Category Archives: Storm

Life with a Somali Or a Typical Day in the Life of Nikki Lovill

This is Nikki.  Poised, sophisticated and spoiled to the core.  She is my constant companion, and probably my biggest fan.  What would I do without her? I hope I never have to find out.

In the morning, she waits for the change in my breathing pattern. As soon as I am stirring, she is up on my bed purring and prancing back and forth across my chest.  I keep food for her constantly along with fresh water, so I know she just longs for me to be up and about so that we can start our day!

Our day begins by dressing Sam and getting him ready for school. She pads along next to me, chattering about this or that until we hit his room.  Then as she sits near the window, Sammy greets her to which she gives a silent dignified glance and then it’s back to looking out of the window.  Don’t let this fool you.  She may look as though she is immersed in fowl and foliage, but in truth, the moment Sammy is dressed and ready to eat breakfast, she falls right back into place, never breaking stride.

At this point, Woody usually is pouring our morning cup of coffee and already has Sammy’s breakfast laid out for him.  We have a small wooden pub table that serves as our kitchen table with four chairs.  In three of them sit the Lovill humans and in the fourth, sits Nikki.  At first she is fine and at rest underneath the table, sitting on her cushion, but as we are talking about our schedules for the day, a tiny reddish brown paw will make its way onto my hand which at this point is sitting on my knee.  I pretend not to notice as that is our game, and this is when she begins a soft, gentle tap, tap, tap….If I do not respond, her next move is to “pop” her whole head out from under the table and the chattering begins.  Her eyes speak volumes, and soon I am rewarding her with the pets she desires.  After she has completed this ritual and we are just about finished and it is time for Sammy to go to school, she announces her presence to the table by standing on her back paws on the chair and placing her front paws on the table.  She then takes a quick glance and a quick smell.  Woody will try to pet her and she will look at him like he just caught the last train to Looneyville.  He is slightly injured that she rebuffs him so, but she just moves on, usually jumping from the table to the kitchen island in one fell swoop.

At this point, I’ve got the water running and Nikki is waiting patiently for her next reward.  After I am done, rinsing dishes or whatever I have the water on for, I let a thin stream of water trickle into the basin.  I think that she not only likes the challenge of drinking from it, but it is also meditative for her.  She will sit and stare at it as if it were her own personal waterfall, which I guess, in a sense, it is.  I think the noise is also pleasing to her ears, the soft tinkle on tin, that in larger quantities, makes humans want to run to grab a book and settle under the covers on the sofa listening to.

So then it is upstairs to my office, or craft room; it is really a combination of both.  As I work she finds her place next to my chair and settles in. If I am working at home that day, she is content to spend hours, moving to meet the sun’s beams as it shifts across the sky: 

I will look over occasionally to find that she has left the room.  At these moments in time, I think that she is probably taking a bathroom break or just perusing her territory to make sure that no creature has dare to slink it’s way into her perview.  Nikki holds herself, very dignified, her tail up in the air always, with a cool confidence that she is indeed, the it cat, but we have seen a spark in her that may signify, may peek at the wild woman she keeps locked inside.

At certain points in the day, I have to let our Australian Shepherd, Ronin, in and out of the house. He will be 1 year on August 21, but he has plenty of puppy left in him.  He loves letting Nikki see it, and when we first brought him home, she shied away to the confines of our bedroom.  Now however, she sits directly to the left of his path as he comes in the door and allows him to greet her.  But sometimes, who knows why, she will lay in wait and as he passes, she will, claws in, lightly bap him on top of his head as he passes by.  There has been much discussion on why this occurs, but no-one has been able to come up with a plausible explanation.  Only Nikki, in her own mind, knows for sure.

The evenings with Nikki are when she is most energetic, and it might have something to do with the fact that everyone else is roaming the house at that time.  Sam has come home from school and is upstairs watching tv, and the Aussie is in and out, I’m usually cooking dinner and Woody is in and out of the house getting things done.  It is at this time that you will see her on top of her condo, playing with her toys.  She will sleep there during the day, but at night, the wild woman, once again makes an appearance.  She can go from zero to 70 mph in playmode and sometimes we just have to stop and watch her. This is when the elusive red dot makes it’s appearance and as it does, she is immediately on the prowl.  She has made the connection that the red dot is coming from my ipad three in one pen, but I think both the allure, and the fact that she is playing with me makes the game keep it’s interest for her.  Yet, I know that sometimes she gets lost in it and the total joy becomes the hunt of the prey she will never catch. How it baffles, how it intrigues…how it frustrates!!!

