Our girls, E and J, are both living in New Orleans. They drove through the rains of "Fay" on their way back down South for the fall. Then "Gustav" pushed the inhabitants out of the Crescent City for a week. Our girls went to Mississippi where they were safe in the sturdy, beautiful abode of their paternal grandparents. (They are serving a mission in the jungles of Ecuador. They have resident monkeys! We are so happy for their service.) Our girls f-i-n-a-l-l-y returned to New Orleans one week after Gustav, when their landlady confirmed their apartment was juiced with power. They unloaded everything from J's SUV into the inside of their darling apartment in case they had to evacuate for the possible, horrible "Ike." Luckily for them, "Ike" only hit New Orleans with a tropical storm. Stay put they did and settled in. We do feel horrible for Texas though where the hurricane did hit. Bless you all in your recovery.
Fast forward one week later to Ohio, Sunday, September 14. My husband and I were starting to teach a new Sunday School class, "Family Relations." It was also the day of our ward "Linger Longer." I am the chairperson of the Activities Committee so I was quite focused on church this day. I DID check the weather forecast before leaving home for church as our committee was hoping to have the social outside on the big expanse of lawn so the children could run and play "Duck, Duck, Goose" and have plenty of room for all to visit and uplift one another. During the third hour of church, we, the activities committee, poked our heads out the kitchen door to check the weather. Mind you, the forecast did predict rain at 4:00, when the social was to begin. No, no rain, so we walked out. Blue skies. Hmmm. Maybe the activity could take place outside; however, it was getting windy. The thought of napkins flying all over and the ladies skirts giving a generous peek as to what is underneath gave us reason to quickly decide to get back into the cultural hall and set everything up there. After cookies had generously been baked and shared, punch consumed, leaving stained mouths on many a little (and big) one, and friendships renewed or made, folks started their way home. We were all in for a surprise! As we drove home, trees were down all over, even blocking roads. We arrived home to our flower pots blown at the end of the driveway and .....no power. What had happened? None of us had heard tornado sirens. Not a drop of rain splashed down from the skies. We got out our candles and flashlights, as it was getting dark. All the neighbors were without power, also. The wind continued blowing. Was this the Big Bad Wolf from "Little Red Riding Hood" who was going to, "Huff and puff and blow our house down?" We tucked ourselves and our Phoebe cat into bed early for the night and continued to listen to the wind howl. It was unique and pretty to see candles burning in our neighbors windows as we lay in bed. Monday morning we arose with the sun to venture out the door to see what the world held. Trees and branches were everywhere. And...still no power. Did we have school? Bless my Iphone. This is the very reason we purchased them the moment they came out last summer. (We were number 6, 7 and 8 in line at the Apple store.) Internet connection! I checked the schools web page. "School cancelled." Whew. Now to focus on clean-up and getting power restored. Ha! Aren't we used to quick turn arounds in America? This would be an experience for neighbor to reach out to neighbor; do we really do that anymore? My husband called his company, he works about a thirty minute drive away, and they did have power. Gasp. He was leaving me to go to work. Well, that is what he does, and I am grateful for that, he works hard for us, maybe just not thrilled this day to have him go in. We called our health club, wishing upon a star, that they had power and were open. Ah, we could shower there and use the provided towels. Why hadn't I really acknowledged this blessing before? Because it was "there." How many blessings do we really not notice because we don't go without?
My husband and I each had called the folks we home and visit teach, making sure of their safety and checking for any specific needs. All of us were in the same situation: no power, but everyone was safe.
Now we had been without power for twenty hours. My big concern was our freezer and frig and the contents thereof. Most people were worried about their meat. I was distressed over all our beloved berries the girls and I had picked this summer. Sixty six pounds of blueberries and half as many precious ruby red raspberries my dear husband and I had picked were frozen in the freezer. We couldn't lose the berries! What to do, what to focus upon? My hubby had picked up all the limbs and sticks in the yard before he left for work so everything seemed secure at home. And q-u-i-e-t. No air conditioning running, no dishwasher, washing machine nor dryer; nothing. Silence. Silence is LOUD. The only logical activity was to go berry picking! I got in the car and pulled away. I drove a few blocks when I had
a strong feeling to go back home. Hmmm. I had checked everything before I left. Again, I had a strong impression to return home. Ok. Follow those promptings! I arrived home to our baby girl, Phoebe the cat, perched on her chair looking out the front window. She greeted me in her adoring, welcoming way with all her "meows" and "purrs." I walked through our home. I saw the smallest drip of water sliding down the outside of the freezer. One can quickly deduct that the ice cubes are melting. Did that mean water was dripping over all the frozen contents? And there may eventually be enough water to damage the hardwood floors underneath the appliance? I had to open the freezer to get the ice out of the ice dispenser; but, it would also be the point of "no return." I opened the freezer and in addition to the ice melting there were small rivers (maybe streams, maybe trickles) of purple, red and orange liquid flowing from the top of the freezer down the sides. Ah. My husbands Popsicles. I start removing the ice from
the dispenser, throwing it all in the sink when my brain finally kicks in...ICE. I need to get the coolers as quickly as possible. I enter the dark cavern of our garage, get the ladder and shine the light along the shelves. I see the coolers on the v-e-r-y top shelf. Great, I am so blessed and having so much fun. So glad I have a hubby at work, drinking ice cold soft drinks. Maybe not, but the thought does cross my mind. I climb our tall ladder to the very top rung, of which you are not supposed to stand on, but what choice is there? I scale the darn ladder and retrieve the coolers. I empty out all the ice into the coolers. I can now save a lot of freezer items. Yea! An even bigger "hooray" is when our neighbor across the street agrees to let me store our berries in her deep freeze as the
guy she is dating has delivered his generator to her home. (Is this devotion in action or what?!) I totally cleaned out our freezer as you can see in the photo. It is a nice feeling!
