had just delivered a load of the units to the store. So, she was given a number, got in the waiting line, and within about a half an hour, were able to purchase a new generator (for $800!).

She said that they also picked up a 4-pack of five gallon plastic gas cans to go with the generator, and found that that 4-pack was the last of the gas cans left in the store, with a substantial line of people still waiting to purchase them.

Kathryn said, “we just couldn’t take all 4 cans,” so she broke the pack apart and gave two cans to those next in line behind them. She said other customers who had gotten the 4-packs of cans were doing the same thing, so more people in line could also get cans.

She said, “It was nice to see everyone helping each other out.”

It was also a struggle to find ice in her community, and, again, rationing and sharing was the theme of the day for her. She said that when they went to buy ice and there were only 8 bags left. So, they only bought two bags rather than the entire cache of 8 bags, so that others could also have at least some ice for their families.

She related that when they returned home with the generator and fired it up, they were then able to power a fan, to find some relief from the heat there today, and also power their refrigerator and a TV.

She acknowledged that once they got the generator home and turned on the fan, their spirits were lifted and they felt that they were fine. She added, “A generator is an amazing thing!”

Kathryn said that with the power outage starting Saturday evening, they lost everything in their refrigerator, so one of their primary tasks today was to clean it out.

She said that they were ‘roughing it,’ but were felt fortunate, as there were so many people within the city of Houston who were in bad shape. So many of the family’s homes were completely powered by electricity, and many just couldn’t afford to go and buy a generator.

Kathryn says it may be several days before she is able to go back to work. She works for a company which has its office building located in downtown Houston, where so many of the high-rise buildings have had many of the glass windows blown out during the storm. City officials don’t want anyone coming downtown until the glass and debris littering the streets and sidewalks is cleaned up.

She said that she had talked with all of the people who report to her at her job, and they are all fine, much to her relief.

Another bright spot she said, is that their TV cable and internet connections are working again, but that she just didn’t have the energy to jump on line yet. Perhaps this evening sometime, she said, she may be able to do that.

No doubt we will see her on-line soon, sharing what her family’s Hurricane Ike experience has been like.

It will be good to have her back.

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KATHRYN AND HER FAMILY ARE OK!

Following is another Update concerning Kathryn, of ThisCouldGetUglier, in Houston, as Hurricane IKE pounds the area with wind and rain.

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Kathryn, of ThisCouldGetUglier, in Houston, Texas.

I talked with Kathryn a few minutes ago, and thankfully, she and her family (and her immediate neighborhood) are OK, as the worst of Hurricane IKE has gone past them.

I had last called her cell phone and Blackberry around 10:00AM this morning, and left messages when there was no answer at either service.

And then, at 11:00AM, she called.

She said there is only intermittent cellular service, and no email service, so this was the first she could call out to the world.

Power is down to over two million households in the great Houston area, including the western fringe where Kathryn’s home is located.

Kathryn described the sound of the worst of the hurricane moving through in the middle of the night, as horrifying! She said she didn’t like it at all! She added her little three-year old son woke up around 3:00AM and asked what that terrible noise was. He then reportedly said, “Daddy, quit snoring so loud!”

The lad’s sleeping cot had been set up in a closet under a stairs, while his mom and dad were set up next to the closet, in the hallway.

Kathryn advised that, even though they have no electricity, they do have working water, a gas stove they can cook on, and a gas hot water heater so that they may have hot showers. She added that it is a bummer not having air conditioning, but feels that they are blessed and thankful for having their health and what things they do have.

Currently, she said they are experiencing some brisk winds and sideways rain, which are less in intensity than when the major part of the storm passed them by.

All-in-all, she is very thankful to have the worst of the storm passed them.

Kathryn asked me to express her sincere appreciation for all of the thoughts and prayers that her internet friends have sending their way during this huge, threatening storm.

Her first words spoken to me this morning, were:

“We’re alive! We’re OK!

And that, is truly a blessing to celebrate.

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Following is a brief Update of information received at 6:39PM, from Kathryn of ThisCouldGetUglier, whose home is in the fringe area ofHouston, Texas.

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This image, courtesy of CNN.com, shows the massive storm as the eye wall nears landfall in the Galveston – Houston area.

“So far it’s very calm here in Katy. We get a little gust every now and then but so far nothing more. It’s very cloudy and spitting rain once in a while. Actually since I started writing this an hour or so ago, the wind is picking up. We’ll probably start having some sustained winds soon. Projection is from 58 to 75 mph sustained, with gusts up to 80 mph. I’m not looking forward to that but it could be a lot worse.”

Kathryn also posted two pre-Hurricane IKE stories earlier today that you may wish to check out.

Those of you who have checked in to the Weather Channel in the last little while, know that conditions are getting worse in the Galveston – Houston area, as the hurricane force winds approach there, and the huge storm surge starts coming ashore.

We can only hope and pray that those folks who stayed in the area, are in a safe place and will be spared from serious injury or worse.

Along the Mississippi Gulf Coast today, here along the Biloxi – Gulfport – Long Beach – Pass Christian shores, strong Tropical Storm force sustained winds have brought large waves ashore, causing coastal Highway 90 to be flooded all day and closed.

Strong sustained winds have been blowing here since yesterday morning from this massive storm that is now quite a bit larger than the entire Gulf of Mexico. It will be interesting to see when these strong winds will finally diminish.

As we continue our vigil of watching Hurricane IKE make landfall in Texas, please keep folks there in your thoughts and prayers.

Additional Updates later…

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