Friday, September 3, 2010

Home Stinky Home

We're home! We have electricity! We have water! Nothing fell on our house! Yippee!

The most exciting part of our trip home occurred when a black bear ran across the road in front of us. We've always noticed the "watch out for bears" signs but had never actually seen one. So that was pretty fun.

We saw a good bit of evidence that a strong wind had been through here in our absence--huge trees laid over with the roots out of the ground, fences blown over, trees broken in half, billboards damaged, limbs in yards and on the streets. And yet it could have been so much worse. We are grateful.

I guess the low light of the day would have to be getting home, stepping into the house and realizing that in our hurry to leave, we had forgotten to empty the kitchen garbage. Which was full. (I had just cleaned out the fridge and freezer.) Eecckk.

But if stinky garbage is the worst of our problems, I'd say we have plenty to be thankful for.

Thanks for your thoughts and prayers and comments over the past couple of days. Nice to know we have friends who care about us from many places around the nation--and the world!

Back To Hurricane Land We Go

We're heading out for home in about an hour. From what we understand, it's still pretty windy out there with some flooding and power outages. Part of Roanoke Island has power right now and part of it doesn't. Guess we'll find out which part our house is in when we arrive home.

The road coming off the island yesterday was bumper to bumper traffic but it was still running pretty fast. Don't know how slow it will be getting back on today. We may be in for a long day on the road with no electricity at the end of it but hey, we're islanders! We're cool! We can cope! (I hope!)

Thanks to a couple of you who answered the question about why we fill our bathtubs before a hurricane. (I forgot to answer it last night.) As you said, it's because a power outage would mean no water and so having water in the bathtub allows us to flush toilets and take sponge baths. (Or bird baths, as a friend of mine calls them.) Toilet flushing and bath taking are two very good, highly underrated things!

Last night before our Hotel Movie and Pajama Extravaganza, we went to Blockbuster to try to find a video that would be enjoyed a 15-year old girl, a 48-year old woman, and a 53-year old man. Quite a spectrum of ages, tastes and interests to contend with.

After half an hour of wandering around mournfully about and finding nothing, Steve stumbled upon a treasure. A treasure from the olden days. (Or at least twenty-five years ago.) He found a used, for-sale copy of "The Gods Must Be Crazy."

Oh my.

I flung myself upon it with a cry of joy and asked, requested, and even demanded that we purchase it. And watch it. And introduce Sarah to it. (Steve and I watched it numerous times about twenty-five years ago and haven't seen it anywhere since.)

I'll warn you that the movie is slightly cheesy. And it's low budget. And the first ten minutes make you feel like you're watching a National Geographic documentary. But it's one of those movies whose charm sneaks up on you and by the time the ending credits roll, you're a fan.

It's basically a comedy with a collision of three separate stories—the journey of an African bushman to the end of the earth to get rid of a Coca-Cola bottle (the bottle was dropped from a small plane and he and his little tribe think "the gods" sent it), the romance between a bumbling scientist and a schoolteacher, and a band of guerrillas on the run.

There are a couple fleeting bad words, a small amount of National Geographic nudity, a brief glimpse of a woman changing clothes in the wilds, and about 15 seconds of non-gory violence when a band of guerrillas fires machine guns at a government meeting. Otherwise, it's quite family friendly.

The movie is really quite difficult to sum up; let me just say that you've never seen a movie quite like it. (And it's one of the rare movies on the planet that actually makes me laugh out loud.)

And now we own it! Yippee! Y'all want to come over one night and watch it with us? It would be fun!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Safe and Happy. Inland.

Here we are! Inland! In Greensboro, NC! At a hotel! Just ordered pizza! About to watch a DVD! Stocked up on chocolate! Using too many exclamation points!

We're about five hours from home but are checking in frequently with our old stompin' grounds to see how things are going there. I think the worst of it is supposed to hit around midnight. I'm thankful that at that particular time, I'll be in my comfy, safe bed here in Greensboro rather than at home waiting for a tree to crash through the roof.

