After the latest bout of high water receded, I looked out and saw an unfamiliar object rearing up in the slow current twenty feet beyond the deck. Whaaaaaat?
Either the legendary Loch Ness monster had fled Scotland and taken up residence in Ohio…or an old German sub had chugged up from the Gulf via the Mississippi, Ohio, and Great Miami rivers, turned left into my home stream, and was now contemplating firing off a torpedo at one of my sycamores.
Ughhh…I took a calming sip or two of strong coffee, and supposed it could also be a waterlogged snag with a protruding limb, which had washed downstream and lodged temporarily in the Cottage Pool. However, given the month I've had, nothing would surprise me—and I'm not about to immediately discount even the most bizarre possibilities.
Which is not to say we're having too bad a time of things nearly a month after our pre-Christmas flooding.
Throughout the house, our floor coverings—carpet and hardwood—had to be ripped up and removed, and are now sodden, snowy heaps in the yard, so we're walking on cold, rough concrete. There's still stuff to be unloaded from my friend's big box truck parked at our back door. Still plenty of piles and boxes and tubs waiting in various rooms, to be sorted through as soon as we can.
Yet all but a couple of the rooms—my writing room and the laundry room being the exceptions—have been put back to usable if not exactly normal conditions. The only pieces of furniture we lost were a chest-of-drawers, mirrored dresser, and a nightstand—all veneered mahogany from the late-1940s, their value more sentimental than monetary. A few smaller items succumbed, too, but not many and nothing that can't be replaced.
We've had a handful of subsequent disasters, all minor and most fixable. But our work is definitely cut out for the months ahead…including a total redo on the kitchen and bathroom and bedroom, new flooring throughout, and probably new walls in most rooms—whether it's drywall and paint, barn siding, or something else.
The reimbursement from our flood insurance will only be about half what the FIMA inspector told us during his inspection. Disappointing—but better than nothing, anyway. This means a much tighter budget, perhaps different materials, and certainly the maximum DYI we can manage. A lot tougher than we'd hoped and been led to believe, but still doable. I think.
We're optimistic and resigned to the long haul. Moreover, I don't intend to turn this blog into a months-long series of pity-party posts whining, grumbling, fulminating, grousing, and complaining about the hardships we poor old victims of a minor natural disaster are now having to endure as we "recover our lives."
Our lives are just fine, thank you…or at least as fine as they were pre-flood. We're inconvenienced but encouraged, even excited by what we can do, still have, and may end up with—not moaning and bellyaching about our loss. We're warm, well-fed, and pretty comfortable. Blessed, literally and absolutely. Thousands of folks all across this country live far worse, in far worse conditions—with no hope of betterment down the road.
Years ago, I spent a couple of weeks as the guest of a Cherokee family living in the Snowbird Mountains of North Carolina. Mother, father, five sons and three daughters. In a two-room, cinder-block house which probably didn't measure 800 square feet total. Water for cooking came from a spring fifty yards up the hill. The outhouse was a hundred yards in the opposite direction—remember, keep an eye out for bears in the laurels, and don't forget to check for copperheads and timber rattlers around the building's bottom edge under the single wooden step. Parents and girls slept in one room, guys and their guest in the other. Mom and Dad had the only bed; everyone else a mattress on the floor.
I learned so much during those two weeks—about the flora and fauna of the lovely Southern Highlands, about herbs and healing plants, folklore and history, and how to fish for mountain brook trout. I got taken in and introduced to a world quite beyond my own upbringing. A magical and wonderful time, simply because they were an generous, marvelous, full-of-joy family. I've never met a happier bunch. They obviously loved and respected one another—but they also enjoyed one another, and took great delight in sharing each other's company.
Were they dirt poor? In need of some Federal Aid program? Only by some standards. In other ways they were as wealthy as anyone I've ever met. And they certainly taught me that you live from the inside-out, not the outside-in.
So while I'll try and keep you updated in my posts with our recovery/redo process, please understand that we're just having an adventure, with all the little quirks, setbacks, and unexpected pleasures therein.