Sunday, April 13, 2014

The time I burned down a house...

I can now add "(legal) arsonist" to my resume.
I literally burned down a house Saturday. In my defense, a fire department made me do it.

My handiwork
I was in the mountains of Kentucky this weekend as part of my Global Disasters Nursing graduate class, which I'm taking as an elective for my master's degree. The interdisciplinary course is the result of a huge grant the University of Tennessee received to improve the community wellness and disaster preparedness of Clay County, KY. The county is one of the most remote in the state and ranks near the bottom of Kentucky counties on major health indicators. Most of the residents live in hollows and are ill-equipped to deal with a disaster because of poor housing, poverty, terrible infrastructure, limited resources and lack of disaster education.

The community experienced a massive flood last April, the results of which are still evident in unstable foundations, mildewed walls and rotting floors of many homes. Nursing and architecture students and I, a public administration student, did home and health assessments this weekend to gauge the most critical needs of the residents. The data will be analyzed and will provide info to UT and Clay County Emergency Management folks on how to move forward.

So what did all this have to do with me becoming a fire bug? Well, we met up with a fire department to discuss potential partnerships and projects to help them better address the emergency needs of Clay County. We came upon the volunteer fire fighters as they were preparing a condemned house for a controlled burn for training exercises. Turns out per their policy, they're not allowed to set fire to anything--even for training. They typically use a volunteer. Cue, Lola. I promptly offered my services. They suited me up, showed me what to do and boom! (Well, not really a boom. Since it was a controlled burn, the fire chief and I had plenty of time to get out of the house. I gleefully tossed a lit paper napkin onto a pile of wood doused in some gasoline near the second floor and then promptly made my exit.)

No tellin' what you'll get into when you're in Kentucky.

A (legal) fire bug in the making.
dun dun duuuun!!

We had to go before it was fully engulfed. :(
I did it!
More pictures and videos here.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

11 big 'uns.

Harold Neal/Flickr
I've now officially lived in Knoxville as long as I lived in my adopted hometown of Brooklyn, NY. It's a strange feeling, really. Yesterday marked my 11-year anniversary in good ol' East Tennessee.

I've always considered New York home especially since I spent my formative years there after my family immigrated from Nigeria. But Knoxville is the place where I've come into adulthood--securing my first (and now, second) real job, buying a home and doing other general grown-up stuff.

I'm one lucky gal to have two places where I equally belong.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Nelson Mandela: Master of Forgiveness

July 18, 1918-Dec. 5, 2013
"Nelson Mandela was a master of forgiveness."

That's perhaps the most poignant sentence I've read in all the stories about Nelson Mandela's death. I'm learning that forgiving others just may be the greatest act of freedom we can give ourselves. It's not saying what they've done to us is OK. But it's saying we choose to not let that wrong make us bitter, destroy our lives and rob us of our joy. It's definitely hard work -- this thing of forgiveness. May my life always be marked by forgiving others.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

It's almost time!


I love this time of the year. All of a sudden, my inbox starts filling up with coupons to some of my favorite eateries. We're a week out from blast off but we're definitely getting the celebration started early. Definitely makes getting older more palatable. Hehe.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Celebrating Lydia

We gathered this evening to celebrate my friend Lydia and her fiance Korri ahead of their upcoming nuptials. The setting was the beautiful and stately Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum -- evocative of Lydia's personality and spirit.

Lydia, whom I often refer to as X (her middle initial), has been a friend for almost a decade. We first met at a conference of the National Association of Black Journalists. Then she moved to Knoxville for a job at the News Sentinel, my former employer, and our friendship deepened from there. Our cubicles were right next to one other in the newsroom and we undertook all manner of mischief inside and outside the office.

I'm thrilled to be her friend and I look forward to walking alongside her and Korri in their marriage journey.

Lydia & Korri from this summer. (Didn't get a chance to grab one tonight)

Me, Lydia and Megan before the festivities began.

The Knoxville Botanical Garden is magnificent!

I was wandering the grounds when I saw this sight.

For more photos from Lydia's engagement party, visit my Flickr account.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A right perspective

I ended last week with car troubles and started this one with plumbing issues at home. (Dead car starter. Backed up kitchen sink and bathtub. Not pretty. I may have said some not nice words as a result of all this.)

I walked into the office yesterday morning and saw this reminder taped to my computer: "Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." ( 1 Thess. 5:16-18.)

Thankful for the reminder to keep the right perspective and a good attitude in all things.
Happy Wednesday, y’all.