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What A Wild, Wet, & Windy Week! September 15, 2017

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Nature, People.
39 comments

This is a L~O~N~G post after a L~O~N~G week.  It would benefit from further editing, but I’m going to let it F~L~Y . . .

Thanks for all your well wishes during this wet, wild, and windy week!

We are grateful that Hurricane Irma did not devastate Tampa Bay’s coastal communities to the predicted extent.  Despite a lucky-for-us change in trajectory that moved the eye to the east of us, the storm left a wide swath of damage in its wake.  It will take a long time to deal with its aftermath.

Here’s my diary of the storm:

Monday, 9/4 (Labor Day)

Life as usual.  Played Bridge in the afternoon.  No one was talking about Irma. Went to a Pool Party on Monday evening.  No one was talking about Irma.

No one was talking about Irma . . . except my sister in Orlando.  Her daughter and SIL had planned to evacuate from the island of St. Martin before the storm.  J&N were at the airport on Saturday when the medical school decided NOT to lift its AWOL policy or cancel classes.  So J&N stayed put.  As a result, my sister focused intently on Irma as it made its way across the Caribbean.  So did I:

I haven’t heard anything definitive about Irma’s trajectory yet.  If I do, I’ll let you know.

Tuesday, 9/5

Went to Water Aerobics at 10 am.  Irma, now a Category 5 Hurricane with sustained winds of 185 mph, was the talk of the town.  Governor Rick Scott declared a State of Emergency for the entire state of Florida.  BFF went to the bank to get some extra $’s for after the storm.  Tried to get bottled water ~ sold out.  Tried to book a hotel room in the local area ~ no luck.  Tried to get a hotel room farther along the I-75 and I-40 corridors ~ all booked.

E-mailed my sister with an update:

Hurricane warnings have been issued for the northern Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. This includes Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, Sint Maarten, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy, Vieques and Culebra.  It’s now a Category 5.  Hope J&N have some place to hunker down.

E-mailed J&N in St. Martin:

Sounds like Irma is likely to impact the Leeward Islands in a big way.  Our thoughts are with you and your friends.  Your mom said that you have a safe place to stay on the island.  Best of luck to you all as you hunker down and weather the storm.  Fingers crossed that St. Martin will soon be breathing a sigh of relief!  Stay safe!  Love you!  

J&N’s reply:

Thanks! We are doing what we can! Definitely a different experience to be away from home and on a tiny island as this comes our way. Trying to stay positive. But we prepared for the worst.

Wednesday, 9/6

Voluntary evacuation ordered for our area (Zone A) due to the expected 9-12 foot storm surge.  We began preparing for Irma in earnest.  Filled the car with gas.  Moved photo albums to higher shelves and covered them with a tarp. Put important documents in waterproof totes.  Laid out things to take if we evacuate.  Got plywood to board up the front sliders.  Made Minestrone Soup to use up perishable veggies from fridge and freezer.  Froze soup to reheat on camp stove if we lose power.  Filled the fridge and freezer with containers of water.  Cleared the top of the kitchen cabinets.  Put recipe box, jewelry box, and watercolors in totes.

At noon, went to the dentist for a “routine cleaning” . . . which seemed anything but routine under the circumstances.  Dentist told me about GasBuddy app and hygienist told me about Compass app to check our elevation ~ our street is at 5-6 feet elevation.  Not enough.  Tried again to get a hotel room within a reasonable distance ~ no luck.  Don’t want to drive far since the evacuation routes (I-75, I-4, I-95) are clogged with evacuees from Miami and the Keys.

Irma still a Cat 5 storm with 185 mph winds.  Keys and Miami (Zone A) under mandatory evacuation.  Puerto Rico got slammed and may be without power for 4-6 months.  Gas & bottled water sold out in many places.  Lots of stores have empty shelves.  Made a list of food to take if evacuate.  Considered driving around to look for a hotel outside the evacuation zone.  Heard about a woman who drove 16 hours to rescue her grandmother and a friend from Ft. Myers.  Track will probably be to the east of us.  Storm surge will still be an issue.

Responded to an e-mail from a friend in Canada who owns a home in our neighborhood:

We are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.  We’ll evacuate if there is a mandatory evacuation for Zone A ~ but all the hotels are booked . . . so it’ll be a shelter for us.

Hope Paradise is still here when you return mid-October.  Hear no evil

Emailed J&N in St. Martin:

We’ve been watching and reading about the devastation in St. Martin. Hope you and your friends are safe!  Let us know when you can.  We toyed with the idea of going to Orlando to weather the storm with your parents, but the traffic is so heavy and the storm’s path so uncertain that we’ll probably just head to a shelter on higher ground somewhere here in Manatee.  Stay safe!

J&N’s reply:

Please do everything you can do to stay safe from this storm! I am in disbelief over what we are going through. The island is destroyed. The airport is destroyed. We are trying to get a military plane to come to us after Jose.  I love you all!  I am worried for our safety and ability to survive until we are evacuated.  J

Relieved, I replied back:

So glad to hear from you . . . you’ll be in our thoughts until you’re back home.  We hope that you have access to the essentials ~ water to drink, food to eat, and a place to rest.  Keep breathing!  I’ll see if I can’t get Jose to head the other way.  Love you!

