Sally in the Zen

Confessions of a Befuddled Zen Buddhist

Unprecedented Events – Part 4

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Mounds and mounds of thick toilet paper – check.

Mountains of turkey burger in the frig – check.

Multiple packs of fresh Duracell batteries – check.

Two hurricane oil lamps – check.

Ready for Hurricane Irene – check check.

Bring it on, Baby!

We’re soo ready for you! 

So when she blew into town, it was early Sunday morning, a couple of hours after midnight, and we were asleep.  The billowing winds tore up the trees outside our windows, whipping them an inch of their leaves.

And I sat up in bed in the middle of this, scratching a burning itch on my left hand.  And just in time to hear a BOOM before the entire house shook into absolute silence.

And that was just great.

Now we’re living back in the Stone Ages.  No electricity.  No TV.  No hot water. 

And no electricity for our electric stove for cooking our mountains of turkey burger.  It didn’t occur to me — until that moment — that we were quite stocked up with fresh food sitting in our frig and not one can of food in the cabinets.

Not.  A.  One.


Me:  How come we didn’t stock up on canned goods?  Why did we buy fresh food that we can’t cook without electricity?

Zen Master:  Because I don’t do canned food.

Zen Mum:  But that’s what people do in an emergency.  They buy canned food.

Zen Master:  I’m not people.

So how long were we in the Dark Ages?  What did we do for food?

Excellent questions.

We were without electricity for three whole bloody days.  Our only source of light was the hurricane oil lamps, which Zen Master regularly snarked at us to be careful with, the glass containers tops being quite fragile. 

Which he himself promptly dropped and shattered on Day Two.

Good job, Zen Master.  Way to go.

As for food, as soon as it was light out that very morning on Sunday, we left the cave for civilization.  Strange how these things go, because we passed blocks of houses in a similar situation while another block would be just fine. 

The supermarket was just fine, and opened for business.  What’s up with that?

After promptly filling up on a hearty breakfast, we bought a portable gas stove, powered by cans of propane gas. 

And this little fella made things just fine.

Surprisingly, thankfully, we suffered no food spoilage.  Something about the frig being a natural vacuum of cold air, and not opening it too often keeping it cold.  But we did get a couple bags of ice for the extreme perishables, dumping the ice into our ice cooler and packing our delicates in it.

All in all, we did alright. 

We had fire, we had hot food, we had hot water. 

And in the morning of the third day, the electricity finally came back up. 

Hallelujah!  WOO HOO!

FINALLY!  After a freaking earthquake and then this mess of a hurricane, we can finally go back to normal!  I mean, I’m tired and I just want to chill out and do absolutely nothing now.

Is that so much to ask?

I guess it was, because we realized then that I was now having a problem of very different nature.


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Unprecedented Events – Part 3

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As far as unprecedented events went, going through an earthquake is definitely on our short list. 

So was waiting for its aftershock.

Zen Master, Zen Mum and I were glued to our TV, watching the news rehash, repeat and restate all things about the historic earthquake.  According to Wikipedia, the last time my area had an earthquake was in 1897, also with a similar magnitude of 5.8 or 5.9.

That’s not exactly reassuring.

According to most of the news, we were in dire straits with the aftershock.  The magnitude could be stronger.  The magnitude could be greater.  The magnitude could be significant.

But no matter the magnitude, what in the world else can one do, other than buckle down and ride it out?

Or in our case, sleep through it.

The one everyone was waiting for came on Thursday, August 25th, 2011 in the wee hours of the morning.  A 4.5 magnitude aftershock.

We didn’t feel a thing and slept right through it.

If we didn’t have another earthquake in another 114 years, why, that would be just fine by us.

The worst was over.

Now we can finally get on with our lives.  A bit of normalcy after all that rocking and rolling would be just great.  It was almost the weekend and we were just so ready to chill out from such a crazy week.

Except, Hurricane Irene was en route.

According to Wikipedia, Hurricane Irene was the first major hurricane of the season. 

And a first for Zen Master, Zen Mum and myself as we’ve never had the privilege of riding out a hurricane.  I mean, lest I need to remind you, we do live in Maryland and these things just don’t happen.

