Archive for Thursday, January 13, 2005

Tsunami makes crazy weather seem benign

January 13, 2005

The whole world seems to be in the fierce grip of Mother Nature. From the devastating tsunami that has overtaken so many lives and homes in the Indian Ocean to our own strange and chaotic weather pattern these last few weeks.
Two weeks ago, I wrote a piece about walking in the sunshine with temperatures in the 60s, watching kids playing in T-shirts and noticing Christmas decorations on homes that suddenly looked ridiculous. Just one week later, we have ice storms, below freezing temperatures and snow.
It was wonderful to have one week after Christmas when we seemed to have slipped into spring and yet knew winter would again overtake us soon. That made the week bittersweet, like a cruise in the ocean of Kansas weather changes.
Last week was marked by school closings and for me, at least, the test of character involved in freeing an ice-covered vehicle equipped with two bottles of de-icer and a hair dryer. The whole process took at least an hour-and-a-half. While I was grumbling about the lack of a two-car garage, I reminded myself that my troubles are only a gnat's eyelash compared to those of the victims of the tsunami disaster and am ashamed of my own self absorption, even though I did have frostbitten fingers.
Aside from the weather and the staggering news of the tsunami disaster, there is good news ahead.
Reading last week's Eudora News, I was especially proud of the two Eudora residents, Paul Thevarajoo and Joe Reitz, who have answered an inner call to provide aid to the victims of the tsunami. Malaysia is Paul's homeland where many of his family still resides.
With that in mind, both Paul and Joe are asking for Eudora residents to follow their lead in sending aid directly to the victims in Malaysia. I hope those of us who are left watching television, wringing our hands and wondering what we can do will respond to their lead and support this cause.
This is one of the rare occasions where we will know who benefits directly from our contributions.
More good news came in the form of an increase in state funding for schools. The School Board is discussing an education foundation that would "provide schools with funding for those things not covered by state and local funding," like a preschool program or full-day kindergarten.
I also read Eudora has received a $60,000 grant from the state for homeland security which will "help pay for city improvements." All of these bits of news seemed very positive for the future of our small town.
I was especially delighted to learn that Madame Hatter's Tea Room, which was closed at the end of October, has re-opened with new owners, Bonnie Freeland and Susan Orscheln. I extend a warm welcome and best wishes to the two friends for the success of their venture.
Kudos to my friend, Judi O'Grady who was mentioned in an article about CureSearch, an organization that does research in childhood cancer. Judi is the team leader for the organization in Kansas, which has contributed to "an overall cure rate of 78 percent" in children's cancer.
Judi's teenage daughter Brooke was the inspiration for the local American Cancer Society relay in Eudora for several years before her death from cancer in 2001. Judi is to be commended for her continued work in this field so children stricken with this illness will not be forgotten.
The first meeting for the 2005 Eudora Relay for Life will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday at West Elementary. We are hoping to see committee members and participants there as we are once again searching for someone to step up to chair the event this year.
For more information about the committee, call 542-3406.
Tempered with the good news was the sad news of the death of a prominent Eudora citizen, Dorothy von Achen. Noting her obituary in the daily newspaper, I was surprised to learn that Dorothy was 88 years old.
I knew Dorothy as a client for the financial firm I worked for in Lawrence for many years. As a member of an administrative team that helped Dorothy with her account, she made quite an impression on me. Always an upbeat, feisty little lady with sparkling eyes, she was also direct and outspoken.
One story she told us once summed up her zest for life. It seemed that during one particularly hot and dry summer when the long hoped-for rain finally came, Dorothy, her family and others joining them for their regular evening cocktail hour donned swimming suits and went out to play in the rain.
The remarkable thing about this story is that at the time Dorothy was about 70 years of age. Of late, I remember seeing her dashing about in her Jeep, which seemed to match her diminutive size as well as her adventuresome spirit.
My sympathy to her family, who will sorely miss her as well as her lively spirit and her devotion to the art of living life to its fullest.

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