Hurricane 101

hurricane-irma-watches-and-warnings-1221pm-abc-jt-170909_16x9_992With all this hurricane action going on, I decided to dig in and find out some information about them and get a better understanding of the terms being used by the meteorologists on television.

And it just so happens, I am in Atlanta to babysit my grand puppy, where rumor has it, Hurricane Irma and I could become acquainted. I like to know what I am dealing with.

A hurricane begins as a loosely formed group of storm clouds that come together over the ocean. From all that I have read, the conditions have to be apropos for this to take place.

In many ways, the perfect storm — which makes three happening at one time Harvey, Irma, Jose  — a rare event.

A quick description:  The moisture rises from the warm ocean surface. As the moisture rises it cools and forms large cumulonimbus clouds. Those big tall storm clouds.

When the warm ocean water vapor condenses to form these clouds, it releases heat into the air. Like in a house, hot air rises and is pulled into the clouds. That air helps create the cluster of thunderstorm within the clouds. These columns of clouds begin to grow taller and larger.

hurricane_diagram_large.enBear with me. This will be the condensed Laura version.

As the thunderstorm gains in size, the air at the top of the cloud column cools and becomes unstable. As the heat is released from the cooled water vapor, making the air pressure higher and causing winds to move away from that area.

This movement causes more thunderstorms and the winds in those storm cloud columns to begin to spin and pick up speed. Creating the circular motion, much like water going down a drain.

IrmaYou will hear the term “eye of the storm” or the “calm center.” This is in the very middle of the storm, literally. It is a lot to understand, and too much to write on this blog, however, what I described above forms a spinning circular column that leaves an opening. It is the calmest part of the hurricane cyclone.

To give you some perspective, they are saying the eye of Hurricane Irma is over 30 miles wide.

The “eye walls” is another term I have heard. It is the walls that form around the eye of the storm. It is the most dangerous part of the hurricane because of the strength of the air being forced upward there.

Hurricane severity is defined by categories ranking. The rank is determined by Wind Speed (mph), Damage at Landfall, and Storm Surge (feet).

  1.  74-95 mph          Mild                          4-5
  2. 96-110 mph        Moderate                 6-8
  3. 111-129               Extensive                 9-12
  4. 130-156               Extreme                   13-18
  5.  157 or higher   Catastrophic            19+
Right now, coming out of Cuba, Hurricane Irma is fluctuating between a category 4-5 when she comes on land in Florida.

Today I am thankful

  • I tracked down most I what I need for my hurricane survival kit. A copy of The Wizard of Oz, wine, red sequined high tops, and a few other miscellaneous items.
  • I got time by the pool before they took everything away to be stored till after the storm.
  • It’s been a day of writing and reading.

What I want to know is who names the hurricanes. I read at How Do Hurricanes Get Their Names? by Sarah B Puschmann, those names are assigned for the purpose of public safety. Huh? People respond better and with more interest when a storm has a name according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Who by the way, assign the names.

Right now six years worth of names has already been planned out. As luck would have it, in 2020, there will be a Hurricane Laura.

In all seriousness, I do have a plastic bin filled with water, first aid kit, flash lights, extra batteries, food, toiletries, things for the grand puppy, a full tank of gas, and I have taken other precautions that I have read about online. I am as prepared as I can be.

Atlanta is being told that by the time Irma reaches here, she will have calmed to a category 1.

To my family and friends in Florida, be safe. My thoughts and prayers are with you

affectionately yours, Laura







Spiritual Tonics For Living

Spiritual TonicsI saw this list of Spiritual Tonics by Abraham J. Feinberg and it spoke to me. I printed it out and put it in my journal.

Unlike some of the “How To” lists out there, this one gets to some issues others by-pass with generalizations.

Begin your day with prayer. Stop worrying. Appetite. Limitations — oh Lawd, hard one. I plead the fifth. Envy is a waste. Faith a must. A hobby — my crafts make a difference in my world. Read a book — my life. Time alone is good for the soul.

