Friday, February 27, 2009

True Friendship and Other Things

Recently, good neighbor and friend Connie sent me a more realistic and humorous take on "True Friendship" in the email. So I thought I'd post it, along with a a couple of pictures of some of my dear and true friends.

Just last week I got to see my old friend Frieda, for the first time in five years. That was such a treat! I so wish that Frieda lived closer again, so we could see her more often. That's me in the middle, of course, wearing, (according to my daughter) my Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, outfit. LOL. And Eileen on the right, is looking somewhat pensive or is that peeked? LOL. (Kind of a bad picture, actually, but it's the only one with Frieda in it too.)

And here are my oldest and dearest friends, Emma and Maria, who live in the Cleveland, Ohio area. They went out to lunch for Emma's birthday, and Maria emailed me the picture. We have been friends since we were around 14 or 15 years old. Emma called me the other day, after she heard about our ice storm, and asked me if maybe it was not time for me to seriously consider moving back to civilization. I think Emma thinks I'm getting old. How dare she!!! (True friends are like that-they worry about us.)

Anyway, before I get myself in trouble, here is:

True Friendship

You WON'T see cutesy little smiley faces on this card-
Just the stone cold truth of our great friendship.

1. When you are sad, I will jump on the person who made you sad like a spider monkey jacked up on Mountain Dew!!!

2. When you are blue, I will try to dislodge whatever is choking you.

3. When you smile, I will know you are plotting something that I must be involved in.

4.When you're scared, we will high tail it out of here.

5. When you are worried,
I will tell you horrible stories about how much worse it could be until you quit whining, ya big baby!!!!

6. When you are confused,I will use little words.

7. When you are sick,
Stay away from me until you are well again. I don't want whatever you have.

8. When you fall, I'll pick you up and dust you off-- After I laugh my rear off!!

9. This is my oath...I pledge it to the end. 'Why?' you may ask;-- because you are my FRIEND!

I would also like to mention that lovely Carol, at The Writer's Porch interviewed North Carolina Author Gary Carden recently, and had a give away of one of his signed books, and two DVDs, to three lucky commenter's on the post. And guess what? I won First Place! Which meant that I had first dibs on the prizes and chose the signed copy of Gary's book "Mason Jars in the Flood." Woow Hoo! Thank you Carol. I can't wait to read the book.

Last but not least, I had another acceptance and contract in the mail this week. This one for the story "A Light in the Closet" which will be in the "Christmas Miracles" book, published by St. Martins Press and in bookstores in October of this year. Woo Hoo!

Thank you for reading. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Blessings from the woods.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Long Overdue Awards

I'm posting some awards that are long overdue. I am so behind with everything, but I want you to know that I really do appreciate you all passing these on to me. Thank you so much.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Where Do I Begin?

Where do I begin, posting about the ice storm our area experienced? As I'm writing now, the spring peepers are singing at the pond. It has been in the low 70s since Saturday, they think it's spring. Since the pond is 20 feet from the house, I fall asleep to their singing, and dream of spring. It can't come too soon for me!

The jonquils/daffodils are up as well, after having been under the thick ice and snow for several days. But the jonquils are hardy little troopers, and can withstand the elements better than I! Andrea had said in her post "My Mom is brave." But I am not all that brave.

The last time I posted ( before the torrents of freezing rain came down on the woods,) was on January 27th. We had an inch of snow, but were under a freezing rain advisory. Since we already had a couple of episodes of freezing rain earlier in January, that had kept me in for a few days, I didn't think this one would be a more serious one either. I was wrong! By noon that Tuesday the freezing rain had been pouring for several hours and Eileen called to tell me she lost power. Ice was already everywhere and on everything. She could not come here, or go anywhere else. I told her to call the law, since I heard a shelter was already set up for people with no heat. Then Jan called. She had already lost power as well, but she, like myself, had propane heat not dependent on electricity. I still had power at that point. But not for long. Before dark set in, my power went out as well. The freezing rain continued to pour down.

Did I prepare for the ice storm? Yes, but not expecting it to be as bad as it would get, I was not that well prepared. Besides the propane heat, I also have a small wood stove as back-up, and had lots of wood. I had candles, an oil lamp, and a flashlight, and a couple of little led lights. I also had a battery powered radio, but forgot to stock up on batteries. I had canned food, both bathtubs filled with water, and bottled water as well. But I had a worrisome night, as I kept listening to the pounding rain still coming down. And I hate the dark! I was glad to see daylight on Wednesday morning, but didn't like what I saw. Ice was everywhere and on everything, and the freezing rain was still coming down. Hundreds of birds were waiting at the feeders that I could not go out and fill with the black oil sunflower seeds I had stocked up on. So I pitched seeds out two different windows hoping the birds would find it. They did! The deer where nowhere to be seen.

(Icy Hickory tree by my bedroom.)

After the freezing rain stopped, snow began to fall. And Wednesday night, so did the tree limbs, sounding like bombs hitting the house all night! The cats ran under the bed, the dogs weren't sure what to make of all the noise. The boom, booms continued all night. The deck was full of tree limbs, missing the glass door by a few inches. The top piece of one of the trees that fell against the deck, speared the corner of the roof like an arrow and came through the attic, landing on the kitchen floor, scattering ice all over. In semi dark, with flashlight in hand I gathered several pillows, stood on a chair and with the broom handle pushed the pillows up the hole, to keep out the cold. Greg called and I was crying! Andrea called, and I was crying! Then remembering the huge hickory tree in the back, right behind my bedroom, I moved myself to the living room sofa for the night. I was afraid if that tree fell overnight, the roof would come down on my head, while I was sleeping. Strangely enough, as full of ice as that huge tree was, it only lost one limb, and it didn't fall on the house.
(Ice arch)

Thursday morning I woke up to discover the freezing rain had turned to 4 inches of beautiful, crunchy snow that made it possible to actually walk around outside. But the ice laden trees continued to drop their limbs. I heard on the news that several people were killed by the falling limbs. My car had a smashed rear window. I ventured outside anyway and even took some pictures. Everything looked beautiful! The entire time outside, I could hear the tree limbs snapping off in the woods, sounding like guns going off, as I cautiously held on to my sturdy stick, and stayed out of the way of falling limbs.

