Cider and a hike

There was a lot to do on this Saturday morning: it would be the final Ferguson Farmers Market, plus a “Homecoming” at the Little Creek Nature Area.

Yoli made waffles for breakfast, and then we hit the road for the market. Jadzia and Ludi decorated pumpkins; Yoli, Josie and Joseph listened to the live music; and I bought lots of goodies — apple cider, peppers, fresh ginger, garlic, ground beef, and green beans.

Then it was off to Little Creek. We have visited there many times over the years — it is a frequent field trip destination for preschool and elementary school kids in the Ferguson-Florissant school district.

But this time offered some new experiences. We got to drink nice, hot apple cider and eat some baked goods. Then a high schooler took us on a long hike around several of Little Creek’s trails. We got to see the pond and the actual creek, sites I had never seen on any of my previous visits. Along the way we gathered various items for a scavenger hunt for the three girls.

Ludi had been the one begging us to go to Little Creek in the days leading up to the event. As it turned out, the somewhat chilly hike was too much for her, and she was whiny for much of it. But then we went into the educational building to try some hands-on activities and she perked up. She got even more excited when we headed back to turn in our scavenger hunt bags and pick up little prizes.

We took a look at the apple cider press. We lamented that we had missed an earlier demonstration of how to make cider. And one of the Little Creek workers kindly put on one more demonstration, even though it was noon and the event was technically over. All the kids got to try crushing the apples, and then Jadzia and Joseph took turns with other children turning the press to squeeze out the liquid.

All in all, it was a fun morning. Here are some photos:

Still uncertain after the storm

I pulled up to our house this morning and found my insurance adjuster around the back. He was climbing what remained of our tree, snapping photos of the broken kitchen. Our tree guys had cleared away much of the oak yesterday and liberated our home of its trunk.

We pored over every detail. “How many windows did your sunroom have? Your house had hardwood floors throughout, right? How old is your roof?” He used debris and other evidence to figure out the dimensions of the sunroom, the number of windows, etc. I was surprised to learn our house had a shell of 4 inch cinder blocks, with plaster applied directly to the blocks. The brick was a veneer around the outside of that.

My contractor arrived and we went through the house. The adjuster took careful note of cracks in the walls. He found new cracks in the living/dining room, and certainly the massive cracks on the south wall of the girls’ room were substantially worse.

We opened the basement window and clambered down. (The adjuster complimented me on being limber. First time for everything) Same story down below: some suspicious new cracks. At a minimum the entire south wall and cinderblock foundation must be replaced.

But there’s the catch: At a minimum. There is a possibility they may decide to total the house, and we would build the entire thing anew.

The adjuster will give his assessment to State Farm and we will have to wait to find out what they decide. It could be a number of days before we know. If they total it, then we’ll need to move out all the furniture, etc. But if not, we can leave most of it in the front of the house.

One part of me is excited by the prospect of a new house. But it’s too early and honestly I don’t know what to think. I know there is a long road ahead. We will be displaced at least three months, but probably more like six. Will it affect our vacation plans? Will it be a giant headache?

There’s so much uncertainty. We are thinking and praying. And waiting.

Video: Tree removal

Though I had hoped we would get to it sooner, tree cutting finally came today. As I write this, the guys are hard at work slicing that monster into small pieces and getting it all out to the curb.

The following video shows the tree removal early in the process this morning and then again in the afternoon when I brought the girls to see the tree before it was gone.

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Renaud Empire: DISASTER AREA

Here’s a short video highlighting the damage done to our house.

Here’s the story in a nutshell: a huge tornado-producing storm swept across St. Louis. North County was hit particularly hard. Our giant oak tree in the backyard fell on our house. The sun room was destroyed, and much of the kitchen is collapsed.

The important thing is that we are all safe and sound. Yoli and the kids were home alone and I was at work, but they took shelter in the basement and were protected. Our neighbors helped them get out of the basement through a window.

Anyway, here’s the video:

Continue reading “Renaud Empire: DISASTER AREA