Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Full of Grace

I sat down to write my weekly Full of Grace post, where I intentionally recall some of the things I was particularly grateful for during the week. I had started a list which included the incredible crop of heirloom tomatoes in our vegetable garden this year. And going to see Peachie's first game at college and being able to hug her again - the thing I have found I miss the most about her being gone. She is a great hugger.

But this past week, my friend Ren called and said she had friends deeply impacted Hurricane Irene who needed some clean up help. Denise and Dan own a farm in the river valley just west of us. I was utterly unprepared for what I saw when we arrived. Piles of furniture and kitchen appliances, stacked outside and covered in mud. The whole front porch had torn off the house and lay like a pile of splintered toothpicks, across the farm. The main barn too. Their field crops were totally destroyed and their sheep, goats, chickens and assorted other animals had been swept away in the raging flood waters. Everything . . . trees, bushes, vehicles, the kid's swing set . . . everything was covered with a thick layer of grey muck.

When we arrived there was already quite a crew of people helping. Men were out in the field trying to coax a tractor out of the mud. It was buried almost up to the seat. Ren left to go help dig out, and properly bury, animals that had been drowned and trapped in fencing. I could not allow myself to even think about that. I went into the house, which had had 5 ft. of water inside, was handed a pair of barn boots to slosh through the mud and started helping rip out the horsehair and lath walls and insulation. Others were removing all the kitchen cabinets. Everything had to be stripped from the interior of the house, right down to the studs. The wide plank floor boards were still covered with a thick coating of muck. It will all need to be professionally sanitized.  Because the front porch was missing, there was a 3-foot drop from the front door to the ground. Everyone carrying things out of the house had to jump down and then climb back up. So I thought, woodworking being my hobby, I could be most helpful by building a temporary porch and steps.

I left to get some wood and returned to start my project. Then I realized there was still no power to run the tools I had thrown in the car. All power had been cut to prevent fire. Someone found me a hand saw and I began. I made it through one board when my arm became rubber. What a wuss! I realized that it would take me a lifetime to try to do this all by hand. Then I looked at this old farmhouse and realized that the entire house had been built by hand, long before electricity and power tools. I stood there in awe of what our ancestors were able to build with just their hands and sweat. I wanted to have that strength and determination. But knowing that time was more important than ego, I took measurements and went home and cut all the wood on my super duper radial arm saw. It didn't take me long to assemble the small porch using my battery powered drill. The first time Dan saw it me gave me a smile and a thumb's up  It is such a tiny drop in the bucket of what this family needs.

At some point someone arrived with food and everyone gathered around makeshift tables. Talk turned to plans for a barn raising and offers of equipment to get the fields ready for next year. No self pity, no blaming, no complaining, no excuses, just a "what needs to be done?" attitude.

I have lived in cities and suburbs and a small village. I have never lived on a farm. I am fortunate that where I live now is almost half rural farmland and I have had the privilege of meeting and learning from farmers. They are a unique breed of people I think. So self sufficient and yet they accept help so graciously when they need it. I suppose because they are always the first to offer someone else a helping hand. And they seem to accept all life throws at them with a remarkable ease and perseverance. Pull on the barn boots and rebuild, replant., recover. It is a way of life.

I think I am too old and too spoiled to live on a farm now. Perhaps in a future life. I think I have much to learn from farmers. Especially in accepting the inevitable cycles of nature and life. I don't think they have time to over think, or get caught up in drama or their own self importance. They just do what needs to be done.

So I sat to write my weekly gratitude list while thinking about this family who has lost almost all of their possessions. They have no idea when they will be able to move back into the house. They have lost their entire crop which is their livelihood. They have lost all the equipment they need to make their living. They have lost their animals, some of which I understand were beloved pets. And the weather forecast for the next few days is soaking rains and more flash floods.

What am I grateful for this week? Everything.


  1. Oh my. Sending thoughts their way... and yours... gratitude for life, yes...

  2. Seeing it on television and seeing/touching/smelling it first hand are entirely different experiences. Long after the media has disappeared to the next "big thing", this community of friends will be there pulling on the barn boots and lending a hand. It's what I love about small towns... and you.

