Monday, May 20, 2013

BE PREPARED - For natural disasters

Lord Robert Bayden Powell reminds us...
‘Be Prepared... the meaning of the motto is that a scout must prepare himself by previous thinking out and practicing how to act on any accident or emergency so that he is never taken by surprise.’
This is the creed Boy Scouts have lived by for generations. And the motto is as important today as ever.

Being prepared 365 days 24/7 is paramount. Are you prepared for a tornado or any other disaster?
It is human nature to think about things ‘after the fact’. Being prepared ahead of time can make any situation easier to handle.

I think one of the most important things you can have is a fire-proof safe box for keeping important documents in such as:
marriage licenses/ divorce papers
birth certificates
social security card
medical documents
insurance information such as medical/ life/ homeowners/renters policies.

We also keep a hard copy of our home contents and photos of items. This makes it much easier when filing your insurance claim. If you can just hand them the papers to photocopy, it may expedite your claim process.

Next is to have a plan. Does everyone in your family know where to go in case of a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning? The object is not to have them living in fear but to be aware of what they need to do. In this case, practice makes perfect. Have in-home drills and treat them as if they were the real thing.  Also have an outside contact. If you are separated in a disaster, it’s a good idea to have someone everyone can check in with to let them know they are okay and where they are.

Aside from your safe box, you also need to think about immediate needs following a disaster. gives a detailed list of what you should have on hand. Some of the items include:
fire extinguisher
basic first-aid kit
3-day supply of 1 gallon of water per day per person in your household
3-day supply of non-perishable can foods with either pop-top type of lids or a hand operated can opener
battery operated radio and a supply of replacement batteries
A couple of flashlights and extra batteries.

I think each person in the family should have a flashlight as well as a whistle for signaling help, in a place they can grab as they head to their shelter. If you’re buried beneath the rubble of your home, the breath to blow that whistle will aid rescuers in reaching you quickly. Diaper wipes, trash bags with ties and a wrench or pliers for turning off the utilities.

Our emergency tub also includes:
a change of clothes for each person
a windbreaker jacket and heavy work gloves
personal hygiene supplies

If you have children, I also suggest making sure they have a personal backpack. As traumatic as the aftermath of a disaster may be for you, it is ten-fold for them. We always think of kids as being resilient, and in many cases they are. But when you’ve lost everything, it’s pretty scary. Their emergency backpack might include:
a couple of books
favorite snuggle toy
hand held game
favorite snack bars and juice boxes

If you have infants/ toddlers, a pre-packed diaper bag is also essential. Make sure to include eardrops and infant Tylenol. The pressure they experience during a storm can leave ear pain and headaches for them.

Pets are another concern. Make sure all of your pets have a tag or an implanted chip. Many animal rescue agencies will take in the pets for free or a modest cost until you can relocate and be reunited. If you choose to keep them with you, make sure you have extra pet food and include them in your water supply.

There are numerous other things to have on hand and you’ll find the complete list on the FEMA website. My final suggestion is to make sure all of these things are kept in the lowest part of your home and covered with heavy plastic sheeting.

We can’t be prepared for everything. But any steps you take now will make your journey through recovery less stressful. Be safe.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


   Today I bring you the final installment of Promise Bridge. If you missed any part of this story just check Monday and Tuesday's posts for the first two installments.
   I'd love to have your comments and I hope you have enjoyed the story.

    Within minutes, they were on Promise Bridge. He stopped at the locked gates.
   “This is it, gentlemen,” the sheriff announced. “Several years ago, Prairie Farms Dairy was having vandalism issues from the neighboring county. They put up security gates, stopping all traffic except their own trucks.”
   “Is the gate kept locked?” Brown asked
   “Not always. But since the bridge is so long, you can’t tell if it is or not until you’re here.”
   “Looks wide enough to turn around here at the gate,” Blue reasoned. “Why does your deputy keep trying to back up if he knows he can’t?”
   “The bridge is extra wide to accommodate the load structure the tanks need, but it isn’t enough for turning a car around on.”
   Brown looked first out his side window, then out the rear. “I’ll bet twenty bucks you can turn this car around,” he challenged. “It’ll take some maneuvering, but I think it can be done.”
   “It won’t work.”
   “I’ll chip in. Make it fifty,” Blue upped the ante.
   “Can’t do it. Some suits from the big city claim I’m spending too much money. That bet won’t cover the service call.”
   “Move over, Butter. Let me show how it’s done.” Brown said as he got out of the back seat and opened the driver’s door. With a shrug, the sheriff relocated to the passenger seat.

