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Go Away Gustav! August 28, 2008

Posted by dianehuhn in Bayou Bound, Hurricanes.
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So I haven’t been posting a whole lot recently. Mainly because not a whole lot has been going on with me. I’ve just been thoroughly enjoying my time with family and hanging out on Gun Lake.

I had kind of thought that my next post would be about the countdown to my arrival in the bayous of Terrebonne Parrish, Louisiana and how excited I am to start this new chapter of my life. But that countdown is a bit up in the air at the moment. I had planned on leaving the Great Lakes state on Wednesday and arriving in Chauvin on Thursday. But it looks like Gustav has other ideas for me.

Right now, Gustav is about 80 miles east of Kingston, Jamaica and beginning to strengthen. It’s projected to pass east or south of Jamaica today and then turn back to the west. It’s forecasted to enter the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend and continue tracking north or northwest. Most forecasts are suggesting Gustav has a strong possibility of becoming a Category 3 hurricane as it enters the Gulf, with the potential to develop in to a Category 4 or 5. So at this point, I’ve never wanted a weather forecast to be so wrong in all my life. A storm like this could be utterly devastating to the Gulf Coast. So folks, let’s channel all our positive energy to knock Gustav off the radar.

The good folks at Bayou Grace will be spending today getting the office and tool shed and the families and students they serve prepared and ready for evacuation. And then close the office starting tomorrow so they can get themselves and their families prepared and off to safe locations.

As many of you know, last March I joined 70+ volunteers from the Detroit Presbytery on their sixth Hurricane Katrina relief mission trip to the Gulf Coast. I was quite excited when I received an email the other day announcing the seventh trip (back to Pearlington, MS) set for the last week in October and the first week in November. Let’s just pray that Katrina 7 doesn’t become Gustav 1.

Cast Your Vote for an Important Project August 20, 2008

Posted by dianehuhn in Coastal Restoration.
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Written by Nikki Buskey, Staff Writer for the Houma Courier

HOUMA — A documentary filmmaker seeking to catalogue the imperiled Cajun culture using local voices is asking for your vote in a contest that could get her dream project rolling full speed.

American Express is giving up to $1.5 million to card members who receive the most online votes for projects they believe will make a positive impact on the world. Stephanie Kovac, a Dallas-based filmmaker with 20 years of broadcast experience, said her dream is to film a documentary that highlights wetlands loss and the Cajun culture threatened as a result.

Though she was born in Alabama, her roots run deep in Louisiana, with both her father and mother hailing from the state.

She’s already steadily at work on her project despite the lack of a steady stream of money. The filmmaker is coming to Houma next week to film an alligator hunt, and she just finished a 15-minute trailer for her documentary that details the perils through the eyes of author and wetland-tour-boat captain Wendy Billiot, Kerry St. Pé, director of the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program and Dean Blanchard, owner of Grand Isle Seafood.

Kovac first became interested in the project in 2004, while filming an episode of the television series “Forensic Files” in Venice. There, she said, residents begged her to come back and tell the “real story” of coastal Louisiana and its drastic land-loss problems.

“When I got home, I started researching, and I couldn’t believe it. I’d never heard of the problems Louisiana was suffering on a massive scale,” Kovac said.

She decided to begin a documentary on the subject, but being naïve, she said she initially sought money from oil companies to begin her project.

“I’ve always thought that man has a responsibility to fix what it has destroyed,” she said. “But I got nowhere” other than a few polite letters from companies that said they already invest in restoration campaigns.

Then, she said, hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit back to back, and she knew that any money that could have gone to her documentary was going to be funneled into relief efforts. She tried to forget about it.

“But any time I’d try to shelf the project and let go, I’d get a call from someone in south Louisiana asking me how it was coming, or what I needed, be it a plane or a boat,” Kovac said.

Locals’ passion to get their own story out convinced Kovac to pick up the project again last year and refocus it from the environment to the people who were so passionate about having their voices heard.

Kovac last filmed in Louisiana in May, talking with St. Pé about the possibilities of rebuilding land in Louisiana by shipping sediment through pipelines to starved marshes, and recording the devastatingly short spring shrimp season.

She said she was struck by the imperiled industry and the number of trawlers for sale in Leeville. “Even Dean Blanchard, who owns Grand Isle Seafood down there, said this is the first year he’s seen a grown man cry,” Kovac said. “After all was said and done, when they loaded off their shrimp, some of those guys were getting cut checks for 49 cents.”

