Wind and Floods and the People Who Get Us Through Them

Offta! It can storm around here.

Two weeks ago it was a combined wind and rain storm. Winds whipped us around at 30 miles an hour ALL. NIGHT. LONG.

But what really got us was the 75 mph gust that hit the town and surrounding area from the south at 4:14 in the morning. (My friend insists that was the exact time. I was awake for so many hours … I hate wind … that I lost track of time, so I’ll take her word for it.)

Whatever the time, I know I felt it. The rain suddenly threw itself against the bedroom window like one of those FB bucket challenges that was all the rage for awhile. I momentarily thought the water might break the window, it hit so hard. Then, in the next breath, our 1910 house did a little dance, swaying to the north and back to the south.

The ol’ girl hung in there and from the Post Office Gossip the next morning (with all the Covid shutdowns, the sidewalk in front of the PO is about the only way to catch up with the news around town), I found I could be glad that all I felt was a little swaying.

Neighbors lost roofing. Farmers discovered buildings that had caved in on vehicles and equipment. Large trees were cut down to size as giant limbs broke free … I didn’t think we had many left to come down after the early snow we had in October. Trampolines were crushed like tin cans, and I found one badly mangled and lonely several blocks away from its home. Crazy.

It would have been more interesting to write about the storm in real time. However, I wasn’t planning on writing about the storm at all, but then I came across this picture in a library newsletter earlier in the week. (The photo can be found on the Whitman County Rural Heritage collection.)

I glanced at the photo and thought, “That must have been some storm.”

Then I read the caption and found that this was taken in 1948, in my home town (just a few miles from where I live now), and the man is Theodore Fisher, my grandma’s first cousin.

The photo is remarkable to me for many reasons. First is Theodore. I loved him and his wife Katherine. Grandma lived only two blocks away, and she took me often to sit in their yard, drink lemonade, eat cookies (Katherine always had cookies … a family trait), and listen to Theodore’s squawking menagerie of geese, ducks, and exotic birds.

When he wasn’t busy digging himself out of a flood … sadly this was far from the only flood his home suffered over the years … he built pens and labyrinths for his collection of birds. I couldn’t wait to race from the school (the large building in the background) to see if Theodore had let the ducks out. Often he timed their swim in the creek (“crick” in our parts) just in time to greet us on our way home.

I always thought of Theodore as a cheerful, kind man … for all the floods he had to dig himself out of you’d think he’d be a bitter, miserable type of soul.

The second remarkable thing about this photo was already mentioned … the Farmington school. Behind Theodore’s head is a ghosted glimpse of the original Farmington school. By the time I came along, it had been replaced by the modern brick building (built in 1912, I believe) and the ghost-building was converted into a gym.

The other ghost in the picture is the Lutheran church … the over-exposed building barely noticeable on the right. My great-grandfather and his brothers built it, and it was attended by Fisher’s until Katherine, one of the last of that generation, watched from her kitchen window as the cross was taken down and the doors closed. The town had dwindled and no pastor was available to preach any longer. Today, the building is a private residence.

I attended first grade in the brick school the last year it was open. Two teachers … 13 kids … six grades … all those empty rooms … you can bet I have some stories. Some of them I’ve written, and they’ve been published in a town history that I will have to dig up and add to my blog one of these days. Suffice it to that I loved this building and felt my heart break when I heard that it was torn down while I was at college.

Rural Heritage Collection

The flood picture above brought to mind a ferocious winter storm and flooding that last year of the Farmington school. Every day at noon, we grabbed metal lunchboxes (with cool cartoon designs on them) from our cubbies and raced downstairs to the cafeteria on the bottom floor. The flood waters drowned Theodore’s place again that winter but this time kept on going. It crept over to the school and into the basement.