Until now.


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Unprecedented Events – Part 2

Click here for Part One.


We believe that animals are quite intuitive to the goings-on in the world. If only we have the eyes to see and the ears to hear what they have to say.

48 hours later – Tuesday, August 23, 2011:

I was at work when the earthquake hit.  My first.  Ever.

I was on the phone when the woman on the other end started screaming that her building was shaking.  As soon as she said that, the floor underneath my own feet shook.  It started out slowly but gained in strength until I actually felt as if the building was rolling on a wave. 

A wave on Terra Firma!


I was caught in an earthquake!

Later I would find out that the East Coast suffered a 5.8 earthquake, originating from Mineral, Virginia.  But at the moment, I was living through my first earthquake and my first thought was to call Zen Master and Zen Mum.

And the phone just rang and rang.

Strangely enough, although the cell phones weren’t working, I finally got through to them by land-line. 

Zen Master had been in the kitchen, reading his Chinese newspaper.  Zen Mum was in the living room, watching TV.  When the earthquake struck, the house trembled.  Thinking that a neighbor was getting carried away with renovations, Zen Master didn’t pay it any mind until things started falling off the table.

And that was when he jumped up and raced to the living room to get Zen Mum. 

However, she didn’t move from the sofa. 

“What was that?”  she asked as she watched Zen Master race into the room. 

“Earthquake!  Earthquake!”  He grabbed her by the hand and dragged her to her feet.  “We got to go!”

And they stumbled out into the street, joining neighbors who had reacted faster and were already outside.

I thank God that they were all right.

I, on the other hand, wasn’t thinking to get out of my building. 

I actually stayed.

I don’t know why I did that.  Maybe because I was in denial, because there wasn’t supposed to be earthquakes here.  I live in Maryland, for goodness sake!

Maybe it was because I believed that I was not in harm’s way.

Maybe it was because it couldn’t possibly happen to me.

When all was said and done, I did what any sane person who survived her first earthquake would do.

I went to Happy Hour and devoured an order of Truffle French Fries.

Later that same evening, finally safe and sound at home with Zen Master and Zen Mum, I stood by my bedroom window and finally heard them.

The crickets were chirping loudly. 

The evening sounds of their song, Nature’s night music had returned.

Where had they been?


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Unprecedented Events – Part 1

Sunday, August 21st, 2011:

It all started with one seemingly innocent statement.

“It’s so quiet.”  Zen Master muttered with a slight frown.  He said this a moment after we left the house, but I wasn’t really paying attention.

Zen Master, Zen Mum and I were out and about, doing our usual nothings on a bright, sunny Sunday.

In the midst of our power-walking around the high school track, Zen Master glanced around the trees and remarked again about the quiet. 

While we were grocery shopping, while I was lugging bags of foodstuff out of the shopping cart into the car trunk, Zen Master looked up at the blue sky and mumbled . 

While we were window-shopping around the mall, again as we stepped out into the parking lot to go home, Zen Master tilted his head towards the sky and paused.

This was happening all day long.  It wasn’t until we finally came home that I finally bit the bullet and asked.

“What’s so quiet?”  I watched him look back up at the sky and glance around for something.  “You’ve been acting funny all day.  Are you okay?”

“There’s no birds.”  Zen Master  remarked.  “There hasn’t been any birdsong all day.  No crickets singing.  No anything.”

That was when I became aware of his observation.  There was no sound.  No wind.  No birds.  No crickets. 


“I wonder where all the birds went.”  Zen Master murmured.  “It’s just so strange.  I wonder what’s going on.”

This reminded me of the Chinese folklore that he loved to tell me about once in a while.  The condensed version was that on the 7th day of the 7th month of each year, all the birds would disappear and there would be utter silence across the land.  They all were helping the children of a Goddess visit their immortal mother in only that one day out of the entire year.

I’ll tell you about it sometime.

But that Sunday was like a page out of that Chinese folklore.

Except it wasn’t the 7th day of the 7th month of the year.


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