The Long Way Home

When something is right, it is dreadfully obvious. It comes to you naturally, effortlessly – no pushing or pulling required. And as a matter of fact, when something truly is right, you don’t actually get to decide. It just happens and it usually comes when you least expect it.

Right things can’t be argued with, they aren’t rational, which is rather tricky for those of us with an affinity for logical decision-making.
Right things also can’t rbe stopped, no matter how much you might want to. Sure, you can be in denial, you can settle, you can stop taking action on the situation, but (if you’re lucky) it’s just a matter of time before you run into that right thing, making you realize how wrong the thing is you currently have in your life.

So really, spotting right things is easy! They instantly, inexplicably make you feel more whole than you did before you met that right thing. No decision making involved, no agonizing, no real wavering. It just is.
That doesn’t mean that right things are easy though. They’re not and they have a habit of turning your life upside down. And sometimes you meet a right thing at the wrong moment in time to come back to it years later to have a completely different experience.

Without fail though, right things come to you. They can’t be pushed or pulled or coerced, which is simultaneously incredibly liberating and frustrating.
As a matter of fact, usually you have to go through a whole series of wrong things, before you can even recognize the right one.
Nobody is born knowing their favorite _____ (fill in the blank noun) it involves experiencing many, before you even have a chance of recognizing the right one.

Being still enough to where you can hear yourself on this level, the nuances in these whispers, the irrational ways in which you feel more whole around something – that’s the tricky part.

 

The first and only time I’ve experienced a right thing in the places category was the first time I stepped foot on Anguilla.
Before that moment, I never knew how “not quite at home” I felt in every place I had ever lived, including the place I was born and raised.

The problem with experiencing such a clear and loud “right thing” is that it ruins you. Nothing less will do. Or at the very least, you’re painfully aware of the inadequacy of everything else.

I knew when we moved to Anguilla 8 years ago that this island would be temporary – all things are.
This tiny island has been such a wonderful place to raise kids, but it never was going to be the right place for teenagers. I knew that from the start and I’ve hoped and prayed and pushed and pulled to find a new “right place” for us before the clock would catch up.

After spending months researching a place to move to – overlaying weather maps with “distance from major airport” charts, school, average age, political landscape and cost of living statistics, I’ve come up with nothing. Nada. Logic and data are failing me, which is a blow all on it’s own.

The truth is, you can’t force a right thing to happen, and certainly not on paper. You have to experience it, see how it makes you feel, and on the odd chance you are lucky enough to find that right thing, nothing else matters. Tear up that criteria chart – game over!

 

You know the joke about the guy who prays every day to win the lottery, to which God replies with “Help me here, buy a ticket!”?
I’ve abandoned searching for a new home on paper and am taking it to the road. The long way, to (hopefully) a new home. So with an open heart, observant eyes, way too many digital devices and all four kids – we’re about to embark on a 6 week road trip across the Eastern-ish part of the US.

And if we’re lucky, we will indeed find that right place for us all to move to next.  Either way, it’ll be entirely obvious if and when we get there. No doubt about that.

The Only Constant

Roughly 3 year ago, as my oldest finished 6th grade here in Anguilla, I made the excruciating decision to send both boys to middle school in Dallas and live with their Dad. The two of you paying attention (hi Mom!) may have noticed that this corresponds directly with the roughly 3 year gap between posts here, but never mind that.

Before the boys left, we had spent years defining and refining our roles and responsibilities in this family, in this place. There are no conveniences here in Anguilla, no dishwasher, no fast food, no clothes dryer and with just me, the four kids and a full time job, all that inconvenience got divvied up as chores. Everyone simply had to try just a little bit harder.

Eventually, everyone found their place and their role. It was loads of hard work but everyone in this house was needed, which is what likely never made any of the kids complain.
They learned ways to delegate, organize and come up with new systems of doing things. They learned how to be observant and “read” moods, be more in tune and work with adjusting their force and timing. They invented games, helped each other with homework and anything in between. There were lots of clashes along the way but it was truly impressive to sit and watch the four of them work and play together effortlessly, like a well oiled machine.