  3. It always perplexed me when I heard of people living in cities who did not know their neighbors, even those living right next door! Having grown up in the country I can't imagine life without the support of community - not only in times of disaster but in the good times as well.

    Everywhere here there are organizations raising donations. Our prayers for all those impacted by this disaster.

  4. You--and the people who were working with you--give me hope that this country is not lost yet.

    Prayers for Denise, Dan, their family--and all those who must pick up the pieces of their lives after a disaster and re-build. And thanks be to God for the loving neighbors, friends, and even strangers who help them do it.


  5. The strength of the human spirit - and the spirit of those who always run to help - never fails to amaze me.

    Bless you and all who help, and prayers for all those impacted.

  6. Check out apaigebaker.blogspot.com

    Someone is on to her shit.

  7. I wonder how all the lovely gentile ladies of St. Albans would take to knowing their priest loves pornography, panties and fishnets. Oh it's all so fitting for the radical feminist! Bawawawahahaha.

  8. Here’s an interesting blog post - written by the priest’s wife:

    Anthony Weiner is a sexual harasser. He sent 21-year-old college student, Gennette Cordova, an unsolicited sexual photo of himself.
    That’s really important—because it goes to the heart of what so many people do not seem to “get” about sexual harassment.
    I’ve had this argument with more than one person over the last couple of days. I’ve argued with intelligent people—intelligent women, no less!—who have basically said to me, “I like his politics, so what he did doesn’t matter.” Or…even worse to me, in some ways: “It’s not sexual harassment unless you tell him to stop and he refuses.”
    HELL NO!!
    Unless that young woman sent him a message saying “I want to see pictures of you naked,” he had no business sending her suggestive photos. She says she didn’t. Even he admits she didn’t. He says he sent the photo as “part of a joke.”
    That makes him a sexual harasser. And that makes ANYONE defending him—on whatever grounds—apologists for sexual harassment.

    I’m not laughing.
    I loved his politics. I loved the way he seemed to be the only one who would stand up publicly to the assholes in Congress who are trying to ruin this country and run roughshod over women, LGBTs, immigrants, the poor—basically anyone who isn’t white, male, straight, and rich.
    But I will not excuse him for what he did on that basis. I will not give him a pass for using his power and privilege to sexually harass anyone.
    I will not sell out my expectations that progressives should be better than this. I will not sink to the level of those who will defend the Larry Craigs and David Vitters of this world, just to hang on to a seat in Congress. And for those who are wondering...I thought Bill Clinton should have resigned when the Lewinsky scandal broke—and I still think we would have avoided eight years of George W. Bush if he had.
    I do not support sexual harassers, no matter what their politics happen to be. And if you are a true progressive, you shouldn’t either.
    I expect more.
    Consent matters. Integrity matters. Without them, we are no different than those we oppose—because there really isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between leftist abusers of women and conservative abusers of women.
    It just hurts more coming from those we thought were our allies.

    The fact that she discussed her sick sexual activities and offered to send you, unsolicited, a video of her having sex makes HER the sexual harasser. Did you ever say “I want to see pictures of you naked” ? She would never admit it and probably say it was part of a joke, just like Weiner. But how could she deny it in light of this post? If she defends herself, SHE is an apologist for sexual harassment.

    Further, her husband is a pervert who should be removed from the priesthood. Why any parish who would want this couple among them is either very uninformed or very naive. I think its time the truth came out. Because integrity does matter.

  9. WTF????

    She expects more? Then she should expect what is coming.

    It is time for this flaming a*hole of a hypocrite who loves to publicly shame others to get a taste of her own medicine.

  10. She recently posted yet another piece of privilege driven, hypocritical drivel that should make everyone embarrassed for her. Go check it out. I do wonder if her over-exaggerated sense of self-importance is being deflated with Robert rather publicly and very comically comparing her to his new wife, especially in bed. Poor little spoiled rich girl. I almost feel sorry for her.