Today I am thankful

  • Today I am just thankful. I have a good life. I am safe. I am content.
  • I am taken by the hardships of the world around me facing catastrophic historic events.  I see pictures and videos in real-time on my television and computer that I have only seen that kind of devastation in movies. I pray for those affected. I pray that there is an end in sight, but, there is not one.
  • Now is the time for Random Acts of Kindness. My goal of one a day for a week is going well.

The tenth thing on Feinberg’s list is most significant. It is a statement about gratitude. Being content with what you have and not always focused and striving for what you want and don’t have.

It is what keeps me grounded. Whatever is going on in my day, my life, I look to what I give gratitude to. I find three things a day. Many days are a repetition of others. Some days, like today, I am just thankful. That is what rises about all the bullshit. It is my royal flush in the game of life.

Hold My BeerI am doing what I can to support in action and financially for those areas being devastated by Mother Nature. I encourage you to do the same. The hurricanes are eclipsing the fires that are out-of-control in the western United States and the earthquakes across the world.

My prayers continue.

affectionately yours, Laura



Grateful For The Smells of Fall

I walked outside this morning and felt the crispness of fall air. I inhaled deeply and gave gratitude for the fall. 

It is hard to find words to describe the smell of fall.

For me, it is the smell of a walk in a dense forest, with a touch of scent after a hard rain. With just a whiff of a breeze from a lake early in the morning dawn.

I greatly value my gift of smell. Well, not always. The smell of the Mississippi River at times can be quite unpleasant. And there were my ex’s feet. But, I digress.

The thoughts of good smells like fall that trigger memories — the smell of my mom’s lotion, my freshly bathed babies, my Grannie’s house when she baked, the smell of Candyland, clean sheets that hung on a clothesline — are comforting to my soul.

I often use scents for aromatherapy. That is a blog in and of itself.

I have always surrounded myself with pleasant scents in my home. I find it so welcoming to walk into the house to comforting smells of the season.

Last year I tried a fall simmering pot recipe. If you are eager to get some fall smells in your house, this might be for you.

Fall  Simmering PotWhat you need: apples, oranges, cinnamon, vanilla. Instructions: Cut up your fruit. I quartered four apples and sliced three oranges and one orange I peeled and used just the rind. Put all in a pot and add water to cover the fruit. Add the vanilla. I used one cinnamon stick. Bring this mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to just barely simmering. Add water as it evaporates. Helpful Hints: If you use vanilla extract, the recommended measure is 1/2 tablespoon. Speaking from experience, and one ruined pot, the water can evaporate quickly and set off the fire alarm 😱

Today I am thankful

  • A Santi day is always a good day.
  • My writing class is a pleasant place I look forward to going every week. It’s not just the work I get done. It is the fellowship with other writers that have become friends. It is the ambiance. The subtle energy of the work being done all around me.
  •  What a gorgeous fall day. As I drove along the river, I saw the first signs of leaves changing there.
  • Praying for my family members and giving thanks for their well-being.

For centuries scent has been used for medicinal, well-being, and pleasure. Our olfactory response is wired directly to the emotional center of our brain. You see this in action when someone puts their face in a bouquet of flowers, or into the neck of someone they love and inhale deeply.

Certain smells will make you feel certain ways. Fall triggers that within us. Thoughts of sweaters, flannel sheets, and pumpkin everything!

I hope you get out and take a deep breath of fall today.

My prayers are with those facing Hurricane Irma and those recovering from Hurricane Harvey. Mother Nature is not happy.

affectionately yours, Laura

Gratitude 4September17 Happy Labor Day 

Do you know why we have a holiday today?

Labor-Day-Weekend-Entertaining-Not-A-Chore-with-These-Tips-A-Crispy-Fish-Taco-Recipe-MainPhoto1I have a delightful friend who’s birthday is today. Happy Birthday, Girl! She might think it is for the day her mom labored for her. Some parents might believe that it is for them, as they work to get ready for that first day of school tomorrow.

