A retired teacher, I live with my significant other on the Gulf Coast of Florida. I enjoy the beach, walking outdoors, movies, and reading. Hanging Out with Wild Animals is a book series of photos and poems about my encounters with Florida animals. Wonders is a book of poems inspired by the men I have known and loved. Life in Inspiring Places is a book of photos and poems about the places rich in history and natural beauty that I have called home. Excerpts from the books and additional poems can be found on my website and blog.
our life and strength and gifts that nature brings.
Restoring Our Connection to Nature
On small family farms like the dairy farm where my mother grew up and in home gardens that were the pride of my grandmother and my father, there is a profound connection to nature. People work in cooperation with nature to provide for themselves and their families.
In the time of large corporate farms, most people do not live on small family farms and raise all of the food they eat. Many people may have lost the connection to the land and to the changing seasons.
Whatever our work, wherever we live, we are a part of the cycles of nature. We can help to preserve and renew the environment. We may not be able to do everything, but there are things each one of us can do to renew our connection to the natural world.
Nearly every culture has celebrations incorporating light. Bonfires, torches, lamps, candles, fireworks…all light the way to our best selves and a better world. Diwali is a beautiful and joyous festival, but what seems extraordinary to me is its universal message…nine simple words with the power to transform the individual and the world:
Ian was the largest Florida Hurricane on record. Slow-moving, it dropped huge amounts of rain and had storm surges of up to eighteen feet in coastal areas. Flooding was extensive. Wind speeds of up to 155 miles per hour and gusts of up to 190 miles per hour were recorded.
Southwest Florida was hit very hard, but fifty-seven of Florida’s sixty counties were affected before the storm moved up the East coast of the US.
Hurricane Ian Information
Today is twelve days after Hurricane Ian. Most of the information here is from various sources, such as personal experience, observation, and word-of-mouth, though I watched hurricane news until the power went off on Thursday afternoon, 9/28/22. Our out-of-town relatives looked up news for us on the internet and gave us information over the phone after the phones started working.
I will be happy to get more in-depth hurricane news since our internet and TV came back on tonight. I know that much of the news will be tragic. Many people have had their homes and businesses damaged or destroyed, and over 100 have lost their lives. Of course, there will also be stories of people helping each other and stories of hurricane heroes.
Surviving Hurricane Ian
Nine Haikus and a Tanka
storm shutters, propane, water,
ice…Are we ready?
Both we and our house survived
the wrath of Ian!
Downed trees surround us.
Homeless birds are house-hunting…
Children play outside,
jumping on their trampoline,
full of joy and life!
No power, no phone service.
Internet is down.
Neighborhood kids wade
and row an inflated boat
down the flooded street.
Grown-ups are working
to bring order to chaos,
helping each other.
Heard in the distance,
generators and chainsaws,
fumes of gasoline.
Faint smoke in the air,
smells of wet wood burning and
supper on the grill.
A tiny flashlight
illuminates my paper
as I write tonight.
At last, loved ones’ calls connect.
“Yes, we are fine!” we tell them.
Knowing we might not have running water, we filled the bathtubs with water for flushing the commodes and gallon jugs with RO-filtered water for drinking. We froze jugs of water to keep food cold in case of power outages. We also bought a bucket to carry water from the water tank outside.
Some items that are always in short supply during hurricanes are batteries and paper products, so we keep them on hand. For cooking on the lanai, we have a propane burner, tanks of propane, and matches in a waterproof container. We also have flashlights and a small battery-operated fan.
Gas shortages and long gas lines are common during storms, so we filled up our car’s gas tank. We fully charged our cell phones and have a charger in the car for backup.
We didn’t put our storm shutters up because predictions until the last minute were for a storm with maximum winds of 46 miles per hour. We don’t have a generator; the noise and the gas fumes are a problem for us.
Charlotte County, Florida
Thursday, 9/29/22-Sunday, 10/9/22
Traffic has been extremely heavy. There have been long lines at gas stations, and some stations were out of gas. Grocery stores sell out of items such as ice, meat, eggs, milk, and paper products faster than they can restock the shelves. Some restaurants are open. They have faced shortages, but they have adapted and are serving large crowds. Schools are closed until further notice. Mail deliveries resumed after a few days. Garbage pickup will resume soon.
We had no electricity or running water for over a week at our house. Power returned on Saturday, 10/8/22, and the internet came back on Sunday, 10/9/22. About 95% of customers now have power. Cell phone service was off for a day, then was erratic, but has gradually improved.
Major roads were quickly cleared and traffic signals were in service. Secondary roads are mostly clear, but not all traffic signals are operational.