We were banished to our classrooms at lunch time which wasn’t so bad. The big adventure was getting to the only bathrooms … in the basement. 2×4’s and sheets of plywood were fashioned into a wobbly “bridge” and the whole place smelled dank and moldy. We weren’t allowed to go downstairs on our own during the floods should we decide to go puddle stomping through the flooded rooms. (Someone must have done it once … hence the rule.) The hero of the floods was our janitor, Mr. Felker, who steadied the boards with his foot when we walked across and slipped us sticks of Black Jack gum when the teacher’s weren’t looking. He gave us a wink and nod that meant, “Our secret.”

Rural Heritage Collection

This … the original Farmington school was our gym. A balcony had been fashioned high along the sides and one of my most excitable childhood memories was the year we were allowed onto the balcony to watch a game of donkey basketball that took place on the hardwood below. Big stuff for a small town.

Back to the wind storm I opened with … found out yesterday that part of the roof in the library I manage came off in that storm. How did I miss that! Granted it is a large brick building with a flat roof. I’m just glad our town workers saw and took care of it … the building belongs to and is managed by the town … but still, you’d think I would have noticed something.

I’m just glad that our that K. and D. (our town maintenance team) were on top of things (literally) and had a roofer come and put a temporary repair in place the very next day. When I thanked them for all the time they put into fixing old building around here, they laughed and said, “No worries. It’s what we do.”

That’s what I love about living here … we get plenty of storms and set backs, but there is a good core of people (and yes … a few complainers … I’ll be real … and sometimes I’m one of them) who keep us moving forward … one storm at a time.

Finally, I’ll wrap up with photos from a few other stormy days we’ve experienced since being back. Isn’t it amazing how even the darkest of clouds and most dreaded of winds are usually sandwiched with snatches of unmatched beauty?

Hope your are weathering your winter storms well … wherever you happen to be on the globe.

Thank you for reading “Small Stuff”.  This is the second of two blogs sites that I keep.  You can find more on my thought&faith blog at Wishing you a beautiful day full of the Small Stuff that transforms life into BIG STUFF.

A note to my “silent” readers … thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read my work. I’ve learned that many of you are shy about commenting or hitting the like button, but I want you to know that I appreciate your visits and invite you into the conversations whenever you are ready.

Wishing you peace in all things … Shelly


Bananas About Bandana’s

“Here. You need these.”

My SIL thrust a pile of bandanas and scarves into my hands.

“Gosh. What will I do with these?”

“They’ll make good masks. You just need them; they were Mom’s after all.”

Mom left us last March; now we were gathered in my childhood home … My Guy, my big brother, SIL, niece, and me … looking through her things.

Sophie is suspicious of this basket of cloth. As long as I don’t tie one around her neck, I guess she’ll be okay.

Mom was a collector … not a hoarder (well, I guess that depends on which member of the family you talk to) but a true collector. Her character was reflected in the fact that she had a knack for cast off things and cast off people. Simple and quiet herself (well … quiet around strangers … not so much around us or those who were subject to her teasing), she could always find a treasure behind layers of dust or underneath scarred, water-stained wood. A little dusting … a little oil and elbow grease … and a cast-off-nothing became desirable again.

Some of the things we found in the house were collections from yard sales and auctions. Some things were saved from our childhood. The bandanas fell into the second category.

In Mom’s teen years (’50’s), bandanas were fashionable as headscarves and came in any color you liked as long as it was red. They looked cute on girls with short hair. A comeback was attempted in the ’70’s, only with slightly longer hair and a full rainbow of colors. It was a look that didn’t work so well for me.

You know those memes where they show a gorgeous woman with her hair in a nice neat “messy” bun next to a Kathy-Bates-look-a-like (serial killer version) with a messy bun? The meme caption says something like, “Other women with a messy bun. Me with a messy bun.”

Well … there you go. That’s what awkward-duckling-teenage-me looked like in a bandana head scarf, compared to other girls. They all looked ready for a fashion shoot. I looked like I was going to mop floors.

Dad wore bandanas too. They were much more utilitarian in his case … around his neck to soak up sweat while laboring on one of the farms where he often hired out to make extra money … or when up on our roof in August, tearing off rolled roofing with 95 degree temperatures melting his face and his mood.

