Thursday, December 25, 2008

Feliz Navidad!

Jolyon and I are spending Christmas with my mother and stepfather in Michigan, and my brother, Jack, flew out for the week from Massachusetts. I hope your holiday was filled with laughter and love; Merry Christmas from my family to yours.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Honeymoon Island

I love the beach. There is nothing more peaceful and soothing than the ocean's waves, especially at sunset.

Jolyon and I ventured to the gulf coast last weekend to explore Honeymoon Island State Park, located in Dunedin, FL. Since we're currently searching for the "perfect" beach to host our tropical wedding next fall, Honeymoon Island sounded (by mere name alone) like a potential destination. We wandered into their nature center and picked up a few brochures, trekked along a nature path, and enjoyed a picnic lunch.

While we're not making any decisions until after the holidays, we're certainly not ruling out the possibility of having our beach wedding at this beautiful state park. But for now, enjoy some of the photos.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New England Ice Storm

Last Friday morning, I was finishing up a volunteer shift at the Toys for Tots warehouse and feeling pretty good about the morning's work. I knew I would be doing a lot of lifting and moving around, so I had left my cell phone in the car, forgetting about it until later in the day. When I finally checked my phone, I discovered a picture message from my dad.

My dad never sends text messages, let alone picture messages. In fact, I didn't realize he knew how to use those functions on his company-issued phone.

I'll never forget the photo he sent to my phone that morning. It was a picture-- albeit very tiny on my screen-- of scattered tree limbs and frozen branches, tangled over the backyard's fence: the ruins of my childhood home's backyard.

If you've been living under a rock--and I say that because there are many, many times when I feel like I have taken up permanent residence among the pebbles-- then you may not know that my hometown, as well as many other sections in the northeast, was slammed with an ice storm late last Thursday night into Friday morning that left close to 700,000 homes across five states without power.

I found this video on youtube that sums up the storm pretty adequately. And this video portrays what it's like to drive through an ice storm's aftermath. And, lastly, this video ... for the sheer noise on the windshield (though I question the intelligence of someone who films while driving in freezing rain).

My family, which includes my dad, stepmom, brother, two stepbrothers, two cats, a dog, and a tank full of tropical fish, in the little town of Holden, MA has been without power since last Friday. Telephone poles froze and cracked completely in half, and power lines littered the street. My brother has been working around the clock with the fire department. I received pictures via cell phone from numerous people, all of which made it appear that a tornado or a hurricane had swept through the area. The schools in my hometown have been closed and are operating as Red Cross shelters for those in need. The hotels in the area are booked solid with people escaping the cold of their own homes. I chatted very briefly with a few of my hometown friends who were trying to conserve cell phone batteries and, more important, simply stay warm.

My family has lived in New England since 1985 and never before had they experienced a storm that knocked out the power for more than three days. We were used to shoveling snow, scattering salt on the driveway, and bringing in wood for the fireplace. It's all pretty routine when you live in a part of the country that's known for blizzards and the like. Losing power for a day or two was exciting-- it meant making forts out of blankets and pillows, eating waffles and pancakes from the griddle, and reading by candlelight.

But when I talked to my stepmom over the weekend and she told me their food was outside so it wouldn't spoil, that the fish in the tank had died, that my dad was so stressed about the damages that she thought he might have a heart attack... it didn't seem very exciting. Experiencing a natural disaster in childhood is different than dealing with one in adulthood.

In times of crisis, it helps to look at what could have happened, as opposed to what actually occurred. Thankfully, no one was injured, with the exception of the tropical fish (and, truly, I'm surprised they made it as long as they did with two cats prowling the house). Both cars were in the garage when the storm came through, so, unlike some of their neighbors, my parents' and brother's cars remained undamaged. And while the yard looks like something out of a disaster movie, the trees and limbs managed to fall inches from the house and not on top of it.

My stepmom went to work today to "try to return to a sense of normalcy" and she sent me the pictures below. Much less severe than some that were sent to me via cell phone, but still a bit surreal.

Here's hoping they have power again soon.

My dad, amongst the wreckage
Not sure how those limbs missed the porch...
The fence never had a chance...
Front yard
Side yard
Military aid

My sleepy-eyed brother, after close to 36 hours of on-call fire fighter duty

Saturday, December 6, 2008

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like...

I'm gearing up for a summary of recent events type of entry sometime soon, but until then... enjoy a bit of holiday cheer, courtesy my little family.

Elf Yourself