We're planning on getting back home tomorrow afternoon. It will be interesting to see how things look upon our arrival; I have no idea what to expect. I've heard there's a good chance that there could be widespread power outages which means we'd all better shower and prettify ourselves in the morning before we leave because who knows when our next shower might be?

In the meantime, we have declared this to an Official Smith Pajama tonight--even though it's only 6:30. We're all (Snowy included) getting ready to pile onto the king bed in the hotel room and watch a movie, eat our pizza, munch on our popcorn and enjoy our stash of chocolate. (I think I will blithely ignore any calorie counting for the night.)

I'll check in again tomorrow . . .

Leaving . . .

We're headed out. Or actually headed in. (Inland, that is.)

There is a mandatory evacuation of visitors to the Outer Banks in effect right now. (But not for residents.) However, Steve has been planning for several months to attend the graduation from drug/alcohol rehab of a young man in our church. He didn't want to go and leave us behind and he didn't want to cancel attending that big occasion.

So as a compromise, all of us are packing up and heading out the door. Since we don't know what things will be like when we get back, we've filled our bathtubs, have extra water, food, etc. on hand. And we're taking important papers and important "stuff" with us. (including chocolate)

So looks like we'll be watching this one on TV from afar after all.

Oh well. We'll have plenty of hurricanes to weather down the road!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Revisiting Cameras and Hurricanes.

Hello again!

A couple of you have offered some helpful, thoughtful advice about things to try in an attempt to get my camera to work again. I guess I should have been more specific about what's wrong with it. The button that allows you to switch back and forth between "view the pictures" mode and "take the pictures" mode fell off. And disappeared completely. So the camera is stuck in "view the pictures" mode and there's no way to get it to switch back over.

I think it could probably be fixed by ordering a new switch but that will probably take several weeks, at least. And it may not even be fixable. I'm going to call Canon in just a minute and see what they say about it.

In the meantime, I've run to the grocery store yet again for a few more emergency supplies. (Is chocolate considered an emergency supply? I sure hope so.)

Still haven't made a decision if we're going or staying tomorrow but we do know that Sarah's school has been cancelled till next Tuesday. With strong winds coming our way and a lot of high bridges, buses aren't really the safest vehicles to be traveling in.

I really hate it for the businesspeople in the area; Labor Day is a huge weekend for them and is a time when they make a lot of their money for the season. Tough thing for them.

Steve and I are still discussing whether or not we need to leave or stay; we'll wait till the storm gets closer to get a better handle on just how severe it might be and make our final decision from there.

Thanks for your thoughts and prayers for us and all the other people in this area of the country.

Cameras and Hurricanes

Sunday night, Steve, Sarah and I went out for a bike ride. Cool evening, low humidity, lovely scenery.

We ended up at a spot where Sarah had never been--an old cemetery overlooking the sound with grand oak trees standing silent watch. We happened to get there right at the golden hour, which is a time of day that photographers highly prize for its, well, goldenness.

Sadly, though, I didn’t have my camera. And as I walked around the cemetery and gazed out across the sound, I noticed at least 536 fabulous shots I was longing to capture. I immediately vowed to get back there as soon as possible with camera in hand.

And so last night, Steve and I rode back to the site, arriving at exactly the same time as on Sunday so that I could take my long anticipated pictures when the light was at its most golden.

I was so excited! I was so pumped! I leapt off my bike, grabbed my camera from its case, and got ready to start capturing every single one of the 536 shots I had noticed earlier.

But alas. It was not to be. My camera was (it pains me to even write these words) broken! As in, not working!

I stood there in a moment of pitiful disbelief with the water, the trees, the cemetery, the sunset, stretched out before me in the golden light. The only pictures I was able to take were pictures in my mind--which for some strange reason I’m having a hard time getting loaded onto my computer!

So. I’m feeling just a bit adrift today, a bit cut off from my heart, not having that little piece of precious machinery that accompanies me just about everywhere. In fact, going through withdrawal would not be too strong to describe how I currently feel.

Sigh. Again.


And now on to Hurricane Earl. A few of you have asked how much we will be affected by it. I do know that the islands south of us are undergoing a mandatory evacuation today, but there has been no indication yet that Roanoke Island will have to evacuate.

