NOW We Lose Power!

Now that it’s warming up and the ice is melting, boom. The power went off for us and our closest neighbors. It’s been off close to 24 hours. I guess melting ice isn’t great for power lines, because there are spotty outages all over.

Enjoy a pretty ice photo.

We slept fine last night, and I’ve sure gotten a lot of reading done, in between emergencies and such. the old horse was down yesterday when I went to check. I did manage to give him colic medicine but not correctly, but I tried.

Down horse.

Sara found him up and eating today, though, so I didn’t kill him by not knowing exactly what to do. Whew. And Sara is back, so I don’t have to worry as much. I worry about Lakota.

Up horse

Otherwise it’s okay here. Chickens are alive , though Bruce has some comb damage, poor guy. But they are alive! The dead songbirds still make me sad.

Best chicken photo I could get.

I did take a little walk yesterday and got photos of the sun shining through ice. I think I’ll miss the little ice penises the most. It’s from little stems that stuck up out of the snow. They made me laugh.

Anatomically correct!

It was so shiny still! It doesn’t really come through in the photos, but I’ll share anyway. I’ll write more when we get power. I’m in the car charging things!

The Sun Is So Bright

That yeah, we need shades. Wow is ole Sol making fast work of the ice. Even though it’s well below freezing outside, the ice is crashing and booming off the roof, and clear patches are starting to show up.

The image doesn’t do justice to the shininess.

The trees had rainbow diamonds in them this morning, and just look at the Chihuly sculpture our rain chain made!

Ice ice baby

I couldn’t write or work much yesterday, because the cell towers weren’t working. So Lee and I watched movies on DVD most of the day.

Cloudy yesterday.

I did make it out to check animals and see if we got any mail (no). Penney loved running and sliding on the ice. She went full tilt.

This is fun.

The layer of ice was over water in lots of spots. It was hard to find the right places to step. Neither Carlton nor I moved very fast.

This is NOT fun.

Ice is now falling off the roof again and booming, so the dogs are close by me. Penney and Carlton are even getting along!

All the toting and fetching of water has been hard on Ralph, so Sara and I are taking over for him now. I’m pretty sure the driveway has melted enough to get out! Freedom! Of course, the water supply is spotty.

From yesterday.

But, all in all, we see the light at the end of the tunnel, so I have my sunglasses ready. Maybe it will thaw out the water heater and heat pump and we can be clean and warm again inside!

Such a dreamer.

Diamond trees

I’m hearing my friends and coworkers in Austin are getting heat and power back, too. I sure hope some of the infrastructure issues can be fixed.

Reacting to Natural Disasters

Witnessing people’s reactions to the natural disaster event we’re going through here in central Texas has been most educational. People seem to fall into different groups, and I’ve been fascinated as I note their actions. I’ll share a few observations. Which of these are you?

Lee took this last night as the motion-sensor lights shone through icicles. Don’t stand under them.

The Helpers

I want to start out with these folks, because they impress me and keep my sliver of faith in humanity alive. All the sharing, caring and helping makes me so proud. Here are some examples I know of.

  • My coworker, Jason, lives out in the country near a road that has a banked curve. It froze over, of course, and people took it way too fast for the conditions (mostly because they were unaware). He and his son drove on a level back road until they were close to the road and proceeded to help people get unstuck, flagged cars down to slow them, and made sure everyone was safe. Most people had just abandoned their vehicles. He’s also monitoring the local NextDoor posts, and taking water and food to elderly neighbors. He sadly reported that some people just lectured others for not being prepared. I’m glad there are more people like him and his family out there being good neighbors.
  • My other coworkers are all sharing information, checking in, and offering to help. A woman in my department volunteered to boil water for people who have no electricity and can’t boil it for themselves (lots of people have neither water nor electricity right now).
  • Our business has a client who needs services, even in this weather. A Deputy from the Sheriff’s Department kindly drove our amazing Meghan to a neighboring smaller town than Cameron, because the roads were so bad. I can’t mention the kindnesses Meghan has performed this week, but some go way above and beyond her job duties.
Road conditions yesterday.

The Blamers

A lot of people with time and bandwidth seem to be using it to point fingers at various industries, businesses, and people for not doing a good enough job. I admit to being unhappy that nothing has been done about our road, with the icy bridge and the treacherous hill, but I know there are reasons for it (the district personnel had been under a COVID quarantine, AND Monday was a Federal holiday). I am trying to remember that no one set out to cause this mess on purpose. Still, I read a lot of this kind of stuff.

