Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Freedom to Speak. Freedom to Quote Scripture.

A hoodie is not a hat. Why does Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss, think so? I wore a hoodie last Friday night for warmth at a ball game down in Mississippi. If someone had asked me later if I had a hat on a the game, I would have said no, I was wearing a hoodie. A hoodie is a very useful garment these cool spring evenings. No dictionary nor catalog calls a hoodie a hat. No one except Gregg Harper.

Why did Harper not let Bobby Rush speak? Did Harper just not want Bobby Rush to quote scripture? Or does he disapprove of someone expressing sympathy for the killing of a child? What was Harper’s motive? Why was Rep. Bobby Rush’s freedom of speech taken away? Why do I think that if our Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush had been a white Republican from Mississippi he would have been allowed to speak? Bobby Rush deserved the five minutes he was entitled to.

His very dignificed delivery of Micah 6:8 and Jesus’s words reading from Isaiah as found in Luke 4:18-20 should not have been objectionable to any reasonable person. As Harper banged his gavel, the decorum of Bobby Rush, who lost his own son to gun violence, was above reproach. He wore a dignified suit and tie onto the House floor. When he took off his jacket and revealed the hoodie underneath, which he then pulled over his head, he demonstrated clearly that he was still the same man despite hoodie. He also demonstrated his sympathy for people who are arrested or shot too often because someone rushes to judgment because of their color or clothing.

I do not want any child of any color being followed and shot because of their clothing. Our nation could profit from hearing the scripture Rep. Bobby Rush was trying to quote when Harper kicked him out of the House. I want our children to be safe on our streets.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Visiting Ole Miss at Oxford, Mississippi

The last few years, Gerald has planned a birthday treat for himself, and that is to go see his favorite softball team play on his birthday weekend. This year the University of Georgia Dawgs were playing three weekend games at the University of Mississippi at Oxford. For Georgia to win a sweep against another Southeastern Conference team turned into quite a birthday present.

We left Marion around 9 a.m. Friday and traveled down I-57 and I-55 to West Memphis to a very generous and inexpensive Shoney’s buffet bar that Gerald remembered from his trucking days. Somewhere after here, the GPS inexplicably directed us off I-55, so we saw a little different scenery than we had anticipated, and then we went into the Oxford Square down one of the prettiest city streets I have ever seen. The white and the pink dogwood and other flowering shrubs lined both sides of the street with its beautiful old houses.

Oxford Square and the surrounding narrow streets also take you back in time to a slower-paced rhythm with bird sounds more noticeable than traffic sounds. Ancient buildings have railed porches all across the fronts. The “tall” buildings with two and three floors have the same railed porches stacked on top of each other. Furniture, grills, and students sitting there gave evidence that the porches looking down on the streets are well used.

I liked passing Square Books, a famous independent book store, and I wished we’d had time to visit there and also with its two offspring—Off Square Books and Square, Jr. I am sure I could have happily spent hours in each store, but then I probably would have spent money I should not have for books our home has no more room for. So it was for the best we have those pleasures to look forward to if we go to Oxford again.

We checked into our motel near the Oxford Conference Center, and reset the GPS for the softball stadium. By this time, our son Gerry and granddaughter Tara, both on the Georgia coaching staff, were already at batting practice with the team. We quickly found the softball field on the campus, which we had heard was one of the most beautiful in the South. We enjoyed the loveliness there, which the 18 miles an hour speed signs helped us savor.

After arriving, we got quick hugs and greetings from coaches and hurried to get settled before the 6 p.m. game time. I was grateful Gerald returned to the car and collected padded seats to protect us from the cold aluminum bleachers. Despite the warm afternoon, with the rapidly falling temperature and cool breezes. we were glad we had brought jackets to add over our long sleeves, and I wished I’d stuck in a blanket.

We were relieved when we won the first game of the series by 8 to 4. We sat in the stands where we met senior Ashley Pauley’s parents and other fans who’d come the distance to support Georgia’s team. It was fun seeing Erin Arevalo and Morgan Montemayor both pitch again and Ashley Razey hit a homerun. After the win, Georgia folks were in a good mood, and Gerry hopped into our car for the ride back to the motel after we stopped briefly at the nearby Wendy’s for supper. We were ready for a very good night’s sleep after the long drive and all the excitement.