Thursday, 9/7

Went for a walk on the beach in the calm before the storm.  Continued preparations while keeping one eye on the news and weather.  Essential supplies in short supply.  Gas stations without gas.  People lined up to get sandbags, bottled water, plywood, and generators.  Finally able to get two cases of bottled water.  Filled more containers with water to stash in the fridge and freezer.  Packed a week’s worth of clothes, toiletries, food and supplies (towels, toilet paper, tissues, and washcloths).  BFF measured and cut the plywood.  Collected flash drives, birth certificates, safe deposit box keys, cash, quarters for vending machines, flashlights, batteries, radio, hand fans, etc. Put them near the front door to “grab and go.”

Schools and state offices closed Friday.  Storm force winds will arrive Sunday, but shelters may fill up before that.  Everyone is taking the threat seriously. Downloaded some apps and took screen shots of the shelters near us, including Manatee HS.  Portions of Pinellas County (just north of us) under a mandatory evacuation.  Checked out traffic in “real time” ~ I-75 and I-40 still backed up.

E-mailed my sister in Orlando:

Sounds pretty grim in St. Martin.  Government buildings destroyed.  Hope J&N have access to the essentials. We’re under a voluntary evacuation starting tomorrow morning at 7 am.  Shelters will be opened throughout the county.  BFF’s going to put plywood over the front sliders this afternoon.  How are you and Mike managing?

Received a welcome and welcoming e-mail from PJP (the college roommate we visited in Dalton GA in May):

Hey — if y’all need a place to run to escape Irma, please know you have a place in Georgia! We are happy to take you in for as long as you need!!! Take care and stay safe.

I replied back:

Thank you SO MUCH! I’ll give you a call if we decide to accept your incredibly kind invitation.  To be honest . . . if traffic congestion & gas supplies weren’t an issue, I’d hop in the car right now and head your way.  We are preparing as best we can ~ furniture in, plywood up, storm shutters down, etc.  We are in evacuation Zone A ~ under a voluntary evacuation starting tomorrow morning at 7 am. If they issue a mandatory evacuation, we’ll head to a county shelter to ride out the storm.  Thanks again!  I’ll be in touch.

Later that day, I e-mailed PJP again:

I’m not “too” worried at the moment. For us, anyway. But I’m worried about the impacts in Miami, the Keys, etc..  Plus, my niece and her husband are in St. Martin. So that’s a big concern ~ the island is devastated, the airport is destroyed (so they can’t get home), and Jose is headed that way. N’s in medical school there and the school didn’t cancel classes soon enough for them to get a flight out.  They are OK for now ~ but I can tell that J is scared and wants to be with her parents in Orlando.

I’m glued to the TV to make sure that the voluntary evacuation for our area isn’t upgraded to a mandatory evacuation. I don’t expect the winds to be catastrophic here, but if there is a significant storm surge, it could impact us.  I’ll keep you posted and THANKS!!! again.

Manatee County urged us to reach out to friends on “higher ground” to seek shelter.  Sent an e-mail to EM, a Bridge buddy who lives in-land above the expected storm surge, asking if we could stow-away for a few days if a mandatory evacuation is ordered:

On the outside chance that we have to make a last minute “run for the hills” to escape storm surge from Irma, do you have enough room in your house for two stow-aways for a day or two?  We could bring an inflatable mattress, linens, towels, bottled water, food, etc.  We could also bring extra flashlights, batteries, a radio with a USB port for charging phones, a propane camp stove, etc..

At this point, BFF & I plan to stay put and ride out the storm in PBC, but if Manatee County upgrades the voluntary evacuation to a mandatory evacuation at the last minute and the shelters are all full at that point, it would be nice to have a back-up plan.  Do not hesitate to say “no” if having stow-aways doesn’t work with your plans. Stay safe!

Friday, 9/8

Mandatory evacuation order issued for our area (Zone A), starting at noon today.  Before we had time to decide what to do, EM called to say we could stay in her house . . . while she headed south to stay with her husband in an assisted living facility.  Even though she wouldn’t be there, she offered us the keys to her house!!!  She asked whether we wanted to invite BS, who lives in a mandatory evacuation zone, to join us.  I called BS and extended the invite ~ she accepted and agreed to drive to our place the next morning, leave her car in our garage, and drive to EM’s with us.  Planned meals for tonight, tomorrow, Sunday, Monday, & Tuesday and packed food to take to EM’s.

Decided to bring a flask of rum and ginger ale “for medicinal purposes.”

Finished packing the clothes, food, important papers, toiletries, inflatable mattress, sheets, towels, etc., we would need during the evacuation.  Charged up the i-Pad and cell phone.  Made oatmeal breakfast cookies.

