Tag Archives: neighborhoods

And the Creek Did Rise…

My uncles say, “Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.” Well, yesterday the creeks overflowed, the rivers are still rising and the sewer rose right into my basement. Our sump pump is working fine, so while we’re unable to flush our toilets and take showers, we don’t have much water damage like thousands of others in the Chicago area. We did not have to be rescued by boat and we did not lose our car underwater. For that, I am extremely grateful. Our neighbors, who do have a working sewer, invited us over last night to use their bathrooms and feed us cake. Yay for good neighbors!

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You, too? I thought I was the only one.” ~C.S. Lewis

Ed graciously offered to let us stay in a hotel room, but I wanted to stick it out at home. Yes, it is a pain, but I think I would have been too anxious about our house if we left last night. As for comfort, I like sleeping in my own bed.

“Ah! There is nothing like staying at home, for real comfort.” ~Jane Austin

I may not be able to run the dishwasher, but we have electricity. I can’t do laundry; however, our washer and dryer are not under water. In this crazy Chicago weather, we are now having snow flurries. At least we have a warm house. We have a solid roof over our heads and a mostly dry basement under our feet. The water puddle is slowly receding and I’m hopeful that we will be able to run water by tonight or tomorrow.

splashing puddles

The water company has kindly listened to our phone calls and sent out an investigator. He assured me that the sewer would soon start running normally. We have a low sewer line compared to some of our neighbors, which is the reason our line backed up.

Our school district is up and running and the girls are at school. Ed has been able to get to work. We just have so many things to be thankful for!

“In three words, I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” ~Robert Frost

This post brought to you by Spin Cycle and the prompt: My Favorite Quotes.

How has your week been?

Second Blooming

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Wait–What’s Broken?

I glanced out the front window as I was picking up the toys scattered around the living room. A muddy stream of water was running down the street. “Hmmm,” I thought to myself. “They must be flushing out the hydrants.” But then the stream grew wider, and I grew curiouser. Shoving my feet into my shoes, I stepped outside. Water was not gushing out from a hydrant. It was gushing up from the ground and the whole street was quickly filling up with water. Neighbors were standing out on their lawns, trying to call someone who would come fix what was broken. Those who were not on the phone were in the water with rakes in their hands, clearing the sewer drains from fallen leaves. The school bus arrived and drove slowly through the water, causing waves to lap up people’s driveways.

And the water kept gushing up from the ground.

Our street, flooded

I had to go pick up the girls, so I walked away from the gushing water and toward the school. I could hear people yelling at cars to turn around. The water was getting way too deep. Just a few minutes later a police car arrived. The officer blocked off the street and yelled a cheerful greeting to the girls as we walked home. A fire truck soon pulled up. The neighbors, police officers and firemen all stood around and watched helplessly as the water shot out of the ground. The muddy swirls were mesmerizing. There was nothing left to do but wait.

Lily has her notebook, ready to report the breaking news story!

Finally, the water company arrived. They had to shut off the water slowly so that no other water mains would burst. Someone advised me to go fill up buckets with water while I still could so that we could flush the toilets when the water went off completely. The girls and I went inside and filled up buckets and even a couple of pots. It was kind of like telling someone to go and boil water when a baby is about to be born…it occupies one’s time but in the end is unnecessary. The water was contaminated so we couldn’t use it for anything but flushing the toilet, but we weren’t without water for long. The water company worked well into the night, keeping me awake with the generators, trucks and bright lights, but having the water back on in the morning was well worth a little lost sleep.

Mama’s Losin’ It

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It was a cold and rainy day…

It was a cold and rainy day…

Any other day would have been fine. We could have gone to the park. I could have sat in a chair in our backyard while Lily and Emmy played in the sandbox. Or we could have taken a nice, long walk around the neighborhood.

This Spring has been wonderfully warm and sunny. I planted my flower bed before Mother’s Day (unheard of in Northern Illinois) and there was no hint that frost would hurt my little garden.

But naturally, I chose the coldest and rainiest day in Spring.

The word “chose” implies that I planned it, or that I was aware of what was going to happen. That I wanted it it happen. Which would be a wrong assumption.

Emmy and I were in a rush, as usual. I was grabbing for a raincoat and umbrella, trying to get Emmy to put on normal shoes and not flip flops. There had been a steady drizzle from the sky all day long, and it barely reached 60 degrees, if that. We were just going to walk down the block to pick up Lily from school and hurry back. Playing at the playground after school wasn’t even going to be an option, so I left all the lights on.

I never drive to pick up Lily; it just seems silly when we live so close to the school. But it would have saved us if I had.

When we got back to the house, Lily was having trouble with the door. “Twist the handle harder and PUSH!” I said. Our front door sticks somewhat.

“It’s not turning, Mom!” Lily exclaimed.

I froze…had I finally done it?

I checked the doorknob. Yes, I had. I had locked us out.

I suppose it could have been worse. It could have been snowing. Or it could have been thundering and lightning.

As it was, we crossed the street to our neighbors house (we literally ran out of the house without taking anything, even my cell phone) and rang the doorbell. No one was home. We tried the next neighbor, and their daughter, home from college, answered. Yay! I called Ed at work, and he came home to rescue us. It took him about half an hour to get home, and the girls have never been so happy to see him!