Floods in our neighborhood subsided in a day, but there may still have been flooding elsewhere for a while. We think the numerous canals in our neighborhood overflowed. Robert found a dead fish in our yard after the water went down. Phew!
Cardinals & Other Househunters
Oh, bright red bird perched on a scrap of vine
amid trees fallen in a hurricane,
your chirping reaches from your heart to mine.
Oh, little homeless bird, I feel your pain!
The female cardinal soon joins her mate.
Now side-by-side in silence, feeling calm,
their top priority is real estate.
Away they fly in search of their new home.
Although the cardinals are out of sight,
their joyful melodies drift in the air.
May their new treehouse be exactly right!
I hope that they are safe and happy there.
May displaced humans, squirrels, and raccoons,
and all househunters find their dream homes soon!
Cleanup & Recovery
Thursday, 9/29/22-Sunday, 10/9/22
There are several staging areas nearby. Electrical crews from many Florida counties and multiple states, Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, Rubicon volunteers, The Florida National Guard, sheriff’s deputies, and state police from many Florida counties are some of the people working here.
All of the cleanup and recovery efforts have been well-coordinated, and the various agencies have accomplished an amazing amount of work in less than two weeks since Hurricane Ian struck. A Rubicon volunteer I talked to told me that they will be here until Thanksgiving, clearing roads and assisting Floridians with emergency repairs.
A huge thank you to everyone for their efforts to return Florida to normal after Hurricane Ian!
I Remember Grandma Washing Clothes
The second day
after Hurricane Ian,
with no power or running water,
while it was still cool outside,
I set up a table on the patio.
Carrying water in a bucket
from the water tank,
Robert and I filled and refilled two basins,
one to wash and one to rinse.
I washed twelve pairs of underwear,
and two pairs of socks.
I hung the clothes on hangers
to dry in the sun and the breeze
Then I watched the clouds
forming in the sky.
If it rained,
the clothes would have to finish drying
on the lanai.
It took me a couple of hours
to wash the clothes.
All that time, I thought of Grandma
making soap from lard and lye,
and boiling it in a big kettle over a fire.
About 1956, I watched Grandma do laundry.
She washed her clothes
in a wringer washer in her basement,
then hung them outside to dry
on the clotheslines.
When they were dry,
she carried them upstairs
and sprinkled them with water
before she ironed them.
There were no steam irons then,
and there was very little wash-and-wear.
Grandma did her laundry
in many steps,
and she climbed many steps too!
Grandma was born around 1903.
She and Grandpa
purchased and remodeled
her childhood home
when she was in her fifties.
When Grandma was living
in that same house as a child,
they pumped well water
with a pitcher pump in the yard…
no wringer washer
in the basement,
no indoor plumbing,
and probably no electricity.
that Grandma was very proud
of her collection of antique flat irons
made of solid iron,
the ones that you heated
on the woodstove
before you ironed your clothes.
She probably used those same irons
as a child living in that very house.
How Grandma would laugh
if she could see me now,
carrying well water in a bucket
and washing clothes outdoors
Positive Notes on Hurricane Ian
Farewell to Trees!
Although we didn’t put storm shutters up, and trees blew down against our roof and windows, there is no damage except for some minor gutter repairs. It truly was amazing, and definitely terrifying, to watch Hurricane Ian slam into our house for about eight hours!
The Power is On!
One result of living through Hurricane Ian is a new appreciation for electricity. Nearly everything we do requires an innovative approach without power. I was so happy to take a shower! No more carrying endless buckets of water! No more schlepping ice! No more writing poems by flashlight!
One great development is that Ian ushered in beautiful autumn weather…sunny days, cool mornings and evenings, and the bright harvest moon!
Cardinals have been the predominant birds in our immediate neighborhood, but since the storm, I have seen several mockingbirds. I love both birds, but the mockingbirds are wonderful singers. Today the weather was gorgeous, and I had lunch on the lanai. For nearly an hour, mockingbirds performed a concert for Robert and me. They have a stunning repertoire!
There are two large oak trees on the other side of the vacant lots behind our house that survived Hurricane Ian. I think the cardinals may have found a new home there.
We have also seen a colorful blue jay a few times.
I hope they all stick around!
Helping Each Other
One of the nicest things we have experienced during the aftermath of Hurricane Ian is people helping each other, both their neighbors and total strangers.
Our neighbors are very busy and hard-working and have plenty to do, but they have offered to help us. Our kind neighbor replanted two Jatrophas that the storm ripped out of the ground. We are watering them and hoping for another miracle.
What an inspiring family!
