Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Winter Storm, 2012

The following is a diary of our recent adventure in hell. I know, it’s long. So was our ordeal.

Monday. Day one, Tam and I arrive home from the beach to very little snow and a lot of chagrin. We’d been hoping to get a couple days of late start from school. There is a threat of snow in the forecast, but we’re not paying much attention. We did, however, go grocery shopping.

Tuesday. Day two, we got some snow. Not much, but enough to have school start two hours late. We are elated. There is more snow in the forecast, but the stuff already on the ground has turned to slush and is mostly melted away. We ignored the forecast. Middle Minion and Most Minor Minion, however, decided to come over “just in case” so they wouldn’t have to drive treacherous roads. Tam and I went grocery shopping again. We came home and she fixed an amazing dinner of fried chicken, bean and ham hock soup and a salad that would make a chef weep with joy. We reveled in having family over and ate a lot of food. Then it started snowing.

Wednesday. Day three, we got the call that school was cancelled for the day and there was much rejoicing. Tam fixed hamburgers and other fine foods and we ate with pleasure. We played games. We laughed, we ate yummy things and hoped for another snow day. It was still snowing, but there was some rain. Freezing rain. Ice on everything. EVERY. THING. No one wanted to go out in that. At six that evening, we got the call that school would be closed the next day. We rejoiced, a little, because now we were cutting into summer vacation. Then things started breaking. Big things, like branches off of trees. Ice covered branches on ice covered trees.

Thursday. Day four, we lost power around six in the morning. Tam got up and informed me that we’d lost the smoke tree too. It split in half, and one of those halves was on Most Minor Minion’s car. Also, there were branches from the big tree in the yard. And? It started snowing again, covering up the thick layer of ice. Shit was getting real. We ate cold cereal for breakfast while Tam built a fire in order to cook up some bacon flambé. We mourned the loss of our ability to make real coffee. Tam offered up some instant, but the water had things in it from the fire, so it was…ungood.

I went outside with a hand saw to try and release MMM’s car. Fortunately a kind neighbor with a chainsaw came to our rescue. He helped us pull branches off power lines and cars. It was scary because big branches continued to fall. He suggested I move my car. We scrambled to clear the driveway so I could pull out. I parked on the side street and went back to work cutting wood. Not five minutes later, a huge branch broke free and landed where my car had been. There was much whooping and yee-hawing from friendly neighbor who was very glad I moved my car.

After we got things somewhat cleared up outside, I went back into the house to get warm when the phone rang. It was Spawn-in-Law. He needed a ride for an important appointment and would I be so kind? Are you kidding? I’d been cooped up for four days with those people, I would LOVE to drive through ice and snow. And fallen trees and branches and intersections with no power to the traffic lights… I took Most Minor with me for company. We both confessed we loved winter and this was kind of an adventure. We swore to keep that a secret from the rest of the group because they’d never understand.

When we got back, Tam attempted to cook potatoes over the fire. They were… some pieces were… parts were, perhaps, slightly overdone and underdone all in the same bite. I elected to eat very little. I did, however, manage to figure out how to make real percolator coffee over the fire. I was hailed as a hero and we drank the bitter brew with much relish… and cream. Wowsa. We miss stove top cooking and coffee. We got the call that afternoon that school would be cancelled the following day. We wept.

Friday. Day five… are you kidding me? Still no power? Cold cereal again, beans and hotdogs cooked over the fire. These people are starting to stink because none of us have showered since Monday or Tuesday and we’ve been eating a lot of beans. We couldn’t work on the yard because there was too much ice and tree stuff falling. The front door was unusable due to the danger, and the back yard was similarly booby-trapped, and we were the boobies. Trapped. TRAPPED. In a cold house, eating burned food. And now the guy across the street is taking a squeegee to the shrubbery in front of his house. Dear god, the whole neighborhood has gone mad. I look at my son. He’s starting to look delicious.

We were sinking into a quagmire of despair brought on by the incessant drone of generators that litter the neighborhood. People are driving by the house, taking pictures of the devastation…the devastation that is MY FUCKING YARD AND GET THE HELL OFF MY LAWN. Stop taking pictures! Sheeeee-it. Some people have no manners.

The wood is wet and it’s getting harder and harder to keep the fire going. We are resorting to burning…things. No one asks what just went up in flames. Fire must not be left untended for long or it will go out. This means there will be no going anywhere as a group until power is restored. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing or not. No one has showered in days. None of us is suitable for public.

That evening, as we wallow in self pity, I notice the street lights a block away have just come on. There was rejoicing. We were sure to get power soon. We ate burned hotdogs, burned beans, corn chips, and apple juice. We drank burned coffee. We were getting used to it by now.

Saturday. Day six, no power. It’s cold and I have to do yard work. With a handsaw, I must remove a fallen tree. I have a chain saw, but it is electric. I do not have electricity. I hate this storm.

