Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Preparedness

Hurricane Irene is baring down upon us East Coasters.  Our family is pretty good at disaster preparedness.  We've been through our share and have learned a little from each experience.  Mostly what we've learned is that if we super-prepare, the storm will suddenly dart away or fizzle out completely before it ever gets to us.

As usual, the forecasts for Irene vary greatly depending on the channel and from moment to moment.  Rain accumulation reports vary from 4 to 20 inches but 6 - 8 inches seem to be the most used numbers.  Everyone seems to be saying basically the same thing about the wind - 40 - 50 mph sustained with gusts of 80 mph.  Of course that number is MUCH higher closer to the coast.  Those lucky enough to be on the beach will be looking at 100 mph sustained winds.   And of course, everyone is in agreement that the worst of the storm will be hitting our area tomorrow night between midnight and 3:00 a.m.  Why does the worst always have to come at 3:00 a.m.?  Always!

I think we are prepared though.  We have plenty of charcoal and propane.  We even have matches this time.  We have candles, flashlights and this time, we even have batteries for those flashlights.  We have 2+ weeks of drinking water on hand.  We've got a ton of food that can be cooked on the grill and a bunch more that doesn't need to be cooked at all.  I did notice we don't seem to have any potato chips.  I'm not sure how we'll make it through a storm without chips, but we do have lots of potatoes.  Maybe we could make our own.  We have 4 cases of soda, 6 bottles of wine and the liquor cabinet is stocked fairly well.  The cars are full of gas, we have several cans of gas on hand, and the generator is full and ready to run.  We have some cash on hand in case the ATM's aren't working later.  Our phones, ipods, Kindles & computers have all been charged up and are ready and waiting.  I've got crates of yarn waiting to be knit, several books from the library and quite a few library DVD's waiting to be watched.  I also have my stack of storm movies to watch - Twister, Storm of the Century and a Perfect Storm.  I'll have to make sure I watch those early on so that I'm wound tight as a tick long about 3 a.m. when the rough stuff hits.  Oh and ice.  Good grief, do we have ice!  Coolers full!  I'm not sure what either of us were thinking.  I suddenly got it in my head that we'd need ice.  I instructed Hubby to buy a bag and he, for once, followed directions without asking why.  But he didn't buy just one bag - he bought 3!  And I've been making ice like crazy for a few days in preparation of the storm.  So we now have 4 bags of ice that don't fit in the freezer, the three Hubby bought and the one bag full that I've made over the last few days.  Of course, by the time the power goes off and we are in need of that ice, it will have become toilet flushing water.  And speaking of toilet flushing, after everyone gets up in the morning & takes their showers, we'll fill the tub just in case.

As for out doors, the flags have been taken down, the potted flowers & plants have been brought in as well as the porch furniture.  The wind chimes and hanging/swinging bird feeders have been taken down.  The trash cans have been bungeed to the fence.  The grass has been mowed.

I think we may be ready!  Now for the hard part, waiting.

Stay safe East Coasters!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earthquake Part 2

I apologize - I know everyone is sick of hearing about the East Coast's earthquake.  I'm even sick of hearing about it, but I wanted to write down my experience for posterity & rather than handwriting it somewhere, I figured I'd type it here.  Plus, talking about it helps me to grasp what happened.  Visually, it was so wrong my brain has had a hard time accepting it.   I'd also like to say that those aftershocks everyone has been feeling aren't aftershocks.  They are my parents turning over in their graves after hearing the words that flew out of my mouth while the house rocked & vibrated.  And that is my warning for what's to come.  This post won't be exactly G-rated.

I was sitting on the front porch drinking coffee, knitting and enjoying a gorgeous, non-humid day and thinking about the coming fall weather.  I heard what sounded like the door from the garage to the house slamming shut.  Sounded like Hubby had come home from work, but I knew he hadn't.  I wondered if the dogs had knocked something over.  I decided when I got to the end of the row in the knitting I'd go check & see what was up.

