Click on the image for more information.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Hunker-Down Dance

Some weather, huh? Most of North America is cold--or at least far less delightful than the law allows. The snows had gotten so bad in Chicago that they closed down O'Hare Airport. Then they closed Lake Shore Drive due to accidents and blinding snow. They NEVER close the lake front, but people were stuck for up to 12 hours. They had to do something. Fortunately, they are beginning to recover.

Here in Texas, we braced for ice and got it in sheets. This is one of those days when I'm glad I no longer have a commute. ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) ordered controlled blackouts to compensate for the added consumption of electricity.

Knock on wood, I kept my electricity--but I kept losing my satellite, so computer connectivity was hit or miss. I don't think I got hammered near as badly as my friends west of me. But little things have kept me busy.

I have to visit the chickens more often, break up the ice in their water bowl then add a couple of liters of hot water. The other day I went out and when I tried to open my screen door to get back in, it had frozen shut.

Short of tearing off the screen (with my teeth since my fingers were numb from being in ice water), I was determined  to force my way in. It was touch and go for a while. I was beginning to look like a giant icicle. All the while, the dogs were laughing at me from the inside. Da bums! Never lifted a paw to help me.

Today, I thought I'd share some of my cold weather survival tips. You might have more options in the city, but these are the things I do in the event an Ice Age hits the boonies.

Before the storm

• Make sure all the laundry and dishes are done before the weather changes in case I lose my septic system.
• Go grocery shopping. I stocked up on veggies and fruits, things I'd miss during cabin fever week.
• Gather all my flashlights and place them in easy to reach places.
• If Greg were here, I'd make a few pre-cooked meals. Since he's not, I stock up on ready to eat canned foods in case I lose power.
• Keep my phone charged. It's my only reliable means of communication.
• Fill the gas tank in my car in case I have to evacuate.
• Get cash. Real cash. Not plastic. When power goes out you might not be able to complete a transaction, but they'll still take your paper money.

During Hunker-Down Week

• Fill as many jugs of water as I can--in case I lose my water. Water is not just for me, but all my animals. That's a lot of water.
• Have wood for the fireplace in case I lose all heat.
• Eat off paper plates and plastic utensils when I can to avoid overburdening the septic system with water for washing dishes.
• Engage a hunk to hunker down with me, but since that's not feasible, I'm prepared to read or write--a lot.

Any kind of emergency is always more bearable when you have family or friends about. I've been getting a lot of phone calls and emails lately and it makes me feel all warm and toasty knowing people are checking up on me. Either that or Google Maps posted a picture of a woman slowly freezing to death as she tried to get back into her house. (Yup, that was me.)

Update: Last night, the weatherman said my area might get half an inch of snow. Here's a shot from the front of my house. Sure looks more than a half inch to me. Oy. 

I've got a lot of deadlines to meet, so I'm taking a short hiatus until next week. I'll still be able to visit blogs and Facebook, so look for me to pop in from time to time.

Meanwhile, chip in. What tips do you have when you have to do the cabin fever rumba? I'm laying odds we're going to see a lot of babies in nine months. :wink:


Dru said...

You got it all covered. Make sure you have plenty of batteries and your medicine kit is up-to-date.

Stay warm!

Mike Keyton said...

Cabin fever? Recommend the Wii 'Just Dance'. I thought I was damn good following the TV avatar - until my daughter showed me her cell phone pictures of me : ( But you'd be able to gyrage and cavort to your heart's content. Dogs are rubbish with Cell-phones.

Mike Keyton said...

gyrage? What the hell's that? Some kind of dance-rage? Should have been gyrate.

Maria Zannini said...

Dru: Holy moley, meds. Yes. The last thing you want to do is risk life and limb to get meds. Good one!

I always upload your remarks into a special Brit translator in Mike Keyton mode. It usually decodes your messages correctly. LOL.

Ref:...until my daughter showed me her cell phone pictures of me...
Are you insane? That's evidence. Tick her off once and you're likely to find those pictures on Facebook. (Tell her I'll take two.)

Misha said...

Can't really say. I've only been snowed in once when I was very young.


Maria Zannini said...

Misha: This is so extraordinary for us. The poor northern half of the continent has been hit hard. But we just don't get weather like this normally. In a few months, It'll be over a hundred degrees and I'll be wishing for snow. LOL.

Krista D. Ball said...

The only time in my life that we were truly snowed in was in 1992, when I was in grade 12. 10 feet of snow fell in a 24 hour period. My dad and I stayed up all night shovelling, so that we could open the doors in the morning.

The snow drifts were higher than our 12 foot fence (though that was standard a lot of winters) and our 14 foot apple tree was no where to be found why the time the snow stopped.

I'm trying to feel bad for you, Maria. Honest, I am. No, honest. :p

Grandpa said...

