musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the category “storms”

1st day of school

Yesterday was the first day of Mr. Cynic’s Junior year and Captain Comic in seventh grade.

Mr. Cynic has been riding the bus to high school for the past couple of years, though we live .4 mile from the school. That’s closer than I lived to my high school, to which I walked – up hill both ways in the snow. Seriously, I did. It was hilly where I lived growing up in Connecticut. Not here though, and only the occasional appearance of snow.

But back to yesterday, Mr. Cynic and the first day of school. He had the same bus driver for his first two years of high school. She could probably drive her route with her eyes closed. She retired and there was a new bus driver, who drove rather like a lab mouse introduced to a new maze. She had no idea where she was going in the morning. And again in the afternoon. At every intersection she turned the wrong way, according to Mr. Cynic. When his bus was significantly late on the way home, I received a text message: going to be late. bus driver doesn’t know what she’s doing.

When he finally arrived home, he declared he was never taking the bus again. I smiled. The boy who eschews exercise will be getting some. Every day.

Captain Comic’s bus involved less drama but more nerves on my part. He has been riding the SPED bus since we moved here five years ago. He stands at the end of the driveway in full sight of his peers at the corner bus stop to get on a different bus. Last Halloween, I found out that they all knew him, but he didn’t really know them. As we walked around the neighborhood, the common cry was “I see him at the bus stop.” Last spring, his IEP team and I decided it was time he ride with his neurotypical peers. And when I had an IEP team meeting last week, they all told me, “Mom, you cannot walk him to the bus stop. You cannot ask his friends if it’s okay for him to sit with them. He needs to do this himself. He’s thirteen.”

And while my instincts know this is true for any other kid, I still want to protect him, manage his interactions. So I stood at the window with the camera and watched him. He did alright.

Which one is Captain Comic? Look at the socks.

I checked in via email with his case manager and he had a great first day, even with a homeroom teacher change. 
Mr. Cynic is excited to have friends in most of his classes, and is excited to be taking Music Theory with most of his band mates. Keep in mind, they have not rehearsed all together once as of yet, so band mates is still a relatively loose term.
In the meantime, Grandma took Toots with her to her morning pool exercises, and after three weeks without even cracking the manuscript with all the mayhem here, I had an excellent edit session at the local library. I dove into the creative river, doused myself and completely rewrote two chapters really well! The session exceeded my expectations, especially since I felt so lost as I opened the document.
Honey, post-surgery, went back to work yesterday, even though I felt it was too early, but I can’t keep him from work. It’s his thing. It’s hard to see that he loves it sometimes, but deep down, I think this is his creative drive, even when used for others’ purposes and under crushing deadlines. 
So we have returned to the usual mayhem, and having a routine for it that’s a little stiffer than summertime benefits us all, especially after this area has been hit by Mother Nature with smoke from the great Dismal Swamp fires for weeks now, and an earthquake and hurricane last week. The ten to fifteen inches of rain that came with Irene did not douse the swamp fires. Yesterday afternoon, we had a good bit of buckets full rain while Captain Comic was walking Lucy, and with them came Tornado Warnings. And still there is smoke in the air. But we go on, relatively unscathed, unlike many of my friends and family all over the East Coast and inland. Some are still waiting for power after the Hurricane while others in Texas droughts and fire fields, are now without well water. 
I feel very blessed that we are back to our normal. Almost – Toots starts preschool next week.


Hurricane Irene came and went, and left a lot of damage in her wake. My family hunkered down, battened down the hatches, took naps, did puzzles, read by candlelight for just a little while. Overall, though the house sounded threateningly battered and buffeted, in the end we really had no damage. Just had to clean up a lot of little branches in the yard. some not so little, but still we could carry them.

I wish I could say the same for everyone. A mother lost her child in Newport News, near us. Old college friends’ family in upstate New York had to evacuate their house by rescue boat. Within twenty-four hours prior, they had an epic battle to remove a squirrel from their house. It has not been a good weekend for them. They are okay, but their driveway and basement are awash.

Many others had it much worse. A fabric artist’s studio in Shelburne Falls, MA, picked up from its foundation and took a ride down a raging river that had formerly been the street. There is impressive video of that pink brick building before and after its journey floating around the internet. My apologies for the wordplay.

Back in our vicinity, Southside, at Sandbridge Beach area of Virginia Beach, again, there is impressive video and photography of houses ripped apart there around the internet.. It’s my family’s favorite beach to day trip to. The little low lying town next to me was under mandatory evacuation, but a friends of mine stayed while the husband volunteered for Community Emergency Services.