A minute or so later, I could hear the washing machine going crazy as though it was out of balance.  I thought, "Cr*p!," started to get up to go deal with it and realized, I wasn't doing laundry.  (A first!  LOL)  I sat back down and the noise got louder and louder and louder.  The entire house had turned into an out of balance washing machine and the sound was amplified by the size of the house.

What the F***?

The front door was violently vibrating, so much so that I could see daylight between the door & the frame. The glass panel was going crazy & I had that instant thought of, "It's going to blow!"  Meanwhile, there's a distinct rumble coming up from under the house.

"Sh*t!  F***!  The house is exploding!  The thought ran through my head that at any moment, a giant fireball was going to be blowing out the glass in the front door & I should probably move.   I started to get up but was rocked back into my chair.  I noticed that while the front door was violently vibrating at a very high rate of speed, the walls were moving in slower waves.  My 4 legged deck chair had suddenly turned into a rocking chair and the floor felt like it was falling out from under me.

I had the,"Its an earthquake!" thought and looked up at the porch ceiling which was moving all over the place.  But that can't be.  Ceilings don't move!  And walls don't wave.  What the F*** is going on?  The house really must be exploding and I need to get away from the door where the fireball is going to come blasting out of at any moment.  I got up and lurched down the 3 porch steps, holding on to the railing and still almost falling.  "Sh*t! "F***! Piss!"  (A particularly fun saying that's reserved for true emergencies.)

I stood out in the yard and felt the ground move.  It was like trying to stand up in one of those fun house round tunnel things that spin and move up and down at the same time.  It was very disorienting.  I was still waiting for the fireball and still repeating, "Sh*t! F***! Holy Cr*P!  What the F*** is happening?" over & over again.  I could hear one of the neighbors screaming like crazy.  I'm still not sure if it was a child's screams or an adult's.

I looked up at the house and ....  I can't describe it.  It was like if you look at an object then close one eye, then the other.  You know how your perspective changes & it looks like the object is moving?  Well, that's what the house was doing.  One minute, the roof line was straight, the next minute it was at a weird angle & blocking out that little puffy cloud, then it was straight, then tilting away from the cloud....  Meanwhile, the house was leaning in one direction and the porch was tilting the other way.  And the walls were pulsating.  Like they were taking super deep breathes.  My darkest fear has come to life.  The washing machine has gone berserk, come to life & taken over my entire house!  (Thank you Stephen King for my slight fear of washing machines.)

Meanwhile, the noise continued to get louder & louder and higher & higher pitched.  Imagine that out of balance washing machine spinning at about a gazillion rpms and the sound amplified to house size.

Sh*t!  F***!  What the F*** is happening?"

And then it stopped.  Total quiet, total calm.  Except for the neighbor who continued to scream for a few more seconds.

I felt a bit nauseous and laughed at myself for being motion sick.  It was probably more like shock, but, my tummy did have that icky, "get me off this rocking boat" sensation to it.

I pulled my phone out & started dialing Hubby.  I have no idea what I was going to tell him.  I still hadn't come to grips with the idea of an earthquake.  I was still convinced that something in or under the house had exploded.  Honestly, I was still waiting for the fireball.  Of course, the phone wouldn't work.  No service.  All circuits are busy.  Great!  My house just exploded and all the freaking circuits are busy.  

About that time, the idea of an earthquake started sinking in.  I decided I had to go into the house & see if there was a fireball or not.  Besides, the dogs were in there.  The dogs were in the house with the fireball!   They were probably scared witless and peeing on the floor.  I have to admit though, I was still thinking that when I opened the front door, a gigantic fireball would blow my face off.

I sucked up my courage, opened the door and was greeted by one whimpering dog.  Minnie was coming down the stairs whimpering and carrying her "baby" - a very dirty pink teddy bear that used to be Sarah's.  Once Minnie claimed it as her own, there was no taking it back.  Anyway, Minnie came on down the stairs & promptly heeled, although she has no idea what heeling is.  I peeked into the living room and didn't see anything wrong.  Unbelievable!

