Thursday, September 30, 2021

Three on Thursday

On this last day of September, I'm joining Carole for Three on Thursday, with all things pumpkin spice. (There may be far more than three.) I went grocery shopping yesterday and was greeted with several large displays of pumpkin spice "stuff".

Starbucks pumpkin spice coffee seems fairly normal.

Pumpkin in baked goods also seems commonplace to me. I considered some pumpkin donuts, but decided I didn't need the calories, nor do I need pumpkin cookies. Those pumpkin donut holes are small, so surely they don't have many calories, but the box says 60 calories each, so I didn't get them either.

It's a big NO to pumpkin spice Special K and the same for pumpkin spice tortilla chips. 

How about some pumpkin spice Spam? I didn't actually see this at the grocery store, because it's only sold in Canada. Justin uses Spam for catfish bait, but I don't think PS flavor will help him catch more fish. 

Another item I didn't see at the grocery store, but it is real! I'm wondering what kind of day I might have if I walked around with pumpkin spice latte-scented armpits. I'm not sure when the season ends, so be sure to get your pumpkin spice products while you can! 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Unraveled Wednesday

I'm joining Kat for Unraveled Wednesday, today with some unraveling of a different kind. 

Justin is tough on his work pants. He works on a grounds crew, and even though these pants aren't very old, the left knees are ripped and unraveled. While he's on vacation, I thought it would be a good time to try and repair some of these tears. I personally would have gotten rid of these long ago and bought some new pants, but he likes to wear things until they are threadbare.

He's equally rough on jeans, but I'm not even going to attempt to fix these. 

Patching just one pair took me most of last evening, trying to figure out the best way to do it, and then sewing with my mother's old sewing machine. 

I had some success with patching small holes in the back and the crotch. 

The knee patch doesn't look pretty but it might serve the purpose. 

I ended up putting fabric behind the holes to provide something to stitch into and then just zig-zagging the best I could. It was frustrating and probably not worth the time it took, so I think I'll fix the gray pair this afternoon with iron-on patches . Maybe the pants will be good for another month and Justin will finally admit that he needs new ones. 

I finished Mary Jane and What Strange Paradise last week and highly recommend Paradise for a difficult but necessary look at the global refugee crisis through the eyes of children. I've started Bewilderment and Matrix, but haven't read enough of either book to form any opinions yet. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, September 27, 2021

Sometimes Monday ...

... is for laundry.

Usually I just do laundry whenever I have a full load, or if the weather is good for hanging on the line. I have a lot of laundry to do today - several afghans and a quilt that my MiL made that I want to wash and take over to Ryan, in addition to all the regular clothing and towels, plus it's a beautiful drying day. While sorting my laundry, I started thinking about these sweet day of the week dishtowels that my grandmother had.

She pretty much scheduled her week according to the traditional rhyme:

Wash on Monday,
Iron on Tuesday,
Mend on Wednesday,
Shop on Thursday,
Clean on Friday,
Bake on Saturday,
Rest on Sunday.

It seems quaint to plan your housework that way, and also rigid and impossible if you work or have young children that produce mountains of dirty clothes all week. But it might also be a little more efficient and maybe a little reassuring to know what chores are ahead of you when you wake up in the morning. 

I wish I had my grandmother's tea towels but wash day isn't always on Monday for me. While my first load was sloshing around in the washing machine I looked for embroidery patterns and was intrigued by this Wednesday one.

Wednesday is for mending, but it looks like it might also be for knitting. Sounds good to me!

How are you starting your week? 

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Poetry on Thursday

Today would have been my mother's 87th birthday, so I've been thinking about her more than usual. She died when she was 67, and it felt like this poem was written for her (and me with its countless oddly similar details). It's more like a story a typical poem, it is very long, and I've shared it before, but it feels like the perfect, personal poem for this occasion.

My Mother's Last Forty Minutes
Barbara Kingsolver

At three in the afternoon we heard the death rattle,
sound of a throat that can't clear itself anymore.
This was the cue for another drop of morphine, or not,
according to a nurse's advice my sister and I tried to
reconstruct, as earnestly as we used to kneel together
to build our fairy houses of tree bark and moss. We'd
slept almost not at all for a week, and between us now
constructed no clear game plan on the morphine.

Really, death rattle was all I kept thinking. As if
the den of this ranch house smelling of sickroom
and dust, with its flotsam of Kleenex boxes,
its rented hospital bed and oxygen machine, its frugal 
postwar windows and chronic gloom, had received 
a surprise visitor and it was Charles Dickens.

     May I say that life is filled with instructions
we just don't believe we are ever going to need?

My father announced he had checks to deposit, so 
was going to the bank. My sister and I locked eyes,
the old familiar rope of the drowning child. She
suggested to him that he might regret his timing.
I followed him outside. This is my family job, to say
the ungentle thing. Taking it for the team. I yelled
at him briefly. Then apologized. We were none of us
quite in our minds and anyway, who was I to judge?

As far as I knew he hadn't spent a night or a day
away from my mother in something like half
a century, while I was off living my own merry life,
had merely put it on hold for a couple of weeks
to come and help out with the dying-at-home-
with-no-hired-help request.

     Again, I'll step out
of that room to warn the unwitting: it's a big ask.

My father came back inside. The three of us
sat in chairs arranged like planets around our sun.
She hadn't spoken in days, or opened her eyes,
yet her gravity held us. Though not completely.
I'd noticed Dad now shifting his gaze, staring in 
love and wonder at the 12 x 14 portrait of my mother
gorgeously veiled as a twenty-year-old bride, which 
he's set on the mantle to pretty up this departure.

The rain picked up. This storm was something else,
some wild stampede on the roof of my childhood
home. But she seemed shipshape, fresh cotton gown,
no furrows of pain on the pale crepe of her brow.
I took my phone out to the sunporch to update our
brother. I'd barely spoken when a bolt of lightning
struck the house. Zipped right down a metal duct 
an arm's reach away from me. I dropped the phone.
Took a moment. My heart, still beating.
The house, utterly silent. The electricity had gone
out, which made things seem peaceful.
I remembered oxygen. That she would suffocate.
I hurried back to the den where my sister and I 
in treble octaves discussed the emergency
backups. Then noticed my mother was breathing
on her own. She hadn't done this since last winter.

Around half-past, a shuddering little house-quake
brought the power back on. We breathed.
My mother's pulse-oxygen, measured by a device
pinched on her finger—a number we watched
like the basketball scores, like the polls before
an election—had plunged to the failure zone. Now
with machine assist she rallied back into the nineties.
Dean's List. All her life, that's where she liked to be.

This might be the moment to step one last time 
from the bedside to mention that while we spoke kindly,
mostly, my mother and I did not love one another.
Ever, not even when I was a baby—as I've lately learned
from letters she wrote her friend from a cold plywood
house in Annapolis where I crawled up her legs and
drove her nuts, where she begged my two-year-old brother
to look after me, wished Dad would come home
from the navy and they could zoom away from us
in their aquamarine Chevrolet.

When women are instructed to bear children,
we don't think of such possibilities.
That we are on our own here. There is no Dean's List.

The blessing is that later, in better times, she had
another daughter. I cherished my sister, too; it's no fault
of hers that lightning only strikes once. I would be
the unspeakable first failure that stuck in my mother's 
throat, the child who would never be gentled,
or allowed to touch her good things, or even allowed to
take her to lunch, but could take the rap, the bad daughter.

However I might hold myself to the good of my own life,
the too-many lovers, the eventual sweet husband, 
the daughters more necessary to me than my two eyes,
none of this could alter the daughter I was.
But for these last weeks—

     —but for these last weeks
while I spoon-fed my mother and crushed pain
medicine into liquid drops on her tongue,
did things too intimate to say—the bathing
and changing she once did for me, that trapped
her so terribly—through all these labors she
seemed to be sleeping but sometimes unexpectedly
gripped my hand, and did not zoom away.

She left on her own recognizance. No final
confessions, still the untroubled brow, the oxygen
thanklessly pumping away. The rattle went quiet.
The pulse-ox fell to zero. At some point the thunder
had ceased, the storm passed over. I have
no recollection of a house filled with so much light.
The trees outside, so bright with rain. So much depends.
Here begins my life as no one's bad daughter.


Kingsolver, Barbara. "My Mother's Last Forty Minutes." How to Fly: In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons, Harper, 2020. 
You can read more about the author here


I wish you mindfulness, peace, some loving remembrances of loved ones as you realize you did love each other and you both did the best you could, and poetry as this week winds down.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

A Really Unraveled Wednesday

I'm joining Kat and the Merry Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday, today with some real unraveling. After last week, I knit a slightly wider four row red stripe, some more Drachenblut, plus another red stripe and decided I wasn't loving it. The stripes looked "blurry" because there is a lot of red adjacent to the stripes in the Drachenblut, the yarn changes for the stripes were really messy, and I thought the red didn't really match when I looked at it closely. I had enough knitting real estate to make a real assessment, so I ripped it out. That's a nice thing about knitting; it's so easy to unravel!

