The Irma Saga, Part II: The Waiting is the Hardest Part

After this particular part of the story, I could not get that Tom Petty song out of my head.  Which is why I referenced it in the title.

At this point, I should warn you that I don’t have a very linear narrative here…I will jump back and forth in time at points…just bear with me.

One of the biggest things we went through in the aftermath of Irma was one that a good portion of the state of Florida went through: being without power.  After going almost the entire storm without losing power (save for a few flickers throughout the day and evening), Irma finally knocked out our power on her way out of my hometown, at about 6:00 Monday morning, on September 11.  Yes, this is obviously a date of significance here, and because of Irma, this was actually the first time since that tragic morning in 2001 that the memory of those events didn’t really cross my mind (and having watched those attacks play out on live TV, the memories of those images are still ingrained in my mind all these years later…I can still replay those moments and memories in my head, which is why I haven’t felt much of a need to rewatch footage of those attacks).  We were just focused on trying to clean up and get our post-hurricane plans in motion.

Dad set up our generator on our back porch area, and it was this generator that would become our sole power source for the next 5 days.  We got this generator more than a decade ago after the nightmare that was the Triumvirate of Hurricanes in 2004, an experience which I discussed in detail in my last entry, The Irma Saga, Part I: Possibly the Longest Weekend of My Life So Far. Since we’ve gotten this generator, Irma has marked only the second time we have had to use it (the first time was after Hurricane Matthew, which knocked out our power for about 36 hours last year).  Out came the extension cords and power strips, and with a few configurations, we were able to use it to power the following: our refrigerator, the window unit air conditioner in the master bedroom (which my dad normally uses to keep himself from sweating profusely when he sleeps, a condition I myself seem to have inherited), a shop fan (which produces a fantastic cooling current, I must say), a pedestal fan, the living room TV and its associated devices, and an auto shop light that would serve as both a bathroom and kitchen light and a spare outlet for our coffee brewer or our microwave.

Now, about 6 million customers lost power because of Irma, and with household estimates taken into account, somewhere around 15 million people were without power.  That amounts to about three-quarters of the entire state that lost power during Irma.  Crews from all over the country came in to give our own linemen extra sets of hands to try and get the state back online as soon as possible.  We knew we were gonna have to be patient.  Sometimes our patience was tested, and that’s partly due to how my neighborhood was built.

My neighborhood is unusual in that not all of the houses on my street are on the same power grid.  The houses on my street were not all built at the same time.  My street is a short little street that runs from north to south in a straight line, with about 10 houses lining the western side of the street, and my house is the only one on the eastern side, just a little over halfway down if you go from north to south.  The north and south ends intersect with one street each, with the street on the northern end taking a path straight to the local US highway, and the one on the southern end connects with another street that also takes a path straight to the same highway.  Right next to my house is another intersection with another small street that ends in a cul-de-sac next to some woods, through which a trail runs that connects the end of that street with the corner of another nearby one.  Now, the houses on the southern end of the street, all the way up to my house, were built first, and they share a power grid with the houses that are on the street that intersect with the southern end of my street.  Our neighbor’s house, just across the street and one house to the right from my house’s vantage point, is one of the first houses on a separate power grid, which includes the little side street that intersects near my house and the street that intersects with the northern end of my street.

What all this means is that we didn’t all lose our power the same way.  My neighbor that I mentioned?  His loss of power was likely caused by either a blown transformer or a downed tree at the northern end of our street.  Since we’re on a different grid, that had no effect on our power.  However…the street that the wooded trail connects to?  A large oak tree managed to fall on that street, which is what knocked out our power.  This was gonna take much more than 36 hours to fix.

