Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"Spooky" Haiku

This is in response to Sensational Haiku Wednesday.
Today's prompt is "Spooky."


This post was inspired by Mama' Kat's writing prompt: 
Write a post inspired by the word: Flooded
Hurricane Frances, Sept 2004

I was happy to have Labor Day (Sept 6th) plus 5 additional days off.

After 13 months of higher-than-normal rainfall resulting in an already-high water table, on Wed Sept 8th, the remnants of hurricane Frances broke the 1-day rainfall record in our area, filling our basement with 18 inches of water. It was a mess but not devastating. The washer, dryer and water heater still worked. We weren’t sure about our two furnaces as the gas company had turned off the gas. The last 3 days of my “vacation” were used for flood cleanup.

Hurricane Ivan, Sept 2004
Meanwhile, our cat Patches was admitted to the animal hospital with kidney problems and was not expected to survive.

The next Friday (Sept 17th) I was on my way to deliver groceries to my 90-yr-old mother, but I couldn’t drive past flooded roads because hurricane Ivan had arrived, breaking the 1-day rainfall record of the previous week. 

Before the day was over, we had 4 feet of water in the basement. 

I was awarded an unpaid leave-of-absence for the clean up. My husband repaired the dryer. He replaced the motor in the washer and one heating element in the water heater. Luckily he has every tool known to mankind, so we pressure-washed everything in the basement and sucked up the muck with a wet-dry vac. (That makes it sound easy, but we had moved tons of things to the upper floors, and lots of things were soaked or ruined.  It took days to clean up.)

The following Tuesday, I was able to deliver groceries to my mother who lived 45 min. away, but as soon as I entered the house, I smelled gas. The gas company found leaks in her gas lines, furnace, and stove. Our place was such a mess, we couldn’t invite her to stay with us. I bought her a new stove by phone. A relative who lived in her community, arranged for a plumber and furnace installer. Because my mother would be without a stove, furnace, and hot water for several days we ordered Meals on Wheels and borrowed a space heater for her. Luckily the weather stayed warm.

After a week at the vet’s (& a bill of $500) Patches came home. She was not well, but doing okay. 

Two days later Calico, the oldest of our four cats, seemed listless on Friday evening (Sept 24). We planned to call the vet and take her there on Saturday, but she died later that night. She was a stray we had adopted five years earlier. She had been old, had no teeth, but seemed healthy up to that day, and went peacefully in her sleep. We were glad we had saved her from several years of cold winters and dumpster-diving.

I had felt rather nauseous that Fri night. On Sat Sept 25th, the final day of my leave-of-absence I threw up all morning. My doctor directed me to the emergency room. 

For about 36 hours, I threw up fluid as fast as the hospital could pump it into me. I had a urinary-tract and an intestinal infection. I may have ingested microbes during the cleanup. The doctor mentioned that stress probably acerbated my symptoms. The hospital kept me for 2 days and directed me to stay home for another five. I lost my appetite for several weeks. 

Between vacation time, leave-of-absence days, a week off for illness, I worked only a few days in Sept. I could have become accustomed to a schedule like that if it didn’t come with 2 floods, massive cleanups, gas leaks, sick and dying cats, loss of pay, and whatever miserable illness caught me. 

My husband repaired the main furnace. The other furnace needed to be replaced. FEMA arrived and promptly sent a check that covered some, but not all, of our losses. Within a year, the washer, dryer, and water heater died and, sadly, so did Patches. 

Yet, many people in my area lost everything, so I felt fortunate. 

I tried to look at the positive. We got rid of useless stuff from our basement. I lost 15 pounds in 2 weeks and our cat-hair problem was reduced. 

On the other hand, I don’t want to go through another month like that again. EVER!

October 2012: This week there were dire predictions of torrential rains and high winds from hurricane Sandy in our area, but we dodged the bullet.  

DONATE TO VICTIMS OF SANDY: Please go to the American Institute of Philanthropy 
This page tells you how you can help victims of hurricane Sandy and provides links to 9 charities with top ratings (those that spend a large percent of their donations to help those in need, rather than on fundraising and salaries.) 

Friday, October 5, 2012

GRATITUDE - short fiction

This story is in response to a writing prompt at Views from Raven's Nest.  Each week Raven chooses words or phrases for anyone to use in a piece of writing.  She creates a 10-word challenge and a 5-word challenge, or one can use both for the 15-word mega-challenge.

Words for the 10-word challenge this week:  gratitude, immediate, vivid, choice, fragments, carving, charity, solitude, lagging, where did I put my glasses
And for the mini:  irresponsible, teddy bear, colorful, knife and fork, wheels

Where did I put my glasses?” Carson asked.
“Gees, Car. They’re bifocals. Why don’t you just wear them all the time?” Georgia asked. 
Except in the shower, her glasses were on her face every waking moment. She could see only blurs without them and, lately, colors weren’t as vivid as they once were.
Georgia wondered how she had managed to marry two irresponsible people where eye glasses were concerned. Her first husband would drop his, then step on them, resulting in the cost of new frames and lenses, plus fragments of glass hiding in the carpeting for months.  
Carson misplaced his several times a day. When they were in a hurry, he was always lagging behind searching for them. She wondered if it was a choice he made to annoy her. Georgia didn’t like solitude, but at moments like this, she wished she had remained single after her divorce.
Georgia scurried toward the car carrying a large teddy bear wrapped in clear plastic under one arm while she juggled her purse and a huge colorful sack in the other. She paced by the car waiting for Carson.
Finally he emerged from the house, eyewear in place, carrying two grocery bags with celery leaves poking from the tops.  As was his habit, he circled the car making sure the way was clear to back out of the driveway and checking the wheels to see that the tires were properly inflated.  Georgia tapped her foot and sighed until he unlocked the trunk.
They rode silently to the high school. Georgia wondered how Carson could be so meticulous about everything to do with the car, but his glasses were always an afterthought. 
Gerogia checked the dashboard clock. It was after 7:00 am. They were running late.  Again.
While Carson parked, Georgia rushed into the back entrance of the building.  She handed the teddy bear to one of the high school volunteers to place with other toys to be given to a charity that provided Christmas gifts to children in women’s shelters. Then she headed toward the cafeteria’s kitchen where a dozen volunteers were already preparing turkey dinners for that day’s Thanksgiving feast while high school students set up and prepared folding tables and chairs, adding the placemats and centerpieces they had made in art class. 
Immediately, she opened her sack to pull out five huge plastic bags of bread cubes she had toasted in her oven for the stuffing. She placed Carson’s favorite carving knife and fork on the stainless steel table for later. When Carson arrived with his grocery bags, she chopped celery, onions and spices.
Along with the other volunteers, Carson and Georgia worked and sweated in the kitchen stuffing birds donated by local supermarkets, running a huge mashed potato mixer, cooking vegetables, tossing salad, stirring gravy, and slicing pies. 
        When the birds were roasted, Carson took pride in being the best carver in the lot.

Before the buffet was ready, those the recession had hit the hardest had arrived and waited at the tables. 
As soon as the lunch crowd was fed, they began all over again for the dinner guests who would show up later.
After everyone had been fed and more high school students arrived to clean the kitchen, Carson took Georgia’s hand as she limped to the car. 
“Your heel spur acting up?” he asked.  
“Uh, huh.”
“It was a long day,” Carson said.
“Always,”  Georgia agreed, turning to kiss her husband.
Georgia was filled with gratitude that she had married a man who ---now that they were both retired ---was willing to work with her at the soup kitchen once a week and here, at the high school for six additional holiday meals each year, and was enjoying it. 
So what if he could never find his glasses, she thought.