Saturday, August 10, 2013

powered up

Tuesday, after running loads of post-vacation laundry, sorting mail, grocery shopping, checking messages and what-not, a couple guys dropped by to mark dead trees in our woods to chop for winter firewood.

Several beers and hours Much later, they left and we went to bed.  Not even a half hour later a huge crash woke us up and we were alternately blinded and covered in darkness with this crazy strobe light effect.  A HUGE gust of wind had blown in a living room window screen and while we scrambled to shut the rest of the house against wind and rain, we stumbled over ourselves--BRIGHT LIGHT (crash of lightning!) then TOTAL DARKNESS (power outage).  Confused, but finally barricaded inside from the storm, we tried to get a sense of what was going on out there...Mr. D found the weather radar via his cell phone and the storm above us was the most dangerous shade of red on the spectrum.  I listened for the sirens, but heard nothing but thunder, rain and wind.  Faintly I heard what sounded like a child's cry and I waited for it to get louder...tornadoes sound like freight trains, but this sound never got louder and didn't sound like a train either.

An hour later all was calm.  And dark.  We went back to bed figuring we had some branches in our yard, but no big deal.

We woke to sunlight, calm and an eerie silence punctuated by birds chirping and the whine of chainsaws.

We still didn't have any power, otherwise everything seemed okay.  Then I glanced outside and gasped.  This (controversial) metal pergola I'd built by our pool was now a mangled mess against the fence.

In our woods several trees were down.  I figure the guys who came out here marking dead trees probably had enough wood in their own backyards now and won't come back to cut ours, but if not, they're welcome to this mess.

I had to get the kids to the dentist Wednesday morning and driving there was a maze of detours and downed power lines and trees.  We saw barns flattened, roofs sheared off, trees uprooted, trailers and trucks flipped and smashed, insulation and furniture and debris scattered everywhere.  (Official account here.)   The lines of cars at restaurants just past the downed power grids stretched into streets as people jockeyed for coffee and hot food.

We returned home and I felt blessed because our damages were so minimal.  We had a pool for cooling off and cleaning up.  Sure, we couldn't flush any toilets, but our construction project site boasted a porta-potty!  I'd caught up on laundry and had a battery powered radio to listen to NPR.  We had books to read, a charcoal grill for food prep, and a roof over our heads.  We had enough water, mild weather and candles for nightlights.  To preserve our food our meals were thoughtfully and strategically planned around once-a-day forays into the fridge.  When you're talking preservative temperatures, seconds matter.

But "camping" out only seems like an adventure for so long before you can't stand the smell of yourself (body odor + OFF + musk of charcoal smoke) and you're anxious because you're fretting about where to charge your cell phone (dentist's reception area, dojo, husband's office).  Disconnected is a mixture of peace and quiet with overtones of worry when you haven't planned for the event.

Thursday afternoon Mr. D scored a generator and our kitchen became a zoo of extension cords so I could plug in fridge, basement freezer and one other thing at a time--in turn a cell phone, coffee maker, lamp, ipod.

What is necessary isn't always essential

Thursday night I showered at Mr. D's office and rejoiced at how I felt.  I forced myself to shrug off what emails or phone messages I might be missing and focus on the goodness of a working fridge and no spoiled food.  Slowly our town illuminated Thursday night, but our intersection was still a mess.  From both directions leading to our house power lines were down.  Five barns between our house and the highway had been flattened.  People a quarter mile away had power lines draped across their houses, yards and mailboxes.  You can see exactly where this storm ripped its fiercest path--and it barely missed us.

I discovered that I longed for just one working outlet where I could alternately plug in a coffee maker or a washing machine.  Living like a pioneer when one isn't set up for it is awfully inconvenient.  But at least we didn't have to contend with flooding or locusts.

Friday night I had plans to go to a concert with friends.  Mr. D was out of town and I'd fed Team Testosterone and arranged for their ability to reach me in case of emergency.  I had my phone charged, the generator topped off with gas for Team Testosterone's comfort (TV, fridge, Ipod) and a cooler full of beer and ice to greet my guests.  As I stood by a window applying mascara, I heard a man's robotic voice proclaim "The time is twelve-forty-five."

The heavens opened, angels sang, we rejoiced and ran around flushing toilets.   Powerless to empowered with the flick of a switch, the connection of a wire, the efforts of utility crews.


  1. I saw there were several tornado tracks in your area! Was the damage you saw from a tornado?

    I'm very glad your house was spared!

    BTW, a year or two ago we had a really similar metal pergola, close to our pool, and a good storm-wind did the same thing to ours.

  2. I am happy you and yours were not injured and that you now have electricity and running water.

  3. Oh my goodness what a time you've had, I'm glad you're all safe & sound. How good that shower must have felt!

  4. So lucky you only had minimal damage. Being without power is soooo not fun. My husband hard wired a generator switch into our last house and plans to do the same here sometime soon so we don't have to do the power cords all over the house routine every time power is lost. Glad you are all okay! Storms can be such a huge menace to living life in a normal fashion.

  5. So glad you've got your power back...

  6. Living like a pioneer is ALWAYS inconvenient. That sure sounded like our derecho from last year. Freaky winds and an impressive lightning show, with devastating consequences...

  7. Wow, that sounds like those derecho storms we tend to get from time to time here. Not fun. Glad everyone was okay and that you had that VERY handy portapotty!

  8. There's nothing like having them taken away to have the miracle of our modern conveniences reinforced upon us. :-) I grew up in a trailer park and have many memories of -- shudder - the frozen water pipes and what that did to a family of five with one bathroom

    Still can't think about it.

    But still! Summer!

    Winter is coming (sorry -- too much Game of Thrones)


  9. That is definitely a story! Praise power.

  10. We were out for about 36 hours, and considered ourselves lucky. We managed coffee with our next door neighbors and their camp stove, had a cold sandwich or salad for lunch, and grilled supper. And yes, you're right, it's not really fun to rough it when you're not planning to do without creature comforts.
    I'm glad no one was hurt at your place.

  11. I am so glad you have power (and flushing) again. Whenever I am asked what I am grateful for, I always include electricity and indoor plumbing (having grown up on my mom's stories of doing without).

  12. Wow! Just crazy stuff. Weird weather for a lot of people lately, or so it seems. And here it is all hot & sunny in northwest Montana. Talk about weird! I'm glad everyone is okay and that you finally got your power back on. That's always scary to us since Rick sleeps with a CPAP. He has a battery operated one, but it has to be charged in order to work. Power failures and sleep apnea don't go too well together. :-/

  13. Wow, sounds like a dangerous storm! I love how you tried to focus on the "goodness" of having a working fridge amidst all that discomfort.

  14. A few summers ago, we had some big microbursts that centered over our little neighborhood - we've totally been there, done that. Not only do I have enough coolers to pack up the fridge, I can do it in minutes flat. Thankfully, we've not had a long power outage since the first March snowstorm. Although with gas hot water, gas stove and city water, we still can cook and have water. Just no heat or lights or computer or tv. I tend to walk around turning on switches forgetfully and Edie's been known to sit there whining with the remote in her hand about why won't the TV go on?
    Welcome back to civilization.

  15. I believe there were close to a dozen tornados that night. So crazy. And NONE of the sirens went off (according to my cousins). Just nuts.
    So glad you were all okay and that your power is FINALLY on!


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