Sunday, February 6, 2011

A QUICK UPDATE

I'm finally back to blogland…but, unfortunately, can only hang around long enough to give you a quick riverbank update. However, first off, I want to say thank you to everyone who worried about last Tuesday's predicted ice storm and, in my ensuing silence, wrote asking if things were okay. Myladylove, Moon-the-Dog, and yours truly are fine. A bit worse for wear, perhaps, but nothing a little rest won't cure. I appreciate each and every inquiry, though.

The ice storm arrived right on schedule midday Tuesday. At first freezing rain, then sleet and freezing rain, then sleet…and sometimes mostly snow. When the situation on the roads became almost impassable, and tens of thousands of businesses had already closed long ago, Myladylove's boss finally capitulated to the weather and sent everyone home—way later than he should have for safety's sake, but greed invariably trumps common sense in such decisions. Thankfully, she made it home.

About 8:30 p.m. the cable went out, followed at 9:00 p.m. by the power. We were suddenly in the dark with only candles, oil lamps, and flashlights for light, and the fireplace for heat and cooking—though I have several camp stoves and could have easily gotten fancier on the meals. Anyway, the power remained off from Tuesday until mid-afternoon Thursday. We "camped out" in the great room. Intrepid adventures or neo-Neanderthals, depending on how you view such primitive reversions. Mostly, we just read, talked, cooked, huddled/snuggled, and just had fun while taking things in stride. I'm not sure how many of the 80,000-plus nearby households who were also without power would say the same.     

It was both frightening and amazing that first night, as ice continued to fall and form on the trees. Trees and limbs and small branches were breaking off under the weight and crashing or clattering earthward constantly. And I do mean constantly. When we went outside to the woodpile, there was never more than a moment or two when something—big or small—wasn't coming down. We tried, as best we could, to not be directly underneath a tree any longer than necessary—though seeing as how there are well over a hundred trees in our yard, plus the fact that the woodpile is just below a steep bank covered with fairly large trees, such considerations were more theoretical than practical. At some point you just have to listen close and take your chances. 

After the power came back on (for us, nearly a thousand families are still without), there were cable issues which only just got resolved—hence the explanation my continued silent hiatus. Plus three day's worth of missed schedules and deadlines to somehow make up. An incredible amount of clothes and bedding to laundry. Groceries to be bought. Lots of dishes to wash. Etcetera, etcetera. Not to mention a long night's sleep in a real bed, and even longer blissful hot showers beforehand.

But I did take a few (1100 and something) photos during the period—of which the above house finch in the falling snow is one. I will post only a fraction of those—I promise!—in the days to come. And I'm looking forward to reading all the posts from fellow bloggers that I've missed. I do hope everyone is okay and doing well.
———————  

 

36 comments:

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ-

you two ar real survivors - I loved how you spent your time and your approach to every challenge. Ours was quite similar, 'cept our power came back on after about 12 hours. See my last post when you get a moment.
Stay warm and safe.
Love Gail
peace.....

The Solitary Walker said...

Wow, what an experience!

But good for the photographic archive.

And huddling/snuggling is always, of course, divine!

Glad to hear you've both emerged in one piece on the other side. Open fire cooking sounds terrific - but the welcome revival of the hot shower even more so ...

ellen abbott said...

glad you made it through and what a great pic of the little finch.

Hilary said...

Oh what a nasty ordeal. I'm glad you are all fine. I hope there hasn't been excessive damage to your property. Ice storms can be just awful. Such a beautiful little house finch peering down from its branch.

Penny said...

Sounds terrifying, glad you are all ok.
Oz is suffering from floods, the aftermath of a huge cyclone on the east coast and through the center and south east and out of control bushfires in the west. So far we have floods to the north but not much of anything where I am.

Scott said...

Despite the horrendous snow we've had in the PA Piedmont, you got a much worse ice storm than we did (though we did have one, and lost power, but only for 5 hours). We did the "camping in the living room" thing for three days last winter, and I can definitely identify with your plight--and your happiness once the power returned.

