Tag Archives: emerald isle nc

We Dodged Florence, but Millions of Others Didn’t: Thoughts and Prayers are Nice, but More is Required

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

I spent the better part of the past week at work and at home getting ready for the possible impact of Hurricane Florence. I had two of my personnel and their families who lived in mandatory evacuation zones and did evacuate. Until late Wednesday when Florence took her turn to the southwest we had made reservations in a local hotel since our neighborhood typically floods. The last storm that we had, Hurricane Matthew dropped 15 inches of rain on us in a period of about 10 hours, barely a week and a half after another system had dropped 16 inches of rain on us in a three day period. During those events I fought to keep water out of our home and we lost one of our cars to flood damage and the other had a couple thousand dollars of damage. We could not leave our neighborhood for almost three days because of the depth of the water on the streets in our subdivision.

High winds and water surround a house as Hurricane Florence hits Swansboro N.C., Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Tom Copeland)

This time we got lucky. Florence, after making a jog to the northwest turned back west and then southwest. For us she was pretty much a nothing-burger, but we live in a place that is incredibly vulnerable should a major storm hit. A category three of four storm would devastate the area. Hampton Roads is in an area of Virginia known as the Tidewater and Tidewater is a polite word for swamp. In fact that applies to most of the East Coast from us down to Florida.

But, since Hampton Roads one of the nation’s major seaports and transportation hubs, as well as the home of the largest naval base in the world the effects would be more than local. Though since I am local it would really suck. So the fact that Florence missed us was not a bad thing for us, but  it was a really bad thing for millions of people in the Carolinas, including many of our friends. I know a number of former shipmates who will quite probably lose their homes. Likewise  There are others who have evacuated and don’t know what they will return to when the go back.

I saw pictures and videos from places near Camp LeJeune where I once lived and realize that the destruction, especially where the the storm surge was massive. I saw an estimate that 750,000 homes could be impacted by the storm surge alone, this doesn’t could the added damage from the flooding rains and the runoff from streams and rivers that empty out into the wetlands and coastal areas that have already be inundated. Likewise the region will be polluted by runoff from hog farms and coal ash.

I have been through hurricanes down there and Florence looks worse than any that I went through, although Floyd in 1999 create massive flooding that isolated many towns in Eastern North Carolina. I do hope that my friends and all others impacted by her are safe and have not incurred too much damage.

After Florence passes we will see the extent of the damage and begin to count the cost in lives lost and disrupted. There will be chances for those of us who are not impacted to try to do something to help. Thoughts and prayers are fine but practical acts of assistance and mercy are much better at times like this.

Until tomorrow,

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Filed under News and current events, weather

A Cavity and a Visit to the Dentist: The Miracles of Modern Technology

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Happiness is your dentist telling you it won’t hurt and then having him catch his hand in the drill. —Johnny Carson, Yes that is Padre Steve in this Picture

Today was my first visit to the dentist to repair a new cavity in well over a decade. When I found out last week that I had a cavity I was taken by surprise. I was less surprised that a couple of old fillings were deteriorating and needed to be replaced. So I set up an appointment with my colleague and occasional drinking buddy George at our hospital dental clinic.

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Open Wide

Now those people that know me know the trepidation that I approach visits to the dentist. My first dentist in Oak Harbor Washington was a bit of a sadist, something like an old, balding and bespectacled version of Steve Martin’s dentist in Little Shop of Horrors. It was decades before I began to go to the dentist without the feeling of absolute dread and terror, despite the fact that I never had to suffer a dentist like him ever again.

steve-martin-dentist Because I am Your Dentist

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOtMizMQ6oM

 Today I went to get my new cavity fixed and one of the two old fillings replaced. George and his crew were good. It was not an unpleasant experience, despite the fact I would rather be almost anywhere than in the dentist chair. This was really an important event for me because I used to be an Anti-Dentite.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mV7m6IIN_tI

 I used to be an Anti-Dentite

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lW6R9kSGV2Q

They worked so well that I didn’t have time to play with the chair controls as is my custom. I tend to want to play with the chair and other equipment if they are not attentive. However I was able to take out my I-Phone, play a few games of Angry Birds as they worked and even take some pictures of the work in progress.

I think that the young technicians figured that something must be seriously wrong with me, and they are right. In a sense I am not right, but one of the ways that I cope with going to the dentist, or any other unpleasant experience is to use humor and absurdity to make light of the experience and to keep my mind off of the pain. Thankfully, George who knows me made no complaint. Thank God for modern technology.

Such was the case today. When I showed the picture to friends at my local hang out, Rucker John’s on Emerald Isle, I was told that “you are just not right, and that is why we like you.”