In the meantime, here, I am amazed that Mother Nature can go from this:

The night before Hurricane Irene

To this on the day of:

Taken early on. Later those birches were bending in half like a Cirque du Soleil acrobat. I did not want to be that close to the windows when she was at full strength.
To this the following day:
Solid blue, grace of an egret.
My hopes and wishes are that you and yours are all well, and survived to pick up the pieces as we did. 

mountain adventure

I arrived home with West Virginia mountain soil ground into my skin, everything smelling slightly musky and very smokey from rain and campfire and feeling more alive than I’ve felt in a long time. Hot, sore, soaked, dirty, smelly and utterly alive.

Honey and I have this little thing. When we’re in sync about something, any little thing, we have kind of a slide-five, confirmation of everything right between us. We did that a lot more this trip than we have for a long time.

I had dreams, amazing dreams of people far away but near to my heart, as I slept with my head in a Civil War trench on a hilltop, in a damp tent, surrounded by RV city. One friend currently working, far from his family and friends, in Argentina. Others in a far off land…I think it’s called Wisconsin. 😉

This is who I am. I am of the land, mountains, rivers, sea and sky and night fires. This is where I am happiest, most content, completely myself.

And I haven’t been camping in over 20 years. Now, I know why I feel such discontent. It’s not the suburbs. It’s not my family circumstances, or other minute aggravations of the day in day out or the lack of writing time to myself.

It’s that I haven’t fed my soul the way it loves to be fed most in such a long long time. A lifetime. A roasted marshmallow soul under the moon and stars soul. A sun on my skin, rain on my hat, kid in a backpack on my back soul. A dog leash carabiner’ed to the backpack soul.

This is the seven year old Cathy, who when my family couldn’t call me in from dinner so easily, my mother sent my brothers out to look up the nearest tree for me.

But I seem to be starting at the end here, rather than the beginning. and this is probably going to be a very long blog with lots of pictures. So maybe I will leave the end here, at the beginning, and give you the beginning to the end tomorrow, and maybe the day after, and again, after that.

I am happy, my family is safe. I love my spouse, and my daughter camped for the first time. Her favorite part was ‘camping’. Parental translation: sleeping in the tent with Mommy and Daddy and Lucy.

“Can you see the real me, doctor, doctor?”

Honey and Toots at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers

I obviously need to do this more. The boys are coming next month.  Life is good, go for hike. Roast a marshmallow over an open fire, under the moon.

Warning: not so mild language.

It’s that time – short family vacation, camping, after we drop the boys off to their father. See outside the walnut grained vinyl veneer station wagon? That’s our camping reservations forecast for  the duration. Lucy is not a fan of thunderstorms when in the house. I wonder how she’ll fair in a tent?

We should be back in four days. Glub glub.

And then we’ll do it again with the boys when we get them back in August.

independence day

We spent the Fourth with my in-laws – eating, eating, thunderstorm and eating s’more. badabumching!
It took me a while to figure out what to make to please everyone, since I needed something veggie besides tofu dogs – I am very weary of them. Corn and potatoes were being grilled to go with the pulled pork sandwiches, so that scratched my ideas for a black bean and corn salad and a potato salad. It finally occurred to me to make a cannelini Tuscan type salad: 
It’s the easiest bean for those with veg protein sensitivities(pretty common on that side of the family), and the basic balsamic, olive oil and lemon juice dressing over parsley, tomato, garlic and red onion went over well with the Italian side of the family. And, just because I generally must go off-recipe (like off-roading, but in the kitchen), I added a little cucumber. 
Originally, since the boys are typically with their father for the Fourth, I wanted to take them to the local fireworks. But I let that go pretty easily (Captain Comic and crowds are not a good mix, esp with loud noise, add my ankle) when the picnic plans were made. I was happy we didn’t attempt that when the thunderstorm hit. We picnicked inside and ended up roasting marshmallows over sterno on the kitchen table. Poor Uncle L got soaked manning the grill at one point. But secretly, I think he enjoyed it. 
Toots had not napped and ran circles around their open floor plan gleefully screaming, “You can’t catch me! You can’t catch me! You can’t catch me!” No one was chasing her. She must have run a marathon’s worth of miles around that house.
She slept til almost eight thirty this morning. Twelve hours. 
We enjoyed watching a run of that History Channel show, How the States Got Their Shapes and some of the marathon on SyFy of old Twilight Zone episodes. Of course, we gabbed and reminisced about old folks and middle aged folks free childhoods outside as opposed to today’s kids, on constant watch and playing videogames, etc. The older kids played a game called Fact or Crap. I even joined in at one point. 
All in all, a pretty relaxing and stuffed way to spend the day we declared our Independence from the British, 235 years ago. The only firework seen was lightning, including a bolt hitting the Poquoson River outside the kitchen windows. I think I was the only one who saw that when it happened. But everyone heard the boom.

it was a dark and stormy night.

 ~ Snoopy

Last night was quite the storm. It pummeled, it rumbled, it alerted often on TV.
Captain Comic was in a panic.
Lucy was in a panic.
Both periodically hyperventilated. 
And whimpered, there was a lot of very high pitched whimpering.

