Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Never a Dull Moment: Hurricane Nate

 

We breathed a sigh of relief when the crew came and took down our hurricane protection on the upper story. Our house has been very dim on the upper level with the ballistic covering over the windows. That was ummm . . . . Monday? Tuesday?

Wednesday, we started hearing little rumblings about a fast-developing storm called Nate. By Friday, many activities for this weekend have been cancelled, even some church services on Sunday. Our guidance was “even if you are signed up to read or to sing in the choir, if it is a hurricane, DON’T COME.” You have to spell things like this out for Episcopalians, or they will kill themselves trying to keep a promise, to fulfill a duty.

Everyone has been sort of sure that the storm will head toward New Orleans, as it usually does. We don’t wish New Orleans any harm, we all love New Orleans and it is a favorite overnight or weekend getaway. They, in turn, love Pensacola Beach, and many spend a week or a month here ever summer. So they are our neighbors and we wish them well. But would we voluntarily take a hurricane for them . . . ? I’m not so sure.

I was up this morning at six, checking the most recent weather channel forecasts, and it doesn’t look good. Even if we get peripheral winds, they could be up to 100 mph. Just to be doing something to calm myself, I hit good old Home Depot for a tarp or two. I was home before eight, and AdventueMan was up sorting through the hurricane protection bags, the ones we just put away. The ones we just put away THIS WEEK.

As we are trying to prioritize, our contractor and his crew that installed the hurricane protection called and said he was in the neighborhood, did we want their help getting the protection back up. What a relief.

If we had done it yesterday, when the humidity was low and the temperatures were lower, it might have been a piece of cake, but this morning, even with the garage door open, we were sweating buckets just sorting out the upstairs and downstairs covers.

The crew is here now. I had to scurry to take a shower; did not want to give someone putting up window protection a bad shock. I have the cat cages ready to go, and extra food. I have a couple loads of laundry ready to be washed and dried, and I have packed the emergency bag in case we need to leave in a hurry.  Extra money, important papers, a couple days worth of clothing. Shoes. Underwear. I’ll pack my computer with me, and I hope I remember my charger. Having had to do things now and then in a big hurry, I know that sometimes your mind goes on hold and your forget the most essential thing. AdventureMan filled his gas tank, and will put up the garage supports when we get home from the movie this afternoon (the hurricane is not expected to hit until early tomorrow morning).

And, honestly, when you live with hurricanes, their terrifying power (as the Psalm says “terrify them with your hurricane”) you learn that the most important things of all are not things, but the people you hold most dear. Everything else can be replaced.

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October 7, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Circle of Life and Death, Community, Cultural, Family Issues, Hurricanes, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Survival, Weather | | 3 Comments

Pensacola: Back to Reality

 

When we arrive back in Pensacola, we realize that things will not be so easy as usual. It is usual that we can go right in through the garage, wheeling our bags right into the house. But AdventureMan spent the last hours of our last day in Pensacola before the trip installing three huge steel custom-made beams into our garage door to protect from hurricane damage. We can’t go in through the garage.

We had also called our son and our contractor, who as Hurricane Irma at one point looked like it was wobbling west, decided to put the ballistic fabric covers over all our doors and windows. The front door is covered, and we can’t get in. There is a way to get in, it is complicated, but we manage.

It is dark inside, very dark; the ballistic covers also keep out light and air.

Early the next morning, while it is still cool, we get up and take down all the covers on the bottom floor of the house, letting in light and air. It isn’t so easy, over the years some of the posts have rusted. Our contractor texts that he has ordered some new things which will help, and a spray, and will have his crew take down the upper floor when the supplies come in.

We didn’t even go to church. We were so tired from traveling, and from our early morning exertions taking down all the ballistic covers, that we just collapsed for the rest of the day. I felt like I might be coming down with something.

This morning, we felt like new people. We hit the grocery store, and wow, there were all the things I look for and can’t always find, like Italian prune plums, only available for a week or so every fall, and you never know which week. The fruit cake supplies are in, candied red and green cherries, candied pineapple, and candied citron. When AdventureMan sees the grocery bill, he almost pales. The cashier laughs and asks me “Why did you bring him?” It’s an on-going joke; AdventureMan worked as a bag-boy in a grocery store when he was in high school and he remembers the prices of the groceries then – like 50 something years ago. He gets sticker-shock in grocery stores.