Next morning Gerald and Gerry visited at the early breakfast provided by the motel as is their habit at these kind of events. I made sure I got down to breakfast before the closing time, as is my habit. I did get a morning hug and brief visit with Gerry. Then after looking for Tara twice in the wrong room after being told two misleading room numbers, I was glad when she showed up at our room for a short visit before their day’s work continued at the ball field.

Gerald and I had time to drive around in the beautiful weather and see more of the town and the campus before the afternoon game. At two different places on campus, there were chairs and covered tables set up for outdoor celebrations of some kind; I was grateful for the weather for them also. As we drove on Manning Drive past the football stadium, Gerald explained to me that the speed limit was the jersey number of the first great Manning player Archie Manning—the father of Eli, Peyton, and Cooper Manning. I know nothing about football, but I was impressed.

Following the brochure map of the city that we’d been given at the motel, we found Rowan Oak, the home of novelist William Faulkner from 1930 until his death in 1962. Most of his novels were written there. We could have spent the afternoon there reading the posted information panels and exploring the grounds and woods, but game time was calling although we lingered until there was no time left for lunch. But the barbecue ballpark sandwich was quite satisfactory.

We really enjoyed the afternoon game with its lovely warm spring weather punctuated by occasional pleasant breezes. I slathered on sun screen and donned my straw hat and sunglasses and was again grateful for the comfort of the padded seats Gerald carried from our car. By this time the security folks and other fans seemed like familiar old friends, and we were even beginning to know the names of some of the Ole Miss players.

I was especially pleased that Tess Sito pitched, since this series was my first chance to see the junior transfer from Cleveland State. She is turning out to be an all-around team player and capable wherever she is placed. Montemayor relieved her for one inning and struck out two. Razey added two more home runs to her weekend total, and freshman Paige Wilson from Chicago, Illinois, hit 3-for-3 including a homerun that brought the game to a close with Georgia winning 9-0.

We followed the team’s bus to the celebratory dinner and enjoyed a leisurely and delicious meal on the Oxford Square lively with students in diverse dress from humorous costumes to a group of girls in formals. By the time we returned to the motel, it was time for another wonderful night’s sleep.

After breakfast on Sunday, Gerald battled the crowded narrow streets to find a parking place where we worshipped with 600 or so others at a local church and enjoyed the beautiful music there. We went straight to the ball stadium after the service to see Georgia sweep the series with an 8-0 win. This was Arevalo’s fifth complete game shutout of the season. Paige Wilson’s two hits helped secure her second SEC Freshman of the Week title. She had also been named Freshman of the Week in February after the Cathedral City Classic.

There were many great performances during this series, and we were so happy we were there. It was fun seeing the team members giving autographs and posing for photographs with the young fans who clamored for them after the game. After simmering down a bit from the winning high, everyone knew they needed to be on the road home again. We gave final hurried hugs and headed back to Illinois going through Tennesee, Arkansas, and Missouri.

At our last stop enjoying ice cream in Missouri, Gerry phoned to make sure we looked to the sky to see the unusual alignment of the moon with Jupiter and Venus. (We learned this event is called a conjunction by astronomers.) We were back at the farm by 10 p.m. and had another wonderful night’s sleep in our own bed. Tonight we watched the triple alignment of the moon and these bright planets from the yard at Woodsong.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Birthday and a Funeral

The woods coming alive today were glorious. Multitudes of white dogwood and bright redwood blossoms decorated the roadside woods thick with tall trees with pale green baby leaves. The light rain seemed as if nature was recognizing the sadness as we drove through the country to reach Cobden to attend Gerald’s cousin Paulie’s funeral. These hills and valleys to his cousins’ area of Union County are definitely one of my favorite drives, and the glimmer and the mistiness of water drops enhanced the beauty of the woods.

At 86, Paulie had a long life and a good life in these beautiful hills. He had always worked hard to rear his family, but he also enjoyed life. Even after the cancer came a couple of years ago, we were told that he continued laughing and joking. When we visited him and his wife Stella last summer, he told us he was not in pain. More recently, however, we had heard the pain had increased. It was time for him to go to a better place.

His two older brothers, Roy and Troy, are left behind, but they too are experiencing health problems. Gerald visited Roy, the oldest, in the nursing home the day Paulie died. But Roy was at the funeral today. Paulie’s sisters Charlene and Patsy passed a few years ago also from cancer, but his youngest sister, Wilma, defeated cancer and was sitting there by Roy with one of her daughters and her children today. They had Roy smiling and enjoying himself being with loved ones, and they looked as if they too were enjoying this oldest special uncle.