Max came down the steps and joined our search party.  We went room to room and saw no damage.  We went upstairs and found nothing wrong.   Nothing damaged, at least.  Just about everything in my son's room was on the floor, but I'm not sure I can blame the earthquake for that.  I'm pretty sure his book case & CD rack hadn't been empty previously though.   Came back down and checked all the water sources.  I just knew there had to be busted pipes somewhere.  Nope, all looks good.  We went out into the garage and there was one unknown object (some mysterious Man-Thing of Hubby's) laying in the middle of the floor and Hubby's level was still swinging back & forth in a rather wide ark.  Other than that, nothing.  We went back inside and I noticed that all the cabinet doors were standing wide open.  Don't know why I hadn't noticed that the first 2 trips through.  I think I'd been too busy looking for fireballs.  A few things had tipped over inside the cabinets, but nothing had fallen out.  The dish soap & hand soap had fallen into the sink and several things were a lot closer to the edge of counters & ledges than they'd been before, but nothing was on the floor.  Freaking amazing!

I went outside & checked to make sure we still had a roof & a fence.  Yep, still there.   And of course, the leaning dead tree that refuses to fall & scares the life out of me is still leaning.  It hasn't changed a bit.

About that time, Hubby pulled into the driveway.  I started psycho-babbling to him about the experience & he walked around the house looking for damage.  He found one small crack in the foundation but that was all.  Inside, the only damage he noticed was a few nail-pops.  They'd already been noticeable, but the earthquake had forced the nail heads all the way out of the drywall.  

Hubby instantly started trying to call his family to make sure they were okay while I immediately got on Facebook and joined the crowd of quake survivors.

Later, we noticed that the fireplace door had shifted a bit and the gas logs had toppled over.  And my brand new can of air freshener had fallen into the toilet.  That was the height of our quake damage.  The thing that I'm the most amazed by is the things that didn't fall.  I hate to publicly admit to it, but there's a pile of precariously stacked books on top of a bookshelf.  Normally, if you don't tiptoe through the room, something falls off the pile.  Naturally, the earthquake did not disturb a single one of those books.  And my yarn pile in the living room....  I have a few (thousand) knitting projects going on and there's a dangerously high pile of yarn on top of a shelf.  It too is one of those piles that tends to fall over if you look at it funny, but as the laws of gravity would have it, not a single skein hit the floor.  Amazing!

As much as I complain & fuss about my hubby, he sure did build me a good  house.  Nice and tight without being too tight.  Now, let's see how it likes the hurricane that's headed our way.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Phew!  That was exciting!  We just had an earthquake.  A 5.9.   In Virginia.  I live about 20 miles from the epicenter and about all I can say is, Holy Monsters!  You know how your out-of-balance washing machine rocks & shakes?  Well, picture your house pretending to be a huge, gigantic out-of-balance washer.   Crazy!!   I was sitting on the front porch & had to hold on the railing to go down the 3 steps to keep from falling down!

What amazes me, with all that shaking, we had no real damage.  The fake gas logs in the fire place aren't in the exact same spot they were, but the gas isn't leaking.  The front door shook & waved so much that I could see daylight between the door & the frame, but the glass didn't crack & the lock still works.   Things fell off the walls, but nothing broke.  The cups & bowls stacked in the cupboard fell over & the cabinet doors all flew open, but nothing fell out or broke.  The water in the dog's bowl spilled out and the hand soap fell into the sink.  All of my son's CD's are now on the floor.  (Won't he be happy about that when he gets home from Grandma's!) 

Amazingly, there are no cracks in the walls or windows.

And of course, our dead and dangerously leaning tree out in the yard is still dead & leaning, exactly like it was before.  

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hair Wars

Lately, it seems like several people from different areas of my life have been complaining about, bragging about, or simply talking about their hair.  And since one of my favorite past-times is complaining about my overly thick, straight in front but curly in the back hair, I've decided to join the fun.

