Friday, June 28, 2013

My Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Summer Vacation

I wish I could remember how that book ends.  I'm sure there is a useful lesson in it for me, because my last week was indeed no good.  I've documented a little bit of it here, but needed to give it some distance before fully chronicling the series of events that occurred during what was supposed to be a week of rest, relaxation and fun at the end of a demanding span of time at work and home.  For your enjoyment and my future reference, I shall now tell you the story of my vacation week.  Please do keep in mind that I am able to laugh at it all now.  Also keep in mind that everything will work out OK in the end, but man was this an unfortunate series of events (that was a good book, too!).

Oh, and you might want to grab a snack.  This is a long post.

The week began with us getting stormed out of our much anticipated patio lunch and barred from entry at the lighthouse.  It then quickly proceeded into the breaking-our-dog part of the week, which I fully explained in this post.

What I didn't mention there was that the glorious bask in the sun with our tea on our last morning at camp seems to have set off some sort of horrible reaction in my system.

Partway through the drive home on Tuesday, my eyes and face started to swell up.  I didn't pay it much attention because we were really concerned about Tchazo and I thought it was just a little sunburn.  Well, when I woke up Wednesday morning, my face and eyes were extremely swollen and red and I had rashes on my hands, arms, neck and back.  I've mentioned here before that my skin is really sensitive (eczema and other sensitivities) and a variety of things can set it off, but it usually doesn't get anywhere near this bad.  I tried antihistamines and a variety of other approaches including a visit to the acupuncturist.  My acupuncturist linked that time in the sun with my body's freak out and she is usually pretty right on, so that is the theory I am going with.

In order to give my skin time out of the sun to heal, I had to back out of my fun plans for another rooftop American Craft Council party.  I was really looking forward to the planned Craft Cage Match but being that I looked like I had just come out of a cage match myself and remembering that there was little to no shade on the roof, I knew I needed to skip it.

So, at this point in the week there is me, at home, on "vacation", feeling like crap, looking like crap and not able to be exposed to the sun.  Fun times!  Whenever I am feeling down, I am always pretty quick to recognize that things could be worse.  In this case, it came true!  It got worse!  Let me continue...

I woke up Friday morning still a physical mess but at least my swelling was residing a bit and I was starting to look like myself again.  We had a storm roll through town overnight and when I went out to my alley, I was stunned to see that a very large tree had split at the base and fallen down on a neighbor's garage, taking power lines down with it.

I didn't know trees did that sort of thing!  It seemed like it was a solid, healthy tree.  I guess the winds must have been really, really strong and the tree had some sort of hidden weakness.  We have a really large silver maple tree in our back yard that has proven its weakness in past storms by dropping limbs freely.  I was grateful that our tree had only dropped small limbs in fairly inconsequential locations during the storm.  I was also grateful that we had it pretty aggressively trimmed when we bought the house 4 years ago as I think that has helped it be as strong as a weak tree can be. Anyway, I counted my lucky stars that we didn't have any damage and hoped the neighbor's had good insurance.

By Friday night, I was feeling well enough to go through with my plans.  My sister had taken the night off because there was an outdoor concert we were both interested in seeing.  We invited other friends and had a nice little group of us at the show.  We found a table in a great location under an event tent.  The tent was serving double duty as it provided shade and also was good for the group as we had heard rain was in the forecast.

Sure enough!  The rain started during the first of 3 acts.  At first, it was cute.  The staff were able to squeegee the water off of the stage so the musicians could keep playing.  A few people pulled out their umbrellas and some fun loving souls danced in the rain.

The scene quickly changed when the storm became super aggressive.  In a matter of seconds the innocent rain turned into torrential downpours with winds that threatened to lift up the giant cement blocks that were anchoring down the tent.  We made a run for the nearby parking garage and on the way, a tree branch whipped out in front of Paul, found its way inside his lip and gouged his gums!  Yep.  That really happened.  By the time we got to shelter Paul was REALLY unhappy, his lip was swelling up and his mouth was bleeding.  He wasn't that excited about the show in the first place, was going along to be a good sport and then all of that happened.  When a tree punches you in the mouth, it is easy to get a little cranky.

So, we were in the entrance of the parking garage, watching the torrential rain coming down sideways, the trees bending and whipping around, listening to the emergency sirens wail and witnessing musicians coming in and dumping water out of their guitars.  One girl had a very nice camera that had gotten drenched.  We hope the dry blanket we lent her helped save it!  In the midst all of this Paul says something to the effect of, "Let's just go home."  And, my sister Jessy says something to the effect of, "Are you guys sure this isn't going to pass and they'll be able to finish the show?"  And I am thinking, "This storm is SERIOUS.  I am not going anywhere until it chills out.  This is not one that is just passing through and letting us get on with our evening."

We waited until the winds and rain returned to a non-threatening level and we got in the car to go home.  A few minutes later, we passed our first bad omen:

As we ventured on, we kept encountering flooded streets and having to turn around and zig zag our way home.  The closer we got to our house, the more and more tree damage I saw.  After plowing through some water, our car started to make a bad noise.  "Oh, its just the wet brakes", we told ourselves.  Except the sound was happening when there were no brakes on.  With thoughts of our giant, weak tree (it isn't anything special to our tree, I hear all silver maples have this tendency), we were really anxious to get home and see if our pets and our house were ok.  We figured we'd deal with the car later.