The funeral home was already full when we arrived a half hour before the service began. Gerald let me out and finally found a place to park before he too came in to start greeting his many cousins and their descendants mixed in with all the family’s many friends. After speaking to the immediate family, we started back through central aisle through the crowd when Gerald’s brother Keith waved that they had two seats for us. (I think that happened because his cousin Judy’s husband kindly went back to sit in the lounge area at the back, but we were grateful. I enjoyed visiting with Judy and her sister Barbara, whom I rarely get to see.)

Paulie and his siblings, except for Patsy, were left motherless when Roy was just eight years old, baby Wilma was only eleven days old, and the other three in between. It is difficult to imagine how they all survived and even thrived despite the Depression and its challenges in addition to their mother loss. Later Uncle Lowell remarried a widow with several children, and then Patsy was born. This family of his, hers, and their child always seemed to greatly cherish each other. Step siblings were at reunions when possible and come long distances to be at Troy and Bobbie’s annual July family gathering under their huge maple trees.

Yet despite this successful victory over adversity and the fact that these long ago children grew up to have strong senses of humor and abundant love for one another, the sad story of their mother who had a stroke during pregnancy and another after giving birth was told yet today as relatives talked before the service began. This grief was always part of the fabric of their lives.

The service began, and Paulie’s daughter Brenda sang a beautiful song, which I had never heard before but which set the tone for realizing that death can be a good thing. The new pastor of Paulie’s church gave a very comforting sermon, and though he had only known Paulie a few weeks, he communicated well Paulie’s jovial nature and his deep love and respect for his wife. And we felt the joy and assurance that Paulie had passed to another dimension in the forever life with his Savior.

We drove back through the rain to the farm exalting again in the spring beauty around us. It was the second time Gerald had driven home today from Union County. Gerald and his brothers celebrate birthdays with breakfast together, so early this morning Gerald drove down to Jonesboro on his 82nd birthday. He met up with Keith and his son Tim and with his brother Garry and his wife Ginger to start the day with a meal together. Garry had a doctor appointment in Cape Girardeau, so he went to the cousin’s visitation early since he could not attend the funeral.

I had another morning appointment and could not go to the birthday breakfast this year, and I also represented us at a morning funeral visitation in Marion for a member of our church. Last night I gave Gerald his card and present knowing today was going to be more crowded than we’d have liked. But cards and calls today let him know he was loved, and we will continue celebrating through the weekend.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Early Spring Beauty Surrounds Us

At twilight tonight, I came upstairs and looked out the windows onto a blue sky streaked with pink clouds with the entire scene reflected in the lake. I walked a few feet on into the kitchen to fix a hamburger for Gerald’s and my supper, and the reflection had already disappeared. Very soon the windows showed only the evening darkness, but I can still see that first lovely view in my head. There is so much spring beauty all around us this year that it is difficult to believe that winter may be over.

I have kept thinking we might have a March blizzard as we have some years in the past. Instead we had the tornado on the last day of February, which was much worse than a blizzard, but it only affected a minority of our population, which really does seem totally unfair.

I picked a lovely bouquet of daffodils by the roadside Monday for the women coming to our house that night to enjoy. We have some double daffodils and some paper whites that Gerald found back where the original Blumingstock house once was, but I have a strong preference for the dainty daffodil with the pretty delicate trumpet shape in the middle.

Although they were not yet ready to scent our living room on Monday night, the hyacinths Gerald planted are really strutting their stuff now. I need to bring a bloom or two inside since the daffodilm bouquet had to be thrown away today.

Bradford and Cleveland pear trees are abloom all over the region, and our redbud at the edge of the lawn is turning pinkish purple now. I told Gerald I wanted to see the Bradford pear trees on the opposite side of the tiny island he created in our lake, and so I was invited to join him and Jake for a ride around the farm in the Gator.

Several of our fields are still blackened from the recent burning required by the government program they are a part of. But already the cool season grasses are coming up green, and soon the warm season plants will join them for a healthy green cover once more. We found daffodils and paper whites on far fields across the road where a homestead used to be, and Gerald jumped off the Gator and dug up two clumps of the paper whites from the many there. He will add them to the bed where the rose bushes and hyacinths are.

