Last Tuesday, January 27, 2009, I came home from work and turned on my laptop as I do every day when I walk in the door. My husband has a meeting on one Tuesday night of every month, and last Tuesday was his meeting night. I put some clothes in the washer, and I started up the full dishwasher. I started my pot of soup (remember, I had a tablescape set for soup), and I decided to take a shower and wash my hair. After my shower, I decided to check a few blogs before I dried my hair. I was looking at Debbie's (Confessions of a Plate Addict) wonderful Tuesday Tablescape for the second time (it was much too pretty to only see once), when my world went completely black and silent. I had no electricity. It had only been sleeting for about an hour, so I assumed that the power would soon return. Thankfully, my pot of soup was still cooking on the gas stove top. However, except to boil water for coffee, that is the only time I used the gas stove while the power was off. I just do NOT like to wash dishes. I feel like I can't get them as clean as the hot water in the dishwasher does-- at least that's the story I told my husband, and I'm sticking to it!
The washing machine stopped; the dishwasher stopped; the television went off; and of course, my computer went off.
In the complete darkness and the rather shocking and complete SILENCE, I searched for a flashlight as I listened to creaking, cracking, breaking and falling limbs outside my house. Occasionally a loud crash would let me know that a tree had fallen somewhere nearby. In the darkness, I saw horrible flashes of light as large tree limbs hit power lines and knocked out transformers.
After finding a candle, I turned on the gas logs in our fireplace in the family room, and I sat in the stillness, listening to large limbs scrape against the windows and fall to the ground, and thundering bangs as trees hit the ground and even louder bangs as transformers blew out. I started realizing that the power was not going to come back on right away.
This is not normal weather in our area of the country, so I really wasn't sure if there was something I needed to do. I made the decision to just sit and listen to all of these frightening sounds (as if there were anything else to do) and to stay in the family room, which is in the back part of the house, away from the front yard where all of our big trees are. Each time I heard a tree hit the ground, I said a prayer for whomever had that tree in their yard, and every time a transformer blew, I said a prayer for all who were without electricity and didn't have a heat source.
We are SO fortunate to have had those gas logs in our family room. If you've visited my blog, you may know that we have an upstairs loft that opens to the family room. The heat from the gas logs kept the upstairs very warm. We have a bathroom and several beds up there, so we were able to sleep upstairs and use the upstairs bathroom. I cannot tell you how many times I gave thanks to God for the blessing of those logs and those upstairs rooms. We were able to close the doors to the rest of the house and keep very warm.
The next morning, I was shocked to see our front yard littered with huge iced limbs and our tree tops stripped naked. When we got in the car and drove around, I gave thanks again, because there were people who had holes in their roofs, and trees on top of their vehicles.
My husband (who cannot stand to have nothing to do) and our son got out in the yard Wednesday and started sawing large limbs with the chainsaw and pulling them to the curb. In the silence of Wednesday, I listened to the chainsaw while I read books, played games with my grandchildren, and listened to their laughter.
Wednesday night, we could hear a generator or two running. We took all of the food out of our freezers and put it outside. Our son's house is on the same electrical circuit as the local hospital, so that was the first power restored. They went back to their home. Our daughter's house has gas logs, and her in-laws came to stay at her house, because they didn't have power or gas logs. My husband went to the local Lowe's, which had reopened, but they were sold out of generators. We decided we didn't want the hassle of a generator anyway. We were very comfortable and cozy in front of our gas logs
We interrupt this program about the storm to give you a little history of my town.
When I was growing up in this "Mayberry" type town, many people were farmers. A lot of cotton was grown all around this town. We had a "Cotton Pickin' Contest" and a Cotton Pickin' Parade with a Cotton Queen and Court! It was the highlight of the year. The sounds (sort of a "wooshing" sound) and smells of the cotton gins starting up always signaled Fall and football for me. The cotton was carried into town to the gin on the back of trucks and trailers. Our front yard looked like it had snowed on the edge of the yard when cotton littered the easement. New children came into town, because their parents had been hired to pick cotton.
The economy in the Delta put a lot of farmers out of business. We still have some cotton gins, but many farmers are growing rice. Of course now, the cotton is picked by machine, and the ginning of the cotton has become silent with modern technology. I still find myself listening for that wooshing sound when the air turns crisp in the Fall.
We also had an Air Force Base here when I was growing up. It was the B 52 headquarters, so we heard a lot of roaring, revving, and window shaking when those planes would take off. When I was in grade school, we all had to wear dog tags (just like the military), because everyone was concerned about our town being hit by a bomb because of the location of the AFB. When the government began closing a lot of military installations, we lost our Base, and everyone in town thought it was the end of this small community.
However, our town is on the Mississippi River, and following some recruitment by our Chamber of Commerce and other citizens, Nucor Steel and Nucor Yamato Steel built plants here, because of the access to the river to transport their steel. Other steel-related industry moved to town to be near these steel companies. This is still difficult for me to believe, but now, we are the largest steel producing county in the country.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled program, which was already in progress, before I started digressing!
So many people in this area are employed by the steel industry, Nucor (one of the steel plants) ordered several hundred generators, and their employees were able to buy them at cost. By Friday, the steady hum of generators hung in the air all over town. Out of town landscapers had arrived with big trucks with buckets to see if they could make some money out of this disaster. So trucks, generators, and chainsaws were heard all over town.
Of course, the weather had warmed enough that we lost all of our frozen food. I am thankful that is all we lost.
I read three new novels and re-read "Mad Girls In Love" by Michael Lee West (our own Gollum), because it had been a long time since I read it, and it was good enough to read again. I read with a flashlight, while listening to chainsaws, generators, and big trucks.
Unfortunately, the power came back on in our office Saturday night, so Monday I had to return to work.
Our power has just returned to our home today (Wednesday, February 4). Although I have missed visiting your blogs, I am surprised at how much I enjoyed relaxing, reading, and feeling no need to jump up and do anything for a week (until I had to go to the office Monday, Tuesday, and today). Right now, I have a load of dishes running in the dishwasher and a load of clothes in the washing machine (I was running out of underwear!).
Now, I will tell you about the horrible and most disastrous part of this ordeal for me! (It's all about me!)
On the Friday before this happened, I let my hair dresser talk me into a "body wave". I hate perms and haven't had one in 20 or 30 years, because my hair frizzes so much, but my hair dresser assured me this was different. Remember, I said I took a shower when I got home Tuesday? Well, of course, I didn't have electricity for my hair dryer, so my hair just frizzed up and I looked like a poodle who needed a hair cut! It was so dark when my husband got home from his meeting (and I never shined my flashlight on myself), he didn't see me until the next morning. He was laughing so hard, I thought he might have a stroke! When he finally stopped, he asked if one of the electric transformers had fallen on my head! I had to endure this with each member of my family as they slowly drifted into my house Wednesday. I guess it gave them a laugh in the middle of the tension we were all feeling, but it only added to my tension -- that is, until I looked in the mirror, and even I had to laugh!
All of you have left such sweet notes on my blog. There is a lot of love and there are a lot of loving people in Blogland, and I feel so blessed to be a part of it. You almost made me feel guilty, because (with the exception of my electrified hairdo) I really was relaxing and kind of enjoying myself! Thanks so much for visiting me and for all of your thoughts and prayers. It's good to be back. laurie