And then, when the boys left, that whole thing sputtered and fell apart.
It broke my heart.
It broke our hearts.
Those two missing links instantly turned our previously smooth life into some exhausting, heavy and disabling thing. Not impossible to cope with, but what I imagine it to be like to have your left arm cut off. Everything was difficult and wrong and insufficient and we struggled for a while to draw a new circle and form a newly functioning, downsized family identity.

For the past 3 years, the boys have come to Anguilla only twice a year and it’s been utterly fascinating to watch what happens within minutes of their arrival each time. After the hug fest and dog pile is over, everyone gets quiet for a bit… and then goes on just like before.
It’s barely noticeable to the naked eye but it’s like suddenly, everyone remembers their place again, the formation. Like magnets clicking together with that tiny “clank” sound. Everyone is a little bit more whole again. A little bit more needed and secure again. A little bit taller and stronger.
In the boys own words: “Being here gives us something to bond over. It makes us want to be better people, better role models to the girls, more helpful to you.”

The boys are here now, until the end of the Summer and the vote we took is unanimous – it’s time to find a new home for all of us, together.

The Art of Duct Tape

It was during my second trip to a country I had never heard of before, when we decided to sell all our Worldly belongings and move the entire family. Two suitcases per person would be all we’d bring and the house, cars, furniture and everything would have to be gone in a little under two months.

While that may seem like an ignorant decision, it was precisely the opposite as I knew my (overly) analytical self enough to realize that if I properly looked at all the moving pieces of this move, I’d only talk myself out of it.

I didn’t know if there was an appropriate school on island, although I’d heard rumours. We had no car here and no idea how to buy one and we certainly didn’t have the faintest idea about what living in a developing country would be like and the lack of conveniences and options that presented.

But I had done a cross-Atlantic move, alone when I was far younger, far more ignorant, without knowing English and somehow that didn’t manage to kill me, so surely, relocating to a remote Caribbean island wouldn’t either.

Plus, I figured even if it all went south, I could chalk this up as a “great adventure and learning experience” which would likely not permanently scar the kids, who were 2, 2, 6 and 8 at the time.

So a few deep breaths and a giant leap of faith later and we arrived in “paradise”.

A local friend I had worked with during my initial IT consulting engagement had organized a house, which we rented sight unseen. It was a “rental house” and as the name implies, I assumed it had been rented before and therefore would contain all the usual things one needs to live.

You see where this is going, right?

We arrived to find basic things like silverware, trash cans, sheets and many, many other things missing.

(Sigh)

Ok fine, so this isn’t the US and there’s no 24/7 stores, or really any stores but clinging to my “this isn’t going to kill us” quote, this was merely a question of deflecting around these minor road bumps in other ways. Except, as it turned out, my usual methods of distraction weren’t an option any more with all the “things and stuff” gone and in my purging frenzy, I’d gotten rid of virtually all toys and craft supplies in exchange for being able to bring my espresso machine. I know, don’t judge me!

But I knew that any growth that would come out of this adventure would involve some pain and I was prepared to have cranky kids out of their element. And besides, part of why I wanted to raise the kids on Anguilla had to do with them being able to learn creative problem solving. Looking at it that way, this was basically their first chance at an “opportunity for growth” which is another way of saying “deal with a crap situation”, but never mind that.

What didn’t ever occur to me, was that I would have to spearhead this “deal with a crap situation” and come up with some creative problem solving skills myself, in the absence of stuff, toys, a movie theatre, fast food place or parks to distract with.

Enter duct tape.

While looking through our new house to find something – anything – to turn the energy in the house around, I found an old roll of grey duct tape. And we had internet. And espresso.

In hindsight, this all seems so obvious…

dt

Since that day, a large variety of things have been created out of this magical sticky tape such as geek game show trophies, shields, hats, wallets, beach-proof casts, piñatas, backpacks, art, messenger bags, bookmarks, Halloween costumes, purses, lunch boxes, precious silence and duct tape bikinis.