Since we’re newbies on the island and have never been through a hurricane while living at the ocean, we’re asking a lot of questions and doing whatever we can to prepare. (Getting extra water, candles, flashlights, moving/securing porch/deck furniture, etc.)

It’s interesting the variety of opinions that we’ve heard in regards to evacuation; there are some people who have lived on the island for their whole lives and have never even once left during a hurricane. There are others who will leave at the very first sign of a big storm.

I’m not sure I’m quite brave enough to throw my lot in with the former group who stays put; if a mandatory evacuation is given, we will be outa here!

What’s really distressing to me is that I am going to have to go through my first Island- Residing Hurricane without my camera! Is that sad, or what?

There’s a chance the three of us may head out to Greensboro tomorrow, which is about 4-5 hours inland. Steve was planning on going there anyway on Friday for an appointment but he’s reluctant to leave without us. And so whether there is an evacuation order or not, Sarah, Snowy and I may just go along with him. We’ll see how things progress.

Keep your eyes on the weather and think of us whenever you hear anything about the Outer Banks. I’ve watched the weather for years and heard the Banks mentioned often, but it’s rather a different feeling to watch the weather and actually be living right in the place they’re talking about.

I’ll keep you posted!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Love Looks Beyond

My appointment with the plastic surgeon yesterday went great. Stitches out (ouch!) and recovery proceeding nicely.

I do feel compelled to add, however, that as a fairly reserved pastor’s wife, it is just a teensy weensy bit outside my comfort zone to have long and involved discussions with a strange man about my, well, you know.

My main goal is just to hold on tightly to my sense of humor throughout those discussions and not take it all too seriously. Fortunately, my surgeon is quite comfortable and casual with the whole scenario and so he can chatter away rather blithely and breezily about my, well, you know.

Sigh. So many interesting experiences to accompany a person on her breast cancer journey.

While I’m on this subject, I want to mention how thankful I am that I was diagnosed with this disease in 2010 instead of in 1970 or even in 1990. Twenty or thirty years ago, women who had breast cancer had to keep it all hush hush and deal with a heartbreakingly heavy burden without getting much support from outside a very small circle. I’m sure that they were probably even reluctant to specify the kind of cancer they had, simply because it involved mentioning a private part of the body.

But now? Wow.

Now there is support, and assistance and publicity everywhere. In fact, I am part of an online discussion/informational/support group which is just amazing; I have learned more from the experiences of my fellow cancer sisters (in all different stage of the disease) than I could ever learn from a book or a doctor.

One sad thing that I’ve learned from my involvement with that group though, is that breast cancer can cause serious damage to a marriage. I have been shocked and disheartened to read some of the things husbands have said to their wives about their breast cancer. Absolutely. Unbelievable.

And the men don’t just say hurtful things, some of them actually leave their wives--just because they have breast cancer and just because they don’t look the same as when they were first married.

Am I writing this to bash men and husbands? No, not at all. I’m simply writing this because I’ve been so moved by the stories I’ve heard from women who have put a very human face on this statistic—my heart goes out to them as I think of them trying to deal with cancer treatment and a divorce, all at the same time.

I’m also writing this to say how thankful I am that I cannot relate to that study. Not at all. Steve has been incredibly compassionate, considerate and affirming throughout this whole journey. In fact, he just recently had a little extra personal money on hand, something which doesn’t happen very often. He went out shopping and ended up spending most of the money on a new outfit for me!

I’ve never spent even one tiny little moment worrying about whether or not Steve would leave me because I had a bilateral mastectomy. Do I look exactly the same as I did on our wedding night twenty-eight years ago? Nope.

Do any of us look exactly the same as we did on our wedding night? Probably not.

Age happens. Gravity does its thing. Sagging commences. Pounds appear. Inches creep in. Wrinkles show up. Knees creak. Joints crack. In fact, after a certain age, the Rice Krispies commercial about “snap, crackle and pop” starts to apply to your whole body as you get out of bed in the morning.

Bottom line?

Love looks beyond the sinking and the sagging. Love looks beyond the mastectomy scars. Love looks beyond the changes and challenges that the years bring to bear.

