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It has been so long since I posted. Life is returning to “normal”. In our community we are calling it the “new normal”. There are so many changes that we have to learn to accept as the norm. With the beautiful spring weather, the robins have returned, and so have many village residents. The singing of the birds combines with the hum of power tools as homeowners and volunteers continue to rebuild. I’ve learned to appreciate walks through the neighborhood again so I can view the progress.

Our downstairs is almost finished now! Duane and Brad installed all the wood trim, and some wonderful personal touches such as the door for Sandy’s under-the-stairs den. The kitchen, breakfast nook, dining room, and music room all have Tiffany-style light fixtures. The kitchen has back-splash that is reminiscent of an old metal ceiling. Both the living room and the dining room have area rugs. The new dining room furniture has arrived, (although it is not in place yet), and the donated living room couches look elegant and are very comfortable.

I am recovering, too.  I have always been rather “scatter-brained”, but now it’s worse than ever. We call it “flood brain”. I realized the other day that my memory is improving because when I needed to put a new set of checks in my checkbook, I was able to remember that after the flood I ordered new ones and had stored them in my desk upstairs. When I went to fetch them, they were there! This may sound rather simple, but I have had so many moments of not remembering where I put something, or not remembering if I still have it, or remembering something that didn’t really happen, that this event was a real victory.

There is still much work to do. The downstairs little half bath still needs a sink. I am soon going to be making a decision about a new piano and finish up the music room. Then we will have to deal with foundation work, roof work, the stairs, and the upstairs hallway. But none of this is pressing, and we will have time to enjoy our new digs downstairs. This summer I will be going through the upstairs rooms where all the flood-surviving possessions were stashed in the days after the flood to clean and organize them. We want to make room for family members to visit this summer!

The following link is about one setback in an otherwise monumental amount of work, planning, creativity, and compassion on behalf of so, so many local organizers and volunteers from near and far.

Before I end, I want to share this link to a story in the Albany Times Union. The church in the article is the one where our son JJ and his wife Kate were married in November 2010. When they celebrated their one-year anniversary and looked through their wedding album, every place in it had been hit by Irene: the church, her Mom’s house, his parents’ house, and the cute little covered bridge where some of their outdoor shots were taken. The resiliency and faith of my friends, family, and neighbors,  still moves me to tears.

1 I will sing of the lovingkindness of the LORD forever ; To all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth. 2 For I have said, “Lovingkindness will be built up forever ; In the heavens You will establish Your faithfulness.” Psalm 89


Let Me Tell You!

We continue to see progress. Today I have no school because of President’s Day, but Duane and Brad are here working on the wood trim around the windows. They started coming back last week, so most of the windows are trimmed and I can begin painting. They have made the two windowsills that face the flower garden and bird feeder very wide so I can put plants there. There is a small shelf under each of the window sills, so it will be fun to put little knickknacks there. Our local superhero,  Josh, stopped by. It is always so good to see him. He spends all his time helping our town and surrounding area recover from the flood. He told me that union workers and their journeymen are now working on the house across the street from us, and his is the fifth house they have done. There are different teams whose expertise is sheet-rocking, or taping, or painting. He is amazed at how quickly each can get the work done. He also said that there will be 15 VISTA volunteers in the area for the summer. There is another group coming in who will be canvassing the area and checking with all homeowners to see how they are in the recovery process to make sure no one is overlooked and is getting the help they need. There are so many people who are working on behalf of all of the flood victims to help us in so many ways.

Two Saturday ago, on February 3rd, my two cousins who live in the Capital District came to the house. (Their grandmother and my grandmother were sisters, which means their mom and my mom were cousins. We’re not sure if that makes us third cousins, or twice-removed, so we just call each other cousins.) They have come several times to help clean after the flood. This time they brought a very generous check from donations from members of that side of my family. It will be used to get a new piano. They also brought a beautiful set of china dishes that their childhood friend and neighbor donated. It looks as though it has never been used. I am sharing a photo of one of the plates here so you can see how beautiful and cheery the pattern is.

Last Saturday, February 10th, our first pieces of new (to us) furniture were brought in to the house. A customer of Frank’s gave us a couch and we had been storing it in our garage. When two men from the volunteer center came to help bring it in the house, they realized that it was not only really heavy, but that it was too big to fit in the front door and then turn to get into the living room. By taking off the legs, it just barely got in. If the wood trim had been on the doorways, it would not have fit. So we need to keep this couch for a very long time 🙂 Its younger, smaller cousin was brought later that day by the customer and his son, and they had no problem getting that in. And, to give an idea of what it’s like to live in small town, one of the volunteers was the pharmacist who has filled our prescriptions since our boys were little. The other helper was his cousin who had come from Michigan to volunteer for a while. His wife, Sara, runs the volunteer center at the Reformed Church in Schoharie.  There are few photos of our new couches.