So anyway may your night be good and your teeth free of pain.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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A Place of Peace: Where My Iraq Meets the Atlantic

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Where Iraq Meets the Atlantic

I have talked about things bring me peace amidst the struggles of life in recent days and in one post I briefly mentioned that while running on the beach in Emerald Isle it was the place where in that moment “Iraq met the Atlantic.”

It has been nearly 5 years since I left Iraq in February of 2008 but there are times that it feels like I have never left and times when I would like to be back there. I have always loved the ocean and the desert. For some reason the vast expanses of barren desert and the untamed ocean draw me to them like nothing else.

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I have struggled with a lot over the past 5 years. However as I mentioned recently it seems that things are coming together in ways that I have never could have fathomed even a few months ago. On Wednesday I needed to take a day off to reflect and gather my thoughts after a particularly cathartic sequence of events. One of the things that I did that day was to rest, but then to run along the beach where I live.

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I mentioned to a couple of people that it was like Iraq met the Atlantic and they didn’t understand, until I showed the pictures. I guess though that the juxtaposition of the Western Desert of Iraq, sometimes known as the Syrian Desert and the Atlantic Ocean would seem strange to most people, unless they have experienced both in their stark beauty.

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I ran about seven and a half miles Wednesday along the beach and it was breathtaking. The deep blue skies and seas met with the desert tan of the sands of the beach. There were few people out that day so the beach was nearly deserted and I was alone with nature and God. It has been many years since I felt that depth of peace in my soul that I felt on Wednesday.

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I really can’t explain it and most people will probably never understand and I have learned that such a lack of understanding is okay. There is a big part of me that is still in the Iraqi desert and will always be there. There in the land of Abraham, amid the barren deserts, the rich valley of the Euphrates river valley, the battered cities and town of war torn Al Anbar Province many of my hopes and dreams still live. When I ran along the beach that day it was like I had returned, but instead of being traumatic it was peaceful.

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I pray for the people of Iraq, especially those in Al Anbar Province and the Iraqi military. I pray that they will know peace and that their country, so long victimized by tyrants, devastated by war and torn by terrorism and civil-religious strife will be a place of blessing.

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As T.E. Lawrence wrote about 85 years ago: “We were fond together because of the sweep of open places, the taste of wide winds, the sunlight, and the hopes in which we worked. The morning freshness of the world-to-be intoxicated us. We were wrought up with ideas inexpressible and vaporous, but to be fought for. We lived many lives in those whirling campaigns, never sparing ourselves: yet when we achieved and the new world dawned, the old men came out again and took our victory to remake in the likeness of the former world they knew. Youth could win, but had not learned to keep, and was pitiably weak against age. We stammered that we had worked for a new heaven and a new earth, and they thanked us kindly and made their peace.” 

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Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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Filed under History, iraq,afghanistan, Tour in Iraq

Run Padre Run: Peace after the Storm

Today was a day of recuperation from a long couple of weeks of which yesterday was hard after being victimized by a larceny at work. Today despite carrying the duty pager, has been as close to a day off as I have had in a couple of weeks.

After watching the ball game last night knowing that I was carrying the duty pager today I decided to sleep as late as my body and my dog Molly would let me. Not that she was in the mood to get out either since we were being pounded by tropical storm force winds and heavy rain. She is not a fan of rain.

Since I didn’t have any pages from work I got up about noon, yes noon, I needed it as evidently Molly did too. So have I took her on a walk I decided to take a tip to see how our town had weathered the storm. It was not bad and I took Molly to the beach to check things out. Since things didn’t look bad and the weather reports showed the rain ending I decided to go for a run about 3PM after I had celebrated Eucharist. It turned into a Forrest Gump run.

Initially I planned on doing about 4-5 miles. When I got to the beach I decided to take a right and head southwest toward the end of the island which is called “the Point.” At the 2 mile point I felt good so I kept going and had to turn into the wind which was blowing at about 30-40 MPH from the north for about a mile. I had forgotten what it was like to run into a wind like that, at times I felt like I was standing still. Things got better when I turned around and rediscovered the advantages of a strong tailwind. Out at the point sand was racing along the beach faster than me blown by the stiff wind and I was glad that I had long running pants on rather than shorts.

Very few people were out today although a few hearty souls were out looking for shells or in some cases had metal detectors out. I got up to the beach entrance where I live and still felt good and wanted to do more even though I knew that if I went straight home it would be a nice 6 mile run. However I could see the Bogue Banks Fishing Pier in the distance. I had always wanted to do the whole beach and since I still felt good I kept running. Last week I had ran the furthest I had in a long time when I did 7.1 miles, out to the Point and then up the beach a bit. I figured that I could do 7 miles and then it was 8 and I went under the pier and kept going about another quarter mile. I thought of going further but since conditions were beginning to deteriorate I decided to turn back. I ran into some more wind on the way back but I finished the run. I wasn’t fast, the combination of wind and occasionally soft sand slowed me down but it was nice, a bit under 2 hours for the 11.2 miles, about 5.6 miles an hour. The was really slow from about the 8th mile I figure I was doing about 6.5 miles an hour before I hit the pier.

