I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Tough times for so many

Standing in front of a smoky scene
One of my new hiking buddies took this picture of me last Thursday, as we hiked in the usually pristine wilderness on Ptarmigan Ridge. We saw lots of wildlife: mountain goats (too far away for a picture), a huge marmot next to the trail, and a grouse. It was a wonderful hike with new friends, but the lack of any view of our lovely mountains was a bit scary, not to mention tough on the eyes and throat. By now they should be clear again, since we've had a bit of a weather change. We expected much better visibility last week, but the numerous wildfires had different ideas. It's hard to realize that the haze is made up of particulates from forests that are now gone.

It was only a week ago that Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, and I was glued to the TV screen watching the incredible devastation. Some people there have been able to return to a semblance of normalcy as the waters receded, but many are still dealing with flooded homes and horrible damage. Gas prices across the country have risen, with many refineries destroyed, and a bit of panic and hoarding taking hold in the hearts and minds of many.

And now I am once again glued to the TV screen watching the path of Hurricane Irma up the west coast of Florida, where my sister Norma Jean and the rest of her family are hunkered down, hoping to survive the onslaught of that massive storm. She lives (lived?) in a mobile home park, along with thousands upon thousands of seniors in similar 55-and-over communities in Florida, and she was under mandatory evacuation orders. Where are all these people going to live afterwards?

Her daughter Allison was renting a home in the Tampa area before leaving last week for Washington, DC, with her two children. Norma Jean and her son Peter and their two dogs have taken refuge in the large two-story home that is hopefully going to be safe from the wrath of this storm. Peter has boarded up the windows, and it seems that they will be much better off there. She doesn't expect her mobile home to survive, though. And now the storm's path has Tampa in its sights. Norma Jean's home is a 45-minute drive northeast in Zephyrhills.

As I write this, the hurricane has made landfall in the Florida Keys, after having flattened several Caribbean islands, some of which have still not been heard from, as all power and electricity is gone. And this is the current projected path of the hurricane up Florida's west coast:
As of this morning, 10 Sept 2017
Tampa has not been hit by a major hurricane in a century, and so much infrastructure will be gone, probably for good. The feeling I have in the pit of my stomach is caused by the anxiety I feel, not only for my loved ones, but for all that will be irrevocably changed by this catastrophe. Just a couple of days ago, I was making plans to visit my sister for my annual December trip, but then I realized that I have no idea where she will be at that time. When I think of the wonderful Betmar Acres where she lived, I wonder what will survive. Zephyrhills lies a little inland, but it might not matter much, considering the size of this storm. Hurricane Irma is larger than the entire width of the state. What happens to the wildlife?

I read an article this morning on the New York Times entitled, "Apocalyptic Thoughts Among Natures Chaos? You Could Be Forgiven." Indeed. With the wildfires raging around me, the hurricanes in the south, earthquakes in Mexico, and the current political climate with North Korea and more—well, yeah. There's a good reason for me to feel so emotional about it all.

But, but, but. There is so much more to life than focusing on current and anticipated disasters. Everybody may be affected, if not directly, then by our anxious concern. But those of us out of harm's way get to choose how we spend our time. I'm sitting here writing my Sunday post, with no disasters lurking (that I know of, anyway), and although I want to get up and turn on the TV and see what is happening out there, I am not required to do anything more. Perhaps the right thing to do right now, for me at least, is to take care of my own immediate family and loved ones. That includes you, so my attention turns to how to aim my thoughts in a positive direction, so that we can feel uplifted instead of downcast. It will help me, too.

Okay, here goes: yesterday it rained all day long and I rejoiced in the unaccustomed experience. Yes, I know I complain about rain sometimes, but after two long dry months and all that smoke in the air, I was thrilled to see the skies change. Today I will take a nice walk along the boulevard and enjoy looking at the sky, the bay and all the birds. Some of them seemed to hide during the smoky skies. A friend mentioned to me she hadn't seen an eagle in weeks and wondered if they are bothered by the smoke, too. I really don't know, but today we will all have a respite from it.

I had lunch yesterday with a couple of friends, one of whom is visiting from the East. I hadn't seen her in two years, although we all look pretty much the same. She is doing a lot of traveling and having adventures. I realize I'm glad for her but am not needing to travel or have any adventures myself. I'm happy to have my life, my routine, and my dear partner and need little else to be happy. I have my yoga, the gym life that I love, and plenty of time in the outdoors. I can stride down the street without too many aches and pains, and those I do have I consider badges of honor for my almost eight decades of life.

Which reminds me: I have a big birthday coming up in December and will be rewarded by receiving a free bus pass! Once you reach 75, the city of Bellingham gives you a Gold Pass, never having to buy another quarterly bus pass. Instead I will flash my cool card as I board the bus. Also, I will see the eye doctor on Tuesday and will get a new prescription for my aging eyes. Maybe I will have graduated to finally being eligible for cataract surgery. These days it's such a relatively easy procedure that I look forward to it. SG had both eyes done before we moved from Colorado, and he's been very happy with his "new" eyes. Every year I think I'll be ready to receive it myself, but so far my cataract has not yet "ripened."

