The Heart of a Hurricane

It took many long hours for the hurricane to make its trek over us. I’m thankful to say that we made it out unscathed (though we were without power for a while). Things are finally starting to return to normal, though it will still be a while for some. As the hours dragged, I wondered how I would capture this experience. As a writer, all that came to mind are words. So here are some snippets of what it was like in the heart of a hurricane. 

Hysteria reverberates through the air.
Shelves and gas pumps empty, fueling fear.
People grow desperate as the eye draws near.
My gas tank and pantry are full.
Should I be more worried?

Covered in a mix of sawdust and mud,
we bolt plywood to the windows
and hope for the best. Tapcons screech,
forcing themselves deep into strong concrete.
Even the baby inside me is restless.
The cat cowers under the bed.
Cold rain pours as we work.
The storm isn’t even here yet.

Darkness.
I reach for the safety of the lantern.
The light brings some comfort as wind
rattles boards and rain pummels exposed windows.
We listen to each gust, breathless. I search
for the cat beneath the table. I want to know
where he is, just in case. I remind
all of us that it’s going to be okay.
Another gust. How fast was that one?
How  many more hours before it passes?

Light finally breaks through the speeding clouds
and we venture outside. The world is surreal.
Leaves blown from bent plants, branches everywhere,
dark spots where shingles should have been,
a lost piece of gutter laying on the sidewalk.
A mangled tree whispers destruction, others lay
where the wind left them. But we are all safe,
and that is what really matters.

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Hello, Hurricane (Irma)

Well, here we are again, sitting on the edge of another hurricane. Needless to say, it’s been a long week and not good for posting schedules.

So as we brace for an enormous storm, here’s the song that’s been on repeat in my head. We saw Switchfoot (one of my favorite bands) a few years ago, and when we did, they said that they wrote this song with my area in mind. For good reason, considering our hurricane track record.

If you don’t hear from me for a little while, it’s just because power/Internet is out. See you on the other side!


Reading the Inklings: Dorothy Sayers

Well, it took the whole summer, but I’m one step closer to my goal of reading something by all of the Inklings.

Robert Harvard, a medical doctor, was first on the list. The only entry I would really appreciate was in CS Lewis’ The Problem of Pain, so that’s what I read. As interesting as medical journals might be, I think that some of it may have been lost on me.

Fortunately, Dorothy Sayers writes fiction so there were plenty of options to choose from. Since I opted to borrow a book digitally from the library, I picked Lord Peter Views the Body.

It’s just one part of the Lord Peter Wimsey series, and it shows. While the stories are all vignettes, some do make clear references to prior stories. Nothing that makes it difficult to keep up with because she does give enough context for me to appreciate the characters and situations, but I still know that I’m missing something.

The stories make me think of Sherlock Holmes as far as their length and style go. Sometimes, there’s a possibility that I could have figured out the mystery. Other times, relevant information just isn’t presented, so the ending comes as a surprise. In any case, though, I enjoyed them and again admired the complexities of writing mysteries.

Much like Holmes, Lord Peter Wimsey (who is much younger than I originally imagined with such a grandiose name) has a sidekick: Bunter. Unlike Watson, he’s not in every story and he doesn’t always narrate, but he fulfills a similar function in the story.

Overall, it was definitely a fun read, and I’ll likely go back and check out some of her other works.

For now, though, it’s time to move on to new things. There’s a short story I promised a friend I would read, and then it’s time to pick the next Inkling!

Have you ever read anything by Dorothy Sayers? Do you like mysteries? If so, who are your favorite mystery authors?


At the DMV (An Observation)

She glances up at the clock as she retrieves yet another driver’s license. It’s 4:38pm. Will this day ever end?

She returns to the window where the annoyed man snatches the license and marches off in a huff. Whatever. She doesn’t really care. Her job, her life — it’s all boring and dissatisfying.

Reluctantly, she pushes the button to finalize the transaction. In 45 seconds, the next person will be at her window. Maybe it’ll take longer, if she’s lucky.

She picks at her grown out French tips as she waits. 5 o’clock can’t come fast enough. Of course, that means she has to go home to her messy house and rambunctious chihuahua puppy that her husband insisted they needed. Then comes an evening of chores. Dinner, a load of laundry while her husband takes the puppy for a walk, ironing… Sometimes she wonders if it would be more relaxing to just stay at the DMV.

The next person comes. Some lady who is all business but at least smiles. There aren’t many of those in the long lines and the piles of paperwork. Before she even asks, an old license and pile of documentation are on the counter. Everything is in order. That’s a surprise. Most people are missing something and ready to argue about it.

Small talk ensues, and it’s hard for her to keep her frustrations hidden. She doesn’t even know what to make for dinner tonight. “Maybe leftovers,” she says.

The lady nods. “Always a good choice. It’s easy. Or if you like salmon, you can always cover it with some barbecue sauce and bake it.”

At first, she shrugs off the suggestion. Then she starts to nod as well. Maybe that would be good. She’s never been much of a cook, but she always wanted to be. Like her grandmother. It sounds easy enough.

She snaps the picture and sends the lady away with a new license.

4:55. Maybe this is a good day to try something new.


Eclipse

Restless eyes glance at the sky
Scanning glowing clouds for the sun
And faithfully approaching moon.
Restlessly watch the clock;
Four hours and 100 miles to go.
Restless to finally stop and watch.

The faithful wait in a quiet park,
cameras and glasses at the ready.
Clouds continue to gather but we hope
that patch of blue sky overhead
will rest over us when the eclipse comes.

Billows of clouds rise between us
Thunder sends its warning
But we wait. 30 more minutes.
Maybe it will clear?

5 minutes to totality.
The clouds grow denser.
I cling to my umbrella.
My dreams are about to
wash away…

4 minutes to totality.
The sun tries to peek
through the thunderhead
but all I see is a glow
in the darkening sky.

3 minutes to totality.
I’m going to enjoy this.
Live with no regrets,
chase the eclipses,
even if it rains.

2 minutes to totality.
The darkness is not
from the clouds.
Crickets begin their song.
They know what’s to come.

1 minute to totality.
Anticipation builds.
The sun is hidden but
even the clouds can’t hide
what’s happening above.

Totality.
The world turns to twilight
Then darker. And darker.
Lost in the shadow,
everything falls quiet.
It takes my breath away.

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Just before our cloudy totality of the 2017 eclipse.


Lasagna (A Poem)

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Making lasagna reminds me of you.
Layers of pasta, cheese, sauce, memories
of filling my husband’s lunchbox with slices,
the biggest piece always promised to you.
You never told my grandmother, just hid the sandwich,
banana, chips in your desk for another day.
I reveled in our little secret and your thanks.
Now I arrange each layer and remember
and am thankful that goodbyes aren’t really the end.


A Little Piece of History: Abraham Lincoln

I love old things. The smell of old books, the architecture of old buildings, the creak of old furniture. There’s something special about touching the past. Which means that I was especially excited when my sister-in-law brought over an old newspaper.

A family friend had let her borrow some old newspapers that a great-grandmother had kept in an attic. Among the delicate pages was an unexpected surprise.

Abe Lincoln newspaper

This article is from May 26, 1860: when Lincoln was still a nominee for president. It was filled not only with his political views but also a full description of his appearance. Certainly not the sort of article you read now. (The flourish of yellow journalism hadn’t left its stain on the industry yet.)

As I touched the pages, I wondered who else had read them, what they thought about the election, what their daily lives were like. And I wondered if they had any idea that someone else would be in awe of this piece of history 157 years later.

Do you like historical objects? What’s the most interesting historical artifact you’ve seen?