Thursday, September 29, 2011

Three Weeks of Flood Relief Efforts

It's been about three weeks since I posted last.  I mentioned that we were working on gathering supplies to serve "some meals" from the church.  When I wrote that, I had no idea that we'd be serving two weeks of hot dinners and a brunch, totaling over 1000 meals.  

I also talked about getting potable water out to folks who didn't have drinking water.  I had ideas about distributing water through drink coolers since bottled water was a scarcity.  A week after the flood, I was connected with a county official who had us pallets of drinking water within three hours of a phone conversation.  I don't dance well, but I did a happy dance and thanked God for the contact.  I started calling him Santa Claus in conversation around the church, because he would come through with amazing resources that our community needed.  Basic things, but essential.

I had no idea I'd be coordinating cleaning supplies as well.  But I did. Scrambling for bleach, gloves, brooms and whatever else we could get our hands on.  I think I may have walked into a room full of people and cheered when I got a call from a counterpart at another relief site who said he had 300 face masks for our location.  (The face masks are very important for folks who are having to spray bleach on areas that have been saturated with flood water.  I spoke with folks who didn't have them when they were cleaning up from the 2006 flood and still had health repercussions.)

"How'd you get in charge of all this?" one of the high school students from church asked me as we were getting ready to serve dinner one night and a number of folks were milling around gathering up supplies.  "I have no idea!  It just evolved." was my response.  

The last three weeks have been filled with an amazing array of emotions and a level of exhaustion that I haven't experienced in a very long time.  Many hands made miracles happen.  

Relief efforts continue as we are still distributing supplies but the frenzy has died down.  The last couple of days I have been embracing my "normal" routines as we settle back in to fall.  

Friday, September 9, 2011

No Way to Prepare

I felt prepared coming into this week.  My menu was ready.  Activities were organized and ready to go for my daughter and the little boy I baby sit.  The house was in relatively good order.  I was on top of the laundry.  I was feeling good.

But there was no way to prepare for this:

These photos were taken on NY Route 7 in Nineveh,  NY - 19 miles northeast of Binghamton.  Our area is flooded.  Water has reached historic levels in some areas and very close to record levels on our part of the river.  Our house is high and dry but our neighbors to the church are not.  We will be working in the coming days to come alongside them as they pump out basements, shovel out muck as well as doing the same cleaning in the church basements.

Today, it seems that getting drinking water and food-stuffs into town will be the priority.  We are making plans to serve some meals from the church.  If your pantry is dry and overflowing, or if you have extra hands and are willing to help, please contact me at

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Applesauce, Pepper Jelly & Tomato Sauce - oh MY!

Friday on my way home I hit the produce stand and gathered apples, peppers and the other sundry fruits and vegetables I needed for the fridge. While I got dinner ready, GTot and HandyMan picked tomatoes from the garden.

After supper, HandyMan and I got to work.  The order of business: Applesauce, Pepper Jelly (Hot & Mild), and Tomato Sauce.

I have a great KitchenAid attachment that makes the applesauce a breeze.  GTot was allowed up on the counter to watch the tomatoes squish thorough and thought it was the coolest thing!  "Mommy!! My applesauce!"

Then it was on to the Pepper Jelly.  I used this recipe as it is written for the hot jelly and replaced 5 jalapenos with a 5th bell pepper for the mild jelly.  The mild has very little bite and is fabulous with cream cheese.  I had some for breakfast this morning on fresh bread.  YUM!  I'm too chicken to try the hot stuff.  I'll bust it out when my Dad comes to visit next month.

Finally, we cooked up some tomato sauce.  GTot helping again to get the stems off the tomatoes.  I'm a hack-job of a canner.  I'm making it up as I go along and I really hope that this great stuff I've put into jars actually stays good and we can enjoy it in the months to come.  One of my 'experiments' was the tomato sauce.  I added balsamic vinegar and basil to it while it was cooking.  I'm thinking it should be fine.  The batch I made and had for dinner earlier this week was great, so now I'm just hoping that the canned version will be just as good!

The stash above came from 2 1/2 hours of work in the kitchen.  Not too shabby.

This post is linked up at An Oregon Cottage's Tuesday Garden Party.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday Sunshine: After the Storm

Practicing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.

This has been a week of no routine.  I'm thankful for the utility crews who have worked so hard out here on the East Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.  I'm very glad that our power was only out for two and a half days and is back on now.  My garden was spared and our house mostly protected as Irene's winds and rain came through our area.

:: I am thankful for companies who live up to their promises and are a pleasure to do business with.  

:: Homemade tomato soup, applesauce and pepper jelly.

:: Accountability techniques 

:: Extra hands for shopping day

:: The hospitality of friends while our power was out

:: Sunny days to dry laundry on the clothes line

:: Play dates and friends for GTot

:: HandyMan's hard work both at work (in the many tasks and challenges his job presents) and at home to keep our house maintained and improved.

Life is full.  I am thankful.

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!