It's become an end of summer ritual: preparation for hurricanes pounding up the coast. Earl, class of 2010, meet Irene, '11.

I am exhibiting animal-like anxiety behavior, just like the lemurs, flamingos, and gorillas in Washington's National Zoo before last week's earthquake. I'm jumpy, unable to concentrate on my work; I may soon join my sister orangutan and start "belch vocalizing". My neighbors, who are dolls, invited me to huddle with them if I lose power, and reminded me to check the propane in the generator.

Yesterday, the outdoor furniture began its huddling behavior in the garage. No time for a bath, and everything needs one. Lots of moss growing around here; its been a cool, wet summer. As I looked over the stash I wondered, where did the months go? I know, I was totally preoccupied with getting my Moms Clean Air Force project off the ground--come look, we have a brand new website, courtesy of the excellent designer who worked on Slow Love Life with me--but still. How many times did I actually sit on a chaise and bury myself in a book? Too much writing, not enough reading. To say nothing of just sitting quietly.

I heaped wetsuits into a large basket. There's been a steady stream of cars loaded up with boards heading for the beaches around here. So for the first time this summer I had the thought that I was glad Theo wasn't around, because if he were, he would be heading out for the horizon on his surf board, and there would be nothing for me to do about it but die a thousand deaths of anxiety.

Then I raced around town mindlessly, heeding warnings to stock up on food, but when I got home and emptied my basket in the pantry my shopping even I was appalled. Graham crackers, a blueberry pie, peanuts, cookies, ice cream, potato chips, more cookies, mozzarella, and more nuts. What food groups am I covering here exactly? My pyramid looks something like this: Protein. Sugar. Fat. And comfort. I couldn't resist the cheery face of Mr. Planters, and Ben and Jerry's laughing cows. Come to think of it, if I lose power, the ice cream will melt, so I may as well eat that while I contemplate the possibility of losing power.

Laughing aside, those of us who hug the coast always have to take hurricane alerts seriously. We've learned to respect the forces of nature.  My friend Sue said she called her father on the Delaware coast to make sure he took all the "kid art" from the house if he evacuated. I look around here, and cannot even imagine where to begin to pack in the event I'm forced out. Absolutely everything I live with is precious to me--and none of it is absolutely necessary. I will go take a few pictures of my favorite trees, just in case they get yanked up by heavy winds. Otherwise, there's not much I can do. Besides vacuum. Because God forbid the floods should find cobwebs in my corners.

So I did what I usually do when I don't know what to do: I went for a swim. The surf isn't up yet; the sea was preternaturally quiet. The calm before the storm?

I hope everyone rides Irene out and comes through the stormy weather safe and sound. Good luck to all of us. 


Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Take care.
I'll be thinking of you and saying a prayer.

Leah in NC said...

It has been downgraded to a Cat 2, so hopefully will be mild when it comes your way. We're getting rain and light wind in eastern NC now... Stay safe!

Warren said...

Hang in there. Turn the car around in the drive for a fast retreat or in case it needs to be towed.

You'd find Stoly in my thawing freezer that would need immediate consumption along with your ice cream. Sorry we're not neighbors so we could get an early start.

Now's the time to bum and light up one of those cigarettes. Times like this I do silly things like that.

KDF said...

I joined the bemused pre-hurricane crowd at Benny's in Bristol, RI, yesterday and came home with a tarp, some rope, 4 cans of Sterno and a rather nice discounted yellow storm jacket. $50 gone to support a struggling economy. No size D batteries, as I and the other shoppers lamented to the management.

I have no real idea what to do with any of these things, except use the jacket to walk the dog in the storm and keep the rope handy for an even darker day.

Ben & Jerry's sounds like the best idea of all.

Anonymous said...

i dunno--I think you might need more peanuts

Deborah A said...