  • Texas is to blame for their own problems, because they are not on any US power grid. Well, none of US made that decision. Let’s deal with our weird system of buying power on an open marketplace and such later, and concentrate on making sure our linemen and other power service staff stay safe and get help.
  • The water companies are to blame for not maintaining pipes. Um. They need money to do that (and Cameron IS in the process of upgrading infrastructure). Also, when pipes burst, it ruins water pressure. Even homeowners who are doing their best to care for their pipes are having issues, so it’s no one’s fault.
  • People who dislike fracking and pipelines should just go build their own windmills for power. Okay, that is just dumb. The windmills didn’t freeze, anyway. Texas has a mix of power sources, which actually isn’t a bad idea…just no one could prepare for this stuff.
  • The President hasn’t come to save us. He’s a piece of sh**. Um, he cleared disaster funds days ago, when requested by the governor who’s the one who keeps bragging he don’t need no Federal dollars to help sick people. Meanwhile, Senator Cruz got on a plane and headed to a resort in Mexico. He can’t exactly fix things, but that still doesn’t make a great impression. I always enjoy it when the people who insult me for saying poor and/or homeless people can use some help and insist they pull themselves up by the bootstraps start blaming the government for not helping THEM whey THEY need it.
  • I’ll stop here. I do think blamers could better spend their time doing useful things.

The Bright-Siders

This is what I TRY to be, when I can. Like, right now puffed-up meadowlarks are flying around drinking water out of places where there is melting. And I have a lot of time to read and knit. Kathleen is the champion of not complaining ever, about anything. The power outage lets her use more candles, the ice formations in the field are pretty, etc. This is commendable, knowing what she’s actually dealing with and NOT sharing!

Who needs an icemaker, when you have this?

I see lots and lots of posts from people who are enjoying the birds and helping keep them alive with food and water. More than one has said watching birds has helped them get through the week in relatively good spirits. Thank you, Nature.

The Stoics

A lot of people are just muddling through. I guess that’s what you do when you truly don’t have any control over a situation and realize that complaining, blaming, or panicking isn’t going to change anything. They are conserving water and electricity (oops I am using it now), not endangering themselves on the road, and figuring out ways to eat and entertain themselves for another few days. They ask for help if needed, but try to be as self reliant as possible.

This seems like a good plan, to me.

And like Harvey, they find the warm spots and stay there (he found my heating pad and now loves me a lot more).

I’m gonna take care of animals, stay warm, and hope the satellite doesn’t go out again, so I can at least watch television. I have plenty of books and knitting, and the knitting keeps me warm. It’s my very first horrible natural disaster, so I’m learning things!

Stay safe, if your in the middle of this icepocalypse, and the rest of you be patient with people in this state. They just don’t have the infrastructure, and they have to live with the consequences of some interesting planning decisions.

Coping with Chaos!

In my bullet journal this morning is an entry saying:

Blog without whining

Suna

All right then. Today Lee and I are camping in the bedroom, where it is warm. Penney has discovered the space heater and has freed up Lee’s lap.

Happy dog, and coffee station.

Meanwhile, Carlton is under my layers of blankets and knitting. Oddly enough, I haven’t knitted much, due to checking in on people who have things much worse than I do. We certainly can’t go anywhere, as we now have a pretty layer of ice!

Carlton and shawl project, with Harvey butt.

I’m grateful to helpers today! Kathleen’s cows got more hay, and I have no idea how they got it there, unless they did it last night. And Ralph is heroically caring for the horses. He deserves a medal. I will eventually creep over to the chickens with warm water and food. I’m hoping they are still there.

Still, we cope.

Anita and Kathleen are both still without power. I’m grateful for Anita’s gas fireplace and Kathleen’s endless supply of candles.

Meanwhile, one of my coworkers has come down with gall bladder symptoms. For gosh sake! They already have no power and certainly can’t drive to a doctor. Another colleague had water coming through her entryway light fixture, and we ALL know water and electricity don’t mix! And, word just came in that an Austin neighbor has water pouring into their garage. No whining! At least it’s the garage and not inside!

Cameron residents don’t have to worry about water pipes bursting at the moment, since the water is off. Too many water lines burst. I’m just hoping my poor sister muddles through, since we can’t get to her! I appreciate all the news my friend Lynn sends, since she gets all the alerts.

