A year ago today we were pouring on the coffee, shimmying into longjohns and sweatshirts and thick socks and rubber boots in the cold dark of the Brooklyn morning and heading out out out deserted Flatbush over the supposedly closed Marine Park Bridge to Rockaway. To Sweetheart’s childhood home with his dear Mama to see what Hurricane Sandy hath wrought. The masks and gloves and headlamps and axes and contractor bags and endless silty funk that covered everything like a fine dust came later, but today was a day for taking stock, and, in a way, every day since has been too. By now, everyone knows what we found out there, the grand scale of the devastation, the losses, tangible and intangible, but a year out my mind settles on the little things… Sweetheart’s grandmother’s handwritten recipes tucked on a low shelf with the love letters and yearbooks discovered with a gasp and plucked from the sodden pile and laid out to dry. Baseball gloves in the middle of the street as if they were left there in play, dropped at dinner time. The rainbows in all of the oil-slicked water eddying down each street. Books buried in the morass. The little moments of humanity in the face of the storm giving way to the big moments. A year out, we remember.
So, this is my woodpile. The big kahuna arranged for two separate deliveries of a half cord of mixed hardwood to occur in the same afternoon (the trucks passed each other in the driveway). The first load delivered and joyously/haphazardly stacked by two young hirsute hippies who, in addition to the firewood operation, have a band, a furniture shop, and an antiquing business on the side. They spent their time unloading discussing how hard it is to find good drummers (this seems to be a universal conundrum across state lines?). The second load delivered by a “You’re my boy, Blue!” look-alike with a turquoise bandana, shoulder length white white hair, and a shirt with howling wolves on it under a denim jacket. A good spectrum of dudes to have on call. I dallied to get a tarp to cover it, because I liked going out there and looking at it, walking around it like it was a horse I might buy, picking the best pieces for my little nightly load. I felt like I was living in this tumblr. But then there was snow in the forecast and my practical side prevailed. When I got to the store, all they had was camouflage. One left.The sweet angel of a man at the small, local, awesome hardware store (who keeps a bird behind the old, wooden counter, and also cut me a length of carpet tape on the house to see if it would be strong enough to hang my knife rack without drilling into the brick) told me that ever since Sandy hit, he hasn’t been able to order any new tarps larger than 6×8 because they’re all being funneled into New York. “They need ’em more there then we do here, at least until spring” he said. Truer words, sir, you have no idea. So. I am now the proud owner of a 12×16 Camo Tarp. Over the winter it’ll keep my precious woodpile safe and dry and, hell, come spring I might just put on an American flag bikini and rig up a nice lil slip’n’slide with the thing. The best part is that now (duh) it’s pretty well camouflaged, which is actually quite nice.
I have something I’ve been meaning to tell you. But then Sandy came along, and the election, and, well, I had some other things I really wanted to say. So. The BIG NEWS. After much discussion, Sweetheart and I are moving into this house. An old farm house with creaky floors and painted ceilings, exposed beams and milk glass fixtures on a decent passel of land that slopes down to a windy, woodsy creek. Because we need space and air and the warmth of a wood fire and a big silence around us where it’s just us but also the joyous noise of a room just for music (!) and a kitchen full of family and a view of the mountains and enough land for a sustaining garden and bees to start and chickens to follow and maybe a goat when it’s really time to settle down and all of the sweet and simple things that shouldn’t just be for vacation. BUT never fear, beloved Brooklyn, because we are ornery and require decent chinese food, because even though she’s been battered around a bit (and she’s battered us around a bit), we aren’t through with New York yet. So, we are also moving from our current apartment into one right up the street, keeping a place in our hearts and our neighborhood, a Brooklyn brownstone floor through right above this guy:BIG NEWS, right? Wanderlust vs. Homesickness, City Mouse vs. Country Mouse, Brownstone vs. Farmhouse, we just couldn’t decide yet. So, we’re going to try for both. Posts here will be fewer and farther between during our big move(s)—which also includes finding a home for unscathed furniture for the flooded Rockaway house, just for fun— but you can follow our adventures over on Instagram (@featherbyfeather) in the meantime. In love and nesting.
And it’s Occupy Sandy!! Forget the gravy boats and Tiffany’s china, Occupy has set up an amazing registry here, chock full of the stuff that people affected by the storm actually need. We can attest firsthand that they hit the nail on the head (with one of these hammers– they’ve registered for 40 of them) with what’s needed. The items will be shipped to the Occupy Sandy relief outpost at the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew in Clinton Hill. I was there this morning, and it’s a truly majestic scene in there- a beautiful sanctuary full to the brim with food, blankets, volunteers, and tools, glorious tools (painted pink so they can be identified and shared)! For those of you out of the area wondering how you can help, get the future Mr. and Mrs. Occupy something off of the registry– and get them to the church on time!
top picture from here, bottom pics from my fuzzy phone.
Here we are, heading out to Rockaway Beach this past Memorial Day, a classic American beach day at the gorgeous height of summer, Sweetheart’s beach block entrance, Beach 141st. Here it is now:The sea was angry that day, my friends. We’ve been out in Rockaway every day since last Wednesday, when the news told us that the Marine Park Bridge- the only way to access our end of the four-block-wide strip of sand that is Rockaway- was closed, but we went out anyway. What to even say about it all? What has happened out there is truly horrific: terrifying on the scale of what the sea can do, terrible to see the ever-mounting piles of sewage-sodden garbage constituting the entirety of people’s lives out on their curbs, the oil slick pump-water streaming down every street, eddying around wedding albums and heirlooms, cutting through the four feet of sand that covers the streets like snow, the houses ripped in half, bricks missing like gap teeth, ten feet of sea-wall strewn about like playing cards, tragedies abounding on a scale of wonder- huge and monolithic and seemingly impossible to process.Yet- as insignificant as our humanity is in the face of tragedy, in the face of nature, as insignificant as our humanity is to withstand storm surge and loss of power and loss of life, Our Humanity is strong. It is a goosebump thing, a tear welling thing, a wondrous thing to see and feel. “How can I help?”. Our friends, our dear dear friends, a different crew every day, to lift and pull and pump, to clean out and purge, to hold us up and watch us cry and to help us yell at the sky. And then the neighbors come. And then the strangers come. To Help. Alone, together, by car, by bus, when the gas ran out, by bike, offering water, hot food, coffee (the holy grail), then later- tools, masks, gloves, contractor bags, help- hands, hundreds of hands. And the constant refrain, that everyone says: “We are so lucky, so many have it so much worse than we do”. And it’s true.
And bless Dan, Maggie, Molly, Lucy, Jocie, Julia, Chris, Fran, Seth, Tony, Eben, JJ, Aly, Paul, and John for helping our little family. And bless Jay for all of that and more.
From our experience on the ground, The Occupy Movement has put together the best real-time volunteer infrastructure. To volunteer, go here. Bless You. Bless You All.
Sandy is coming and New York City has effectively shut down. No transportation, No work, everyone preparing for wine-soaked candlelit mid-day dinners. Soooo, is this the best thing ever? Not sure… Sweetheart’s dad sent us this quick snap from Rockaway this morning (mandatory evacuation be damned), storm surge already coming up and over Beach 134th and Cronston. Oh My. Us? We’re ok.