   An hour later, Deputy Parkay stood next to the squad car. His huge grin went unmasked as he peered in the front passenger window.
   “Don’t say it, Parkay,” the sheriff ground out between clenched teeth.
   “Not a word, sir. Here comes Charlie with the rig. Imagine that.”
   The mechanic joined Parkay at the window. “I see your deputy isn’t the only one capable of hangin’ up on ‘ol Promise. Y’all want to climb out so I can get you towed off of here?”
   Sheriff Butter could have melted with embarrassment

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


I had thought I would get this story in two installments but looking at the remaining section this morning, I will be posting it in three instead. So today, I bring you Part 2.  If you missed Part 1, just click on HERE and it will take you back. When we left Sheriff Butter, he was on his way over to the garage to check on the squad car.

       Sheriff Butter stood for a moment on the front step of the jail. Maybe he was bias, but his town was the best spot in Land ‘O Lakes County. Everyone was kind to their neighbor, lending a hand where needed without expecting something in return. Imperial folks took care of their own and trusted one another. Nothing every changed in this laid-back community except the population and the seasons. Days like today were his favorite. The sun shone bright, highlighting the warm colors of autumn everywhere. Weather was still pleasant enough for a stroll or a game of ball in Oleo Park.
    “Hey, Sheriff.”
    “Hi, Tommy,” he greeted the freckled boy skidding his bike to a stop. “How’s your folks?”
    “They’re okay. Dad’s comin’ home on Friday.”
    “Bet you can’t wait.”
   “We’re goin' campin’ at Shedds Lake.”
   “You’ll have a fine time. You know old Spud’s still swimmin’ out there. He’s just waitin’ for the perfect bait.”
   Legend or real, Spud was the biggest catfish you’d ever want on a platter. He’d been in Shedds Lake long before Butter was Tommy’s age. No one could catch him.
   “Hey Sheriff, I hear Deputy Parkay got stuck again.”
   Tommy grinned and shook his head. “You need to deputize me. I can back up real good.” Showing off the skill, he backed his bike up straight as an arrow then peddled back to the steps.
   “Good job, Tommy. I’ll keep you in mind.”
   “I gotta get home. Mom’s waitin’ on this loaf of bread.”
   “Then you best get goin’. Tell your folks I said hello.”
   “Okay. See ya, Sheriff.”
    Butter felt like a man with all the time in the world as he made his way down the street to Charlie’s Garage. Life was like that in Imperial; slow and easy. He’d been the law enforcement for sixteen years. Very seldom was he called upon in an official capacity. That is unless you counted rescuing Mrs. Honeyspread’s cat from the tree or directing traffic during the Spring Churn Festival. Yep, it was a fine place to live.
The mechanic backed the squad car out of the stall as Butter reached the station.
   “Everything okay?” he asked as the barrel of a man worked his way from behind the steering wheel.
   “I don’t know how he manages it, Sheriff. There doesn’t seem to be any damage. Little dent in the back bumper, but the trunk opens just fine.” Charlie handed the keys to him with a shake of his head. “How your nephew gets into so much curd and comes out like sweet cream is beyond me.”
   Sheriff Butter laughed. “He is the luckiest son of a gun. I’ll see ya,” he called as he got into the squad car and pulled away with a wave.

