walk along a river in virgina

Storm Prep the MacGyver Way

What do hard-boiled eggs, bar-b-ques (Sloppy Joes), pinto beans, and a very tall glass of OJ have in common? Yes, that’s right, folks. It is my supper. Lunch was a take-out box of spaghetti from Monday. I started to prepare some food that I could eat cold if necessary or that could be heated up easily on a gas grill bit first I have to get older leftovers out of the way to make room in my fridge. I stockpiled some fresh food and beverages (including a quart of cream for my instant coffee) that would sustain me for a few days during a predicted visit from Hurricane Florence – who at the time was not going to be a Cat 3 or 4. I bought the requisite water and disinfectant wipes, charged my flashlight and other electronics, put fuel in the car and truck, got cash. Remember, MacGyver’s M.O. was to use what he had on hand, keep his sense of humor and stay humble, and avoid conflict. Like MacGyver, I was planning to take it seriously so I could stay calm in the crisis.  That was the plan.

Before I could remove all the potential flying missiles (i.e., backyard crap) from the storm’s path, I also had to make room in my garage for the chairs, tables, doo-dads, trash and recycling bins, etc. It happens that our neighborhood will be having a community-wide yard sale in a few weeks, so double win for me: I could clean garage, pile things for sale on one side, and yard trinkets on the other.

That Other Flood

It’s So No Fun to do all of this by yourself. It’s hard work, lifting and shlepping and shoving and piling things precariously. I know; I’ve done it before. I lived through a flood, in which my house took on 51″ of water. But, luckily, that time I had my two boys and an entire community helping sandbag  and otherwise prepare.  In the end, I gave up the house rather than risk lives due to a breach on the other side of the river, my eight sump pumps taking turns taking breaks, and the threat of a compromised wall in my basement. So that’s all another story, but in the end, I could find not one good reason to stay strong and be tough in the face of calamity. So I evacuated. After two weeks of sandbagging, moving furniture, losing sleep, and accepting help, I walked away. I fought as much as I could, and then I couldn’t any more.

It’s now 21 years later, and instead of a flizzard (flood + blizzard), I’m preparing to outrun a hurricane that may or may not be a direct hit but will still carry plenty of danger. I have had a few offers of help, and I did take Jackie up on it. She helped me get plants and yard crap under the deck (behind the lattice) or into the garage.

Mishaps, Setbacks, and Tragedies

But I have to tell you about a little mishap I had on Sunday, pre-Jackie. Once before, another time not the flood, I had a little mishap also. The flizzard was a setback, and now I know the difference. That one took months to recover from physically, and years in terms of PTSD whenever I saw floods in the news on television. I have also experienced tragedies (death, health conditions) but these were not that. I’m not whining here, just giving you some context so you don’t judge me.

That Other Mishap

So that other time I was getting ready to go on vacation and needed to get the dog kennels out of the garage attic. I was home alone; in fact, my husband and I had a commuter marriage at the time, so he was 200 miles away. I placed the 20′ extension ladder into the access hole door in the ceiling, climbed up, and retrieved the crates. I had done this kind of thing several times.

I lowered the crates down to the floor, reached for the door panel while standing on the ladder, and promptly kicked the ladder out from under me somehow. I grabbed the frame around the ceiling/floor opening and held on. The frame was surrounded by an L-shaped metal flange that held the covering. It was sharp, and hard, and it hurt.

I couldn’t think how MacGyver would have gotten out of this predicament, but I analyzed the situation and came up with a few thoughts. 1. It was going to hurt, because it was about 10′ down. I am aware of my limitations, and I am not a gymnast. 2. The ladder was on the floor directly underneath me, and to land on it was likely to cause a further movement upon impact. 3. The ladder had round rails and round rungs or steps, meaning I could easily roll my foot/ankle/knee or whatever hit the ladder. 4. If I landed on one of the kennels, that could cause a ricochet slide/bump/fall.

I did not have my cell phone on me, and the garage door was closed. The cell phone would have been a good thing to have handy. No one would see my legs dangling out of the ceiling and come to my aid. Luckily, the dogs were in the house, so I did not have to consider landing on one of them. Unluckily, they also were not related to Lassie and would not likely be able to go get help.

I finally let go, swung my not-svelte body, and managed to clear the ladder below me. Concrete is hard, though, and there was no graceful way to land softly. My injuries were long scrapes on my arms and ribs and legs, but nothing was broken. I was mad at my absent husband for not being there. (I know, this was a little irrational, definitely not humorous or humble.) Worse, the damn kennels did not fit in the trunk of the car after my great sacrifice of skin! I had to disassemble them and put one in the trunk and one in the back seat. All this delayed my departure by a few  hours, making me grumpier. But I survived, and I learned from that episode.

The Latest Mishap

This past Sunday I had occasion to again MacGyver my way out of a somewhat similar situation, i.e., consider how to fall best so as to limit the inevitable injuries. shelfThis time I was up on a 6′ step ladder, maybe 4′ off the solid hard unforgiving concrete floor of the garage. Wearing flip flops. Holding a computer printer that I was trying to put on a shelf above my head. Between the staircase with wooden post and railing that goes into the house from the garage and a set of golf clubs I was also going to move up and out of the way.

