The Utter Awesomeness of You

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand;
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

Edna St. Vincent Millay,
“A Few Figs from Thistles”


Happy New Year!

So far it is exactly that for me, I can tell you.

Also, today is my seventh blogiversary - and never have I had occasion to celebrate either with such a bang.

We’re 24 hours into the Shark Week fund-raiser, and already the fund is well over the 10 grand mark.

I am not sure what I expected, exactly - as I mentioned yesterday, I’ve never done this before, and I was diffident enough about it that I couldn’t even imagine how to set a goal. So what that goal would have been, even in my most secretest of secret hearts I honestly don’t know. What I DO know is that it has been surpassed. Like nobody’s business. I could shut this thing down TODAY (not to worry, I won’t; just a thought experiment) and be completely thrilled with what it has achieved.

It is not news to me that knitters are generous and awesome. But it’s one thing to know that and to see it, and it’s quite another to be on the receiving end - or even to be the conduit to the real receiving end - and to experience the full blast of it.

I am not generally known for running short of words - you may have noticed this, yes? - but I have to tell you, I do NOT have the words for how this makes me feel. Thankful. Awed. Hugely moved. But those are just words, and they don’t begin to describe the emotional reality of this thing. The wonder.

“Thank you” is laughably inadequate.

So instead… let me tell you a little hurricane story. I have LOTS of them, and some of them are kind of funny, in a black humor sort of way. This one is not mine, though. It belongs to the previous generations of my family; it’s the hurricane story I grew up hearing all my life.

For most of the 1930s my grandparents had a summer house on Fire Island.

On the bright, sunny morning of September 21, 1938, my mother and uncle - aged 8 and 11, respectively - wandered down the beach past the bait shack. The little old man who ran the bait shack was tapping his nose and telling anyone who would listen “Big blow a-comin’ - I can smell it.” Nobody believed him.

A little later that day, my uncle was riding his bike on the boardwalk, and he fell and cut his chin. It was a nasty cut, and it needed stitches. This meant taking the ferry to the mainland and the nearest hospital. Since my grandmother was already packing up, getting ready to close the house for the season, she made the executive decision that the whole family might as well just load up and go.

So they piled onto the ferry.

Which later turned out to have been the last boat to leave the island before all hell broke loose.

By evening their house was gone, swept out to sea with many of its neighbors. Just gone.

To this day, the 1938 Hurricane remains one of the benchmarks for storm devastation - even to those of us who have seen and/or experienced the ravages of Katrina or Sandy, or any part of the fallout from same.

My uncle carried that scar on his chin to the end of his days, and no one in the family could ever forget what it stood for.

Just one of those freak pieces of dumb luck, you know? the kind of randomness that can determine whether or not the next generation will even exist.

Hurricanes. Life is weird.

And surviving is good.

And “thank you” still just does not even begin to cover it.

10 Responses to “The Utter Awesomeness of You”

  1. ZaftigWendy Says:

    “you’re welcome” is equally unsatisfactory.

    It made me feel good to be able to DO SOMETHING, even from all the way over here in Texas.

  2. Colleen Says:


  3. Carys Says:

    Oh, WOW, and congrats!

  4. Carys Says:

    (I think my comment got cut off: I can’t help wondering if the old man at the bait shopped survived; do you know?)

  5. Lynne in Florida Says:

    Knitters are awesome people, ya know? The only other community I know of that comes even close to having the same generosity of spirit is quilters, who are sorta kinfolk of knitters anyway. Some one person starts a pebble rolling in the snow, and suddenly it’s an avalanche, or one hell of a big snowball at least. Your pebble seems to be doing quite well! Go, Tsharks!

    Your family seems to have a general knack for surviving, starting at least with your g,granf,er. (wasn’t it?) The story of the ‘38 whirley does make for a great family heritage story. Gotta love it!

  6. ToniC Says:

    I can only try to imagine how bad it has been there. My nephew (in-law) was in CT & NY for about two weeks with a Duke Energy crew from IN. He said there was even a crew from Alaska staying in the same hotel, they flew in their trucks & equipment to help. Which goes to show how bad it’s been for all of the people still without power, heat, etc. I’m glad to help and glad to get the pattern. Thanks for the effort you’re making to provide help and give us a way to be sure our money goes where it is needed. Glad your mom’s family survived so long ago.

  7. Meg Caulmare Says:

    I love your Hurricane of ‘38 story. We have a family story, too, which I cherish. I agree wtih Wendy that “you’re welcome” is equally unsatisfactory, especially since I got this astounding pattern in exchange!

    Thank you for finding a superb on-the-ground way to move our donations. When you are going without services yourself, it’s even more heroic to go find a way to help everyone else. You probably saw the news this morning - another two weeks before Congress will sign a bill for extra aid to New York and New Jersey. The NJ Governor is right: this is why Americans hate Congress. They should live in those homes for the next two weeks, and see what it’s like.

    Can’t wait to check in and see how this progresses. I’m just curious. I wonder if the traffic will freeze Ravelry….

    Keep up the amazing work, and best of luck to you.

  8. rabyll Says:

    What a story! I’ve heard a lot about that storm, but never read such a personal and immediate account.

    I think you and your club members are pretty fantastic.

  9. CourtneyS Says:

    You are awesome, knitters are awesome and your current Tsock Club members are AWESOME for giving you permission to do this. They deserve a wholly inadequate, “Thank you,” too!

  10. Rebeccag Says:

    We were very tired
    We were very merry
    We had been back and forth
    All night on the ferry.

    And also:
    My candle burns at both ends; it will not last the night
    But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends, it gives a lovely light.

    I didn’t know anyone still remembered Edna St. Vincent Millay.

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