ASK FOR RAIN, GET RAIN – Marilyn Armstrong

We needed rain. The river was low and I had to assume so was our aquifer — which means our well was also low. Not low enough to affect us yet because we have a 475 foot deep well. That’s about three times deeper than most people have. It must have cost a fortune to dig it, but it means we have more water in it than most people.

So on Saturday, it rained. We had about 2 or 3 hours of heavy rain and yesterday, most of the day was sunny. But around 3 in the afternoon, the sun disappeared and by dinner time, it was as dark as midnight. We could hear the thunder rolling almost continuously in the background. We were watching the news and the lights were flickering, so Owen came upstairs and we lit candles in each room because it looked like we were going to lose power any time.

Then there was the hail, so heavy is started coming in through the dog’s door.

Our back porch garden was flattened. They don’t look broken, but they are seriously bent and will need staking to prop them up. There was a lot worse in this storm, but fortunately for us, the storm turned sharply eastward and moved off to the coast and the Islands.

That’s what you get when you ask for rain, You get rain. Then you get hail. Then you get wind and torrential rain with so much lightening it looks like the clouds are lit from behind.

Well, I asked for rain. We got rain and a few other things, too.

WINTER’S BACK – BY ELLIN CURLEY

After last week’s big snow, my back and front yards looked like a lacy, white wonderland. So, from north-central Connecticut, more pieces of the same huge snowstorm!

The stream in my backyard

Another view of the stream

Front yard from the family room window

Artistic view of the front yard

Backyard again

TOO COLD FOR SEPTEMBER – Marilyn Armstrong

The forecasts have been promising weather in the low 80s tomorrow, so I’m refusing to turn on my boiler today … especially since I haven’t gotten a tank fill since I think May, but it might have been April. We aren’t out of fuel, but we don’t have much and until Wednesday, I don’t dare buy anything. We are in the hole we have every month during the week when I have to pay the mortgage.

If we are careful, we’ll be fine until the next social security check arrives. Meanwhile, our anniversary is tomorrow. We wanted to go out to dinner. Feeling as we do, that’s not a good idea anyway. I think we’ll wait until it will feel better. Right now, everything I eat makes me feel a little bit sick.

In fact, my granddaughter is having a birthday party today and we were invited, but with the way we feel, a pig roast does not sound alluring. To be fair a pig roast never sounds alluring. I like pigs. They are smarter than most animals including a lot of politicians.

I’m not a vegan or even a vegetarian. I sort of tried vegetarian. Then I had to go on a heavy round of iron pills and they really don’t agree with me. I don’t seem to absorb iron well. As my body craves it, red meat is where to find it.

Sunset through clouds

I feel guilty eating meat and ironically, it’s not to save the planet (though that would be a great sidebar) but because I like animals. I hate raising them so we can slice them up for lunch meat. For completely illogical reasons, I don’t have the same warm and cuddly feeling about fish. I also don’t worry about whether or not vegetables are unhappy when we cook them. We do have to eat something. If we exclude everything, I don’t think we’ll fare well.

We were created as omnivores and while I have had many a Vegan pal give me a heartfelt lecture on the benefits of the diet, all the Vegans I know are too thin and pale. They don’t look healthy to me.

So I stay on a basically well-rounded diet and it seems to work out okay, guilt and all. Besides, guilt is my primary emotion.

Meanwhile, it’s cold. Garry says it’s a little warmer outside, but it’s gray and dark and it looks like rain is on the way. What a shock. That never happens around here.

I wonder how heavy the rain will be this time.

INSTIGATE A PERSONAL SEARCH FOR WEATHER-RELATED HOME DAMAGE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Instigate

I don’t have much time today — heart doctor followup in a few hours.

This has been an exceptionally busy week with doctor appointments for either Garry or me for every day, not counting Labor Day. Plus, I’m still trying to figure out what to do with our house.

Damaged gutters from falling branches

As we drove to the doctor yesterday, I was looking at all the houses as we passed and realized that every vinyl-sided house appeared — on one or more walls — like ours. Even houses that began the year in near-perfect condition were obviously rain-damaged. Even cedar shakes are soaked through, dark and wet looking — which means the walls behind them are wet too.

The whole house looks kind of like this. The green mold is dampness and rain

We are not going to be alone trying to get our so-called insurance companies to pay for the damage. There has been a calamitous amount of storm damage this year. Are ALL the insurance companies going to claim it’s “just” normal wear and tear? Even homes that were normally perfectly maintained look beaten.

This looks exactly like our house. Same color vinyl and everything

From as far away as Alberta (Canada) to Arizona (where it doesn’t rain!), to parts of southern California, reports are coming in that this has been the rainiest period anyone can remember — and most of the people saying that are not kids. They are our age, a little more or less.

Foundations break apart from the never-ending rain

I got a letter from the insurance company promising to send an adjuster one day soon. Except the adjuster came and went last Friday. Good to know MAPFRE is right up to date! If they don’t even know they already sent an adjuster, I can be pretty sure they haven’t even looked at our claim, much less done anything with it.