This time I did have the garage door open. I also left the door to the house open but with a doggie gate in place. My reasoning was that if I fell, eventually the dogs would get hungry and bark at me, and when I didn’t respond, their barking would alert the neighbors, who would see it was dark and my garage door was still open, too. Eventually, someone would come to my rescue. The phone was on the table in the kitchen, unfortunately, but also fortunately because I would have smashed it given what happened next.

MacGyver Thinking

Can you guess what happened? Yessiree, Bob! I went down. But while in mid-air, I managed to stop time long enough to consider advice from my ex-husband back in the day when he was teaching me to drive a stick shift: If you have to hit something, aim for the cheapest thing.

My thoughts: 1) Don’t land on your back on the railing because you will then flip over and hit the steel post that protects the furnace. There is no way that can be good. 2) Don’t try and break your fall by putting out your hands because you’ll break your arms. 3) Don’t land on the golf clubs because a 60-year-old woman impaled on a putter or a 7-iron will not be pretty and will hurt a lot. 4) I only had about 4′ to fall, and the most padding I have naturally is in my “backyard,” so it might be jarring but best case scenario was to land on my arse if I could. ladder

I dropped the printer (not in my plan) and landed on top of part of that. I also landed on part of the bent leg of the aluminum piece of crap ladder (some of the bruises now match the width of leg of the ladder). I did stay face up and did not have whiplash that could have come from kissing the concrete. My glasses flew all the way to the garage door, so I’m certain there was a bit of head action somehow. No broken bones, nor an injured coccyx,  just a sprained wrist and the aforementioned bruise on my acidosis. Which is the size of a generous salad plate, and very dark in color.

I lay there a minute and saw my neighbor pull into her driveway. She just moved in a week ago, so although I knew her name and had met her once, I didn’t really feel like this was a good time to chitchat. I quickly inventoried my moving parts: I could move fingers and toes, there was no bleeding. I was breathing normally and without pain. No double vision, no headache or wobbly neck.

I picked myself up and hobbled into the house to call my sister. I was all shook up and burst into tears as soon as she answered the phone. She is so great at listening and helping me to calm down; she’s had a fair bit of practice with me. I was furious at Kevin for again not being here so that I was alone and had to do this without him. One hour and two scoops of Colombian Coffee & Vanilla Bean ice cream later, I was “okay.” My ankle was swelling and the wrist was throbbing, so I got the ice packs out, put my feet up, and rested for most of the rest of the day.

Angel on Duty?

Now, here’s the interesting part. Yesterday, two days after the incident, I was having lunch with a group of friends. I was enjoying my status as Center of Attention while I told the story of why I was wearing a wrist support brace. I got to the part about being mad at Kevin for not being there, saying he should have used his angel capacity and either swooped in to catch me or flown under me to keep me from harm. And one said, “Well, he was there, don’t you think? You didn’t knock yourself out or break any bones or scratch your glasses. It could have been so much worse, and it wasn’t.”

Wow!  She was exactly right. He was there, he had to be! I was immediately contrite and grateful. And happy!! I have an angel, and he was on duty! I keep doubting, and he keeps proving to me he is here. How I didn’t get a serious injury given the fate of the ladder is at least a minor miracle, in my book. I didn’t  knock the golf clubs over either, just shoved them over a foot or so. My glasses skidded a good 10 feet across the concrete floor. I was a little sore Monday, and even more sore yesterday, but not so stiff I couldn’t move; just creaking a little. It is still awkward to try and not use my left wrist when I’m packing and cleaning, or closing the car door and putting on my seat belt.

Evacuating from Hurricane  Florence

So back to why I was doing this in the first place, Hurricane Florence. I have zero interest in seeing what a hurricane looks like up close and personal. None at all. As the predictions worsened, I started making plans to go visit my sister in Ohio.

The expectation is the electrical power will go out for maybe a week. Not sure about water availability. The biggest worry is if a tree(s) falls on my house. I would prefer to not be sitting on my couch and suddenly have a tree in my lap.  I also know that my three dogs will destroy my house if they can’t get outside to do Their Business, plus Sasha is afraid of thunderstorms. The food I had prepared (plus veggies, smoothies, yogurts, and sandwich meat) to eat during this extended storm now needs to be consumed or taken with me so it doesn’t spoil while I’m gone. I am nearly as dreadful as a one-armed paper hanger trying to load a cooler and carry it to the car. I will have to finagle a suitcase from the attic, pack it, and get it from upstairs out to the car in the driveway. I have to manhandle a 28# beagle into his seat belt and the other two into their car seats. The forecast keeps getting updated but I am ready to go.

It feels like a little bit like I’m running away, but honestly, waiting this out is not on my Bucket List at all, no way, no how. I have anxiety already just thinking about the risks. I give my angel so much to do already, just falling off ladders and stuff, that I shouldn’t press my luck. I will get out while I can, so others can worry about the ones who really need worrying over. I pray for safe travels for those who are leaving and a safe stay for those who don’t.

What to do once you are prepared and waiting…

As long as the power stays on, you should watch some MacGyver episodes.  (What? You don’t know who he is? Check out MacGyver here.) I haven’t seen the new version but the original series was always pretty good. You just never know when a mishap, setback, or a tragedy will come your way. Best to stay calm in a crisis if you can.



  1. Cecile marchanf

    May your angel lead you to safety. My prayers are with all that are in the hurricanes way.

  2. Aw honey … you are so courageous and rational and REAL. I just love you to pieces! I’m so sorry you got injured but I so admire your grit. God bless you, my dear.

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