During this whole thing, I did not leave my street, so my dad’s updates from his drive home from work were my updates to the outside when it came to what was happening in my hometown.  He had Sunday off because of the storm, but was due to return Monday night.  However, I was so uneasy about how to run things that my dad decided to take Monday night off and return Tuesday.  Monday night I slept in my bed, while parents and the dog all slept in the master bedroom.  They got the air conditioner, set to a very cool 60 degrees, and I got the shop fan set up on my floor, all with the generator refueled and running through the night to power them.  The shop fan actually did help to relieve some of my sweating…much better than the very sweaty nights I would experience during a typical powerless night.  Tuesday, we were able to come up with a routine where my dad would refuel the generator before going to work, which would allow us to run the window unit while he was gone until about 7 or 8 in the morning, when it would run out of fuel.  (Not a long wait, as he typically gets home around 9:00 am.).  Tuesday  and Wednesday nights, I slept in the master bedroom and was able to keep my mom company, as she typically has night panics these days and doesn’t like to sleep alone.  (These nights, though, I wouldn’t go to bed until at least 11:00 pm so I could make sure our DVR programming recorded on time.)  The cool air helped me sleep with minimal to no sweating.  Thursday was my dad’s first night off from in his regular schedule, but I ended up sitting out in the living room to keep an eye on our back door, which had to be cracked open to allow the extension cords to run in from outside.  I tend to get very cautious when this happens, because I prefer all the doors to be locked at night.  I ended up trying to watch Frasier reruns until my dad woke me up at 4:00 am (he typically doesn’t sleep as much on his off nights because his internal clock is so used to him being active at night), so I got a few extra hours of sleep in the cold master bedroom.

How did we eat that week?  Well, with the power out, we had no use of our stove, which meant we couldn’t cook anything or even brew iced/sweet tea (which is my dad’s favorite thing to drink: he takes it barely sweetened, only about 1/3 cup of sugar per gallon, and with 5 tea bags steeping in the water, as he likes his tea strong).  We ended up eating mostly sandwiches, fast food burgers, and pizza that week.  When our power came back on, I was so glad to finally be able to use the stove again after a week!

On Wednesday, our neighbor knocked on our door that afternoon to inform us that his power was back on and that the crews had finally begun the process of clearing out the tree that had knocked out our own power.  Unfortunately, our power did not come back on that night.  The following day, my dad had not noticed any crews working in that area that morning, but were in another part of the neighborhood.  That afternoon, after a drive around the neighborhood, he did notice something in that area, though: a power pole had been installed, but had no line hung up (though the supplies were at the site).  I immediately perked up, because I knew it was only a matter of time before our power would be back on.  Sure enough, the new transformer and power line were installed the next day, and our power finally came back on at about 10:45 Friday morning…we were into our fifth day without power.  After turning off our generator, winding up the extension cords, putting the power strips back into their proper places, and all three of us each getting a good shower 🚿, we were finally able to go back to our normal routines and put the memories of Irma behind us.

Tomorrow will mark just three weeks since Irma, and it’s already feeling like a distant memory.  But as Floridians like myself have been reminded time and time again, just because the memories are distant doesn’t give us permission to become complacent about just of what Mother Nature is capable.  We Floridians have learned this in the wake of Andrew; of Charley, Frances, and Jeanne; of Wilma; of Matthew; and of Irma.  Outside of Florida, we humans have learned this lesson through Katrina and Sandy and Mitch…and even most recently through Hurricanes Harvey and Maria.  I hope those of you who live in hurricane-prone regions take this to heart.  Heed any warnings that are given, and take them seriously.  Don’t think that you can outsmart a hurricane…because you can’t.  You will save yourself a world of trouble, or even your life.

Now, I shall close this post with a clip of the song I referenced in the title, “The Waiting” by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, probably the most famous rock band to ever come out of the state of Florida (although Lynyrd Skynyrd is a close second).

Until next time…

The Irma Saga, Part I: Possibly the Longest Weekend of My Life So Far

First of all, I noticed several of my followers left comments while I was away showing concern for my safety while this whole thing was happening.  With that said, I want to thank them for their concern for my well-being during Irma, as I would certainly extend the same if anything as disastrous came near their homes.