Our HOA President e-mailed:

Manatee County has issued a mandatory evacuation for Zone A – PBC is included in this zone.  I have been notified that the guardhouse will be shutting down at 4PM and all gates will be in the up position.  If you leave, please know that you will require two forms of ID to re-enter Zone A – driver’s license and a copy of a utility bill (or something else showing proof of residence).

I replied:

We’re leaving tomorrow morning and will be staying with a friend.  Stay safe.  Thanks for the updates!

Contacted family and friends out of the area to let them know our plans.  Put some family heirlooms on the guest room bed covered with a tarp.  Emptied the bottom shelves of bookcases.  Moved knick knacks and photos to sheltered nooks and crannies so that they wouldn’t be blown around (if the wind got in through the roof, windows, or walls).  Put breakables above kitchen sink in closed cabinet.  Talked to my older brother.  Put hold on mail delivery until 9/13.  Packed propane camp stove, candles, and matches.

E-mailed my sister:

There is a mandatory evacuation in effect.  We’ll be leaving here at 10 am tomorrow.  We’re staying at EM’s house along the I-75 corridor.  Good luck!

E-mailed PJP re our plans:

Looks like Irma may make it up to see you in our stead. What a monster.  We’re under a mandatory evacuation and will be leaving tomorrow morning to ride out the storm across town and away from storm surge. We taking BS, a Bridge buddy who lives alone, with us.  EM, the friend who is opening her house to us, will be leaving after we arrive to bunk with her husband in an assisted living facility in Sarasota.  Talk about choreography!  We’ll do our best to stay safe. You do the same!

After finishing our preparations, I e-mailed PJP again:

As much as I’d love to be up there with you guys this weekend, I’m glad I’m not sitting in traffic trying to get there. A neighbor took 12 hours to make the 4-hour drive from here to Lake City FL.  BS is so relieved she won’t be riding out the storm alone and she’s a “kick.” We have great conversations so she’ll be good company for us too.  Enjoy the weather this weekend. We’ll do our best to tucker Irma out before she crosses the border into Georgia.  If I’ve got wi-fi access, I’ll shoot you an e-mail once Irma blows through.  Stay safe!

To my nephew in Atlanta:

We’re under a mandatory evacuation and will be leaving tomorrow morning to ride out the storm across town and away from storm surge.  We’ll do our best to stay safe.  You do the same.  Here’s hoping J&N are able to ride out their 2nd hurricane this week safely.  

Fresh Market e-mailed that they would be closing at 4 pm Saturday.  Meals on Wheels suspended delivery of meals to homes until further notice.  Brought in the patio furniture and lowered the storm shutters.

FP&L e-mailed:

Thank you for signing up for outage alerts and your interest in staying informed regarding your power. In times of extreme weather, such as now with Hurricane Irma approaching Florida, our process changes in how we handle outage alerts. After the storm has passed our service territory, our process will be to provide a daily email update about the restoration progress.   You will again receive personalized outage status alerts when the large-scale restoration is complete and we return to normal business.

We understand how much you depend on electricity. Rest assured, our crews will work around the clock to restore your service safely and as quickly as possible.   Stay safe.

To my sister:

Glad you heard from J&N.  This has been a tough week for them.  Sounds like work on the runway on St. Marten is coming along.  Hope they can get out of there soon.  I will have my iPad at EM’s.  I’ll do my best to stay in touch.  Stay safe!

Saturday, 9/9

Up at 8 am after a rough night.  Finished readying the villa.  Moved more stuff onto our bed.  Put the computer in the closet.  Packed food in coolers.  Turned off the water.  Loaded the car with evacuation supplies.  BS arrived at 10.  We loaded her stuff into our van and drove to EM’s house ~ she gave us a tour, some instructions, contact numbers, her Wi-Fi password, and her house keys before leaving to ride out the storm with her husband.  Met her neighbors ~ Lynn & Walter.  Put our van in her garage.

Manatee County ordered a voluntary evacuation for Zone B effective immediately due to the increasing threat of significant storm surge ~ 20 of the 24 county shelters were up and running by 11 am.

Special Needs Shelters filled with people needing oxygen, dialysis, etc.  Last night, Manatee Memorial Hospital closed and evacuated all patients, including NICU babies.  A local marine hospital took steps to protect dolphins, turtles, etc.  USPS canceled mail deliveries in Florida.  Power and water turned off to AMI and Longboat Key and bridges closed to both islands.  Sunshine Skyway Bridge closed too.

To my sister:

We are at EM’s house with BS.  We have Wi-Fi . . . for now anyway.  Any news from J&N?  Are your preparations in good shape?

Just munched for lunch.  Exercised in pool.  Took showers.  Put water in EM’s freezer.  Caught up with e-mails.  J&N still in St. Martin.  BFF’s brother called to check on us when he heard the storm had shifted west from its projected east coast trajectory.  Talked with BFF’s other brother and his sister.  Tara said one of their friends decided to ride out the storm in Key West ~ that’s crazy talk!

Stores and businesses began boarding up for the storm ~ pinging me with e-mails.  Due to the change in the predicted storm track, Fresh Market closed at 1 pm.  Goodwill closed stores and collection centers until Tuesday.  Disney closed all 4 parks.  Publix closed.  Tampa and Orlando Airports closed.