As I too live on the coast, our prep began yesterday, umbrella down and put away chairs and tables turned over and lashed to the deck, all projectile plants, moved to the ground. Today I will find the little propane stove i bought after Hurricane Bob left us without power for 7 days in the summer of "91". I have not even touched it ...it has never been used. Hopefully we will be able to figure it out.
Just heard that the storm has shifted towards the east....bad for us. Well, I better get back to filling plastic bags with ice and packing it inside the freezer and even refrigerator...just in case we lose power.
Stores are a real challenge here to even get into....ice, water and for some reason toilet paper???? flying off the shelves. No batteries to be found. Good luck to everyone...

Judith Ross said...

Thanks for reminding me about those deck chairs! Here in Massachusetts things won't get interesting until tomorrow.

As usual, the NY Times has the best graphic for tracking the storm.


Hang tight everyone. See you on the other side of the storm!

Anonymous said...

Think peace and hope.Your faith in the future will get you through!

profA said...

It's just starting to blow a bit more steadily here. I keep hoping Irene will be a non-starter, but fear I am whistling in the dark...which may be a reality by sundown. Oy. I woke up at 5 this morning all a buzz with thoughts of piling the porch furniture in a heap and covering it with the brown tarp, then making a mad dash to the victory garden for tomates and two runaway zuchs. oh yes, and the big brown bag of weeds that has already begun to compost. Then off to the Safeway for big block o' cheese, eggs (for deviling), dishwasher cleaner, bread, 2 bottles of Evian and Gingerale and CapeCods for the spouse. I am trusting in WASA to keep the taps running. My project for the afternoon is to eat most of the sugar free fudge bars. So yummy and guilt free. I took out a frozen veal tongue to poach (and poach) this afternoon, but after seeing Brighton Rock last night (with the marvelous Helen Mirren) I don't know if I'll be able to stomach it. A particular gangster meets his reward in the surf and...you'll have to supply the visuals. Otherwise a terrific film noir for end o' August.
Be well everyone. I am in awe of how our citizens and emergency systems have snapped into high gear.

My Dog-Eared Pages said...

My teak is bungee-corded together since I cannot bear to put it away yet! I too, just took my final pre-storm swim here in Massachusetts on a deserted beach. Heaven! I did manage to stock up on arugula. Stay safe and have fun. ; )

William said...


You MUST try SoCo Creamery ice cream from Great Barrington - sold at Gourmet Garage - leaves Ben and Jerry's and Ciao Bello in the dust. 'Dirty Chocolate' and 'Espresso Cookie' are my personal favorites.

Battening down the hatches here in the Big Apple. I've heard that those of us living above the 10th floor in all glass buildings have something to worry about because a Cat1 storm becomes a Cat 2 above 10 stories.

Oh well.

Thankfully I have a full bottle of Grey Goose and several cans of Van Camp's Pork and Beans to get me through.


david terry said...

Well, I'm lucky (or perhaps just unworried); this joint has been through something around 18 hurricanes, and I gather that anything that could be blown off or down is long gone. If the electricity goes off in an icestorm, we simply light fireplaces (there's one in every room) and use oil lamps. After hurricanes, we just open all the windows (the house was built when cross-ventilation was the latest technology). Basically (and short of donning hoop-skirts) we just act like we're back in the 19th century, and we don't really notice the difference, beyond gratefully remarking how nice it is that the telephone lines are down.

It's 6 on Saturday afternoon, however, and we haven't even lost power. Nor (and in contrast to all the other hurricanes) have we had to stuff Herve's house with incompetent and unprepared beach refugees. All in all, I think Irene is going to be a non-event for us....which means it's heading straight up the coast....a meteorological Sherman's March in-reverse.

Life must be hell for folks who live in big cities and don't have the option of simply going all Huckleberry Finn for a few days.

Best of Luck,

David Terry
Entropy Acre,
Durham, NC

Deborah A said...

The Governor of Massachusetts has just announced that when the wind goes above 75 miles per hour the Sagamore and Bourne bridges will be closed....no one coming over and no one leaving...yikes I'm already feeling claustrophobic!
We have battened down the hatches, and now just hope, on futile hope that we don't lose power tomorrow! Why on why didn't we buy that generator last year?

William said...

@ David Terry

Glad to hear you didn't have to "stuff Herve's house with incompetent and unprepared beach refugees".

I forget, is Herve your boyfriend who is "all over you" and who is "10 years younger, handsome, rich and French"?

