Great Auntie Irma–Who Invited You?

Dara LevanBlog17 Comments

Palm trees are lurching and leaning as their strong, thick roots keep them alive. Debris is flying past my window and rain is slamming against the glass like torrential tears. The wind is increasing—I hear banging, knocking, and other sounds that are foreign and frightening. It’s ironic that just last Sunday I posted about “Houston, Harvey and Heroes.” And now I am sharing what is transpiring in my own hometown.

I am blessed that we still have power. I am grateful for our old, but rock solid home. I am with my husband, my children, my dogs and thank goodness we are safe. The tornado alerts admittedly jarred us a bit. But we are ok. We have a room in which to take cover when necessary. (We already put necessary supplies like mattresses, flashlights, and of course, food in there.)

As a native Floridian, I’ve lived through many hurricanes and tornados. I’ve never written in the middle of one! I contemplated telling you about experiences of surviving those past storms. But instead? I sense we could all use a diversion from the intense uncertainty and unsettling energy of Hurricane Irma. Whether you’re watching the media hype or if you’re here with me in South Florida, each of you are in my thoughts and in my heart.

So let’s start with her name. Irma. I-R-M-A Seriously? No offense to any readers, but c’mon. I keep visualizing a 97-year-old irritable auntie with a walker. And interestingly Irma is slowing down. She’s hobbling northwest at the moment. She’s taking her sweet ol’ time. My husband and I keep joking that with the damage Irma is doing? We ought to rename her. Any ideas? Please share! Reach out to me on Yes. Silly I know. But I’m trying to find humor in the dark.

And speaking of humor, who purchased items you rarely if ever eat or drink? We can categorize the pre-storm shopping like this:


This includes full-fat, high calorie ice cream. If you’re really a hurricane prep pro? You’ve also perhaps bought sprinkles and other toppings. Wine. Vodka. Chips. Doughnuts and Pop-Tarts (although we have neither—half of us cannot consume gluten). And of course chocolate. A must. It’s a mood elevator and replete with antioxidants!


Tuna, beans, salsa, soup, avocado, peanut and almond butter, jam, and did I mention tuna? 😉 And we quickly cooked the meat in the freezer and ate a delish meal of chicken, kale and eggplant last night.  No Irma. You are NOT invited to dinner!


Water, juice, Gatorade, soda (which we never have in our house!), coconut water,  and every type of tea imaginable. And did I mention wine? If the power goes out? These do not require refrigeration. And as always, I want to make sure we have enough for our family and friends who may lose power. The post-hurricane wrap up party.

As I prepared for great Auntie Irma’s visit, I have observed such a mix of bizarre behavior. There has been a palpable shift in the air here in South Florida. For those of you who don’t live here, let’s start with the gas station lines. People literally ran red lights, made illegal U-turns, yelled at each other—it was total anarchy. I personally waited over an hour to fill my tank. But again I am grateful that I was able to get gasoline!

And how about my husband bolting outside two nights ago at 2:30 a.m.? He realized that we needed to bring our overflowing trash cans into our already packed garage. Or my obsessive cleaning and organizing of the pantry and my closet? Another moment of gratitude: My house is immaculate right now. Thanks Auntie Irma for causing the anticipatory anxiety I’ve decided to use productively!

Before the storm really began, we took our pups for a walk. I am not making this up: My sweet poodle Izzy literally blew into the pool! My daughter came in giggling nervously as his white, wet curly hair peeked out from the brown towel in which she cocooned him.

Then today I tried to walk both pups, and they looked at me like I was crazy. So then I did do something rather insane: I went back outside and removed a ginormous palm frond from our bushes. I felt a nagging, impulsive nudge to do it. I had no idea how heavy it would be! It felt like I was bench pressing a small human!

Oh! And let’s talk about Amazon prime. Oh dear. I’ve admittedly hit that “add to cart” button way too much this week. Batteries. Check. Radio. Check. Apple cider vinegar. Check. And I learned as boxes arrived daily at my doorstep that I — oops — apparently clicked the wrong number for the toilet paper, laundry detergent and Skinny Pop popcorn. Thankfully none of these items expire! I also hope there aren’t additional packages that are currently airborne. I just realized I cannot even check because my front door is covered in plywood!

I am grateful for technology and my growing knowledge of how to effectively use it! I never do. I go store to store, aisle to aisle, like I’d imagine Auntie Irma would do while slowly pushing a creaky cart. My dear friends have been chiding me for years that I would make my life easier if I’d just purchase online! Y’all know who you are! Thank you.

The winds are rapidly intensifying. Tree branches are knocking loudly on my roof. Fences, bushes, and other objects are resisting cranky, angry Auntie Irma. I want to connect with you as I have the past six Sundays. So I will end this now and post it before more of us lose power.

I wish you well, I hope you stay safe, and I send love to those near and far. Community and connection is so crucial always but especially during storms or times of crisis. I am profoundly grateful for the calls, texts, and emails our family has received from people all over the world. We feel protected by your kindness and concern.

Please stay in touch with me. I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me on Facebook, Instagram, or directly emailing me via And remember, although it’s quite challenging, keep yourself grounded. Like the rooted trees, we can all bend but we do not have to break. The calmer we remain, the better we will all collectively handle whatever comes our way.

17 Comments on “Great Auntie Irma–Who Invited You?”

  1. Love your story Dara. Had to laugh about all the non essentials you stocked up on. We’ve all been guilty of that. I love the way you described Irma too! We have to tell her to hurry up and be on her way!

  2. I love how you find humor and silver linings (who doesn’t love an organized closet?) in the wake of disaster. It’s so uplifting! You are so grounded in what’s important – one of the many reasons why you can help others by sharing your stories. Now let’s get Great Auntie Irma to leave town so you can have your post-hurricane party!

  3. I enjoyed your writing,
    full of humor and very relaxing as I relate to your story….. I loved it. !!!

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