A neighbor poked her head out her front door and said, “Wow, you sure have a mess on your hands.” She was delicious.

Another neighbor stopped by. She was carrying rose bush pruning shears. “I feel like I’ve lost my smoke tree,” she said, “I loved this tree and I loved the bouquets you picked for me when it was in bloom. How can I help you?” I just might marry that woman.

Squeegee Guy came over for another chat. He never stops talking. I’m standing in a patch of snow and my feet are freezing. I keep wishing he’d shut the hell up, but he doesn’t. He tells me he’d come over to help, but the only chain saw he has is electric. “Ain’t that a hoot?” Nice neighbor lady offered to help me bury him in the back yard.

Middle Minion calls from his place after work. There is a wind storm moving in from Alaska. High wind warnings. They think it will last two days. We’re running low on wood. Tam has pulled things from the fridge and is attempting to cook them in her cast iron skillets over the fire. It was chicken, at one time. God, I miss electricity. We reach the decision that we’re not getting a more efficient furnace with our tax refund, we’re getting a fireplace insert with a cooktop. High five. Or not. No showers for almost a week and I’d rather not touch anyone.

Sunday. Day seven…electricity? What electricity? We don’t have no stinking electricity. Still. I’m considering selling all our lamps to the folks ONE STREET OVER WHO HAVE ELECTRICITY. ONE. STREET. OVER. YES, YES I AM SHOUTING.

Most Minor Minion was back today to help with the mess in the yard. People are still driving by, slowing down to gawk. Several of them have even gone so far as to roll down their windows and say, “Wow, you sure have a mess on your hands.”

We sure have a mess on our hands…? Really? Wow, no one has said anything about a mess.

MMM suggested we put a sign up in the yard: Slowing to gawk: $2; Stopping and staring: $5; Taking pictures: $15; STATING THE FUCKING OBVIOUS: $100.


Called the ex. He has power and water. I begged to be allowed to go up and shower at his place. He was amenable, since he wasn’t home. Fortunately, MMM still has a key and let me in. I no longer smell like cheese. Tam showered at her mother’s house. She no longer smells like cheese. We like each other again.

We were wondering what the evening would hold when there came a knock at the door. It was the Hair and she needed a place to stay. She is between apartments and needs some accommodations for about a week. There was rejoicing. It is nice having the Hair around. Li’l Red is staying with his grandmother until the power is back on, so we are grooving on the “girls only” club.

Put another blanket up over the archway from the living room to the rest of the house in order to keep the heat in where we are. Goddamn cat thinks it’s a FABULOUS THING and insists upon going through the curtain. She leaves it slightly open, allowing a polar wind to come through and freeze the side of me that is not facing the fire. The cat is making me cranky. Crankier. I’m thinking of new and entertaining uses for duct tape.

I think I’m developing night vision. We do everything by candlelight, but I’m pretty sure I can see in the dark. I might even be able to fly.

The school called. We’re running two hours late on Monday.

We’re voting. “Who’s tired of that goddamn generator across the street?” Unanimous, we all hate it. “Who’s tired of living in the living room?” Unanimous. “Who wants to don capes and masks in order to go fight crime?” Really? No one? Sigh. No sidekicks for me.

Monday. Day eight, welcome to hell. Please secure all carry on items under the seat in front of you or in the overhead bins so they can fall out in the event of an emergency and conk you on the head. Someone will be by to make sure your restraints are nice and snug. There are no exits. You are fucked.

Watched a power company truck drive by the house. He slowed down, looked at the mess in the yard, checked out the line to the house and drove away. Tam asked where he went. I said, “Back to hell to gloat with all his buddies.”

Work was interesting. It was odd seeing light come from fixtures that didn’t flicker in the breeze, or cause my asthma to flare up. There was heat and hot water. I washed my hands. A lot. Tam says she did the same.

Checked the power company action line that is supposed to tell me when I’ll get power. They assure me they are aware of the outage in my “area” and the 450 other customers can expect it to last until Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

Called my martyr, I mean, mother this afternoon, because I forgot to do it this weekend, and because I haven’t been punished enough by living off of charcoal and chips for the past week. She was in a mood and felt it was necessary to share, since she is under the impression that Tam doesn’t do a good enough job of sharing the joy of crankiness. It was a swell time, where I got to defend every thing I said and having words put in my mouth. She was feeling very persecuted and wanted to be sure that the special feeling didn’t go away with a call from her daughter.

I just heard an explosion. I’m really hoping it wasn’t another transformer.

One nice thing about the power outage is that I can stand on my front porch and do some star gazing. It’s too dark to turn the telescope anywhere else.

Power company trucks have been going past the house for the past couple hours. I hate being teased. It may be time to make that bullshit stop.

