Don’t Fool with Mother Nature

 Remember that old commercial for Chiffon Margarine?  The one that says, “it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature”?

It seems Mother Nature has been giving all of us puny mortals a run for our money lately.  And now Frankenstorm Sandy is bearing down on the east coast with all the fury of a woman scorned. 

I grew up in Virginia and remember well the frightening hurricane Hazel.  I’d never seen or been in a storm like that before.  Of course, we lost power, but more scary to me was when the power line in our driveway snapped and began whipping across our yard like some manic electrical cord.

Another storm I remember was when my family was at sea crossing the Atlantic from Europe.  It was Christmas and I remember being dressed as an angel and watching the tables where we held the holiday celebration slide crazily across the floor.  I’m sure those are battened down now, or maybe that was how fierce the storm was. 

I remember that my mother cheered us up by telling us that Santa lost his pants.  He did, but I think he had more important things on his mind.

In California we’re prone to earthquakes and fires.  I’ve always thought I’d prefer those disasters to the hurricanes, tornados and flooding in other parts of the world.

My daughter and her family are in New Jersey gearing up for Sandy’s hit, but they’re well prepared.  It made me think how many of us prepare for emergencies like we should.  Do we have medical kits, a supply of clean water, storageable food?  Flashlights, batteries, a generator, if applicable?  Necessary medications?  Something to entertain the kiddies (my daughter’s favorite part – NOT!).

What do you do to prepare for an emergency situation?  Have you been in any tricky predicaments during your lifetime?  How did you handle the event?

Sending extra protecting thoughts to our friends in the east and wishing you safety.

New York Subway photo courtesy of

Earthquake in Chile Courtesy of



  • Fedora says:

    Wow! While I’ve not faced massive storms, since we do live in California, earthquakes are a fact of life. We are sometimes overly cavalier about preparing in earnest, but do tend to have lots of canned goods and batteries and flashlights, just in case. Fortunately I’ve not had to face anything too difficult, in spite having been through the Loma Prieta in 1989… I was caught in shower though, and ended up standing outside our dorm in a robe for hours, and without my glasses no less!

    Praying for safety for all those in the storm’s path!

    • jo robertson says:

      Goodness, Fedora, I had no idea you were so close during the SF/Oakland earthquake. Watching it live on TV because of the World Series telecast was scary, but because so many locals were at the game, I guess lives were saved — light traffic on the freeways for that time of day.

      Living near the San Andreas fault is always a problem for us Californians. It’s never a question of “if” but “when” the seismic shifts will occur.

      Which university were you at?

  • Barb says:

    Hope everyone is OK…. we have some terrible floods and cyclones in Australia but we are lucky as we don’t get them where we live …. we do sometimes get terrible electrical storms but we can cope with those

    • jo robertson says:

      You must be on higher ground or inland, I imagine, Barb.

      We live near Sacramento, about 100 miles inland from the Pacific coast, but we’ve had trouble with the snow runoffs from the Sierra Nevadas flooding our creeks and causing serious flooding damage.

  • Helen says:

    Hi Jo

    I too am thinking of everyone in the path of the storm I have just got home from work and missed the news but I have heard it it dreadful fingers crossed that everyone is safe.

    As Barbara has said here in Australia we have had some terrible bushfires and floods but not close enough to be a worry to my household and I would say that I am badly under prepared if there was an emergency we don’t even have a flash light these are things that we should get prepared. We have underground power so very rarely loose power even in the big electrical storms we have so that is one good thing.

    Stay safe everyone

    Have Fun

    • jo robertson says:

      Yes, Helen, every household needs flashlights or at least utility candles. I remember being without power and lighting candles so my little ones wouldn’t be afraid.

      A funny story: My 10 yo grandson LOVES flashlights, so every Christmas that’s on his Christmas list. He keeps them by his bed at night when he sleeps in case he needs to get up during the night. Or he gets scared LOL. He has a tender heart.

  • Anna Sugden says:

    Hope everyone in Sandy’s path stays safe! Sending good thoughts for your daughter and for our BB Jane! Do let us know how you’re doing when you get a chance.

    In our time in the US, we lived through blizzards and tropical storms, but never anything as bad as this. The big thing we learned was how to deal with losing power and how to be ready for that. Even now, we’re set up for that, though it’s a real rarity over here, like in Australia.

    • jo robertson says:

      I guess Sandy is being called the storm of the century, all conditions coming together to create this perfect storm, Anna.

