Dec 052013

DSC00757December 5, 2013

For several days, the weather prognosticators have had us in the middle of a winter storm bull’s eye.  The Weather Channel now names storms, and this one wreaking havoc in the west is “Cleon.”

We are in the ice/snow line, so we don’t know what will hit us. Take a vote, and most people will vote for eight inches of snow over a half inch of ice.

I’ve been to the grocery this morning and loaded up on essentials: Baked BBQ potato chips, Coca-cola in glass, and protein bars. When I drove to our local Schnucks Market about 9 a.m., the parking lot was as full as a Saturday afternoon.

I’ve called the snow plow man. Our driveway is steep and long, and even when our son lived at home the three of us could not shovel it without help. I’ve located the batteries, flashlights, and the Kerosene lamp I’ve had since the world was due to end for Y2K.

I downloaded an app from the electric company onto my tablet, until I realized that I couldn’t report we were without power if we didn’t electricity to fuel the wi-fi.  Duh.

Having blogged since 2008, I checked the vintage files and found three posts from the last ice storm in 2009.  I will never forget it because in the middle of the storm I lost my job. Pfizer let about half the sales force go, and having survived six or seven previous layoffs my number was up.

I didn’t mention this in my posts — I didn’t write about it for a few weeks. Here are a few notes and pictures from the last one.

January 29, 2009

Hence, the iceman won’t leaveth. Our part of the country is still recovering from ice, sleet, and snow that terrorized our area for about 36 hours and left half an inch to several inches of ice in its wake.

We are in a Level II State of Emergency, which as our local radio station explained, is the “one before martial law.”

“Essential Personnel” Husband had to work today and spent nearly thirty minutes trying to “get up the hill” to the highway, which really wasn’t much of an improvement. Except that the state highway is flat and the numerous potholes provide traction.

We have lived in The Country now for thirteen and a half years and we have yet to see a snowplow on our street.

After getting to the highway, Husband crawled for about another 45 minutes on the So-called Expressway to get to his employer. He is indeed a very well-read “Ice Road Trucker.”

Apparently the entire city resembles a bombing raid with many limbs and whole trees down.

We lost power Tuesday night but it came back on after about 12 hours. Unlike many of our friends, we have power now. Our local electric company estimates that half of its customers are without power.

That doesn’t account for the state across the Big River which was hit harder by the ice storm. We at least have four inches of snow to cushion the blow. We have company for the night – glad to share our Pot Roast with the neighbors who would do the same for us.

I took a few pictures, gingerly stepping out the front door and onto the back deck, (Picture this: pink, fuzzy slippers, pink fuzzy socks for cold feet, pj bottoms with big pineapples all over them, half glasses on a string around my neck, shirt that says “Art Lives” and mimics the Sgt. Pepper cover, only with artists…that scary thought will burn your retinas for awhile.)

In January I am always reminded of the January day 21 years ago when Husband and I drove up to this Frozen Place, moving here from the sunny south. While we both grew up in a More Frozen Place, our blood had thinned out over our time in year-round warmth.

We had an ancient gray Volvo filled with the things we didn’t put in the moving van and a bird named Tiki and a cat named The Bub. (We learned later, in an unfortunate and final way, that canaries don’t do well in cold weather.)

The Volvo’s electric window on the driver’s side broke on the drive between Louisville and this Frozen Place, and we were quite cold. Every January I ask myself this question, “Who moves BACK to this Frozen Place?”

Today I am warm – resplendent in my special Ice Day jammies – and looking forward to Pot Roast leftovers.  Quoth the raven.

February 3, 2009

Outside it is fourteen degrees and a wind chill factor just over zero. At various times over the weekend, our house has been about fifty degrees.

We have had three power outages, but I am truly not complaining (well, very much) as friends have been suffering much worse. South of us in the state my friend Julia calls “The Promised Land” many gas stations don’t have power and those that do are out of fuel. Her friends in Lyon County are without water and power.