Replied to nephew in Atlanta:

Good to hear from you.  We are at EM’s house with enough supplies for 3-4 days.  BS is with us.  She went out to take a nap.  BFF and I probably need a nap too.  Good luck !!!!

Early dinner.  Watched Irma broadcasts on ABC, NBC, CBS, and the Weather Channel.  Manatee County still expecting winds of 90-120 mph, rain of 6-8 feet, and storm surge of 3-8 feet.  They evacuated 1000+ from St. Martin ~ maybe J&N made it off the island before Jose?

Played Honeymoon Bridge with BS.  Got in bed thinking about how fortunate we were to be in a bed instead of sleeping on a floor in a crowded shelter surrounded by displaced adults & kids, barking dogs, and frightened cats.

Sunday, 9/10

Watching Irma broadcasts on ABC, NBC, CBS, and the Weather Channel.  Irma made landfall in the Keys and headed north up the Gulf for Tampa Bay (and us). Tropical storm force winds expected soon.  Talked to J&N who had been safely evacuated from St. Martin into Puerto Rico.  E-mailed my sister:

 Talked to J&N in Puerto Rico. Yay! J sounds pretty good. She was at a store to try and get some supplies since they had to leave almost everything behind on St. Martin.

Received a phone alert from Manatee County at 9 am:

The NWS is now predicting that Hurricane Irma will create storm surge of up to 8 feet and rainfall of up to 15 inches in Manatee County.  Limited time remains to relocate to higher ground with friends or family.  Very limited space remains in Manatee County’s temporary shelters.  For your safety, do not leave your homes once sustained winds reach 45 mph.

Called EM.  Her husband almost had to go to the hospital that morning due to extremely low blood sugar.  Put more bottled water in fridge and freezer. Watched as Irma landed in Marco Island/Naples around 3 pm and continued north toward us.  News reported a 3 pm curfew for Manatee County.  Played Honeymoon Bridge with BS.  BFF drained water from the pool while I drained a Rum & Pineapple cocktail.

E-mailed brothers:

J&N got out of St. Martin and are in San Juan, Puerto Rico ~ a much better place to be.  For now we are sheltered in a good place.  More later . . . 

E-mail from sister:

Just spoke to J&N ~ they are at airport to go to O’Hare in Chicago 

Later to brothers & sister:

Not looking forward to the next 12 or so hours but feel like we did what we could to prepare . . . especially considering the uncertainty of the storm’s track.  Glad that J&N are headed to the mainland.  Too bad E&N are no longer living in Chicago to greet them.

Received an update from our HOA President:

This is the latest and last update I will provide until after the storm passes.  The storm has shifted to the west, bringing Manatee into a high potential for seeing the eye wall pass nearby.  Winds are forecasted at 100 mph sometime late evening into the early morning of Monday. It does not appear that storm surge will have a significant impact on PBC.  We will get about 10-15 inches of rain.  Most of the residents who are here on a fulltime basis have left for shelter or other safe places.  It will be Wednesday or Thursday, I believe, before we can return to assess any damage.

Made orzo soup and had an early dinner in case we lost power.  We were too focused on storm to do anything but monitor the news . . .

Search & Rescue in Miami, the Keys, Marco Island, and Naples delayed because first responders couldn’t head south due to high winds on I-75 and I-95.  Lots of damage ~ downed trees, damaged bridges, downed power lines, twisted wreckage and flooding in Naples Mobile Home Park.  Lost power at 8 pm. Wind howling outside.  Set up the inflatable mattress for BS in the living room ~ away from windows.  She went to bed at 9 pm.  BFF and I got in bed to listen to the radio while the winds increased in intensity outside.  Broadcasters emphasized that evacuees should not head home until told to do so ~ stay where you are; stay out of the way; don’t impede rescue operations.

A few unidentified flying objects slammed into the window in the bedroom amidst the whipping winds and rain.  Not much sleep.  Until this point, I had been able to “stay in the moment” without wrestling with imaginings or fighting a future that had not yet appeared.  But as I tossed and turned, I did wonder what we would be dealing with in the days ahead.

Monday, 9/11

Got up and assessed the damage at EM’s house ~ vegetation strewn about, a rip in the pool cage, etc.  Power still out.  Used camp stove to make coffee. J&N called ~> safe in Chicago.  Power restored at EM’s at 11 am.  Yay! Checked e-mails and notified friends and family that we were safe:

We are OK.  Don’t know when we can go home.  Power lost overnight here, but back on now.  EM planning to come home this p.m. 

Returned to the TV to see what had happened while we were in the dark. Shocked by the images of Miami, St. Augustine, Jacksonville, the Keys, Marco Island, Naples, etc.  Irma still headed north toward Georgia.  Manatee County shelters closing & curfew lifted.  Evacuation orders lifted.  Cautioned to treat intersections with care since many traffic lights without power.