In the 50’s Dad worked on farms in central Washington … bandanas were a face covering for him to ward off the dust from temperamental windstorms. You also might see the red cloth peaking from the inside rim of his hat where he stuffed it to soak up head sweat. And he wasn’t above using one these “fashionable” pieces of fabric to honk snot into when ordinary handkerchiefs weren’t available.

While neither of my parents used handkerchiefs in the fashion of a bank robber (at least not that I know of), I’m bringing that look back to existence.

With COVID-19 overtaking our world and the recent (controversial) mask mandates, the discovery of Mom’s handkerchief collection is timely. I may look a bit suspicious when I wear them, but it is a cuter look than the cleaning-lady-aura that I rocked in the ’70’s. Most importantly, they don’t fog up my glasses as much as masks ,so I don them often.

Well … it wouldn’t be a COVID-19 pic if toilet paper wasn’t in the background.

Kudos to Mom for collecting a variety of colors (pictured above). Makes me feel like a fashionista to be all matchy matchy.

When Covid Days are behind us, I hope to find other uses. Here are some suggestions, should you have a big collection like mine:

  • Head band
  • Neck Scarf
  • Decorate the dog with an awesome neck tie
  • Ice pack (in a lunch bag or around your neck on a steaming hot day)
  • Sling (hope you never need to try this out)
  • Cleaning Rag (I have a hard time doing that unless said bandana is full of holes and ready for the rag bin itself.)
  • Dust deflector
  • Fancy handkerchief
  • Blindfold (Recommended for happy occasions only like surprise parties … nothing devious encouraged here!)
  • Instant table cloth (if you have a small table)
  • Bug zapper (If you have have speedy reflexes and stellar aim, you should be able to take out a few pesky flies with a rolled up bandana!)
  • Coffee filter (Okay, you probably have to be really desperate … but imagine that camping trip where someone forgot the coffee filter … the majority of coffee addicts I know are desperate enough that they’ll go for the bandana.)
  • And of course, a Covid mask

Here’s a complete coincidence, but I encountered my friend Danika yesterday wearing of all things … a red bandana! She had no idea that I had just written the first draft of this ever-important-bandana-post. Thankfully, I didn’t get a “you’re crazy look” when I asked for a selfie.

“It’s for something really important,” I insisted.

And see! She’s one of those beauties who makes bandana wearing fashionable again. (She does good for Covid mask wearing too.) And me? Well, you see for yourself the results above. I’ve definitely got that sneaky bank robber thing going on.

While I’ve brought Danika into all of this, let me point out that she is a fellow blogger and is in the process of creating her own business, Milk N Honey Cakery. She is an amazing cake artist and you’ll love her work. Be forewarned … hers is a dangerous blog site. The pictures are delicious and the posts will leave you hungry. I can’t guarantee that just looking at the food photos won’t add calories.

Here’s her latest post. Check it out and let her know what you think.

Thank you for reading “Small Stuff”.  This is the second of two blogs.  You can read more on my “Thought Blog” at Wishing you a beautiful day full of the Small Stuff that transforms life into BIG STUFF.

All photos on SmallStuffLiving are the personal property of Sausmus Photography and of this blog. Please do not use without permission. Thanks!

Advertisements come with the territory but do not necessarily reflect my opinion or endorsements.

Nope. The cat did NOT like those bandanas. They are in HER favorite spot for looking out the window, and the raised ears make it clear that she is quite disgusted with me.

Thank you for reading “Small Stuff”.  This is the second of two blogs.  You can read more on my “Thought Blog” at Wishing you a beautiful day full of the Small Stuff that transforms life into BIG STUFF.

All photos on SmallStuffLiving are the personal property of Sausmus Photography and of this blog. Please do not use without permission. Thanks!

Advertisements come with the territory but do not necessarily reflect my opinion or endorsements.