The good news: We finished laying the new living room floor, which we were ready to start doing when Irma hit. We still have to finish the dining room, repaint, and install new baseboards. But the new flooring looks MAH-velous!

The bad news, no time to do my update post on all that’s happened over the last two weeks. No, demo hasn’t started yet, but permit applications have been filed, and some other things have happened. I’ll try to catch up on that tomorrow.

The other good news is that I found an hour to make some new memes for my books, for Twitter, etc. While I was at it, I made a new “Review Meme.” Feel to use this any way you like, with my sincere hope that it reminds/inspires some of your readers to leave a review for you. Enjoy!


One Giant Leap for Vankind – #HurricaneIrma

Today was the FIRST day I’ve been able to take a deep breath since September 10! We found a general contractor who said he thought he could help us rescue our cars. Others had said no way. They’d wait until the insurance company gave them the go ahead to begin demo and repairs. Weeks away, probably. But Doug Miller of Timberland Builders, Inc, showed up shortly before 8:00am today, and he and his men were absolutely committed to getting our cars out of the garage.

It was a dangerous, scary job, and things conspired against them, but every time there was a hitch, they stopped, rethought the problem, and came up with another solution. They were very, very careful, trying not to cause any more damage to the cars, the garage, or our personal belongings. They were also very careful not to get injured in the process. (I was so nervous, I had to go inside several times. )

The guys¬†removed the garage door. No mean feat, since it had to come down in panels, and there was a very tiny amount of space in front of the vehicles in which to work. Finally, our cars saw the light of day for the first time in a month! Mark immediately climbed into his van, cranked it up, and drove out of the garage, honking the horn all the way! Victor Willie didn’t even have a scratch on it. Mostly, it had been covered in soggy drywall, rather than plywood flooring or rafters. It’s FINE.

Then all eyes turned toward the Honda. I was shocked to see there was as much resting on the front of the car as there was on the trunk! OMG, the very idea of working with all the rafters and attic contents¬†dangling precariously overhead was enough to make me ill.¬†The picture doesn’t show just how much stuff they were scrambling¬†around beneath. Toward the back of the garage, there were very few places you could stand¬†upright.

 I had no clue how they were going to do this. Luckily, they were smarter than I.

First, they built a frame under the rafters at the front as a support so they could be jacked up, then they did something similar in the back. The frames had to be modified several times to give them extra strength.

Once the frames started to hold steady, they jacked them up, front and back, and drove the Honda out, too. Wooohoooooo! And the really good new is, astonishingly, it appears to have suffered only cosmetic damage!! It will need to be repainted, and there’s a very shallow dent on one side of the roof, but it doesn’t appear there’s any frame damage. Of course, we won’t know for sure until the body shop takes a look, but we are all hopeful!!


The State Farm rep should be here at noon tomorrow. Sadly, it’s Miriam, and not JAKE, but that’s the way it goes. ūüôā If all goes well, we could have our Honda back in a fairly short time, depending on Miriam’s assessment. Crossing my fingers here, because the transportation issue has been a big complication.

I hesitate to let myself get TOO happy, lest there be a smackdown coming, but right now, I’m feeling much better than I have in four weeks. YAY! Doug and his men from Timberland Builders are my new heroes, right up there with Thor and Harry Dresden. Except, REAL. And here to help when needed!

And there you have the latest. Hopefully, it won’t be long before we can get started on repairs, but for now, the garage has been secured again, and we have our cars ALMOST back. And that’s HUGE!

Anatomy of a Small(ish) Catastrophe – #HurricaneIrma Part 2

Sound the Bugles!
The Cavalry Arrives!

Nearly a week after Hurricane Irma raged across the Atlantic, giving us a love tap on her way by, I finally found a tree service able to help us. The crane arrived first, then the bobcat and a crew of 15 men in two other trucks.

They closed off the road, and got to work, much to the entertainment of the neighborhood. (Folks set up folding chairs across the street to watch the production, though sadly, I have no pictures of the audience.) You can get an idea of the size and scope of this job from this shot. (That’s my husband, Mark, on the left side of the roof, keeping a sharp eye on the proceedings.)

You can see in this next ¬†picture that there is a huge portion of the tree resting on the ground in front of the garage window. That’s what kept the garage walls from being crushed¬†completely flat, as it supported a much of the weight of this huge laurel oak.

