Ice storm

Ice storm

This is a photo of the woods in front my house today. It was absolutely, stunningly gorgeous, and made me think that this is what it must be like to be inside a diamond. But man – here’s a beauty filled with treachery. This same ice storm knocked out power to over half the residents of New Hampshire. We were lucky in that our power was restored in about 12 hours. I know many people who still do not have electricity.

I woke up sometime Friday morning. The radio was playing, but I couldn’t find the clock. That’s because the power was out. It was around 6:30, I guess. I didn’t know that the battery would still try to wake me up when the power was off, and I had actually always wondered about that. Now I know. It was still pretty dark outside, and it was still raining (and presumably freezing).

Va got up and called Mrs. Brace. Yup – school was canceled. Listening to the rain, I just snuggled deeper into my covers and went back to sleep. No WAY was I going to be able to get in to work today. I got up around 10:00 and went outside. There were several bent-over trees in the yard, and several pines had their tops snapped out. It was a little weird – I could see what looked like a fallen pine tree, but didn’t see the stump. That’s because the stumps were over 20 feet high. I took several pictures, including the one at the top of this post. Penny helpfully chased sticks.

Without electricity, we have no heat and no water. We have forced hot air, but that runs on an electric blower. We have a well, but the pump needs electricity to do its job too. So we decreed moratorium on toilet flushing and fridge opening. Flushing was allowed in SOME cases though. We did take a few things out of the fridge every now and then too, but instead of putting them back, we just put them out on the deck. By mid-morning the temperature was up above freezing, so the deck made a pretty decent fridge anyhow.

By noon, the ice was melting out of the trees so heavily that it looked like it was raining. The rain had stopped by then and the sun was out. And the beauty was stunning. The road actually looked somewhat drivable, so I called Pizza Hut to see if they were open – and they were. So the whole family piled in the car and we went to Tilton for some hot food. Then we hit the Walmart and bought a couple of six gallon water jugs, and some other items too. We dropped the kids off at the house, and then I drove to the spring on Intervale Road in Canterbury. That spring is a pipe coming out of the side of the hill, and it flows at about a gallon per minute. I filled both jugs and returned home. We used that water to refill the toilet tanks (even though it is some of the best tasting water in the state).

Then Va and I decided to sneak into Concord. I had a form I needed to return to HR so we could have medical insurance next year. It was due that day (no excuses they said, but I’m betting they would have accepted “ice storm” as one). Then we went to the church and set up our laptops to grab our email, etc. When we finished with that, we grabbed some food to go and started back home. We stopped at the spring on the way, but there were already two pickup trucks there. One of them had half a dozen coolers and 20 gallon tubs in the back, and they were emptying buckets into them. These people live just up the road from the spring – the sign in front of their house says “Centerbury Tales”. I found out that Canterbury Tales has ten tales: five horses and five dogs, and the horse drink way more than the dogs. They were very nice people though, letting others slip in and fill their jugs between their buckets. I guess it took 20 minutes before we had our six gallons. Then we waved goodbye and set out for the house. No sooner had we pulled back onto the road than the boys called Va’s cell phone – we had electricity again! And had for 20 minutes! If they had called right away, they could have gotten their dinner sooner, because we would have left the spring as soon as we heard.

When we got home we ate. We had been planning on using paper plates, but since we had power again, we went all out and used the china. The furnace kicked in, and the water heater started doing its thing again too. The house had gotten down to 57 degrees – not bad. But I’m thinking I really need to get a generator now. I don’t know how long the house would stay above freezing under these conditions, and I sure don’t want any frozen pipes.

Even though we had electricity, we still didn’t have any Internet access. Jonathan was devastated. I think he might be slightly addicted to the Internet, and I can’t say I was sorry he had to go without it for a day. He jokingly (but perhaps… only half jokingly) declared that the three essential items for survival were water, electricity, and Internet access.

I spent the evening going though my digital photo collection and started tagging them. I made a scratch, and I was at it for maybe three solid hours. I also got ready for my Sabbath School class, and then I went to bed. I noticed that the clock was claiming it was 3:00am, but it wasn’t THAT late. I corrected the time, and then went to sleep.

This morning we got ready for church and then went in. I brought my laptop so I could let my family know we were OK, and I posted my previous missive here. We had a light crowd today, which kind of surprised me. The church had power and heat, which is more than could be said for most of the members. One of my friends had a tree fall on her car yesterday. Big tree. Little car. She was in a rental today. Others have generators. Some have wood heat. Many were hauling water. Concord itself was in pretty decent shape. There was no ice on the trees by this morning, and I didn’t see much tree damage. Others reported massive tree damage around where they live, some comparing it to the tornado that blew through NH this summer. Many stayed for a potluck dinner, even though that wasn’t on the regularly scheduled program. It was a great idea though. We would have stayed, but we had power at home and a dog in a crate who needs exercise. So we cruised home. We still have plenty of ice in our trees (unlike Concord).

Once the dog was freed, we had some lunch. Then Beth and I took Penny for a walk down to Sandogardy Pond. I brought my camera. Again, it was like walking around on the inside of a diamond. There were plenty of sticks for Penny to chase, so she was in doggy heaven. But man – it was cold. Sixteen degrees. David opted to stay home because of the cold. Beth and I had bundled up pretty good, so it wasn’t all that bad. We got home around 3:30.

At five-ish, Beth reminded me that I said she could go to child-care night tonight. I had forgotten that I had promised that, but Beth is pretty good at remembering fatherly promises. So we got a grocery list from Va, got in the car, and drove in. Beth had a good time playing with the other kids who were there. They played Uno and watched videos. Beth and a few other girls were pretending they were circus animals (except one of them who was apparently the circus master).

While they played, I washed the cookie sheets we used at our previous Pathfinder meeting. We had filled them with sand and had used plaster casts I had made previously to make new tracks for them to cast. A few people picked up their oranges while I was there, and I did collect payment from them, so that’s good.

We bugged out early. I wasn’t on duty tonight, so I didn’t have to stay the whole time. We did give Joy a ride home though. She lives about two miles from our house, and since I offer extra merit points for anyone who helps on child care nights, Joy wanted to be there. Her mom had brought her, and asked me if I would take her home. I was glad to do that.

So now I’m home and everything appears to be back to normal. We have power. We have water. The Internet came on again at about 1:00pm. So according to Jonathan, we NOW have the three essentials.

It is amazing to me how dependent we now are on something that didn’t exist 120 years ago, and most people didn’t even have 60 years ago. But we sure are! I hope to change that soon, but we’ll see how it goes. Maybe Barak Obama will incent me to install solar cells on my roof.