Hi Maria, good tips there.

I saw on TV how bad the situation is - snow everywhere. We have plenty of rain here with some areas flooding, but the sun still shines and it's either hot or at least warm, everyday.

Looks like you're well prepared. Stay safe and warm. Hope the weather improves soon.

Maria Zannini said...

Krista: Just shaddup, 'k?

Meanie! We have to borrow snow plows around here! At least this snow is kind of nice. Very fluffy.

I'll remember you when I'm harvesting tomatoes and you're gathering firewood. :P


Grandpa: It's always something no matter where you live. I'd much rather have snow than floods. I can't swim. :o) Thanks for stopping by!

Linda Leszczuk said...

Take the dogs outside with you next time. They'd find a way back in. (Silly human.)

One serious addition to your list. Everyone should have a hand crank powered emergency radio in their home. Most of these include the emergency weather band (as well as AM & FM), a pretty powerful light, and a port for charging your cell phone, which is very helpful if your power is off for an extended period of time. We also have a hand crank flashlight with smaller radios and cell charger ports in each of our cars.

Stay safe.

Krista D. Ball said...

I gather firewood while harvesting tomatoes. :p

Maria Zannini said...

Linda: I forgot about the crank lights and radio. They were lifesavers when we were 3 weeks without power during Hurricane Rita.

Maria Zannini said...

Krista: I blow raspberries in your general direction. LOL!

Lynn Colt said...

We found headlamps to be great for keeping your hands free when you don't want to be carrying a flashlight around. Also, we have a power supply for the bf's computer (so that when power flickers the computer doesn't shut off--it's a desktop) that he keeps fully charged, and it was crucial for keeping cell phones charged when the power blew.

I need to go buy a crank radio, and other emergency kit items! Thanks for the tips :) and stay warm!!

ps that is such a pretty shot of your house! I love circular-type rooms; I bet it gets lots of sun :)

Maria Zannini said...

Lynn: Hubby bought one of those headlamps. Even I use it. Very handy.

Ref: circular room
Ah, my favorite room! It's my garden room. The entire bumped out side of that room is tiled and has a drain and a gorgeous indoor water spigot shaped like a bird. This is where all my tropical plants and trees live when the weather gets like this. It always feels like spring in there.

Joanne said...

You've about covered it Maria. Here in New England, we need automobile periscopes to see over the mountains of snowbanks while driving ... More snow predicted tomorrow :/

Meghan Schuessler said...

Thankfully we haven't lost electricity once yet due to snow or ice storms. So there are always blogs to read to keep me busy! :)

Ellie said...

OMG, I didn't realise just how bad it was until reading your post. I'm afraid I can't offer much advice, as I've never had to hunker-down. But I say reading and the radio, if you've still got power. Re-discover the old favourites and tune into new radio stations.

Maria Zannini said...

Joanne: Periscopes? Is that true? That certainly would make sense. I did Chicago as a young person, but I sure wouldn't want to be cold that long now. I like being outdoors and there are only so many snowmen you can build.

Meghan: Reading anything is my favorite pastime when the weather gets like this. Makes me feel safe.

Ellie: The nice thing about weather is that it always changes--especially down here. This won't last too long.

Angelina Rain said...

It sucks you were stuck outside in the cold. I’m glad people were checking in on you. It seems like you were prepared for this weather. I know I wasn’t. I have no idea where my flashlight is. My phone was almost dead, we have no fireplace (so if the heat goes out, we’re out of luck), and we were low on food in the house. I did prepare by charging the laptop battery so I could write. Luckily, the power didn’t go out through.

Maria Zannini said...

Angelina: It's a little hard to prepare when you're so sick. you poor thing. Hopefully you have someone who can bring you supplies. You need to conserve your strength until you get better.

Charlie said...

I'm in Florida, so getting snowed in is not a worry, but you're list looks a lot like my hurricane prep list. ;)

Stay warm!

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I love a good nap when it's terrible weather outside. Wow, I'm really unadventurous.

Maria Zannini said...

Charlie: It's exactly the same. I lived on the Gulf Coast for many years and have the hurricane scars to prove it. LOL. The one thing I learned is that you cannot sit around waiting for anyone to help you. When Hurricane Rita hit, we were on our own.

Barbara: Ref: naps
Oh, boy! You have no idea how appealing that sounds. I probably could have gotten more done today if I had taken a nap, but I kept fighting it because if I nap, I can't sleep at night. Stoopid body.

jackie b central texas said...

I was thinking your round room looks like part of a Castle. Right now though especially with the snow on the roof of the house it looks kind a Gingerbread cottage like in Hansel and Gretel... And no I am not saying you are the witch in the story!
Snow does look pretty and fluffy but can say for sure you scared me with the screen door... Please way out in the middle of heck and gone prop the door open if this continues and pull the main door shut behind it!

