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.


I have to pull up some of the plants that are left in my flower garden to make way for the new gas tanks. This is like the outdoor version of the demolition of my house.

In the summer, I love to spend time “playing in the dirt”. It began many years ago with a few plants. I realized that growing flowers was very satisfying for me. Over the years, I have killed portions of the lawn to make room for more flower beds. I know my garden would never win any awards, and that I probably don’t do things “correctly” according to experts, but I love to putter around planting, weeding, transplanting, adding compost, pruning, and just hanging out with the flowers. I ponder the lessons we can learn about life by observing the flowers, and the realize that is why Jesus gave us so many parables about seeds and plants. Even though I have mostly perennials, each year is different depending on the weather. The soil around my house is not great, and due to the placement of the house in relation to the sun and a few large trees, most of the flower beds don’t get much sun. But I have learned to use containers and move them to where the plants are happiest. I also have a few houseplants that I put outside in the summer.

As you can imagine, after Irene, there is not much left of my garden. The force of the water and the mud it left behind have trampled the plants in my garden and almost all of the farmers’ crops in the Schoharie Valley. I know that some will grow back. The gladiolus that I planted in the spring are blooming, but they are all disheveled and look pitiful scattered among the mud-covered plants; the colorful blooms seem a feeble attempt to cheer the gloomy landscape. So much heavy muck and mud had to be shoveled out of the basement and garage, and it had to be dumped in the flower beds. Gravel, too. Most of the big planters that had flowers are entirely washed away, although the pot with my new blueberry plant landed closer to the house in the opposite direction of the flow of water, and my new strawberry planter was unmoved. A big empty half barrel landed in my yard where another planter had been, so it looks like it belongs there. The biggest loss was the palm tree that we have had since it was about eight inches high in a terrarium we received as a wedding gift from a college friend. In 32 years it had grown to be as tall as me.

I had some bird feeders in the garden right in front of the dining room window so I could see them in the morning. For years, I wished for cardinals to come to my yard. I thought it would be so wonderful to see the brilliant red against the white snow, like a warm fireplace against the cold. This past year, for the first time, I finally had the right feeder and seed to attract a pair of cardinals. It was ridiculous how happy I was to see them. This spring, a cute chipmunk figured out how to get up to that feeder, and he would fill his fat cheeks with the seed. He was so cute that I didn’t mind his pilfering, and our lab Sandy loved to track him and sometimes even found him.

In the middle of August, I took some photos of the flowers, figuring I would enjoy looking at them in January and February, when winter is really tough. The pictures would remind me that spring would come again. I will share a few of them here, in memory of my flower garden, and in hope that beauty will return to my yard and to the valley.