Bernie said...

So glad all is well now in your world. I followed the storm on TV and thought about my friends. You sound like you had a camp out and made the very best of the situation. Stay well my friend, looking forward to seeing your pictures.....:-)Hugs

Jenn Jilks said...

Been there, done that, Grizz!
I survived Ice Storm '98, 12 days without power. BBQing all food, and side plate for boiling coffee in mom's old percolator!
It wasn't pretty. You nearly creeped me out with your post. I took a deep breath!
Glad all is well.
happy trails. I took a great snowshoe in the forest. It was amazing in the bog.

Arija said...

Phew! I knew you have great survival skills as have I . Hardship is only a state of mind and adversity can toughen resolve and find the fun in any situation. After all, candle light and an open fire are romantic even if you have to do some camp cooking.
If I may make a tame suggestion, get yourself two safety helmets for forays under breaking branches and dropping icicles. Not as silly as it sound. They are also pretty handy in case of forest fires.

I am so glad you are all safe and look forward to all 1100 photos and then some.

Blessings . . . Arija

George said...

Wow, Grizz! It sounds like you and your family went through quite an ordeal. All's well that end's well, however, and I'm glad to see that you are in good spirits and back on the blogging trail.

Robin said...

Oh, I am so glad that you and yours are all okay. Turns out that while we were going through the blizzard, you and other blogger friends were going through their own form of winter moods.

That bird (and what a beautiful photo) looks as confused as I imagine a lot of us are these days at the look and feel of the landscape.

Come back to us soon in full, Grizz....

Kelly said...

Wow! What an adventure you had. The danger aside (falling trees, etc.), it must have been lovely to slip away from all the electric "stuff" that clouds our days...and spend time in front of a roaring fire with nothing to do but enjoy each other's company (of course I know that's a glamorized version, but you know what I mean). I look forward to all the photos...I bet they are gorgeous!

Jayne said...

Mercies, but that's a bit too frightening to have to endure when you are not sure if a huge branch might come crashing down on your home. Glad all turned out well and that things are getting back to some sense of normalcy my friend.

Tramp said...

Quite a week for you there. I would always think of you as an intrepid adventurers rather than neo-Neanderthals.
...Tramp

Grizz………… said...

Gail…

I don't know whether we're really "real survivors," but given the need, and the fact of our mutual bullheadedness, we can lower our level of comfort to that of a bear—and so long as we have food, shelter, and an occasional bite of chocolate, we're usually good for a week or two.

P.S. I'll check out your post later today.

Grizz………… said...

Solitary…

I think the old cowboys had it right…after that long, dusty trail drive, where for weeks you'd been scorched, frozen, sleep-deprived, abused by countless cows and the occasional horse or mule, and tried to sustain yourself eating the grub provided by a cook who was by training a taxidermist—the first thing you did after hitting town was to head for the saloon where you snatched a shot or six of rot-gut whisky on the way to the stairs and a long leisurely soak in a tub of hot water. Your hope was that no more than four or five fellow cowboys had used that hot water beforehand. The poker, wimmin, and general rowdiness could wait for later.

A man has to prioritize.…

Grizz………… said...

Ellen…

A few "no power" days are about par for us here—though the ice was an interesting new twist. But we're fine. Thank you.

Grizz………… said...

Hilary…

The short-term bad side of a serious ice storm is all the damage it can do to trees; the long-term good side is that it gives the woods and trees a helpful trimming while downing a lot of dead wood.

Glad you like my finch…

Grizz………… said...

Penny…

No, nothing scary about it—just a reminder of who's in charge, and a need on our part to compromise our life to suite the situation, while pointing out how utterly unnecessary most of life's "necessities" truly are.

Folks in your part of the world, on the other hand, are dealing with true disaster, and my heart goes out to them. Our little ice storm was nothing.

Grizz………… said...

Scott…

We generally have an annual living-room camp-out caused by an extended power outage…though sometimes, as when the aftermath of Hurricane Ike came through, it's warm enough that the only change in our routine is to do our cooking outside. The way we see it, it's just part of the fun—and price—of living where we do. If we can camp on the U.P. in winter, a night or two here shouldn't be a problem, merely an inconvenience.