And newsflash! Pamela reports no mail because no mail trucks have arrived in days. Lee says they also have computer trouble. At least the weather has downplayed that potential conspiracy theory generator.

Once again, though, I’m impressed with how people are supporting each other and staying in touch. My friends and family are being so kind and caring about sending me news! Now I gotta go check in on more folks.

Take care! We’re coping!

No Longer Fun or Funny, Now Boomy

Snow and bitter cold are okay if you have a warm and cozy house to stay warm in. Ours is not cozy, but can be made semi-cozy, because we have electricity and space heaters. Most of my friends in the Austin area are without power at all or for long stretches, and there are also water outages (not to mention burst pipes). It turns out that yes, your water supply can be affected by power outages. It doesn’t just flow without help. That is NOT cozy.

Horses in the snow, photo by Ralph.

Okay, here’s a funny story, though. Apparently someone yelled at a water company employee in our area when they said the water wasn’t working due to electrical outages. They said they KNEW you can’t mix water with electricity, so they have nothing to do with each other! At least they know ONE fact.

Another fact: ice expands. It has broken the gutters in a couple of places.

I’m happy to say the chickens are still with us, and are sharing their scratch with the wild birds, who are not faring all that great. One thing that’s helping them a lot is that water is dripping off the house, so they can drink. And the sun is so bright that it has melted some bare spots. At least one little brown bird is actually finding stuff to eat!

I found the food, says Mrs. Sparrow.

The birds here do have a lot of shelter and plenty of food in the woods, but we are still getting casualties. On my front porch just now I found poor dear yellow-rumped warblers (male and female), as well as a white-winged dove. I am so sad for these creatures.

On a happier note, someone was out exploring this morning!

Bunny evidence.

The cows are running low on hay, so I’ll have to ask the neighbors for more, and they are certainly not helping their water supply. One of them pooped into the trough, and of course the poop froze to the ice. I did not enjoy trying to get all that out. Cows.

Here, look at this cool ice formation instead of cow poop. You’re welcome.

This would be all well and good if it weren’t for the fact that yet another huge wave of awfulness is coming tonight, and there might be one after that. People have no water and no heat already! I am very worried about elderly and very young people. And I no longer think my mohair shawls are “too hot.”

This shawl is JUST RIGHT.

Boom

I said there were booms, didn’t I? Yes. We have a metal roof. The sun is very, very bright right now, which means it’s warming the roof. As a consequence, very large sheets of ice are falling from the second-storey roof onto the first-storey roof. It sounds like a dump truck is in the ceiling.

Smaller ice that fell

As you may have already guessed, dogs are not happy with those booms. Harvey is as far under my desk as he can get, all scrunched into my blanket I’m under and the towel I put under there for him.

Make the booms stop.

Carlton squeezed himself into a ball in my chair. They are not thrilled one bit. Plus it is still a balmy 55 degrees in the house (not complaining; my sister and Anita both have it much worse).

I’m trying to dig a hole.

The sounds really are loud, like cannons. It turns out they are just icicles falling. Here, watch!

Wait for it…

All of you in the grips of this weather system have my sympathy, even if you live in a place that can cope with the cold and with an electrical grid that has actual PLANS for bad weather.

Shiny Wonders

What a weird day it’s been. I couldn’t work, because everyone in Austin is having power outages. I felt so cold. I felt sick. Then I felt better! The weather was horrible, but by afternoon, with the sun shining, it felt okay out! The dogs had cabin fever, so we went and played. So you get another post of snow photos.

Penney loves snow. It’s yummy.

We went out and checked the chickens and cows. Everyone was fine, even Springsteen, who was trying to disguise herself as a statue, was sitting with the others.

I just had to take pictures of the shiny trees and happy dogs. It’s beautiful, as long as you have power and the wind settles down.

All the dogs really enjoyed themselves after begging me to go out. Penney bounced and flopped and dug her nose in. She and Carlton ran and jumped in the woods. And Alfred was in his element.

I had fun, too, once the wind went down. The sun was so bright I needed sunglasses, though. I found bunny tracks and could see that the armadillo had peeked out of his hole. And the spring is still flowing in the woods.

Tonight will perhaps be the coldest night ever here. And more freezing precipitation is on its way.

But this is Texas. Warm front next week!