Toad said...

Hope you're still safe and sound. We still get to worry about our friends on the beaches even though they have done all they can to protect themselves.

Anonymous said...

My grocery run was not anymore nutritious than yours. Instead of fresh fruit, I bought crackers (why?) instead of canned salmon, there is canned soup. I could have done much better! Good luck to you hugging the coast. I am one town in from the Sound and have no idea what this Hurricane will bring! But with Earthquakes and Hurricanes, it does seem the Earth is acting like a colicy baby!

Judith Ross said...

Chile-chocolate brownies in the oven!

c said...

rain is starting to kick up, wind is more than just a breeze ... won't be long now.

Good luck to all east coast folks.

Please, just don't let me be without power. I can handle flooding, but don't want to be without 'net!

how pathetic is that?

david terry said...

Dear "William",

I have never said or written that Herve is "all over you"...the "you" being me. If nothing else?.... I don't, as a very general rule over these past five decades, tend to refer to myself in the second-person.

You're "quoting" a nasty comment left by (predictably enough) yet another "anonymous".

Neither did I ever write that Herve is "10 years younger, handsome, rich and French"

Both you and that person who chose to post anonymously are quite fond of re-posting and misquoting.

Just for the record?....I know exactly what you're doing. It would be nice if you would spare Ms. Browning and her readers your own troubles.

Quite sincerely,

David Terry

(919) 416-0261
2507 W. Knox St.,Durham NC
(919) 416-0261
(call up or show up or write....but my good guess is that you won't do any of those, buddy......right?)

William said...

@David Terry

Ms. Browning deleted your comment - but in fact you did say after someone suggested to you to, "get over yourself" that you have a boyfriend who does that all the time - you went on to describe your boyfriend as, "10 years younger, handsome, rich and French". I found that particular comment to be repulsive. If Ms. Browning gives you a pass on that then that is Ms. Browning's decision - I guarantee that in real life she would find that description of your boyfriend as repulsive as I did.

Deborah A said...

HOLY H E DOUBLEHOCKEYSTICKS! William and David stop it right now! Words were misunderstood!
Let it go! Be nice, forget it!
William have a bowl of that wonderful
So So Ice cream, David enjoy those wonderful canned tomatoes with Herve.
Holding steady here on Cape Cod.. its like living in a ghost town! Everyone let us all know how the Hurricane is effecting you...there's bound to be some interesting storm stories to tell

Judith Ross said...

The quiet here in Massachusetts last night was eerie. I lay awake well after midnight listening to the crickets. Woke up this morning to wind and rain.

Fingers crossed that our ancient willow trees don't lose limbs or come down and cause serious damage.

And the chile chocolate brownies were great with vanilla ice cream.

profA said...

Slept great! Just an old fashioned stormy night here in the capital. Swirling winds came and went. No power outages (gratefully) in our neighborhood and the tree which I feared to find on our porch is most blessedly still standing. It's raining now. A wonderful steady rain.
Pictures in the NYT's this morning of kiddoes in Coney Island shelters are a stark reminder, however, of what this storm could mean to many people north of us. I hope it becomes only a memory of adventure with Mom and Dad instead of one of trauma and loss. We will watch posts through the day with interest and care. It heads north through NEngl. over my brothers' homes later this afternoon.
Peace, Mother Earth.

profA said...

PS Judith Ross, are recipes for Chile Choc. Brownies available everywhere, or just at your house? They sound wicked good. LB

Barbara said...

for the first time in 75 years, Tanglewood canceled today'safternoon concert, so we will all have to tune in ( I hope not on our transistor radios!)to an older performance Beethoven's 9th. So sad- the rehearsal yesterday was splendid ( I sing in the chorus) but the premature ride home horrific...my sturdy mini seemed to hydroplane the whole way and I just steered semi-blinded by the sheets of rain and prayed. Too bad we aren't closer neighbors, Dominique, as today would be just the day to share some pinot grigio and play four hands piano- I have a wonderful 4 hands version of the ninth and we could laugh ourselves silly.

Judith Ross said...