Some people say that cats use scratching posts to slough off dead nail material, and while I know this is true.  Nikki sometimes does it for a different reason, which is hysterical.  If for some reason, she feels frustrated (elusive red dot) or that you have offended her, or that she was played with too rough, or it is just overwhelmingly loud in the house, she will run to her scratching post and just look like she is tearing it to shreds.  You can just tell something has really ticked her off and she needs to get rid of that negative energy.  Yep, she’s just that good:)

At night, I settle in with my ipad to play sudoku because it always helps me to fall asleep.  Nikki settles with me for purrs and pets until I doze off and then she gently slips off the bed and into a world I know nothing about.  I can only imagine that this is when she really lets her inner cat come out and play.  I’ve never asked her and to be honest, I don’t think she would tell me if she could.  It is her private time and I think she must luxuriate in it, until the morning sun comes up again and she is waiting by my bed for my breathing patterns to change.

There is so much more to Nikki than is written here, but in summary, to me she is such a part of this house, this institution that we call a family and so much a part of me, and I am grateful to God for sending her to me.  She is only three years old, yet we have been through so much together.  I can’t imagine ever calling her name, not to have her pad in, and give me that, “I’m here,” meow.

Her spirit, given to her by God, is a beautiful one.  I am thankful for everyday she is with us.

Oh yes, I forgot to tell you.  Every once in a while, when Woody is not paying attention, she will cuddle up beside him and lay her head gently against him.  I guess her wild woman side, is not the only one that she keeps out for special occasions.  Sometimes sweet kitty comes out too.

All of these facets make her who she is: Nikki Lovill, cat extrodinairre:)

Onward and Upward!

Have a great weekend:)


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Reaching Up and Reaching Out


Well, its summertime and the heat is cranking it’s way up, forcing many of us inside. If you’ve got a moment, have I got a great opportunity to you; the opportunity to make a soldier smile.

Operation Write Home is an organization that takes in homemade cards, any occasion or simply cards that say ‘hello, how have you been?” They ship them to our soldiers, all branches, and in turn, the soldiers write home to their loved ones. Families get these cards and often they remain treasured memories that stay with these loved ones, in scrapbooks and in their hearts.
But it does not stop there. Operation Write Home also receives and sends, “Hero Mail.” This can be a card you’ve made or purchased or simply a letter you’ve written or a coloring page they supply on their websites for children to color and send. Each time a box of cards is sent, this “Hero Mail” is sent with it. It tells our soldiers that we are proud of them and the job they are doing. It tells them we support them and with all of the stress and conflict they undergo protecting us and our freedoms, sometimes it is the lift up they need to get them going again.
I would write about this organization because the job they are doing needs to be an example for all of us as Americans, an example that shows us that every good deed that we do makes a difference. To quote a famous candymaker, “So shines a good deed in a weary world.” But that is not why I am writing today.
I have for the past year and a half been making and sending cards and hero mail. As many of you know, my son Shawn has been deployed overseas many times and this last time he acted as a contact, receiving the box of cards for his unit and distributing them among the soldiers. Our family received cards from him that were handmade by wonderful ladies all over the country. It made a BIG difference to him and I know it makes a big difference to every soldier that has the advantage of this program. Which brings me to the reason that I am writing this.

It is summertime and due to usual summertime life, having the kids home, vacations, etc…There has been a slowdown in the cards and the hero mail, but there has not been a slowdown in the soldiers requesting those cards. So I am posting their web address here, so that you can go to their site and find out how you can help.
If you don’t make cards, you can write hero mail and send it. You can get your friends to help. And there are so many ways to help. They need donations to help handle postage to the soldiers. If you have a friend that makes cards, stop at Michaels and pick up a few supplies and that can be your donation. Only your heart can determine the best way that you can help. But what’s certain is, helping these young men and women, lifting their spirits, showing our support, makes a big difference in making our country a stronger, prouder place to call home.
So, go ahead and check it out and let me know what you think.
Onward and Upward!
God Bless our Soldiers and God Bless You!

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Filed under America, Evacuate, Hurricane, Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana, Obama, politics, Somali Kitten, Somali Kittens, Storm, Uncategorized

Remembering Katrina or Yikes, These are The Weeks of Worry

With Hurricane Danielle in the Atlantic on a northward path and Tropical Storm Earl predicted to do the same, it seems as if the New Orleans area got a pass this year on the anniversary date of Hurricane Katrina.  While the next two weeks are the most critical in development, it is hopeful that wind shear continues to turn each tropical system upward and out of our area.  The rule of thumb my family follows is that if you don’t have something headed your way by  Labor Day, you probably got very lucky because after that the cool fronts start coming down and the storms turn before they come near the panhandle of Florida.  There are exceptions, of course, but the time we are in right now is when our fingers are on the panic button.

Katrina taught the people in this region some very serious lessons.  The biggest I think is that if you decide to stay, even on the northshore where I live, you are pretty much on your own.  With a storm of the magnitude of Katrina it is pretty much a definate that you are going to lose electricity, gas and water.  There will also be no phone or cell service.  Texting became the only option and this was sporadic at best.  New Orleans may have flooded, but the southeastern states along the coast were devistated.  We learned that if something this powerful is coming the best thing is to pack up and get out of its way. If you don’t,  make sure you have a pretty powerful generator. 