As you can see, I did indeed get through the storm in one piece.  And now you all get to hear about my experience of living through Irma!

Before I get to the Irma Saga proper, it’s probably best if I fill you in on my history with hurricanes.  Of course, I am a lifelong resident of Florida, so for many of us here, tropical cyclones come with the territory of living here, and we are very acutely aware of the risk that they pose.  I was too young and too far north to remember Hurricane Andrew, and while my family evacuated in anticipation of Hurricane Floyd in 1999, that storm ended up staying out over the ocean.  My first real experience with a hurricane came about at a very active and transitional time for me: August, 2004.  My maternal grandmother, one of my closest relatives, had died of cancer just a month earlier.  Nine days after her death, my senior portrait was taken.  In the very beginning of August, I started my senior year of high school.  But it was barely a couple of weeks into that school year when Hurricane Charley set his sights on Punta Gorda, Florida, and the I-4 Corridor from there.  I remember having to hear the sounds of the storm the night it arrived.  I could hear the thud of a tree falling by the edge of the woods near our house.  Our power was knocked out, and would stay down for a week due to the electric company not getting the call to fix our power grid, for some reason.  We ended up missing about two weeks of school because of Charley, and just as we were settling back into a routine, another hurricane, Frances, also decided to set her sights on Florida.  I remember our air conditioner blowing out just before the storm took out our power.  But that wasn’t the kicker.  On top of that, a pine tree in our backyard slowly fell onto our house.  However, it fell slowly enough that the wind basically cradled it to our roof instead of smashing it through our walls.  We were able to run across the street to our neighbor’s house before the tree hit the roof.  It did leave a hole in our roof, which we were able to patch up.  I can still see in my mind where that tree was, too.  Three weeks later came Hurricane Jeanne, and by that point I was simply thinking, “Not again…”.  And although our power was eventually restored after each hurricane, they left an effect that would last long after the storms passed, most notably when all the rainfall compromised the ground enough to cause a sinkhole to open in the road right by my high school a month or two after the hurricanes, one that would take almost the rest of the entire school year to fix.  A large maple tree that has stood across the street from my house for as long as I can remember has been slowly dying since those storms.  I remember when it would be full of green leaves in the summer; now, the top half of the tree is dead and a shadow of its former self, but somehow its lower branches still produce leaves year after year.  Those three hurricanes (and some of the last gasps of Hurricane Ivan) taught me so much about how to approach future hurricanes.  We now have our own plans in place for when storms like this come around.  But just because I know what I’m dealing with now doesn’t make dealing with them any less easier.

Enter Irma.

When the forecast models became clear that Florida would be affected by this storm in some way, shape, or form, my nerves began to build, only getting stronger and stronger as the days to landfall grew closer.  By the time Irma started making her approach towards Florida, my nerves were at such a level that was only rivaled by the health scare that my dad had a year ago and had to spend the night in the hospital.  From its landfall in the Keys until the remnants of the eye wall passed right by and right through my hometown, I couldn’t keep my eyes off of the storm coverage.  For some people, watching all that may be stressful, but for me, knowing what to expect actually helps to ease some of my worries.  Irma’s fury was getting stronger and stronger by this point.

At the storm’s peak, I remember the sounds of howling wind, rain slapping the sides of my house, and the *bang* of an exploding transformer on a nearby street.  Somehow, we managed to maintain power (with the occasional flicker) throughout the worst of the storm…only to have a fallen oak tree on another nearby street take ours out at 6:00 Monday morning, setting off a saga of its own.  Our house, thankfully, suffered no structural damage.  The worst storm damage we got was a couple of fallen oak branches to our Chrysler (which seems to be purely cosmetic damage).  There were two small dents in the hood, and there was a huge dent in the left front fender.