When the trunks of the trees and the earth are wet enough, trees fall

The good news? The adjuster said that the damage is confined to just that wall and is NOT spreading to the rest of the house — and that he was able to measure for actual water which means damage is very recent.

For all of you who haven’t yet taken a good look at your houses, maybe this is a good time to do it. Instigate a family investigation of every part of your house, from the roof to foundation. Look closely at everything.

The weather isn’t going to improve and I wonder if any place is going to be safe after a while. When you get down to it, our houses are only permanent for as long as they want to be. If the weather keeps getting crazier, no one’s house is going to be secure unless it’s on top of a hill and built from natural stone. Even castles have rooves, siding, and foundations that can be water-damaged. Many already have been.

Then, there are plagues of insects that appear. We have never had a plague (two, actually) of lethal virus-bearing mosquitoes until this year. We’ve had a few bad ones that came up on vegetable trucks or cars, but not like this summer. They too are part of the changing climate.

When the trees get sufficiently soaked through trunk and root, they collapse. It’s all mud with nothing to hold them firmly in the ground. Crops won’t grow in mud, either.

Hard not to notice something bad is going on underneath, but insurance can’t see it

And now, as they track Dorian up the coast, so far they are predicting it will mangle parts of the Carolinas. With a little bit of luck, most of the worst of it will miss our area — except (naturally) a lot of rain, wind, thunder, and lightning. What a shock! We haven’t seen (sarcasm font start here) much of that.

Climate change.

Is it legal to yearn that Mara Lago will blowdown or sink during a category 5 hurricane? Can we at least hope that he who has brought so much trouble on us will reap the whirlwind? Surely something wet with howling wind is bound to hit him.

I get a little thrill merely thinking about it.

THE LONG DELAY ENDS – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Delay

For the last six years … maybe a bit longer … Rich Paschall has been working with us on Serendipity. We never met but we lived in hope. This weekend, he is here.

It only took six years … and his flight out of Chicago was 131 minutes delayed. I know because that’s what it said on the Spirit Airlines arrivals information. A long delay and made even longer by airport delays. I have to assume it was weather-related. There are storms everywhere across North America and it was raining here, too.

Aren’t we glad that climate change is a Chinese piece of fake news? Who knows what it would be like were it true!

I don’t have any pictures because he is still sleeping … wearing off Chicago time. Garry has a luncheon and is doing his long prep time in the shower and I’m trying to drink this coffee and I think I’m going to go make a new pot. This stuff is not great. I think it got stale.

I can’t believe it’s another gray, damp day. Will the rain gods ever leave town? Maybe it will brighten up later? We can surely hope!

Rich has filled in for me when I was sick … which has been far too often. He has always been here, even though he has been there. A welcome guest and a good friend. Who says online friends aren’t the “real deal”?

So Rich is finally here and remarkably, he is exactly like the person I expected. Sometimes, things are indeed what you expect. In a good way.

SNOWY WONDERLAND – BY ELLIN CURLEY

This morning, after a big snow, my back and front yards looked like a lacy, white wonderland.

So, from north central Connecticut, another piece of the same huge snowstorm!

The stream in my backyard

Another view of the stream

Front yard from family room window

Artsy view of the front yard

Backyard again

STORM STORIES – BY ELLIN CURLEY

There are many interesting storm stories in my family history, starting with my Mom as a young woman. Sometime in the mid-1940s, before she married my dad, my mom and her friend Ethie were staying at my father’s summer house in the woods in Easton, Connecticut. There was a terrible storm raging outside, complete with brilliant lightning and crashing thunder.

Mom before she married my father

To wile away the time, they listened to the radio. That night, the radio drama piece that was on was a scary story about a woman alone in the woods on a stormy night. In the play, there was a sudden knock on the door. Cue the ominous music. In real life, there was a sudden knock on the Connecticut door, accompanied by an eerie silence. Then there was another knock.

Mom and Ethie nearly jumped out of their skins! They weren’t expecting anyone so they were terrified. They ran into the kitchen and each grabbed a heavy pot to use as a weapon, if necessary. They bravely approached the door. Ethie stayed behind the door and my mother opened it, pot brandished.

There stood a drenched man – Ethie’s boyfriend! He was worried about Mom and Ethie being alone in a secluded house so he decided to check in on them. Instead of the warm welcome he anticipated, he almost got his head bashed in with a pot!

Ethie with me as a baby

The earliest storm I remember happened when I was about six or seven years old. Again, we were in the Easton house and there was a hurricane that caused the power to go out. I don’t remember much except that I thought this was a great adventure. I loved watching my parents improvise to keep us warm, fed and entertained.

My dad lit a fire, which he rarely did. Our fireplace was mainly there for decorative purposes and often had flower pots or decorative objects in it instead of wood. That night it got to be a real fireplace with a real fire. That in itself was a treat for me. Then Dad proceeded to cook salami on a stick over the fire. It’s the only time in my entire life that I remember seeing my father cook. And I’ve never heard of anyone choosing to cook salami over an open fire. But it made a delicious sandwich!