But duct tape means so much more than any physical thing. It represents the ability to work with inadequate tools and circumstances and look beyond obvious limitations to come up with something creative and beautiful that spreads joy. Or nervous laughter. Either way.

So obvious!

 

Time + Risk = Special Present

Anguilla essentially has no stores, no cute places to buy kids presents, no craft supply stores and no chains of any kind. Especially around Christmas and birthday time, this tuns into quite a conundrum.
Sure you can spend $100 on transport and waste an entire day going to St Martin, going from store to store, but for those of us that despise shopping – that is the equivalent of very expensive torture.

But its not just the lack of availability I struggle with when trying to figure out presents, its also the “store bought” thing I am not very fond of. (Although lets be honest, I would happily change my tune if there was a
Target closer than within a 5 country radius from Anguilla.)
The thing is – buying is easy.
Easy is not special.
And at least to me, the point of a present is to let someone know that you took time to come up with something they would like, that would make them smile and feel special. “Time” being the focus word there, since at the end of the day that is the only thing we truly ever can give to others.

So for the twins’ 10th birthday I wanted to come up with something unique that somehow incorporated all those things.

Enter the double-digit curtain.
10

It’s pretty ridiculous looking, I know, but hear me out…..

While I am fairly adept with all kinds of crafty things, I am well aware that I cant paint.
But that’s precisely the point.
Its easy to make something for someone that you’re good at. There is little risk involved and the end result is “safe”. Nothing wrong with that, I do that all the time but for the girls 10th double digit birthday I wanted to
communicate something different, something much more memorable.

The thing is, the girls know how busy I am. They know there are no stores here. They know I can’t paint.
They know that single-handedly running this whole operation, a career, travel and a something vaguely resembling a life has me at, or rather over overcapacity.
But for precisely those reasons I wanted them to know that I made the time and tried something for them that I’m not good at because…. DOUBLE DIGIT BIRTHDAYS!

So out of an old mattress cover ( damn you no craft supply Target) became a double-digit curtain they had to walk through on their birthday, the morning of May 9 and 10  in order to officially turn 10.

Man, you should have seen the smiles on each of their faces, they could have easily lit up the entire island.

And while they may not be able to articulate the reasons why that silly curtain is special, I bet years from now they won’t remember the gifts I bought them for their 10th birthday, but they might remember the curtain, that turned them from single to double digits.

Mission accomplished!

Lifehacks

Facing a tough situation, feeling bad or insufficient, not liking your job or being just plain overwhelmed by life can be tough and duct tape may not always be the answer so here a collection of thoughts on coping!

  1. Everything can be made to be fun

I don’t care if you’re talking about writing a long paper, cleaning the bathroom, folding clothes or working out, ANYthing can be made to be fun if you just try hard enough. Think about what would make the weight of the task ahead of you less painful. Perhaps some ridiculous 80’s music blasting? How about watching a funny movie at the same time? Or perhaps you just need to go put on some clothes or makeup that makes you feel good to work up to that chore you’ve been dreading all this time.

For me, one of the major challenges is working out, which I do daily but actually despise significantly. Or at least I did. And still do sometimes. But my mission is to have fun with working out until I end up having fun with it. Sometimes that means putting on the “Brazilian Butt Lift” DVD which is pretty much a parody of itself and dancing around the gym looking like a total idiot. Other times that means blasting music before the workout to work up some energy. And every once in a while that just means doing 30 minutes of stretching instead of sweating up a storm but the end result is doing something I didn’t really want to do, in a way that was fun. Try it!

Bonus points on this one for being silly, which usually leads to having fun!

Double bonus points for realizing how contagious “fun” is. Not only will it make your day easier but other people (and kids) will want to be around you!
lhh

  1. Pay attention

If you think about the amount of information we deal with on a daily basis, and then compare that to what was considered “normal” just 30 years ago, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Newspapers, smart phones, TV, subway schedules, Facebook and email all bombard us with information at an insane rate. That’s a lot of stuff to deal with but somehow, while learning to cope with vast amounts of information instead of drowning in it, we have lost our ability to read between the lines, to catch the small details that tell you how someone really feels, things that aren’t said at all. This focus on processing fast, mass-produced information has robbed us sometimes of the ability to attention to detail. Pay attention to someone’s name pronunciation. Watch your kids body language as they describe a situation that happened at school. Look at those unusual colours of the sky. Ask questions, be curious, share! Truly listen to not only what someone is saying, but how they are saying it and you’ll be surprised at how valuable the “in between” stuff actually is.