I started to knit with just the Drachenblut, but after a couple of teeth, I once again began to re-think things. Maybe it would look better if I tried the red stripes again, paying more attention to  doing a neater yarn change? So there was more unraveling and more attention paid to adding red stripes. So now I'm back where I was a week ago, knitting-wise. I think I've quit unraveling and overthinking, am relatively happy with it, and will keep it this way. A few more stripes and I might be done. 

This week I finished The Other Black Girl, but it wasn't a book for me. It began with an interesting premise and raises some important points, like the lack of diversity in publishing, microaggressions, and discrimination, but for me it was sorely lacking in the execution. I found the plot rambling and unfocused, leading to confusion at the end. I had to re-read the ending because I thought I had missed something but what I really missed was the potential that this book initially held.

I have started two wonderful books (so far, anyway). They are very different from each other, but that gives me a choice for what I'm in the mood to listen to. Mary Jane is a coming-of-age story of a 14-year-old girl set in 1970s Baltimore, a little on the light side, and What Strange Paradise is the anything-but-light story of the world refugee crisis seen through the eyes of children. I have been enjoying both of them, so much so that I'm actually looking forward to taking John's truck to the Honda dealership this morning for a new part that will take three hours to replace. Great listening time!

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, September 20, 2021

A Wish Fulfilled

Last weekend had a minor (planned) disruption. John and Justin were flying to Montana, and I took them to Newark airport. The disrupting part of this was their flight had been rescheduled to 6 am, and this meant I needed to get up at 2 am on Saturday. Alarms were set, people got ready, but there was some last minute drama when Justin slept through his alarm and we didn't realize this until 20 minutes before we needed to leave. 

I dropped them off at the airport in plenty of time, drove back and was home by 5 am. I had originally planned to go back to bed and then head over to Ryan's house for a visit. Ryan came over for dinner on Friday night and ended up staying overnight to see John and Justin off. He was still awake when I got home and even though I had planned to go back to bed, neither one of us was able to fall asleep. Once it got light and we felt we had had enough stimulant beverages, we went back to Ryan's house to do some yard work. He mowed, I weed-whacked and worked on removing some chicken wire that the previous owners had zip-tied to the fence to keep their dogs from escaping. We weeded, pruned, and got sweaty and tired. We definitely deserved a reward and I think we chose the perfect one. 

For a long time before he passed away, I used to make the two-hour round trip to visit my father in assisted living, take him to multiple doctor appointments, a long course of radiation, cat scans, the grocery store, and the pharmacy. For many reasons, it was usually a long and exhausting day, and I passed Braveheart Pub in Hellertown, PA on my way home. I always wished I could stop in, have a relaxing pint of Guinness or glass of whiskey, and ease the worries and exhaustion of the day away. I imagined myself at the bar and had a whole lovely fantasy made up.

I remembered Braveheart when Ryan and I were trying go decide on a suitable reward, realized that he lives only nine miles away, so I finally got to fulfill my wish. I didn't have Guinness or whiskey (I was driving and had only had about four hours of sleep) but Ryan had a delicious caramel apple martini.

I admired the Bonnie Scotland artwork.

We shared an order of Scotch eggs. They've appeared in several books that I've read, and I was glad to get a chance to try them. There is nothing not to like about a hard-boiled egg, wrapped in sausage, then breaded and fried.

I thought I might want fish and chips, but decided on an Edinburger instead. I was a little too anxious to dig in and didn't even turn the plate around when I took the photo, but it was a  delicious burger topped with Stilton , onion rings, and HP sauce. 

HP sauce might be my favorite new thing, and it was wonderful to finally get a chance to fulfill a long-held wish.

I hope your weekend was just as fulfilling!

Thursday, September 16, 2021

On the Plus Side

On Monday I whined a bit about how I dislike the drive to MD from NJ and back, that white-knuckle, 246 mile, five hour plus round trip that we have to make every week. But a lovely positive comment from Becky started me thinking about the good things. I still can't come up with anything good about the drive, but there are some things I like about the house in MD. Since it's Thursday, I'm joining Carole for Three on Thursday.