However, as you said, it's a lovely thing when the power does kick back on. :-)

Grizz………… said...

Bernie…

We sort of figured the power would go out, so it wasn't all that much of a surprise. In the end, you can either make the best of things or give up. In our case we could have gone to my daughter's house 20 miles away on the other side of town. She called several times, wanting us to come stay with them. That was always in reserve, a refuge should we need it.

But you're talking about a fellow who's spent much of his life sleeping and working from a tent or the back of a pickup in the most remote areas, and a gal who grew up in the Appalachian Mountains and lived for several years on an island in Alaska. Both as bullheaded as they come, and absolutely loathe to allow a little something such as an ice storm, snow, no power, and single-digit temperatures to send us scurrying.

I'm not saying that's necessarily a good thing, mind you, or that we're brave or smart or prone to making the most prudent decisions for handing this sort of situation—but that's who we are and how we're likely to react.

Grizz………… said...

Jenn…

Well, you certainly have me beat when it comes to living-room campouts…I've never done more than 6 or 7 days. You know what it's like, for sure.

In a modern house, during an extended wintertime power outage, to make out fairly comfortably for any duration—as opposed to merely surviving—the way I see it you need only a few things: sufficient drinking/cooking water; a source of heat in at least one room where you can also sleep, with comfortable bedding; light (candles, flashlights, oil lamps); plenty of food and the means to cook it; water for toilet flushing; some method for bathing. A battery radio for weather and line-repair updates is nice, though not necessary. If a person can stay warm, dry, well fed, be able to sleep, and stay clean—that's pretty much all that's needed to thrive; there's no real hardship.

A snowshoe through a snowy bog sounds lovely.

Grizz………… said...

Arija…

Trust me, we've both camped out—willingly!—under far worse conditions. So this was just a sort of revival of several such adventures.

Your helmet suggestion is probably a good idea—a hard hat, such as a construction worker might wear, anyway. I've never before heard such a continuous "rain" of limbs and branches and falling trees—stuff, big or small, falling almost every second, clattering onto the ice with a whumph! You quickly realize it's just the luck of the draw what falls on you when you are under a tree—and here, there's no escaping being under trees most of the time. And those falling icicles you mentioned are, indeed, another real danger. A piece of ice 4 feet long and the diameter of your arm can do damage.

Hope you're doing okay considering all that's going on down in your part of the world.

Grizz………… said...

George…

Yup, we're fine…and have mostly cleaned up the aftermath, and recovered from, our little adventure. I'm looking forward to getting back into the regular swing of posting.

Grizz………… said...

Robin…

I guess beastly ol' winter bites us in different ways—but at least I'm not standing on my snow-buried car, as did your neighbor! Though in a way, ice is worse than snow; I'd sure rather deal with a couple of feet of snow than 2-3 inches of ice with snow on top, another inch of ice, and more snow—which, BTW, is falling at this very moment. Snow I can shovel/sweep away; thick ice means it takes a sledgehammer to remove a piece of firewood from the pile, and walking is a slippy-sliddy affair.

Hope you're doing well and didn't lose too many vacation days.

Grizz………… said...

Kelly…

The enforced peace and quiet was, in fact, quite welcome and relaxing…although there seemed to be an awful lot of little puttering tasks consuming our sit-down time. But it was all fun—at least for the time we did it. I don't mind in the least getting away from most modern conveniences. However, that first long, hot shower afterwards felt really wonderful.

Grizz………… said...

Jayne…

It was spooky being outside, sleet and ice pouring down, hearing all those limbs and trees falling. The first night, at 4 a.m., I was out, alone, gathering firewood. The world was dark, not a light to be seen. Sleet was coming down and I could hear it shhhhhhhing through the branches overhead. Big limbs were falling, and over on the island, a tree crashed. Then another in a neighbor's yard. Then several large branches fell in my yard. The ice-covered snow in the yard was littered with thousands of twigs and limbs, and a couple of chunks as big around as my leg. I could hear stuff near and far creaking and cracking. I had to keep pounding at my woodpile where it took several minutes to loosen each chunk of firewood. And all the while, it was as if the woods around me were in a state of constant collapse…which, in fact, was literally the case.