Bonus points for recognizing that all the information you consume is YOUR choice and that the “unsubscribe” or “power off” buttons are there for you to use anytime you wish.

Double bonus points for recognizing that people notice mostly what they’re looking for, which is why only love songs play on the radio after you’ve broken up with someone.

So if you look for the beauty that is all around you instead of the ugly and broken, you naturally will see more beauty but you have to pay attention.

lh

  1. Convince yourself – “Fake it til you make it”

What I’m talking about here is part number 1. “Everything can be made to be fun” and part ancient art of the jedi mind trick, where you can actually talk yourself into anything, given enough time and persistence.

This works both positive and negative and I’m drop dead serious, you WILL start believing anything you say to yourself given enough time.

This may mean stopping to look in the mirror and saying to yourself “you look awful/fat/ugly”, and stopping to actively looking for the negative and instead, find something positive to focus on. “I like the curve my hips make in this dress” or “this shirt makes my shoulders look muscular” or whatever you can come up with.

There were times in my life where I felt bad about myself and while putting yourself down is easy, it accomplishes nothing. So 1. do something about what bothers you and 2. start looking for things that you do like. This at times meant standing in front of the mirror for some time until I could see one thing I liked (past the 50 things I didn’t like).

This principal works not only with body issues but also with work challenges, life events, moving to a remote Caribbean island which may or may not turn out to be far more difficult than anticipated. Analyze whatever situation you’re dealing with, do something to change what bothers you, but then actively look for the POSITIVE things you like about the situation. Think about what you’re learning because of the situation you’re in and before you know it, you’ll actually and truly want to be in whatever situation you’re in.

I promise you will start seeing physical and mental changes in your life if you manage to shift your focus like this!

Bonus points for keeping a gratitude journal, especially on days when you’re feeling particularly bad/down/trapped/out of control.

 

  1. Break it up

If something seems too daunting of a task, simply break it up and ignore the enormity of the entire thing. I had to do this when I was going through that absolutely miserable pregnancy with my ginormous twins. When you’re diabetic, pregnant and on strict bedrest with two young kids to take care of while you can barely breathe, thinking about “I can do this for another few months” is entirely impossible.

So negotiate with yourself, what CAN you imagine making it until? Then make that your goal. For me, I couldn’t imagine not being able to breathe/walk/eat for even as much as a week so most of the time my goal was to make it til the next day.  I knew I could do 24 hours, but probably not more, so I committed to that, while ignoring the larger, overwhelming situation. And of course, after 24 hours, I’d renegotiate and commit to another 24 hours.

This works with a huge pile of dishes too or a huge daunting paper, the dream vacation you always wanted or a 30 point to do list, btw. How many CAN you do right now without being overwhelmed? 6 glasses? Done, make that your goal and then walk away and come back later to do 6 more of something else.

Bonus points: Combine item 1. “Everything can be made to be fun” and/or item number 3. “Fake it til you make it” for extra bonus points to do whatever makes it less of a pain to get the job done!

  1. Give yourself a break!

Sometimes, one way to figure out what you want is to do the opposite of what you think you want and then seeing how that feels. Different perspective always makes it obvious what you can’t live without and what you don’t actually miss at all. I personally like to travel to clear my mind, interact with strangers, walk through foreign places but whatever you chose to do to get a break doesn’t have to be that complicated or expensive. Go for a walk by yourself in a part of town/island/country you’ve never been to before. Ride your bike down a path you don’t know yet. Cook something you’ve never made before. Go to the airport just to watch people. Write a letter, call someone to say thank you for something benign, anything that’s out of your routine and you will find that your brain welcomes the change and the perspective and very often, crystallizing thoughts or desires is much easier when you’re in an “open” state like this. I can’t promise you’ll always get the answers you’re looking for, sometimes you may figure out that you in fact do not miss that person, but I can promise you that your brain and your heart will welcome the change and the chance to just be.

