Post Hurricane Irma Check-In

Our pool cage - basically all the screen waist high and up was gone.

Our pool cage – basically all the screen waist high and up was gone.

Things are starting to get back to normal in the PoP household after Irma blew (and boy did she blow!*) through our little town.

* According to neighbors who know someone in the neighborhood who had a nice weather station – before Irma blew the weather station off the house (hence the ‘had’ in the previous clause), the weather station clocked maximum wind gusts in the upper 140’s mph. That’s fast. Faster than Mr PoP has ever taken his NSX, that’s for darned sure.

It’s a rarer sight now to see convoys of electrical bucket trucks roaming around town, and it’s been at least five days since I had the urge to follow said electrical bucket trucks around screaming, “You’re going the wrong way; my house is this way!!!”

I don’t know how they are going to get there, but I hope every last one of these trucks finds their way to Puerto Rico as the Puerto Ricans start to pull themselves out from under the mess that was back-to-back Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

At Our House

Continue reading Post Hurricane Irma Check-In

Happy Friday – Happy Electricity!

Our house was without power for 11 days, but got it back Wednesday night.  The relief was huge.  Even Kitty PoP seems more energetic and less lethargic with a little bit of A/C.  =)

More to come probably next week on where we stand after Irma rolled through our little town, but it has been a heck of a ride and it’ll take us at least a few weekends of work around the house before we’re recovered here.

And our hearts are going out to everyone in Puerto Rico right now.  They are going to have a very long recovery from being hit by Irma and Maria basically back to back.

What are you happy about this Friday?

Irma; A Hurricane Saga in 3 parts

Part 1 – The Evacuation

The whole thing began late Labor Day weekend. I had been having a wonderfully productive labor day weekend, working on my latest woodworking project around the house and knocking out some long-overdue weeding. It was one of those killer weekends where I felt like I was in amazing GSD mode and was knocking items off the “to do” list.  But… being so busy I hadn’t spent much time reviewing the NHC forecasts (which I typically try and check every day or two during hurricane season just to keep an eye on them). By the time I did check them late in the day on Labor Day Monday, it looked like Hurricane Irma could be something that Mr PoP and I would need to act on.

When we went for our nightly walk a little bit later, I told Mr PoP about my concerns and he said he’d look at the forecast when we got home too. After doing that, he agreed that we should start making some plans.

We had 3 things going for us at that time:

  1. We already had flight tickets booked to leave town on Friday to visit friends and attend a family wedding in Brooklyn.
  2. Thanks to all my cabinet building we had a decent amount of plywood and materials for boarding up the house. Ironically I had thought getting rid of some of that would be added to my labor day “to do” list but it hadn’t quite made the list.
  3. On Monday evening, time was on our side-Irma wasn’t due to hit until late Saturday

So we had a game plan. Board up the house as best as possible, get on our flight on Friday morning and try to enjoy ourselves for the weekend.

On Tuesday morning I told this to my boss at work and let him know that I would probably not be working most of Thursday to make sure I took care of our house. I may have also had a mini breakdown at the office because this storm coincided with the departure of my friend at work leaving on a 6 week vacation and the start of my covering for him as the designated “IT backup and recovery” person for our little office location. So my responsibilities at the office were increasing dramatically as there was a freaking category 5 hurricane potentially headed our way.  I feel like the amount of stress I felt in that moment was appropriate and I knew already it was going to be a crazy week even with our game plan already in place at home.

As Mike Tyson says, “Everybody has a plan until we they get punched in the mouth.” Although we never really got punched in the mouth, our hurricane plans began to change almost immediately. Mr. PoP’s parents flight to the wedding in Brooklyn got canceled and Mr. PoP stayed behind to make sure that they caught a later flight out.

Reminder for future evacuations... being fed a constant supply of amazing food helps.

Reminder for future evacuations… being fed a constant supply of amazing food helps.

I flew Friday by myself – not sure if Mr PoP was going to make it out since so many flights were being canceled. The next 18 hours of being separated from Mr PoP and knowing he was still down there were awful. Luckily I was with amazing friends in Brooklyn. Lia just kept trying to feed me the most wonderful food you can imagine and George is one of the most even keeled people that I have ever met in my entire life. I would say something like, “If we still have a house after this, you guys have to visit again sometime soon to see everything we’ve done to the place since your last visit (4 years ago)”, and somehow they would just expertly deflect the conversation, letting me feel the feels but helping to keep them from dragging me down completely.

After hours on the phone with Delta Airlines, Mr PoP, Kitty PoP and his parents caught the last flight out from our town on Saturday AM and after that my emotions changed again. Once they were all safe, I REALLY didn’t care what happened to our properties or our things. At that point it was all just “stuff” that was insured, and it started becoming a strange “what if” sort of game in my head.

If we have to rebuild, do we do it on stilts and make the bottom a garage/woodshop?  

What if we don’t want to rebuild now, can we take some time to sit on that decision and travel a bit?  Maybe buy an RV?  (For some reason this RV plan kept coming up through my head all weekend although I have never been an RV proponent in my life.)  

On my way to greet Mr PoP, Kitty PoP (his first flight!), and his parents after their flight arrival, I was texting another friend and was telling him that we were all safe and that I really didn’t care about the rest. This was his text back:


I literally LOL-ed standing on the subway platform.

It was true. At that point, it was all just stuff. We were insured, and we have resources. Sure it might be inconvenient, but none of this was going to break us, and in fact might present a very interesting set of choices.