The prettiest sight on that trip was a field our friend Bruce Beasley had told us about on Facebook. A large neighboring field was completely blue with thousands of small grape hyacinths. I had never seen that sight before and it was breath taking.

Gerald is still feeding the birds in the feeders on our deck even though it is totally unnecessary in this warm weather. We get a great deal of pleasure watching the colorful cardinals, woodpeckers, blue jays, brown headed cowbirds, red winged blackbirds, juncos, chickadees, sparrows, and some we cannot identify.

We used to have flocks of cardinals in our side yard at our other house, and during the ten years we have lived here we have missed them. Bruce, who lives in that same neighborhood, wrote about them this year. We have had so few that we’d get excited about a rare single one that might show up on our deck. Imagine our delight after Bruce wrote about them to suddenly have a small flock show up at Woodsong. They light in the redbud and fly back and forth to the feeder making our feeder the most colorful it has ever been.

The kids in our school systems have been on spring break this week, and David took Sam on a jazz trip to Memphis and New Orleans. So I have visited with Katherine a little more than usual while they’ve been gone. For weeks I have enjoyed the early crocus beside her front walk. Then more recently her tiny miniature daffodils started blooming, and they are a sweet delight. (I have never seen these any place else.) Now her lovely larger daffodils are blooming too. She has had several appointments this week, so she has been able to enjoy them also as she has been out and about.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

West Side Story and More

We just finished up our over-full, fun filled, too busy, exhausting, crammed, and sad weekend at Woodsong yesterday when Leslie left mid morning and mid-week to return to Nashville. Newspaper and television kept us aware of the sadness all around us due to the tornado, and we know personal sadnesses also.

When our grandkids learned about their cousin Sam’s spot in the pit orchestra in West Side Story, they plotted how they could be here for the Saturday performance. And despite the distance and parental fearful reluctance about all the travel involved, the younger generation had their way, and all cousins were here to cheer on Sam except the softball cousins, who were tied up elsewhere.

Down in Athens, the University of Georgia continued their winning ways at softball, and Gerald was able to follow part of the games on his computer. Erin’s team at Southern Illinois University Carbondale also won all four games to be the champions at the Coach B Tournament. Gerald and I did make the first game there, and we were glad it ended early with a run-ruled game. I was anxious to get back to the farm to be there when the grandkids arrived. Gerald learned on the way to the game that the young men he had asked to help burn the native grasses were going to do it that very afternoon.

The grandkids arrived after Brianna and Trent’s long trip up to pick up Elijah at Bloomington, where Jeannie brought Cecelie to join them. Five grandkids in the same car necessitated many prayers by parents for their safety. The five arrived in time to go by and pick up Sam to come out to Woodsong with them before they took him back to the Civic Center in town. They had every detail planned, and it was not five minutes after they arrived that they were at the dining room table eating cupcakes and playing a board game someone carried in. They also carried in a cookie cake with “My Little Pony” emblazoned on it as a birthday cake for Trent who had reached 19 the day before—their inside joke for teenage boys who watch the show for a joke. “Bromies” was the term for these guys, I was told.

I felt sorry for Gerald since he had really worked hard all Saturday morning to take off for the game. Meeting the government’s requirements for burning these fields had not been on his day’s planned agenda. But he was back at the farm in time to make the necessary phone calls, and he was thoroughly impressed with Brandon White and Randy Payne’s expertise and equipment for doing this job. He came in tired but pleased in time for a bite of supper and to take us in to West Side Story.

In the meantime, Leslie, who was on spring break from Belmont, also arrived and unloaded before we gave her instructions on parking and acquiring a ticket since when I bought tickets early in the week, I did not know she would be able to come. Mary Ellen and Brian also came downstate to support Sam and arrived shortly before show time. We all found our seats in the beautiful but very crowded civic center as we wanted to be sure to hear the orchestra’s prologue.

Sam’s parents Katherine and David and I had gone to the Friday night performance as well as Saturday’s. The second night I was more prepared to understand the plot even though the sound system was inadequate for actors’ dialogue, so I enjoyed it even more that second night. (It had been much too long since I saw the movie to remember the characters and plot.)

The vocalists’ and orchestra’s music was wonderful, the gymnastic dancing with fighting scenes was fantastic, and the set was spectacular. I cannot remember a high school set of that high caliber before. Scene changes were almost instant and always pleasing. Todd Graham, the high school band director, and parents had built set in the week before the performance. The unexpected day off school on Wednesday due to the electrical outage caused by the tornado did not seem to have hurt the cast’s successful execution of this complicated show.