      My heart really goes out to those who will be involved in the cleanup. It will be massive.

      Kennan’s family weathered the storm well, just now lost power. When I saw on the news the spot where the Jersey shoreline overlooks the Hudson to the Manhattan skyline and realized how high the river had risen, that I had stood on that very spot, I got the shivers.

  • Mozette says:

    What do you do to prepare for an emergency situation? Have you been in any tricky predicaments during your lifetime? How did you handle the event?

    Living in the sub-tropics here in Australia, we have our fair share of tropical storms and cyclones (or hurricanes as you guys in the north call them). However, we also have those dreaded rain depressions that can cause wide-spread flooding. And every now and again, when we do get them, whole cities go under within a day or so – and there’s nothing we can do but wait.

    In 1974, when I was only around 1 year old, Brisbane City flooded. As you walk around the great city I live in, there’s flood markers all around the river banks; showing where the river rose to.

    Then, just after Christmas 2010/11, last year, Brisbane flooded again. I was freaked out the whole time. It poured rain, it was cold, there wasn’t anything in the shops to buy and everything became so expensive.
    But it wasn’t just those things that scared the crap out of me. I mean, I’ve been in through this kind of thing where we were evacuated from a holiday site before – when I was around 12 years old (and I’m tellin’ ya… the scariest thing is watching a river break its banks while it was trying to empty itself as it was filling itself! Then, it happened again when I was 20 and I had to drive in it!! Not fun when you’re in a slippery, wet convoy and somebody’s hubcap from oncoming traffic slips under your car and scares the crap outa you on the way through and you can’t stop to see if anything’s damaged).
    Anyway… I digress… the scariest thing that bothered to distraction – causing me to stop watching television and listening to the radio and reading the paper was that there were news updates every 15 minutes all day, all night, every weekend……. it was non-stop! It drove me crazy. When I told my folks (who were down the coast at the time) they didn’t believe me until they returned home a few days early, turned on the radio, heard the news and smiled… then it came back on 15 minutes later… and again 15 minutes later. They were at my house that afternoon for coffee with something from the bakery down the road apologising for not believing in how freaked out I was. They were amazed at how many cds I had gone through and that I hadn’t watched television in over 3 weeks – only dvds (because news every 15 minutes can get very tedious).

    But when we do get big storms here in Brisbane, I have a waterproof torch, a battery radio, a shovel (for digging trenches, a spare key to all my doors, candles (I lived through power shortages here in Queensland in the 1980’s so it’s something I have in the freezer and around the house), matches, lighters and tea candles. I also have a typewriter so I can write if I want to. And the best thing is that I have a gas stove so I can cook too if the lights go out. 🙂

    • jo robertson says:

      WOW, Mozette. JUST WOW!! Having been through so many disasters has certainly made you prepared.

      I never thought of storing candles in the freezer! A battery-operated radio is even smarter now when lots of people get their news through their computers or other powered devices.

      LOL on the typewriter. That’s got to be a rare item nowadays. I used to have a long carriage typewriter, but the keys were so stiff I finally sold it. LOL, it’s probably in a museum somewhere now.

      • Mozette says:

        Hehee.. the typewriter was given to me by my late-Grandmother when she was still alive. She said she didn’t type and Grandpa would have wanted me to have (by this time, he had passed on). It’s an Olivetti Lettera 32; built in 1973 and the same model Stephen King wrote his first book on. I only use it when the lights go out… but used to type up my first drafts on it when I began writing. Now, though, it needs a new ribbon and it’s a horror to get it down to Cartridge World where I need to catch a bus to and from. Might do that soon seeing I have some money in my pocket and storm season is coming. 😀

        • jo robertson says:

          OMG, Mozette, you’re in good company with Stephen King and how priceless to have something of your grandfather’s. You’re lucky you can still buy ribbons for it!

  • Susan Sey says:

    Been thinking about our east coast people all night. Hope the storm passed by & left them all safe & dry.

    As for me, I grew up in the upper midwest. We’re all about the snow emergency around here. Oh & the tornadoes. I have some great memories of hanging out under the pool table in our basement for hours when I was a kid while the stormed raged outside. We learned to do find without power for days at a time since we lived int he country. When the power went out it could be days before it came back on. We used to take turns trudging down the creek to fetch buckets of water so we could flush the toilet.

    Good times. 🙂

    • jo robertson says:

      Snow storms really keep you locked in, don’t they, Susan? LOL at using the melted snow for flushing the toilet! Clever.