You see where the reflection caves in, just above the tire?  That’s where the dent is, and it measures about the size of my hand.  Luckily, the car is currently not in driving condition, as it is awaiting a replacement alternator.  Our truck escaped any damage.  Even now, two weeks out, my street is still lined with piles of dead oak branches with their now-brown leaves 🍁, all blown off from the numerous oak trees that populate my neighborhood.  Of course, as the destruction in the Keys has shown, we could’ve had it so much worse.  My family and neighbors only had to clear away oak branches.  People in the Keys will have to rebuild everything because of Irma.
We also did not flood, by virtue of sitting on land that is 60 feet above sea level and, in addition to that, being high enough and distant enough from our nearest waterway, the St. Johns River, to avoid it at its flood stage.  As of this writing, two weeks after Irma, the St. Johns is still at flood stage and is under an indefinite Flood Advisory until the waters finally begin to recede.  We also have a pretty good storm drain system for being in a neighborhood that sits on unincorporated county land.  While this storm was a rainmaker and singlehandedly put a lot of major places in Central Florida back into a rainfall year-to-date surplus, in my area it was nowhere near 2008’s Tropical Storm Fay, which spent a week over Florida and made landfall four separate times.  It drenched the entire state of Florida and had periods of almost stationary movement similar to that of Hurricane Harvey just last month.  (Fay actually did give us some street flooding, but no house flooding; I live on a hill.).  However, places like Miami, Jacksonville, Shingle Creek (considered to be the headwaters of The Everglades), and even places relatively near to me like Sanford and Astor got some pretty nasty flooding.

Waiting for Irma was quite stressful.  Going through Irma’s wrath was a bit scary.  After Irma, I’m glad that I still have my life, health, family, and a roof still over my head.  There are many who were not so lucky.  I hope those who lost everything in this storm are able to rebuild their lives and are able to return to some sense of normalcy.  And these sentiments also go out to those who’ve lost everything because of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico 🇵🇷 and other places around the Caribbean that were hit by both Irma and Maria.

Coming soon, I will be posting about the power outage we went through in the aftermath of Irma, which I felt deserved its own post.  It was an…interesting experience, to say the least.  Until then…best wishes to you all.

While I Was Away (Or, Ermahgerd…Finished Objects!)

In case the title didn’t give it away…La vie en rose et violet is finally complete!


I actually finished this baby on September 6th (and I know this because I wrote the date down in notes I was keeping for the blog in the event of a much longer hiatus).  She turned out to be a thing of beauty.  It took me almost 6 months to finish, but I love how it turned out.

Name: La vie en rose et violet / Pattern: My own, improvised pattern using the mitering technique / Yarn: Red Heart Super Saver in various colors: shades of pink, purple, Black, and Soft White / Needles: US #9 29-inch circular needles (5.25 mm diameter, and that is not a typo as these were Boye needles, whose #9 needles are manufactured slightly smaller than the industry standard diameter of 5.5 mm for this particular needle size)

My “knitting void” that resulted lasted all of about an hour.  Then inspiration struck me.  I noticed there were a couple of mostly full skeins of some shades of purple left over, and I got the idea (💡) to begin a garterlac throw, one that you could sling over the back of a chair.  And so I started to cast on.

Here is my current WIP, Orchid (named after one of the shades of purple Red Heart has, or specifically “Light Orchid”, which is the lighter shade here, which I would normally call “lavender”; the darker shade is officially called “Lavender” by Red Heart).