Iko and Tank take better care of Mom are no more chicken for you guys!

catie james said...

Two things Mom stocks like they're going out of style: toilet paper and tampons.

ZOMIG! Do I lurve your house!!! It's gorgeous. It would almost - almost - make me consider life in a place that sounds far boonier than my current location (which is as boonie as I'm willing to get).

Oh and apologies for my lack of visitations/comments lo these many months. I'm giving up the ghost on "catching up" and just trying to stay current w/my favorite blogs.

India Drummond said...

We got some serious weather at the end of last year here in Scotland... were snowed in for a week, couldn't even get the car out of the drive.

I tell ya, you know it's bad when you're eating the weird canned goods in the back of the cabinet!

Maria Zannini said...

Jackie: Well, it wasn't too dire. I could always tear off the screen if I wanted too, but I didn't want to ruin it. Since then, I've propped the door open. It's just that the first day, I never expected it to freeze so fast. I was only gone a few minutes.

Ref: witch
LOL. Greg might think differently.


Catie: The house is too big for my taste, but the price was too good to pass up. I have great neighbors too.

India: Ref: I tell ya, you know it's bad when you're eating the weird canned goods in the back of the cabinet!

I almost choked when I read that. That happened to me once and I swore then after only to buy stuff I would REALLY eat. I don't want to be surprised when I'm roughing it.

Sherri said...

Hunker down...not much need here, much to my boys dismay. Winter storms to them equal sledding, snowball fights, and hot chocolate.

Good list though... I'm terribly unprepared for things. I've lost power before but never more than 24 hours. Been snowed in again never more than 24 hours. Thankfully, never had to evacuate.

Have to say your house looks lovely with all that snow and I agree it looks like more than half an inch.

Maria Zannini said...

Sherri: The snow was very pretty. Very fluffy. The dogs loved playing in it. Me, not so much. :grin:

Rula Sinara said...

Stay warm, Maria! I'm in the East and I grew up in North TX so I feel for you with the crazy weather. Your list includes everything I do when the snow or ice hits.

And my dog loves it! She stands at the door expecting me to go out to play with her. thanks.

Maria Zannini said...

Rula: I didn't know you grew up here. Small world! I was born in Texas and came back as soon as I could.

Ref: dogs
Yeah, my dogs want me to play in the snow too. I don't think so. LOL.

Right now the snow is all melted and the temps are mild, but we are getting another blast from the north this Wednesday. I hope it'll be the last wave.

Bookewyrme said...

Glad you came through Snowmageddon '11 alright, and hope the next wave doesn't hit ya as hard. ^_^


Maria Zannini said...

Lia: It can't last too much longer. Soon enough I'll be complaining about triple digits. LOL.

Suzanne Brandyn said...

Don't forget to fill up the bathtub with water.
Keep safe. :)

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

your house looks awesome! Like some sort of fairy tale cottage. Color me jealous

Tara said...

Wow! I moved from S.FL. to NC a few years ago and am trying to get used to these winters. I cannot even imagine dealing with all of that! Yikes.

Thanks for stopping by my place :)

Maria Zannini said...

Suzanne: Yup. Comes in handy for 'le toilet'. :)

Sarah: We like it. It's a little big for my taste, but there's lots of room for guests and entertaining.

Tara: Welcome, Tara! Nice to see you here.

This weather has been unreal for Texas and we're so unprepared for it. We're expecting another blast tomorrow and then we'll get up in the 60s. Thank you, Mother Nature.

Marian Perera said...

Toronto seems kind of toasty in comparison. Well, maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but if it's zero or above here I don't worry too much. Hope your chickens are OK, though. And enjoy the hiatus!

Maria Zannini said...

Marian: Chickens are surprisingly adaptable. As long as their combs and waddles don't freeze they do quite well.

Linda Leszczuk said...

I hate it when my waddle freezes, don't you?

Maria Zannini said...

Linda: This is why *I* don't go out in freezing temperatures either. LOL!

Arlee Bird said...

This has been an amazing weather year so far. In California we are supposed to take emergency measures similar to the ones you list, except ours are for earthquakes. Uh, I think I'll take your snow please.

Tossing It Out and the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2011

Talli Roland said...

Wow! That's some weather! I always try to go outside for a walk, no matter the weather, whenever I need to get out. A little bit of fresh air works wonders.

Glad you stayed safe!

Maria Zannini said...

Arlee: I agree. Snow is much better than earthquakes and hurricanes.

Talli: Ref: going out
:grin: I don't have any choice. Those animals have to be fed and watered regardless of the weather. But I enjoy it. It's my favorite part of the day.