It's a tiny house. Not one of those tiny houses on wheels, but rather a small house. There are three bedrooms, but I'm not sure we could even fit a single bed in the third one (but there is knotty pine on the walls). With a desk and a bookcase, it works fine for John's office. There is just one bathroom, a smallish open combination living room/dining room and a little kitchen, all contained in ~ 1000 sq. ft. There's a weird little five foot square nook off of the kitchen, but it makes a good place for my plants. 

The small size is just right for two people. It means that I can clean it in about 20 minutes. It means that we didn't have to buy too much furniture. I even found some of my plant stands on the street and I like them. 

It has central air conditioning. Our house in NJ does not, and window units are expensive to run. You can't be comfortable in all the rooms at the same time, so central air has always felt like a (delightfully comfortable) luxury to me. And since we're cooling such small square footage, it's not too expensive. 

We haven't had time to clutter it up. We've lived here for three and a half years and we just moved in with the basics. (Well, I did. John may have way too many shoes, coats, and fishing stuff.) Our only Christmas decoration is a wreath for the door because we usually spend Christmas in NJ. Our dishes and much of my kitchen equipment came from Goodwill. It's really nice and feels quite freeing not to be surrounded by the clutter and all the stuff we've collected in 30+ years in NJ. 

Small, cool, and uncluttered. Those are all good things!

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Unraveled Wednesday

I'm joining Kat and the Merry Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday, today with stripes. Well, one stripe at least. Maybe only a partial one, but we'll see.

I wondered if the red stripe yarn was too bright and not the slightly more cranberry red I was thinking of. I'm not sure if I'll do two-stripe rows like this one or keep going and do four-stripe rows. l'm not sure how many red rows I'll do, or how many plain Drachenblut teeth I'll do between stripes. But I'm going to keep knitting, see where I end up, and like Kym always says, not decide on these questions until I've got enough knitting real estate to judge.

Reading has slowed down a bit, and I only managed to finish one book, All Shall be Well. It's the second in the Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James series by Deborah Crombie, and makes for some nice, light reading in between "bigger" books. I've started three or four of those "bigger" books but they haven't felt satisfactory at all, so I've put them aside. It may be time to try some books that are on the just-announced Booker shortlist

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Unsettled Ground

I've been looking forward to today as it's discussion day for our eighth Read With Us book, Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller. I enjoyed our last book, Shuggie Bain, so much that I was a little afraid we wouldn't be able to follow it with another great book. 

But I think Unsettled Ground was a good choice. It's certainly different from Shuggie Bain, but very good in its own way. Both books were stories about fiercely independent people who want to live their own secluded and private lives. They are stories about secrets, lies, misfortune, sorrows, how things fall apart, and how some surprising survivals can come out of it all. 

I approached Unsettled Ground with a bit of trepidation as I found Claire Fuller's Our Endless Numbered Days so unsettling. I needn't have feared; once I had read the first 40 or so pages, I found the book difficult to put down. The story of 51-year-old twins Jeanie and Julius is a quiet one, but full of buried secrets. The secrets are not the specific focus of the book, but rather why lies were told in the first place and the fallout from them decades later. 

It's these lies I'd like to focus on for my questions here:

Dot tells Jeanie a devastating lie when she is still a child. What do you think about some of the reasons why she might have done this? Can you understand Dot's actions, or were her lies ultimately destructive to her family?

If Jeanie hadn't lived her life under the shadow of Dot's lie, how different do you think her life might have been? What might have been possible for Jeanie if Dot hadn't lied? 

Feel free to answer the questions (any or all) or just leave your thoughts on the book in the comments. CaroleKym, and I will each post a question or two on our blogs today, so be sure to check in with them. Tonight at 7:00 pm Eastern, we're hosting a book group Zoom meet-up. These are always fun and they've added a lot to my understanding of the books we've read. To make a reservation for the Zoom, just comment here, or send an email to me (email address is in the right-hand side bar), Carole, or Kym and we'll make sure to send you the link. 

We would love to have you participate in the discussion of Unsettled Ground in whatever way(s) work for you. I look forward to hearing what you think and hopefully seeing you this evening!

Monday, September 13, 2021

It's the Driving

As John gets closer to retiring (probably early next year), I'm also counting down to some things I'm looking forward to. Once he's retired, I won't have to iron his work clothes (and I do hate ironing). I won't have to worry about library books that are due in NJ that I've left in MD. I won't have to wonder what state my phone charger is in when I can't find it in my suitcase. I won't have to do the same things twice in different locations.