Heat and Love

We have been warned of historically bad weather coming. I look forward to the coming snow, and enjoyed some great pictures from my friends in Washington! But, it’s gonna get cold and wet, which means power outages are possible.

Totally iced over by Walker’s Creek church.

I said to Lee that I wished we had installed the extra gas fireplace we had leftover from our last renovation project. We couldn’t find it, which is weird, because we both remember it sitting around…somewhere.

It looks sort of eerie.

Then it occurred to us that the store nearby where we bought most of our furniture sells fireplace inserts. Lee dropped by, but they didn’t have any in stock (they usually order them custom). Then she remembered there were some laying around…somewhere.

All the fences look interesting.

But, yay! They found stuff! All we had to do was pick it up! We went over there, which gave me a chance to take pictures of the icy landscape in our area. It’s just so…white. I’m sure it would have been spectacular if the sun came out. However, that’s unlikely for a few days.

Ice at the furniture warehouse.

When we got home, it was clear that these weren’t fancy new fireplace inserts. But, they are fine looking.

Carlton really wanted to help Lee install the logs and such, but his paws were too big.

How can I assist you?

Lee didn’t put the fancy controls in. We will wait until our resident expert comes back. It works now, though! And the logs are just fine! I consider this my Valentine and a true display of Lee’s eternal love. Aww.

Installation in progress.

We are quite pleased to have backup heat at the Hermits’ Rest, just in time for the wintry mix and such. I’m so grateful to Franci at the furniture store for going above and beyond to help out. Love to her family, too!

Fire time!

And hey, I made chili with some of the 5 pounds of dried pinto beans Meghan brought us. We won’t starve. We are ready For the deep cold. Brr.

Mmm. Chili.

COVID +1, Ice 0

Ice is zero, because that’s how cold it is in Celsius. COVID is +1, because I got my first Moderna vaccination today. I’m really relieved to get the process started, because it means I might be able to go back to my nice office in Cameron without being so paranoid about potential exposure from Hearts, Homes and Hands staff who work with so many clients (and we are glad they do). Anyway, that’s why I got to get the shot before turning 65 or 64 or whatever age it is.

This is a good thing.

The Vaccination

The County Health Department has the luxury of two closed hospitals to use in cases like this (thanks to all the rural hospitals closing down…moving on…). That meant there were lots of rooms for counseling and giving the shots. Everyone was SO nice. You could just see how happy they are to be doing this for our citizens.

Sad room, wishing it could be part of a hospital again.

The nurse who counseled me was especially nice, and we spent a lot of time praising the County Judge, who has been quite the stoic through this whole pandemic. Half the county says he’s the Devil and half says he’s a Saint. Whichever, the job certainly has been more than he thought it would be when he ran for office!

All fogged up. And I have on two masks.

The only part about the whole thing was that, because it’s truly cold and most of the people getting their vaccines are elderly, they had everyone wait inside rather than sitting in their cars and being called in. I truly understand why they did it, but GEEZ I felt claustrophobic waiting in a hallway filled with fragile people, where there was no way to get 6 feet away from anyone. I did double mask, though, and I’m sure most of those folks were like me and never leave their houses except for things like vaccinations!

They DID have chairs spaced out. The ones next to each other are for couples.

Now I just have to wait a month to get the other shot, then two more weeks and I’ll feel a bit better interacting with folks (with mask).

The Ice

One thing I realized when I was driving to Rockdale for the vaccination is that up here in Walker’s Creek/Silver City (or wherever I live), we got much more ice than only a few miles south of us did. Some of Rockdale’s trees looked perfectly normal. On the other hand, there are lots of trees down here (and my friends in northwest Austin really, really had lots of damage).

These poor trees just keep getting smaller and smaller every time there’s bad weather.

On the other hand, ice sure is pretty.

I love this ice-encapsulated beggar’s purse!

I’m glad the temperature is a balmy 32 F (0 C) today, since I need to load up on hay for Apache for the upcoming Polar Vortex. Sara and Ralph got blankets on all the horses, but Fiona is so fuzzy, she’s fine. Everyone has shelter and seemed just fine this morning, once I broke the ice in the water troughs, which I will have to do again this evening, I’m sure.

We are fine, and have hay. And all the cattle are munching away, happy as can be.

Enjoy some more photos of our icy time. By Sunday we should be getting snow or worse. It may get down to the OTHER 0 degrees! This is NOT normal Texas weather!