I guess you might have been wondering where I've been.
The answer is that since my last blog post, our lives have been turned upside down, then put back together again.
Just over two weeks ago, during Hurricane Irene, an enormous tree fell on our house. We were miraculously away, far away in Canada, so no-one was at home. My neighbour emailed me immediately, so we knew what was happening, but such chaos was reigning in our town that there was no way we could return straight away. At first we thought the damage might be minor. But then more emails came: the police, fire department, everyone and his wife had been at our house. The roof was smashed in and the whole house was damaged. My landlady was hysterical. The fire department roped off the whole house and would not let anyone in. They said it would be condemned. It was like, said our neighbours, Hollywood in our street.
Far away in Montreal, we were seriously freaking out. The worst case scenario was that we would lose all our belongings to either wreckage or rain damage. Although the tree had crashed into the spare room, the room in which we luckily had hardly any stuff, we had no idea what water damage or rubble was below. No-one was allowed in so no-one could tell us.
As the week went on, we stayed away. Well what was the point in coming back when there was nowhere to come back to? Half the town still didn't have power. While the boys were still enjoying our holiday in Vermont, The Doctor and I were frantically on the phone the whole time, unable to sleep or eat, trying to contact insurance companies and the like. Meanwhile a structural engineer, our landlady and various brave souls went in and grabbed our photos, pictures and precious things - despite being told that the whole house was unstable.
Meanwhile my network of friends in Long Island came through. Someone set up a gift card fund. People offered to lend us furniture. People emailed me the names of realtors and someone told me about a house newly available to rent on their street. It was near our old house, on the same school bus route, and I knew several people who lived in the street. I looked online, contacted the realtor and made an appointment to see it the minute we got back.
I am now sitting in that house. We saw it just over a week ago, and immediately made an offer and signed a lease.
On our return, we spent a week living with our wonderful neighbours, looking helplessly at our old house next door. The tree had to removed before we could go in; there were delays with this due to the power company being too busy to remove cables, and then three days of rain. The town Fire Marshal became my new best friend, stopping in for cups of coffee every day. While this was all going on, the boys started school. Littleboy 2 had his first day of big school, going off on the bus. It went by in a blur.
On Friday last week they removed the tree. That in itself was dramatic - huge chunks of majestic oak being lifted from the roof with a crane. Then, finally, they said we could go in.
We spent Friday night and Saturday removing our things from the house. Amazingly, we lost much less than we feared. The boys' playroom was completely obliterated, but it turned out that half their toys were scattered throughout the rest of the house anyway (good thing they are so bad at clearing up). There was water damage to books, a linen cupboard, a few items of clothing and a few other items - all of which are replaceable. Evertyhing else was unscathed - including an electric piano that had been found sitting on a damp floor, and my laptop, which so far seems to work fine.
We moved into the new house and here I sit. It's actually a much nicer house - bigger, almost too smartly decorated for us, and with a beautiful view of the harbour. But I am mourning the old house - we had such a good two years there, and it is filled with memories. Going round it, it was hard to believe we wouldn't be living there again. I think when you move, you usually have time to mentally prepare yourself; we didn't. It almost feels like someone has died.
But I realise we were incredibly lucky. Lucky to be away when it happened - although I don't think we would have been killed, as the tree fell on a room where no-one slept, it would have been incredibly traumatic. Lucky that more of our things weren't damaged; a fire would have been far worse. Lucky to have good, kind friends and neighbours, who helped us out, helped us move house, cooked us dinner and supplied much-needed wine.
And now, life can start again.