There it is in all of it's witch hair glory.  And yes, I am quite aware that I'm really too old to wear it this long.  I'm also terribly aware that I desperately need at least the ends trimmed.  But if I'm going to bother getting a trim, I'm going to go all out & cut it.  Cut it short enough to make a donation to Locks of Love.  And if I'm going to cut it, I need to decide how I want it cut.  And that takes me back to the need for a grown-up hair do.  And I really don't want an age appropriate hair style.  Besides, I like being able to wash it, comb it, shake it like a dog and go.  I bet an age appropriate hair style will involve at least a blow dryer.  And I swore long ago that I'd never go back to using a blow dryer.  So, it looks like the witch hair stays.  At least for a while longer.

On a totally different note, I felt like quite the naturalist yesterday morning.  I was sitting out on the front porch having my morning coffee while the mud-daubers swarmed around me.  They are determined to cover our porch light with their mud nests and I'm determined that they won't.  I kept hearing a weird buzzing noise behind & beside me and finally realized it was humming birds.  I've never seen them visit the plants on the porch before.  Meanwhile, there were three lizard/salamander things crawling all over the place & occasionally darting between my feet and a rather large turtle crawling across the yard.  I'm just glad the local bear didn't decide to come join the party.

A Southeastern Five Lined Skink, other wise known as a "lizard/salamander thing"

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mice, Mice Baby

So, Minnie, our foxhound mutt has been spending a lot of time lately laying in front of the kitchen sink.  I haven't really thought too much about it.  The kitchen floors are hard wood, thus cool, thus a great place to lay when it's 108 degrees outside.  Granted, there are other areas of the house that have hard wood and some areas that have stone.  The stone would be even cooler to lay on, but she is what my husband affectionately calls "an idiot."  Also, there constantly seems to be food out on the kitchen counter these days.  We've all had crazy & differing schedules and we haven't eaten together as a family in forever.  Someone is constantly in the kitchen cooking or at least grabbing left-overs out of the fridge.  So Minnie spending a lot of time in the kitchen didn't seem all that weird.

This morning, I'm in the living room busily checking Facebook statuses and sadly reading about Diana Nyad being forced to quit her big swim when I hear the kitchen trash can rustling.  "MINNIE!!" I screamed, "Get out of the trash!"  The rustling noise continued.  Hmmm.  Besides, didn't Hubby fix that pull out trash can door so that Minnie couldn't open it anymore?  I yelled again.  The rustling continued.  What could she be doing?  I'd just emptied the trash 15 minutes or so earlier.  I got up & went to the kitchen prepared to whip Minnie's little butt for getting in the trash.

No Minnie.  The kitchen was empty.

Weird.  I KNOW I heard the sound of doggies in the trash can.

I started back towards the living room, and....  rustle, rustle, rustle.

Crud!  There is something behind that closed trash can cabinet door.  Something alive.  Double crud.

I took a deep breath and yanked the door open.  And there was the mouse.  Actually, it was mouse eyes.  He was inside the empty trash can, just inches from the top, staring at me with huge, gigantic, black beady eyes.  I swear his eyes were bigger than he was.  Except he did look a little plump.  Triple crud!  Guess I'm going to have to go check the status of our pantry after I figure out how to get rid of this killer mouse.  Because you know, mice are deadly.  At least they seem that way when you are the one having to deal with them and their beady gigantic eyes.

I quickly grabbed the trash can, sort of shook it a bit to shake the mouse down deeper & ran for the back door.  Opened the door and tossed the entire trash can out into the yard.  And that is where it will stay until Hubby comes home.  Because you know that killer mouse could still be hiding in it.

Friday, August 5, 2011


Boy am I glad that in my world this year, HTC stands for Hotter Than Crapola instead of Hood to Coast.  Although I only ran one leg of it, I had a blast ghosting my assigned HTC runner last year.  This year, I'd planned to ghost all three legs of it.  And then I wimped out.  I had a million excuses, some of them good, most of them pathetically bad.  I hung my head in shame and sent in my notice that I wouldn't be participating this year.