Toots crawled under the dining room table at one point, “to be safe under heyah”. I had been cataloging all safety procedures to assuage Captain Comic’s blood pressure. 

Captain Comic: I can’t believe we’re having a tornado warning. This is so scary. You shouldn’t have made me clean my room earlier, that only made the day worse.

After the tornado warning was over for our area, I had to call Mr. Cynic and ask if he was still alive as the tornado warnings continued for NC where his bus was on the road home from his Choral Competition in Myrtle Beach, SC. 

Captain Comic cried, But I don’t know if he’s alive or dead! He collapsed to the floor and shook raised dramatic hands to the sky. 

On the phone:
Mom: Are you alive?
Mr. Cynic: No mom, I’m calling from death.

Gee, I wonder from whence he acquired his sardonic sense of humor.

All kidding aside, I am extremely grateful that Mr. Cynic made it home safely and the bus only had to pull over once for safety’s sake. My heart goes out to many others who did not come through this storm nearly as well as we did. In the next town, three people died.  

I am also very proud that his Jazz Choir is Grand Champion! The trophy is as tall as my pipsqueak nearly sixteen year old. Poor kid, doubly cursed with short genes. 

I went out quite late to retrieve Mr. Cynic. By then the storm had passed and I walked out to the driveway under a brightly deep prussian blue sky full of stars and moonlight from a full, full glorious moon. The world, rocked by the moods of spring, once again, lay forever changed, and yet unchanged as the ages.  

Life goes on and I am grateful for the ordinary. 

hurricane earl and sundry

Hurricane?  What hurricane?  We got drizzle after I battened down the hatches.

Quilt?  What quilt?  Oh yea, that one. I’m working on it, slowly – quilting about an hour a day this week.

Been going to a lot of orientation type thingies, haircuts for boys, new sneakers, etc.  Busy week, while still trying to keep it low key.

School starts Tuesday for the boys.  Finally got schedules straightened out, etc.  That took a bit of doing.

Preschool orientation for Toots this week, too.  She loved meeting her teachers and exploring the playground.  A lot. Tough prying her away from it.  Now to potty train with a deadline of October 5th.

Novel edits?  What novel edits?  Nope, didn’t even open the document this week.  Writing group meets on Tuesday, though, so I will work on it then.  Promise.

batten down the hatches

I live in Hurricane Alley. Hurricane Earl is headed our way.  Or not.

image source:
We live above the purple extreme zone at the Outer Banks, near the red and yellow zones border.  That puts us smack between medium to high threat zone as of this morning’s assessment.
So we may have a thunderstorm here overnight, or a visit from Earl. 
I’m not too worried.  No sense in freaking out the kids.  Our neighborhood has a good generator, so I’m not too concerned about losing power, unlike some folks I know.  Some area hospitals have evacuated their most critical patients, just in case.  I live in a high and dry zone, so I’m not too concerned about flooding, unlike some folks I know.  That was one of the main selling points on this house when we bought it.
I am a bit concerned about the drought summer and the big tree next to my bedroom window uprooting or breaking then falling on the house.  I am a bit concerned about our 12ft trampoline making liftoff. 
I am a bit wary, especially when I think about how they discussed the approach of Hurricane Katrina to New Orleans, rather insisting that there didn’t seem to be threat until it was too late.
So I have my eyes opened, but I’m not too worried.  I will keep my eyes on the dog, though.  She’s an excellent nervous barometer.  
I especially am keeping an eye on that ‘threat level may change depending on track and intensity’ band on the map.
But, Earl, if you do visit, you are welcome to take my ten year old van. The insurance would really help toward a new one.

garden & storm

You’d think I would come home from a whirlwind road trip and relax, but no!

Half of my bushes out front have bitten it in the heat wave, and I couldn’t stand to see all that pathetic brown take over, so I’ve been bushwhacking.  Literally.

This activity led to wanting to follow through on moving the border of the front garden back that I’ve been talking about doing pretty much since we moved in 3.5 years ago.  I’m still mid-process on that, but yesterday, I transplanted some of those forward bushes back closer to the house to fill the holes left by the dead ones.

The fanciest tools I own are long handled hedge clippers, a smallish shovel and a wheel barrow.  So yes, ladies and gentleman, I am doing all of this work old school – by hand.  It’s rough on my back, but I do enjoy it.

Last night, as soon as I finished two major transplants, the sky blackened and opened up, the wind howled and I watched from inside as my backyard birch trees bent in half, like Cirque du Soleil performers.  The power went out.  The generator kicked on.  We reset clocks, etc. Then in the middle of the night, it happened again.

This morning found rooftiles galore across our front yard from the neighbors across the side street (we live on a corner).  Also birch and pine branches, a culvert full of pine needles and pine cones, and my crazy rose vine trellises on their side. 