Dear Prof A (LB),

Recipe below, I didn't bother with the glaze, but if you do, let me know how it is. The recipe came from a friend of my friend Jane Ward who blogs about food and fiction at: http://authorjaneward.wordpress.com/

And here's the recipe:

Chile-Chocolate Brownies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped and toasted pecans (optional)

For the glaze:

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon coffee-flavored liqueur
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter a 9x9x2-inch baking pan.

Place the butter and chocolate in the top of a double boiler and heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until they have melted and are well combined. Lift the bowl carefully from the pan so no water droplets come into contact with the chocolate mixture; let cool for 5 minutes and transfer to a large bowl.

Stir in the sugar; add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; stir in the vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ancho chile powder, and salt; gradually add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture, beating well until fully combined. Add the pecans.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the center is set and the brownies begin to pull back from the sides of the pan. Cool brownies for 1 hour in the pan.

To make the glaze: in a medium bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, butter, liqueur, vanilla, and chile powder; blend until smooth. Place the glaze in a pastry bag (or zip-top bag with a snipped corner), and drizzle back and forth over the brownies.
Cut them into 20 bars.

Judith Ross said...

And while we are all staying inside today, I have a recommendation for the SLL book club.

Let's Take the Long Way Home is by Gail Caldwell, former chief book critic for the Boston Globe, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.

I read the book a year ago, but as it just came out in paperback, she gave another reading in Cambridge.

Its a memoir about her friendship with Caroline Knapp. They were both writers but they bonded over their dogs, who were puppies when they met.

I highly recommend it. And it was especially wonderful to hear Ms. Caldwell read from it.

david terry said...

Thank you, thank you "Judith Ross"...

One of my Very Favorite things (and I should emphasize that I'm scarcely a fan of sweets in general or chocolate in particular; they've bored me since early childhood) is Lindt's darkchocolate/chili bars. They're wide, thin, and aboslutely wonderful.....pure chocolate and chili. I've seen them once or twice in America (where they're sold as wildly-overpriced "luxury" items), but I always bring back 20 or so bars from France or Spain (where we go four times per year, and where the bars are sold in plain-old grocery stores for only 2 bucks or so).

All the smart women I know (and that's at least a bus-full in this town alone) are completely un-manned (so to speak) by the combination of chili and chocolate. So, this recipe is going to be my very next project. thanks for sharing.

In regard to other recipes?....

Anyone can feel free to email produce-processing-me (I was recently sort of pleased when someone told another person, who'd complained about my being unavailable, "Oh, David's a Winter Friend....in the Summer, he's either in the garden or in the kitchen"). I'll send you the three tried&true recipes that get me through the summer's appalling "bounty". Magnolia Grill's (google it) "Spicy Tomato Relish", Edna Lewis's (google her) recipe for her mother's old fashioned pickles, and Bill Neal's (google him) recipe for "Green Tomato Relish". All of these are recipes that, when served with a roast of any sort during the Winter, really bring out that "Summer fresh" (a cliche, I know, but TRUE)flavor everyone misses.

The owners of Magnolia Grill (pals of mine, so I get the inside-scoop)claim that their "spicy tomato Relish" is the only recipe that's been stolen by every cook that's ever worked for them over 25 years of running a restaurant consistently included in those "Top 50" lists.

When I put them (the relishes, not the owners of Mag Grill) on the table for dinner parties, there's invariably someone who apporpriates the jar and has to be told that it's a CONDIMENT...not your first course.

The recipes are (predictably enough, given their creators) that good. right up there with Mama Stanberg's famous NPR cranberry relish.

Just hit the "contact the artist" icon on my website.

Try not to say anything markedly unpleasant if you want the recipes. Unlike Ms. Browning, I have a canny webmistress who's paid good money to weed out the assholes and/or fools.


David Terry

david terry said...

Hey Smart-Lady "Judith Ross"....

I just read your comment about Gail Caldwell's "Let's Take the Long Way Home".

You're quite right, of course. It's a stunning and humbling (for me, at least) book....the best account of a true friendship that I've ever read, I think.