While Sam was at the after-musical cast party, the rest of us came back to Woodsong to eat sandwiches and enjoy Trent’s two birthday cakes and ice cream. His parents had carried in the second traditional cake.

I don’t know when the kids went to bed that night but sometime after midnight when David brought Sam out. There were ten sleeping here, so couches were full. I do know only Leslie and Cecelie made it up in time to go to Sunday School with Gerald and me. Elijah and Sam came in with Mary Ellen for worship. I was glad when the pastor caught the kids before the service began and asked Leslie and Elijah to sing for us. I’d never heard them sing together before, and it did their grandmother’s heart good.

I’d stuck in a couple of large frozen lasagnas in the oven before I left home, so everyone gathered in for lasagna and salad with left-over birthday cakes for lunch. David brought Katherine and her aide out in the van. People were coming and going with the kids riding the Gator and playing with Jake and going over to see farm buildings that Mary Ellen and Brian were leasing. Too soon it was time for everyone to go back upstate or home to Marion, and only Leslie was left on the farm with Gerald and me. Again with all the upstate driving that Brianna, age 17, was yet to do taking the cousins back to Bloomington, I was grateful no painful phone calls ruined our weekend.

We were very pleased to have this special pre-wedding time with our Leslie. She was busy while she was here shopping, getting a haircut from her cousin Erin’s stylist, and most of all working at her computer and keyboard composing a jingle tune to be used as an introduction for a podcast. This was for her second paying client, and I was fascinated as she explained the process to me.

We still found time over bowls of cereal at late breakfasts and again at evening suppers to talk, and I loved hearing her ideas and plans for her and Mike’s future together. She and Erin had planned dinner together on Tuesday evening, but with SIUC leaving the next morning for their Honolulu tournament, a called team practice prevented it.

Since Lesley had a meeting with a professor Wednesday afternoon, she had to leave us yesterday morning. Gerald and his brother Keith were meeting Garry and Ginger for breakfast at Jonesboro to belatedly celebrate Garry’s Saturday birthday and also celebrate that Garry had gotten out of the hospital the day before his birthday. (In the meantime, Garry had to take Ginger to the hospital in the middle of the night Monday, but after they checked her heart, she was dismissed Tuesday afternoon.) Gerald was able to run by Bill and Mickey’s and see the tornado destruction there before he came home. Bill’s three daughters as well as many friends and other relatives had come and cleaned up as much as possible in the immediate aftermath. Of course, there is still much to do.

Now everyone is back safely at home except for Erin in Hawaii, who is thoroughly enjoying herself, I am sure. Leslie is again at her job decorating cakes at Kroger. While I am proud of her tremendous talent and academic success, I am also very proud that she has worked part time throughout her college career—on campus during the school year until this job at Kroger. I liked what she told me about all the things she has learned about people while working there and her appreciation for those who will continue there while she has hopes of moving on to better and more interesting things.

Today Gerald had a free lunch at a John Deere Day down in Union County, so I had a leisurely morning and was only eating lunch myself when he came in at almost two. Later I picked up Sam from jazz band practice and saw Katherine briefly when I took supper into their house. Tomorrow we are having lunch with Bill and Mickey, and we will be hearing more about their house and barn rebuilding.

As I said at the beginning of this blog, our lives have been overfull and much too busy. I can’t believe that tomorrow it is actually another weekend.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

What a Difference...

We’ve all heard what a difference a day makes, but the reality is that even an instant or an inch can change peoples’ lives forever. Just a mile and a half south of us, the Wednesday morning tornado destroyed a barn, a two-story house (empty I think), and severely damaged the large vacated arena west of them. I was so grateful that our son-in-law had not rented a place to store his combine in that building.

When the 1982 tornado hit Marion, I learned how locations seemed to be chosen weirdly and randomly to be destroyed while others close by survived. Our neighboring citizens in Ridgeway and Harrisburg have had that same terribly painful lesson forced on them. So have many others in our region and across the South. Six people in Harrisburg were killed rather than the l0 that was reported during the confusion, but across the nation, at least 26 have lost their lives.

