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My Recounting of Pagan Spirit Gathering, 2015

PSG 2015 – The Flood

Everyone’s pretty much written one of these, so I guess it’s my turn. You may remember my article from last year, which spanned nine parts and over 40,000 words. This year, the article is much, much shorter, so I won’t break it up into several pages. You might even be able to scan through it while you’re between calls at the office or scroll on your phone. But, I feel this is one of the most important articles I have ever written. Some of the content isn’t original – many others had pretty much the same thing to say – but writing it is important to me.


One of the things we can all agree on is a heavy dose of the Woulda Coulda Shouldas coming down the pipe. I really dislike Captain Hindsight and his posse, though I catch myself “thanking him” for his dedication and talent on occasion. This was an act of Nature that no one could have perfectly predicted. One of my favorite quotes I heard a few years ago is “Water Finds A Way”. Yes, yes it does. All I know is the week was cut short by a ridiculous amount of rain, I lost a bunch of stuff, and I go back to work in the morning feeling exhausted. I also know it could have been a lot worse. I could have been one of the folks who lost a vehicle. We could have lost lives or had our health significantly impacted. So I’ll take the best of what I can get and go with it.

Here’s my recounting, that while detailed, I still probably missed some stuff.

Saturday, June 13, 2015


(About how I was feeling the week before!!)

Since I was on the merchant early arrival list for noon on Saturday, my experience started the day before. I woke up at the buttcrack of dawn per usual, and our son Ryan, who also was coming this year, was scheduled to arrive here at home (by bus) around 8am. I took the opportunity to make a few final looks around for anything else I wanted to pack, get in a long shower and some final organizing. My back was (and is) still out of whack from a car accident I was thrown into last year, but I am also a bit of a Time Nazi, so I went ahead and started loading up the car.



 (Everything staged!)


(Most stuff in the car!)


(Made sure to leave Ryan something to do haha)


(And I even left him room to get in - comfortably.)

As you can see, I did a pretty decent job mostly by myself before Ryan arrived. (I spent hundreds of quarters on Tetris back when I was a big-haired mallrat!) All that was left to do, which I definitely needed his help, as well as from Ron (my husband), was to tie down the stuff on the back alley patio, then swing back to Ryan’s apartment to pick up the few things he had. I wanted to be on the road by 9:30am, and we were indeed, with 15 minutes to spare even!

Now I’m a cheap ass, so I wanted a full 2-1/2 hours to get there so I could avoid paying any tolls. Also, whenever I need to get someplace far, I like taking scenic routes. I figure the money I save in gas from going slower, it evens out with being on the road a little bit longer. Pretty much, since I had been to Stonehouse Farm (nee Park) every year they hosted PSG, I already had a general idea on how to get out there. So, I just followed my car’s compass: Keep it going west and south.

We arrived in the area right around noon, but Ryan and I were both hungry, and it was kind of rainy out, so we stopped in Leland to find a restaurant. There was indeed a restaurant right next door to the Casey General Store, but when we got out of the car, we realized the place looked like it had been closed for a very long time. A guy pumping gas told us to go to a bar down the street called Maddie’s, so that’s what we did.


 (Ryan grumpy waiting on his food.)


(Food that came fairly quick. And it was pretty good!)


(Nope. No leftovers!)

I will say, if you’re in the area, they do make some pretty good burgers, and they have a soup and salad bar. Nothing pretty like a chain place – most of it was in crock pots – but there was a certain charm that had me like the place. And yeah, the non-alcoholic mojito iced tea was pretty tasty! Granted, my stomach was grumpy with me later, as it really dislikes a lot of meat, but meh. That’s what vacation is for, right? I figured, it was the day before, Ryan was there, so I had some backup in case I couldn’t set up as quickly as I had liked.

When we arrived at the gates around 1pm, I made Ryan get out and ring the virgin bell. I could tell me was grumpy with me over it, but I didn’t care. I’m wicked like that. We found our merchant spot, which I got a double this year, and I started setting up. I was right between an older tree and where Hawkdancing was slotted, just like last year.  Judy and Nels are some of my favorite PSG people, so when I registered, I asked if I could be over there like last year, as long as they were okay with it, too.  

