• Gretel Enck

The Mud Flood

Last year we had the fire on Oak Creek, and my house survived. Saturday we had the 100 year flood, and although my house is still standing, it is 2 feet high in mud. Other houses did not survive, some did with no water inside. The creek now runs in front of my house instead of behind. I was able to save my Tule. She was on the bed when the flood came and stayed there until I was able to get to her early Sunday morning. I do not know about the cats. We are all safe, no one was hurt all up the creek, as far as I know. As of yesterday, getting to the house required wading a good way through mud. My plan today is to go in with boxes and start salvaging/packing. I won't haul stuff out though until we can get a vehicle closer. I have lots of help and good people taking care of us. As you look at the photos, know that I used to have a nicely fenced front yard ringed with sunflowers. We were very happy on the creek, but I knew it and appreciated it while I had it.

On the wall in the room where I am staying at Saint Gerry and Shar's, there is a reprint of something written in 1692 and posted at St. Paul's Church in Baltimore. I would like to reprint it here in its entirety as it gave me great comfort when I could not sleep Saturday night:

Go placidly among the noise and haste, & remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull & ignorant; they too have their stories. * Avoid loud & aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater & lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. * Keep interest in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. * Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity & disenchantment it is perennial as the grass. * Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. * You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees & the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. * Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors & aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. * With all its sham, drudgery & broken dream, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy. *

Saturday, July 12 Driving home just after 6, stopped on the highway. Flooding across the highway. A neighbor is there - her husband is trapped on their roof. Later he talks about the 8-foot wall of mud. He watched furniture and animals float by in the mud. His neighbors outbuildings crash around his house. I go to Gerry and Shar's with Mark, another neighbor and coworker. Mark and I are distraught and despondent. We can't eat. Later we go for a walk and end up next door at Tom's house. I decide we should eat and ask Tom for an omelet with cheese. While waiting for the food, I have a change of attitude and am better. As I'm eating my omelet I joke that in Portugal they let the cheese run out and get all crispy around the edges. Tom replies that he normally would have asked me how I like my omelet but he thought under the circumstances...

Sunday, July 13 Got up very early after not sleeping anyway. Drove up to Oak Creek with Gerry in his big truck. Mark was already up there. Waded through mud up to our knees for quite a ways to get to the house. Gerry got there first, poked his head back up that Tule was in there and she was growling at him. I got in there and got to her on the bed. We were both hysterical. The house smelled of propane and the electricity was still on. We pulled the guitar out of the mud and out of its case, setting it on the bed and the case open to dry. But we didn't take anything but Tule. Mark carried her out of the house and she was able to wade out with us. The mud in the house contained stuff. The bathroom floor was very rocky and there were some branches too. Later on Sunday, I spent a long time cleaning the mud out of the tires of my car. I had driven through some of it on Saturday night and it clung like cement. At the end of the day we went back up and Gerry brought out my guitar, my checkbook, and my camera cable.

Monday, July 14 Went to Bishop in the morning with Shar. I bought a bag of dog food, a new pair of shoes, and some undies and t-shirts. Fortunately, the shoes on my feet were my good park service hiking boots. So those have been perfect for getting in and out of the mud. But I needed something for running around. Then came home and got to work. Kirk and I went up and started boxing and bagging everything salvageable. Alisa joined us later, and by dinnertime we were done and stacks of boxes filled my sofa, bed, desk, and stove.

Tuesday, July 15 Met Troy and the YCC kids from Manzanar, our big work truck, and Kirk and his trailer and went up to the house at 7:00 a.m. In about 2 hours we got all the boxes and bags out and down to Brian's house. We stacked everything on the lawn. My heroic moving crew then went back up on the creek to help whoever needed help. They got my neighbor's new motorcycle out of the mud which was a big morale boost for her, as she lost most of her house. As for me, I spent the rest of the day scrubbing furniture, sorting through boxes, and starting laundry. In the evening we had a public meeting. One woman pushed the blame game pretty hard and irrationally. Fortunately another woman who lost the family ranch stood up and calmly explained the extreme nature of the rain event and asked for acceptance.

Wednesday, July 16 Catching up on emails, on my way to the grocery store. Later I'll finish laundry and start looking for a place to live.

Me and Tule McGee

The good news is that I rescued Hayduke on Friday. I took him to Brian's house where he set up housekeeping under the bed. Alas, Brian was coming home yesterday. So I took Tule to doggie camp with Saint Auntie Donna, the dog lady. Tule will be safe and happy there for the meantime. I moved a few things down to Ralph's house while they are on vacation this week. But I left Hayduke under Brian's bed with a big note on the door to be careful not to let him out. This morning when I stopped in, Brian had looked high and low for the cat who could not be found. I don't know how he could have gotten out, but this is what I feared - that he was not secure there without me. So I don't know.