When John's company announced that they were buying the R&D parts of Dupont after Dow and Dupont merged in 2015, they also announced that they were moving to Newark, DE. All of the employees were a bit shocked, but in the end it wasn't a complicated decision. We weren't financially ready to retire, but John didn't have a job if we didn't go to Newark. We ended up buying a small house in MD, just four miles away from his workplace, but we kept our house in NJ. We like the NJ house and plan on going back there after retirement. I know we're lucky to be able to do this. We usually drive down here to MD on Sunday, hoping that we won't encounter too much traffic on the Delaware Memorial Bay Bridge and drive back to NJ on Thursday, hoping we won't run into bumper-to-bumper traffic on 295 N. This has created issues I never thought about.

Some of the issues are silly, like having enough clothes at each place without buying double of everything. My yarn stash is in NJ, but there are times I wish I had a stash in MD. I bought some tea from Plum Deluxe a while ago and wanted a cup of chai this morning in MD, but after digging through the tea cupboard here in MD, I think the tea is in NJ. Some of the issues are larger, like having to mow the lawns in both places and then there is snow to contend with), shop for groceries in both MD and NJ, clean two houses, and pay bills for both places. Then there is the worry and work of flooding in NJ while you're in MD.

But I think that what I l dislike the most is the actual driving back and forth. John and I take turns driving, but I dislike the actual drive (a lot!) no matter whether I'm the passenger or in the driver's seat. It's not a relaxing scenic drive at all, with people whizzing past at 85 mph (the speed limit is 65) and usually loads of traffic. It's at least five hours out of our lives every week, and I tend to resent it every week. 

But I counted this morning and I've got fewer than 20 drives! That is cause for a celebration on Monday, and I hope your Monday is off to a good start, too (even if you resented what you had to do on Sunday). 

Friday, September 10, 2021

Unsettled Ground

This is just a reminder that next Tuesday, September 14, is the date for our Read With Us discussion of Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller. 

I love the UK cover on the right especially because it's had a refresh to make the colors brighter. (All the better to see the creepy crawlies and rotting fruit.) But however you read the book with whatever cover, we would love to have you participate in the discussion. Carole, Kym, and I will each post a question or two on our blogs that day and you can answer them in the comments. Then that night at 7:00 pm Eastern, we're hosting a book group Zoom meet-up. I hope you'll be able to join in! These are always fun and they've added a lot to my understanding of the books we've read. To make a reservation for the Zoom, just comment here, or send an email to me (email address is in the right-hand side bar), Carole, or Kym.

If you're looking over the book to remind yourself of some of the details (like I will be), you can listen to some accompanying music to add to the atmosphere. Music figures largely in this story and Claire Fuller put together a playlist. You can click here for her Spotify playlist. 

I hope you'll join us on Tuesday!

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Three on Thursday

I spent a restless night last night, listening to the thunder and rain on the windows through about 3 am, but despite the locally heavy thunderstorms and flash flood warnings, it doesn't look like a repeat of last week. Thank goodness, especially because we haven't yet had a chance to install second sump pumps. Because I'm a little bleary-eyed this morning, I looked through my folders and found three random things that I thought would work to join Carole for Three on Thursday. 

1.  Did anybody else know that ivy bloomed? I sure didn't.

Our neighbor's fence in MD is covered with them, and I like how they look like little fireworks. I'll have to check next week and see what the flowers actually look like.

2.  I saw this on instagram a while ago and really liked it. This is a new way to think about exercise for me!

3.  While checking facebook for precipitation and possible flooding during my sleepless night, I came across this. I find this to be quite true and something to remember (and it looks like it's even attributed correctly!)

Have you found any interesting random photos, quotes, or something new to you lately? I'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Unraveled Wednesday

I'm joining Kat and the Unravelers for another rousing chorus of "I Didn't Knit Much Last Week". Here's a picture of what I did knit, looking like a blob of red and blue Wollmeise.

It looks much the same as last week, but now I'm up to 49 teeth and thinking it's about time to add red stripes. I didn't knit much because:

a) Hurricane Ida
b) too much rain
c) too much flooding
d) too much stress
e) all of the above

Clearly e is the correct answer, but maybe I can take a picture next week that looks a bit different, with a red stripe or two. That's the goal!