I had a solid game plan for setting up this year. I had two canopies – one about a year old, and one several years old, that I would set up side by side. The old one, it had lasted through some nasty storms with flying colors, so I figured if I put a large tarp over the two of them, then run the tarp, tightly, to the other side of my 24’ x 24’ space, over my SUV, the strength of everything would work off of each other and keep things dry and secure. You see last year, I had a single merchant slot (12’ x 24’), with the old canopy in front, with only a tarp between the new canopy and my old SUV, but with the legs of the canopies tied together. They held up fine, just some water pooling on the new tarp (an opened mini umbrella stuffed inside put a stop to that), but there were gaps where rain could come in, making me cold and miserable.

We unloaded the car, got the canopies up, and we draped the tarp over them, but that was about it. We then went into town to Aldi® and Walmart® for our shopping. The timing was again perfect, being that the only time it rained was while we were in the car nice and dry. Also, because I had been preparing myself all week with a conversion to eCigarettes (not to quit but for convenience), I didn’t even get wet when I “smoked” due to needing the window rolled down some. Everything was going great!

I had saved up almost $500 for the trip (gas, food, vendors, etc.), so I let Ryan pretty much pick out whatever he wanted to eat. When we got to Walmart®, he chipped in some cash for a black card table and four folding chairs, tiki torches and some other things. We were also looking for wood chips, cedar specifically, but none could be had. We went to a place nearby called Rural King® that had cypress mix mulch that promised bugs hated it – the point of the cedar – so we got two bags of that. And just as we started heading back, it rained again, but stopping as we arrived. Again – perfect timing!

At that point, we go to set up everything, including pushing Ryan to make sure his tent was up too, because I knew even more rain was predicted that night. While we were doing so, Ryan noticed the tree next to me had a wasp injecting eggs into it. Which then, that’s when we noticed that tree needed to come down, as there were lots of holes in it where the bark was missing. Seeing the warp though. That. That was freaky. So, I made sure to pull the tarp all the way over and make as secure a wall as possible, then continued to set up everything else. And just as his tent was fully pitched, the rain came. I’m glad I got him a cot to sleep on, because he got some water near the door right away. Not a lot, but enough to know there might be a problem that week. No big deal. At least he would be dry while he slept. Just mop it up with a towel.

We had a choice to either start dinner or set up my merch, and with the rain coming down more and more, I thought it made more sense to start dinner and putter around. After all, most people were not scheduled to arrive until 9am the next morning, so there was plenty of time for that. Fair enough.

Well, the rain started coming down harder, and my two canopies and a giant tarp idea wasn’t working out so well. Even with tying things down all over the place, the older canopy just wasn’t having it. The winds picked up, the ground was already pretty saturated, and I noticed that the older canopy seemed to be “walking”. Every time I turned around, the whole canopy was an inch further away from the road. I kept restaking the poles, hoping the rain would at least slow up enough. Ryan was getting frustrated, and a battle to save our mostly-constructed campsite was on.

Things slowed down around 11pm, and Ryan was getting really tired. I told him to go to sleep, and I would stay up. After all, I’m the one who runs on four-five hours a night (but will fall asleep anywhere, anytime once the Sandman hits me). One of the old canopy’s poles had bent, so I found a spare pole and duct taped it on there as a brace, hoping that would be enough. I shuffled around a bit more, making sure packaged food was in dry containers and such, plus tightened up the tarp a bit more.



 (Save the Earl Grey and Pop Tarts!)

At around 11:30pm, I said screw it too and went to sleep myself, which was a comfy bedspace made in the back of the car. I figured just like last year, having a guaranteed warm, dry place to sleep, with real bedding no less, was all I needed. At that point, I figured the worst that could happen is overnight, a few things would get wet, but everything important was in bins, so whatever. I unplugged the Christmas tree lights we had strung up and went to sleep.

I don’t know how much later, but I was awoken by beams of light piercing through the car window, which is when I heard the rain pounding again. I guess the Sandman really did hit me. It turned out that Guardians had come by and noticed my campsite had taken a turn for the worst. The old canopy had gone “walking” again, and everything was just about ready to come crashing down. So, they said the best course of action was to move everything to one side under the newer canopy/tarp/car setup and gently lay down the old side. Better to lose half than everything. I agreed, figuring I can play with it in the morning, so at least I could get a good night’s sleep. I gave them a carafe of sliced strawberries filled with Grey Goose®. I was planning to use it as a spike for lemonade since I’m not much of a drinker. After that, I slept. Hard.



