Friday, September 2, 2011

Snowy Writes (Alternate Title: the Blog Dog)

I’m headed to Greenville today for a doctor’s appointment so I don’t have time to write a long post; however, you’ll be happy to know that Snowy has volunteered to write a post in my place. How exciting is that?

Before I go, let me give you a preview of the Hurricane Stories that are still to come.

You may remember this picture of Sarah and Taylor, taken at Sarah’s birthday party—two happy friends celebrating a happy day.


Well, Sarah and Taylor have recently learned that real friends stick close to together in happy times and in tough times—one of those tough times being the fact that Taylor’s family was one of the many families flooded out of their home by Hurricane Irene. Over the past few days, they have gone through the process of throwing many of their their ruined belongings away and completely moving everything else out of their home into storage.

Sarah has stuck right there with Taylor through it all—their friendship growing sweeter and stronger through this hardship.


I’ll have more stories to tell about Taylor’s inspiring family in the days to come.

Also, some of you may have seen this picture in national news coverage about the hurricane. (Sorry, I have no idea who took it.) I have a story about that picture, as well.

stinson steps

But for now, I am headed out the door to yet another cancer follow-up visit, leaving you with a blog post written entirely by my intelligent and highly verbal dog. Snowy, take it away!

Hi. Snowy here.

I thought I’d go ahead and write a blog for my mom since she is very occupied right now with goin’ hither. And yon. And other places not included in hither. And also yon.

So. What does one blog about when one is taking over for one’s blogging mom? Hmmm . . . this is not quite as easy as I thought it would be.

Oh yeah. I know! I know! I’ve got something! Oooh, oooh! Pick me! Pick me!

Have you heard the news? Word on the street is that my big brother got married a month ago. Yep! He sure did! Isn’t that so incredibly exciting?

Oh wait. You heard that already?



Well, that’s okay, I guess. I don’t really like talking about the subject much anyway because (this is painful for me to admit), I did not even receive my own personal invitation in the mail. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, as hard as this may be to believe, I was not even invited to Nathan’s nuptials.

But I’m not bitter. Much.


No, instead of giving into bitter doggie feelings, I have opted to take the high road. I have opted to dedicate myself to worthwhile and laudable pursuits such as blogging to give my mom a break. Such as examining the front porch for signs of yummy food items dropped by unsuspecting Smith people. What can I say? I’m a busy dude.


Speaking of which, I also stay quite busy surveying my domain for signs of neighborhood drama—you know, like boisterous birds and sassy squirrels and such.

By the way, does this pose make my . . . um . . . behiney, look . . . er . . . chubby? (I seem to have put on a few pounds since reaching the sunset side of middle age.)


It does make me look chubby? Well, how embarrassing is that? Ahem. Let me just, um, whip around and try to find a better side to present to you.

Whipping around . . .


Still whipping . . .


Ahhh. Is that better?


Wait. What’s that you say? I have ended up right back in the same position where I started?

Oh dear. This is so humiliating. And right on that world wide web thingie, and everything. Whatever are Mom’s readers going to think of me now?

Give me just a minute to reconnoiter. And also reconsider. And also reposition my cute self.

There. How’s that?


I always feel that one can’t go wrong when one is displaying a flattering view of one’s fine flank, especially when the aforementioned flank view features a preponderance of magnificent, rippling muscles.

What’s that, you say? You don’t see any rippling muscles?

Well, la-de-da. Let me just stand up right here and tell you a thing or two about muscles. I got muscles, I tell you. I am ripped! I am ripped with rippling muscles! I am the envy of all pit bulls and German shepherds! And also, um, toy poodles.

Look at me! Look at me from this angle! Look, I say!


And also this angle! I am a muscular macho doggie from every angle. Do you hear me?


Macho, I tell you! Hear me roar! (Um. Sorry for the odor. I forgot to brush my teeth this morning.)


Okay. I’m done now.


But let me just add that roaring is a lot of hard work. Ripplin’ and roarin’ is not half as easy I make them look. I mean, look at me. My tongue’s hangin’ out, and everything!


But it’s okay. I will rise above!


Or sink below, as the case may be.


At any rate, I really think that I should just forget all that ol’ roaring, ripping stuff and take up blogging as a full time profession. I seem to be really, really good at it. In fact, I am so good, I think it’s time for me to have an official promo shot. What do you think?


I don’t know about you, but I personally think I am one good lookin’ dog!

(Did I just say that out loud?)

Aw, shucks.


Well, anyway, even though it’s been awful nice talking with you, I’ve got to admit that all this thinking and writing and blogging is hard work for me. And also displaying my muscles is hard work. And also lying on the porch in the sun is really, really, um, hard.