Spending Time Together
Robert and I have enjoyed working together to overcome the challenges we have faced from Hurricane Ian. We liked chatting on the lanai over our morning tea in the cool mornings and talking about the events of the day in the evenings. Having a few late lunches together in a cool restaurant was pleasant when we had no air conditioning at home.
Occasionally, we took time out to play a game of Scrabble. A couple of times, I even won! At night, we played by the light of a tiny flashlight hung from the ceiling fan with a piece of string.
It’s great to spend time with the ones you love in the good times, but it’s especially great in challenging times!
A lot of people are probably wondering whether the intensity of Hurricane Ian is the result of climate change. I believe it is, and I think that we will continue to have increasingly severe weather events if we fail to reverse global warming. We all need to do our part.
Wherever you are, I send you best wishes for health and happiness. Be safe, and remember that life is a little sweeter when people help each other. ❤
Robert is making steady progress after his pacemaker surgery twelve days ago. The strips of tape sealing the incision will come off in two more days. We thank everyone for your good wishes and encouraging words. ❤
“Death is as beautiful as love.” I vehemently disagree with this closing line from a poem I wrote in high school. I tried hard to remember the rest of the poem and understand what was meant, but unfortunately, that is the only line I can remember. I will tell you right up front that I think there is nothing that is as beautiful as love.
Seeking insight, I tried to imagine what a beautiful death would look like, perhaps stepping in front of a bullet intended for someone else or dying in defense of your country. Those are selfless and honorable ways to die.
Making a living will ensures a peaceful death when there is no hope of recovery and provides an end to the sufferings of family members. That is a responsible and loving way to die.
Maybe it would be beautiful to die holding the hand of the one you love and plunging to your death from one of the many famous “Lovers’ Leaps.” Well, maybe that kind of death isn’t beautiful, though it might be preferable to being forced into a loveless marriage. Having heard tales as a child about a “Lovers’ Leap” in West Virginia, this is the sentimental favorite among the candidates for a “beautiful death.”
Death is natural and something we all will experience, but we shouldn’t expect it to be beautiful. I believe that what is beautiful is the love that motivated the people involved in the scenarios mentioned, and not the death itself. As I stated at the beginning, I don’t believe that anything is as beautiful as love.
Going forward, since I couldn’t reconstruct the original poem, I decided to write a poem that included the line from the original poem, “Death is as beautiful as love.” After many failed attempts, I settled for writing a poem about an imaginary young couple at Lovers’ Leap, a sort of “Romeo and Juliet of the mountains.”
Personal Note: I began writing this post in the hospital waiting room while Robert was undergoing emergency pacemaker surgery on Wednesday. He came home on Thursday and is recovering well. I may have been thinking some dark thoughts as I wrote, but the sun is shining now! A full recovery is expected in four to six weeks.
Before moving, my son spent ten days with us. During his visit, I spent too much time outdoors in the heat. What started as an allergic reaction to soil molds became a sinus infection. Though I almost never have a headache, I experienced five weeks of severe daily headaches, some days all day. I also suffered extreme fatigue and brain fog.
When I realized I had a sinus infection, I called my doctor’s office for an appointment. My doctor wouldn’t see me and sent me to the walk-in clinic because my symptoms resembled covid. I was in the clinic for three hours being tested for covid and the flu. Both tests were negative. I got some antibiotics, and I am finally over the sinus infection and recovering my energy.
As I am able, I will begin spending more time on WordPress. I am glad to be back! ❤
Mental illness occurs in many forms. It can be very difficult to deal with someone who is mentally ill, but I believe they deserve our empathy and compassion. We may need to maintain good boundaries for the sake of our own sanity. It may help us in dealing with those who suffer from mental illness to remember that their illness is not their fault, and they may have little control over their feelings and behavior. They deserve professional help, and they deserve our understanding and support.
My life has been filled with terrible misfortunes;
most of which never happened.
__ Michel de Montaigne
I have been through some terrible things in my life,
some of which actually happened.
There will be an answer…let it be!
Don’t worry…be happy!
🙂 Good News! 🙂
Robert has undergone a new treatment and is doing well enough that his surgery was cancelled. Yay! The doctor said he could reschedule the surgery if symptoms recur.
My son’s rent had nearly doubled in the last two years and is going up again. There was very little available in Florida that he could afford. He was approved for an apartment, and he and his service dog, BABY will be moving in August to Louisiana, where rents are more affordable. I had hoped that he would be able to live near me, but it is good that where he is moving is within a couple of hours of his sisters. My son will be stopping by for a few days on his way to his new home. I will be happy to spend a little time with him.
❤ Thank You! ❤
A heartfelt thank you to all of my fellow bloggers for your concern and support during this difficult time. Robert and I will always remember your kindness.