We started packing up evacuation supplies.  EM home at 1 pm.  She offered to let us stay until power restored to our homes.  We accepted and helped her restore order to her patio furniture and plants.

A neighbor called with a report on PBC.  After lunch, BFF checked on our villa. It’s OK.  Our neighborhood is OK except for downed trees.  No power, phone, internet.  My sister sustained minor property damage in Orlando ~ a broken window and the roof over the screened porch.  Power still out there.  BFF and I fixed dinner ~ minestrone soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.  Played 3-handed Bridge with EM & BS.  Moved out of EM’s room into den.

Before bed, I tried to catch up with some e-mails, including one to my brothers:

BFF and I are staying another night at EM’s since she has power here. BFF got to check the house this pm – all OK but half the palm trees on the main boulevard are lying down on the job.  The images across the state are sobering. We are feeling very very very lucky. And TIRED.  

Another to SL in Canada at 11 pm:

Still at EM’s with BS.  Lost power last night here but it was restored at 11 am.  BFF checked PBC this pm.  Homes OK.  No major property damage – but about half the palms on the boulevard blew down.  And power still out . . . So decided to stay here another night.  J&N got out of St. Martin – safe in Chicago.

And one to our HOA President:

LZ let us know the power was out but no homes destroyed in PBC.  Lots of downed trees.  BFF got over there late pm – but didn’t stay.  Power still out so we decided to spend another night with our friend.  We will reassess tomorrow.  Hope you are OK.

And one to KL in South Africa who asked if we were OK:

OK.  But exhausted.  I’ll share more tomorrow.  Good night.

PJP e-mailed:

Wow. Our governor declared the entire state to be in a state of emergency on Sunday and closed all state offices Monday and Tuesday. We got a lot of wind and rain here, but that’s really it. Our power never went out. Schools are all closed through today — kind of weird cause all seems fine. Just being very cautious. Sorry about your palms!

Tuesday, 9/12

Rough night sleeping on the air mattress.  Every time BFF moved, he “rocked the boat.”  Up early.  Instead of my usual morning tea, I opted for strong coffee.  YUM!  Talked to EM about Elder Law attorneys who might be of assistance to her and her husband.

Late morning, EM took BS to AMI to check BS’s house and EM’s beach condo. Both OK.  BFF and I returned to villa.  Area has damage (downed trees and power lines, debris strewn about, traffic lights not lit, etc.) but not to the anticipated level.   Still no power.  Talked to a few neighbors.  Took furniture off bed.  Removed the rest of the perishable food from the fridge and freezer. Grabbed a comforter to use with the air mattress instead of the bath towels we used on Monday night.  Rolled up the storm shutters.  Swept the patio. Stopped at Fresh Market (re-opened, yay!) for bread.  Made Harvest Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner.  Called Pam to catch up.

As power was restored to area businesses, I received e-mails notifying us that we could eat at Bonefish Grill, shop for food at Fresh Market, attend a communal meditation at the Kadampa Buddhist Temple in Sarasota, and bowl in cool comfort at AMF Lanes:

To our Friends and Neighbors ~ Our venue has power and we’ll be open to all.  Grab a bite, charge your phones, and bowl a few games with us.

Tuesday afternoon, I received an e-mail from FP&L:

We know the last few days have been tough and we hope you are safe following Hurricane Irma. This powerful storm dealt a devastating blow to Florida. All 27,000 square miles and 35 counties of our service territory were impacted – with the West Coast hit the hardest. As a community, we will rebuild together. Our massive restoration effort is already underway with a record workforce of nearly 20,000 responding to the largest number of outages in our history.

An estimated 4.4 million total customers were impacted and more than 1.6 million have already been restored. Our crews are working around-the-clock, and every hour of every day more and more people are getting their lights back. We expect to have the West Coast area restored by end of day, Sept. 22, with the possible exception of areas impacted by tornadoes, severe flooding and other pockets of severe damage.

We understand how challenging it is to be without power and want you to know we are doing everything we can to help get your life back to normal as soon as possible. We ask that you stay safe. Continue to exercise caution while driving and avoid all power lines when cleaning up hurricane debris and vegetation. Visit our website for the most up-to-date information on the restoration effort.

Tuesday evening, I received an e-mail from our HOA President:

Hurricane Irma has now passed – the best thing to say is WE DODGED A BULLET.  While we are still without power (at least as of 5:30pm today), we sustained limited wind damage and no flood or rising water issues. For the most part we have little structural damage to any of the buildings; no concern about water or future rain.   I will send a separate email to those owners impacted by the damage later this week after checking with our insurance people.  There is no need to panic over the damage.   While I did not see any structural issues (no broken windows and the like) I cannot tell if something might have happened inside your unit. 

Looking at PBC as a whole, it came through the storm very well with little structural damage.  The big issue has been to tress, primarily along the boulevard. The truly good news is that there is minimal building damage – only two buildings appear to have some damage.  As of this afternoon, the roads through the complex are passable as Brown Tree Service has done an outstanding job of clearing trees that were blocking the roads or potentially posing a threat to structures.  They will be continuing to clear tree limbs on all of the streets within the complex.  We expect most of the tree and landscaping damage to be cleaned up within the next week or so.  The complex is livable.