 (This is the strawberry vodka.)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Opening Day of PSG, and I had a mess to clean up. I was probably up around 5:30-6am, and I spent it puttering around. I salvaged the bulk of the poles and redid the campsite setup. It took me a few hours to get that together, which absolutely exerted me. I then got in a shower, which was nice, comfortable temperature, and came back to make breakfast and start putting my merch out. I even got more of my kitchen together, and things were starting to really look put together.



 (This is what I woke up to. Oh well. Back to work.)

Remember that tree I mentioned about that was next to us? The one with the wasp and all the holes in it? Well, some folks came by, one by one, and told us to look up. That’s when we saw this:



 (People were calling this a Widow Maker. But if it killed me, wouldn't it be a widower maker?)

Yeah, so there’s that. I mentioned it to several PSG important-type people to see what could be done about it. Will they be able to get it out? Should I leave it? Will I have to tear down half of my site? The whole site? So much was in the air, I just stopped working until I knew what to do. It’s opening day anyway. No biggie if I don’t get my merch out today, right? That’s what I was thinking anyway.

About an hour or so later, PSG coordinators asked me to move across the street to the single slot. I was a little grumpy about that, losing a whole slot, but what was I going to do? I was also grumpy of course about tearing down and setting up a third time. My back was really starting to kill me, and Ryan was getting more and more frustrated as well. But y’know, I figured this would be the last time. I had plenty of poles left over from the old canopy, and I now had even more tarpage I could lay on the now very muddy ground. Everything got moved over with a bit of help, and Ryan just kept his tent in the same spot.

My new site was surrounded by poison ivy on either side, so I was glad I had that extra coverage. It kept us from getting rather uncomfortable. Thanks much to my new neighbors for pointing it out!! I was getting things together really nice when Ryan and I started getting hungry. In that time too, I had taken two more showers, because all of that setting up and tearing down was making me sweat like crazy, so pretty much, I spent most of Sunday in my silky black robe. (I think it creeped out Ryan a bit, but I was focused on a lot of other things.) Ryan had a double workshift at Safety/First Aid starting at 4pm, so I made sure he ate well before he went over there. I puttered around getting stuff taken care of.



 (This setup was actually pretty comfy-feeling!)

After my third shower, I finally decided to get dressed, since now the mosquitoes were coming out. Things were just about done, looking very good, so I just needed to start decorating my booth and bring things out. And then – more rain. I made sure everything was secure, and I said screw it to go hang out with Judy and Nels for a gin and tonic. (Judy knows how to make it for me to where I don’t really taste the gin but still plenty strong.) I was halfway through my cocktail when the rain started coming down in buckets. I helped them get their stuff tied down, then I ran back to my spot. And wouldn’t you know it? It all came down. More poles bent. Stakes pulled up. And, the canopy I had left, one of the legs was bent inward, so I knew it was just a matter of time before I had no canopy at all. Great. Just great.

When Ryan got back, he saw the aftermath, and he was pretty damned frustrated. We released the tarps to keep things dry and sat in the car with the heat on to dry off. I felt like a complete failure and totally defeated. I felt like I just couldn’t take much more of what I was being tested with. I don’t remember climbing in back and going to sleep, but obviously that’s what happened.

Monday, June 15, 2015

My workshift started at 6am at the front gate, and I chose it because I knew I’d be up. I got up, grabbed a t-shirt and some jammie bottoms, got in another shower, and then went back over to the front gate with my bathroom kit still in tow. (I didn’t have a towel on me, since one was wet and the other was used for sopping up water in Ryan’s tent.) I was about 15 minutes early, which was fine by me. A friend was there to work gate with me, which was fine. I have to say though, I’ll probably never do gate again; it was just way too boring for me. Not that the company was bad, but after a couple of hours, even I run out of things to say. I’m definitely more of a doer.

I had noticed the front parking lot was full of RVs, and I had learned “RV Land” was far too muddy for any type of camping, much less for heavy vehicles. With all the drama I’ve been through the past couple of days, I had wished I was camping out in a parking lot like they were. Sure, they don’t have any electrical hookups like they were expecting, but at least they were all sleeping in warm beds, they were out of any elements and were parked on high, flat concrete and gravel. I felt jealous, thinking I could get me some of that luxury if only I had a place to park one.