   Things were less than jovial back at the office.
   “You got a couple of suits in there,” Bonnie pointed over her shoulder when he came in., "Said they’re    from IBI.”
   “Internal Bureau of Investigations? Great. Just what I don’t need today. Internal Affair birds dumpin’ yogurt where they don’t belong.”
   “Oh… you’re in trouble now, Sheriff.” Sam teased through the bars.
   “Why are you still here?” Grabbing a clipboard off the wall, he signed his name. After handing the form to Bonnie, he unlocked the cell door. “Go on home, Sam. And try not to make a habit of this. I’m runnin’ a jail, not a hotel.”
   “True enough, Sheriff,” Sam replied, collecting his ball cap and jacket from the rack. “But the food’s better here. That was good biscuits and gravy, Miss Bonnie. I’ll be back.” He winked at the dispatcher.
As Sam left, Butter went into his office and greeted the men. Neither one offered to shake his hand. They were too busy going through the files.
   “Can I help you find something?”
   The blue-suited man shut the drawer. “We’re here on a complaint filed regarding the department finances.”
   “What complaint?” The sheriff sat in the chair and leaned back, lacing his fingers behind his head.
   “Seems you have paid a large sum of money to…” The other gentleman, dressed in brown, referred to a small spiral notebook before finishing. “Charlie’s Garage.”
   “Yeah, ‘spose I have. He’s the only place in town if you need a vehicle worked on. What’s the problem?”
   “We’re talking frequent alleged repairs, Sheriff. You’ve had the squad car serviced six times this month, alone.”
   “Almost seems like it’d be cheaper to get a new one every month, now don’t it?” He smiled but the other two didn’t share his humor.
   “Can you explain the expenditures?”
   The sheriff sat up and looked across the desk. “Either of you got a nephew you’d like to ship to a foreign country?” He thought one cracked a smile.
   “Well, I do. Every day my nephew, who also happens to be the deputy, makes the rural patrol sweep. And at least once a week I can count on him calling to tell me he’s stuck on Promise Bridge.”
The two men looked to one another then back at him.
   “That means every time he calls in, I have to get hold of Charlie’s Garage for a tow. Then Charlie goes over it, fixing anything the numbskull broke.”
   Again, neither man so much as blinked.
   “Is it costly? Yes. But I got enough to worry about with that boy trying to tear up the only squad car we can afford.” Sheriff Butter stood up, planting his large palms flat on the desk; he leaned across to the agents.
   “What I don’t need are a couple of hot shots comin’ in here telling me I’m spending too much money.”
   The men burst into bellows of laughter. “That is the craziest story we’ve ever heard,” Blue said. “And we’ve heard some good ones.”
   “Yeah. Can we see this bridge your deputy seems to favor?” Brown added with a snicker.
   “I’ll take you out there. Come on.”

Monday, April 1, 2013


When we first began looking at property in the Ozarks, I saw a sign that sent the mind carbine spinning. The sign read: re-elect Sheriff Butter Reeves for Shannon Co. Sheriff.

Really? Someone's name is Butter? Okay, I'm going to say I chuckled. I 'was' a northern girl after all. I've since had the honor of meeting Butter and his family. But in between the space of hearing his name and actually having the man standing in my kitchen one night, I penned a story for a writing competition. Sadly, this one has never won any awards so I thought I'd share it here... with all of you and especially Butter.

Promise Bridge

Part 1


      The phone rang in the reception area. Within moments, the dispatcher burst into Sheriff Butter’s office. Her bosoms heaved with laughter as she struggled to pass on the message.

     “That was your nephew on the phone,” Bonnie Blue Bonnet gasped, trying to catch her breath.          

     “He’s done it again.”

     “How in tarnation….” Sheriff Butter pushed away from his desk.

     “I swear I’m gonna dangle him over the side of that bridge head first.”

      The young deputy had long since stopped using the county radio when he needed help. There were too many scanners in the area to pick up on his bumbles. The phone was more private for his SOS calls. The sheriff shook his head as he strode to the door, grabbing his western hat from the tree. "Call Charlie…”

     “You’ll meet him out there. I think I’ve got this routine down,” she said, following him out.

     Chortles resounded from one of the cells as he passed through the outer office. The sheriff took note of the town drunk smiling like the village idiot.

    “Any cracks from you, Sam, and you’ll be hangin’ next to him.” The threat fell on deaf ears. The slamming of the door as he left the building only invited the uproarious laughter he heard through the open windows.

    Promise Bridge was a one-lane bridge. The lane was extra wide to accommodate semi-trucks going in and out of Prairie Farms Dairy Company at the other side of the river. However, there wasn’t room to turn a car around once you reached the gates and found them locked. The only way off was to back up the near quarter mile. Deputy Parkay couldn’t back up a vehicle any distance to save his life.

