Hurricane Gonzalo: A Lucky Escape

There are times in life when you feel downright lucky and today is one of those days. Bermuda survived Gonzalo without any loss of life, and we personally escaped with only minor property damage. We anticipated a much worse scenario, flooding, possible roof loss, which was widespread in 2003’s Fabian. It was 15 degrees of separation between a blow from the South like Fabian and a blow from the East that we had with Hurricane Gonzalo. As I watched from my unshuttered kitchen window I was thankful I was watching the waves crash to the side of the house rather than over the house. As a precaution we had sealed up all the doors with a caulking gun and moved most of our belongings on the bottom floor up to the top. We hunkered down in my office, playing a new game of “Candlelight Lego” and waiting for the eye to pass. When it arrived it was dark but we ventured outside anyway to investigate and our world had an eerie orange glow. We checked in on our neighbors, shared a glass of wine and then discovered all the planks from my father’s docks had washed into our bay so before the storm returned, yours truly went for a swim in her clothes and fished out all the planks, partly so we could reuse them, and partly so they wouldn’t sail in the opposite direction causing unknown harm to property or people. Chris and I had a large bottle of wine, a gift from Uncle Michael and Another Michael which we had been saving for a dinner party we never got around to hosting, so we decided to crack it open for the special occasion. We still haven’t finished it but it is helping to ease the clean up process.

After we woke up at dawn the following morning to the ominous drone of coast guard planes flying overhead in an eerie stillness without the traffic, birds chirping, or the chatter of people that usually accompanies a weekend sunrise, we got up dusted ourselves off and did a survey of damage. To our utter amazement our power came back yesterday, making us one of the lucky ones, and enabling me to post this Hurricane aftermath update. We found the St. George’s Ferry sign in our yard amid the debris, many downed trees, and a hut from the garden thrown into the air but miraculously without hitting anyone’s house, and sparing Eva’s cedar tree by a few feet.

Later on, like many of the fortunate, we partook in Bermuda’s premier spectator sport, Hurricane damage sight seeing around St. George’s and St. David’s. From the vantage of my father’s boat, which emerged unscathed from its storm mooring in Mullet Bay we counted about forty boats either sunk at their moorings or on the rocks. Here are some photos of the damage around our house and in the East End area. Amazingly, the Settler’s Dwelling, which my father and volunteers built at Carter House, using tools and material from the 1600’s as the first settler’s would have done, withstood the Category 3 hurricane without damage. Unfortunately the St. George’s charter fishing vessel, Messaround, sunk at the St. David’s dock, although the boat next to it, Lucky Charm, weathered the storm. Not all vessels were so lucky, not even Lucky seen in my featured image aground at Ferry Reach. I hope “Lucky” has insurance.

I had better get back to raking leaves and clearing debris. Until next week. Enjoy the images.

Xx Derelict Mom

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October 2014 103 October 2014 102 October 2014 101

Gonzalo: Force Majeure

When I started my blog in January and committed to blogging once a week, I thought it was a tall task I would have trouble committing to, therefore I made it a New Year’s Resolution. I imagined all the obstacles that would come my way, a sick child, surprise work deadlines, holidays, exhaustion, a family wedding. Until today all of those things have happened and been successfully negotiated, and my blog has gone up every week either on a Thursday, Friday and on one occasion a Saturday morning. Its 2pm on Friday October 17th, I was supposed to be filming Founders Day at the Berkeley Institute but instead I am hunkered down with shutters closed. We just finished moving the bottom floor of our house up to the top floor in anticipation of the inevitable flooding which will be coming along with Category Four/Three Hurricane Gonzalo. Eva is supposed to be napping but she is instead crying from the comfort of her crib in the safest room in the house. Chris and I are exhausted already and we are taking a break while Eva naps to take advantage of the power while we still have it. I am writing, Chris is watching tv. Whether or not I make my blog posting deadline this week, depends on how fast I type and how long the electricity stays on. It is a race.

If I don’t make it, I am claiming an Act of God or Force Majeure, that clause in a contract you never think will apply for you which may extend to next week too because who knows when the power will be restored. It is a miracle I got any work done this week, as just five days ago we were all surprised while we were sleeping ( or partying) with an unforecasted small hurricane, Fay. The week before, Chris was away and Eva had vomiting and diarrhea, in the midst of my evening workshops, and one of my closest friend’s weddings. I couldn’t do it all, it was one of those weeks I was just trying to show up and deal.

Last Friday, I became very concerned about Eva’s condition, her belly swelled up, she wouldn’t let me touch it and my mind jumped around before landing conclusively on the assumption that she had an obstruction because who could possibly have stomach flu for an entire week. I considered taking her to the emergency room, and I half packed a bag for an overnight in the Gosling ward, but instead I took her down to the doctor’s office, having to wait a few hours for an appointment. Right as we were about to leave, she requested the potty and after several minutes of contortions, noxious fumes, and loud echoing boofas (farts), her stomach became less of a pregnancy and more of a soft toddler belly. The occasionally diligent derelict mother that I am, I photographed the toilet explosion, partly to show the doctor and partly to show Chris what he missed while on holiday, I mean while on his trip for his Grandmother’s funeral.

Rushing down to the doctor, they looked shocked to see me five days after I had called, concerned with what seemed a worse than usual stomach flu. After close examination but without looking at my diligently photographed documentary evidence, he concluded that Eva may not have a case of the stomach flu, but rather be suffering from a seven day case of Salmonella poisoning. There is no treatment.

When Eva and I returned home and looked up salmonella poisoning on the internet I saw that it is most often contracted by consumption of raw eggs. I racked my mind, and remembered that on Sunday, only my second day of single parenting with eager enthusiasm and a desire to become at least for a day or two, the fun parent, I made her eggs benedict for lunch. Toast with butter, smoked salmon, a poached egg and home made hollandaise sauce made from…raw egg yolks. Eva helped me crack the eggs, and somehow contracted salmonella, just the perfect little microbe to ruin our week and make a derelict mother even more derelict. I poisoned my child.