However, I’m glad I did, because a couple of other merchants came by and wanted to head into town to buy some supplies. They offered to have me come with, and I was totally down with that. I certainly didn’t want to spend $100 on a new canopy, but with the newer one having a bent pole (that I had bent out, natch), I knew I wasn’t going to have a canopy at all in a couple of days. So, after my shift ended, I had an hour to kill before we were allowed to head out. (I actually left a few minutes before I was officially signed out, as I was following along with the other person there. Relief crew came, a guy was sitting there with a clipboard, so the other person, who had done the shift before, said all was good. My bad!) I wandered around to say hi to a few people, see how they were holding up, helped out a couple of folks and got in some hot tea and a Pop Tart®

When 9am came, I was at the front gate waiting for the ride. Their car had back seats that folded down individually, so it was perfect for the space we would all need. Technically, PSG doesn’t want us to leave during the week, but I needed a canopy, and these ladies needed boots and such, so we as merchants were not going to fare well without a trip in. And yes, while we were gone for a couple of hours, it rained.

Needless to say, I missed Morning Meeting, which is one of my favorite things at PSG. But when I got back, I was so glad to have that new canopy. This time, I canned using the big tarp all together, and instead used it to cover even more muddy ground. I laid it beneath my plastic outdoor rug so mud and muddy water wouldn’t seep up as much and therefore help my feet stay dry. Plus, I laid down more all along the side and down in front at the merch canopy. (The new canopy was in the middle.) I put a gap between the two canopies, just anticipating I would need an umbrella like last year between canopies, and I went with my old standby – shower curtains – as walls. They’re nice and light! I didn’t quite have enough, so I used a pair of queen bed-sized tapestries as north-facing walls. I figured, wind around there (like here in Chicago) blows west to east and south to north, so that’s the least amount of protection from the elements I would need. Let those “walls” blow outward and away.

I finally woke up Ryan around 12:30 to help me with setup number four. We worked for a few hours, then I got in my second shower for the day. Notice a theme here? Yes, I like to be clean! When I was in the shower house where the flush toilets are also located, I saw the signs that the toilets were backed up and not functional. I rolled my eyes at that, because a couple of times last year, we had had the same problem. I really dislike portajohns and will walk across camp to use a flush toilet instead if I have an option. I just kept thinking this has got to be it. The worst is almost over, right? After this storm later tonight, we’ll be smooth sailing!


(This is the kitchen view from the fourth setup. The one that lasted!)

At around 4pm, I began zipping things up. I got several shower curtains up with paper clip binders and wooden clothes pins, plus a couple of queen-sized tapestries. About an hour or so later, the rain started coming down. Slowly at first. I had not gotten the memo that the Zodiac Potluck had been canceled, so when the sirens went off, I was in my camp kitchen happily preparing. (Cooking is a form of therapy for me!) I had never even heard sirens like that before, so for a while, I thought it was someone’s weird car alarm going off. But when the Guardians started shouting about evacuations, my jaw dropped. I had seen the text on my phone, but after all the storms we had dealt with so far that week, I honestly had brushed it off. And then, the rain came down in buckets. I was soaking wet within seconds, as if I had jumped in a lake fully dressed.

Guardians and Heralds were calling on all of us who could to help those who couldn’t. People who were camped by the pond needed to evacuate immediately. So, I ran toward Grandmother Willow to see where I could help. Mind you, I was very, very sore at this point, but whatever. I helped a couple people move things until they were set then moved on – just a little here and there as I could.

I got to some more people who were throwing stuff into a car. They had a screen canopy with a little boy inside who was genuinely terrified, and the mom in me kicked in. I asked where his mommy was, and he said she hadn’t come. Then I asked where his daddy was, and he had to go someplace. So I asked the nearest adult who was taking care of him. A lady was busy grabbing stuff, so I asked her if I could take him by my booth that was at much higher ground. I told her my name, repeatedly, told her my booth repeatedly, and showed her my wrist band with my registration number on it. She felt okay with that, so I focused on the boy.

I told him to get a toy, but he said they were all in the car. I saw a water bottle on a camp chair and grabbed it. I gave him a job: Keep the water bottle safe. No matter what, that water bottle was super important, and he needed to hang onto it and not lose it. I scooped him up (which kids are a lot heavier than I remember!), and started running back to my camp with his head buried in my chest.

