Tuesday, January 21, 2014


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.    



Debbie said...

"Just having an adventure". What a wonderful way to look at it. I'm not discounting your inconvenience or expense, and I'm very sorry for it. You do present it in the right perspective tho. Just waking up as Americans in the United States each day puts us way ahead of most people in the world. All else is just icing.

The Solitary Walker said...

I enjoyed and was inspired so much by this post, Grizz. Though I'm not enjoying thinking of your sentimental losses, and your arduous work to come.

But what I am heartened by is your attitude and spirit. Yes, so heartened and encouraged and absolutely delighted by it! You give us all a reason for living, and for enduring hardship, my friend.

And, as you say, there's always someone worse off than ourselves. Much worse off.

Your stay with the Cherokee family was educational and inspiring. What a rich world, if only we had the eyes to see it.

Grizz………… said...


Thank you. And you're right—we all have so much more than so many of the world's poor and suffering and oppressed. We forget how blessed we are. And I never want to do that, forget. For even now, I'm still greatly blessed.

KGMom said...

Scribe--do keep in mind that some of your readers, me included, will be genuinely interested in hearing from you as you work toward recovery.
The friends I have who live within sight of the Susquehanna were displaced for MONTHS when the river last flooded. Yes, there was complete rebuilding of walls--they had to be ripped out from about mid-wall height. New appliances were also in order. New flooring...sounds familiar, eh?
And yet your perspective is absolutely right--most of us in the U.S. are blessed.
Here's hoping for that your stamina holds, that your muscles don't complain too mach, and that the creek don't rise again.

Grizz………… said...


I appreciate your kind words, my friend. Trust me, I'm a sentimental fool about way too much. Yet, oddly, I seem to be able to let these things go with barely a twinge. And as to the work ahead…much will be difficult and frustrating. And maybe, for me, impossible. If that's the case, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. But for now, it's just out there waiting—a little scary, perhaps, the sheer amount that will be necessary, but still not in a bad way. A sort of exciting fright, Understand? An adventure, or rather a series of adventures—problems to solve, techniques to learn, materials and designs to master. Or at least muddle through adequately enough.

I used to think adventures were those big things you did somewhere else—generally somewhere strange and wild and dangerous. The kind of adventures H. Rider Haggard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jack London, and about a hundred other authors whose books I devoured wrote about.

In fact, I read it so much and so eagerly that I ended up, in a small way, devoting my life to one of endless rambles and outdoor adventures—always being willing to leave the group or the trail if some place or rumor "over yonder, in back of beyond" promised even more adventure.

I expect I've never fully grown up, but I have wised up a bit. Now I understand that adventures come in all shapes and sizes, foreign and domestic, and can involve every aspect of our lives. In point of fact, life is the biggest adventure of all…one we each share…and it happens every single day. So when I say I view what has happened and more importantly, what is yet to happen, as an adventure, I was being quite honest. It's not just a matter of perspective, but rather of philosophy—mine, anyway, and Myladylove's. Life happens. To all of us, whether we like it or want it to, or not. Adventure lies ahead like a waiting lion. I dread it and am thrilled by the prospects. Crazy? Maybe.

Moreover, right now, it is 0˚F outside, heading to a night's low of around -5˚F. There are piles of snow beyond my doorway windows—several inches of which fell today. I can hear the river out there in the darkness, still churning over the riffle stones. It sounds cold. Yet there's a cheery fire burning in the woodstove and the great room—concrete floor and all—is a comfortable 68˚F. Myladylove is asleep in a nearby chair. My beloved old dog is curled up on a pad near the hearth, snoring peacefully. Between jabs at the keyboard (I've temporarily set my computer up on our dinning table) I'm nibbling on oatmeal cookies I made yesterday—a belated but delicious dessert after the pork roast I fixed for tonight's supper. In a few minutes, I'll toss a night log on the fire, damp the stove, let Moon out for her final round, and wake my sleeping mate…and we'll subsequently all toddle off to our dry, cozy beds.

Definitely not anywhere close to hardship. Yet the same cannot be said for so very many folks who share this spinning world. And not just in faraway lands…but close to home. Possibly just down the street. You never know. So many do lead lives of quiet desperation, of neglect and abuse, pain, want, need. My current travails are mere piddles in the dust. They amount to nothing. I well know that I'm fortunate, and blessed.

This is, indeed, a rich and wonderful world, in spite of all its problems. A beautiful world. A would I cherish and delight in and love.

Grizz………… said...


Don't worry, I'll share our progress, or lack of it when necessary, on a regular basis. Though in some matters it will likely be so slow that you'll wonder which direction we're going. There are just so many things that will have to be done…and with a workforce of two semi-part time unskilled laborers, speed is apt to be glacial.

Your hopes mirror my own—will, stamina, working muscles, spinal column, capabilities, luck, common sense, finances. And no additional flood for a few years, please.

The Solitary Walker said...

I've reproduced your exceptional response to my comment on my blog, Grizz. Hope that's ok. I wanted it to inspire others.

Grizz………… said...


I'm honored and humbled—though a little frightened that anyone would take something I said as exceptional, since I see myself as neither inspiring nor wise. Nevertheless, thank you. You're always welcome to use anything I post.