Dad and me when I was around five

In my teen years, another hurricane knocked out the power in Easton and this crisis went on for days. My mother arranged with the local butcher to store her frozen meat in his freezer so it wouldn’t go bad. We had filled the bathtubs with water so we were able to flush the toilets.

Me at around fourteen or fifteen

When the tub water ran out, my mother got a clever idea. We could drive down to the pool (which was at the bottom of the hill that the house stood on) and bring pool water up to the house. So we took our biggest, cast iron pots with handles, and filled them at the pool. The problem was that the ride back to the house was on a bumpy, dirt road. We tried to drive slowly and carefully, but by the time we got back to the house, most of the water had sloshed onto the floor of the car.

Not an efficient solution.

Our pool

As we were trying to figure out how many trips we would have to make to solve our toilet flushing problem, the power miraculously came back on! We often laughed about this creative but flawed McGyver moment!

Another memorable storm story happened when I was a teenager. My mother and I were driving from our apartment in New York City to our house in Easton in a raging blizzard. The snow and the wind created total whiteout conditions. We couldn’t see two feet in front of us. We literally had to get out of the car to figure out where the road was and which way it went.

This was how bad the visibility was!

I had anxiety issues so this could have been a terrifying, stressful experience. But my mother was an upbeat, positive person with a wicked sense of humor.

She turned this situation into a silly game. I remember laughing hysterically as we blindly inched our way up the highway. Somehow Mom made it feel like an episode of “I Love Lucy.”

From then on, I tried to model my crisis behavior on my mother’s. I always try to find humor in muddling through. When given a choice between laughing and crying – always go for the laugh!

Mom when I was seventeen or eighteen

One more interesting storm experience involves Tom and my boat. When hurricanes directly hit our marina, the marina staff have to take the boats out of the water, to protect them. They put them in the parking lot, on stilts, like they do to store the boats over the winter. This happened in advance of Hurricane Sandy, in 2012. Amazingly, the small staff managed to get over 130 boats out of the water in about 36 hours.

What hurricanes can do to a marina

The crazy thing was that in the storm, the water flooded the parking lot and came all the way up to the bottom of the boats. Any more flooding and the boats would have started to float around the parking lot, crashing into one another. That would have been a major disaster. One sailboat from a nearby mooring also ended up in our parking lot, marooned when the water receded. It was a bizarre situation.

In 2011, we had lost power in the house twice, for a week each time. That’s when we decided to get a generator. It took forever to get it installed and it was operational just a week before Hurricane Sandy hit the next year.

Since then, our storm stories have been boring – the power goes out and then ten seconds later, it comes back on again. We often still lose phone lines and internet service, so it can still be an inconvenience. But nothing to write home about – or write a blog about!

This is our precious generator!

MITIGATION? I SEEK IT! Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Mitigate

I went up the driveway to the car this morning. We are expecting a particularly ugly storm tomorrow and I needed to make sure the front of the car was well-wrapped. It is supposed to be snow followed by freezing rain and sleet. Then, a flash freeze.

All of my least favorite weather wrapped in one big mess.

The freeze means the ground will be covered by — as close as nature can come to it — frozen cement. We’ve parked the car at the top of the driveway so the plow can get through, assuming it’s deep enough to use a plow … and the plow doesn’t slide down the driveway and crash into the house.

Stranger events have been known to happen.

It’s also the day on which the Pats play the Chiefs in Kansas. That should be some kind of mitigation because they’ve been playing pretty well — but Kansas will have just gotten the same storm. The field will be bitterly cold and just icy enough to make staying upright problematic. Both teams are used to playing in bad weather so there’s no advantage for either side — and the Chiefs are the favored team. Usually, that just makes the Pats more competitive, but it’s the end of the season and everyone is damaged.

Football’s a rough game.

Our leaf-covered bunny slope — AKA our driveway.

I fell down on my way back down the driveway. Up is more difficult, but down is treacherous. Except — it wasn’t slippery. It’s the L.L.Bean boots I was wearing have a very hard sole which doesn’t grip the surface which is old and even in the summer is slippery. My feet came right out from under me.

For once, my back didn’t take the hit, but the back of my skull took a solid thwack. I’m still dizzy.

Meanwhile, to make this weird weekend even weirder, I discovered my dogs have ticks. How did they get ticks in January? I suppose the days warmed up just enough to make the ticks hungry … so I had to order tick collars for all of them  — a pretty penny for three dogs. Bonnie is the one on whom I found the ticks, but I have to assume where one dog has ticks, so do the other two.

Overall, I’m not seeing much mitigation to the complexities of life right now. It is what it is.

If we at least win the game tomorrow, that will help. A bit. I think I’ll go take some Tylenol. Drink more coffee. Eat a few cookies. If you can’t mitigate circumstances, have coffee and something crunchy which tastes strongly of cinnamon.