I got about 100 feet when a Guardian rolled by and asked if I needed a ride. That kid was shaking like a leaf, so I happily took it. I told them where I was going, that the kid was not mine, was scared half to death, and he had to guard that water bottle. The passenger Guardian caught on to what I was doing and worked with that. They got called to the Camp Store and could only take me as far as the intersection. That’s cool – do what you need to. As I got out, the boy’s father ran up to us. I asked the boy if he knew who the man was, he said that was his daddy, and I was grateful to reunite the two. I told him the boy was super scared, and he seemed to understand.

I got back to my site and saw the “old” canopy (which was new last year) was pooling up bad on top, creating “bubbles” of water. So, I did the umbrella trick and pushed out the water that way. I was so glad all those shower curtain walls were up! A few disconnected from each other, as they were just held together with clothes pins, but that was no big deal. I discovered that what actually worked best was the tapestries. Surprised me! What I learned was while dry and closed, they were breathable, unlike the shower curtains (so no hot house effect). But when they closed and wet, they stayed flat (didn’t blow around much) and didn’t disconnect to whatever was pinned to them. Granted, leaning up against a wet tapestry will get you soaked, but they worked like a champ through all of that! So from that point on, I have decided part of my 51 week supply run was to buy many more tapestries. They’re pretty, and they did an excellent job! (I’m actually snooping around for ones right now of similar size – landscape and big enough to cover a queen-sized bed: ~88 x 104 dimensions).

 (Video above of the road turned river right in front of me.)

I spent the rest of the night, until around midnight or so, checking back on that older canopy and pushing out rain while visiting others. I was really, really, really sore, but I was also getting depressed. I knew I needed some companionship, so I checked on my friends across the way. Now some people know that I have a habit of making extremely inappropriate jokes at the worst times. So when the worst of the rain died down, I made a crack: “Guess there’s no potluck, huh? Hur hur hur.” One of the folks over there said absolutely there was potluck happening, and people were working on that right now!

I got so excited! I ran back to my site and grabbed the dish I had made and brought it over. One family made shredded beef tacos. Another made sweet potato taquitos. Another made baklava. And more and more dishes just kept coming. I fixed a plate for Ryan, and I sat and ate with everyone else – checking back on my spot periodically. We also handed out food to people who were out there still helping people evacuate, people pushing cars and so on. That was a crazy night for sure.

When the rain finally stopped enough for me to feel safe enough to lie down around 11pm, a friend was texting me about everything that was going on. As I was texting back, I heard some crackling and thought someone was shooting off fireworks. Very soon after, I heard walkie-talkies and Guardians talking about a tree falling down on a camper! My jaw dropped and I texted my friend about it, too. I then started hearing about people whose cars were trapped and now drowned in the newly formed lake (since named Lake Keys), we had seen rising behind us during our potluck and food hand-out. Even though I was exhausted, and my feet were soaking wet down to the bone, wrapped up in several blankets, I prayed for the best outcome that no one was hurt. Once again, I do not remember going to sleep.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I don’t think I’ve ever had a sad morning at PSG, but on this day, most everyone was pretty down. I walked over to the shower house for the morning coffee meet, and found at least a dozen people already there. That’s unusual; usually hardly anyone is there at 6am, much less before. The vibe was a sad, anxious one, with people eager to compare notes and share what they have heard. Lots of rumors were going about. Some were saying PSG was going to cancel. Others were talking about wanting refunds. Branches, like the one I had over my head, had indeed crashed through peoples’ campsites. Some people said their neighbors did more than just evacuate to higher ground and went to a nearby hotel all together. And yes, people had already gotten wind that 10am morning meeting was mandatory.

I had a couple cups of tea, got in an opportunity to talk to some of my favorite PSG people, and I even ran into the little boy’s father from the night before. I joked with him that I wasn’t in the habit of snatching up people’s children, but my heart compelled me to help him feel safe. In hindsight, I could have brought him to where I was sitting at the pavilion, as the coordinator for the tweens had opened up shop to keep the kids safe. People have been talking about all the other heroes of the night such as the Guardians, the executive coordinators and the car pushers, but the foresight to keep the kids safe is spectacular. Think about it: If a bunch of kids get scared in a crisis and start running off to find their caregivers, then the emergency work has to be shifted to find missing children. Needless to say, a huge hat’s off to Shannon H.!

No shower was going to happen that day, as the sewage system backed up through the toilets. I suppose it’s a good thing then I had gotten mine while the getting was good. I went back to my campsite to access the damage, and I was very impressed Ver 4.0 held its own. I was so very grateful for that! Even the food in the cooler was still fresh, including the eggs and milk Ryan wanted me to purchase. Lots of little blessings for sure. I was doing a dollar tally loss in my head, and I just kept saying to myself it’s just stuff. I didn’t lose my car. I didn’t lose my place to sleep. I didn’t lose my merch that I spent hours on. And I certainly didn’t lose my health or life. Everything else? Whatever.

With that going through my head, realizing the loss so many others have suffered, the stick some folks say I have wedged up my butt loosened. I was able to have whole conversations with completely nude people – something that NEVER happened before, as I usually avert my eyes and walk away. I was absolutely filthy but had more important things to worry about than dirt under my fingernails. My hair wasn’t perfectly smoothed. I had no makeup on – not even eyeliner – and I hadn’t even thought about it. And soon, it was going to be meeting time.

Just prior to 10am, I woke up Ryan and let him know the meeting was mandatory attendance. Now usually at morning meeting, there’s a good amount of people there, but not that day. It was packed several people deep – all the way to the tree line. Usually too, the bonfire dancing slows down just a touch after 10am, but at 10:20, it was still going strong, so I knew then they were going to cancel PSG. That dancing was the last hoorah. They were letting people have a little bit of fun before the bad news. And it was. Arthur did NOT say “Good morning, PSG!” That too was a big hint.

During that time, Ryan and I both received text messages from his landlord/my best client that his apartment had flooded along with numerous other tenants across the city. That really topped things off. I explained to him we were pretty much stuck here and couldn’t get back into the city, so he said he would have maintenance stop by to mop up and put down fans. Thank goodness for good landlords!

Now before the other bad news announced at the meeting, Selena, Bob, Sharon and everyone else from Circle, thanked everyone for jumping in and helping. We were reminded that the nearby town of Paw Paw is three times bigger and would have called the police, fire department and National Guard to help, but we had done it all ourselves. That was certainly encouraging about the Spirit part of PSG. We really do care about each other, even if we don’t necessarily get along with or even like everyone else. I’ve seen so-called functional families not work together as well. So that says something for sure.

They then announced the plan for everyone to leave. Phase I people were those immediately affected, which were the people in Quieter Camp and Rainbow Camp (plus immediately surrounding). Phase II people would be everyone else, and that we should listen for any further notice. People were being asked to volunteer more. Ryan and I got the memo and left, but many others stayed for the early closing ritual. I could have stayed, but honestly, I was too damned tired.

Ryan put himself to work and showed up to volunteer. I walked about and helped people with light packing (we were both Phase II people, obviously). I rested when I needed to, which was becoming more and more common, and for the most part, I slowly started packing up my gear. We never did get called to leave that day, and we found out about a gathering at the pavilion later that night for all those still there.

Another potluck happened across the road, and I stopped by with four contributions – a chicken dish, a fish dish, a homemade veggie tray, good crackers, salsa and good tortilla chips. I even brought over a bottle of mead. I noticed another table was needed, so I brought that over too, along with a stack of paper plates and silverware. I set out my offerings, fixed myself a plate and went back across the road to eat.

I then asked my son to swing by and offer up the 2nd raffle prize I was holding back for later in the week – a kids’ bow and arrow set. He said someone took it, so I was glad for that. About an hour later, we came by with a blender pitcher of margaritas and a jar of amaretto-soaked cherries. Most people weren’t interested, so I left with Ryan to go mingle at the party. We hung out for a while, then we went back to camp after we finished off the margaritas. He went to bed, I stayed up for a while to pack a little more.

After the potluck party left, I went back to reclaim my table, and I talked to a couple people. They were packing up too, so I helped them a bit with their stuff. The Sandman started stalking, so I left back to camp and get some sleep. I chat up the younger kid from next door for a while, then climbed into my warm bed in back of the car. (I’ll tell ya, after a second year of doing this, I don’t ever want to sleep in a tent again. The peace of mind of a guaranteed warm, dry, pebble-free, bug-free and perfectly flat and even bed is a requirement for me now.) I remember that night, because I was hoping to at least see stars through the window, knowing it was my last night, as stars are something I don’t have back here in Chicago. Nope. Just night clouds. That was pretty disappointing.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

I woke up pretty early as usual, and I got right to work tearing down everything else. At this point, I felt as sore as I had a couple weeks after the car sandwich wreck I was in last summer – right about where I was able to tie my shoes again. I kept going, taking breaks every time it rained (again), and then getting back out there. I woke Ryan only when I had the bare amount to do. The mud was like quicksand, and everywhere around me was the smell of dead fish. I had since learned of the sewage backing up and mixing in with the pond and everything else, and with the smell, I was certain I was walking around in raw sewage. It’s been a few days now, and I don’t feel sick, so hopefully it stays that way.

With that, I merely threw things away I normally would have attempted to keep. I felt bad of course, but my car is also the same vehicle I transport clients and customers. If any of them were to get sick, much less me or Ryan, I couldn’t live with myself. So yep, even the couple of smaller tarps that hadn’t torn, I threw them away, too.

Around 10am, we were told we were next in queue to leave, and at around 11am, we had done so. My entire site was checked for trash, and the only things I left were the big tarps I was asked to leave by trash collectors. We actually were told to leave everything, but that would have been rather shitty of us, so we did the bulk of dragging stuff to the dumpsters.

When we approached the gate to leave, the gate person checked our wristbands to read off our numbers and check us out for the final time. I thought it was a pretty good idea, because if any numbers were left, they knew who to go looking for. That was the only good part of leaving. The rest – even though I had the most miserable PSG ever, I was still sad to go.

Normally I’m pretty cheap and hate paying tolls, but the smell from the back seat was already unbearable, so I happily took I-88 to I-290 until I got to Austin and drove through the city a bit to drop off Ryan first. Remember, his apartment had flooded, so I needed to get him in there as soon as possible to access the damage. His work computer was wet, as were all of his area rugs, the bottom drawer of his dresser and a few other things. The smell was awful, but at least the landlord had maintenance mop things up and plug in a couple of fans. We threw away the rugs, opened some windows, plugged in the box fan we brought back and had Ryan stay the night with us.

When we got settled, I started unpacking things and getting them put away. We're rather tidy people, and some order over complete chaos was what I badly needed. Because I hadn't even opened my bin of merch, I hadn't seen my beloved Eddie who has a prominent place on my altar - among other things - but at least he was safe from rain and mud.



 (Unfortunately for me, he was pretty damned pissed about it.)

And I really needed some time not just with my husband, but with our furbaby.



(Who, as you can see, was cheerfully giving Mommy a much-needed back kneading.)

To give you an idea of how bad things were, Bob Paxton from Circle shaded in the PSG map to show all of the flooded areas (below). The pink was all under water at one point, everything else was ankle- to knee-deep in mud that smelled like rotting fish, and the green part - that became an island.



(And don't forget, there were about 900-1000 people present in all of this.)

Final Thoughts

Really, there isn't much more to be said what 900-1000 other people haven't. I am fortunate I have a good-paying job to where this left me grumpy but somewhat indifferent. I didn't cry like many others did when the announcement came. As things started to become unusable, I cared less and less about the financial loss - especially when people had lost their vehicles and campers due to fallen trees and branches as well as massive amounts of water and mud. And, Ron said he was going to make it up to me and take me to the Dells after Labor Day - in a nice hotel room - to pet the deer, eat Paul Bunyan's donuts, buy a bunch of cheap crap and ride in a horse-drawn carriage. We'll skip the water parks and riding the ducks!

I will say many, many heroes were made. Or rather, they already existed, but we had just come to know some of them. Peoples' true natures come out in a crisis. People become stronger, weaker or stay the same, and more giving, more selfish or again, nothing. I'm glad to have received an opportunity to see these sides of people. And yeah, I'll see ya all next year.

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Lori Dake is a life-long native several generations back, a mom to an adult son and has been together with her husband over twenty years. She is a real estate broker primarily serving the North Side and has also worked as a paralegal for several years. Sometimes, she’s a hardcore fashionista, and sometimes a concert shirt and jeans are more her style. Hobbies include painting while listening to 80’s metal, writing, participating in various forms of philanthropy and creating fabulous meals on a budget.


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