We got back from California just in time to prepare for Hurricane Irma, who couldn't decided which side of the state to devastate. We boarded up the picture windows, stocked up on water for drinking and flushing toilets, made sure we had plenty of nonperishable but fun to eat food, then hosted a three day hurricane party for 15 for Sage's and Bonnie's families. Joe's family decided to ride out the storm at their place since they thought the hurricane was coming up our side of the state rather than theirs--it didn't. We had a great time.
We ate lots of biscuits and gravy (the family favorite), played games, rode horses, held a family Sunday School with David conducting and the older grandkids and the moms giving lessons and talks, cooked over a campfire, played with the chickens, and surfed the water in the drainage ditches around the house.
We all had a great time. There was no damage (though our power was out for one week) and everyone was home by Tuesday. However, much of the area is at an elevation of 10 to 15 feet so with 12 inches of rain and hurricane force winds backing up the St. John's River and its tributaries, there was some flooding nearby and many people now had lake front property or worse.
So the following weekend the Mormon Helping Hands in their yellow shirts were out in force, as is the tradition around here. Church meetings were canceled, except for a short meeting to partake of the sacrament, and teams went out on Saturday and Sunday to help those in need. Our team mucked out flooded houses (removed damaged furniture and appliances and soaking wet carpets and cut out the bottom of the drywall up to the level of the flooding), cut up and removed downed trees, cleaned up debris, and cleaned up gutters. Everyone was shocked that we do this for free as a public service.
Of course some needy home owners weren't very cooperative, no matter how much help we offered.
The hurricane left us with a double rainbow (you can't see the second one very well in the picture) and a spectacular sunset. I'm sure that's a good sign.
We visited Wendy and family for a week to bless the new baby.
Notice how the family matches up with the new dresses and ties that grandma brought from Florida.
Here's a quick tour of the new house. Carrie and Jammie will like that it is solar powered so no electrical bills unless the temperature outside is over 100--it was 110 and up when we were there!!
Four months ago theirs was the first in the neighborhood. It stood in a meadow. Look at the neighborhood now.
This instant neighborhood has lots of hiking and biking trails, parks and swimming holes, which we enjoyed in the 90 degree "cool" of the morning. They say that you don't notice the Western "dry" heat but a 110 breeze feels like a blast furnace--not cooling at all. That's why we walked to the parks and pools in the relative cool of the morning.
To cool off we went camping with the ward at Rucker Lake some 6000 feet up in the Sierras about 2 hours away. It was only in the 80's there. After I spend a day changing my flatlander to mountain goat lungs, I swam across the lake.
The special guest at Kate's blessing was Caroly's favorite uncle, 95 year old Uncle Les. He was honored to stand in the circle with me and Daniel's father. At the family get together afterwards, we had Uncle Les and several of his kids who all live locally (we forgot to get the camera out until after some had left) and Daniel's parents.
If you ask the grandkids, probably the highlight of the visit was celebrating two birthdays with Chuck E. Cheese. Notice the quick change into the new birthday dresses--such clotheshorses!