Bonus points for doing this along with item number 2. “Pay Attention”

lhhh

Dealing with Hurricanes – Take-Home Bonus

So I bet by now you’re now thinking “I wonder how to re-create what a hurricane is like”. Lucky for you, I’ve had a lot of time to think about how to do this and here’s what you need for a perfectly safe re-creation:

  • kids playhouse or small tool shed
  • several heavy-duty sprinklers
  • pots and pans and baking sheets
  • a few leaf blowers
  • a few shop-vac’s
  • playback equipment with pre-recorded hurricane noise, such as this one or this here.
  1. Setup all the sprinklers in close perimeter to the playhouse and turn on high. if water seeps in to cracks and doors, you got it setup properly.
  2. Position and secure the leaf blowers and vacuums right against the walls of the house, set them up to alternate between the on (high) and off positions every few seconds. If you’re inside and feel alternating pressure and suction and can hear clanking and rattling then you’re good to go.
  3. Put the pots and baking sheets on the roof of the playhouse, they should make noise when the sprinkler water hits.
  4. Turn the recorded sounds on high, preferably several at the same time. The sound of a hurricane is actually a deep rumble, clanking and high whistles/screams in addition to those wind noises but my attempts to record the actual sounds didn’t work out too well.
  5. Bonus: For extra special scary effects, turn on high and do all this at night.

Have fun and stay safe out there, y’all!

Dealing with Hurricanes – Part 2

(This is the second part of my “Dealing with Hurricanes” post. If you haven’t read that, please start here start here)

During:

  1. If you can, don’t go through a hurricane alone. You’ll be sitting there for hours waiting for your roof to be blown off and it’s too easy to let yourself be scared when alone, especially with young kids in the house. Besides, playing board or card games in candle light is much more fun with other people.
  2. The wind and rain is going to come from all four directions, one at the time. Pick the best room to be in during each stage in case of broken windows etc. Check each room of the house for water frequently though, it’s a pretty nasty surprise to walk in your bedroom and find it covered in an inch of water.
    Bonus: Use the water you mop up from this (in our case 16 gallons) to flush toilets!
  3. In case you didn’t board up the entire house and the hurricane turns into a bigger deal than expected, feel free to use whatever creative means necessary to keep the window from blowing out or minimizing the damage in case it does. This is also the part where large amounts of coconuts comes in handy in case you need to weigh something down.aa
  4. Expect the noise and pressure levels to be close to “insane” and prepare to not sleep for a while. This is also a good time to use up the last of your cold tonic and lime, if you’re into that sort of thing.
  5. Tweet furiously every hour. Or don’t. But do something, write, read, play a game, do something to keep occupied and “business as usual”, especially when you have kids with you as they will gauge their reaction and fears based on what you put out.
  6. Despite what anyone says, don’t go outside. The wind direction and gusts are unpredictable, especially close to the eye of the hurricane. Besides it seems pretty silly to go through all that trouble to be safe, only to get hurt ’cause of your own stupidity. Or a flying coconut.

aaa

After:

  1. Take a deep breath of relief! Nobody got hurt and despite what it sounded like, your roof didn’t blow off. Not being able to flush your toilet, bucket baths and it being somewhat difficult to wash your hands alone and your kids occupied is about the worst that happens at this point.
  2. Carefully check out the damage and slowly start cleanup operations. Check to see if your car and cooking gas is working since going places and being able to boil water and cook things is a big deal. Don’t rush, most injuries are sustained during hurricane cleanup besides, the mess will be there tomorrow as well.
  3. Have a blast cooking what’s left of your fridge and eventually your freezer. We ate like kings the entire time since stuff that was not in bags was gradually thawing. Check your oven though ’cause if it’s electric (glow) ignition you won’t be able to light it by hand.
  4. Expect to get emotional at the first sign of “normal life” such as someone handing you a cold drink, having internet or turning on regular lights.

aaaa aaaaa

I also must say that I’ve never been so proud of Anguillians as after each a hurricane, as everyone just grabs a shovel, machete or whatever and helps one another out. I suppose that’s the only way isolated communities survive but it’s inspiring to see every time.