So I’d better go have a nap.


This is Snowy. Signing off.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Shared. Halved.

Ella Ree is our church custodian, a retired widow who traveled to Virginia to be with family during the hurricane. When it was all over she got a call from her daughter here in Manteo saying that her house had been flooded and most of her belongings ruined. Her daughter said it might be better if she didn’t come home right away until some of the mess could be cleaned up.

I stopped by there on Sunday afternoon to see what I could do to help and ended up grabbing a bunch of sodden clothes, curtains, and bedspreads that needed to be washed; I also told her family that they could run on over to our house for a quick dinner so that they could get a break from working in the soggy, steaming house.

Before I left, I stood and watched them work for a moment and was struck anew by the fact that disaster is not something that just happens to individuals; it is something that happens to generations.


Ella Ree’s daughter, son-in-law, grandson and granddaughter were all hard at work in her petite, tidy home, trying their hardest to preserve memories, baby blankets, precious photos and family treasures. I saw whole generations represented in this small corner of the hurricane’s aftermath and I was touched by the way adults and teenagers alike dropped everything urgent in their lives and ran to rescue what was important. It was one of many hurricane moments that brought tears to my eyes.

But then I thought, “Enough standing around and ruminating! I’ve got just one hour to get a meal together!”

I rushed home and with Sarah’s help, got the table set, a spaghetti bake compiled, muffins baked, vegetables cooked, watermelon cut and brownies made. We were due to eat around 6:30 and at about 6:25 I asked Sarah to call Steve (who was working at the house with the family) to check how things were going.

His answer was just a tad disconcerting. A couple more people had dropped by to help and Ella Ree’s family didn’t want to stop working while they had a crew on hand; could we just bring the meal to them instead?

Um. But of course! One of the guiding principles of my life is this: There is always a Plan B.

Sarah and I sprang into action and transformed the air conditioned, CD-serenaded, place-matted dinner we had planned into a packable, portable, rush-it-to-the-work-site repast.

You’ve heard of people tailgating at a ballgame? Well, we tailgated at a flood site.



While the guys sat outside to eat, Sarah and I made sure that the mom and the teenage son and daughter ate their dinner in our air conditioned van. Sometimes something as small as ten minutes of good food and cold air can make a big difference in one’s outlook on life.



My lovely assistant chef stood watch to see if anyone’s plates or glasses needed replenishing.


When everyone was done, Sarah and Ella Ree’s granddaughter, Katie, were assigned the task of walking about a block away and retrieving Ella Ree’s mailbox which had industriously uprooted itself and floated silently away on the floodwaters.


They returned a few minutes later, flush with their success in the recapturing of the errant mailbox.


As I watched them, I was reminded of the old saying that a burden shared is a burden halved.


Sometimes sharing a burden means spreading out dinner on a tailgate. . .


. . . and other times it means helping a friend bring part of a beloved grandma’s life home again.



(Note: As of yesterday, Ella Ree told us she has decided to move back to Virginia instead of trying to start all over again here. We said a tearful good-bye to her last night at church; we will truly miss our lovely, spunky friend.)


Mrs. Pam said, “Do you know when Sarah's school will open? did it have damage, too?”

School started back up yesterday and while Sarah’s school didn’t get any damage, our local alternative High School and Community College experienced a significant amount of flooding. They’re having to make some alternate arrangements for a while.

Lynnie said, “Looking forward to more pictures and stories of healing after the storm, and am grateful that all is well in the Smithellaneous World!
PS - are there many left without shelter?”

Lynnie, I don’t know the exact answer to that; a few days ago, I saw that it was around a thousand but I know that number varies greatly from day to day. The area has been declared a Disaster Area so we’re hoping that FEMA will begin to help people find and pay for housing. Also, individuals, churches, civic organizations, etc. are doing what they can to help on a case by case basis.

Buff asked, “By the way, is that Darrell's restaurant in your first pic? Eaten many fried shrimp there.”

Buff, you have a good eye! When I saw that picture, I had no idea it was Darrell’s until I saw the caption. That fried shrimp must have had a big impact on you. They are hoping to re-open by the middle of next week.

Robyn said, “I have been a long-time lurker at Sarah Smith's Spot and Smithellaneous, and being visitor 1,000,000 prompted me to finally leave a comment (something I should have done long ago!). I am very grateful to your entire family for sharing so much of your life with us, and your story helped both myself and my mom when she fought colon cancer a couple years ago. Thank you!”

