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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Postcards from Irene

Home from the Carolinas. No power. Tree on both cars. Wind and rain, home sweet home. Update:  here are a few photographs taken in my back yard... Ain't complainin' now--Nate and I chased a NYSEG truck and begged for power (we were not scheduled, and the NYSEG office said at least a week more, maybe two or three), and now we have jerry-rigged power! Lines looped up everywhere and bound to be turned off and fixed some day, but we care not because it is light. Begging with good humor seems quite effective. The power return was quite a bit quicker than our last hurricane, Fran, when we were in the dark with cold showers in Chapel Hill-Carrboro for fifteen days.

Backyard urn toppled.

Our cars decked in Coffee Tree spars, branches, and leaves.

All those bare trees?  Those are really the fallen, wind-stripped
crown of a 70-80 foot Kentucky Coffee Tree.
The vultures and I are really going to miss that tree.
It made gorgeous shapes against the sky.

Our two cars that are now complete Bash-and-Dingmobiles.

Roof broken and pried off by the Kentucky Coffee Tree.
Our back yard ends at the wall of the little broken building.

Beautiful little nineteenth-century Cooper smokehouse
with arches on the other side where the fuel went in--
the bricks were smashed all along the roof and halfway down the wall.
Who needs power when you have sunshine pouring in?
The new skyline from my back yard.
From upstairs I can see more of the lake and Kingfisher Tower
than before, but I would have been happy to keep the tree.
The lake was just as much there then as now,
and I felt the tree was mine in the way that Thoreau felt
that a neighboring farmer's apple trees were his.


  1. Oh, no!!!
    Are the cars wrecked??

  2. Yikes! Glad there's no tree on you. Wishing you well.

  3. Such a homecoming! Wishing you well too.

  4. Oh Marly, so sorry to hear of this but glad you are ok, and tree not on house. no flooding?

  5. Sorry about the mess and the cars. I'm with the others; glad you weren't IN the car! Kids okay? Husband?

  6. Home sweet home... good! Happy you are there and surprised to see how much I've missed here in the past while. You were busy before your time away!

  7. Cars run. Mike backed them down the alley. Better than I expected. Newish one dinged and bashed all over, other one lost a part or two and is dinged. No power. I am sad about the glorious Kentucky coffee tree that fell from our neighbor's property. It also broke an old, attractive brick outbuilding. A team of men has been cutting it up alll day in rain and wind.

    After my phone goes out, no more news till later.

  8. Adding my voice to the hymn of condolence. I sincerely hope that life is soon restored to some level of normality for you and yours.


  9. So sorry, Marly...but so glad you and your family and home are OK

  10. 32 houses in Cooperstown remain without power, probably because of the giant Kentucky coffee tree that fell onto our cars and in the alley...

    However, I showered down the street and now am at the hospital typing this. Crossing my toes and fingers for power by tomorrow.

  11. So, did I just read the tree is on BOTH cars? At your house? That is way trippin'!


  12. I you need to get around, I can use my car and come take you where you need to go.


  13. Yolanda,

    Thank you, but they both run (I think), they are just UGLY. Dinged and bashed. Surprised me since some big chunks fell on them, and they were covered with the canopy of leaves. The 19th century smokehouse broke the fall or they would have been flattened. Poor little smokehouse.

    I miss the tree. I wrote something about it recently, and now it is gone.

  14. Update: there were 533 houses in the village without power. Now there are 13, including mine.

    Revising poems by candlelight...

  15. Hi, Marly. Leah Lax here. Greetings from Houston hurricane land, and glad you're okay. I'm sure you're going to have some interesting observations on living with no power. We did it for two weeks after the last storm that hit here. I found: elusive neighbors emerged and connected. Grilled food tastes great by candlelight. It's neat to go to bed early and get up at dawn. The storm lowers temperatures for days afterwards, so heat wasn't a problem. Thanks to a stock of batteries, I read a great deal. A bag of ice in the freezer keeps things frozen hard for days. I met wealthy people at the washateria who didn't know where to put in the quarters. Not such a bad experience, although when I lugged all the laundry home to find we had power again, I wanted to cry and sing at the same time.

  16. Marly,
    At least the cars still run, kids are safe, husband safe. You wrote a poem for that tree... turned out an elegy.
    I hope things are back to normal soon. Thinking of you.

  17. Oh, and revising poems by candlelight sounds like a poem itself.

  18. A couple of hours ago NYSEG workers jerry-rigged electricity to our house, bless their little hearts. Earlier today the NYSEG office told us that we weren't even on the schedule and that it would be one to two weeks until we were set right, so I figured we would lose a ton of caribou and elk and mountain sheep in the freezer.

    Nate and I ran around town in the dark last night and chased trucks till we found a NYSEG man and asked him. He knew all about the late, lamented Kentucky Coffee Tree. Told him we were about to lose our freezer contents... So we may have spunky night-running and the fact that NYSEG fellows are often hunters to thank for a bit of electricity. Whatever it is, I thank them.

    We'll be out of power again when they come back for what looks like a pretty big repair, but I hope not until then.

    And now, since things are always especially interesting (alas) after a hurricane, I must go collar a plumber.