      When we lived in Idaho, I just make snow ice cream for the kids. They thought it was a treat.

  • Janga says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with all my family and friends on the east coast. I’ll be glad when everyone has checked in and confirmed they’re ok.

    Tornadoes are common in my neck of the woods, but we’ve had only small ones in my immediate vicinity. A few downed trees and a storage shed have been our greatest losses. We had more wind damage when Andrew hit Florida in 1992. We were without power for three days then, and it was two weeks before all of my students had power restored.

    Some of my friends who live in more northerly climes find the reaction to a few inches of snow down here amusing, but with cities as well as individuals unprepared for more than the minimum frozen precipitation, a few inches can be paralyzing. The longest power outages I remember came with ice storms.

    • jo robertson says:

      Hoping your family and friends come through this disaster without harm, too, Janga.

      Tornados have always been scarily fascinating to me because they’re so unpredictable, touching down in one spot, turning and landing somewhere else. The most damage we ever had from a rare California tornado was that one took out our back fene.

  • Connie Fischer says:

    Hi, Jo! I grew up in Virginia too and remember Hurricane Hazel. Mom let us take one little peek out the window and then we had to get away from them.

    When my husband and I retired, we moved to southwest Florida. We have seen our share of hurricanes here too and the worst one was Charlie which came right over top of us. We lost power for a week in August in Florida. That was the worst part. Thank goodness we had a pool as it helped keep us cool. Getting creative with trying to eat things from the quickly defrosting freezer and cook them on the gas grill was daunting. However, the heat was the worst. Whew. But, for people who are used to storms like this, we simply learn to take it in our stride!

    Hope everyone is faring well. Try to be patient and before you know it, things will be back to normal! Take care!

    • jo robertson says:

      Small world, Connie! To think we’re around the same age and were in Virginia at the same time. I found pictures from the web about Hurricane Hazel and was even more surprised at how widespread the destruction was.

      Thanks for the words of encouragement!

  • catslady says:

    I’m in southwest PA and we’re on the fringe of everything. Had lots of rain and some winds and some flooding in our area but I’m still not sure about the snow – it’s all around us. They did postpone Halloween until Sat. I was in a hurricane once when living in MS while my husband was in the service. He was on ready alert so not allowed to leave the base and I was in a trailer but luckily it was owned by the park and it was cabled down but I had no vehicle and didn’t drive anyway lol. Only thing that happened was our TV got zapped and no electricity. I’ve been in winter storms but nothing to ever complain about. Hope everyone is safe!!!

  • Hi Jo – Hope everyone survived the storm and has come out the other side with minimal damage. We’re fine here in Ohio – a little chilly with the gusty wind making the cold air feel even colder – but otherwise fine.

    It seems the weathermen go nuts forecasting huge storms that never materialize every season. So much so that we really don’t take extra steps to prepare. I have lots of candles so if the power goes out it gets sort of romantic around here (grin). Our power generally isn’t out long so I haven’t had to empty the freezer yet. As long as we’re well stocked with Diet Dr. Pepper – I’m good for whatever Mother Nature throws our way.

  • jo robertson says:

    LOL, Donna, glad to see you’ve got your priorities straight!

    Did you folks get any snow there?

  • Jo, it’s been really scary watching Sandy from a distance although I’m sure it’s worse close up. I hope people stay safe, especially the Banditas and Bandita Buddies! Poor old Ermingarde is all wet and not looking happy. Nothing sadder than a dripping dragon! I live on the Pacific Coast in Australia and we’ve witnessed the full force of Mother Nature’s wrath often. Most recently with really devastating floods for two years in a row. Down here we call hurricanes cyclones and believe me, I’ve been in some doozies and they’re scary. One of the my most vivid childhood memories was my mother packing up emergency supplies for us to go under the house if the roof blew off. Thank goodness, it never did!

  • Pat Cochran says:

    Hi, Jo,

    As a Houstonian, I have experienced every
    weather incident on the Gulf Coast since
    the late 1930s. Most memorable were the
    hurricanes, especially Carla and Ike and
    Tropical Storm Allyson. Carla because I was
    very pregnant, & Allyson because of the ex-
    tensive flooding and losing DD2 and son
    when they had to be rescued from their
    flooded home by boat! We finally found
    them in a shelter twenty-four hours later.
    Then there was Ike with the thirteen days without power. We did have a gas stove,
    so I ended up cooking all the foods in the freezers! Most of all I remember being up
    at 2 AM when Ike swept by. Also the dro-
    ning sound of the tornado that just did miss
    us that early morning! Our prayers are with
    those affected by Sandy. I also wish for them
    a great abundance of patience. The repair
    persons can only work so fast and always get
    fussed at because it takes “so long” to do
    their work! Let’s bless them for coming to
    help instead!