After we get all the groceries home, sorted and put away, he takes me to lunch in one of my favorite Pensacola restaurants, Five Sisters. I have the Ceasar Salad with Andouille Crusted Shrimp and he has Fried Catfish. It’s good to be back.

And, later in the afternoon, it is GREAT to be back. Our grandson comes over to our house after school and it is wonderful to see him. AdventureMan introduces him to this blog, so he can see all the photos and read the descriptions. He asks what I call him. AdventureMan asks who he wants to be, and he says ReadingMan. He is an amazing reader, and I am honored he wants to be included in HT&E. I also can’t wait to see my little grand-daughter, four years old and smart and spirited. I asked her what she wants to be when she grows up and she gives me a sharp look and says “a wild animal.” I may call her that . . . my little wild animal 🙂

September 25, 2017 Posted by | Blogging, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Food, Home Improvements, Hurricanes, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Restaurant, Travel | Leave a comment

A Dramatic Beginning to The Wake of the Vikings

It’s not that I am THAT compulsive, but I do like to plan ahead, and things that happen at the last minute that require attention can disturb my sleep.

This is a trip we’ve had planned for over a year and a half. We didn’t plan for Hurricane Harvey, and we are flying out of Houston. We didn’t plan on Hurricane Irma, another all-time historical hurricane, headed toward Florida, and possibly into the Gulf. Possibly into Pensacola.

 

We have a wonderful couple who take care of our house and our cats while we are gone. She called the day before we were leaving to ask if we had any plans for the hurricane she needed to know about. Hmmmm. No, I didn’t. I planned not to worry about it. And . . . at the same time, all around me, people are stocking up on propane, and Sam’s has run out of water, and . . . . some people are preparing to hunker down and some to leave home, heading north.

We got moving. I had an hour before my last meeting, and spent that hour figuring out what really mattered to me (photo albums) and putting photo albums up high and in cupboards, and fragile things, like the crystal candelabra AdventureMan gave me for our first anniversary in the safest place I could think of.

Law and Order Man (our son) said he would take Ragnar and Uhtred, our very young cats, to a safe place, if needed.

AdventureMan braced the garage doors with huge specially made steel beams that bolt into place, and we called our contractor who said if it looked like Irma was heading our way, he would put up all the ballistic window and door covers.

It’s not everything, but it’s something. We all felt a lot better.

And thanks to the ‘net, we know that Houston is up and running, and our flights into Houston and out of Houston will fly.

Around eleven, we hear the front door opening (? ! ? ! ? !)  and it is the couple who are coming to stay with the house and cats; they thought we were leaving at night, not the next morning. We all laughed, got them settled, and went to sleep peacefully.

 

The flight into Houston was the best kind, uneventful. We love uneventful flights. You can still see a lot of standing water, and water damage, but the greatest part of the upswell of waters appears to have subsided.

 

 

“Today is the first day that the airport is 100% up and running,” a Houstonian tells us. We are good listeners, and he tells us that the worst part of all this drama is that the death count continues to mount as rescue-workers go into places where people thought they could shelter in safety. The mold is also hitting hard and fast, and emergency facilities are strapped. They are functioning, and they are prepared, and some things are beginning to run out.

The best, he followed up with, is that “you know how divided we have all been? Once the storm hit, it didn’t matter if you were black or white or Mexican or Confederate, we were all just people, and we helped our neighbors, we helped each other. In that way, it was one of the best things that has ever happened in Houston.”

Who would have thought? Houston-strong!

September 6, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Character, Community, Cultural, Family Issues, Florida, Health Issues, Hurricanes, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Relationships, Social Issues, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Terrify Them With Your Hurricane

This morning we awoke to the Boom! Boom! BOOM!  of thunder overhead. You can hear it coming, off in the distance, that almost subsonic rumble far off, getting louder and louder. We have learned to  rouse only slightly, and to go back to sleep between strikes.

