Friday, January 30, 2009

Here we go again . . .

By Lonnie Cruse

DAY 1: First Winter Storm of '09:
Though my day to post is Friday, today it's Monday, January 26th. and the weather stations are predicting several inches of ice this evening. A huge winter storm is headed straight for us. Hubby is on his way to the grocery store to stock us up. Since we depend on a well with an electric pump for all our water, I'll have to fill one of the bath tubs in order for us to have enough water for the, um, toilets. Drinking water we keep in stock for just such emergencies. I'm writing and scheduling my post today in case I don't have Internet access for the rest of the week. By the time this posts, we could still be covered in ice, or we could be thawed out. In the mid-West, one never knows.

We had a similar storm last year, and we all learned our lessons well. Ice bends all the trees, even the strongest, and the bent trees take out power lines, leaving large areas without power for days at a time. So the locals stock up on food. Dress warm in case the heat goes out. (We have a gas fireplace, so we will at least have heat. And we have a gas grill to cook on.) And we prepare to be isolated from other humans.

Last year I had to heat my tea water on our gas fireplace logs because the gas grill was out of gas. This year we made sure we had plenty of gas to cook with. Our flashlights have good batteries, oil lamps have oil. Incidentally, how Abraham Lincoln managed to read and do his school work by said lamps beats me, but we keep them for power outages. At least they light up the house at night, but reading is difficult. We don't own a generator but it's high on my wish list.

Sooo, what would you do if you were trapped in your own home by thick ice and no electricity for several days, meaning no television (or radio unless you have a battery operated version) no computer or Internet, no phone unless you were smart enough to buy at least one that isn't cordless, no stove unless you have a gas version, no running water, and um, well you get the picture. Do you have enough books to read? Enough sewing or other craft work to keep your hands busy? And a way to heat tea or coffee or hot chocolate? Are all the knives, guns, and other possible weapons securely locked up so you and your loving spouse can't kill each other? Not to mention your bored children. That alone gives me the shivers . . . bored children. Thankfully ours are grown.

So that's how we've prepared for the coming ice storm. Snow would be welcome, bringing the neighbors over to sled on our huge hill and hot chocolate to warm us after. Ice storm? Not so much.

Oh, and to make things even better, my daughter-in-law just called to inform me that there are two escapees running from a nearby prison. The doors and windows are securely locked, but I'll be more at ease when hubby returns. And these two prisoners may wish they'd waited to escape until spring arrives, given the weather predictions. My daughter-in-law said they're both wearing bright red jump suits and orange hats, so in snow/ice they should be fairly easy to spot. Sigh. Life is rarely dull, even in our rural area. Hot chocolate, anyone?

Day 2: First Winter Storm of '09
Everything in sight is covered in ice. Thankfully we still have power . . . for now. The lines outside are sagging. Some homes in Paducah are without power, and a major highway is closed due to a downed power line. The Brookport Bridge, aka the Blue Bridge or the Irvin Cobb Bridge, take your pick, which connects Paducah, KY to Brookport, IL and has been around since the early 1900's is closed.

FYI, a couple of decades or so ago, some bright soul had the idea to rip out the bridge's asphalt decking, which had worked fine for about seventy decades, and replace it with metal decking created with holes just large enough to drop a Coke can through, the main theory being if Coke cans would go through, snowflakes/ice crystals would also go through and the bridge would be totally fine during our frequent snow/ice storms. Well, Coke cans do drop through, (my then teenaged sons tested this part of the theory out with the help of their obliging father. Did I mention cars are not allowed to stop on the bridge for any reason, including droping Coke cans through the holes?) However, no one mentioned it to the snow/ice. The bridge freezes with the first flake and often has to be closed. That creates double traffic on the I-24 Bridge, the only other way Southern Illinoians can reach Paducah, where many work. Where was I?

This morning Hubby offered to cook bacon, eggs, and pancakes for breakfast, and given that my momma didn't raise any dummies, I humbly accepted. He divided his morning between chasing off the blackbirds (who are hogging the feeders and running off the smaller birds) and flipping flapjacks. Let's just say his flapjack flipping abilities trump his bird chasing abilities and leave it at that.

No word on the erstwhile escapees yet. IF they have any sense, they turned themselves in by now. The freezy stuff is still coming down. We have about a half to an inch of ice and more on the way. Hubby says the ice on the front porch gave under his weight the first time out but now is frozen solid. Not good.

If no reports follow, you'll know we're in the dark.


Joyce said...

I'm in Pittsburgh and while we've had a lot more snow that we've had for a few years, it's not anywhere near as bad as the Midwest or New England. So, I guess we're lucky. Some sunshine would be nice, though!

I hate going to the grocery store before the weathermen predict a snow storm. Around here, even if they only predict an inch of snow, they classify it as a major blizzard. For some reason, this brings everyone to the store to stock up on meat and toilet paper. Now I can see buying bread and milk, but toilet paper? Around here, the roads are always cleared by the next day, so I tend to avoid going shopping before it snows. The best time to go is in the middle of the storm. Fortunately, I have four wheel drive!

Marilynne said...

You make me cold just thinking about it.

I remember toasting hot dogs in a popcorn popper in the fireplace once when it was below zero outside and the electricity was out. We were newly arrived from California and thought it was a great adventure. But it got colder, and colder, and colder inside until I began to worry about our safety. We had electric heat.

Fortunately, we made it through. Most of us do, don't we.


Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Lonnie, what a wonderful, evocative description. You're so present it's hard to believe you really are in the dark this morning. The escaped prisoners are the perfect touch. You've got the start of a suspense novel there.

Sandra Parshall said...

Lonnie, I heard on the news that some parts of Kentucky have FIVE INCHES OF ICE! Yikes. That's hard to get the mind around. Those places may not have power until the middle of next month. I hope you're faring better!

I live in the DC area, which -- as our new President has told the entire world -- cannot cope with ice. I don't think there's any place on earth that can cope very well with ice, but this area does seem to have an especially hard time of it -- probably because the city and the surrounding counties simply don't have enough equipment to get the stuff off the roads. The last time we had prolonged power outages due to ice, our neighborhood was in the dark for three days. We stayed at home, but the temperature indoors went down to the 40s at night -- not pleasant. Ever since then, I've wanted a generator, and this past summer we finally had one installed. It's a huge relief to know that we will never suffer through another power outage. But I know we'll feel guilty if our neighbors are in the cold dark and we're sitting here with lights and heat... Not *too* terribly guilty, though.

Joyce said...

Sandy, my son lives in Woodbridge, VA and he couldn't even get his car out of his slot in the apartment parking lot because of the ice on Wednesday. Since he has to drive miles to get to a Metro or VRE station, he couldn't get to work. Up here in the Pittsburgh area, they would have had everything salted. That afternoon when the ice finally melted, he went and bought a bag of salt to keep in his trunk.

Lonnie Cruse said...

We lost power Tuesday and just got it back late last night. I'll have a full report next Friday of the good and bad things that happened around here.

Julia Buckley said...

Lonnie, you've just described an amazing setting for a mystery!! No power and two escaped prisoners--my gosh.

But your post also reminds me, in its focus on the essentials, of a Laura Ingalls Wilder story. You are the little house in the Midwest. :)

I hope all is well now, and that you're back to electric light.

intelligence said...