    Pat C.

    • Jo Robertson says:

      Wow, Pat, you’ve been through a lot of storms over the years. I think it’s hardest worrying about your children than yourself, don’t you?

      And blessings on the rescue workers! It’s really admirable that people will put themselves in harm’s way to help other people. And strangers at that!

      My SIL and brother live near the Coast Guard Station in NC and every time I hear about one of those young men risking their lives, I think about my SIL. She lifeguards at the USCG pool and calls them all “her boys.” So darling!

  • Hi, Jo–

    Isn’t Mother Nature something? We had no power for teo weeks after Hurricane Hugo made landfall at Charleston and ripped 200 miles due north to arrive here as a category 1 or 2 storm, as best I recall Someone forgot to tell it hurricanes lose power rapidly over land.

    I was in a cast because of back surgery, so I didn’t miss hot showers. We heated water on the woodstove at night for washing hair and sponging off in the morning. The phones were out for 10 days. We played so much Scrabble by candlelight, I still can’t look at a Scrabble board without remembering that.

    When bad weather is predicted, we stock up on staples, including charcoal for the grill. The dh grew up in Colorado, so driving in snow doesn’t bother him, but all the people it does bother clean out the store, so there’s no advantage to not stocking up.

    We don’t really keep disaster supplies on hand, other than candles.

    • Jo Robertson says:

      Ten days, Nancy??!! Seems forever. And I love Scrabble but I don’t think I could play it for a long time. There aren’t many games only two can play, however, are there. I’d probably go for strip poker and see if we could make it interesting LOL.

      I do love 500 Rummy and can beat the pants off my husband (no pun intended)!

      I think the tedium of being house bound is one of the hardest parts to handle.

  • Louisa says:

    Sending much love, prayers and positive thoughts to all of the Banditas and Buddies in Sandy’s path. It really is a heartbreaking storm. Still checking in with my relatives in PA and New Jersey.

    I was snowed into my little cabin in Germany one year. It was a singular experience as I woke up to discover the snowfall during the night had reached the roof and all of the windows and doors were blocked. After a few hours my landlady’s son knocked on the roof to let me know they were digging me out!
    The last blizzard I saw in the States was in 1993. I lived in the country and the storm dumped several feet of snow during the night. I had little food in the house, no batteries and only one box of matches. And my truck wouldn’t make it up the hill of my driveway. So, I saddled up my 19 year old horse, Taz and rode him the 8 miles to town for groceries!

    Living in the South I have experienced a number of tornadoes and hurricanes – none of them fun! I have a battery operated weather radio and lots of batteries always on hand. Lots of candles, matches, canned food, and I keep jugs of water in the fridge at all times. So long as the dog and cat food doesn’t run out I’m safe!

  • Jo Robertson says:

    Louisa, you are amazing! Is there anything you haven’t experiened? I can imagine you saddling up your horse and making the trip for groceries. Makes you feel like you’ve been thrown back a century or more, doesn’t it?

    Makes me appreciate my pioneer ancestors, too!

    Snowed in! That must’ve been frightening. You wouldn’t be sure if anyone would come and shovel you out, would you?

  • Jo Robertson says:

    Since we’re talking about emergenies I thought I’d share what my most-prepared daughter does. She has a 72-hour emergency package for each family member, something ready to pick up and just go in case of an evacuation. Here in CA, it’s fires and earthquakes mostly, so kids in school are drilled in school with earthquake safety.

    They have all the obvious necessities,; basic medical supplies are essential, medicines, especially for the elderly, dry packaged foods of course, and water. They also keep cash on hand in a lockbox in case routes to banks are closed.

  • Jo Robertson says:

    Of course, there are other kinds of “smaller” emergencies that are more likely to happen to families.

    When my kids were younger, I always made sure we had regular fire drills. When you have 7 children, you want to be sure everyone knows who’s responsible for what person. Sometimes just knowing that Dad grabs this child and Mom this one can make the difference between safety and disaster.

  • Jo Robertson says:

    Thanks for all the positive energy you readers have sent out into the universe. I believe in the combined power of positive thoughts and I know many of you are thinking of friends, relatives, and strangers back east even if you haven’t left a comment.