There comes a time, however, when it is too close to be ignored. The lightning shines through the eyelids, the BOOMS! are shaking the house, and the rain is coming in sheets. The wind blows from a variety of directions, always a threat to houses built with roof vents – the rain blows up, in and under the vent in quantity, and we need to scurry to find the buckets and the old towels.

Pensacola is experiencing the backlash from Harvey. It started late yesterday, it comes in waves. Heavy rain, clearing. Heavy rain and wind, clearing. Heavy rain and thunder and lightning – and, I am assuming, clearing.

AdventureMan has been up most of the night, monitoring the gutters. He keeps them cleaned out, but when your nearest neighbors are oak trees, the gutters can clog quickly.

This is what it looks like over Pensacola this morning:

 

This is what it looks like in the area:

And here is how it relates to Harvey, which has come back ashore in Louisiana:

 

When the high winds hit, I think of old Psalm 83, which in the version I learned, had the line “terrify them with your hurricane.”

 

Psalm 83[a]

A song. A psalm of Asaph.

O God, do not remain silent;
    do not turn a deaf ear,
    do not stand aloof, O God.
See how your enemies growl,
    how your foes rear their heads.
With cunning they conspire against your people;
    they plot against those you cherish.
“Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation,
    so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”

With one mind they plot together;
    they form an alliance against you—
the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
    of Moab and the Hagrites,
Byblos, Ammon and Amalek,
    Philistia, with the people of Tyre.
Even Assyria has joined them
    to reinforce Lot’s descendants.[b]

Do to them as you did to Midian,
    as you did to Sisera and Jabin at the river Kishon,
10 who perished at Endor
    and became like dung on the ground.
11 Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb,
    all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,
12 who said, “Let us take possession
    of the pasturelands of God.”

13 Make them like tumbleweed, my God,
    like chaff before the wind.
14 As fire consumes the forest
    or a flame sets the mountains ablaze,
15 so pursue them with your tempest
    and terrify them with your storm.
16 Cover their faces with shame, Lord,
    so that they will seek your name.

17 May they ever be ashamed and dismayed;
    may they perish in disgrace.
18 Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord
    that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.

August 30, 2017 Posted by | Hurricanes, Weather | | Leave a comment

Forty Years Wedding Anniversary

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“You’re going to celebrate your anniversary for three days?” my friend asked incredulously.

“No, no, actually, it’s in two parts, we are celebrating the entire weekend, three days, but it’s because it is too hot to walk around New Orleans; so this is just part one, and in December we will celebrate part two with a trip to New Orleans when we can walk around and enjoy all the Christmas decorations and stay somewhere nice.”

It’s what we do.

There have been some years, particularly years with moves, or new positions, or new contracts in them, when anniversaries have sort of fallen by the wayside. We are enjoying making up for all the missed anniversaries, now that we have the great luxury of time.

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We have all kinds of fun plans, a hotel stay, a dinner in a fine restaurant, star gazing out at Ft. Pickens, maybe a dolphin cruise, and a trip up in the very large beach ferris wheel, while it is still at Pensacola Beach. We plan a day in several pools with our son and his wife and our little grandson. All. or part, or some of this may really happen, depending on what the weekend weather looks like. Ft. Pickens has already evacuated all the campers with concerns over this Tropical Storm Andrea coming in, and a dolphin cruise or a trip up on the great wheel may not be such a hot idea at 40 – 50 mph winds, LOL.

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AdventureMan and I knew when we married that we were in it for the long haul. We also knew it wouldn’t be easy. We come from different cultures, different life styles. We both had independent lives and responsibilities. We moved a lot. It wasn’t always easy, but then whose life is, when you know that life from the inside? We’ve had some great adventures, and some fabulous, astounding experiences. We’ve met extraordinary people and made very special life-long friends.

white-rose-bouquet-print-patti-trostle

When I told AdventureMan our weekend might not be as exciting as planned, he laughed and said “we can bring our books.” He always knows how to make me laugh, and taking books is exactly what we did when we first got married, and would take weekend trips to a lakeside resort called Chiemsee; it would be snowing and cold and we would go into this large old lodge with it’s double doors and double shuttered windows, with it’s eiderdown comforters and huge fireplace, and we would pack books. We would sleep and read, and sometimes go eat. If that’s how this anniversary turns out, it’s a very comfortable and familiar way to celebrate.:-)

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AdventureMan loves this blog. He always looks for his name. 🙂 Happy Anniversary, dear husband.