  19. Good luck with the plumber and may you soon be back to normal.

  20. Thanks! I imagine it will be weeks before we're properly wired. But we have the juice, so I don't mind.

  21. Is that little building on your property? Will you reconstruct it or tear it down?

  22. Hi Robbi--

    The wall is right on our line, so it belongs to our new neighbors--they hadn't even moved in yet. The property is one of the Cooper family houses, and has a grand mansion and is known for its massive . . . trees! It has a lot of rare or foreign trees and was planted up when the house was built. About a decade ago another Kentucky Coffee Tree toppled and fell on our garage. So I don't think they're meant to be zone 3/4.

    And the new owners appear to be attempting to restore it. The roof is off completely. The loose and crushed brick is mostly off. A replacement piece caps the wall that's mostly okay... Lot of mason work to do. I hope they make some cement to match rather than using Portland gray, the usual thing. It is a pretty little building, and I like having it on the line, so I'm glad they seem to want to save it.

  23. Dearest Marly and family,

    I am distraught that you chose to engage in a home destruction competition with me -- and have the audacity to come out on top! (Not unlike the trees on your cars and home.) The "New Basement Flood" incident at my place a while ago pales in comparison to your situation. I am humbled.

    I hope that power, repairs, and warmth (or coolness) come your way before the change of the season.

    Geez, you'd think that Cooperstown, NY would be far away from earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods. Well, at least you have horrific snow storms to make up for it.

    Wishing you a quick recovery and much strength from a tiny burb in New Hampshire,

    The Dietzes

    P.S. When you have the strength and focus, my new idea for creating a new venue to show off writing and market self-published and publisher published works is shaping up! I have a website domain and a tech dude and the start of a business plan and would love to get your input.

  24. Concerning the poor Kentucky Coffee... When Jonathan and I first moved to South Carolina to the little farmhouse, there was a wall of humongous pines along the back of the land. Behind the wall was a small forest with a soft, brown carpet of needles. I loved that space--somehow always quiet in there. Then one winter, an ice storm came. Lots of limbs fell. The landlord decided the forest wasn't safe (I suppose someone could sue if they got hurt?), and one morning we woke up to the awful sound of men on machines pulling what remained of the forest down and leaving it in big ugly heaps. The cracking and falling and thud haunt me. I cried and cried. I could cry now just thinking about it. But not too long after, pines were replanted. We watched them fight to survive. Some died and others hung on. And by our last day at the farmhouse, the ones that had survived were taller than me. That gave me a lot of comfort (if also somewhat unsettlingly confirming the persistence of cycle of life). I hope something beautiful gets replanted in that spot. Time will have to do the rest. All my best to you for getting life back to normal and for taking inspiration from the moments when it's not.

  25. Gary,

    Shall look if I can find your link again. I did look, but you had just started.

    It's hard to beat me this year. On the home destruction front, we had:

    1. exploding cast-iron radiator on the second floor with waterfall into the first;
    2. oil tank rupture and giant oil pool in the cellar;
    3. toilet back up for no particular reason, flooding part of the master bedroom;
    4. Irene, with general havoc as seen above and even a leak into the kitchen to top things off. Nothing like drilling a hole in the ceiling to drain the water.

    This house has stood for at least 203 years. I hope it will keep soldiering on despite us and our sometimes-pal, Mother Nature!

  26. Robin,

    Yes, I can see that we have lost and gained. From the second floor rear, new views of the lake. From the first, a gaping hole where a now--slightly-utility pole stands.

    In my house in Greenville, I had the most splendid writing room with 22 lattice-paned windows looking out into the splendiferous lower canopy of an enormous post oak, more than a hundred years old. The new owner razed that tree to the ground.

    I also think of the Walmart near my mother, where they cut down a ring of old maples, razed one of the few old houses in the area, and then bulldozed the mountain.

    Loss. The world and our special places keep changing until they don't seem ours any more.

  27. Devastation! This is horrible, and daunting, and crushing in so many ways. But you're all safe, and that really is the most important thing. Peter and I send a big old duvet of love to wrap around you and keep you cosy. You sound relatively chipper. Try and stay that way. Everything will get repaired. Stuff like roofs and walls can be fixed with insurance pay-outs, but a blow to the head is to be avoided at all costs!

    C xoxo

  28. Yes, we stayed nice and snug inside (well, snug except for the rain that blew up under the rubber roof on the porch and came down inside!) Everything's fine, really. The cars may be ugly-bugly but drive, the power is back on and probably won't be off too many hours when fixed, and our new neighbors will restore the lovely little building, it seems. I just miss "my" tree. I keep feeling around for it with my eyes--like a missing tooth.

  29. You have certainly had one heck of a year for domestic calamities!!
    It took me a long time to cope with the new view after a beloved tree fell in a storm, here.

  30. It is almost ludicrous, isn't it? Hope I skate to the end of the year with no more major events. Maybe next year will be more restrained in the liquid department and also more the province of "zephyrus, with . . . swete breeth"!

  31. Oh, yes, Marly...wishing you smooth, gentle sailing for many moons to come!

  32. If I have a zephyr on my side in that department, how can I go wrong? (Don't answer that one!)

  33. zephyr zips lips
    zephyr zips lips
    zephyr zips lips
    zephyr zips lips
    zephyr zips lips

    Say that five times, fast!

  34. Ha!Ha!
    In my head i can, but my lips trip!!

  35. Hope you manage to fix it soon, Marly! I had the impression you were too far inland to be affected much by a hurricane - how wrong I was!

  36. I'm such a dummy--evidently there was a big hole in the garage and I didn't even see it! The neighbors sent a crew to fix it.

    I'm so excited about your book option--just saw it on a search but haven't been buy yet. Shall come get details.


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.