Frank installed the new Tiffany-style lamp (photo included) in the breakfast nook and there is a folding table there, so we had dinner together in our breakfast nook this past week. We can’t use the range yet–a cabinet has to be moved to make room for it, and part broke when Frank was working on it (not his fault–it just broke). The dishwasher has to be plumbed in, so those two appliance make a bit of an obstacle course in the middle of the kitchen. But we can use the beautiful counter tops, the fridge, the microwave, and our sink in the utility room to prepare food. The propane company came, and all the baseboard heaters that Frank installed now are giving us heat, so we are spending more time in the downstairs. I am so thankful for every step in the rebuilding and recovery process.

Our family is continuing to build in another way, too. This past Tuesday, the evening before Valentine’s Day, our youngest son Nathan proposed to very vivacious and talented Chelsea, presented her with a ring, and she accepted! She is an actress, so there will be some time and planning before a wedding date can be set. We are so happy to welcome her into the family and to get to know her parents and brothers as well.

I just have to keep thanking God for His provision and care for us and for so many people with tender hearts who want to help in so many ways.

Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. Psalm 66:16

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We have walls! The wooden frame is dry enough, the wiring is in, and the insulation is installed. So now, it’s time for sheet-rock! I have included some photos of the walls in the living room and dining room. We have purchases two lamps that are similar, but not identical. The larger one will be in the dining room and the smaller one in the music room, which is adjacent. Then we saw an area rug online that looked like it would go well. So, we have moved to the decorating stage of this project.

This past Monday, Halloween, was my birthday. Our youngest son Nathan had been in Mexico, and returned that day. So we picked him up at the airport and brought him to JJ and Kate’s apartment to meet Noah for the first time. We ordered take out food from a recently re-opened restaurant in Middleburgh, and had a wonderful meal together. Through the miracle of modern technology, we were able to see Christopher, Rashell, and their two sweet boys, Robert and Alex using Skype. Nathan gave me a beautiful hand-made ceramic platter from Mexico, and JJ and Kate gave me a new bird feeder, seed, and a pole to hang it on in my garden. I have included a photo of that, too.

My cardinal has been coming to eat, even though the shrubs have been pulled up. I am delighted when he visits. Sandy and I have begun walking around the neighborhood again. Most of the debris is gone now, although we have to avoid the occasional broken shards of glass. We walk early in the morning when it’s still dark, so I don’t see all of the remaining flood destruction. So some more normalcy is returning to our lives.

Tuesday, October 18

Every day when I come home, there is something new to see.  Stewart’s,  the convenience store and gas station that is on the corner only two doors away, is set to open tomorrow at 4:30 AM. I am so excited about it, I might just go there at that time to be their first customer and personally thank them for caring enough about our little community to rebuild so quickly after the flood. It has been like a huge vote of confidence to see and hear the workers there every day during the very uncertain and difficult time following Irene.

Yesterday when I got home, the washer I have been using was on the back porch and is no longer needed because the new top-loading High Efficiency washer is now hooked up and ready to use. I did the first trial load a little while ago, and now the first official load is washing as I write this. Today, there are two big developments: there is now a wall and door at the bottom of the back stairs. This is the area where the laundry room used to be, so we needed a little wall. In the photo below, you will see a dryer. It is an old electric one that we are using until the new gas one is hooked up. When it is gone, the former laundry room area will become a “breakfast nook”. Second, in addition to most of the downstairs being insulated, there is now new ceiling in the living room! We are so thankful for the faithful volunteers who have adopted our house and come to work on it every day even though they are “retired”. We owe a debt we can never repay.

We are still waiting, some more patiently than others, for JJ and Kate’s little boy to arrive. Please pray for a safe delivery and healthy baby and momma. We know he will arrive at just the right time. I am reminded of the joke about someone praying: “Dear God, Please grant me patience, and please grant it NOW!” Instead, I am praying, “Dear Lord, please help me trust you, even though I should know by now that You always know what is best.”

Something new!

I am able to report that something new is being built in my house! There has been so much destruction and demolition, first by Irene,and then by people who knew it had to be done in order to rebuild. Usually when the breaking down of walls and ceilings is being done, I go to the garage and try to keep busy. It is heart-breaking to see my house being destroyed, even when it is parts  like ceilings and lathe that I have never seen before. But for the past few days, when I come home from school, I have seen the beginning of the rebuilding process.

The first room being built is the new utility room. From now on, our furnace and hot water heater will be on the first floor instead of in the basement. And we are switching from oil heat to gas, so we don’t have to worry about the oil tank in the basement. Also, our washer and dryer will be in the utility room, so we can use the space that was our laundry room to add on to the kitchen.

Lots of prep work is going on, too. New appliances have been ordered so that we can take advantage of a rebate program in NY State for recent flood victims. Our friends Chris and Matt brought scaffolding over today to get ready for the big day when a group of Amish brothers will come and install new vinyl siding. The Lord is providing so much help in the form of gifts of food, funds, and building help and advice. We are so thankful.

New floor