So far our family has always been incredibly fortunate during natural disasters. In 1982 after Mary Ellen came running downstairs from her bedroom to tell us the radio had announced a tornado had hit Marion and was heading down Route 13 in our direction, we frantically phoned Gerry and Vickie and baby Tara to leave the mobile home they were renting a couple roads away from Route 13 and come to our house. We had no basement, so I am not sure what we would have done if the tornado had shifted a few miles south. We stood in the yard and watched the tornado lift after it destroyed the McDonald house on Route 166. It then headed over rather than through our village of Crab Orchard, where a good many people who had made fun of Bobby and Katherine Sanders’ storm shelter were now crowded into it.

The McDonalds’ lovely home was destroyed while the two houses on either side of it were left intact. They rebuilt, and you would never know it today. However, someone quoted one of them as saying the loss of the house was not consequential—because not too long before that they had lost their beautiful young adult son in a freak hunting accident when he drowned while coon hunting one dark night. Watching their family cope with all the problems they have endured has been an inspiration to even those of us who did not know them well. Their faith-filled lives through all their serious health problems since then have magnified the words Pastor McDonald spoke from the pulpit when he was yet alive. There is no good explanation why one house or one life is taken by the wind, while the others of us nearby escape and are allowed to continue normally. Nor is there an explanation why some families seem to have far more that their share of disasters.

One of the 1982 stories I remember most vividly was of a teenage boy talking on the phone in his upstairs bedroom in his home he had always lived in. The next moment, the house was destroyed and he was out in the yard with a broken arm. As a person who does not tolerate change very well, I have thought of that story so much wondering how would one cope mentally with such unexpected sudden change.

After the weekend funerals and the restoration of electric power in Harrisburg, the children have returned to school. People hoped this gave the kids both a sense of normalcy as well as opportunity to tell each other their storm stories. I was a little irritated by a huge headline in our area paper saying that the healing begins. I don’t think so. By now maybe some are coming out of shock, but people who lost loved ones or everything they own are not ready to start healing yet. And some will never heal from the losses sustained when they lay down to sleep in their own beds assuming they’d wake up in those same beds.

Volunteers with chain saws and heavy boots have poured in to help, and collection sites for donated goods are all over the region. I have to live with my guilt that the day before this happened, I returned the last request for a donation from the area Red Cross with a note on the back asking to be removed from their mailing list. I have always heard wonderful things about the one who directs the Red Cross in our area, and I guess those letters produce needed funds. However, I give when I can to the many important charities that I want to support and feel pain I cannot give more, but never do I give because of a phone call and rarely because of constant repeat letters. I give because I think it is important to help. I don’t like begging letters filling my mailbox and using up the nation’s trees. Because of the extra need caused by the tornado, we will be making a donation now, of course, but not because of a letter requesting it.

When we heard our friends Bill and Mickey had their bedroom roof torn off barely giving them time to get out of their bedroom alive, my first thought was we should tell them to come to our house, but then I realized I couldn’t extend that invitation because our house including the couches would be full all weekend. (There were ten sleeping here Saturday night because the grandkids arranged what they call a “cousins’ weekend” so they could be here to support Sam, whose high school musical was last weekend.)

My second thought was that they would go to their brother’s home just across the way from them on an adjoining farm; they would want to be close to supervise what needs to be done. They probably did go there the day it happened, but fortunately only the bedroom roof and not what was below it was destroyed. So they are sleeping in their finished downstairs quarters where they have rooms for visiting family. Mickey was quoted in the newspaper story as just being grateful to God for their narrow escape. In one of Bill’s calls left our answering machine, he was rejoicing over help they’ve been given by friends and family. I met someone yesterday from their nearby town, and she told me they were both at church Sunday despite Bill’s still being in a back brace from the recent surgery.

Humans are amazingly resilient despite the onslaught of problems often thrown at them. And tragedies such as the tornados can bring out the very best in people not only in our region but wherever the tornados have hit. Sadly the very worst comes out in some people. As I understand it, thousands lined the street at the funerals Saturday to protect the families in case the Westboro Baptist “Church” made good their threats that they were coming to protest or celebrate or whatever they claim to do when families are devastated by loss. Evidently this is one of their new tactics—to make threats and upset people and then not show. The grieving families had to appreciate the human fence of strangers come to show their love and prevent any disruption. And people in Harrisburg will appreciate the ones coming tomorrow to clean out a vacated store, which will provide a place for the tons of donations to be distributed. If not volunteering, we have been asked to stay away from the destruction, but from what I read online, I believe that already each day does make a difference—this time for the better.