On making lemonade…

I would wager a guess that everyone of you dear readers knows what it is like when your life is not your own.  When circumstances get in the way of plans, of what makes you happy and what does not, and what messes with the lives of those you love.

I really expected my next post to be all about my adventures at the Chilhuly museum in Seattle, after an amazing week on Whidbey Island followed by an amazing weekend in a workshop with Heather Winslow, whom I got to host and is a complete delight and then get ready to pack for my trip to Yadkin Valley Fiber Center in NC, where I was to teach a three day jacket class…  But that was so last month…

Except the storm hit.  Literally.  The northeast has had a rash of really wicked storms in the last couple of months.  I’ve gotten through them all unscathed, fortunately I had an all around handyman who cleaned up the minor debris, six loads to the dump of yard waste. I made many calls to landscape maintenance companies to find someone who could just cut my lawn and do some mulching.  Everyone would drive by my property and keep on going.  Except they couldn’t keep on going.  I live on a dead end street with no turn around like a lovely cul de sac.  Apparently this is a problem for a 41 foot landscape trailer.  Who knew…

I finally found a company who promised me they would add me to their customer base. They could park on a neighboring street and drive the equipment over.  Then it rained, and rained and rained…


Then the storm hit Tuesday two weeks ago.  We almost never lose power.  We live near a pretty stable grid.  Last power outage was Hurricane Sandy, and that happened because a 150 year old oak came down on Main Street and took out the main trunk line.  It took ten days to repair that.  The first gust of wind blew Tuesday two weeks ago and wham.  Power out.  I was in the middle of stitching around the swatches for the guild exchange.  I finally finished them on the loom and needed to cut and mount them for the guild meeting.  Thankfully earlier in the day I updated all the handouts I’d need for the upcoming jacket class.  What I didn’t do was print out the computer sheets for what I needed to pack, because I wasn’t planning to pack until Wednesday afternoon.  The flight to Charlotte was Thursday morning.

Yeah, so that happened.  And I knew when the first gust of wind hit and the power was out that it wasn’t going to be good.  In fact, once the storm passed I ventured out down main street and not only was there a 150 year old oak down between two of my neighbor’s houses, miraculously missing both, but further down Main Street in the same spot where the tree took out the trunk line during Hurricane Sandy, the remaining two 150 year old trees had gone down like dominoes again taking the trunk line with them.  Sigh.

So my son and I made the best of it.  We lit the oil lamps, drank, made food with what we could and not opening the refrigerator or freezer.  I have a gas stove, which I could light with a match, and I still had a Verizon signal.  Later that evening I drove around trying to charge my phone and I was shocked at how many trees had come down and blocked roads.  It was going to be a long time before we got our power back.

I took my doggies to the kennel on Wednesday and tried to pack as best I could remember, what I’d need for the class, since I had no power I had no computer. Wednesday night I realized that I would be gone when the power came back on and I couldn’t take a chance on what food would be safe to eat, so I put out a plea on facebook and a friend came and we unloaded about a hundred pounds of food from two freezers and refrigerators and she carted it all home to share with her mom, very happy to have all of it.  Thursday morning I got into the limo, with two large suitcases, my carry on bags, and no power.  I was doubly worried because my alarm system was dying, and my son, though he lives in the house, would be leaving for guard drills on Friday for the weekend.  

But there was nothing I could do but hope for the best.

Late Thursday night, while I was in NC, the power did come back on, and my son was in residence, and the alarm did go completely nuts, and I was able to get him in touch with the alarm company and they talked him through resetting everything.

The weekend was a complete success, I adored my six students, they all made beautiful jackets, and I adored staying with my host Leslie, who runs the fiber center. And though I did forget a couple of important things, I managed to do without them.  I’ll talk about all that in another post, and give it its own space, but last Monday morning, I flew home in a relatively uneventful flight, hopped in the limo, and on the way home found out that my mom had been rushed to the hospital yet again, this time with suspected blood clots in both lungs. Which turned out to be true.  My sister was beside herself, she had lost so much time from work from all the other calls to the hospital in the previous two weeks, and living closest to my mom, the ball is always in her court.

The limo arrived at my front door and to my complete surprise, the landscape company was there, with the first 10 yards of mulch and had most of the front yard underway.  It was beautiful.  There was a glimmer of light.  


I have never wanted to not do something the way I didn’t want to get in the car and drive to Maryland.  I was exhausted, and my house still wasn’t completely back to normal after the power outage.  I had no food in the house.  Since we had no food, my son suggested sushi for dinner.  And wine doesn’t have to be refrigerated… I went to the kennel to get the dogs Monday afternoon and looked through the mail, tried to make some sense of the couple hundred emails in my box and called my mom.  I knew what I really didn’t want to hear.  I needed to make the trip to Maryland.  I did a big sigh, went to bed, and in the morning, the morning of my birthday, I made a decision to just be.  In the moment.  Enjoy what I could out of the day, celebrate the fact that there were many rainbows in my life and that today was a storm, and that hopefully there would be a rainbow at the end.  I looked out the window and the day was clear and there, at the end of my driveway was the mulch truck, back with another 10 yards and I looked up at the sky and said thank you to my late husband for the best birthday present he could ever have given me.  My son assured me he would be around to care for the dogs, I threw a bunch of clothes back in the suitcase and left.

And you know, life is funny sometimes.  I realized on the 3 1/2 hour drive down the NJ turnpike, over the Delaware Memorial Bridge and on into Maryland that it was my birthday and I was going to be able to spend it with my sisters and my mom, no matter what the circumstances.  The three people I love most in this world, other than my children.  And it is a different kind of love.  My mom is 87.  She has had an amazing life, she remarried at 76 to a guy she dated in high school.  They are still married and he is devoted to her and hasn’t left her side.  I have two amazing sisters, we are really really close though not geographically, but we are there for each other.  And so I got to the hospital, had lunch with my youngest sister, got to my mom’s hospital room, and we all sat, and visited and laughed and the hospital cafeteria had sushi, so I picked up some, and while my mom ate her bland hospital food for dinner, I had my small box of shrimp sushi, and smiled.  It was a lovely rainbow and I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

That evening I went to my other sister’s house to spend the night, and we got a lovely visit in.  Back to the hospital Wednesday morning, again Thursday and again Friday.  My sister who was so behind in her work, she is an architect, was able to catch up and clear her schedule so she could take over for me on Saturday.  It turned out to be the most gentle special week.  I made lemonade from really sour lemons and a good shot of vodka in there was all it needed.  I sat and talked and knitted, dozed and just felt present.  It was enough.  And it turned out to be one of the best birthdays I’ve had in a long long time.

And I came home Saturday morning and this is what waited for me. 


I still have a pond that keeps emptying, and the water feature in the yard stopped working, but I will call pond guy Bob on Tuesday and he will eventually figure it out.  The yard is lovely.  I stopped at Trader Joe’s on the way home and refilled my freezer with all kinds of lovely things.  My daughter and I went to see Moliere’s Tartuffe at the NJ Shakespeare Theater today for a Sunday Matinee and we laughed through the whole show.  It is hard to imagine that a play written in the 1600’s could be so relevant for today.  My son made awesome burgers and had dinner waiting when we returned.  I had a cold dark beer for dinner, and celebrated that I have more than I need, and am surrounded by amazing people whom I love more than life, and that it isn’t what happens in your life that’s important, it is how you look at it.  And this week was a great reminder of what I truly value. 

Stay tuned…