So many things happened during Katrina that we never considered.  First of all, we remained isolated as trees and downed power lines littered the area.  Some grocery stores were open, but what they had was limited because new stock could not be delivered.  There were bans on alcohol sales due to the rowdiness of some of those that remained in shelters, and many feared for their safety and property as looting was now common. 

As for me, I packed up and drove to Baton Rouge and stayed with friends.  My husband, a fire captain in an area right outside of Orleans Parish, called Jefferson Parish, served during the storm as did my daughter who was an EMT for East Jefferson Hospital.  They rode the storm out in a building called Doctor’s Hospital and spent the next three weeks trying to help put the city back together.  My son who is, and was at the time, National Guard stayed in our home with my husband’s father and some of our extended family that had been invited to leave New Orleans and stay there.  I chose not to stay because I’m a control freak and I knew that if the storm was going to be as powerful as they said, I would have a lot more to cope with than wind and rain.

I can not say enough how wonderful the people who took me in are.  Brent Dozier and his wife Sherry and their children welcomed me with open arms.  They were worried about the storm as well and had included me in thier plan to bug out if need be.  These are some of the most selfless people I have ever met in my life.  They knew I had no contact with my family and made it their business to keep me occupied.  Their children, who were teenagers, took the time to spend with me, shopping for food and going to the mall to pick up things I had forgotten at home.  Brent even came to our house after the storm and helped us repair our home. We are so lucky to have such wonderful friends.

I tried to return home the day after the storm and after many detours,  I had to park in the hospital parking lot that was located on the corner of the street where my nieghborhood began.  After climbing over trees marked by people who didn’t want to lose track of the path through our residential area, I finally made it home.  The reason I made the trek is because the one call that did manage to get through from my husband was one in which he tearfully asked if I had heard from his father and he wondered if he and my son were alright.  It was somewhat ironic when I reached my father-in-law standing outside of our home puffing on a cigarette.  He looked at me suprised and said, “What?”  I hugged him and told him I was glad he was safe and I did the same with my son,  who was leaving to meet up with his National Guard Unit and was on orders to report to Zephyr Stadium.

My father – in – law and extended family returned to his house in Mandeville, which is still northshore, but was in the mandatory evacuation area.  I however stayed.  My son texted me and I told him I was fine, I was staying and he became very angry with me, informing me that I was not safe there alone.  But control freak that I am, I stayed.  He freaked me out so much at one point, that I  walked to the hospital and stayed in the  waiting room until the sun came up the next morning.  My son obviously ratted me out to my husband (because he loves me, I know), and my husband made the trek to our house from the southshore to make me leave.  It is true there was no electricity and no running water and no gas, but I wanted to stay with my home.  Well, my husband broke down and cried and I suddenly realized that if I stayed he would not be able to do his job and help restore order to chaos.  So I packed back up, and was taken back in by the Dozier family in Baton Rouge.  Three weeks later, I was finally able to return home, as was my husband and daughter.  My son was deployed directly from his Katrina tour of duty to Iraq. 

Trees had fallen on two of the families cars and had to be towed from our home. One of the pine trees fell on the back of our home and our electical box and roof shingles had to be replaced.  But for the most part our family was safe and things were returning to normal.  It took a long time to get over what had happened, but now, five years later, we hope for a kinder, gentler season for very different reasons.  Yes, we still worry about home and hearth, but we also worry about the remaining oil that has spilled into the gulf and how a massive storm will affect our seafood industry. 

New challenges change the picture, but how we prepare  these days is a direct result of what we learned from the experience of dealing with Hurricane Katrina.  We take the usual measures, but Katrina has also taught us that during these weeks, a refrigerator that can be quickly cleaned out is better than coming home to find that the smell of rotten food is permanent,  and the only solution is to replace the fridge.  Stocking up on pet food is also a direct result of not having enough to go around after Katrina.  Many people only took a few days change of clothes with them when they evacuated for Katrina and lost everything else they owned; they are determined that this will never happen again.  Hotel rooms are on speed dial, and generators are now the rule and not the exception.  Chains for chainsaws are now bought before the storm and not after. 

Hopefully this 100 year storm is true to it’s name and another will not occur for a long, long, time.  But as for the people it has affected, we have not only been humbled, but we are also more appreciate for all that we have.

So enjoy your Labor Day and keep us in your prayers as we hope that this season remains silent for the southeastern coast of the United States.  In your life, I wish much abundance and hope that you will know what it always means to have your family by your side.

Onward and Upward!

Mary Lovill

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Filed under Evacuate, Hurricane, Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana, Storm, Uncategorized