Thursday, September 8, 2011

Irene, part two

Where was I? Oh right, we'd just stolen water from dead people, haha. We went home, brought in the water, then figured out what to do for dinner. C had made steak tips the night before, and there was plenty leftover. We ended up having a very strange dinner: steak warmed on the grill, with soup heated in a wok, also on the grill. The wok got so hot, so fast, that when I poured in the soup, it sizzled! I half expected the liquid to evaporate, leaving us with pieces of chicken, rice and a few veggies. Didn't happen. Since the weather was absolutely gorgeous (warm, but not TOO warm, with lovely breezes), we ate outside on our deck. We had, I mean, C had put the deck furniture in the basement, so we ended up sitting on our kitchen chairs, leaning our plates and bowls on the railing! I hadn't experienced such beautiful weather in such a long time, so it was a treat to be able to enjoy the time with my husband, the weather, the stillness, and the lack of interruptions! It reminded us a lot of our honeymoon in Hawaii--mostly because of the weather--we had better food there! We opened our windows, letting in the warm breezes air out the house.

The weirdest thing was that by 7:30, I was getting tired! I realized that it was because my body was being lulled by the natural light, which was slowly fading. There was nothing artificial to keep my brain going. A few years ago, I'd read something about how artificial light at night can throw off your natural wake/sleep cycles, and how one should unwind with dim lights and even candles. Part of me wanted to go to bed, but part of me said "this is way too early for you!" In order to keep myself awake for a little while longer, I hung up a picture in our guest room, and was attempting to figure out where to put two others, but then the sun really started setting. Light was getting scarce. I had to put this project away for another time.

Looking back on this now, it feels like the day was longer than it really was. I think it was because everything was done slower than usual or in a different way. I was sitting on the couch, reading a magazine with a flashlight, when I realized that it was only about 8:30. I suggested to C that we play Scrabble. I LOVE Scrabble, but I hardly play anymore. Sad. We used to play it ALL. OF. THE. TIME. when we were dating and especially when C was home bound, recovering from his injuries. I used to be really good, but C quickly gained some kind of supernatural Scrabble skills and is now up to my level. Or maybe I've fallen to his? ;-)

We played one game, that went on for awhile; the radio was on, so we had some music and now and then the news would come on. We heard how residents of a nearby town lost their homes. Completely. Huge waves washed the homes off of their foundations! (although I do think it is pretty stupid to build a house RIGHT on the shoreline, but...) The utility companies were reporting their biggest power outages on record. Here we were, pretty much unscathed, except for no power. But we were worried. We were worried about our upright freezer, which we bought soon after we moved into the house to provide us with storage space for sale items. It was near capacity prior to the storm, so you can imagine how much food was in there. Not just meat, but also bread, veggies from our garden, sauces that C made (mostly from our veggies this summer). It was meant to supplement our food throughout the fall and winter, especially with C being out of work. We were afraid all of that food, money, time, and energy would be gone due to something out of our control. C had talked to his dad earlier in the day, who said that we would be OK for about 24 hours. The ice we stocked in the very bottom would help as well. When we went to bed, we were only about 18 hours in.

That evening I had also talked with my boss, who reported that he had no power, as did our offices, so we were closed the next day (Monday). Vacation day! I had planned on calling out regardless if were were open or closed because if the power continued to stay out, we'd have some different kinds of survival tasks ahead. Either taking the food to my parents' house--they have a bigger freezer than ours and it's not as full usually, AND they have a generator--or letting it spoil and then disposing of it (and who knew when the trash pick up would resume).

When we woke up on Monday, we were still without power but the weather was still great. I had been having bad headaches all weekend, I chalked it up to the extreme changes in barometric pressure, but I also realized that I was suffering from a bit of caffeine withdrawal. (God help me if I am ever pregnant! I'll give up cold cuts, alcohol, soft cheese, but CAFFEINE???? REALLY!?!?!?!?) Anyway, I needed coffee or a diet soda. We didn't have any soda in the house and no coffee without hot water. I said to C, "Oh, I'll go to Dunkin Donuts and get coffee, do you want anything?" I imagined a 10 or 20 minute trip, no big deal.

WRONG! First, I had to decide WHICH DD to visit. The one that's a mile from our house or the one that's about 5 miles away. The closer one is smaller and since they are so close to us, they have the same power system we do. (Our part of town taps into the neighboring town's power system, and they have their own.) The DD 5 miles away is bigger, and taps into the big local power company that most people in our area have. I figured that would be a better choice, instead of going to the close one, then having to backtrack.

Then, while I was on my way down the road, I had to take several detours since many roads were closed. Now I got to see how bad things were in this part of town, which is south of our house, and closer to the shore. Finally, I reached Dunkin Donuts and was shocked: there was a line OUT of the store, back onto their parking lot. The drive thru line was spilling out of their driveway (which is pretty big) and back onto the main road. I turned around and started for home, wondering where I could go? Not many places were opened. I ended up at a farm stand not too far from my house, where they usually sell coffee. They aren't "just" a farm stand, they have milk, eggs, baked goods, etc. As I approached, I saw a sign "Muffin & Coffee $1.99." YES PLEASE. I pulled in, got four coffees and muffins (since we weren't sure if my father in law was coming over), promptly spilled one of the coffees in my excitement? rush? who knows? and went home, feeling pretty pleased at my success in obtaining the delicious brew. I also talked with the women working there, found out that the stand operates on the same power system as our house, and they hadn't heard anything about when the power would be back on.

I went back home, drank my coffee, and we figured out what to do. We decided to go back out, ride around, and see if we could find any wood that would be good firewood. C said that people would be cutting down trees and limbs that had fallen and might want them just taken away, no questions asked. If they were in manageable pieces, we could load them into the back of his Pathfinder. Then we could have his dad come over with his chain saw and cut them up into firewood. Then the power came back on!!!!!! Hooray!! But there was still work to be done, so we set out on a quest for wood. We were successful, as we found lots of wood, free for the taking. We had the back of the Pathfinder filled quickly, and brought it home where it's still sitting in the corner of our backyard.

That night, I called my boss and found out that we were, yet again, closed. Another vacation day, score! That night, we also had a PLEASANT surprise. After allowing the power to do its thing for a few hours, we held our breaths and opened the freezer. Everything was FINE. Still frozen. Thank you God.

On Tuesday, my FIL came over to work on outside projects with C. We were also closed on Wednesday, which lead us to searching for MORE firewood, this time, getting two loads back home in the Pathfinder. I also had to do a little bit of work, since that was the deadline for a competition that my company enters every years. Me, the online entry form, and an Excel spreadsheet were best friends for a few hours :) I heard later in the day that we were expected to come in on Thursday, and that they had generator power for computers, but things would be slow. Additionally, since there would be no AC, we were encouraged to dress for comfort.

I was a little sad to return to work--the surprise three day vacation had been fun! Even if there wasn't power for part of it, it was nice to have NO agenda, to NOT be able to do much (in the way of chores), to have to find "fun" things to do. Even loading and unloading three loads of firewood was better than sitting on my butt at my desk all day--great weather, great company, great workout.

Next up: what we learned and a different aftermath.

(This post will be dated 9/8/11, but that's when I started it. I didn't get around to finishing it until 9/11/11.)

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