So, I have definitely found some ways to consider my good fortune and although I will rush to the TV not long after I finish this post, to see what's happening with the storm, I will also make my way to the coffee shop to visit with my friends there, and then venture out for a nice walk to Bellingham Bay under partly cloudy but clean skies, with pretty puffies to admire and cooler temperatures.

Life is good right here, right now. And I have now finished my tea, partner still sleeping quietly next to me, and the day beckons. I do hope you, my dear readers, are out of harm's way, and that you will find your own loved ones to hug and appreciate, as I do you. Be well until we meet again next week.


Marie Smith said...

I've been praying for all involved, including your sister and family, Jan. I hope they are OK. The material things will sort themselves out later.

The environment is beginning to give us heartache and it will only get worse scientists say. I saw a picture of the once permafrost in Greenland sliding downhill like a river. That's a bad sign. We will all have our turn with these disasters I imagine. It's made me think of what I would want to save if I had to leave, then lose the house. I'd better get that figured out!

On a positive note, it is a beautiful day and a walk is in order here as well. Thanks for your Sunday inspiration!

Linda Reeder said...

I have not been monitoring the disasters very closely, but then I don't have loved ones directly in harm's way. I just turned on the TV here by my computer, and will get an update on Irma. So far I just see a guy standing in the wind.
We didn't get measurable rain, but we do have clear sky. We'll be off today to Winlock, to help celebrate my sister's 50th wedding anniversary. We are fortunate to be able to celebrate a happy occasion and not be in fear for our lives and our livelihood.

Marie Smith said...

Correction: the flowing permafrost is in Tibet.

Meryl Baer said...

Being East Coasters we have lots of friends who migrated south and we are in touch with them and hoping for best...The cup is half full and we need to concentrate on the positive and not dwell on what we don't have or what can go wrong. Hope your sister's place dodges the worst of the storm.

Elephant's Child said...

I love the positive energy you share.
And my heart goes out to everyone in Irma's path.

Gigi said...

As we have lots of family in Florida, I'm praying for the whole state. These hurricanes are insane. All we can do at this point is wait and be ready to help in whatever way we can.

I had heard about the wildfires out West but with these hurricanes doing their worst my attention has been directed there. I can't believe the picture you posted. The haze is incredible.

Thank you for reminding us to look for the positives. We certainly need all the positives we can get these days!

Have a wonderful week, D'Jan.

Far Side of Fifty said...

My baby brother has a condo in Houston at The Woodlands, his garage leaked a bit other than that he was lucky, he was not there at the time as he was in Colorado for a Football game and then flew home to Oregon where he has another home, next weekend he will be here as he is building a lake home close to us. (He is an Oil Field Executive) I don't envy his traveling life...and hope he lives long enough to enjoy it all.
The weather seems angry like people now a days...like drivers on the road, everyone is in a hurry and takes too many chances,
I hope Norma Jean and Peter and the dogs are safe..it sounds like a horrible storm, I have been watching the weather channel since last night, I guess I will take a blizzard anyday.
Be well my friend! Good luck at the eye Doc!:)

Arkansas Patti said...

I've been watching the coverage closely also as I have a lot of family in Florida on both coasts and friends in the middle. Hopefully your sister's mobile home will be fine. I lived in one for years and went through many hurricanes. If they are secured to the ground and have good roofs, they often survive nicely. I'm just glad she had a safe place to go to wait it out. We will know tomorrow.
Hope you get a nice rain to wash that smoke and soot right out of the air and off the plants. We could all use a break.

Red said...

With the latest disasters it makes one worry. And yes, when is my turn coming up? I hope your relatives will be safe.

Carole said...

I so enjoy your blog DJan. You write so well, and it is all from the heart. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. Hoping your sister and family stay safe.

Rita said...

I am up late watching Irma info online. My mom's trailer is in Winter Haven in the worst hit county for wind (Polk). Passed through there earlier. So glad it wasn't as strong as they had expected, at least, but I'm sure there will be a lot of damage. Finally going to head for bed (Sunday night). Thankful my Mom is safe in Minnesota. Grateful I am safe here in Fargo. Praying for everybody. Oh--and glad you got some rain to clear out the air there, too. Hope your sister and family are okay. Please let us know.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Like you I ponder about all the changes leding to very real hardships. Buddy and I had tickets Sept 8 to 18 for Florida ;first Orlando then North Captiva for a wedding. It was all called off on Tuesday. Our favorite spots in Ciba are awashand will take much time sttort and money to rebuild. That economy is what Cuba was thriving on.
And yes so much wil life is now upset. Winds alone are harsh but then comes water or smoke.
Like you we're able to choose to move on positively.
We spebt saturday eve at Shaw Festival in Niagara and saw Me and My Gal the musical. It is an updated version and was fun.
Tomorrow I may be off to Hannover Germany to say bye to my 96 year old aunt who is passing sometime this week. She had a good life after the war.