How nice to meet “Visitor One Million!” Thanks so much for de-lurking and signing in; it was wonderful to hear from you. I’m so glad to know that our family and our story has been a help to you and your mom. Thanks so much for letting us know.

Brooke said, “Glad that everything is okay for y'all. it means that the three of you are in a better position to do what God has called you to do (maybe Sarah hasn't been called? somehow i doubt it, sorry - even if she doesn't feel the call to preach, i am assuming that being the daughter of 2 pastors and a cancer Survivor, she feels some kind of call) -- minister, be of comfort, be a support, be present, for those who aren't so fortunate on roanoke island tonight.

Brooke, Sarah definitely has a helper’s heart. She’s been right in the thick of things all week, helping to clean up, move stuff, cook, etc. wherever needed. We’re very proud of her!

Jodi asked, “Are Nathan and Meagan in a safe area as well? And the rest of the Hawleys (and Joy's Family). Love and prayers!”

The family/friends in Florida that you mentioned got some wind and rain but nothing even close to what came to NC. All of them are doing great!

Mary H said, “How is Snowy? Haven't heard much about the other miracle gift in your family lately.”

Mary, you are so right in calling him a miracle. I still look at him in awe as he runs around the house, acting for all the world like a 6-month old puppy. Considering that he was one step from death’s door last December, it is truly amazing that he’s doing so fantastically. Also, he wanted to let everyone know that he’s working on his very own post

Trine asked, “Just curious but how many years do children go to school? Sarah starts 10th grade now but when is she done with school? Here people are finished with high school at 19/20 years old.”

Most kids here graduate around the age of 18; Nathan was seventeen when he graduated, but I (accidentally) started him in home school a year early so he sort of got ahead of himself.

Sarah will be eighteen; even though she had to repeat second grade due to her cancer treatment, she will still be graduating right on time. I had started her in home school a year early too because she was so interested in her brother’s school work that she begged me to let her start!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Life Goes On.

Although I am positively bursting with pictures and stories from the last few eventful days, I am spending the morning trying to coordinate housing for some flooded folks and also setting up a link on our church website so that people can donate to local victims of the flood. Although I love all things technological, my brain is unfortunately of the non-techy variety so setting up this sort of thing takes me seventy-nine hours (at least) where it might take some of you twenty minutes. (Show offs!)

I’ve been blitzing emails back and forth to the tech guys at the place that hosts our church website and I must say that they are maintaining a very patient attitude in light of my impressive ignorance. They sent me an email a couple minutes ago with a question (trying to ascertain just what I’m trying to accomplish today) and I wrote back “I can’t answer that because I don’t even understand the question.”

I’m sure all the tech guys over there sit and wait with great anticipation to see when my next entertainingly befuddled email might arrive in their midst.

So anyway I’m taking a bit of a break from all of that to do this quick post; my brain was starting to fizzle, sizzle and threaten to self destruct if I made it contemplate even one more technical conundrum. I shall get back to it in just a minute.


Life goes on, despite the flooding. Starting school five days late, Sarah became an official 10th grader this morning.



One of Snowy’s favorite activities in life is taking Sarah to school and he has been quite disconsolate over this past summer since he was downgraded from Official School Escort Doggie to Basic Doggie.

However, this morning, he stuck very close to Sarah so that she wouldn’t somehow forget him when the time came to leave for the Taking Sarah To School Expedition. He is one happy doggie, now that his purpose in life is once again being fulfilled.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Spaces Between.

Busy, busy day.

I am just home in time to fall into bed after spending a bunch of happy, tiring, fulfilling, exhausting, energizing hours working as hard as I could do help as many people as I could.

The day was full of contrasts--sorrows, laughter, and beauty.

There were things not-so-lovely . . .


And things quite lovely . . . .





And life was lived in the spaces between.


All three of us are headed out the door again, doing our best to practice random acts of kindness to people who didn't get through the storm with all the blessings that we enjoy--electricity, running water, undamaged, unflooded home.

Pictures and stories to come . . . thanks for your prayers for the thousands of people who are struggling right now.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Stars of the Show

Today Manteo is buzzing with the busyness of restoration and repair.  Chain saws, pick ups, dump trucks, trash bags, brooms, rakes, and shovels—they are the humble stars of the show. Strangers helping strangers, neighbors helping recently met neighbors, friends helping brand new friends—they’re stars of the show, too.

Steve is already gone and Sarah and I are headed out soon to lend a hand (or even a couple of hands) to Manteo families wading through the mess and muck of flooding’s aftermath.

Needing a little inspiration before the work gets started, I went out earlier this morning and took a few pictures—some of damage, some of beauty, some even of the strange and strong beauty that can be found in damaged things.