Tuesday night, I again tried to catch up with a backlog of e-mails, including one to PJP:

Great talking with you this pm.  Hope we’ll be heading home tomorrow. As hurricane evacuations go, this one has been “tons of fun”~> but if it’s my last hurricane evacuation, I will not complain. 😎  Night!

Wednesday, 9/13

E-mail from friends in neighborhood ~> Power back on.  Internet, Cable, and Phone restored.  Packed up our evacuation supplies.  Left soup, bread, cheese and ice cream with EM and BS.  Headed home.  Arrived at noon.  Spent afternoon and evening getting things back to “normal” pre-storm status. Tossed a couple items that might have spoiled during the 48-hour power outage.  Had cheese quesadillas for lunch with pushcart onions and fruit.

Picked up held mail at PO ~ only 2 pieces due to the cancellation of mail delivery in FL.  Got some groceries.  Made potato soup for dinner (potatoes, corn, celery, broccoli, turmeric, adobe, lemon pepper, vegetarian bouillon) with cheese quesadillas.

Do you sense a theme for meals here?  Soup + Grilled Cheese = Perfect for stormy weather!

E-mailed PJP late afternoon:

We got power back last night and got home today around noon.  Busy putting stuff back the way it was before warnings of a potential 12 foot storm surge.  Tossed a few things from the fridge but no other damage. YAY!!!  My sister just got her power back on too.  

It’s good to be home!  Or as Dorothy might say, “There’s no place like home.”

Talked to my sister.  J&N are flying to Orlando for a visit this weekend.  They bought one-way tickets because the medical school hasn’t decided when classes will resume.  GE called to check on us on his drive home from Asheville.  Talked to a neighbor who had sheltered in Lakeland right under the eye of the storm ~ he had damage to trees and fencing but nothing too serious.  Like us, he was TIRED.

Slept like water-logged logs for 9 hours!

Thursday, 9/14

Power restored to AMI.  BS came to reclaim her car.  BFF removed plywood and caulked holes in siding.  I continued efforts to restore order to our belongings. BFF helped replace the pool furniture around our association’s communal pool.  Some associations sunk pool furniture in their pools to prevent it from flying around during the storm. I started putting together notes for this post. Biked around the neighborhood before dinner to survey restoration efforts. Invited a friend who is still without power to come spend the night.

Tuned in to the NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt to see if the “Make A Difference” segment featuring PJP’s older brother (a political cartoonist) and his daughter Maggy would air.  After being bumped 3 nights running for Irma coverage, it was on and it was GREAT!  Throughout Maggy’s school years, her dad (Mike Jenkins) created works of art on her lunch bags.  She has amassed quite a collection of his creative masterpieces.

I have one of his works of art too . . .

Had soup for dinner, again ~> but no cheese.  😀

Aah . . . that’s better!

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Re-Mindfulness August 29, 2017

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Mindfulness.
28 comments

I sat down at my desk and realized that my engagement ring was NOT on my finger.

BFF and I scoured the place ~ looking in the lettuce I’d just washed and spun dry, sorting through the kitchen garbage (EWW!!!), checking the sink drains, walking around with flashlight to check the carpet, pulling apart the bed, checking around my desk, in the files I was working on, in my shoes.

Nothing.

We came up empty handed.

I went out on the deck for a break from the search.  A steady drizzle of rain re-minded me that I’d taken my poncho and an umbrella when we went for a walk.

When I put the poncho away, I used my left hand to shove the poncho back into my travel bag.  Hmm . . .

I went inside, grabbed the travel bag, took out the poncho, the umbrella, and . . . there!

Sitting on the bottom of the bag was my engagement ring ready to be reunited with my wedding band.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Bryson & The Beach August 26, 2017

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, People.
19 comments

Bryson’s mom scurried down the beach, scanning the sands for her 3-year-old son, Bryson, who had run off.

A woman heading in the opposite direction asked, “Are you looking for a young boy?”

The mom nodded.

“I saw one near the lifeguard stand.”

BFF and I offered to help the mom search.  She accepted.

As we approached the lifeguard stand, a female lifeguard peered over the railing at us, “Looking for Bryson?”

The mom nodded, “Yes.”

“He’s up here.  He came up to say “hey” to us.”

At that point, Bryson’s father caught up to us.  Already huffing and puffing, he climbed the stairs to retrieve his wayward child and answer a few questions for the lifeguards.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Broom’s Bloom Dairy August 3, 2017

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Gratitude, Happiness.
18 comments

While visiting BFF’s sister in Maryland, we went out for a perennial summer treat ~ ice cream!

Broom’s Bloom Dairy makes homemade ice cream and serves it up in LARGE portions.

Everyone here is eating the EXTRA SMALL cones and cups.

The EXTRA LARGE portions must be the size of that silo.