Also, if you can swing it (or your conference speaking schedule requires it) with power and water still off, immediately fly to Italy for a few nice showers and meals is a great way to recover from a hurricane.

Lastly, a huge thank you to my online community for their checking in, well wishes and comments. It may not seem like much but it’s nice to know others care. I don’t want to imagine what it must be like to go through a worse version of this or any natural disaster where people actually get hurt and having a life-line out is such a big deal.

Here’s to none of us ever really needing it!

Make every day count!

Dealing with Hurricanes – Part 1

As you might have gathered by now, 400 km huge Hurricane Earl hit us head on and did quite a number on the island. Fortunately, houses here are built with concrete and steel so structural damage was minimized and no injuries were reported, making us once again very lucky. We did loose lots of trees and power poles and hence power and water for 4 and a half days, which wasn’t comfortable. A friend down the street organized a power generator for us a few days after impact, which was amazing as it allowed us to have either water OR internet and refrigeration. Your guess as to which was chosen most of the time 🙂
axa

Although I’ve spent over 30 hours in category 3 hurricanes, it’s difficult to describe what it feels like. Not just the part during the hurricane, but the aftermath, driving through a country that looks like a giant Edward Scissorhands took some rage out on to. Normal things like ice become a rarity sold only to the closest of relatives on island and the grocery stores become gutted. If you find a gas station that’s open, you’ll be standing in line for quite a while. Our supply boats arrive once a week and with rough seas, that means there are no supplies reaching for some time.

Probably because I am so connected with the outside World via internet so I rarely feel like we live on a remote island. Having a boat and plane service stop to Anguilla and being literally cut off from the rest of the World will set all that into perspective. Worrying about when the ferry boats are going to run back and forth to St Martin again, or when the next supply boat arrives will be a stark reminder of where exactly you live.

Since I had quite some time on my hands to think about all this, here some tips on how to prepare and deal with a hurricane and what exactly to expect. Realizing that most of you don’t live on a remote island or in hurricane country, there is a good chance this list may not help anyone but me prepare for next time, which may be later this week as Hurricane Igor is headed our way, although forecasts predict it to go well North of us.

adfa

Before:

  1. Before you loose power, eat all the ice cream you have.  And seriously, minimize what you have in your fridge and freezer as you may loose it during extended power outages.
  2. Buy a case of small water bottles, drain about 1/3 of each bottle, squeeze slightly to remove air and allow the water to expand as it becomes ice. Shut tightly and put it in the freezer. These will help keep your frozen goods frozen for a few days and also, you will be super thrilled to get to drink some cold water after going a few days without refrigeration.
    Ice works for this part in theory but the mess is not worth it.
  3. Get a couple of large freezer bags, like the one’s you use to carry frozen goods home from the store. Before you loose power, fill them with all your frozen “valuables” and leave enough room to surround the whole thing with the above frozen water bottles. Put back in the freezer for 12 hours, then seal tightly. If you never open your freezer nor the bag, items in this bag will keep frozen for  3-4 days.
  4. Depending on where you live, make sure you have enough (non-refrigerated) food and drinking water to last you 4 times as long as you think you need. In other words, you think you’ll be out of power/water for 2 days, make sure you got 8 days of stuff on hand. That formula might seem overkill but the last thing you’ll want is to worry about if you have enough food before the next supply boat arrives.
  5. Move everything outside that can move as a projectile, I’m talking furniture and in our case coconuts. Also, having a bunch of coconuts in the house may come in use later if you need to weigh anything down. They’re also a tasty snack and are fun to open with a machete.
  6. Organize buckets and lots of dry towels, horizontal rain being flung at your house at high speed means there will be water coming in anywhere through doors and windows and any tiny cracks anywhere.
  7. Check your first aid kit, make sure you have pain medication for everyone in all age groups in the house. Also, get a couple of cans of fix-a-flat cause it would suck to have to go somewhere after the hurricane and have a flat.
  8. Get enough candles of lamp oil to last 4(expected power outage) so you’ll have light. Also get enough batteries for flashlights and a radio.
  9. Charge all electronics including your tools and then unplug everything in case of power surges. Make sure you have your tools inside with you in case a door blows off or something needs to be fixed in a hurry.
  10. Board up all windows, especially if you don’t have slat windows since large panes of glass are more susceptible to breaking under pressure. It’s probably a safe bet to do this even if you don’t expect a big hurricane. Otherwise you might find yourself covering windows with a mattress and weighing it down with coconuts. (queue ominous sequel music)
  11. Gas up your car and any other gas containers you have, then store them in a safe place.

