An Unexpected Vacation

wp_20161010_001Just the Essentials.

I have been trying to recover from my unexpected vacation (Thanks, Hurricane Matthew!) and it has been a tough week. I know that sounds crazy, who doesn’t appreciate the gift of a few days off from the daily grind. The expression, two sides to every coin, comes to mind.

First I should say I am truly blessed. My community of Charleston was largely spared significant damage. The only damage to my property was a mailbox knocked off its  post and a few items from the refrigerator to toss out. My classroom was as I left it. All my loved ones were safe and accounted for. I am thankful for all of that.

The negatives are nothing compared with what the people of Haiti or the flood victims here in the aftermath of the storm. But the stress has still taken its toll. The physical and mental exhaustion was surprising. I am a veteran of these storms. I survived Hugo, the nightmare of an evacuation from Floyd and many smaller events in the three decades I have lived here, so in the grand scheme of things, Mathew was not really a big deal. Yet my reaction to it tells me it was.

At first, I appreciated the chance to go visit my parents, especially since I could not go this past summer. I found myself taking long walks with the dogs in delightfully cooler weather. I attended an interesting dinner function with my parents where I met a cryptographer from World War Two, a couple working for democracy in Burma, and many other interesting people. I slept in and read the newspaper. Unlike the evacuation in Hugo, when I felt so isolated from home, this time, I stayed connected via Facebook and streaming the local Charleston news via computer. I also felt quite confident my house would be standing when I returned, unlike my downtown Charleston address I had in Hugo.

The return home was a bit traumatic for me and the dogs. 95 South was shut down in North Carolina and I had to re-route all the way to Charlotte. I journeyed on to Greenville where long-time friends sheltered us before we made it home the next day. Both Lucky and Ella were clingy for a few days and even cried when I went back to work on Tuesday. I think I would have cried as well if I wasn’t half asleep.

Now this week is under our belt and I have laid low this weekend, I think my reserves are filling back up. I find I can reflect and just be thankful that our brush with Mathew has left us relatively unscathed. Although I have come to the conclusion that I prefer to plan my vacations. But I suppose that is the crux of it, no matter what we plan, we have no idea what might be out there to stop and redirect us.

If that is not an argument for the “live-in-the-moment” camp, I don’t know what is. Yes, we are subject to the events that come at us unexpectedly, but we have the strength to handle it, even if we need some recovery time afterward.

So here is hoping for a normal and uneventful week. If not, well we will just have to roll with it!

Cone of Uncertainty



The hurricane’s cone of uncertainty

I am a veteran of hurricanes at this point in my life here in South Carolina, my first experience with Hurricane Hugo back in 1989. Each time we are threatened what causes me the most anxiety is the cone of uncertainty. I am by nature a long range planner. I like to know what is going to happen well in advance and I like to believe I have a modicum of control over events.

You can stop  laughing. I have learned that control of this life is an illusion or delusion depending on how cynical you are. Surprisingly, I truly began to understand that after teaching first graders for years, how we are flying around space on a rock as we travel around a burning ball of gasses.

I still like to plan, I begrudgingly admit those plans need to be flexible. As I have matured, I even handle the changes with a much better attitude than in my youth. Still, I  find a rise in my anxiety level as I adjust and adapt.

Even my writing career began because I was anxious about what I would do when my teaching career wrapped up in a decade. Now Four and a half years from winding down the teaching, I am growing more comfortable with the  transition.

The truth of the matter is we live in a cone of uncertainty all the time. We can plan a path, but at any time, it truly could veer to the left or the right, perhaps it could even u-turn. Whatever the course, if we have what truly matters as our resources: our integrity, our loved ones, our faith and our intelligence, then no matter what happens we will be just fine.


Revelations From A Grocery Run



My Hurricane Hermine Supplies

There are a lot of anecdotal stories of how in moments of crisis the true character of a person is revealed. I suspect we could learn a lot about our fellow man by peering into grocery carts with an impending  storm in the forecast.

In the south, that tends to be for storms that are tropical in nature. I imagine for my northern friends its snow and ice. I actually went to the grocery store two days before, but I realized I had forgotten a few things I really wanted.

I suppose I could have made do with what I already had, but there is something irrational that takes over when there’s a storm coming that might leave you isolated for a few days. For reasons I can’t explain, popcorn was the top of that list for me. I suppose I imagine I will be curling up with a nice hot bowl of popcorn and watch a movie while the storm rages outside. Nice thought, if we keep electricity.

I should have realized the irrational need of my fellow man to raid the grocery store before a big event would be at a fevered pitch when I actually had to wait for a parking spot. Or, perhaps when I got one of only three carts left in the cart rack. The checkout lines were ridiculous as I began running the gauntlet of chaotic carts and overtired children I mentally prepared for a long wait to get out with my purchases. Fortunately, the situation was much better by the time I took my place in line.

I chuckled to myself as I observed multiple shoppers with carts with mostly beer and wine. The toilet paper aisle was almost wiped out. I had bought my water two days before, but I could imagine that was pretty decimated as well. Some carts were so stuffed with frozen foods I wondered if they understood the concept of storm prep. Veterans know, you don’t spend on perishables, you might lose them if power is lost.

For the most part, people were polite and calm. For some, this is their first experience with a hurricane and while it might cause some damage, for those of us who lived through storms like Hurricane Hugo, we are more annoyed at the disruption to our routines than nervous about the storm. As I’m writing this I am realizing I still need to secure the patio furniture and the plant pots….ugh…and here I was, all ready to just snuggle down. Maybe when I finish, I’ll pop some corn.

Wishing all in the path of the storm, safety and a good supply of whatever it is that will get you through it.