We pulled into the alley, I see such a mess that I have to jump out of the car to clear branches out of the way so we can drive down the alley.  When we get to the tree that had fallen the previous night, we see that it rolled off the garage and smashed a truck.

I then look over to where I can usually see the tallest part of our tree and I see nothing.  Pit. In. Stomach.

We move a little farther down the alley and that is when we see limbs of our tree covering our parking pad and our garage.  Fearing the worst, I get a better look at the house and see that there are lots of limbs around and hanging from wires, but the house seems to be ok.  Big. Exhale.

We reverse out of the alley and park in front of the house because the fallen limbs of our tree are blocking the alley.  When we come up to the front door, we can hear Tchazo barking like a maniac.  Stunned, we head to the backyard not knowing what to do, taking in all of the details.  We notice a heavy limb has crushed our back fence and is resting on it.

limb on fence after we sawed off part of it

We notice the light and motion detector have been smashed clear off of the garage, the roof has branches wedged underneath the shingles and the fascia, gutter apron and siding is banged up.

But, most of all, we notice how those tree limbs rammed into our garage door.

Since we couldn't tell in the dark which lines were power lines and which ones were not, we attempted to call the electric company.  After 30 minutes waiting on hold, we gave up.  We also got the claim going with our insurance company and counted our blessings that we could still be in our home and that we still had functioning utilities.

Even though our house wasn't damaged, besides the gutters, more storms were expected overnight and I wasn't feeling lucky. We moved the car 2 blocks away to where the trees were tiny and freshly planted. We also made the decision not to sleep in bedroom, which is located in range of tree limbs.  With all of the bedrooms being on the second floor, I felt safest sleeping in the living room.  I may have been freaked out enough that I prepared an emergency bag containing: dog leash, dog meds, cat carrier, toiletries, change of clothes, water, wallet and phone.  And, if I am being honest, I threw my knitting project in the bag, too.  What can I say?  It made me feel safer to sleep next to it!  Although, I only slept a few minutes at a time since I felt as if the other shoe might drop at any moment.

We made it through the night!  Breakfast plans with a friend cancelled and evenings plans no longer a priority, we set to work breaking down the tree mess.  Literally with the branches and figuratively with insurance.  Oh yeah, and I was still covered with terrible rashes and trying to avoid the sun.  Yay, vacation!

All it took was a little walk through the neighborhood to realize it could have been so much worse (see me, tempting fate again!).  I only went a block or so in each direction and saw more trees down than I could count.

downed power lines

I also took a stab at fixing the noise the car was making.  The lining in the wheel well had gotten bent and was rubbing the tire.  I muscled it back into place...success!  This might be a coincidence or maybe not, but ever since that night, the control panel on the door seems to be floating, unsecured.  We still have to figure that one out.

So, the icing on this cake that was this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad vacation week was that I was planning to host a Crafternoon gathering on my back deck on Sunday to wrap up what was to have been a wonderful week.  Earlier in the week, our beautiful chairs demonstrated a weakness in their design and had to be brought back to the maker for repairs (not his fault).  At the time I was really bummed out that my fantasy of the event that included my pretty chairs and my friends in them wasn't going to happen and I was going to have to dig out the stupid old folding chairs.  I knew it was silly, but I was a little bummed.  And, then this whole mess with the tree happened and made my chair disappointment seem so silly and small in comparison.

By Sunday, I definitely needed some time with friends and to get the heck away from my house.  We moved our gathering to a nearby cafe that had power (so many residences and businesses in the Twin Cities area didn't have power for days).  It was a great stress reliever to laugh with friends about how ridiculous my week had been.  I think I carried my luck (or lack thereof) with me to the gathering, though.  Our waiter kept taking our order and then a really long time later coming by and apologizing for not having taken our order yet and letting us know he would be back to get our order soon.  He did that more than once!

Now that I have had a little more distance from the week, I am mulling it over looking for the silver lining and the lessons I might find in this.  Since you've made it this far into my insanely long story of my week, I don't think you'll mind if I get a little more share-y than usual.  I have been struggling with perfectionism lately, feeling like it is guiding what I do and how I do it in an unhealthy way.  It is causing me to carry stress that is totally unnecessary and rather pointless.  I've also developed more of a worrying habit than I would like. I am realizing that this is diverting my energy from where it could be better spent. 

So if I were to try to make sense of all of this crap, I could find the messages pretty easily.  What I think this week told me, in no subtle way, is that I ultimately have very little to NO control over my world.  It is telling me to let go and just roll with it.  Preparing and planning are ok to some degree, but in the end it'll all probably work out differently than I planned and I may or may not be prepared for the outcome.  If I can accept that, I don't need to spend nearly as much of my time and energy in the way that I have been.  I have received the message that trying to make everything perfect and/or worrying about stuff too much gets you a rash covered body, a husband with a wounded mouth and a garage that was beat up by a tree.

But, you know what?  Even though this week brought me to that crazy place where I could laugh and cry at the same time, I never lost sight of the good stuff that was sprinkled in there, too.  That hike was beautiful.  I read a great book.  My friends and family were quick to offer help. Paul and I know how to support each other when the shit hits the fan.   I met more of my neighbors.  We now have a lot of firewood.  We have savings we can draw from to help us through this and insurance.  I am thankful.

So, Universe, I appreciate the lessons and I will work on what you've taught me.  Now, please go help somebody else because I have had enough.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...