June 7, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Blogging, Books, Circle of Life and Death, Events, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Hurricanes, Marriage, Mating Behavior, Pensacola, Travel, Values, Weather | , , , | 7 Comments

Addicted to Change?

Today I attended a meeting at which there was a program on surviving change and thriving through it. The speaker described change as that which happens outside your control, and transition as that which you do to adapt to the change that is happening. A change can be positive if you have chosen it, or negative, if someone else has made a choice, or something has happened, over which you have no control or input, but it impacts on you.

Interesting, huh?

I’m not all that good at listening for very long, so my mind drifted to all the moves I’ve made (31) and all the adapting I’ve done. I didn’t mind the moving so much; I was good at it. Toward the end, the packing up became oppressive as I took more and more of it into my own hands. I had my reasons, as I learned that no matter how ‘caring’ the movers are promoted as being, they don’t care about my things the way I do.

First bad surprise: my son’s engraved silver baby cup disappearing. Those packing ladies showed up with great big handbags. I should have known. Thirty years later I am still fuming over the loss of that cup.

Second major bad surprise: We watched everything carefully packed up and crated, but when we got to the next post we discovered someone had changed the orders and UNCRATED our goods so they could go by air, without re-packing all the fragile goods, so everything came loose. What a mess. Furniture cracked and broken, irreplaceable friable Tunisian pottery in pieces, broken, broken broken, good and bad alike. Oh aarrgh.

Third bad surprise – my riding boots thrown in on top of my formal gowns. Shock and horror.

Slowly, slowly I began packing up my precious things inside other things, so no-one would ever see them. I began packing up my own clothes, which made it a whole lot easier to unpack; like was together with like. Movers would sometimes take clothes to cushion things, so you’d find sweaters wrapped around dishware or decorative items.

Last really bad surprise: Everything was carefully packed, but one box didn’t make it. I had packed the box myself – it was full of quilting books, books I used to teach quilting in Qatar and Kuwait, books which had new ideas and techniques. I knew no one wanted those books, but someone had dumped the box because, I imagine, they didn’t want to carry it, or it didn’t fit in the crate, or . . . I will never know. Those books were worth thousands of dollars, and some were private issue or out of print and irreplaceable.

There is nothing you can do about human malice, or random bad luck.

It just made me more and more compulsive, as I tried to control more and more so as not to have damage or loss, or just to help the move be more organized. It was a choice. I knew I didn’t have to work that hard, but I chose it, to have more control over what got lost or damaged. There is always a point, though, where you realize you don’t ever, not ever, have perfect control, and if you try, you can just make yourself crazy. You have to let it go.

Then, there is the moving in.

I was good at it. When it came to putting things away, it was always get the beds set up first, and made up. Everything was carefully labeled. Put the flatware in the flatware drawer, have a couple pots and pans and a few time-tested utensils. All the boxes are marked for the right room, and then – it’s just one box at a time, one room at a time, and you just stick at it until it’s finished.

Except for the move to Qatar, when I got sick and my angel friend came and unpacked my quilt room and put everything away. If you are a quilter, you will know what kind of effort that was, LOL! I also had a maid who was more like a friend. She was always doing more than I told her to do, God just made her heart that way, and she took care of tearing down all the boxes and saving all the paper, a task that makes me crazy, and as she did it she showed so much grace.

But now, it’s been two years since my last move. The possibility of Hurricane Isaac helped me deal with some of the time-to-move heebie-jeebies. AdventureMan asked if he needed to buy me a new house. (Our joke was always that I was low maintenance; I didn’t want big jewels or high end clothing, just buy me a house now and then, LOL!) No, I don’t need a new house. I need to handle this cold turkey; I’ve become so addicted to change that I’m not very good at settling down. The only way you can get good at something is to practice it. I need to more practice at this being settled, but oh, it is so uncomfortable for me.

