When I woke on Thursday morning, I looked out on the deck railing to see if we had more snow. What I saw was that everything was shiny. And by everything I mean the snow on the rail, the snow on the front grass, the snow on the driveway (you get it, everything shiny). Shiny=ice covered. Well, that’s different!
It was an anxiety filled night in Covington. The power went out at 2:30 in the afternoon on Thursday January 19. By that time we had watched enough news (non-stop coverage, no commercials) that the silence was kinda nice. We were luckier than most as thousands lost power on Wednesday. We have two gas fireplaces that kept us warm all night. We had enough candles for one night but not much more.
The only source of news now, the newspaper faithfully delivered in this mess by our dedicated paper-lady, says we may not get power til after the weekend. There are 250,000 homes without power.
I got a couple of hours sleep between 8:30 and 1:00 am and then she started – Mother Nature with her ice-laden chainsaw pruning all the tall fir trees in the neighborhood. The bedroom is nearest the upper roof. Every falling branch sounded like it was going to join me in bed after bouncing off the house. I could hear the drone of the generators. Who knows what damage is being inflicted while we attempt to sleep. JB is upright in the recliner pretending he is getting enough air, the sleep apnea machine getting a rest for the night.
By 1:30 I got up to see what time it was. I had been lying there wishing for either power or the promised warm up. We got neither. By dawn I could hear jet planes so I guess that means at least one runway at SeaTac is open. Soon I hear helicopters (checking for damages?). We could be making the morning news and not even know it. There is no traffic on highway 18, which is probably the news draw.
I got up at 7:15 and in the light of day I could see the damage. Our glass patio table had been shattered and had a branch sticking through it.
So if Mother Nature got a permit for this pruning job, I think her privileges should be suspended. This type of work should not be done under the cover of darkness. If I were in charge of her next permit, it would be DENIED!!!
It is 10:30 and starting to warm up. Still no power and the drone of the generator goes on. Okay, I’m alittle jealous. The sounds from the backyard now are that of large icy snowballs being thrown from high atop 70 foot trees. Guess who?
As much as I want to don the boots with the snow trax I would not appreciate getting hit in the head by one of those snowballs.
I check the phone to do a banking transaction. Now we have no phone. Damn those bundled services! I have to admit the cable lasted longer than the electricity. I now have to be selfish with the two bars I have on the cell phone. Soon I will venture out to warm up the truck (just in case) and use the car charger.
There is a part of me that thinks that someone should be checking on us and our well-being. Perhaps there are inquiries on the land line that is no longer functional. Instead I find that in times like these, folks go into survival mode and take care of themselves. Once they feel safe they may look outward for others to help. Pity party over.
I decided to thaw out the truck in case we had to leave. Wow was there a lot of snow and ice on it. It chronicled the storms since Monday – snow, crusted snow, ½ inch of ice, more snow and icicles dripping off that layer. All in all, 8 inches. It took 45 minutes and I got the phone charged in the meantime.
2:30 (24 hours since power) and it is raining. JB is poaching a chicken for dinner while we still have light. The lilac tree is losing some of it’s ice weight and we may not lose that large branch after all. It has risen a few inches. The hummingbirds look confused as they perch on the same branch as usual with a completely different view.
Greg and Kellie spend Friday night with us to capture some of the warmth from the gas fireplace. They got to the house about 9:00 after we had played a rousing game of Upwords (JB won). We then got out the deck of UNO. Mid game the fluorescent camping light dimmed and blue cards looked like green cards and green cards looked like blue cards. Done.
Greg and I went to Safeway for donuts and Starbucks for coffee. I bought more candles, including a bag of ‘tea lights’. They went home to shower and to get their snow shovel so they could help with deck/yard cleanup. The deck was filled with snow, ice and glass. Really hard to distinguish between them. Greg swept the pile over to the edge to wait for the snow and ice to melt and the glass we will deal with later. They moved out to the backyard to pick up branches. Greg looked up and noticed that several branches ripped from their tree were hung up on other branches and ready to come down spear end first. As soon as the breeze kicked up they abandoned the yard. Can you blame them? They left to spend the evening with their ‘powerful’ friends and we went out for an early dinner of Mexican food. Once it got dark, JB played solitaire on the laptop and I tried to finish a crossword puzzle with a flashlight held in my mouth (not as much fun as you may think). JB reminded me that I had a transistor radio in the junk drawer so I dug that out for noise. We listened to a ‘live from the Neptune Theatre’ podcast. After that got old, retired to bed. I tried reading People Magazine with my clip-on light clipped on the bedspread. Good times.
We got up early and went to IHOP for breakfast. We talked to our backfence neighbor (the one who never lost power). We told her how jealous we were and thought about stringing an extension cord over the fence. “Oh” she said “your nextdoor neighbors already beat you to it.”
Greg called to say they got a text from a neighbor saying “come home, the power is back on!” They said they would be home around noon. I couldn’t wait. I went to Starbucks to use their internet (download a book and check PSE outage news). That confirmed the worst – Covington on the list for Tuesday. I went to a new chicken place for takeout. We had a late lunch and I took lunch to Greg & Kellie’s. I also took all our re-chargable batteries. I figured if they can steal our warmth, I can steal their power. I watched the football playoffs while I was waiting for the re-charge. Got home and packed the car with more things to charge at work and my props for my speech. We began using the ‘tea lights’ in the upstairs-darker-than-dark bathroom. Now I know why they are called ‘tea lights’. They burn just long enough for you to enjoy a cup of tea. Each time we went upstairs to use the bathroom, you had to carry a flashlight and two fresh ‘tea lights’.
Coffee, cereal and newspaper by camping light. Hauled the same portable light up to the bathroom for my shower. Went to work with damp hair and clothes that matched (at least they did in the dark). The roads were icy and there were accidents everywhere I tried to drive. It was a two hour, white knuckle commute. Went to Greg’s for ham dinner hoping to come home to a porchlight. Alas, no.
Same drill in the morning. Damp hair, different clothes. No batteries as I am hopeful. On my way out of the neighborhood I stop a PSE truck and suggest that he check on the welfare of folks in the dark neighborhood. I am met with a blank stare. Now I’m getting mad! I get a call at 11:30 – the power is back on.
THE END (we hope)