As I said, spooky.

Grizz………… said...

Tramp…

I do think you have to have at least a few latent primitive genes to survive some ordeals—though I would in no way characterize our recent little adventure as an ordeal. But I've spent more than one night in the woods unexpectedly, several of them in mid-winter, and had to make do with any sort of shelter I could devise or find—and I can't say I've ever suffered during the experience. Instead of neo-Neanderthal, let's say throwback Druid or reversionary Celt.

Carolyn H said...

Grizz: i'm glad you are okay. I had the ice storm but in something of a miracle for my area, the power stayed on. i've done the camping in front of the fire thing all too often, though. At least, with the fire, you have heat and not everyone else can say the same thing. The last time, I closed all the curtains to keep the heat in as much as possible, and I felt as though I was living in a cave. Now I open them up and put on another layer of long underwear. It makes me feel much better.

Carolyn H.

Grizz………… said...

Carolyn…

We're fine—and I'm really glad to hear you came through without a power outage. More than once, sitting here stoking the fire, I thought about you in your mountain cabin, and wondered how you, your dogs, and chickens were doing. I figured for sure you'd have lost power, considering all the trees and their overhanging limbs along the miles of backroads. It does sound like a miracle.

Funny you should mention the business with the curtains—I like to keep mine (blinds, actually) open, too, though I know it would be more energy-efficient to close them tight. In my case, it's not so much the idea that closing my room in makes me feel like I'm in a cave—I've often slept out, by chance and choice, in small recess caves in Ohio's hill country and, in fact, like doing so. Rather, here, I like to be able to look out and see (or almost see) the river. I say keep the view, don the extra clothes.

KGMom said...

Of all that winter can throw at us, I think ice is the worst. When it coats trees, power lines and such, mayhem is sure to follow.
Falling ice is very dangerous.
Glad you (and your loved ones) are safe, dry, and now lighted.

Grizz………… said...

KGMom…

I think I'd have to agree with you—ice, especially a thick layer under snow, is tough for walking or driving. And falling ice—along with falling limbs and branches caused by the heavy ice coating—can be really dangerous.

In my yard, the total accumulation is not all that much. But it's about three inches of snow, now solid because it was subsequently saturated with sleet and freezing rain, on top of which is an inch or a bit more of ice from the storm, and topping all that another inch or two of snow. The snow atop the ice is slick enough. What makes it even worse is the fact that about two out of three steps the multiple layers carries my weight—but every third or so steps I break through, one layer or two, which pitches and turns me, throwing me off balance. It's a major deal to mush over to the woodpile and back, old tracks or not. Even Moon the Dog finds it hard going.

Linda said...

We got the snow, rather than the ice, and consider ourselves blessed for that. Ice storms can be much more difficult to handle. And the damage can be devastating in many ways, including the loss of some beautiful trees. It seems you were well prepared, though. Many have no alternative heat source and can really suffer during a loss of electric power. Glad to hear you survived with apparently minimal damage and inconvenience.

Grizz………… said...

Linda…

I agree—ice is worse than snow. Pretty, in the way it coats everything and sparkles in the sun, but tough on trees and plants, and hard and dangerous going afoot or in a vehicle. I like to see one every so often, but day in and day out, I'll take snow.

AfromTo said...

What no showers during your blackout-I thought you as an outdoorsman who would have plunged in the river for a quick bath.

Grizz………… said...

AfromTO…

Huh. What with the ice shelf extending out, I couldn't even get close enough to the open river to dip a bucket of water for toilet flushing. But bathing was no problem—just heat a gallon of bottled water in my old stainless steel camping basin and sponge off, part-by-part. Works fine…and gives the squirrels something to talk about.