Ice cream served up with a side of sunset.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Mom’s Passing July 31, 2017

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Life Balance, Mindfulness.
46 comments

Mom passed away this evening at age 87 after a recent and rapid decline.

Bill and I visited her at Doug & Joan’s house at the end of May.  At that time, she was still taking regular walks outside, taking her meals upstairs, and enjoying a pleasant flow to her days.

We had a wonderful visit.

The same held true when Betsy, Mike, and Sam visited at the beginning of June.

Since then, her energy levels declined at a rapid rate . . .

A week ago, Hospice let us know that the end was approaching and offered increased assistance to Joan with mom’s care since she could no longer eat, drink, or get out of bed.  Fortunately, mom remained comfortable (with pain medication) until she passed away earlier this evening.

Although we are saddened by her passing, we are at peace with the knowledge that she would not have wanted to linger in a semi-conscious state.

She only wanted to live while she could still “live it up” . . .

Plus, she missed my dad.

In a philosophy paper written in college, she summed up her life philosophy:

What are we trying to achieve?

Here, I believe with Plato and Aristotle that the highest good is the full development of our individual potentialities ~ and this is happiness, complete in itself, the intrinsic good.

The individual will know happiness as a state of being, not as a momentary pleasure; it will be the hymn of his life to uplift him and to sing on into the lives of all who know him.

On these points, she agrees, also, with the Dalai Lama . . . we are here to be happy and to make others happy.

Let that be the coda to each of our lives.

Aah . . . that’s better!

 

The Power of Pen . . . and Paper! July 19, 2017

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Life Balance, Mindfulness.
31 comments

Journaling on a daily basis helps boost creative thinking.

It allows us to access hidden recesses and expand the boundaries of our minds.

It promotes clarity and fosters insight as we allow our imagination to take flight.

It helps us to assign positive meaning to what life metes out.

It improves our ability to “think outside the box” and come up with creative solutions.

Judy Willis MD, a neurologist, and former classroom teacher explains, “The practice of writing can enhance the brain’s intake, processing, retaining, and retrieving of information… it promotes the brain’s attentive focus … boosts long-term memory, illuminates patterns, gives the brain time for reflection, and when well-guided, is a source of conceptual development and stimulus of the brain’s highest cognition.”

To read more about the benefits of this powerful practice:

The Life-Changing Habit of Journaling (Why Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, and Many More Great Minds Recommend it)

Best of all, starting a morning journal practice is simple:

  1. Find a pen or pencil.
  2. Grab a notebook or sheet of paper.
  3. Write, draw, doodle, reflect, reminisce, explore, etc.

It’s your boat to float!

Aah . . . that’s better!

My Birthday Crown July 15, 2017

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Health & Wellness, Humor.
29 comments

I’ve long been purr-suaded that everyone should be Queen (or King) for a day . . . at least once a year.

That’s what Birthdays are all about, right?

This year’s birthday celebration got off to a great start.

BFF & I went out for lunch to Ella’s Greek ~> Spanakopita, Greek Salad, Lentil Soup, Fries . . . and Baklava!

Baklava = my birthday “cake.”

After lunch, we went to an exhibit at the library and shopped at the just-opened Goodwill Art & Book Store.  After purr-using the racks, I purr-chased a copy of “Universal Orlando” so we can read up on Hogswarts and Hogsmeade before we buy passes to park hop on the Hogswart’s Express.

Later that afternoon, I received a fun e-mail from my nephew with a link to this dancing zebra kicking up its hoofs:

Zebras crack me up!

That evening, after a delicious dinner, I watched a movie, popped some popcorn, and . . . cracked a tooth. Didn’t realize it until I got in bed and my tongue found a hole in my mouth where tooth used to be.

Hey, wait! . . . maybe the tooth cracked while I was cracking up at the dancing zebra?  

Maybe dancing zebras aren’t all they are cracked up to be!   

The next day, I called the dentist to schedule a repair ~>  I’ll receive my “Birthday Crown” on Monday.

In the meantime, I’m NOT in any pain.  Yay!

It would be hard to maintain my Cheshire Grin if I were grimacing in pain due to a tooth that’s MIA and/or AWOL.

In the future, I’ll watch what I wish for ~>No more Queen for the Day!

After receiving this crown, I’m abdicating the throne!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Press The *PAUSE* Button May 11, 2017

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Life Balance, Mindfulness.
10 comments

The myriad of challenges we face in our lives can create agitation and anxiety in our thoughts, crowding out feelings of peace and happiness.

When we take a few minutes to press the *pause* button, our calm center returns . . . and with it our feelings of love and gratitude for all the drops of good in our lives.

When we remember who we are at the core, our days overflow with peace, kindness, love, and contentment.

And we stop struggling with the current of life and enter its flow.

Want to dive in to the flow of life?  Enjoy the calming cadence of Val’s recent post:  Haiku – Notice

Aah . . . that’s better!

Choice Morsels To Chew On April 25, 2017

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Gratitude, Less IS More, Mindfulness.
30 comments

#1 Want to lose weight?  Chew MORE, Weigh LESS . . .