To help relieve some of the stress, I did manage to finish a couple of books during breaks from the shop-vac and sucking flood water out of cellars. I know I raved about Billy Summers last week, but that may be another lesson I need to learn - don't enthusiastically review a book before you've reached the last page. You can click on Billy Summers over there in the right sidebar if you'd like to read my review, but basically I ended up giving it three stars. There were things I liked about the book (the plot, the characters, almost everything in the first half), and there were things I very much disliked (the whole second half). Maybe Stephen King just isn't an author for me, but I know he's capable of better. 

I did enjoy Ann Cleeves' second installment in her Two Rivers series, The Heron's Cry. The same characters are back from The Long Call, and one of the things I liked best about this book is that the characters are multi-layered, with both strengths and weaknesses, and the plot is multi-layered as well. This one was excellent and I highly recommend it. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Tuesday is for ...

... recovery, restoration, readjustment, rest, and return.

Yup, I live in Flemington, NJ, and most of that rain fell within about 6 hours. 

First, an apology. I wrote last Thursday's poetry post early on Wednesday morning, when we had only had a few thunderstorms in MD, and Ida's full effects on the northeast were really just beginning. After re-reading that post yesterday, I'm a bit ashamed and regret how glib and tone-deaf it sounds. Asking people to stitch together what beauty there is while they are undergoing devastating flooding, loss, and death is inappropriate. I've learned a lesson to not post so far ahead, and I am sorry for that post at that time.

I've also learned some other lessons. I naively assumed that we would get some rain from Ida, I might have to use the shop-vac to vacuum up any water in the cellar in NJ, and anxiously waited out the tornado warnings and 6-8" of rain in MD on Wednesday. A friend sent me these photos from NJ on Thursday, and I knew that things were much worse than I expected. 

These are from an intersection about a mile away from our house in NJ. There was flash flooding, cars were inundated, and more than 300 people had to be rescued from the water. 

This is three houses away from ours, and while it's hard to understand the perspective, that large water cooler bottle is floating down the street that has turned into a river with more than two feet of water.

We drove home to NJ on Friday morning, not knowing what we might encounter once we got there. It's a good thing we waited until Friday because the roads were impassable before then. This is what they looked like on Thursday:

That sign is pointing towards Route 295, the way we head to MD. That thing that looks like a dam in the middle is the concrete median in the road between the north and southbound lanes.

We got home to NJ okay, found that we had probably had 8-10" of water in the cellar, but the water had receded quite a bit by Friday. John and I used our shop-vacs, started the dehumidifier, and tried to make our way to Ryan's house in PA. We had talked to him numerous times and knew that he had almost 10" of water in his cellar, even though his sump pump was running continuously. John gave him instructions on how to shut down his gas hot water heater and furnace before the flood waters reached the pilot lights. He also turned off breakers before the water reached electric outlets in the cellar, being careful not to shut off the one to the sump pump. 

We got there Friday night after weaving our way around roads closed due to flooding, downed trees, and wires, and all three of us started using shop-vacs to suck water out of the cellar. Part of Ryan's cellar is finished and we were trying to save the carpet. The sump pump was still pumping and we took almost 100 gallons out with the shop-vacs. We repeated the process again Saturday morning and only got three gallons then. The carpet didn't feel wet but I'm sure it still was. We're now running a dehumidifier and fans, trying to see if we can save the carpet and the sheetrock, but that remains to be seen. 

My sister also lives in PA and while she didn't experience flooding, she did have a giant tree fall on their new garage. The whole front part of the roof is damaged and trusses and beams inside are cracked, so this will be a big repair job. My sister lost her son in May, so as bad as 2020 was, 2021 is so much worse. At least this garage mishap can be fixed.

John was traveling in September of 1999, which meant that I was home alone with the kids during the three days of Hurricane Floyd. We got more than 12" of rain, and more than 12" in the cellar. We didn't have a sump pump then, so I was busy siphoning water out with two garden hoses. I learned my own lessons about shutting off our oil furnace before the water reached the fire box and being very thankful that it worked when we were able to re-start it. We installed a sump pump after that, and it's been able to keep up with water through Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Sandy in 2012. The biggest problem with Sandy was the prolonged power outage (8 days for us), but with John's magic touch we ran a generator. Ryan's neighbor came over on Saturday and told us that they had a storm with 8" of rainfall two years ago, and his finished basement was flooded when his sump pump couldn't keep up. He has since installed a second one and a battery backup, and his cellar remained dry through Ida. I'll spare you my lectures on climate change, but it's clear that we can no longer use historical data about local weather-related disasters that happened in the past when planning for the future. We must take global warming into account. I have heard this storm called a once-in-a lifetime event, but I don't think that is the case. We are going to be prepared for the next time by installing second sump pumps and battery backups in NJ and Ryan's house in PA. 