You’ll notice I have two different colors of circular needles in that picture.  This is because I am actually using two different styles of garter stitch in this project.  With the exception of the base triangles, all of the dark tiers of blocks are being worked in purl garter stitch (almost every stitch in every row is purled, and the tiers are joined in this set of blocks with a purl 2 together; I use this stitch because I am starting on the wrong side of the work when I work each block, as picking up the stitches for each block results in a right side and a wrong side), and for some reason I tend to purl somewhat looser than I knit (I have very uneven-looking flat stockinette for the same reason, and I have to use two different-sized needles when I work flat stockinette, with the purl rows being worked with the smaller needle).  In order to compensate for this, I am actually working those darker tiers with a smaller needle (a US #7 circular needle, which the lighter-colored needle in the picture) to keep the fabric from looking too loose.  The lighter tiers of blocks are being worked in standard knit garter stitch (every stitch in every row is knit, and the tiers are joined with ssk decreases: slip, slip, knit), which uses my standard needle for afghans, my US #9 circular needle, which is the darker, green needle in the picture.  I was in the process of slipping the stitches from the smaller needle to the larger one to begin the next tier, and decided to take the picture while the slipping stitches process was at the halfway point so it’s not all bunched up.  I hope to be able to share much more of this project as I go.

Finally, I decided to dip my toes back into crochet a little bit, and thanks to a YouTube video, I did my first little experiment in amigurumi.  It’s nothing too complicated…just a little ball.

I had no fiber-fill, so I used old yarn ends to stuff it instead.  See?  I actually do crochet!  Actually, Red Heart and Lion Brand have both recently released gradient self-striping yarns, and I’m tempted to crochet a shawl with either one of them at some point.  I’ve also found a couple of patterns that I’m tempted to knit in the near future, the Wonder Woman Wrap (I finally watched the movie with Gal Godot and my current celebrity crush Chris Pine during the hiatus, and it was awesome…probably the best movie adaptation of a DC comic since The Dark Knight), and a cowl pattern I found through Tumblr called the Pine Sway Cowl, although I probably wouldn’t make it in green.  I think either black and gray or charcoal gray and a soft white may be a better combo for my tastes.  Both of those patterns are available for free, by the way (I obviously can’t afford Ravelry’s paid patterns, so I am always on the lookout for quality and well-designed free patterns).

So that’s what I was up to with the yarn while I was away.  Obviously, there is an elephant 🐘 in the blog here, Hurricane Irma.  Honestly, Irma deserves her own posts, and yes…I did say posts.  The Irma Saga will be a two-parter.

Hope you enjoy the pics, and have a great day!

OMG…I’m back!

You read that right…I am back, you guys!  My dad surprised me with a new tablet this afternoon…okay, actually not just any tablet…but an iPad!  I absolutely love the clarity of the screen on this, and it is just gorgeous.  He even had my name and the message “A great daughter” printed on it.  It also came with a card saying “Thank you for all you do.  Love Mom and Dad.”  (Believe me, being a homemaker is not an easy job…it actually takes a lot of effort to keep a household running smoothly and to keep my mother happy, among many other things.). I thanked him many times over, even though I did not ask for it, or for anything.  My dad is just the kind to randomly surprise his loved ones like that.  (Side note, he’s even been known to do this for my soon-to-be sister in law.  It involved a leaf blower and a kiddie pool for my niece.).  It’s just beautiful, and I have a feeling this is gonna be the beginning of a beautiful partnership.  I even tested out the camera on it on my dog, and it is just a thing of beauty.


Of course, my dog is a thing of beauty as well.

I know you’re probably wondering what’s been going on since I had to leave so suddenly, and I hope to write about those in the coming days, but you can understand me wanting to reconnect to the interwebs after about a month away, right?  Here’s a teaser of what I will be writing about in the coming days:

  • Knitting (duh…and I’ve been doing a bit of it!)
  • Crocheting (my first crochet project in quite a while, even though it was a small, quick project.)
  • And since some of you did express your concerns in the comments, I will be writing about my experience living through Hurricane Irma.  As you can see by my post, I am doing fine and am safe and sound, as are my family and my brother and his family.  Anyone who lived through the Three Hurricanes of 2004 that hit Florida in a span of six weeks will understand my experience (and yes, I lived through Those Three Hurricanes as well).

For now…I’m gonna be fiddling around with this new thing!