Craneflies and so forth

The craneflies are out. They look like giant mosquitoes but they are harmless. They don’t bother me one bit, but I wish one wouldn’t fly i everytime I open the door. It just ends up dying in the apartment. They’re super fragile and once they get underfoot they start losing legs and wings.

I’m recertifying as a first responder again; we have to get into the National Registry. Mississippi doesn’t recognize our American Red Cross certifications. I might get to go to Florida next week for a prescribed fire. Our fire cache is in lousy shape. It was okay before and after the storm; the recovery team took its toll though. I was able to find most of the gear I needed but I don’t have gloves and a pocket guide and both items are required for the fire line.

Once you’ve had black…

I’ve been a little perplexed about the crush of black history programs on public television the last few weeks. Then it occurred to me: it’s Black History Month.

Speaking of black, I made black beans and rice tonight, with fried plantains. The plantains came out pretty good. So did the beans and rice, for that matter.

Work has been slow, slow, slow this holiday weekend. My boss’s boss was at work today, so I helped her update the website. The park service is redesigning its whole web site, it won’t look too different to the public, but it’s going to be more uniform and easier for the parks to integrate their information in to the system. I’m sure there are gripers in the service who’d prefer local control over the design and content, but I’m all about consistency.

A quiet weekend at work

I spent much of the last two weeks preparing for a program nobody attended today. I’m pretty disappointed.

The curiosity-seekers who visit here are starting to get to me. These people are not visiting the park because they are interested in the park, they are visiting because they want to see destruction. I’m getting tired of their personal questions and their mock symapthy. If they didn’t pretend to care I could handle it. I can sympathize with the Amish.

I guess this is human nature? Did I do this when I visited Indian country a couple of years ago? I was genuinely interested in the landscape and the culture, and I made a point of being polite and sincere and not condescending to the people who lived there. Is that enough?

What is that great firey ball in the sky?

Mail! But it looks like new stuff, not the month’s worth of mail I’m waiting for. My new issue of Ranger magazine came. I wrote two articles for it; each one takes up a whole page with the pictures! They seemed smaller when I typed them up.

I spent the work day on the islands, and on the boat that got me there. I took photos to document the renewal of the ecosystem. We saw two bald eagles by their nest on what is left of East Ship Island (it’s starting to look like a cartoon of a desert island- you know, the one with the single palm tree, except that this one has lots of dead slash pines on it). But the accursed sun scorched and dehydrated me, and now I am tired. I didn’t have to deal with that in the cave.

I now support privatization

I haven’t seen my mail in a month. When I got to Kentucky I rented a PO box and requested to have my mail forwarded for a month. I never saw any mail, and there wasn’t any in my box when I got home either. At the post office the guy told me that the big processing facilities in the region were all contaminated with black mold (transmitted from the hurricane-damaged facilities, I guess?), so our mail is being routed through an overloaded facility in Houston. It is probably on its way to Kentucky or on its way back; either way the delay is as much as four or five weeks. No bills, no junk, no postcards, no magazines. Moth-R-Fuckers.

Get back to work

A cross-section of post-Katrina tourists came through the visitor center today. Today’s attendance included a trickle of out of town visitors not involved in any relief efforts. At Mammoth Cave I enjoyed not having to satisfy people’s curiosity. I find myself answering questions about the destruction with as few words as possible. These people are tourists in the most negative sense of the word.

Then there were some people who wanted to enjoy the outdoors. These are the people I work in a park for. I describe the trails for them, tell them what they’re likely to see, and answer their many other reasonable questions.

One man, in town this week working with a Christian volunteer group, said, “This is overwhelming. I can’t get over it. I’ve seen tornadoes but this is worse. How do you people deal with this?” I don’t know how to answer that, but I said there is nothing else to do but deal with it.

Another man said, “A lot of people living in FEMA trailers I guess.” “Tens of thousands,” I answered. I’m not sure why he felt this was worth mentioning, as he seemed to be local, but I believe it’s an oblique Southern way of asking “Are you living in a FEMA trailer?”

His wife asked me after looking over our salvaged exhibits decorating the trailer, “Why didn’t you just move all of the valuable stuff out of the building when you heard there was a 30-foot storm surge coming?” I said I didn’t recall hearing before the storm that there would be a 30-foot storm surge, and anyway it would have taken days to move everything out. I didn’t ask her where she thought we should store everything. It turns out this couple was from Ocean Springs. She should know better than to ask that.

I couldn’t say this to her at work, so I’ll write it here: Fuck you, lady. Fuck you and I hope the next time you second-guess somebody whose home or business was obliterated by this hurricane that they kick you right in the crotch.

The good the bad and the ugly

Today was the Ocean Springs Mardi Gras parade. The weather was fair and I walked the two miles into town to see it. In Kentucky I walked a few miles each days and lost some weight and felt generally better. The parade was pretty nice: plenty of floats, but not heavily attended. I got some beads, some candy, and a few good photos.

The walk into town isn’t a very nice one. The road is a busy one and highways in Mississippi are as dirty as any (lately more so than usual). A lot of dogs get killed on the roads here. In fact there was a freshly dead chocolate lab. It had tags on it. You could still see the skid marks and the blood on the road. Nearby was another carcass. God knows how long it had been there but it was literally a bag of bones. The whole scene was gruesome. Across the road some stupid lady was walking her dog off its leash, within sight of the dead lab and just feet from the cars zipping by. What was the matter with her?

I wish that wasn’t what I remembered most about today but it is.