And then July hit.  Good grief!  July has been one hot, horrible month.  Not only has it been above 95 just about every single day, we've gone over 100 at least twice a week and even  hit 113 degrees, twice.  Maybe more, but twice that I know of.  And while it's been that hot, it has also been unbelievably humid.  As in 70 & 80% humidity every day.  I don't have asthma or any other breathing issues, but there have been more days than not, when I stepped outside and instantly felt like I couldn't breathe.  It felt like there was a weight on my chest preventing my lungs from expanding and when they did expand, they burned.  It has Not been a comfortable July.

That uncomfortableness became my excuse to stop running.  I tried to run in the heat.  I even got up early & hit the pavement at the un-Godly hour of 7 a.m. a few times.  I ended up walking more than running, and there were several runs where I felt ill, nauseous & faintish for the last half mile or so.  And once I was so hot & miserable I faked an injury and pleaded with a sympathetic automobile to give me a ride home.

I decided that my illustrious running career was over until September.  On the first of September, I'd start running again.  But today, it was cooler.  I never checked the thermometer or the humidity gauge so I don't know what it actually was, but Mr. Weatherman had said it was only going to be in the 80's today.  So this afternoon, when I got home from taking Zack bowling, I decided to dust off the old Asics and hit the road. It felt so good and so awful all at the same time.  I guess now is the time to admit that I have spent the month of July sitting.  Sitting and knitting or sitting and reading.  And apparently eating since I seem to have gained 15 pounds.  Okay, 22 pounds but who's counting?

So there I was this afternoon, lugging my extra-large butt and stiffened from lack of use thighs down the road.  It felt great for about 20 yards.  That's about the time I noticed my thighs were rubbing.  And of course, it had been so long since I ran I'd completely forgotten the concept of Body Glide.  Another 20 or 30 yards down the road and my thighs, the parts that weren't rubbing together, started turning bright red and doing that itchy, stinging thing that unused muscles tend to do when you use them for the first time in a long, long time.  Another ten or 20 yards up the road (up a hill by now) and my hips and waist were doing the itchy, burning thing too.  Gee!  This is so much fun.  But damn!  I'm running!  Boy, this feels great!  By the end of the first mile, I thought I might be in need of 9-11 and walked a hill.  After all, I didn't want to over do it on my first day back.  (Good excuse, huh!?!)  By the end of the second mile, I decided my breathing wasn't any worse than it used to be, but my legs were pretty dang tired.  Good grief!  Two miles and my legs feel like I've been running for about 8 days straight.  It was at that point that I decided I was really, really glad that HTC had a new meaning for me this year.  By the time I finished 3 miles, I was thanking God for helping me survive the run and praying he'd see me up that final hill where my driveway starts.  By the time I got into the house, I was almost too tired to stretch.   Luckily, I remembered previous runs where I was "too tired" and I recalled with not-so-fond memories how not stretching made me feel.  So I stretched.  Then I drank my chocolate milk (the best thing about running!) and took a shower.  While I showered, Hubby cooked hamburgers & hotdogs on the grill.

And now, I sit here with a full belly, jello legs and that blissful sense of calm that leaves me almost too brain dead to function.  Damn, I love running!  And boy, am I glad I'm not a HTC Ghost this year!  But next year....

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mitered Mittens

I love this mitered mitten pattern.  I've made several pairs in the past & I'm back at it again now.    Granted, with no thumb yet, they don't look like much, but look at the color detail of this pair -

Hmm, weird.  Here in the blog photo, they are looking a bit washed out while the same photo opened up on my desktop shows bright & vivid colors.   Strange.  In real life, I'm quite pleased with them, though, and that is what matters.  

I love knitting anything mitered.  I love the simplicity of the garter stitch, while the miter takes away the boringness.  The only drawback to these mittens is that there will be a bit of weaving in to do in the end.