Most people don’t give it much thought, we are just appreciative of that last 4-day weekend of summer and a chance for the last official picnic weekend.

Well, if you think you’re tired after a 5-day 40-hour work week, give thanks for Labor Day.

Happy Labor Day 3Back in the 1800’s when the labor union struggle began, 6-day 70+-hour weeks were the norm. Labor day came to be as the result of the hard fight for the rights and protection of American workers.

The first Monday of every September was dedicated by the federal government as a tribute to the contribution of the American worker. It celebrates the dedication of our employees to the social and economic accomplishments of our nation.

Today I am thankful

  • Whenever possible, I buy American grown, or American made. I make that conscious decision. I support our country’s workers.
  • It seems it was just yesterday that I was getting out my summer clothes. Yesterday, I was thinking, “I am excited to wear my flannel pajamas.”
  • Say what you will, I love my state of Minnesota. Yes, mosquito’s and snowstorms, I know. But, there is nothing like the gift of the change of the seasons.
  • Yesterday, at a family picnic I looked around the table and gave quiet thanks to myself for the blessing of family. Priceless moments of conversation and laughter.
  • My holiday tree lights are extra lovely early this morning

We don’t think much about work like our parents or grandparents worked. We have our cell phones, light rails, conference calls, flights to a meeting, and so many advantages they didn’t.

Sometimes I get out my paperback dictionary and dig into it, just to remember the feel of it, rather than use Google. Old school, you know? Gangsta.

Today, to celebrate Labor Day and those that fought for the rights you enjoy today, take the day off work. Even if just for a few hours. Put down your phone. Turn off your computer. Go spend time with family and friends. Get outside and enjoy the fall weather.

I promise — work will be there waiting for you tomorrow.

affectionately yours, Laura



Gratitude 3September17 Delicious Ambiguity

Gilda RadnerAs a little girl, I sat in a favorite tree in woods behind my home and would dream of being a librarian. I would have a bunch of books of my own, and I would read all the time. That was my plan.

I would live somewhere people didn’t argue. Somewhere I could get on my hot pink bike with its sparkly banana seat, and I would go riding in quiet splendor.

I planned to find a place and live where I was loved, and I was safe. I wanted to get on the #3 bus whenever I wanted and go see my Grannie. I still crave the smell and feel of her. The one person I forgave for calling me “Laurie.”

Actually, I am not sure how it was supposed to go. We all have our fantasies. I just went with the flow. Much of my life has been one of survival. Dysfunction and illness will do that to a person.

I was in awe of individuals who didn’t give much thought to their life plan. Life just fell into place because that was how their family functioned. Or that was how they were raised. They just knew it was what they were supposed to do.

I was in awe of people who had a plan that they followed to the letter. The girlfriends that after high school went to college. They then established their careers, then got married, had their babies and life went on.

At least that was most of their plans. Some of those friends experienced detours along the way due to life’s surprises. And life has a way of turning everything upside down.



“It’s always something. Nevermind.”

The quote I posted on this blog is from Gilda Radner’s autobiography, It’s Always Something. I reread it every so often. The story is the last few years of her life. Gilda ended her life journey at the young age of 42 due to ovarian cancer. She doesn’t know that though. When she ends her book, she is still undergoing chemotherapy and is optimistic for a full recovery.


That quote in the book is a favorite of mine.

Oh, how I would love a perfect life plan. The significant other, children, grandbabies, home, friends, career, travel. But, as Radner wrote, it’s not about the perfect — it’s about taking the moment and making the most of it — life doesn’t always give us our first choice.

Today I am thankful

  • A reflective day that made me think of this quote.
  • A shock I know, but, President Obama didn’t wiretap our current resident president.
  • My girls are together and it looks like they are having a great time.
  • I am so excited to be with my family today.
  • It is a picture perfect blue skies, bright golden sun day.

