Hurricane Hugo hit Charlotte North Carolina on September 22, 1989. It was my birthday and I had tickets to see Elton John, but the storm warnings came early enough that the concert was cancelled.

By bedtime, the wind was really knocking things around outside and it was raining sideways. Water started dripping from the ceiling vent onto the foot of my futon, so I went to the kitchen to find something to contain it. As I headed back with a trash can there was a big “whump” and a big chunk of sodden sheetrock fell onto my bed! Back to kitchen, where I did the natural thing in a natural disaster: I called my mom and dad 5,000 miles away in Alaska. They listened to my panicky ramblings then calmly suggested I weather the rest of the storm with my downstairs neighbors.

In the morning, I was shoveling sheetrock and insulation with my dustpan when the doorbell rang: Jeff Reece, a friend of a friend, stopping by to make sure I was OK, and extending his family’s offer of shelter and a shower.  I was so impressed by this act of chivalry that I asked him out for a beer and three years later we got married.

My mom reacted to this event in two ways, one practical and one creative: The following week she mailed me a care package containing a flashlight, a radio and batteries. And she made this quilt, which is kind of a crazy, mixed-up variant of her more studied schoolhouse quilts. I always focused on the little house with the chunk out if its roof (she made me a companion pillow of that block.) But looking at it now I also see big arcs of wind and ninja stars of debris. In the lower left is more from that favorite plaid top of mine, the one in “Ask Me If I’m a Carrot”.