At least I’m able to blog about it.

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Like Weeds in July

As I was walking around my yard today, I noticed that despite our attempt to keep up with the weeds, they have sprouted tall and big and strong. That’s what two weeks away, lots of July heat, humidity, and thunderstorms will do to those pesky weeds.

Yes, there are a lot of tall, bright green weeds growing in my garden. They’ve grown and spread out of control. In the past two weeks, other things have sprung up, just like those weeds, out of my control.

The past two weeks have had a lot of loveliness, moment of joy and peace and togetherness. My family and I have been on vacation, and it had all the elements of a great vacation: long car rides, crabby kids and parents, mosquitoes and sunburn; quiet hikes in an ancient forest, drifting down the river in a canoe, getting sprayed by the waters of Niagara Falls.

It was during the second week that those pesky weeds really started growing during our time away.

I had planned to write some blog posts during that second week; the house we were renting has wireless internet, I had my laptop, and we were going to have some time to relax. However, as I tried to start my laptop that Sunday morning, the computer would not start up no matter what I tried to do. Restoring the computer to an earlier time wasn’t working; my IT husband didn’t have any resources with him to troubleshoot the problem, and so we gave up. We decided it was a blessing in disguise to be without our laptop so that we could fully concentrate on our vacation.

Another weed…early Wednesday morning, Emmy called desperately for me; she had thrown up all over her bed. Ed and I soothed her and cleaned up the mess. After a couple more episodes and a couple loads of laundry, her stomach finally settled down. Emmy and I both slept on the large couch in the living room. When Emmy woke up the next morning, she gave me a huge grin. I knew then that she was feeling better.

But just a couple of days later, Lily caught the same stomach bug. The morning we were supposed to leave, I was sick. As I lay in bed, Ed and my sister packed up our things and got the car ready. As we drove toward Illinois, I couldn’t wait to be in the comfort of my own soft bed.

Despite being achy, our drive was smooth going until we reached the highway exit by our house. It was closed and we couldn’t figure out why. There shouldn’t be any construction. As we pulled of the ramp going east instead of west, I saw that the ramp was covered in water.

Uh-oh.

As we tried to turn west toward home, which also meant we had to cross the river, we had more “uh-oh” moments. More roads were flooded and more bridges were closed. We found a street that was open and crept the van slowly through the water that threatened to close that road as well.

As we finally drove through our neighborhood, I prayed that our basement wouldn’t have water in it.

It did.

What a tall weed we had come home to!

First Ed unpacked the car, then he started emptying the basement. (Most of the water had already gone back down into the sewer…it was all sewer backup.) I went up to the bedroom to rest, and after taking a nap felt well enough to help him.

Overall, we have some ruined carpet that we tore out (we wanted to get rid of it anyway). Some of our books got too wet to salvage (my art books from college and an old set of encyclopedias) and a small amount of my teaching files were also wet.

It could have been much worse. We use our basement for storage, and most things are kept in plastic tubs. There was only about an inch or two, and the water only covered about two thirds of the basement. Our neighbor told us that early Saturday morning, there had been 7 inches of rain in 2 hours. That’s a lot of water. It turns out our sump pump wasn’t running, so Ed installed new sump pump last night. Even if the pump had been working, there’s no guarantee we would have come home to a dry basement.

And Ed got my laptop up and running again. Yay!

We have lots of pictures to remind us of the good things that happened on vacation. Despite those weeds, we built a lot of family memories during the past two weeks, and I’ll write more stories about our vacation soon.

(Those weeds won’t get the best of us!)

Here’s a photo I took of our evening stroll in Niagara Falls. The lights were shining on Horseshoe Falls, we had just had a wonderful dinner at a restaurant overlooking the falls, and Lily and Emmy were enjoying every minute of their evening…as we were allowing them to stay up waaaay past their bedtime.

The moon rising over Niagara Falls; July, 2011

Hoping you are having a wonderful summer as well,
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Red, White and Blue

Flags displayed during the 4th of July parade

When thinking about tradition, many people think of those winter holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. In our little family, Independence Day is steeped in tradition, just like the sun tea steeping on the hot cement driveway.

Many Chicago area suburbs have firework displays on July 3. So we start our Independence Day a little early and keep the girls up late. Lily was only two and a half when we took her to her first fireworks display, and she’s loved them from the start. Emmy is another story. She has never cried at the fireworks; she just holds on to me as tightly as she can and holds her hands over her ears, hardly looking at the fireworks. This year, she still sat in my lap and held her hands over her ears, but she looked up at the cascading lights in the sky with awe.

The next morning, bleary-eyed and sleepy from staying up late, we head to the 4th of July parade which begins at 9:00 sharp. Clowns, Corvettes, and even a camel…all part of the fun! Then it’s off to the park for balloons, hot dogs and games. The girls love the candy thrown from the parade floats and the games. I love the summer-ness of it all — the warmth from the sun, the loud celebrations — the red, white and blue.

Another one of Lily and Emmy’s favorites during the 4th of July — spray from the firetruck!

What are some of your favorite summer traditions?

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