Outage number three came like this: Husband and I  settled snug in our basement in front of the television as Random Pop Singer sang the National Anthem before the Super Bowl. (Dating myself, I know the names of no pop singers after Olivia Newton-John – whom my father once thought was a trio. The last pop singer he knows is Rosemary Clooney.)

Just as Random Pop Singer reached the high notes of The Star Spangled Banner, the power went off.


Thankfully the Super Bowl was broadcast on local radio.

Now remember, I am not complaining, but during this episode of Ice Road Truckers Midwest, I did not have coffee for five days. (There was an unfortunate incident on Friday with the coffeemaker when when had power and I was home alone. Refer to previous posts on my homemaker abilities.)

When I don’t have coffee, the world does not look good. Today is a new day. Seventy degrees in the house. A grande Mocha non-fat no-whip at the ready.

DSC00762February 9, 2009

Life is getting back to normal, despite the constant chewing sound of chainsaws in every direction around the neighborhood. Friday I used a shovel to dig out a 15-foot gutter extender from six inches of ice and reattach it to a critical drain. I am not much of an “outdoorsy” kind of person, but wanted to get this done in the daytime before Husband came home for work after dark. We are expecting intense rain in the next week.

Like Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird, I’m not often seen outdoors and somewhat afraid the neighbors might report me to the police as some kind of eccentric wandering the neighborhood.

When I was a child, my idea of going outdoors was sitting in my room and reading “The Secret Garden”, a cherished book given to me by my Aunt Donna.  As long as I had my imaginary view of Colin, Dickon and Mary in the garden, I was in heaven.

Sunday Husband and I played “pick up sticks” and the photographs above demonstrate our work as well as the tree that did not fall on our house or utility barn. For this we are most grateful. Quoth the raven.

February 10, 2009

Like some raving female King Lear, I tried to fix a potential problem outside where rain was coming off our roof in a heavy downpour. I dragged a plastic garbage can and a 10-gallon pickle bucket (not sure why we have this) out into the back yard.

Now as a warranty holder for an expensive brand of gutter “raincoats”, I expect that water should not be coming off the roof that fast but rather out the drainage system. And certainly not potentially down my basement walls or into the already-soaked ground.

According to manufacturer’s commercials, “you will never have to clean your gutters again.” Apparently in the contract’s teeny tiny print below it says “except when the gutter raincoat gets dirt on it.”

Why did our thousand-dollar-plus raincoat system have dirt on it? A portion of the apparatus came up during the ice storm and the wind blew it back down. The company does not take responsibility for the natural materials collected in the gutters during those four days since I called them, because their employee did not see the raincoat standing up. (And I paid $89.95 for them to tell me this, which is the “house call” fee according to the warranty.)

So taking matters in to my own hands, I went out to solve the problem. O Pioneer Woman that I am. First I thought Son’s Boy Scout tarp could be rigged up along the wall to force the water into the ditch. But how to attach the tarp to the wall? Despite it’s reputation as the “handyman’s friend”, duct tape would not stick to the brick. (By this time I was completely soaked from head to toe, and my hair was standing on end.)

Then, a revelation….

“A bucket, I’ll get a bucket.” It hit me that a garbage can would work, and I found the erstwhile pickle bucket next to it.

Now let’s review. We’ve had Hurricane Ike come through last fall (usually we don’t have hurricanes in the Midwest) and the worst ice storm in a 100 years last week. Tomorrow we are getting what Kansas got today, so I’m going to stay home, batten down the hatches, and prepare to drag my buckets well past the end of the drains and dump them (so the water doesn’t soak into the ground and go where it should not and end up in the basement).

And I did the annual sump pump test today. Nothing is as lovely to a homeowner as the sound of a working sump pump.

My Rodeo Cowgirl friend Pam Carter in San Antonio tells me that they are having a very bad drought and the hot spring winds are already bringing in skin-wrinkling air. Dear P.C.: wish I could run a pump under our town and ship all this melted ice to you! Wish Atlas could lift the earth and balance it out! Quoth the raven.

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