The process begins! Men swarmed our roof and yard,  sawing huge sections of tree trunk and smaller, but still giant, limbs away from the main trunk. Continue reading

Good Morning, and a Quick Apology

The Little Statue That Could
The tree trunk landed on top of this, and she is wedged
in good and tight.  Her hat is dented on one side, where the
oak is bearing down on her, but
she hasn’t succumbed to
the pressure yet. I’d really like
to save her, since she seems
to be trying so hard to
save US.

Things sure look brighter after a good night’s sleep. Well, except for where an entire tree is blocking the light from my windows and front door, of course. But that’s all been turned over to the insurance company, and I’m expecting them to send out an engineer to take charge (and get a general contractor on this) soon. We will need a tree removal service, mason/block layers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and roofers. Ack! This will be a slow process, but at least it’s underway. Sort of. And of course, once they have tarps in place and the tree removed, there are sure to be homes more severely damaged that will be a higher priority for a little while. But it’s moving forward, and I can breathe again.

I do want to apologize if I miss responding to any of your lovely, supportive, and encouraging posts, either on the blog or on Facebook. I have received hundreds of emails, too, and while I’m trying to answer everyone, everywhere, I fear some might be missed in the process. Just know how very much I appreciate all your love and support. There’s something strengthening in knowing others care, and I am blessed to have you all for online friends. Continue reading

The Morning After #HurricaneIrma

Well, the good news (besides no injuries here to man or beast) is that he ancient oak tree out front is still vertical, though minus many, many branches. The bad news is that’s MY HOUSE under the neighbor’s oak. It crashed all the way through the attic, and into the garage, burying our cars in drywall, plywood, and stored boxes. Rain poured into the garage for hours. We can’t get the cars out. We can’t even get TO the garage door, and I’m pretty sure we won’t be able to get it open when we manage to reach it. Continue reading

Latest on #HurricaneIrma

Looking pretty grim for the entire state of Florida now, barring any unforeseen swings into the middle of the  Gulf.  This is the latest from NOAA, as of 8:00am today.

This storm is so wide, it will be hitting BOTH coasts at once, and they are saying that ALL of Florida will be getting full hurricane winds, whatever they happen to be when it reaches your location. Currently, the prediction for almost all of the state is “M”, or what NOAA calls any storm 110mph or more. So Category 4 or 5. ūüė¶

Again, we are located slightly east of where the “L” in “FL” is, on this map. So, you can see we are dead center between the two RED “Here Comes the Hurricane” lines. ūüėĮ My son & family are slightly north of us, and my nephew & family are west, so closer to the Gulf. But the truth is, the storm is going to bring its full fury to the ENTIRE peninsula of Florida, and the chances of it moving farther into the Gulf are slim. Our best scenario at this point is that it¬†might continue¬†to weaken. Sadly, since the eye will be passing along the very warm waters of the Gulf Coast, that isn’t likely to happen.

I know some of you are wondering why we don’t evacuate right now. There are 5.6 million reasons why we aren’t ¬†going to. And ALL of those reasons are on the highway, heading north from the bottom THIRD of the state. As they should be. They are in the gravest danger, and really MUST get out. Seminole County, where I live, has not been given any evac orders yet, not even voluntary ones,¬†and I don’t think¬†it will be. I’ve never seen this part of the state evacuated, because it is far enough inland, and high enough (by Florida’s standards) that it isn’t usually deemed necessary.

Now, don’t get me wrong. We can still be slammed very, very hard here. Roofs will be torn off, and huge oak trees WILL come down. In fact, that is my biggest worry. We have an ancient laurel oak (on city easement) that I don’t expect to see still standing when this is over. It should have come down two years ago, when the city removed the one next to it. But even with threats like falling trees, we are NOT in the same level of danger as the folks in south Florida, on both coasts. The Ft. Myers area on the west coast, and the Miami area on the east, MUST evacuate, while we haven’t even been told to voluntarily leave.

And¬†evacuation isn’t always the best answer, especially when there are¬†literally MILLIONS of people already doing so. Traffic is horrendous and you can only creep along at 30mph so many hours, before you run out of gas. Then what? Miles from an exit, maybe? Gas station out of fuel, maybe? Stuck on the highway when the hurricane hits, with your only protection being the metal walls of your vehicle? I’m thinking I’m better off staying put, and not adding to the problems of the people who’ve been told they MUST get out. They need those routes to safety more than I do right now, so since we couldn’t leave earlier, we aren’t going to try to do so now.