David "I wasn't universally popular in high-skool, so I probably shouldn't start expecting to be so at this age" Terry

Deborah A said...

What insane weather...we now have bright sun shining with a brisk wind with some gusts, no rain here on Cape Cod!

profA said...

THank you for the Chile-Brownie recipe. In my recipe book they will be called Irene's Chile Brownie's w. thanks to Judith Ross.
Hoping all are well and mopping up. And yes, I will take your recommendation for the Caldwell. I remember hearing her interviewed for this book. I was very touched by the depth and memory of the friendship. Lucky women to have found each other.
As the morning has progressed, I have felt fortunate to have the lights on and the freezer running. Many neighborhoods in this town are without. This has been a whopper of a storm and for many people. Life altering.
I am working on a kneeler for my church of the animals coming off the ark. Rainbow and pairs of pachyderms, peacocks, tortoises, et al. Very charming and light. But that flood was not so for those critters who didn't make it on board. As with Katrina, these storms are devastating for those at the center. We on the periphery need to help them pick up the pieces.
Linda B.

Judith Ross said...

Deborah A, you are kidding!! Here in Concord, MA it is pouring. Our front yard is currently a lake. My puppy is starting to get cabin fever!

David Terry, our local Taza chocolate in Somerville, Mass. makes a chile chocolate -- as you say, though, its $4.50 a pop. Its not nearly as smooth as Lindt chocolate, is much more rough hewn and a bit fruity, I'd say (And I'd love to try the stuff you buy on your trips to Europe!) but here's the link: http://www.tazachocolate.com/store/Products/ChiliMexDisc

As for all of those canning skills, a close friend of mine has often suggested that another friend of ours share those skills with the less fortunate. It seems as though it would be a good fit with Michele Obama's program to promote healthy eating, and would help us all take better advantage of the local produce during what is often a short growing season.

And David, you would have enjoyed the reading and the Q&A. Ms. Caldwell's prose was all the more beautiful when read in her voice. She captures the landscape of grief. And talk about Slow Love! She knew that friendship was special and savored every moment of it even before Knapp became ill.

I wish I had asked Ms. Caldwell what she is working on now, but someone else asked about Tula, the puppy she got at the end of the book. Tula is great and she now has another dog, who she says is finally settling down at the age of 3.

Jane Ward said...

The chile chocolate brownies come from cookbook author Sandra Gutierrez of North Carolina (@sandralatinista on Twitter). They are indeed very good. The heat from the chiles hits at the back of the throat as a pleasant warmth. Forget coffee as chocolate's best booster. Chocolate's true best friend is chile powder.

Deborah A said...

Well the sun is not shining now and the wind is sweeping great gusts, we have a little rain but nothing like I'm hearing about elsewhere...we just lost power for 10 min. and the computer came back up to right where i was...mid sentence writing this comment! As I write this the sun is peaking thru again! I feel so bad for all the people having flooding problems...my husbands police scanner tells us we have a few trees down in the area (bay side) Lower Cape, otherwise we are faring much better then off cape.

Leah in NC said...

Hope you all weathered the storm well and that it's gone, gone, gone! We muddled through here in E. NC, but others were not so fortunate. I thank all the utility companies who worked through the night and Sunday, the local folks AND those who came from other states to help. Thank you, thank you, thank you. 20 hours without power was enough... Might have to go make those brownies now...

Judith Ross said...

Things are calming down here west of Boston. We did lose a huge chunk from one of our elderly willow trees. Here's a photo: http://www.twitpic.com/6coqen

We are thinking we will leave the larger part of the trunk there for a while. It'll make a nice lawn sculpture!

Also, Dominique, I think you will like a tweet today from Nick Kristof, "If only the century-long threat of climate change would arouse as much mobilization as the day-long threat of #Irene."

Design Directory said...

I am glad that Irene causes less fatalities and minimal damages. The hurricane was not that devastating as expected. Prayers are always heard.

Dominique said...

William, let it go about David Terry and Herve. I'm separating you two. Stop talking to each other, and cool down. Such cattiness has no place here. Let's not dredge up old stuff. Let it go. This is a place for Slow Love, not slow feuds.