Andrea kept the mailman, UPS and Fed Ex busy with her care packages! Greg, who was trying to find a generator and could not find any within 200 miles of here, drove on 200 miles of icy roads to get here on Friday. By then, the road crews were out there clearing the gravel road of tree limbs and scraping the ice off so people could drive out of here. Greg arrived with all kinds of supplies, but no generator! He even ended up taking me to town around noon, after we found out the power had been restored there, and we ate at my favorite Chinese restaurant. It was such a wonderful treat!

Friday evening Eileen called. Since she lives only 3 miles from town, her power had already been restored and she was back home. But she was shaken from the experience. The generator at the shelter she had been first taken to, failed, and they had to transfer the people to the city garage which they quickly set up as another shelter. She said she was shivering from fright, holding her cane and her purse with her medicine, as they held on to her and led her in. I was glad she was back home and all right, but also envious that her power was back on three days later, while mine was still very much in limbo.

The area was declared a disaster area. FEMA came in with water and food; the National Guard arrived. Two cute, young Guardsmen came to visit.

"Is there anything we can get for you that you need?" they asked.

"Yes, you can get me some electricity," I told them.

They chuckled, gave me a hug, and said they wished they could help me. Two nice guys from the Fire Department had come to see about me as well, bringing me an extra flashlight and some batteries. They asked if I would not consider going to the shelter. I said no, I had heat, and I would never leave my animals alone.

Finally, some Linemen from other parts arrived to help our overwhelmed Electric Cooperative fix the lines. Greg had left, as he had to go to work, but was back the following Wednesday. He worked all morning clearing my long driveway of some limbs, so one could drive in and out without dodging them. The sun came out and was melting the ice and snow. I collected water in buckets and refilled both bathtubs. Everyone was given a large supply of bottled water and army food that heats up in the box. But I still had plenty of canned food left, and a few fresh things in the huge Coleman Cooler Greg bought.

Later that Wednesday afternoon a green SUV drove in. It turned out to be Andrea and Jimmy, who drove all the way from Ohio to bring me a generator! It was to be a surprise, and what a surprise it was! Jimmy and Greg set up the generator on the deck, after clearing it off from all the fallen limbs. What a neat device. Of course, it didn't power everything, but Wednesday evening, eight days after the power went off, I had some lights, a working TV and microwave, and I could charge my cell phone. Basics, really, but it was wonderful to see clearly again!

I can never, ever thank Greg, Andrea and Jimmy enough for all that they did to come and help me through the ice storm. I am very blessed! They left early Friday morning to drive home.

Later that morning, I met Eileen in town at our favorite restaurant. We lingered for an hour and a half, and caught up on each others details of how we fared during the ice storm. Back home, around 5 PM I went out on the deck and filled the generator with five gallons of gas. But I decided to wait a bit before starting it, and went back into the house. That's when I had the surprise of my life. The clock on my electric stove was blinking! I hit the light switch. The light came on. Water came gushing out of the faucets, the TV with the satellite worked. Everything worked. It was finally over.

But the cleanup around here will take months, and the forests will take years to recover from the ice storm of 2009. However, it could have been much worse, and there was much to be thankful for.

This past Tuesday, there was some good news in my email. I received a permission release agreement from Chicken Soup for the Soul. My story, "Making the Best of the Worst of Times" will be published in the book "Chicken Soup for the Soul, Tough Times, Tough People " in May of 2009. That story is about my beloved Apa's (Grandfather's) handling of tough times, while we lived in a refugee camp, and this news was a much needed boost, arriving at the end of my own tough times!

Thank you for reading my account of the ice storm. I left many details out, but even so, it is rather long, so I appreciate your patience in reading it. Have a wonderful weekend.

Blessings from the battered woods, where the spring peepers continue to sing, and life goes on!

Friday, February 6, 2009

I Can See Clearly Now, The Lights Are Back On!

Icy/snowy sunrise in my field, January 30th, 2009. Beautiful but destructive!

Hi Friends,

Well, I am happy to finally be back in blogland! After 10 days of roughing it, our power finally came back on this afternoon at 5 PM!

I want to thank you all for your kind messages and prayers and will be back soon with a longer post highlighting all the fun (not!) of the past 10 days. Tonight, I am really exhausted to write more. I hope you understand. The enormous task of cleaning up around here has begun!

I also want to thank Andrea, son-in-law Jimmy, and Greg, for all their help. What a blessing they were, and always have been. So, dear blog friends, thank you again for your thoughts and prayers. See you all soon!

Blessings from the woods, where it was 70 degrees F today!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Still No Power/pictures added

the weight of the ice on the power lines

all the trees have dropped many limbs.
it will take years for them to grow and restore.

this is a road with every power line down from the heavy ice

No power, no generators to be found.
(you can see more info here:
The ice is melting thank goodness, and the water is being caught
in buckets to use for washing up with etc. No candles,
or batteries or basics in stores. Fema is providing water and MRE's (?) or
packaged meals from soldiers, they will get hers tomorrow.
I've sent many packages with radios,
tv, batteries, lamps that even though were shipped overnight are
still not there. Probably due to road conditions. My mom is very brave
and strong, despite what she thinks. I've always read that one can get
used to anything in time, and with patience, I think it's true.