“Some preliminary research has found that chewing until “no lumps remain” increases the number of calories the body burns during digestion: about 10 extra calories for a 300-calorie meal. (Eating fast, on the other hand, barely burns any calories.) Chewing food more thoroughly also increases blood flow to the stomach and gut. By taking a little extra time for chewing, someone could theoretically burn about 2,000 extra calories each month, the study authors write.”


“Extra chewing also slows the pace of eating, which may be another reason why it’s so healthy. Meena Shah, a professor of nutrition at Texas Christian University, has looked into the effects of eating speed on meal size. She found that people who eat slowly tend to eat less. Slow eating may help people eat more mindfully and tune into their own feelings of fullness, she says.”

To read more:   Chew Your Food: Why Slow Eaters May Burn More Calories

#2 Want to temper your spending?

“Make it your goal to spend only on what you truly value, be it travel, special times with family, a hobby or entertainment.  And cut out the frivolous spending on what you don’t value.

“You’ll be amazed at how many things you can happily live without because you’re getting what you really want,” says personal finance expert Donna Freedman.”

“Frugality isn’t a punishment; it’s a positive commonsense approach to life.  So focus on value and quality [to you], not prestige or appearances [with others].”

To read more:  AARP Magazine, February/March 2017

#3 Want to take up yoga?

Choices abound!

“In Higher Self yoga, a monthly “ganja yoga” class that Goda owner Nathania Stambouli introduced in the fall: “We’re bringing together two great spiritual practices. Marijuana is a way of enhancing the experience.”

“Ah, yes, enhancing the experience. Of late, there’s been a fair amount of yoga-enhancing going on. It’s yoga with something extra on the side.

“Would you like beer with your yoga? There’s a class for that.

“Yoga in the buff? Manhattan’s Bold and Naked Yoga is precisely what it says it is.

“For yogis who prefer to bundle in down, there’s snowga — yoga with snowshoes.”

To read more:  Weed yoga, naked yoga, yoga with goats: Have we reached peak namaste?

#4 Having a tough time choosing between too many options?

“As a last resort, flip a coin.  “I don’t just look for heads or tails, says Berger.  “I think about how I feel about the toss.  If I’m sad that the coin landed on heads, I’ll go with the tails option.” ~ AARP Magazine, February/March 2017

That’s what BFF & I do ~>  Being mindful about how we feel about the final reveal of the coin toss clues us in to what we really want.

#5 Want to learn how to drive?  Fast?

“An 8-year-old East Palestine boy used YouTube videos to learn how to drive his father’s van to McDonald’s on Sunday.  When he pulled up to the drive-through window after ordering a cheeseburger he had been craving and intended to pay for using money he gathered from his piggy bank, the McDonald’s workers at first thought they were being pranked.

“The workers thought that the parents were in the back, but obviously they weren’t,” Koehler said.”

To read more:  Young driver gets help from YouTube

#6 Want to feel better?

Make someone else feel better:

“Make a difference in other people’s lives.  Even small acts of generosity can make you feel rich in spirit.” ~ AARP Magazine, February/March 2017

#7 Want to watch a heart-felt movie?

Check out Collateral Beauty (Will Smith, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightly, Ed Norton, Michael Peña, Naomie Harris, Jacob Latimore, Kate Winslet, etc.):

Love is in everything . . .
From a child’s laughter to the pain we feel when a loved one dies.
Love is THE why of it all.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Drops of Good April 13, 2017

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Life Balance, Mindfulness.
30 comments

For years, I’ve had a Gratitude Basket . . . it’s encouraged me to focus on things in my life for which I’m grateful.

They can be simple things ~ a blue sky, the laughing of ducks on the lagoon, or the whisper of the wind through palm fronds.

They can be big ticket items ~ BFF’s cataract surgery restoring him to 20/20 vision, my brother and sister-in-law’s excellent oversight of mom, or my niece’s wedding which caused family and friends to convene in Orlando the week before Christmas.

They can be ephemeral in nature ~ feeling light-hearted and bright, allowing  joy, vitality, and peace to surface from within, or sharing happy, enthusiastic, amusing, and upbeat moments with new friends.

They can be celebrations of mini-milestones ~ finishing the taxes, losing weight, finding the perfect swimsuit, or  winning BIG BUCKS at Bridge (“Woo Hoo!  First Place . . . $8!”).

This week I started a new practice, Drops of Good, to remind me to be mindful of moments & acts of Generosity and Connection between the citizens of this marvelous planet.

As with my Gratitude Basket, these Drops of Good can be big or small, ephemeral or physical, on-going or one time deals . . . like a HUG.

They can be something I’ve done for others or something others have done for anyone else on the planet, including plants, animals, or the environment.

Drops of Good add up ~> “A bucket is filled drop by drop.”

Do not overlook any good actions, thinking they are of no benefit; even tiny drops of water in the end will fill a huge vessel.  ~ The Buddha

Celebrating the myriad moments of Generosity and Connection around us points us in the right direction ~> UP!

Aah . . . that’s better!