1. Ribcracker
    Offline

    Ribcracker Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    Messages:
    49
    Likes Received:
    33
    Location:
    Oxford, Michigan

    Ice Storm

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Ribcracker, Jan 25, 2014.

    Hallelujah!
    After five days of living in the stone age our power is finally back on. This sounds like a cliche but after nearly a week off-grid you come to realize how good we modern folks have it compared to our not so distant ancestors. Actually, our lineage diverged from that of other apes six to eight million years ago. And that's a long time to go without electricity!

    The ice storm took down many of our favorite trees and all of our favorite power lines. Just a quarter inch of ice adds about 500 pounds to a wire stretched between two typical Edison poles. We were hit with almost a full inch of crystal clear so the trees and power lines stood little chance. The landscape is a surreal combination of beauty and utter devastation. Nature can have a savage hand.

    Within minutes of the outage our neighborhood was humming with power generators but alas, we don't own one. Ya see, we've only had three lengthy outages in the last ten years so it's hard for us to justify the expense of a tool so seldom used. Well, we're starting to rethink that now.

    When the power first went out we were settling in to watch a borrowed library video -- a typical cozy night in our comfortable lives. It was disappointing when the power blew but once we got out the camping gear and oil lamps it became kinda fun. It was pretty warm near the fire so we slept on the floor in front of the hearth. But after a couple of days the fun faded and without water our toilets were redolent of sewage. So we packed buckets with snow and set them by the fire to melt. We then poured water into the toilet tanks for to flush.

    On the third day (Christmas) we treated ourselves with showers down at Mom's house. A luxury, it was!
    The next night our power came back on and we started dancing and singing. But in less than a minute it was gone again. Jubilation turned to despair - another cold, dark night ahead. Grumble, grumble, grumble...

    When the power came back on 24 hours later we tried not to get excited and braced ourselves for more disappointment. After an hour passed we felt pretty confident that the ordeal was over. But we didn't turn on the TV since we weren't quite ready to resume our old way of life. But we were able to spend the night in our own bed with an electric blanket and got our first shiver-less sleep in nearly a week.

    It's funny. As this normalcy returns to our lives there comes with it a tinge of guilt over our complacency. We really are becoming soft. But this test almost proves we have the mettle to meet the next challenge. And that feels pretty good.

    I wrote this on the library computer because we have no phone or Internet yet but you know what?
    I kind of like it.
    Peace,
    Bud
     
    KaTrian and jannert like this.
  2. A.M.P.
    Offline

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Messages:
    2,024
    Likes Received:
    1,125
    Location:
    A Place with no History
    I don't know why, but I like your little stories.
    Consider keeping a blog on here, I think it might be better placed there.
     
  3. TheApprentice
    Offline

    TheApprentice Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2013
    Messages:
    1,198
    Likes Received:
    154
    Where do you live? I am guessing the east coast, but what state?
     
  4. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    According to the location under his avatar, he lives in Oxford, MI.

    @Ribcracker, no power for 5 days? Damn. Oxford must be a small town and/or in the middle of nowhere if it took that long for the power to come back. I'm glad you got through it OK. I can't even imagine having no heat in the winter.
     
  5. 123456789
    Offline

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    6,338
    Likes Received:
    3,085
    Bud I love you. Great story, great writing, kept me riveted to the very last word. You're a natural writer or you've been hard at work. Either way, thanks for sharing and please, more stories!
     
    Ribcracker likes this.
  6. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,784
    Likes Received:
    7,299
    Location:
    Scotland
    Yeah, I liked reading this piece. I'm originally from Michigan myself, and my sister lives in Lansing ...and a friend of mine works for the Lansing Board of Water and Light. So I was kept on board during this crisis ...and it sure was a crisis.

    You're absolutely right. Complacency about our comfortable modern lifestyle is no longer a luxury we can afford. We are SO hooked up to grids these days. That makes us very vulnerable. You're lucky you had an open fire to sit beside. So many people don't. I think it should be something folks look into, when they're buying or renovating a home. Everybody needs SOME form of alternative heating, even if it's just for emergencies. A wood stove is a great idea, as long as you keep a stash of wood on hand, and keep it cleaned and primed for use. And keep stocked up with everything you might need during a long crisis. Canned and dried foods, water, mundane things like toilet rolls, plenty of matches, candles, batteries, whatnot. And a generator, if you can afford one.

    Here's hoping this was a one-off disaster. But my instincts tell me it's not. Best to be prepared.

    Great article.
     
    Ribcracker likes this.
  7. KaTrian
    Offline

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    5,566
    Likes Received:
    3,563
    Location:
    The Great Swamp
    Wow, hopefully you guys don't have to go through that again! Sure, we people adjust pretty quickly, but it'd still be pretty damn annoyinng if one's house is not equipped for blackouts like that. On another note, I liked reading this. You sure can tell a story.

    And this is just one of the whys it pisses me off that Dad's wife got her way and took down their fireplace ("too much soot everywhere!"). They even replaced the traditional sauna stove with an electric one. Not that long power outages are that likely in the area, but still.
     
  8. Ribcracker
    Offline

    Ribcracker Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    Messages:
    49
    Likes Received:
    33
    Location:
    Oxford, Michigan
    Being a native of Michigan, I've learned to welcome winter as an old friend. But like most visitors it eventually wears the welcome out. A short stay would be nice but...five months? Alas, we slouch along, well past the days of looking out in wonder at freshly fallen snow. Skiing? Sledding? Been there, done that. The thrill is gone. Sure, the days are beginning to get longer, but who needs longer days like this?

    Now the urge is just to hunker down, pull the afghan to the chin and dream of someplace warm.
    Ah, but spring will come. It's an immutable law of nature. Slowly there will be more green than white, more blue than gray, more energy than lethargy. We'll be renewed! And maybe this year, we'll savor it even more, with a joy that those poor folks stuck in warm climates just can't appreciate.

    This past summer was the blink of an eye. How could I have missed it? Was I not paying attention? I wish there was a way to slow the seasons down. I feel like I'm on a brakeless train gainig speed down a steep grade. And I'm not at all interested in what's at the bottom of this hill.

    So we get the firewood in, chimneys swept, storm windows up and settle in for the long winter. Our property borders a vast woodland so fuel is always at hand.
    We cut, split, and store wood year round and try to stay at least a season ahead in our supply. Once the weather cools in autumn, we rent a wood splitter and put up another eight face cords in a single day. Working together, we can really churn it out. Typically, we go through about a dozen cords during the winter.

    The downstairs fireplace has an efficient insert that completely heats the basement where we spend most of our time during the cold, dark winter hours. The heat rolls along the ceiling until it gets to the stairwell where it billows on up. The thermostat at the top of the stairs feels the heat and keeps the furnace from kicking on. We keep the thermostat set at 50 deg. because there are things we'd rather spend our money on than fuel oil. Even so, after we've gone to bed and the embers grow dim, the furnace kicks on two or three times during the night. We use an electric blanket and carry space heaters into the bathroom for showers in the morning and to have at our feet during meals. Our electric bill goes up about 50 bucks a month during winter but that's nothing compared to what the fuel oil would cost.

    The emerald ash borer has decimated our ashes so an ample supply of fuel is assured for the next several years. It means that I don't have to go as deeply into the woods to harvest.
    It broke my heart to see the ashes fail but that's natural selection at work. Once the ashes are all dead, I suppose the borer will die, too. And then maybe the ashes can make a comeback. More likely though, some other tree species will succeed in their place. So it goes.
    Peace,
    Bud
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2014
    jannert likes this.

Share This Page