Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind

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52 Ancestors – #16 Storms

encased in iceMy father obsessively watches TV weather forecasts and special inset maps during bad storms, at least until the power goes out. He watches the maps of radar that show every documented lightening strike and calculates storm direction and power. Knowing what’s coming allows him to be prepared.

Our ancestors didn’t have Doppler Radar or National Weather Service alerts tracking storms and warning of flooding and torrential rains or high winds. There were no weathermen telling them to get into a windowless room in the center of their homes when tornadoes were coming.  Of course, our ancestors also didn’t have days and weeks without power because they didn’t have electricity, either.

Instead, they learned to read clues in nature, to master the meaning of the cloud formations and colors of the sky. They smelled the air and could tell when rain or snow is coming. They paid attention to muskrats and bees, migration patterns of birds and insects, the sound of crickets – and some of them used the Old Farmers’ Almanac which was first published in 1792. They had to be prepared all the time.


Storms and weather disasters normal in one area are not the same in another. But you learn to live with what you have, whether that’s hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes, or earthquakes. As your “normal” changes , so do your expectations and preparations. Move from one area to another, though, and you have to learn a new normal. You learn how to prep for power outages, what nonperishable foods to have stocked in the pantry, to have enough cash and cat food and full bottles of prescriptions, and to fill the car’s gas tank before the storm hit. You have a storm cellar or know what to do when you feel a tremor.

The storm is coming. You know it, you’ve prepared, you’re hunkered down at home, sometimes with battens or wood covering windows to keep them from breaking. You have candles, battery-powered lanterns, maybe a generator. A hand-cranked radio. All electronic devices are charged up. You watch the Weather Channel until the TV flickers and goes out, then you just wait it out. You hope the howling winds don’t knock over trees, especially into your house.  And you are grateful to be warm and dry and safe as long as possible.

I like blizzards as long as I’m not out driving in one. I respect the power of hurricanes and have seen the incredible damage done by raging winds and water to homes and lands and people. Tornadoes terrify me as do earthquakes. Nature can be cruel and at best, tolerates us. We can learn something from our ancestors about living in tune with the world around them. I think I will go watch the sky.



Now the hurricane

West Coast folks laughed at us East Coasters with our earthquake earlier this week.  Lori felt it a great deal more than we did up here.  Being only 3 weeks before the 9/11 anniversary, people’s first thought here was that it was a bomb so a quake was actually a relief.

I’m very happy to share this weekend’s hurricane with them.   As I write, Irene has made landfall in NC and coastal regions along the Atlantic coast and low lying areas have evacuated in state after state.  She will show up here around 10pm, the northern sweep of the storm anyway.  The eye comes almost directly over New Haven on Sunday between noon and 2pm.  Right now we’re likely to get more wind (gusting up to 75-100 mph) than rain (4-8″ here, up to 15″ in the western part of the state – I so want to send it to Texas0.  We’ve been told it’s a matter of how long we’ll lose power, not whether it will happen.l

I’ve done as much prep as I can, or will have by early afternoon.  Already done:

  • Week’s worth of medications
  • Batteries, including the elusive D’s (shipped from Amazon!)
  • Lanterns
  • Flashlight
  • 30 bottles of water + all pitchers
  • Protein bars & canned food
  • Manual can opener
  • Cat food, treats, and catnip
  • Medical supplies to change my own dressings
  • Cash
  • Recyling dumped

To do today:

  • Wash clothes, sheets, towels
  • Charge phone, laptop, netbook, iPad, iTouch, Kindle, camera
  • Change litterbox
  • Trash dump
  • Move porch chair to the inside hallway (after I clean it in the bathtub)
  • Get a pedicure 🙂

I’m very happy that the extremely dead tree right outside my door was cut down two weeks ago.  All I have is a stump, which isn’t photogenic but also can’t come out to be a projectile and smash my windows.

Off to get busy.  Be safe.  In the words of Hill Street Blues‘ Sgt. Phil Esterhaus, “Let’s be careful out there.”

Image source: http://www.geofffox.com/MT/archives/2011/08/26/irene-is-a-serious-threat.php


Counting down the days

Bari-BuddyMy “pre-op to do list” is covered with scratched out entries, with a few left to do on my Wed. day off.   I’ve stocked up on 5 million flavors of Crystal Light and Ocean Spray sugar free drinks, and vacuumed and cleaned bathrooms.  Dusting and cleaning the kitchen comes Wed.  My sorority pin is cleaned and will be mailed tomorrow to my old chapter.

Prescriptions have been turned into crushable or liquid forms.  I ordered new winter boots and shoes.  Food that I know I won’t eat has been given to the food pantry (if sealed) and mostly tossed if open.  My glasses were adjusted.  Bills are paid.  Tubs of protein are on the way, and my Bari-Bear is ready for me to hug tight when movement and pain are hard.