By Saturday though I felt Eva had recovered enough for me to leave her at home and attend my friend Elena’s wedding, as I had missed a cruise and several parties and if I missed her wedding it would have been a disappointment for years to come. I am not sure many parents would have done the same, but I did not want to be a derelict friend in addition to a child poisoning mother.

Chaos follows us so, enroute to the wedding we managed to leave someone behind. The weather had picked up early in the day because they had forecast a bit of a blow so the bride at the last minute had to move the entire wedding to the tent on front street at Pier 6. It was an amazing act of organization that they were able to pull it off, and pull it off they did. The wedding went off without a hitch, by the witching hour my mother was dancing on stage with Uzimon. A perfect night.

But it was an imperfect morning. I wasn’t sure at 7am if it was the banging in my head or if it was the shutters banging that woke me up. Within a minute or two of consciousness and noticing that the power was off, I realized that we were in the midst of a hurricane. Home alone with a small child, and a large hangover I wasn’t even sure I had shut the front door the night before never mind moved Eva’s toys, or the lawn furniture. We had no choice but to wait it out.

When the winds subsided, we realized that no one knew more than we did, and that there were winds recorded up to 155 mph, a Hurricane. It was a frightening thought that I went to bed, husband less, having had too much to drink, in charge of a small child recovering from mother induced salmonella poisoning and completely unaware of what was happening. However Hurricane Fay was but a warning.

I could not have been more happy when a world weary husband walked in the front door at midnight, fresh off the BA flight from London, the only flight that arrived the day after the freak Hurricane. I regaled him with tales from the wedding and boats upon the reefs, and showed him a picture of the wedding tent, which only a few hours after the party ended was but tatters on the ground.

When Monday morning dawned and Chris got up to survey damage to the house, he was pretty surprised to see that like the Hurricane had downed trees, and broken branches, that inside salmonella poisoning had wrecked the house. There were clothes everywhere and crayon scribbles all over the wall confessing all my derelict mom moments where I just let her take my sharpie pens and do so with them what she would- which was draw on the wall, probably while I was in the kitchen pouring my self a nice big glass of wine or a tequila and probiotic lemonade.

Little did we know that the next five days would kick the chaos up a notch. Within a day or so a grim forecast was issued by the Bermuda Weather Service, who we weren’t sure whether to trust or shun. All of the responsibilities of the salmonella week that I offloaded into this week were again cast off, in favour of spending way too much money panic buying with the rest of the island at the hardware store, and the grocery store. Chris would say I do this every week, but at least I could clear my schedule and be that parent, the one who organizes everything.

To make matters worse, drunk with the chaos of the moment, I tripped backwards over a paving stone and storm detritus falling backwards and hurting my hand which I reached out behind me to break my fall. The following day, while refilling a prescription I decided to show the doctor, who said it would be best if I had an x-ray because if it is broken I may have to have surgery to put a pin in to stabilize the thumb. Two days before the storm I rock up to the Fracture clinic without an appointment, after about an hour of arguing it was agreed I would be seen. Meanwhile in the waiting room I have visions of having surgery and being trapped at the hospital during the worst hurricane in a decade and separated from Eva and Chris. Although I would probably get more sleep than I had in the preceding ten days, it was not the best version of events. It was eventually decided that I did not need surgery but a brace was required.

I am not sure being one handed slowed my shopping down at all, but it did create a problem for hurricane prep especially considering my husband ever the loyal employee, did not arrive home from work to begin prepping the house until 4:30, approx. three hours before nightfall, whereas I had been preparing for at least three days.

So here we are on Friday October 17th at almost 3pm crowded into two rooms with a dog and a three year old, and all our worldly belongs waiting for that Force Majeure otherwise known as Hurricane Gonzalo and its wrath. Gonzalo was named for the character in Shakespeare’s Tempest famously inspired by the wreck of the Sea Venture in 1609 and the survival of the castaways in Bermuda leading to the island’s colonization by England. In the play Gonzalo was stranded on a remote island when Prospero conjures up a storm to wreck a ship. The conjuring is amping up now so I better sign off. Until next time. Waves are crashing in the garden and friends have lost power, I will post now or never! 1700 words in almost an hour- that must be a record. Lets see how fast I can cut and paste.

Forgot to mention, I have been on a cooking spree and made gluten free pizza, vegan fudge, ham, spagetthi squash, potato salad, gfree bread, quiche, deviled eggs, guacamole. We will not go hungry for days, and now I just have to decide if I am going to make gazpacho or bloody mary’s with my bottle of V8? Votes?

Xx Derelict Mom



#Doing It All Maria Shriver report

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Go Maria Shriver! #DoingItAll The role of the contemporary mother. It is not easy. Most women nowadays are working mothers, and that by definition is imperfection. I do not think you can do both at the same time well. I have one daughter and I work from home and I find it difficult, and it is the expectations of society that make it worse, and from that place this blog, derelict was born. I salute all the derelict working mothers of the world. When my daughter Eva was born, I only had two weeks off and that was because she happened to be born right before Christmas, after that until I put her in daycare at four months I worked with her. Breastfeeding never worked for me so I pumped while driving in the car from film shoot to shoot, or while doing chores in the house wearing the backpack pump and my little Eva even had her first acting role at six weeks. I was miserable it was really hard and I am not living on the poverty line. If anyone is reading this check out my 2010 documentary Poverty in Paradise made with the Coalition for the Protection of Children, about the plight of mothers living in poverty in Bermuda, a trailer is on youtube: