As I sit in front of the TV watching Irma gain strength, I wonder… this the storm that will devastate Florida? Should we evacuate? Stay? What can I do to help keep Mr B and my furbabies safe? If you live in any of the coastal states, you probably already have your hurricane emergency kit ready, or are getting one ready now if you live in Florida. After watching both Katrina and Harvey decimate Louisiana and Texas, I’m not sure having extra batteries and water is enough. Prayers are needed, friends, big prayers.

So I asked myself.….if I were told to get out NOW and could only bring one bag with me, what would be in that bag? How about if I had a few hours and could pack my car? What would I take? What is really important to me??

Mr B and my dogs go without mention, but I mention them anyway, if only to say,  there is nothing else worth saving.  So I could leave my home behind me and leave with them and feel fortunate. But after the initial happy-to-be-alive thoughts filter through my mind and into my heart…..what then? Would I miss my things? Which things? And that led to my What If List, the list of things important enough to be considered if I were to evacuate and could take the car.

Would I take my toy box? The one that’s as old as I am? The one that my son also used as a young boy? How about my Grandmother’s cedar chest, her dishes? My mother’s clock? Mr B’s baby shoes? What about my Grandmother’s Christmas angel?

This little toy box has been with me as long as I can remember, would it make the cut?


So, what made the cut???

My Grandmother’s Christmas Angel. She must go with me

The statue that my Grandpa gave my Grams on one of their anniversaries. The shaving mug and brush that belonged to my Gramps. Grams kept it and now I do too, to honor the tall, thin man who helped raise me. The hobnail glass bowls that belonged to my Grams, the ones that hold small shells and acorns throughout the change of seasons. The jewelry that Mr B and my kids have purchased for me over the years. The Christmas angel that graced every tree I can remember until I married.



My Grandfather’s shaving mug and brush, a long held treasure

A few photographs of my ancestors. Those tintypes are precious to me. They tell my story. Some of my oldest son’s baby photos and early pictures of my daughter, Darby, and second son, Scott and my two granddaughters, Shelby and Shayla before the age of digital. And yes, Mr B’s baby shoes.


One of the McCormicks from Danville, Illinois, and one of only two tintypes that survived my families moves over the years

An autographed copy of a John Sanford book. My autographed CD by Home Free, and if there’s room, my hardbacks by Diana Gabaldon. Two glass jars from an Indiana bottling company and my grain and feed sacks which can be folded up and not take up space. They’ll be the first to be jettisoned however.

My mother’s clock? Would there be room to squeeze it in?


The cedar chest. It must go, bonus…it can hold most of the other treasured things I’ll take

These things would be packed in the cedar chest. There won’t be room for my toy box unless we take both cars. I will miss that toy box but I have a photo of myself standing beside it when I was about 3, complete with the world’s worst hairdo.

Me and the beloved toy box. My hair……sigh

What about Mr B? What would be on his list? His Grandfather’s violin? The photo of that Grandfather’s firehouse? His guitar? His golf clubs? I need to ask, for I truly don’t know if there is anything he would want to take with us. He doesn’t have the same emotional attachment to things that I do, I’m betting he’ll say; besides me, and maybe the dogs, there isn’t anything else worth taking.

Mr B’s Grandfather’s violin, would he think it important enough to take?

So I look at my list and realize, there isn’t much there. After a life of almost 70 years, I can pack what’s most important in my car. It’s was an AHA moment.  I realize  (and if I were brutally honest with myself, I’ve always known) that all this stuff I’ve acquired….. it’s just stuff, mostly unimportant and replaceable. Nothing is more important than the lives of those I love. I’ll make room in the car for those people. Toy box and cedar chest be damned.

I hope, with all of my heart, that Irma passes us by. And fizzles out harmlessly so that no one else must decide what goes in that one bag, or what will fit in  the back of the car, that no animals are left behind, that no families are lost. That no lives are taken by Mother Nature. The earth will renew itself given time. But the loss of loved ones? There’s no coming back from that.

In the meantime, we have batteries and water, important papers in ziplock bags, and oil lamps to light our home when the power goes out. The power always goes out. In the heat and humidity, no fans, no a/c, nothing but me and a paper fan on a stick. I’m ready. Mr B answered when asked; “Nothing except you and the dogs.” “There’s not one thing in the house that cannot be replaced, except you.” Gotta love that man.

 I have everything I need. Mr B right here, beside me, my doggies curled up in my lap……in my sanctuary. Stay safe, wherever you are. Thoughts are with everyone in Montana and California, in Texas and Louisiana, and all those who are certainly in Irma’s path.

  • Roxanne says:

    You’ve got the right idea here. Amazing how your perspective can change when faced with the need to decide. Hope you won’t have to though 🙂 Last November when faced with forest fires I came to the conclusion all I really wanted to get out with was Mr C and the kitties. We were blessed with rain that night and didn’t have to get out at all 🙂 Hope you are as blessed this weekend – with a lack of wind and rain!

    • Crystal says:

      Roxanne, I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to reply, we’ve been cleaning up every day since we got home. You know by now we evacuated. I’m thankful you didn’t need to leave your home and all is well with you and Mr C….and the kitties!

  • Jane says:

    I loved this post. I think it is a struggle for those of us who love old and vintage things to balance “enjoying” vs “needing” them. I believe you have the perfect balance because all the things you listed were treasured family things. Sadly, I was not fortunate to get any of my grandmother’s things. I would have treasured an apron from each of them, or maybe the vintage red stool I sat on, or the white agate pots my grandmother made chicken soup in for me. Nothing valuable except to me. I have a house full of things I’ve collected that make me feel happy, but I too would only “need” my family, pets, photos, and a couple family treasures that remind me of “us”. I pray the storm somehow weakens or turns out to sea. God Bless and thank you for the post

    • Crystal says:

      Jane, I’ve been so busy with the cleanup after we evacuated that this is the first minute I actually sat down to respond to comments. Your memories…..well….they touched me. I’m sorry you didn’t get your Grandmothers’ physical things, but but from your comment, you have vivid memories. Write those stories down,they’re touching, and if you have photos of them or any of the thing you mentioned, that’s a bonus. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and for commenting. It means a lot. Truly.

  • John says:

    It’s good for ALL of us (even those of us not in harm’s way) to assess and evaluate what’s most important! Be safe Chris and be sure to let us know you are all okay.

    • Crystal says:

      Thank you, John. I’m sure you kept up with our mad dash from Irma. And know that we made it home. Sorry for the delay in responding. We have been working almost non-stop to get the yard and exterior of the house cleaned up…..and we didn’t have real damage. Can’t imagine what the folks south of us are dealing with.

  • chris zima says:

    Stay safe sweetheart – im originally from Florida and know your pain (Hurricane Andrew survivor -later years Frances and Jean). PRAYERS are constant oxoxo

    • Crystal says:

      Thank you so much Chris! I was here for Andrew too but he never came close to us, then Frances and Jean and of course, Charlie. eegads! Why do we stay?? Thanks for the kind thoughts, we’re back home now and the clean-up continues.

  • Azy says:

    😮 I have a plastic hanging folder file that I keep all my paperwork in, some emergency cash, and flat keepsakes. Everytime the fire alarm in my apartment building goes off, I grab that and take it down with me. It helps me realize everything else is just…stuff.

    Though given more time to prepare, I would grab my photo albums, shadowboxes, and acquired art.

    Stay safe and I hope Irma passes you by 😓

    • Crystal says:

      That’s a great idea! I learned a lot from Irma. Hope I never have to go through that again. I have to say, that doing this post actually save lots of time when it came to loading the car with the hour Mr B gave me for “stuff.” Yes, it is just stuff…….but it’s OUR stuff and some can never be replaced. Photographs are some of the most most precious of stuff

  • Bev murray says:

    Oh Chris that was beautifully written (as always ). I’m in tears here writing this . My cousin and her loved ones also live in Florida and yesterday she was getting the boards ready for over her windows and half draining the pool ready for the worst she says there is no water anywhere but hopefully she has enough , I can’t believe the things that have to be done to prepare for a hurricane it must be terrifying knowing what could happen if it doesn’t turn and miss you out !
    Now back on to your list firstly let me say the things you mentioned are absolutely beautiful both in looks and why you have them and I urge you to wrap the smaller items in water proof wrapping and pack them in the trunk then wrap the trunk and toy box in a water proof cover so if you need to leave quickly hopefully they will stay safe until you can come back home.

    Although I live in England and storms are nowhere near like you experience, but having said that some parts do get flooded and people do lose their homes and businesses but you got me thinking what would my list be ? And you know what Chris it would be the photos all the photos nothing else . I want my son and daughter and their families and us all in the same house ( which would be possible) but everything else I’m not bothered about it can all be replaced and at the end of the storm when all is said and done all your list will be for ever in your memory and no storm can take that from you xx

    • Crystal says:

      Bev, thank you and those are wise words. I’m truly glad that my post made anyone stop and think about “stuff.” What’s important. Writing it actually helped immensely when we made the last minute decision to run from Irma. I already had most of my things wrapped, and wrapped again but deciding what to grab and load into the car was a lot quicker because I’d already thought it out. You are absolutely right. Preparing for the unknown is the worst.

  • Beachy says:

    This is Beautiful.
    The only thing besides Layla ( my furson) and some essentials, I will take the picture on wood of the last supper that hung in my childhood home, in the kitchen . I pray you, the colonel, and your fursons stay warm, safe and together. I pray for all of Florida while still praying for Texas, Louisiana and the rest of our country. If you believe in a higher power, and for me it’s God~ start talking to whomever it is, because I believe he’s sending all of us a huge message. I love you my friend!

    Beachy and Layla

    • Crystal says:

      Thank you Beachy, from the bottom of my heart. I hope you have prepared to the best of your ability and stay safe with your precious Miss Layla. Leave if you can, but if you cannot, know that I am….an will be thinking of you. I love you too!

  • christiann erkel says:

    Stay safe, in my prayers and thoughts…

  • Linda Mains says:

    This was a really beautiful entry, Chris. It made me cry, but more importantly, it made me think. I’m so guilty of holding onto ‘things’ too tightly, even though I know in my heart they aren’t important. Not really. I’m sending love and light and prayers your way just as hard as I can. You’ve weathered so much, my friend. This, to, will pass. ❤️

    • Crystal says:

      aww Linda, my cyber friend. Your words touched me. I’m so grateful to have your support and your thoughts and prayers. While we wait, I’m also praying for all those already hurt. There are unfortunately far too many. This is certainly been a hard time for lots of folks. Love and light to you, my friend.

  • Dianne says:

    Your heart is in the right place my friend. Be safe. xoxoxo

  • Christina Forsythe says:

    Stay safe…praying for you!

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Wife, Mother and Grandmother, lover of junking and vintage stuff, photography, music, books, and critters. I heart Hersheys, Barqs Rootbeer and Keds. Join me as I create my own suburban sanctuary and help you create one too.

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