Part 2 – Schroedinger’s House

I tried not to look at the forecasts too much after that point, but let’s be real. That meant I was only looking at it 50% of the time instead of the 100% of the time that I really wanted to be looking at it. And it sucked because they kept getting worse and worse for our town. By Sunday AM (when the hurricane hit the Keys), NOAA was saying there was a 10% chance that there would be 6 feet of water above ground level pretty much across our entire neighborhood. 10% chance isn’t a guarantee of that kind of flooding, but it’s definitely in the realm of possibility. And 6ft of water isn’t nothing. When it was just 3 ft, our friend Lia very awesomely said, “Your beautiful counters will probably make it!” But at 6 ft… well, the counters probably wouldn’t make it. Nor would pretty much anything else.

The wedding on Sunday was beautiful, but making smalltalk with the the other guests was odd. It was just weird to be in celebration mode in the exact moment that a Category 4  hurricane was hitting our house a couple thousand miles away.

We were at a table with relatives from the other side of the family that we didn’t really know, and, of course, the “where do you live?” question came up.


“Oh, I hope you’re not going to be impacted by Irma”

“We are. It’s hitting our house right now.”

“… Is everything going to be okay?”

“Who knows!  We are calling our home “Shroedinger’s House” at this point. Maybe it’s still a house, and maybe it a pile of wood!”

Then there was an awkward pause and they would change the subject. All in all, I think we were in good spirits, the corny 80’s pop music was perfect, the wedding was beautiful and we were so happy for the bride and groom.

But by Monday morning, it became clear that the surge and flooding hadn’t materialized for our neighborhood. We still didn’t have word on any wind damage, but at least the flooding hadn’t happened.  We had partial relief.

IMG_7877By Monday afternoon, a few pics came in from neighbors from the street along with word that no one on the street had experienced “major” damage. But our house wasn’t in any of the 3 snapshots we saw, and what the heck does “major” consist of anyway…?!?  Especially when we could definitely see trees downed all over the street and based on the way they fell, our giant tree (50 ft tall and wide live oak tree) would have likely fallen onto the house.

When we saw our neighborhood gas station in a national news outlet without a roof over the pumps, was that “major” damage?  Or just “some” damage?   After all, the main building was still standing and looked ok.

I was starting to feel better, but not 100%. But by a few hours after that we got word from Mr PoP’s brother who had stayed down there on the damage to our house.  His first glance is that we lost 1 (of 28) solar panels (and probably have some roof damage where it was pulled off) and also lost a post from the screened pool cage, but otherwise he couldn’t see any damage.  Fabulous news – and a credit to Mr PoP for boarding the house up so well.

Then word came in from one of our renters that evacuated. Looks like a leak – which we will see if we can get covered under warranty since that roof is only ~2 years old. A tree also toppled in the front and is laying across one of the driveways – this tree might have roots extending to the leach field for the septic so we will take a look and make sure the leach field doesn’t need any repairs too. Their whole street also looks like a lake, as well, but the water never made it anywhere close to the house.

So 2 properties, still habitable.  A-freaking-mazing.  

Part 3 – You Can’t Go Home Again

At least not as quickly as we’d like.

1 week (168 hours) after Mr PoP and I talked about the hurricane on our nightly walk, we sat in our friends’ living room – with a tentative plan in place to get back.  It seemed like this was going to be at least a little messy, but way better than it could have been.

We started the journey back Wednesday AM with a flight to Atlanta.  There, we had a reservation for an SUV (and plan to drive around gathering what supplies we could find here – we scored a generator that had literally just been returned at Home Depot and the last small window AC unit!).

The power is still out on our street, and on Wednesday the roads from Atlanta to all points in South Florida were packed with cars with gas still a bit scarce even in the northern parts of the state.  Those factors, combined with the possibility that I-75, the main artery from Atlanta into FL, was potentially going to get closed due to the Santa Fe River flooding meant we stayed here in Atlanta for a night.  Luckily, that meant more wonderful food with friends – and a Pub Trivia Night!  It was way more fun than racing a potentially flooding river when gas is still such a precious resource.

The roads are clear now, and they’re saying the risk of flooding closing the bridge has passed, so by the time you read this post we should be almost home.  Fingers crossed we get power back sooner than later – right now the estimate for us is 9/22 (that’s still a week out for those keeping track at home!), though others that have been told the same have power back already so we’re really hopeful.

The goal is to get the house cleaned up this weekend (it’s a mess inside from all the crazy packing), and then start getting back to regular life and our J-O-B-S on Monday.

We will probably write more about this later – but if you don’t hear from us for a little bit, we are safe and probably busy as hell cleaning up and might not have power or internet access for a bit.

So hugs to everyone – and we hope everyone else came through safe and sound with possessions relatively unscathed as well.



Happy Friday – Happy Cabinetry!








PoP Balance Sheet – August 2017

Welcome to our August 2017 Balance Sheet!

We use the structure of a monthly income statement and balance sheet in tandem to make sure we are keeping our expenses low and planting our pennies wisely. If you’re not already tracking your finances using these two methods, go to and get started today! If you have any questions about how we do this just post a comment and we’ll be sure to help!

The S&P moved mostly sideways from the beginning to the end of the month in August. And we didn’t have omniscience necessary to time our investments to correspond with the dip in the middle of the month. However, we did have a fair amount that we rolled into taxable investments at the end of the month, so we still ended up with a decent increase in our net worth for the month.

But on to the numbers for August:

  • Our total assets up $17.6K
  • Our total liabilities went up by $0.4K (we paid the cc balance right after this snapshot, oh well!) 
  • Net worth went up by $29.2K 
  • Total net worth as of the end of August is $1,472.3K, which represents a 1.18% increase for the month

For the details…

Continue reading PoP Balance Sheet – August 2017