Part 2 to come shortly, which includes the “during” and “after” parts as well as how to re-create your very own hurricane environment!

 

Updated: Earl

The good news is that Hurricane Earl has a low chance of even reaching severity two status, which means reach 96 – 110mph winds.The bad news, is that Earl’s center is going smackdab over Anguilla at some point late tonight/tomorrow morning.
earlWe know for sure we’ll loose electricity as ANGLEC turns it off in these situations to minimize damage from falling electric poles etc. No electricity for a while means no water for a while. Buckets are organized and ready to pull water out of the cistern, drinking water, bleach, dry goods and first aid kits are assembled. All electrical devices are fully charged, typically cell phone service is the last thing to go out during hurricanes.

earl2The house is boarded up, which I actually consider to be the (hopefully) worst part of it – anticipating the hurricane in the dark, which is not conducive to remaining calm and relaxed and it bothers the kids out as well. It being 85 degrees, no AC and now having all doors and windows boarded up also isn’t helping the situation and if I had to guess, I’d say that there isn’t a lot of sleep in my future. At least the girls are great sleepers, hopefully they’ll miss all the action.

To follow the happenings of Earl, check out this link www.nhc.noaa.gov.

I’m going to fight the mob at the grocery store now, wish me luck!

Update 8pm:

I survived the store, although there wasn’t a single loaf of bread left and going shopping to the sound of windows being hammered shut isn’t very comforting. But I got some flour and (tonic and limes and Excedrine) and baked bread so it’s all good.

Unfortunately, Earl slowed down a bit and is gaining strength with pressure still dropping, so forecasts are now saying the eye won’t pass until noon tomorrow, and by then it may be a category 3 hurricane with 111 – 130mph winds.

Good thing we got all the coconuts off the tree today, a 4 pound coconut sounds like a mighty dangerous projectile in 130 mph/210 kmh. Now back to waiting…. and watching… and waiting…. ugh….

Going Home

Tomorrow – or rather – in a few hours, our 9 long weeks of traveling over 28’000km to 9 countries is coming to an end as we finally go home.
Except “going home” seems so foreign, especially as I do it with 2 of the 4 kids I left Anguilla with back in June.
The island breeze, the smell of the ocean, the sounds I hear when I lay in bed with the window open have faded so much. We have seen and done and experienced so much it makes it hard to know what to expect “home”.
I do remember how quiet it is though, how removed our “last house before Africa” is from any sort of commotion or distraction.
Somehow, I don’t think we will go home to the same “last house before Africa” without the boys laughter, fights, endless scheming, goofy jokes and hilarious dancing.

Perhaps that’s why we stayed gone this long, to delay the moment when we had to go home and figure out how to live without them.
Perhaps we went to so many places, hoping one would jump up and grab us so we didn’t have to figure out how to make Anguilla “home” without the boys again.

It’s just so easy to find distractions when you’re hurting. So tempting to pretend and cover it all up with noise and stuff and activities and more noise until what needs to be dealt with is so far burried you can’t even hear it anymore.

Thank God for getting older.
Like an air bubble, that the stuff you try to cover up always – always – finds it’s way back to the top, except usually multiplied in it’s tenacity and impact.

Going home tomorrow…