    Parking his car under a shade tree near the bridge approach, Sheriff Butter got out and walked to where the Imperial Police Department’s only patrol car rested. One rear wheel perched off the edge. The rookie sat in the front seat, his knuckles glowing white against tanned fingers gripping the steering wheel.

    Butter couldn’t resist tormenting the boy a bit. Lord knew he had it comin’. He appeared to assess the situation. The back of the squad sat pinned against a cross-section of the railing. The boy was too scared to notice the car wasn’t going anywhere. He walked closer and leaned in the open window.

   “So. How long you gonna sit there?”

   “I can’t move, sir. My weight up here’s the only thing keepin’ the car from goin’ off backwards and me with it.”

   “Yeah, I guess it is. Smart thinkin’. Be mighty serious if that I-beam were to break away.”


   The sheriff motioned towards the rear end. “Solid steel. Otherwise you’d have plunged right down into Land ‘O Lakes Creek. It’s a little shallow this time of year. I don’t recommend diving from this height.” He watched Deputy Parkay hazard a look in the rearview mirror. Relief flooded the young man’s cheeks.

    “Here comes Charlie. You want to get out and let him hook up?” the sheriff asked, opening the door.

    “You okay, son?” Bonnie asked as the two officers entered the jail an hour later. She fought to hide a grin. This boy got into more trouble than her three little butter buds combined. If he’d only learn how to drive in reverse.

   “Yes, ma’am.”

   Bonnie noticed he looked everywhere but at her. Embarrassment wasn’t anything new to Howard Parkay but she guessed it didn’t get any easier.

   “Anything come in while I was gone?” the sheriff asked.

   “Nice and peaceful here.”

   “Good. After all the excitement out at the bridge, I need a little quiet.” Butter ventured a look towards Sam’s cell. The old man was asleep.

   “I’m goin’ over to the garage, Bonnie. Ring me over there if something comes in."

    "You got it."


Tomorrow, I'll tell you the rest of Promise Bridge.

Monday, March 18, 2013


I'm still trying to find a balance and get to everything. I'm finally making progress.

A couple weeks ago I took a drive... just to snap pictures. I started out Hwy 99 out of Birch Tree then to Hwy106 headed for West Plains. Just after you take the turn onto Hwy 106 there is a hill and when you look to the North (I think - I tend to get direction-ally challenged when I'm in the WP area.

Anyway. When you look across this guy's pasture, the world seems to go on forever.

I caught the attention of one of the many cattle grazing across the vastness. I love the look of curiosity on this cow's face.

I took the Hwy 17 junction and headed back for home. I was looking for a little country church I later realized is actually located out on Hwy 60 on the way to Poplar Bluff. LOL But I enjoyed the drive.

Along Hwy 17 I came upon an old farm. LOVED this place. The history that house and barn hold is enough to make this author drool with curiosity.

Someday, I want to research this place.

Who knows... someday I might be in your area. I'd love to hear your story.

Friday, February 22, 2013


I love close- up shots of ice encased pine needles. They look so fragile. Mother Nature does a beautiful job of cloaking each needle into it's own cocoon of frozen water. This is her way of protecting it from the cold.

Today begins a new chapter for AnOzarksJournal.  Initially, I just needed a place to upload Thank You cards so that members of the Polish Sinfonia of Krakow Poland could see them. The post was also my first introduction to Kizoa video slideshow app. Great program!

Although this isn't what I have scheduled for posting rotation, I had to share these pics of the remnants of our ice storm yesterday. The thunder-sleet rumbled most of the day yesterday before settling into a very fine, peaceful snow last night.

This oak sapling is the first incredible sight I had to capture during my walk to the pond.

These are close-up shots of the limb and leaf curtain hanging from the arch.

This is my beautiful Maple tree in the back yard. I fell in love with this tree the first autumn we spent here on the farm. A couple years ago, high winds took out the East fork. Each new storm brings me closer to having to take it down completely. And each time I can take a picture of her like this, I remember how blessed I am I've had her this long. 

Here's hoping your day in the Ozarks is filled with beauty.