Regardless it was a good feeling to finish and know that I am in about good enough shape that I could do a half-marathon again. At 52 years old I don’t need to be fast, but just to know that I can do it gives me a lot of satisfaction.

Tomorrow it will be back to my weekday circuit training when I do lots of push-ups of various types, crunches and abdominal exercises between laps of 1/3 of a mile for an hour or so. It will still be windy and it looks like that the nights are going to be the coldest that we have had since last winter. But at least we are not in the direct path of Sandy. I have been through a good number of hurricanes and tropical storms, all in the summer when the temperatures were warm, I would not want to take one like Sandy especially with a winter storm bearing in as well. Somehow flooding, cold weather and snow combined with power outages does not seem fun.

Today was interesting because usually some song from the 1970s will be going through my head as I run. Last week it was Bob Seeger’s Against the Wind  the day before it was Linda Ronstadt’s You’re no Good, today it was Rod Stewart’s Do you think I’m Sexy. Sometimes it is Abba, Blondie or Doctor Hook. It is not like I plan on my internal I-Pod to play these songs, but it is what it is.

Now it is time to settle in and see what happens in the World Series. I am hoping for the sweep but if the Giants do win I wonder how many South Park seasons I can watch between now and the election.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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A Stormy Weekend: Hurricane Sandy, a Larceny and a World Series Game

Sandy Hits the Emerald Island Fishing Pier

Today was one of those days… a working weekend that ended up with a storm and being ripped off by someone other than a professional politician or financier.

This morning I went in early to be present during a training session that was mandatory for our junior enlisted personnel. That, though it forced me out of bed earlier than I would normally be on a soggy windy day when travel was not advised the training was good and I got to see a bunch of our sailors as well as leaders who were there as well.

Since the weather was bad I decided to do my PT session in our little hospital gym. Since I was the only person that I saw around I decided to leave my backpack which has accompanied me everywhere since I went to Jordan before I went to Iraq in 2007 and my change of clothes in the locker room since it wouldn’t fit well in my locker. I worked out for an hour and when I returned it was gone. I had to make a police report and on Monday the hospital communications staff will be able to review the security cameras. The sad thing is that being a weekend and in an area not frequented by hospital visitors the criminal was most likely as sailor. In the military where trust is essential for Sailors, Marines, Airmen or Soldiers to steal from one another. It is betrayal of trust and I do hope for his sake that he decides to turn in the pack. It is not so much what was in it, I had my civilian clothes including my Orioles windbreaker, my Orioles Batting Practice hat, an Orioles long sleeve t-shirt, a pair of cargo shorts, a pair of Sperry Topsiders, a notebook and some underwear but nothing else of any value (my wallet, phone and car keys were with me in the gym).  I can replace all the clothes. But I really don’t want to have to go through the trouble of seeing a career destroyed for something so stupid as this. There was not much traffic and whoever did this had to go out the doors with the cameras.  Actually all that I really care about is the pack as it is like a security blanket for me, much more valuable than anything in it. If I found the pack outside my office door on Monday I would not pursue charges. Like I said I have far better things to do with my time. Hopefully it even could be a redemptive encounter.

After getting back from the base and taking Molly for a drag through the rain I went to the grocery store, picked up a few things and then to a local restaurant’s bar where I had my usual salad and beer and enjoyed visiting a couple of the regulars and the bar tenders. That was a good thing and took some of the edge off of what I was feeling about the pack.

After that I went down to take a look at Tropical Storm/ Hurricane/ Frankenstorm/ Nor’Easter/ Noricane (I made the last one up) Sandy. I got some great pictures and then went home to watch Game 3 of the World Series, which the Giants lead 2-0 right now going to the 5th inning.

So Molly is passed out, it is raining hard, the ball game is on and I am done and since I have taken the duty pager for tomorrow from one of my other chaplains I will finish for now. I will probably write something about the ballgame later tonight or tomorrow.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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The Off Season begins on the Island

I drove back to North Carolina today after spending the Labor Day Weekend with Judy in Virginia.  As I drove back on US-17 there was very little traffic which made the trip very peaceful as compared to other times. Shortly after I turned onto NC-58 in Maysville for the last part of the trip to the Island Hermitage, Molly my 11 year old Papillon-Dachshund mix did something that she has taken to doing lately, rolling the window down in the back seat. Shortly after I got my Ford Escape this spring she discovered the trick to pushing the button on the door and getting the window to roll down. With the window down she stuck her head out and for the rest of the trip would enjoy the wind blowing through her brilliant red fur.