Across the main street, our neighbors’ basketball hoop took out the windshield of their car. 

So I got back to work out front, playing the biggest game of actual pick up sticks, and cut the crazy rose vines down to remove the old broken trellis I was already propping up anyway with a newer one.  I reset the new one for new vines to grow up, then dragged the old wooden trellis covered in thorny vines to the strip of scrappy trees by the highway behind our back fence the back woods. Thankfully, new transplants survived the winds. 

I currently have Mr. Cynic raking the needles and pine cones out of the culvert and wheeling them in the barrow out to the back woods.  He’s really a good kid.  Don’t tell him I told you. He also brought the roof tiles back to the neighbor after I gathered them.  I asked him to bring them to the door, but he just dropped them over their back fence to make their crazy dogs bark invasion.

So that’s what I have been up to besides laundry that I haven’t posted much on my trip North.

Ain’t life grande?  Work hard, wear protective goggles.

Of weekend…and old southern fishermen

Of weekend, writing or not, organization and furniture, productivity or relaxation, beach, t-storms, dead battery, stand still traffic and old southern fishermen.

I’m thinking again. Thinking of writing, thinking of editing, but waiting for editorial input from a few select friends in order to edit my manuscript. Of editing the poem I wrote the other day or not, or of writing the story I started or the one with the fully cast set of characters from about a week ago. Or of finding that script outline from oh, 4 yrs ago, that I still would like to develop. And three derivative character books from my manuscript that I could easily start, not exactly a series, but related books on existing characters.

I’m thinking I’m happy that Honey and I finally rearranged S’s bedroom on Saturday. I’m thinking how long will it stay this clean after he gets home from his dad’s. And of threatening to take anything left on the floor or shoved behind furniture away for eternity, but that’s a lot of money in legos and drawing supplies and dinos and godzillas that I’d rather he use.

I’m thinking I wish I had a laptop and a couple of hours a day in a café or elsewhere so I won’t be on toddler duty, or in the vicinity of laundry, dishes et al, so I can focus on writing and get to the deeper level, find the groove, without distractions in housework or parenting.

I’m thinking what an absolutely gorgeous day at the beach on Sunday. The water was perfect, the beach was packed, Honey and I relaxed, Baby C grew a little more accustomed to the sand and the water, and even pointed from the shovelful of sand I held to show her, and pointed to a speck on my arm and said ‘sahn..’ She watched a kite circle and dip and bounce. She pointed to gulls, to clouds to people to sandcastles, to the ocean for me to say what they were again and again. She pointed and giggled at the flock of squawking laughing gulls dipping and circling and diving at an unattended set-up, where they were stealing snacks, because the family all went to the water together, leaving their belongings to the snarky thieves. That is a lesson learned in my well-beached youth. She flirted with the young guys behind us who laughed and called her adorable, after gossiping about friends and others apparently at their college. I thought and said to Honey, I am so glad I am not that age anymore, when what people wear, their hair, their ‘tudes, their likes and dislikes matter so disproportionately to the entirety of world affairs.

And then the breeze became darkened sky, became drops. I watched the cloud direction and we packed up, headed to the van in the municipal lot, to discover alarm drained dead battery, and then the sky opened up, and Honey and I yelled at each other, til he stood at the edge of the lot to watch for Triple A, who arrived with handheld battery pack in an unmarked Nissan, calling me on my cellphone on the approach. I think, why do we yell at each other so readily, when all else fails.

I’m thinking of getting on the road and sitting in standstill traffic on the bridge. Of the ancient bent man wiping his new truck with a greasy cloth and getting out, hobbling slowly, fly half unzipped, toward his trailered fishing boat. He stopped and spoke to us on his way, offered us a pepsi or a mountain dew with multiple extra syllables in his deeply southern accent, as only the true locals in this highly transitory area speak, and of his spit of tabacca chaw in the midst of the conversation. I’m thinking of the four car slightly more than fender bender and emergency vehicles that held us up and of how C slept so well after the beach through the whole thing.

I’m thinking I have a moment right now in which I could be writing something mentioned above, but that right now, this is what I need to be writing, because I’m thinking of so many different things, including that the boys will be home in a few weeks, and of all the plans I am making for the week we will pick them up, we will spend trying to visit loved ones we miss, see my family, check up on my mom’s progress since the stroke, and of nephews and niece, growing so much – she’s twenty and the youngest nephew is three, and how much of life has passed in the time since I moved away, and since my brothers and I were growing up, and I need to write all of this down somehow, use it, love it, and turn it into something more than the ramblings of my life.

And I’ve suddenly realized I’ve hit a landmark. This is my fiftieth post to my little blog. I guess I’m not so new to this anymore and better figure out how to do that underliney thingie for links instead of throwing the whole link up in the blog.

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