07. February 2013 · Write a comment · Categories: Home, snow, weather · Tags:

Between tomorrow (Friday) at noon and Saturday at 4 PM, we will be under a blizzard warning. This does not bode well for a commute home and a quiet Saturday. We’re well stocked with the needed goods and have a couple of gas fireplaces hooked to a nearly full 80 gallon propane tank. We’ll be warm, even if we don’t eat well. We have talked about purchasing a generator for several years now, so think that this summer we will complete that, even if it’s just a mid-sized one that will cover the pump for the well, the furnace, and a few lights.

Our neighbors told us when we moved in that they had lost power only a few times in 15 years, never for more than a couple of hours. We’ve gone days since then and had many shorter outages where a generator would have been very handy. This may finally be the impetus needed to spend the money and get the generator purchased and properly connected.

So Hurricane Sandy has come and gone. We had lots of wind yesterday, lost a grill off our deck, and had a few large branches fall. But unbelievably, we never lost power except for a quick glitch when dinner was almost ready. We gulped and hadn’t quite caught our breath before the power was back on. I’m still not sure how we kept power, but we did. We lost our Internet, cable and phone around 1:45 in the afternoon, so that kept me from working. Sue’s office was closed but mine was open so I worked all day until I lost that connection. Because I have only a virtual desktop, I have no ability to work remotely without a strong Internet connection.

As of this morning, our Internet connection was still down so I needed to head into the office. I headed in on back roads — highways were still closed when I left but opened up when I was half way in. So, I headed west and headed over to the Interstate to finish my drive in on the highway. Traffic on the newly opened highways was so light; it seemed that most people were working from home or taking the day off. As I got to my office, I realized that about half of my co-workers were home or taking the day off. The parking lot was only partially filled and the desks were practically empty. I’m guessing that a few groups not in proximity to my desk were more filled than my group, mostly based on the fact that many groups cannot work offline like my team can do. We’re mostly working heads down on documentation, others are answering calls from customers. Our work can be done from anywhere with an Internet connection – theirs, not so much.

So when all is said and done, we were very and survived the storm this year with little damage and little stress. Unlike last year, we weren’t outside, surveying the damage almost hourly and all night long. We slept through the night, counting our stars that we were not even close to the damage from last year.

This weekend, we’re hosting a party for Sue’s Mom’s 90th birthday. We have a few relatives from out of town from Sue’s family (two brothers and a nephew and their respective spouses), and our daughter will be in town to help celebrate. While it won’t be a great surprise, it’s the a good chance for family to spend time together and have cousins spend quality time together. We’ll have a great time and it should be a fantastic weekend!

As I write this, it seems to be the calm before the storm (literally). The sky is gray and ominous and only a few additional leaves fell overnight. The remaining leaves are prime targets for the wind that will be here later today and over the next few days. They are likely to all come down but we’re hoping they don’t bring any branches down with them

Last year’s Snowtober storm pretty much took our town to it’s knees. We lost power for just over 8 days and learned that after about 4 of those days, that we were sick and tired of no power and the darkness that settled in around 5:30 each evening. Then, as now, time had not shifted with the end of daylight savings time. Work still started at the same time, but with no power, Internet or phone, made working remotely impossible. The kids were great — no school that week for either of them, and they hadn’t killed each other by the time we got home. They were real troopers. One thing that we had then as we do now, is the propane fireplace in the Florida room. It provided more than enough heat to sleep for those who choose to sleep downstairs. Sue and I headed upstairs under a pile of blankets to attempt to stay warm enough for the few hours we would be in bed.

This year, we are only a bit more prepared. We have water stockpiled and we have both neighbors with generators for their wells and a local place to crash if needed at my Mother-in-law’s home in the adult living facility. They have a large generator and shouldn’t lose power for long given the elder population and in-town location. So at least we have backups for short showers and power. While we will eventually purchase a generator large enough to power a few appliances, a few lights, and the well and furnace, we haven’t made that a priority in our lives yet. Maybe this storm will be the motivation to get that done before winter is through.

We do have a challenging week coming up with the combination of the storm and inbound visitors starting on Friday. Sue’s Mom turns 90 on Halloween. We won’t be there because of a few young visitors and the fact that her facility has a Halloween celebration. She’s really enjoying the company and the fact that she interacts with her peers on a daily basis. She also knows that she is in better health than 90% of them, and certainly in better health than anyone else in their 90s. We are putting on a surprise birthday party for her next Saturday that will include a few out of town guests. Two of Sue’s brothers and their spouses, at least one nephew and his family, and perhaps a niece and part of her family including her husband that most of the family has never met. Needless to say, this is making Sue nuts with everything that needs to get done in combination with the impending power outage and storm clean-up. But, everything will get done, or it won’t, and the party will go off with only it’s normal collection of hitches.

My priority today is to complete a huge body of work for my real job so that it can get reviewed and approved on Thursday. Once I have that submitted, I can actually dedicate myself to helping around here. The work here yesterday wasn’t enough to feel accomplished in any aspect – work or home. But, we did get a great jump on the work at home. Today, we’re hanging pictures, moving furniture, and then trying to batten down the hatches to prevent outdoor items from flying away in the wind!

As I write this, it’s Saturday night, exactly one week after losing power. We had a very unusual October snow, dumping almost a foot of very wet snow on large sections of New England. The real problem wasn’t the snow, but the fact that we still had most of the leaves on the trees. This creates a huge surface area to catch leaves and weigh down branches. We lost dozens of trees and many times more branches. The limbs took down our power, and with it our well (water), lights, heat, refrigeration, and, generally, life as we know it. I worked at about 50% of normal this week, maybe 30 hours in all. By itself, that is a major cut in what I normally do, but it felt very strange to have hours of most days allocated to tasks such as using a chainsaw, not protecting my company’s data from harm.

Our house has been mostly dark, mostly cold, with a few limited assistances. Our next door neighbor is a construction worker, so has access to a large diesel generator. We were able to share it for the few days he and his family were in town. After his father got power, we got it to ourselves. That meant finding a way to haul diesel fuel from the gas station to home and finding a diesel gas can was a nearly impossible task. Thankfully, one store with them in stock was open early on Thursday morning – cash only, $12 for the can – a bargain! So we’ve been running the generator a few hours each day, powering the downstairs fridge and the freezer in the garage, plus a few CFL outfitted lights. We were drinking bottled water, showering at the high school or my office in MA, and going to bed early after working outside for hours every day.

Without too many more details, it looks like power may be back on in a day or two. Today, line clearing crews took the trees off the lines in our neighborhood, making progress ahead of the line crews. It’s clear that lines will need to be restrung – the high power green-colored lines have been cut in multiple places on our street.

So once we get power back, it’ll be a slow return to normal. We’ll need to re-purchase most perishable food and deal with the insurance. But, we’ll be warm, clean, and have running water. For these things, I will be thankful!