Damn, just got caught applying camouflage makeup and wearing one of the ex’s old ties around my head. Looks like another behavior intervention is in my near future.

Tam took the Hair and I out to dinner tonight. Went to a real restaurant with real food. Nothing was charcoal, even though it was hot. They brought us food and we ate with forks and knives. Well, Tam and the Hair got to use their knives. Mine got taken away. See above comment on behavior intervention. At least Tam was kind enough to cut my steak for me, especially after I started out picking it up with my hands and eating it that way.

After dinner, the waitress said she’d be right back with the check and a vagina. I asked my companions if I had heard correctly. They assured me I had not. While our waitress no doubt had a vagina, she was coming back with the check and a container for leftovers. How I got vagina out of that, I’ll never know.

Tuesday. Day nine. The parade of power trucks we saw circling the neighborhood last night was a joke. Called the power company for an update. Now they say there are only 150 customers without power. That would be us and 149 of our closest friends. We are not pleased.

At least we’ll get the 50 dollar credit they’re giving out in “the unlikely event” that our power has been off for 120 consecutive hours. Yay. 50 dollars. Let’s go crazy…oh, wait, I’m already there.

We’re going out later this week to look at fireplace inserts with cooktops. We had planned on spending the money on a new heatpump, but we’ve decided this would be a wiser use of our money. I suggested we storm the castle. As usual, my idea was turned down. I have got to get me some better cronies.

I do not want to go to work today. We’re starting on time and there’s a good chance we’ll have all the kids. There’s an even better chance a few of them will be less than pleased to be there.

There is something squeaking in the living room wall. I know I’m not totally crazy because the Hair heard it too. HA! Take that, insanity, I really am hearing things!

Work was exactly as I imagined it. I need to win the lottery.

On the way home there were power company trucks working on our street. I nearly wet myself. With tears. Of joy and stuff. I went home and called the power company to ask about the 50 dollar credit. The nice lady with the lovely accent said she would send our information to the review board and we’d see the credit within the next two billing cycles if it’s approved. Whatever. It’s been 125 hours.

Tam had a good day at work. Most Minor Minion came over and played with sticks in the yard. There’s still a large pile that needs to be tended to, but I’m too tired to do it today. Plus it’s raining. I don’t want to play outside in the rain.

Mentioned the noise in the wall to Tam. She is not happy. She says we’re not going to do anything about it until the power is back on. At this rate, we may never get to it.

As we talked, I realize it has grown quiet outside. The chainsaws have stopped. The power company trucks have left. The generator across the street is silent, yet the lights we have set up to turn on when the power comes back have not come to life. I step outside, it is silent. I see a light on at Squeegee Guy’s place. On impulse, I flick on my porch light… AND IT WORKS!!! HALLELUIA WE HAVE POWER. Crank up the furnace, baby, we’re gonna make it warm all over!

I guess this means we need to see to that noise in the walls now… damn. Someone get me some wire cutters, I need to go do something up that power pole…


  1. Guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrllllllll. I don't even know where to begin. Here in Jersey we get Nor' Easters, Blizzards, Ice Storms, Hurricanes, even an occasional tornado. I've had my fair share of storms, downed trees, floods and chaos....but never over such a long period of time have I lost power. I have to say, I think the beginning would have been exciting (when the Hurricane hit here in August it was exciting for us because we only lost power for a day....unlike my family who lost it for 8) but after the 3rd day, I'd be over that shit. I hope when you get those wire cutters you use them for their intended purpose and not to cut cords for a noose. Hang in there girl.

  2. I would be certifiable by the end of that. What took them so long to get the power back on? I don't know how you coped, I really don't. It was good to see that the neighbours helped you out. That is really nice. Thank goodness the power came back on at long last. What a nightmare!

  3. Fuck... Your tweets so totally did NOT convey all this shit. @_@

    I live in Bellingham. If you need any help cleaning up your yard, hunting squeaky things in your walls, burying bodies, applying camo paint or getting your knives back, lemme know. Seriously. As long as you're not more than like 4 or 5 (or 6ish) hrs away, I will totally come over & we can get shit done. ^-^
    Let me know if y'all guys need anything & I shall see what I can do. I start my week off on Wednesday, Feb. 1.


  4. Jersey Devil darlin', you can keep your hurricanes because they scare me almost as much as the damn ice storms. :)

    Selma, our county experienced an 87% customer power failure. They called in reinforcements from as far away as British Columbia to come get us all hooked up again.

    Duchess, your offer is so sweet and I'm sorely tempted to take you up on it, but we have teenage males (hence the reason I'm tempted to take your offer) and they have been applying muscles to the mess. We're almost done, but it's too wet to work today, so it will have to wait one more weekend.

  5. Wow. I don't know how I missed this, but I would say that a fireplace insert with cooktop is definitely the investment to make. Holy shit.


I love to hear from you. :)