Today I had this plan of having one last meal of pancakes because I love them and haven’t had any in a long time.  I checked the menu and knew what I would order.  Except when it came down to it, my tummy didn’t want it and I decided the rest of me didn’t, either.  I was frankly afraid I would be sick on all the sweetness.  I’ve passed multiple ice cream opportunities and didn’t even blink for one last taste; I just didn’t want them.  I did opt for lunch at McDonald’s but a single hamburger, small fries, and water didn’t blow my food plan for the day, and I’m satisfied. I’m not eating low-carb all the time, but definitely most of it.

My two weeks of clear liquids will mark a clear break from old habits, and I’m almost there.  Thank God.  This waiting time has been way too long.  Am I worried?  No, but I am anxious about dealing with it alone.  I have family and tons of friends who care about me, but I’m a long way from most of them, and I know I will be in a lot of pain when I come home – if not from my stomach, then from my poor pitiful knee.  I will be fine, but I just want to get on with it.

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In Between Time

Sleet covered twig

The calm before a storm is eerie. You can feel it in the air, the thickening that tells you weather is coming, and at this time of the year, that means snow, sleet and freezing rain in various combinations. People scurry around running errands but also stocking up on food and supplies just in case. The weather forecasters are in their element, showing pinpoint doppler images every 15 minutes and rolling up their sleeves to show you that they’re hard at work on our behalf.

We’re in this in between state today. Thursday was the first big winter storm here, dumping up to 14 inches in parts of the state and roads into either parking lots or bumper car lots, with people stuck or spinning out all over the place. Yesterday it warmed up enough to melt some of the mess but then sidewalks froze over again and today treacherous black ice was the problem.

Another storm comes tonight and tomorrow, this time mostly sleet and freezing rain rather than snow. It’s not as pretty and it’s wicked dangerous to be out in, so I plan to stay put inside with Tessie. Debbi wrote about her storm preparations down in West Virginia and I’m impressed with her matter-of-fact inclusion of clean clothes and dishes on the list. If power goes out, it’s a big plus to not have to worry about those things with so many other things to deal with, such as keeping warm.

My preparations haven’t been that complete, but I did make sure that the last Christmas presents were mailed, groceries fetched, Diet Pepsi lime stockpiled, and a pedicure so my feet are happier stuck in boots. I know, that’s really a stretch, but it was worth it.

I ate breakfast out today and ate far more than I should have, which messed up my eating the rest of the day. Another reason to be happy I’ll be home where food isn’t as much of a lure as when I’m out with piles of chocolates and holiday treats call to me as I walk by. There are parties next week and food will be more difficult, so I want to relax with what I know tomorrow.

And watch the sleet from the inside comfort of my cozy recliner.


Almost Ready for Company

CountdownI’ve been counting down the days before my parents come, using my list of Things That Need to be Done. It’s broken down by room and I’ve been trying to get one done a night. But I hate working around the house when it’s dark outside and after I’ve been gone all day doing Work. I figured that having a way to break things down would make it at least manageable.

One thing, well okay, two things, I’m doing this week have nothing to do with the parents’ visit and everything to do with personal boundaries. Yesterday I went to my water aerobics class and added an extra 30 minutes before we started, so I must have walked miles in the pool. It really was a hard workout but I’m getting to know what the exercises are and how to do them without hurting the knee but still feeling it in the muscles. Of course afterward the whole class hopped into the whirlpool and chatted some more.

Although I know I’ll be ultra-anxious tomorrow, since they come on Friday, I’m still going to tomorrow’s WA class. I need to set that time apart for myself to do something physical FOR myself. I’ll have to miss at least one next week but I deserve the workout and I’m going to carve out the time to do it even if it means not cleaning something that no one would probably notice anyway.

The other thing I did for myself was go to Weight Watchers for a weigh in and stay for the meeting. We talked about butterflies, and how to be able to fly we first have to be willing to let go of being a caterpillar. There were 6 things on the list, most of which I’ve already forgotten because I have a memory like a steel sieve. But I noticed that when the leader asked us for ways we could work on “Believe in Yourself”, we all sort of drew blanks. We could come up with motivational things but I think we really didn’t believe all that much in ourselves and that we could do what we’ve set out to do.

I know this is true for me. I believe that I am a good person, a good friend, and have lots of positive qualities. I’m not saying I’m a schmuck or evil because I’m obese or because I’ve gained back some of the weight I’ve lost. But I’m going to have to think about this one, what it means to believe in myself and live that out. I think it could be an important piece.

For now, though, I’m waiting for the dryer to stop. There is wine waiting to chill, the study is dusted, the bedding for the Aerobed has been pulled out of the storage chest, and the freezer had lots of protein. I have a batch of browned ground turkey, onions, peppers, and garlic ready to thaw and use in meat sauce with pasta for Friday’s supper. A basket holds tour books, maps, and brochures of things to do.

I haven’t seen my parents since Thanksgiving and can’t wait to see them. The visit is really about the time together, not about whether I’ve fixed the perfect meal or dusted everything that doesn’t move.