Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath & Halloween

We got through the hurricane just fine. As I predicted here there wasn't much beyond a couple of days of rain and some wind gusts. Nothing worth worrying about much less stockpiling ten jugs of water and all the canned food at the store. But it was good that most everyone in town stayed home. Jim worked from home and I cooked. Boy, did I cook!

Cooking has always been a great stress reliever for me. We had sort of an early impromptu Thanksgiving dinner with turkey breast and all the trimmings. I baked pumpkin bars and banana bread. We read, watched movies and took naps. Almost like a mini vacation!

But the people of New York and New Jersey, places unused to hurricanes, took the brunt of the damage. It gives me flashbacks of the awful week after Hurricane Katrina. I hope and pray that FEMA and the powers that be do a much better job helping the citizens return, rehab and recovery than they did in New Orleans after Katrina.

Returning to New Orleans three months after Katrina was one of the most disturbing things I've experienced, mile after mile of ruined homes, clean up debris piled 50 feet high on the center of the boulevards near City Park. The hush of reduced traffic and the lack of any functioning traffic lights made New Orleans eerily quiet and still, like the corpse of a city.

After having lost all I owned in a few hurricanes in Louisiana I have a good idea what the people of NY/NJ face. It's going to be a long heartbreaking backbreaking time before things start to feel normal again. One of the few things I could do for the people of that area is that I've signed up to be a foster home for some of the exotic birds that have been found with no way to trace their owners.

This morning I struggled to write a piece for NLQ that linked together a variety of links having to do with Pro Choice, abortion rights and contraception. It was probably one of the hardest things I've had to do because I know that it's going to bring about some rather rude debate in the comments at some point. It's really one of the first times we've had any discussion of abortion at all on the site. For a long time we tiptoed around the subject but in light of the political battles going on this last week before the elections it's time we looked at what it will really take to bring down abortion rates. I have to say I am very disappointed that no one has commented on the article at all yet.

Tonight we had a very quiet Halloween. Very few kids. I'd bought the usual amount of candy I always have but I have 3/4s of it left. I'm sending most of it up to Laura for her and her roommates to eat. I guess the weather and returning to normal after Hurricane Sandy put a damper on the trick or treating.

Tomorrow is going to be a tough day. It's the first day of Nanowrimo, which I participate in every year. Nano is a good distraction for what November First represents to me. It's All Saints Day and every year till I was a grown adult it would be the time my father and I visited the family graves to clean them and lay fresh flowers. It's days like All Saints where I miss my father so much that my heart aches. All Saints is an old New Orleans tradition and one I'm sad to say has died away, a remnant of a kinder gentler time.

Friday, October 26, 2012


This morning I ran out to the local grocery store because I was running low on my beloved addiction, diet coke. No way was I going through a stormy weekend with Jim underfoot without things that aid my calming rituals.

The store was crammed packed with panicked people. As a lady ran past me pushing a shopping cart filled to the brim with gallons of water and canned foods it dawned on me that people in the area are on high dungeon because of the coming hurricane Sandy. Which really made me laugh hard in the middle of the damn store.

I've kept one eye on Sandy, scanning the weather report too, but not to the point where I think THIS IS THE APOCALYPSE!! Granted, no one in NYC and other Eastern Seaboard Mid Atlantic states are used to hurricanes but... the media is driving some extreme panic on this one. As I was driving to the store I heard my local radio, right here in the Virginia Piedmont, many miles from the coast, advising people all sorts of extreme measures that just aren't needed for a category one hurricane. They urged everyone to stock up on canned foods and water. Get all your medicines refilled! Pack a bag just in case you have to evacuate. A bit extreme for this area but completely appropriate if you're somewhere south near the Gulf and a category three is coming. Complete overkill.

We are not facing this
New Orleans house from the Lakefront area after Katrina

So how does a New Orleanian or a Cajun prepare for a big hurricane? My hurricane safety list is for those bad ones. Even for these small ones it's not a bad idea to fill a clean bathtub with enough water to force flush the toilet and have fresh batteries in your radios and flashlights just in case you lose power but not most of the stuff I'm going to list below.

1. Make sure your car is filled with gas.
2. Board up your windows with plywood. Tape is useless.
3. Drag a mattress, pillows, blankets into the most protected part of the house. Somewhere with no windows that you and your family can hunker down during the worst parts of the storm. Make sure you have things with you to keep you occupied, a pile of games, a book, that sweater you're knitting. This place should be on the ground floor just in case a tree crashes through the roof. If you have little kids and they are whining try your best to make it a fun adventure, have sing alongs, play games.
4. Make sure you have canned foods and bottled drinks. A little liquor is recommended as we Cajuns tend to use alcohol for everything. Freaking out over the winds and water, have a nice little nip of Bourbon and you'll feel much calmer.
5. Fill the bathtub with water to flush your toilet just in case the water cuts off. You'll need to put a bucket next to the tub to fill the toilet tank.
6. Make sure you have an old fashioned transistor radio and flashlights as well as extra batteries. Better still is a NWS weather radio with battery capacity to keep up with the watches, warnings and essential information.
7. Each person should have a packed bag with a few changes of clothes and all essential medicines. If you have a pet this is a good time to crate them and pack a plastic storage bin with their food, medicines and anything else they might require if you evacuate. Good to pack a shot record because if you have to evacuate many places will not allow you to bring your animal if they have no vaccination record.
8. Use comment sense, if they say over the radio to evacuate, then do it.
9. Make sure you have a bit of extra cash just in case.

Just don't do like these New Yorkers did last hurricane.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Harvest Time Interrupted

The last few days I've been attempting to get the rest of the things in the garden in before we  have another batch of nighttime temps in the thirties. I still have onions, cabbages and sweet potatoes to harvest so that's been the goal of the last few days.

But with my silly luck I'm not getting much done. I have dug out a bushel of sweet potatoes but there are many more to dig. I'm set up to make and can sauerkraut in my kitchen but haven't harvested the cabbages get.


Every time I step out into the yard for more than a few moments I get interrupted by neighbors upset about the lack of forward motion of our HOA treasurer, someone I have absolutely zero control over. I like her no more than any of the neighbors but sitting on the board I have to attempt to get along with her.

I'd be almost shoulder deep in the friable dirt of my garden groping blindly for sweet potatoes when someone would drift up, complain they couldn't reserve the clubhouse and expect me to do something. I'd stop poking through the dirt for potatoes, strip off my gloves with a sigh, and take that person inside to look at the master calender before firing off an email to the treasurer.

I think tomorrow I'm going to sneak outside at dawn to harvest the last of everything. Hopefully the neighbors will all be asleep and I can get the rest of the garden in. I hate being on the HOA board.