Love looks beyond. And sees only beauty.

And I, for one, am thankful.











Thanks to everyone who has chimed in about recycling experiences. I'll be referencing some of those comments in a soon-to-come post.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Blue Box Lessons

Steve and I have always prided ourselves on having the neatest vehicle in town.


I mean we are ministers after all, and thusly we therefore and forthwith believe that we should do our utmost to set forth a shining example of conscientious, clutter-free cleanliness.


We never allow disorder anywhere near our charmed and charming chaos-free existence.




Unless, of course, we happen to be taking a trip to the recycling center. Unless, of course, we happen to not (yet) be very organized with our recycling routine. Unless, of course, we’re way overdue for said trip.

Even though Steve and I had a lot of busy bustling around to do while getting everything loaded, would you believe I still actually found the time to get misty-eyed over a miscellaneous blue box left over from our latest move? A blue box with this writing on it? In the penmanship of my very own daughter? I am such a mom. (Sniff.)


But all sentiment aside! Time for business! Chop, chop!

When we arrived at the recycling area, Steve strode purposefully about doing Important Recycling World Reconnaissance.


When the purposeful strolling was done, he prepared to share his knowledge with his trusty sidekick who was completely new to the rudiments of recycling. (He had been there several times already so he was a pro.)


And I learned a lot.

I learned that there are actually places to drop off oil filters. And anti freeze.


I learned that there is a designated spot for oyster, clam and mussel shells. I mean, who knew? (I’m assuming you only see those classifications near the ocean.)


I learned that recycling just one little ol’ gallon milk jug every week can add up to some mighty impressive numbers.



I learned that about 100 million plastic water bottles end up in landfills every day and it can take over 700 years for a plastic bottle to decompose. It was a very good feeling to see these particular bottles being recycled instead; I must say, I felt quite proud to be a part of that whole recycling cycle.


I learned that glass can be ground up and used to cover parking lots. It was unexpectedly beautiful, sitting and shimmering in the sun.



Now if you really want to know the truth, I was prepared to go to the recycling center and walk around thinking, “Yuk, yuk, yuk.”

Instead, I felt inspired. I felt inspired by the fact that every single water bottle or yogurt container that I bring here—instead of dumping into the trash—will make a really big difference.

And not just to me right now but also to the sweet owner of that blue cardboard box --many, many years down the road.


After Steve and I had been been hard at work for a while, he suddenly felt compelled to take my picture.


Since I was unattractively sweating and horrifyingly free of make-up, I threatened him with his very life if he came even one step closer with that camera.

Happily, he backed off.

And lived to recycle another day.



“GS from Canada” left a thought-provoking comment a couple days ago when I referred briefly to the fact that we’ve been trying to start recycling.

She wrote, “This may sound strange, but I've been thinking a lot about your decision to start recycling and the implication that recycling isn't collected at the curb in your area. I'm honestly a bit surprised because because you live in such an environmentally sensitive area. You've made me really curious about what is common garbage collection practice in NC or in the US.

I live in a part of Canada where we have a pretty elaborate and mandatory curbside recycling and composting program. This means that our family only puts out one small bag of actual garbage each week. All the organic waste and recyclable materials are also collected for us. The whole system is mandatory and only clear and color-coded transparent garbage bags are allowed so that the collectors can enforce it. I LOVE this system -- aside from the environmental benefits, garbage is much less stinky and disgusting.

I wonder if other readers have anything similar where they live. Fascinating stuff!!!”

GS, thanks so much for your comment. I must say that it’s truly amazing and admirable that your family only puts out one small bag of garbage each week. Way to go!

We actually do have a service here in Manteo where you can just throw all your recyclables into a container and have it picked up at the curb every week. However, since that costs around $50 a month we thought we’d save the money and do it ourselves.

How about the rest of you? Chime in with your own experiences from where you live. Or if you want to share the reasons you recycle, or you have helpful tips about recycling, list those, too. This is a great discussion to get going.


In other news, I’m headed out (yet again) for my five-hour, round trip journey to the plastic surgeon for another post-op visit and the removal of my very own personal stitches.

Who knew Mondays could be so much fun?