Gowanus Flood Reaches the Bottom of our Block

Gowanus Flooding the Bottom of Our Block
(photo courtesy of Cameron Faulkner)

October 30, 2012.  Hurricane Sandy didn’t fool around.  Here in Brooklyn, the Gowanus Canal jumped its banks for the first time in over a hundred years.  By 11 p.m., the floods had reached the bottom of our block of Carroll Street (as shown above).  And the Gowanus is a stew of pollution you don’t want eating your home.  I reminded myself that we were uphill from the flood.  Even so, I knew it had already flooded the houses of neighbors who lived along its banks.  And the water was only half a block away from us.  Our internet, TV and phone were out, so it was hard to tell what was going on.  And it was hard to sleep as sirens wailed and waves of PCP’s rose in my dreams.

This morning, our connections to the world were restored, thank heavens.  The street outside our house was still dry, but a huge tree had been uprooted.  And when we looked in our backyard, our chimney top was sitting on the grass.  Scary, because it was installed after our carbon monoxide outbreak.  Rick has now re-attached it to the roof as best he can — and we’re praying the winds will blow more gently.

Tree Uprooted on our Block

The miracle is that the floodwaters of the Gowanus have already receded.  So while there’s hard repair work ahead, especially in other neighborhoods in NYC, there’s hope that things here will return to normal soon — we can already see our usual grafitti.

Gowanus Canal after the Storm

Driving, Hiking, and Sleeping under the Stars

Willa & her friend Liz in Utah
(Photo by Adam Vanderhoef)

Here’s Willa, walking out of the canyons of Utah, facing into the light.  I swear she looks taller than when she left home just 2 1/2 weeks ago.  And certainly happier.  So here goes:  All of you who reassured me about Willa’s travel plans, who reminded me that Willa is talented, strong, resourceful, and capable of handling herself on the road — you were right.  It really was time to let her go.  Thank you.

Willa’s had a cool trip up to Canada, out to Mount Rushmore and into the Badlands, driving, hiking, and sleeping under the stars.  And I’ve loved the armchair journey from Brooklyn.  Today, she’s driving through Reno, Nevada, heading for San Francisco.  I can practically taste the sourdough bread.  Stay tuned . . .

How Not to Worry about a Daughter on the Road

Freddie and Willa: Together in Ohio

Life is upside down: our older daughter, Freddie, is back home from Ohio; our younger daughter, Willa, is on the road.  Willa started by trekking out to Ohio with Freddie, but quickly split for Toronto to visit friends.  She’s now west of Chicago, heading for Utah’s Great Salt Desert and then to San Francisco.  And me?  I’ve been anxious as all get out about Willa’s cross-country trip (we’re talking nights without sleep).  Technology to the rescue:  Willa arranged for me to track her travels through icloud.com and her texts.  The surprise is that it’s turning out to be cool armchair traveling.  Especially because Willa sounds happier than she has since, oh, ninth grade. 

Our house is quiet.  Freddie is working at Brooklyn Pantry, catering to celebs like the Gyllenhaals — and when I’m home, she’s usually on the job.  My husband Rick and I are — yes, for me this is strange — relaxing.  Although I’m secretly considering a road trip of our own.

This NYC rainbow augurs well:

Rainbow: Courtesy of Oliya Clarkson


Motorcycle Madness


It turns out every block should have a motorcyle repair shop.  We have one just a few doors away, and you’d think it would be loud and crazy, right?  But, no, the tall, intimidating owner is always around, keeping his customers quiet and the neighborhood safe.  Equally counter-intuitive is that the owner is better than anyone on block upkeep.  In summer he plants flowers around his store (and for anyone else who asks), in fall he cleans up the whole block with his leaf blower, in winter he’ll clear the snow.

As a mom, though, I have to say that no amount of planting flowers, cleaning leaves, and clearing snow could possibly change what really matters:  Much as I like having the shop nearby, our girls are not riding motorcycles.  (Honestly, they’ve heard me rant so much about the dangers they don’t even ask to try.)  When they head toward Ohio this weekend, it’ll be in a car.