Thursday, May 20, 2010

In observance of the 30th anniversary of the eruption of Mt St Helens I revisited our disaster preparedness. Winter before last we depleted supplies during the big Hanukkah Blow storm. Power was out for a week. However since we had on hand plenty of candles, food, wood for the fireplace insert etc. we managed well when many of our neighbors struggled. (We did meet some very nice but cold and hungry neighbors that week - turned the disaster into a fun block party!)This past winter was fortunately mild or we would have been in deep doo-doo - I hadn't gotten around to restocking.

Then a few weeks ago Mom's church put on a disaster preparedness fair in their gym which nudged me toward getting serious about fixing things up in our garage "storehouse". I came away with renewed resolve and a binder full of checklists. Tuesday I hit the stores, lists clutched in my hand, debit card poised for action, virtue oozing from every pore. By afternoon SuzyQ the Subaru was jam-packed with groceries, the bank account was on empty, and I was exhausted!

Results: The garage storehouse is ready for action. In addition to filling the shelves, I packed a suitcase for each of us containing a change of clothes, shoes, snack food, bottles of water, first aid supplies, toiletries, flashlights - even a compass, pocket knife, duct tape, whistle - in short, everything recommended by the Red Cross in the event that we have to exit stage left on short notice. We have two wind-up/solar powered radios, a cell phone, and a small stash of ready cash. The cats are all set with a carrier each and extra food and litter. SuzyQ has her own big tote filled with emergency supplies tucked next to her fire extinguisher and little red gas can. All in all, we's ready for anything comin' down the road at us! It's a wonderful feeling. I highly recommend it.

Last night the weather forecast was for unseasonably fierce winds, thunder storms and heavy rain. I unplugged the computer and tv, shrugged and went off to bed.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Community Center Open House

(Photo: Darlene Burrill manning the Writers Workshop table.)

My Senior Writers Workshop is in new digs this Spring. We have moved from the creaky old Burien Community Center (which was an elementary school in a previous incarnation) into the renovated former library building around the block. We're adjusting quite well. It's a super facility with high ceilings, fresh paint, shiny wood floors and that new-Community-Center-smell. Plus our workshop has doubled in size! Many new writers contributing their genius to our ranks. I think there's something about being in a new place that energizes the brain cells.

(Photo: Open House Crowd)

Yesterday the Community Center hosted a blow-out open house. Even the sun decided to show up for the occasion! An auspicious sign. Our Writers Workshop displayed writing projects from years past and schmoozed with the populous. I was pleasantly surprised with the turnout, considering how lovely the weather was! Would have thought the siren call of garden and beach too much for most people to resist, envisioned talking up my workshop to an empty room - but the place was packed wall to wall with excited Burienites.

Mom and I moved out of our comfort zones yesterday to help yoga instructor, Janet Crawley, demonstrate some low-impact yoga poses to the throng. The two of us up on the stage doing up-dog! Who would have thunk it??!! We managed not to fall off the stage and even had fun with the experience.

(Photo: Our yoga instructor, Janet with her YogaFit table.)

I believe in the inherent evil of comfort zones. A belief I came to rather late in life, I might add. My dearest friend hasn't budged from 1985. Change terrifies her - I'm safe in writing this because she won't read it - she doesn't use the internet. (Not that she has no computer - she bought a "cute" Apple laptop in 2004 yet hasn't gotten beyond charging it and turning it on. She deserves a whole post all to herself! Maybe a whole book.)Chaos unnerves her to the point of paralysis. Which creates problems where our friendship is concerned - things can get pretty crazy around my place when I'm in the process of yet again "reinventing" myself. She doesn't know what to make of my recent passion for yoga; can't understand why I repainted my office and reorganized the garage; was horrified when I bought a new car last year and donated my old one to the Volunteers of America - in fact pretty much everything new I decide to do presents challenges for her, the poor darling. Wonder what she'll make of me and my 95 year-old mom demonstrating yoga poses to all of Burien? Can't wait to tell her about it!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

This pugnacious tuft of grass teaches a valuable lesson: flourish where you are. Make the best of what you have. A few years ago I spotted it growing out of a rusty utility access hatch in a busy loading dock. Unconcerned by its less-than-glamorous surroundings, the little critter looked HAPPY! Certainly had it been given a choice it probably would have preferred a sunny spot on a fertile hillside, but that's not where the seed happened to fall. Still, it could have sprouted in a far worse place than the loading dock. Nourishing muddy water runs over it every time it rains; its roots are protected under a shield of cast iron; it's just beyond reach of truck tires - and it's likely to be left alone, unnoticed and unmolested. Whereas if it had sprung up in the middle of a manicured bed of petunias it might even now be shriveling in the compost bin. Guess it's all in how you look at it.

I tried to keep that in mind this week when the bathroom sink clogged. At that miserable moment oh how I longed for one of those glorious homes showcased on the looky-lou DIY programs - three bathrooms with double sinks and garden tubs (what the heck is a "garden tub" anyway? There's never a garden in sight.) But no, my lot was one tiny bathroom with a solitary sink that had decided to become a frog pond.

It had done this once before. That's the way things go when you have elderly plumbing. That time I called in a professional plumber who snaked the drain, trashed my bathroom and left me with a budget-breaker of a bill. Once bitten, twice shy, I say. So this time I marched up to Fred Meyer, bought myself a pipe wrench and a clever little red pipe auger and proceeded to wrench and auger until the bathroom looked like the aftermath of a dirt-bike demolition derby. Pipes and sludge and muddy water everywhere. But I thought I'd fixed the problem. Until I got it all put back together and turned on the faucet. And the water rose to the rim with nary a trickle exiting the drain pipe.

You'd think a few extra days of brushing teeth and washing my face under the bathtub faucet would have motivated me to "woman-up" and call a plumber. Wouldn't you think? But I was still wracking my brain for plan B when I took Mom to Mother's Day services at her church. Frankly, I had underestimated my mother - she'd somehow sent word out among the church ladies that we had a plumbing issue. (Must have gotten tired of waiting for me to solve the problem.) Lo and behold, the plumbing adept husbands of the congregation flocked to our rescue right after services! Thanks to Brian and Jeff we can once more use our sink! Oh the simple pleasures of washing your hands in the bathroom!

What has this got to do with the grass growing in the loading dock, you ask. Darned if I know. Seems I got a bit off topic - which happens a lot around here. Though I might observe that like that tough little weed, Mom made the best of the resources available to her to get the job done. Where there's a will, there's a way. Good going, gal!