Here are some rolling stone kind of songs, no not Rolling Stones, but rolling stone, as in Mama was a Rolling Stone, LOL.

September 4, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Friends & Friendship, Hurricanes, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Moving, Pensacola, Qatar | 2 Comments

Wind Map

My sister Sparkle posted this site – and she is right, it is amazing. Just look at how the hugeness of Isaac is still drawing wind and power from the Gulf states, well into the heartland of the US:

When you go to the website, Wind Map, it is actually animated, and you can watch the winds flow over the nation. Wow. Thanks, Sparkle.

September 1, 2012 Posted by | Geography / Maps, Hurricanes, Weather | Leave a comment

Trial Run: Lessons Learned

We have most everything put away now, a real pain in the neck, but we keep in mind that it is not as much a pain in the neck as losing everything, or having to hack a hole in your own roof to escape a flood which completely ruins a house so you have to rebuild and live somewhere else while you are rebuilding. It’s even a lot easier than having a window or roof or garage breached, and the resulting damage from wind-driven rain, or just sheets of rain.

Today has had higher gusts of wind and frequent showers, and an occasional breakthrough of Pensacola sunshine.

We know how long it takes to put on our window protection – and take it off. We know how long it takes to clear all the potential flying objects out of our backyard. We know a couple vulnerable points, and that it’s going to be expensive to get a fix big enough to give us complete protection. It’s a gamble.

Here is something else I know, very valuable.

I know that I can keep hot coffee and hot water HOT for five days.

This great thermal jug from Qatar had coffee still warm after five days – not hot, but warm.

This little thermos from Starbucks kept coffee very warm, but not hot:

And this is a large thermos/ server I found in Kuwait and used for three years for large groups of ladies. Six years later, it is still working great. I poured boiling water into it on Sunday night, and on Thursday afternoon, it was still almost boiling hot. It was hot enough you can use it to make soup, which is just what you need to be able to do when you have no electricity and need to fix something that can warm you up.

The WINNER!

August 31, 2012 Posted by | ExPat Life, Experiment, Food, Hot drinks, Hurricanes, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Qatar | 2 Comments

Wind Advisory, High Surf Advisory for Pensacola

Woke up this morning to more wind and grey skies, occasional rain, more of the same. We are still in an outer band – as is South Carolina, LOL. This storm is going to effect a lot of states before it finally clears out.

These warnings are from Weather Underground, my favorite weather site.

High Wind Advisory

High Surf Advisory

August 30, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Hurricanes, Weather | Leave a comment

Hurricane Isaac Hanging Around

Hurricane Isaac – for Pensacola – has turned out to be not so much. Yes, there has been high water, due to the ceaseless winds pushing water onshore. Yes, there are some bursts of high winds. Yes there are some heavy showers.

We’ve seen worse, we’ve had worse storms. The think about Hurricane Isaac is that while there is nothing you can put your finger on, he is like that annoying guest who stays too long. He is hanging around, and we would like to get on with our lives.

Example: Our grandson’s school is still closed, and our son and his wife need to go to work today. Fortunately, AdventureMan and the Happy Toddler have a great relationship, and AdventureMan has made a plan to introduce him today to the public library, it’s treasure trove of childrens’ books, and that you can take them home – but you have to take them back. We hope the library is open today! We don’t know! It’s just annoying and inconvenient, these are minor things, not the great huge overwhelming problems that Plaquemines Parish is facing with their huge guest who insists on hanging around. Huge and slow, just the size and duration is causing expensive and life-threatening problems.

My plan for today is to put the heavy things back on the walls, mirrors I didn’t want to replace, framed art-work and hangings I didn’t want damaged if we were hit by the hurricane or tornado. Yes, there are still tornado warnings. No, I am not so worried.

At 6:30 this morning it was hot and humid. At 0900, it is still hot and humid, with occasional showers of warm rain. Aargh. Thanks be to God, no flooding in our house, no breeches in our defenses. We’re ready to move on. We’re ready for this to be over.

August 29, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Books, Bureaucracy, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Hurricanes, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Weather | 3 Comments