I read this quote to remind myself, despite my best intentions, life doesn’t happen as I plan it. I didn’t realize my librarian dream. I do have books, a frequent book visitor, and I read regularly.

I am finding the older I get that things don’t have a definite beginning, middle, and end. Life just happens. What I wanted in my 40’s is going on now. Life has a way of falling into place in its own timing.

What is hardest for me is unknowing, right? It’s the trusting. The calm knowledge that we all change as our circumstances do. Life happens.

The only thing we can count on, is we don’t know what is going to happen next. And that’s alright.

Delicious Ambiguity.

affectionately yours, Laura


Gratitude 1September17 Hello September! 


“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.” Lauren DeStefano

Today I am thankful

  • The delightful sounds outside my window as I lay here.
  • An easy day of errands, writing, and reading.
  • Writing an interesting piece on interaction and outcome. How a glass of wine meeting is interpreted by males and females. The expectations of the encounter. 
  • The goal is to enjoy every beautiful fall day of September.


 affectionately yours, Laura

Gratitude 30August17 Where is an Ark When You Need One? 

Long Island Tech News

As I watch Hurricane Harvey on television, I have to remind myself I am not watching some Will Smith crazy world survival movie. This is real life, the rain will not stop, people are in life and death situations.

While channel hopping and listening to the commentators, I started to get a picture of the devastation, Houston, in particular, is in right now. 

Most horrifying are the experts of geographical, architecture, and climate change that are saying this was a ticking-time bomb. It was predicted. 

Houston is built on basic swamp land. It has been in a high growth development phase since the 1980’s. It would seem to assist in this endeavor, the city has no zoning laws. Meaning that — at risk to the environment and safety of their people — builders had free reign. 

While this new construction was going on, something was not. The city’s infrastructure of drainage systems was outdated and not kept current. Some new construction is being found to have actually blocked drainage systems. 

Add to this, many of Houston drainage routes are along roads. And because their soil is clay, it does not absorb water well

Developers building before Obama era of new flood regulations were allowed to build with materials that didn’t have flood protection standards. 

Obama’s administration put into place in 2015, flood-risk analysis connected to federal dollars spent.  The intent being to build smarter, to save dollars later when natural disaster happens.

Ironically, ten days ago, before Hurricane Harvey’s full assault hit, the residing president of the United States removed the layers of regulations ensuring federal flood standards to protect citizens and the environment.

Houston will now rebuild, Bloomberg Markets puts that cost in the $30 billion dollar range yesterday, with no zoning or infrastructure codes and no material flood standards in place so history can repeat itself.

After seeing some of the pictures, people stating they have lost everything. Watching cars float down streets. And seniors in their nursing home up to their waist in swamp water, I began wondering about flood insurance. What kind of protection do these people have?

Even though federal law requires certain homeowners to carry flood insurance, only a quarter of the homes or 240,000 in Harris County where Houston is located, had flood insurance according to CNBC.

The senators from Texas who declined to vote for financial aid support to the states on the east coast when Hurricane Sandy tragically hit in 2012 are touting a different message now that the hurricane is in their backyard.

What will not help hurricane survivors is the anticipated 2018 Federal Budget that cuts hundreds of millions that supports programs associated with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for natural disasters such as this.

Also, noticeable quiet is the connection between the hottest summer in current history, the rising of the sea level, and the current administration denial of climate change. 

I would say Mother Nature might be getting everyone’s attention now. Ark, anyone?

Today I am thankful

  • I get time with my sweet and spicy granddaughter today. 
  • I saw Moana for the first time. Great movie. 
  • I had the strangest dream last night. I always treasure when those who have gone before me visit me. I am sending up blessings. 

 Whatever small token or gesture you can send or do to assist the victims of Hurricane Harvey will be greatly appreciated. I donated directly through the Red Cross. 

affectionately yours, Laura