Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Candles, Cards & Country Music. (No astrology today).

I'd like to say it's been a fun few days since Thursday 28th January at 2.30pm when the ice storm struck and our town and surrounding area lost power, but "fun" doesn't quite cover it...weird and a tad worrying is nearer the mark. Much of our region had no power for 5 days, and most of one day with practically no water supply either, after a generator at the water plant blew up. At Chez Twilight we had it easy, compared with some local folks who were forced to repair to a local shelter set up for those without alternative heat sources. We have a gas powered fire in the fireplace, so one part of the house stayed nice and warm in the darkness. All travails though were as nought compared to the suffering and devastation in Haiti.

At first it did all seem like a bit of an adventure. Big candles originally bought for decorative purposes but long since relegated to the storeroom were brought out complete with ornate candlesticks. "I knew these would come in handy one day!" We had two small flashlights and one big one with sets of spare batteries - more than enough for 24 hours or so, we thought. My husband found a 25-year old radio adaptable to battery power, then pulled out a pack of cards from his "emergency backpack". And so it was, as darkness fell each night, candles were lit, the cards came out, countless hands of gin rummy were played to country music from the only stations we could find still up and running. Two evenings into what they call an "ice event" we were quite into the card games - country music not so much - especially the modern variety. One could feel quite like hanging oneself from the nearest tree limb after a few evenings of that, except that the best tree limbs for the job were all, now, on the ground.

Our two big cottonwood trees in the back yard suffered badly, as did the maple out front. A succession of scary bangs and crashes through Thursday and Friday warned that our roof might be damaged by falling branches and chunks of ice. Outside, small and large tree limbs piled up on the ground as the weight of the ice became too much for them. It was a peculiar experience to stand outside after the storm subsided and hear the trees creaking, cracking and groaning under the enormous weight dumped upon them by Mother Nature's tantrum.

Who could blame Mother Nature for being annoyed at Oklahoma? Its senators have openly ridiculed the idea of climate change for years. This experience seems like the overture to many other odd acts of climate now waiting in the wings. As far as we know, nobody here can recall ever experiencing anything like this in their lifetimes. Winters can be temporarily extreme and severe here, ice storms lasting a few hours, power outages of an hour or so are not uncommon, but nothing as nasty or long-lasting as this has happened before in Texhoma (south-west Oklahoma, near the Texas border). This "ice event" has quickly followed the severe blizzard and heavy snows of Christmas Eve. It does seem that something peculiar is definitely going on!

Trees all around town have been badly damaged. There are, or sadly were, lots of beautiful trees here - my favourite feature of the town. So many limbs fell on power lines and so much ice accumulated at power substations in south-west Oklahoma that repairing lines, replacing poles and restoring power is a long and difficult task, given the conditions. There are still many neighbouring areas where power will not be restored for several more days due to further difficulties arising as a serious thaw arrived yesterday. Our house is on the fringe of town so we were some of the last to be dealt with. The lights went up quite unexpectedly at 8pm on Tuesday evening, in the middle of a candle-lit game of gin rummy.

What a relief - we were both heading rapidly towards having to wear our cleanest dirty shirts!

More on this topic at my husband's blog today: Thinks Happen

Below: Backyard damage surveyed by Himself.


anthonynorth said...

I guessed you were having non-internet fun :-) Sounds like quite an adventure.

Wisewebwoman said...

good grief, T, that is hopefully not symptomatic of times to come. A wood stove and a generator my good woman, so you can at least cook a hot meal.
Stockpile the books in and great that you had some cards. Cribbage might just be in your future.
Off topic - I was quite taken with your fancy clothesline and a wee bit jealous. Very nice.
I also recommend a hand cranked washing machine, very reasonable on the web, so there 's not too much ripeness to the card games.LOL
I'll pop over now and check out Himself.

anyjazz said...

You make a good accounting of how we spent most of the week. We made do with what we had.

We are not playing Gin for money ever again!

Twilight said...

anthonynorth ~~~ Sort of, yes. We have learned a few things for future use anyway. ;-)

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ We've thought about a generator. We'll see if the piggy bank can run to one after we've met the expense of sadly getting rid of what's left of the 2 cottonwoods. One has a huge branch overhanging nextdoor's house! A crew from Minnesota came by this afternoon and quoted just under $5,000 for the job. Yikes!
We'll wait for somebody local I think - I'd rather the $$$$ stayed in OK.

Not a clothes line though - the lines are cable or phone or electricty at the back I think.
The ornamental thingie is a birdfeeder stand (made so squirrels cannot reach the feeders) made for us by Son of Himself. Had to remove the feeders and place others elsewhere because they froze up completely and the wee birds were looking at us in desperation!

Hand cranked washer - oh yes, I remember my mother had a little one of those. I'd forgotten all about it! On my list!

Twilight said...

anyjazz ~~~ Ta! Not as poetic as yours - but a workmanlike effort, I guess.... just like my gin playing. You are a good card coach, and I'm a quick learner (told ya!)

Wisewebwoman said...

Now someone should seriously design a work of art clothesline, don't you agree? ;^)

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ Yes. It would brighten the backyards of many! It's not very practical here in spring/summer to hang out washing though. It'd be covered in bugs.
I miss the fresh smell of clothes dried outdoors though - always did it that way whenever I could back in the UK.

R J Adams said...

Oh, how this post brings back memories. I believe it was November 30th 2006 that we spent a sleepless night listening to the crack and crash of huge branches as they collapsed under the weight of ice generated by the 'Great Illinois Ice Storm'.
It took four days to regain power, and longer to get back the TV and broadband.
Very scary! I now keep a small gas camping stove in the garage, and a pressure cooker - ideal for preparing soups and stews on one burner - two hot water bottles, a stock of wood for the fireplace, as well as the usual flashlights, candles, etc.
Five days of gin rummy? I can think of nothing worse!

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~~~ Ah! Then you know the feelings well!
A camping stove is on our shopping list, as I doubt we can run to a generator when we've finished paying for removal of debris and cutting down two big trees.
Pressure cooker? That's a good idea - thanks for the hint!

A storm of this destructive nature might not happen again....but then, who knows? Everything weather-wise is getting more extreme. Best to "be prepared".

The gin rummy was at night only - we managed to read a bit with what daylight filtered in, and spent a lot of time gawping at the birds, who Himself made sure had a plentiful supply of goodies. :-)