Long post, I know, but I suspect we won’t have power tomorrow, so I might not be back for some time.

One more thing on the storm. This is the wind chart, showing the level of wind expected. As you can see, the entire state is purple, which is the very highest level on the chart. ūüėĮ

PLEASE keep Florida in your thoughts and prayers, because we are going to need them. And, if the bridge don’t go, an’ the creek don’t rise, as they say, I’ll see you guys after Irma finishes her miserable rampage. ‚̧ ‚̧ ‚̧


A Helpful Hint

I saw several frantic people today, upset that a local store had run out of bottled water. Why? I don’t get it. Unless your tap water isn’t potable, why do you need bottled water for anything? It costs more per gallon than gas, and is one of the major elements of trash fished out oceans and lakes,¬†or raked up from woods.

I use refillable drinking containers to take water with me when I go out. And when a storm is coming, I fill large, clean containers with all the water we could possibly use. We happen to have two 20-gallon containers with dispensing spouts, which we fill for cooking and drinking. But any clean container will do. Milk jugs, juice bottles, even big soup pots.

For washing and flushing, we fill the CLEANED bathtub, and dip a pail full of water into the sink, or pour into the toilet bowl, and flush. Easy peasy. CHEAP. And no empties thrown all over the place. (Which, of course I wouldn’t do anyway.)

So if your store is out of bottled water (or even it isn’t), don’t worry. Fill up some clean containers and your bathtub, and voila. You are good to go.¬† Use the money you save to buy some steaks for the grill.¬† (You can thank me later.) ūüėÄ

#HurricaneIrma Update


I continue to hope this one will veer farther east, yet, and not ravage the entire coast of Florida, but this is the latest NOAA projection map. As you can see, by 2:00AM Monday morning, Irma is estimated to be arriving at Daytona Beach, Florida. Daytona is about 50 miles from us, and this huge storm is well over 100 miles wide. That means that we are very likely to get hurricane force winds Sunday night and into the day Monday. My son lives in Gainesville, about 100 miles north of us, and it appears they will have some really bad weather too, as Irma moves north.

It also appears Irma will be paying a visit to Charleston, S.C., by 2:00am Tuesday morning. My daughter and family live in Charleston. So, right now, this storm is bringing me nothing but worry! South Florida is in even more danger.

I continue to hope the storm will be downgraded long before it reaches us, but that’s by no means a sure thing.¬† Please keep¬†everyone in Irma’s path in your thoughts and prayers. I’m a Florida native, and have seen more hurricanes than I can count over the years. I know the drill, and I take them VERY seriously. We prepare, and then wait to see if we are told to evacuate. So far, that has never happened to Mark and I, but if they tell us to go, we will.¬† This storm makes me very, very nervous.

Irma¬†will be the sixth hurricane to threaten us since we moved into this house in 2004. FOUR of them either came directly over us, or very, very close in 2004 alone. This one is worse than any of those, and I’m praying it continues to move EAST–far, far away from the shoreline.¬† In the meantime, my thoughts and prayers are with everyone in harm’s way. PLEASE, fellow Floridians, ¬†follow the advice given to folks in your area, and stay SAFE.




#HurricaneIrma – So Much for Relaxing!

Hurricane Irma has now been classified as a Category 5 storm, with winds higher than 185mph. The National Hurricane Center says it is the strongest storm in the Atlantic basin outside of the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico in its records. Current projected path can vary, but so far, looks like the image above. I live right about where the “L” in¬† FL¬†is. ūüė¶ So even this path will impact us.

At least one projected path shows the storm turning more north and coming right up the center of the state, straight through the middle of central Florida. That will SEVERELY impact us.

Just wanted to alert you guys that I may disappear for a few days, if we take a very hard hit. We do have a generator, so if we aren’t blown away, we won’t be totally without power, but I probably won’t try running the computer until it’s all over.

Another projected path has the storm turning more northeast, and not coming directly over Florida at all. That would be lovely. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers, as this has the potential to be a record breaker. Where Harvey ended up being an historic amount of rain, Irma looks like she’s planning to blow the state right off the map.

My beloved North Carolina mountains are looking better every day.

I’ll keep you posted as long as I have power.