Kovac said she thinks then end result could be devastating to the Cajun culture and way of life. “What would happen if they’re forced to abandon the coast? How can they survive anywhere else when they’ve been living off the land like this for so long?” Kovac said. “The Cajuns are some of the hardest working people in America, and they’ve never been dependent on the government,” she added. “We’ve destroyed the coast, and now we have an obligation to fix it, especially for the lives and livelihood of a people who’ve contributed so much to us.”

Voting for the American Express project ends Sept. 1. As of Monday evening, Kovac’s documentary ranked 53rd out of 700 projects.

To vote for Kovac’s project, visit www.membersproject.com and register as a guest.

You can find Kovac’s project by clicking on the Arts and Culture category, and then by selecting Cultural Preservation. There you’ll find Kovac’s proposal, Reclaiming the Cajun Coast.

For information on Kovac’s documentary, visit www.tideoftears.com.

Carpe Diem August 11, 2008

Posted by dianehuhn in Ramblings.
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So I just learned that the lawyer that was supposed to be finalizing my Will died two days ago. Now I don’t want to venture a guess as to whether that’s a good omen or a bad omen, but it certainly serves as one heck of a reminder that you just never know when it might be your time to go. So, carpe diem my friends. Carpe diem.

Of Sound Mind and Body August 7, 2008

Posted by dianehuhn in Family, Ramblings.
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Periodically, my Mother will attempt to begin a conversation with me that starts off with “You know, you might want to think about …”. What follows is almost invariably something that I most certainly do NOT want to think about. In fact, 9 times out of 10, it’s something that I live my life in such a manner as to avoid even the possibility of thinking about. I find that it would be much more accurate if she would phrase these things as “I know you don’t want to think about it, but you probably should consider …”. At that point, I could simply say “Yep, you’re right. I don’t want to think about it. How about this weather we’re having?”

Unfortunately, I usually don’t get off the hook that easily, but I have found that the quickest way to bring these conversations to a close is to agree with her. “Yes, Mom, you’re absolutely right. Yes, that is something important to think about. OK, I agree, I’ll get right on that.” Then I immediately put the conversation out of my mind and go blissfully on with my life.

So I wasn’t necessarily surprised when she recently said, “You know, you might want to think about having a Will drawn up.” At which point, I began my subversive tactics. “Yes, Mom, you’re absolutely right. Yes, you just never know when you might get hit by a bus, or eaten by an alligator while kayaking. OK, I agree, I’ll get right on that. Thank you for your advice. Do you think it will rain later?” And as quickly as possible, put the conversation out of my mind.

Then it happened. I approached the mailbox without a care in the world. Found a letter addressed to me from a law office. Mild anxiety set in, but then I thought, hey, maybe some long lost relative died and left me a small fortune. It could happen. So I opened the letter, but was disappointed to learn that I was not a soon-to-be millionaire. Instead it read, “Dear Diane, Please fill out the enclosed paper work in advance of our appointment to discuss your demise. Sincerely, Your Mom’s Lawyer”.

OK, so I admit that I do feel better knowing that my parting wishes have been documented, but I am completely rethinking my “You know, you might want to think about …” game plan for the future.

It’s a Dirty Job August 4, 2008

Posted by dianehuhn in Travels.
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I arrived in the Great Lakes state almost a week ago and I’ve been so busy! My morning starts early with coffee lakeside. Then I barely have time for a quick spot of breakfast before it’s time to take the mutt out for his walk along the lake. By this point, I’m usually rushing back to the cottage, but somehow make  it just in time for the morning paddle trip. Although I probably shouldn’t, I try to make time for a mid-morning snack before my morning reading session on the dock.

By this point, I’m typically falling behind schedule so I just throw a few provisions in the cooler and head out in the boat for the early afternoon reading session on the water. Before I know it, it’s time to head back to the dock to take the mutt out for his daily swim and rock collecting expedition. Although I’m usually feeling rather fatigued, I press on and just barely get my early evening walk in before making dinner preparations. With exhaustion setting in, I know it’s imperative that I grab the fishing pole and catch a few fish and drink in the sunset before calling it a day.

Not sure how I’m going to be able to keep up this pace for another month, but I’m trying to stay positive. It’s a dirty job, and someone’s got to do it, so I guess I’ll make the sacrifice.