Now I really need a fresh raspberry fix so off I go to the beautiful farm bursting of red raspberries. What was I thinking? All the beautiful berries had been blown off the bushes and the bushes themselves were not in good shape. Zing. This was widespread. I felt lonely and sad. I walked up and down each row of raspberry bushes, thanking them for all the beautiful berries they had produced and letting them know we would savor each individual berry in the freezer. I didn't find even a handful of raspberries on the entire farm.
Upon entering my car a thought came to me very clearly. Go to Chick-fil-A. What? That is quite a distance, at least to the one that came to mind. Very clearly the thought repeated itself. I hopped on the highway and drove south for twenty minutes. This part of the metropolitan area had power. Yahoo. If the spirit tells me to do something and it involves food, I am there. (I have never been directed to go buy a chocolate cake or pint of ice cream. Have you?) I ordered Meal #1. It includes their chicken breast sandwich with their infamous pickle (ummmm, the best part), waffle fries and a drink. I am very hungry at this point as all I had for breakfast was one half of peanut butter on whole wheat bread, topped with delicious, recently made home-made raspberry jam and
for lunch, the other half of said open faced sandwich. I gobbled up the french fries as I pulled away and started driving towards home. It was interesting how this section of our greater city had power. Of course I was pondering when we would get our power restored. As I was driving along, again, I very distinctly had the impression to drive to
a certain location and get a generator. I scoffed. At this point, twenty four hours, after the eighty mile an hour wind storm, I was certain there were no generators to be had. Again, I was told to go. Ok. I continued to drive to the location. It is a store I had never patronized before and has recent new ownership. I approached from the south side of our town. On the north side of the building was a parking lot full of cars and this large stack of empty card board containers, with a few generators, as you can see in the photo. I asked the folks milling around with whom to speak. They all responded, "Inside." I asked where the entrance was located. "Around the building to the front." Off I went on my adventure to the inside of the dark store. The owner and his trusted employees were working by flashlight. I queued up with, of course, all men, in a line seven deep. How was I possibly going to secure one of the very few generators left? Unbelievably, none of the fellas in front of me purchased a power producing machine. I almost wept. I was so grateful. I am going to give a shout out to this store as they were amazing! One, after writing my name, contact and credit card information, the owner asked to see my ID. I had to tell him that my amazing Coach wallet...a man in a hardware type store does not care about labels, nor could he
offer any sympathy for someone lifting it out of my purse, so I simply explained that my wallet had been stolen and on this very exact day, my new credit card had arrived in the mail. What amazing fortune! (You do know the post offices motto..come rain or shine...they will deliver--or something like that.) He looked at me with his weary eyes, a lady in his store, at the end of a very long day, and said, "You expect me to give you a $xxxx.xx generator, when I can't run your card as we don't have power, without an ID?" I replied, "Yes, sir. I am an honest, good, law abiding citizen and I do hope you can look me in the eye and trust me, as I can be trusted and I do need that generator." He asked an interesting question. "Who do you know?" I wanted to answer, "God." I didn't know if he would think I was being sincere so I rolled off some impressive, heavy weight names in our community whom I have the good fortune to know, as good humans, not for the social weight they carry. I passed. Would Heavenly Father have passed as a heavy weight? That is whom I want in my corner! The owner escorted me through the dark store to the parking lot where the other consumers, boxes and generators were still milling around. An employee said, "This one is yours." I rather felt I should be passing out gum cigars I was as grateful as a new parent. At this point, at most stores, I believe, I would have been trying to put the heavy generator into my car, driven home and tried to figure how it runs. Here is my shout out to "Hilliard Lawn" across the street from the school administration office. They opened the box, gave me the owners manual, filled the generator with oil, added three gallons of fuel to every generator and started it to make sure it was working. Two employees then lifted it in the back of our vehicle. Service!!! I then remembered the Chick-fil-a bag. The employee had mentioned, when I asked, how long he had been working. He said he had been working for the volunteer fire department since 1 am and then had come straight to this job, all due to the storm. I now knew why I had been directed to go to Chick-fil-A. I offered him the bag with the delicious, somewhat cold, chicken sandwich. I felt bad that I had eaten the fries but then didn't feel so bad as fries do not keep. At this point I thought I should call my husband to share with him the announcement of our newest family member. Quite a few neighborhood men were strolling about, checking out each others generators, etc. so they helped unload ours and get it to the back patio. Did I mention how heavy a generator is? Heavy. We tried to start it. It would not sputter. No life. What?! I said we very quickly had to get this back out front, reloaded and returned before the store closed for the evening. Dusk was upon us and I felt a little panicked. We drove back and there was one box sitting there. The owner was certain it was someone's generator. All the employees in the parking lot said, "No, everyone is gone," "The owner said, "I must have miscounted." They then swapped ours out. We can truly thank our guardian angels for that! We arrived home again to have our neighbors haul it to the back for us. It's engine was like an over sized cats motor purring away. Our generator joined the neighborhood swell of motors running. This was loud! We all agreed we would turn off the generators at midnight. As the last engine was cut, it again was so silent, with no appliances or air conditioning running. A golden night by the candles burning once again, late into the night, in our neighbors windows. Peace and gratitude. Our girls, in New Orleans, also safe. It was indeed a way good day.