After getting home I had to make a quick trip to the local grocery store, a Food Lion, which this time last week was packed with the final surge of pre-Labor Day vacationers. Today, the parking lot was back to normal. The numbers of vacationers has dropped and all of the summer tourist items were being packed away.  It is nice to get some peace around here again.

Tonight, after dinner with Molly, I wrote an article which I am waiting to publish until the Yankees-Rays and Orioles-Jays games are over, and as I explain in that article have ignored the televised Democratic National Convention much as I did the Republican National Convention last week. I prefer not to be bombarded with an endless barrage of political speeches.

After a while Molly decided it was time for her evening walk and since the weather was favorable we walked to the beach. The waning Moon had not yet risen and in the pitch black we walked to the beach, a cool wind blowing into our faces.  The seasonal rental homes are pretty much vacant and the lack of light from them ensured that I could look up and see the vastness of the heavens while listening to the relentless pounding of the phosphorescent surf on the now empty beach. The sight was breathtaking and I uttered a prayer of thanks.

It was peaceful. I like the beginning of the off season here and I think that Molly does too. Tomorrow looks like a good morning to get out early for a run on the beach before I head to work. That will be nice.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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It’s a Dog’s Life

“The dog is the most faithful of animals and would be much esteemed were it not so common. Our Lord God has made His greatest gifts the commonest.” ― Martin Luther

“Petting, scratching, and cuddling a dog could be as soothing to the mind and heart as deep meditation and almost as good for the soul as prayer.”  Dean Koontz, False Memory

When people talk about their dogs like they are nearly human there are some that think them crazy. Of course they are entitled to their opinion but then they haven’t had our dogs.   Judy and I both grew up with dogs and neither of us can imagine not having one to spoil.

Our little dog Molly has a rough life. She is our third dog and has all the benefits negotiated by our first two dogs. She gets a dog biscuit because our first dog, an incredibly stubborn Wire Hair Dachshund that we got on Christmas Eve 1984 in Wiesbaden Germany named Frieda. Now Frieda was the “dog from hell” and tested us every day of her life. She never got it that she was not the top dog and every day it was a different power fight. Eventually she succeed in getting us to pay her to do her business outside and not on the rug. Our second dog, Greta a fat little Red Dachshund that we got in San Antonio when Frieda was four years old also got the same deal even though she was easy to housebreak.

Molly simply takes the “cookie” as we call it as her due.  We talk about “renewing her contract” when we buy dog food and well she has a more toys than some kids. It is funny to see dig through her toy basket for specific toys especially when she drags out toys from her puppyhood.  She is a fearless little creature and absolutely calming. When we went to the beach to watch fireworks on July 4th she was steady as a rock as people set of their own show grade fireworks above our heads and I was trying to control PTSD related flashbacks and a major anxiety attack she seemed to sense it and kept close to me, her calmness helped me calm down that night.

One of the things that she loves to do is come with us down to the Island Hermitage in Emerald Isle North Carolina. Since I am stationed at Camp LeJeune and I am a geographic bachelor this means that I make the trip home to Virginia every couple of weeks. Judy had surgery on her Achilles tendon two weeks ago and this week came down here with me since my apartment is all at the ground level and there are no steps to negotiate.  Of course our little dog Molly made the trip as well.

Molly like the island life.  I live about a quarter mile from the beach in a quiet neighborhood with a lot of woods and wildlife.  Molly has discovered that the local deer like to hang around where I live, she loves the beach, the walks where she can track various animals and of course the 6 foot long bean bag in my living room which she has decided is hers.  Molly is half Dachshund and half Papillon and weighs all of 15 pounds.  However she has decided that the bean bag is hers thank you.

She came down the first time with Judy during the summer and then had a short vacation with me here in October.  When we came down here this week she seemed to anticipate where we were were going, obviously a trip this long means that she is going on vacation.

Yes she is spoiled. She was a rescue that we got when she was about 6 months old.  We don’t know if she was a run away or dump but we came out with a gem. Incredibly smart, sweet and always playful she seems to know that she is cute and funny.  She can be obnoxious and is entirely too entitled but she is a monster of our own making.

She has a sense of fairness about her that is funny. She will divide here time between us almost as if she doesn’t want either of us to feel left out.  She has figured out that Judy hasn’t been well and has poured out extra attention on her while ensuring that I take her out for her walk and make sure that she has her food and water.

Anyway she is entertaining and sweet and always fun.  We are blessed to have the her and hope that if you have a dog that yours brings as much joy to your life as molly does ours.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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