And I've been down the past few days as I've not found a place to live, lead after lead falling through. But yesterday I got a couple more leads that may pan out. And my friend Judy who lived up on the creek has been wonderful. She and Charlie got a new double wide to rent earlier this week. She has been my closest ally through this as we understand each other's ups and downs.

Other ups include all the help we have received. The Salvation Army is cooking meals for folks displaced and work crews that have come in. They have also set up a storefront in town with clothes, furniture, small appliances, etc. for us all. I will visit them when I find a place to live. Although the librarian offered me a sofa and bed that were on their way to good will, so I don't need those from Sally A. The Red Cross gave me a voucher to Kmart for clothes, linens, food, etc. I was able to get a refund for the undies and t-shirts I'd bought earlier in the week, and put those on the voucher. The Kmart people were very kind. Kids held a bake sale in town to raise money for the creek fund.

I've gone to work today to get ready for the archeology dig starting tomorrow for two weeks at Manzanar. It's the bane of my existence right now and it was not my idea to hold it in the heat of summer. So it goes. It's a good project, an important project. But I'm done digging stuff out of the mud/dirt for the time being.

I hope to report soon that I am no longer homeless. Until then, I am safe and comfortable in Ralph and Anne's nice home with their nice dog and cat.

Remembering Farley

The little kitty who didn't come out of the mud. I have given up trying to find the other cat; the raccoons were eating the food I left out.

Farley was the shy one, the one disinterested in human affection. But she loved her brother, Hayduke. They came from the shelter as feral kittens. She was quick to curl up with Tule, and didn't mind the doggie licks across her face. Farley was the killer of the bunch, specializing in lizards, birds, and the occassional pack rat. She liked sleeping on the patio chair in the shade, was good at climbing trees, and had a habit of leaving rodent parts under the bed.

My favorite Farley story is from when we moved up to Oak Creek two years ago from our little house in town by the cow pasture. I spent a long weekend cleaning the old place, after moving our things up to the creek. The last piece of the puzzle was to catch the cats and take them up. I got Hayduke without much trouble, stuffed him in the kitty cage, and locked him in the new house. No Farley, though. The dogs, Hayduke, and I spent the night at the new place - completely out of the old house. The next morning the dogs and I went back down to see if we could find her. I had no idea how I could possibly catch her, though. Well we stood in the back yard for just a few minutes. I set the open kitty cage on the back step. Darned if she didn't waltz all the way across our big open yard right into the kitty cage. 'Nuf said. We were family.

Pedicures for All My Friends

Or, Baboon Behavior 101.

The day I was driving through Bishop to spend my Red Cross Kmart voucher, I passed a spa advertising pedicures. Now that's what I really need, I thought. Later I joked to friends that the Red Cross should be giving our pedicure vouchers. Well, one of those friends took me at my word and got me a gift card. Today I had my luxurious treat.

Reminded me of course of the million times I've taken advantage of Mom trimming my toenails. Even now, at 40 years of age, I can't get together with her without coercing her into clipping and picking at my toes. She's so indulgent. She'll do one foot, then the other, then another, as all the little hair folicles on my head stand on end. I'm guessing she caught on to that trick years ago. But she's a good sport and baboon mother. For those of you who question the value of old Matlock reruns, know that they are the perfect foil for mindless foot picking. And for those of you who cringe at the thought of human baboonery, well you never had a Mom like mine. I'm so sorry.

A little girl was hanging out while her mother worked in the spa. I asked her to pick out a color for me. Fantastic, n'est-ce pas?


Most of us do not associate Monday morning comic relief with utility companies. But as we know, every now and then the world surprises us. A few days after the flood I called all of my utility companies to shut things down at the mudded house. The propane company gave me the happy news that I would get a refund for the propane in my tank once they had a chance to go in and pull out the tanks. Yipee. So two days ago, an envelope from the propane company was in my mail box. Imagine my disappointment when I opened it and found a bill for the next year’s tank rental. I called this morning to explain the mistake which was quickly acknowledged. The woman on the phone then went on to explain why refund checks had not come out yet. Seems as though many of the tanks cannot be found, cannot be removed, etc. I smiled to myself and smugly informed her that my tank only moved about six feet, was lodged up against my house, and was easy to access and easy to read, therefore it should be no problem to determine my refund. After waiting the requisite beat of a seasoned comedian, she replied, “That’s not your tank.” So, who knows when I’ll get my refund, but she did make me laugh.

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