I was having some trouble counting my blessings on Saturday morning when I was tired of using the shop-vac, emptying it, looking at all the damage in Ryan's house, and my back was killing me. But I quickly realized that we were all okay, we had the resources to deal with the flooding issues we were having, and things could have been so much worse. Ida caused 66 deaths in the storm, with 27 deaths in NJ alone and six in our county. Four people are still missing. On our way over to Ryan's, John and I saw a pickup truck that had been swept away by the floodwaters and the driver died trapped inside. It was a sobering sight.

This post is long enough already, and I'm mainly writing things to remind myself, just in case I start to forget some of the lessons I've learned. Don't post too far ahead, listen and pay attention to the weather, don't take flash flood warnings lightly, be prepared, and be over-prepared if possible. Above all, be grateful for all that you have, and especially for the people in your life.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Poetry on Thursday

Thunderstorms, tropical rain, and tornadoes have made for some interesting cloud formations recently, but this one reminded me of the importance of holding the light.

Holding the Light
Stuart Kestenbaum
Gather up whatever is
glittering in the gutter,
whatever has tumbled
in the waves or fallen
in flames out of the sky,

for it's not only our
hearts that are broken,
but the heart
of the world as well.
Stitch it back together.

Make a place where
the day speaks to the night
and the earth speaks to the sky.
Whether we created God
or God created us

it all comes down to this:
In our imperfect world
we are meant to repair
and stitch together
what beauty there is, stitch it

with compassion and wire.
See how everything
we have made gathers
the light inside itself
and overflows? A blessing.


Kestenbaum, Stuart. "Holding the Light". Only Now, Deerbrook Editions, 2013.
You can read more about the poet here


I wish you mindfulness, peace, good health, the ability to stitch together what beauty there is, and poetry as the week winds down. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Unraveled Wednesday

I'm enthusiastically welcoming September and joining Kat for Unraveled Wednesday. In my mind, the cooler weather of fall should be ushered in as soon as we bid good riddance to the hot, muggy, sweltering sweatiness of August. While I know that this isn't exactly how it works, I have high hopes for somewhat cooler temperatures, decreased humidity, and more comfortable dew points when the remnants of Hurricane Ida depart the area. For now, it's all rain, all the time and I'm happy I can stay indoors today. 

This is what the Drachenblut Hitchhiker looked like yesterday afternoon. It's pretty much the same, but I have completed 40 teeth. There are still more to go, plus some red stripes when the spirit moves me, but pouring rain and a good audiobook may help towards the accomplishment of that. 

I finished a perfectly pleasant mystery, A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie, last week. It served to introduce Scotland Yard Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and and London- based Sergeant Gemma James in a mystery set at a time share in Yorkshire. I have the next three books, and I hope that these characters grow and develop more. If so, there are 17+ books in the series, so this may provide some pleasant reading for quite a while.

But I got a bit distracted from this series by the new Stephen King novel, Billy Summers. As a teenager I was a big fan of Stephen King. Carrie, The Shining, and The Stand were early favorites. I really should have known better, but I read 'Salem's Lot when I was living alone for several months, and had to call my sister at 2:00 am one morning after turning on all the lights and hiding the book in the freezer still couldn't keep me from seeing vampires outside my window. (Sorry, Jill!) Even though King's books seemed increasingly creepy, I still read Thinner, It, Misery, Christine, and Pet Sematary. Then I had children and read Cujo. To me, it was King's most frightening book of all because it could have happened, without vampires, possessed cars, and malevolent clowns in sewers. I could easily imagine the terrifying rabid dog scenario with my own children, so I quit reading King's books, and wasn't tempted for 25 years until I read 11/22/63. It was wonderful, and so far, so is Billy Summers. It's not King's usual horror, but rather a character study of an Iraq war veteran turned sniper. But Billy has scruples; he only shoots "bad people". I can't begin to imagine how this one will end, but I also don't want it to. The audiobook has been quite immersive and compelling for me. 

What are you making and reading (or listening to while you try to ignore laundry, making dinner, and your husband asking you questions)?