Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ice, Ice, Baby!

Greetings, Blog Readers!  Hysterical Mind here.  You will, of course remember me as that half of Sheepie's brain that processes any and all input at being a portent of doom.  I'm on blog duty tonight while my more logical counterpart, Rational Mind, sits in the corner writing "I will not make fun of HM" 1000 times.  

I am often on the receiving end of mockery.  "Oh, that HM," they chuckle, "always making mountains out of molehills!"  Well, this time, I am having the last laugh!  When everything goes to heck in a handbasket, all of a sudden I don't seem so crazy!  Ha-ha, I say!  And once more for good measure!  HA-HA!!!

The Sheep awoke yesterday morning at the ungodly hour of 4:30.  There really was no other choice.  She was hearing a great deal of crashing, cracking and booming.  She knows what those sounds mean.  She's heard them before.  She quickly put me in charge of operations, as would any sensible person or sheepie.

Cracking and whatnot indicates two things:  tranformers are blowing and tree branches are falling.  It was time for action.  First up:  check the news.  I did so and confirmed that there would be no school that day.  My district was one of the first to cancel, but certainly not the last.  Before the morning was done, nothing much was open for business.

Here's why:


More ice.

Then, just for a change of

Not great pictures, I realize.  But Dudes, there was so totally no way I was going out there.  I took these from the bedroom window.

Next up: heat. We rarely lose power here and, when we do, it doesn't last long. But they don't call me Hysterical for nothing. I firmly believe that the worst will happen in any possible situation. I turned on all available heating devices, started the coffee and began toasting up the morning waffle. Good thing. No sooner had the timer dinged on the toaster and the coffee finished gurgling than the power went out.

Fortunately, I have planned for such events.  We do not have to eat our waffle in the dark.  That would be uncivilized.

They laughed when I bought all those candles on sale at the discount store.  Fools...

With that bit of business out of the way, it was time to consider how we were going to remain updated on the situation, not to mention keep ourselves entertained.  Again, I had that situation well in hand.  The battery operated television was unearthed from the closet and pressed into service.

I will miss this thing when the digital conversion is completed in February.  It may be time to rethink picking up one of those digital converter boxes...

I had this place running like a well-oiled machine, I tell you!  We were fed, relatively warm and had access to updated information from the outside world.  Of course, I didn't exactly like what I was hearing.  Central Maine Power was struggling with all the outages.  They probably read the same weather report that I did, the one that said my county wasn't going to get so much with the ice.  They were concentrating on getting the power shut off to all the downed lines and weren't sure when they could restore service.  They were saying things like, "Gosh, it might be days..."

This might have made the average listener cower in the corner.  Not me.  I am HM!  I was built for this sort of thing!!!

It was time to consider comfort.  We had plenty of knitting, reading material and other entertainments to keep us occupied.  But you can't overestimate the value of the psychological.  What we needed was hot food.  It is a very bad idea to use a propane stove inside and, as I mentioned, I was not setting foot out in that mess even if it was to heat up some chow.  But I am nothing if not resourceful.  

I've also maybe thought about how I might go about doing this sort of thing in the event of a forced confinement.  

Cooking by candlelight.  Seriously...

Dollar store warming trivet.  It can heat up some water for cocoa or warm up that chicken that got roasted up the night before.

Disclaimer (because the worst can happen and will if you aren't thinking about how it can all go wrong):  I was really careful with this camping activity.  The little grill was placed on the stove and well away from anything that might catch fire.  The same went for the warming trivet.  Both were set up on a heat resistant baking stone for good measure.  You also don't want to wander off.  In all seriousness here, the fire department was busy.  They weren't going to be rushing to my aid should flames get out of control.  I used tea lights, had a source of water close to hand and supervised well.  

Other Disclaimer (because it's best to be honest)  Are you going to cook a five course meal for your family this way?  No.  Don't be ridiculous.  You aren't cooking at all.  You are reheating food that is already cooked and safe to eat.  Like I said, it's the psychological aspect of eating hot food.  

The day wore on and still the power remained off.  I began to realize that we needed to think about how we were going to make it through the night.  It was all well and good to nosh on warm chicken and whatnot...but that wasn't going to keep us from freezing to death come nightfall.  Time to put Plan B into action!

The storm had passed and it seemed safe to venture out to the car to retrieve those chemical handwarmers that I found at the Dollar Store last summer.  They had seemed like a sensible thing to keep in the car for emergencies, but seemed even more sensible to have in the house right now.  I drew shut the insulated blackout shades that I purchased last fall to hold in as much heat as possible and lit a couple more candles.  Light and a wee bit more heat...not much, but anything was going to be helpful at this point.

I then went to the closet and selected our ensemble for the evening.  When staying in your unheated home for the night, the key to survival is layers.  Lots of them.  You wear tights, a pair of bike shorts and fleece jammie pants.  You don a tank top, turtleneck and alpaca sweater.  You put on a hat and you keep it on.  I realize that you may feel a little bit silly.  But don't worry.  You look far more silly than you feel.  But you will look even sillier when you lose an ear to frostbite in your own home.

Disclaimer (because I like disclaimers...) I am being half serious and half silly, here.  It is actually not always the brightest maneuver to remain in your home without any sort of power source or heat when temperatures are predicted to drop into the low teens for the night.  I put a great deal of thought into this matter.  There is a pet-friendly shelter fairly close to me, after all.  But I figured that, if I can't use the bathroom when I think my downstairs neighbors are using theirs, then how would I fare in a shelter, for God's sake?  I would surely die of self-induced pee-pee poisoning!  I firmly believe that this is the leading cause of death amongst Hysterically Minded individuals and grossly under-reported.  I opted to bundle up and stay put.

With these (and a myriad of other) plans put into operation, we were able to successfully survived the night.  The handwarmers were activated and tucked into my slippers for short periods to keep them warm.  Later, they went under my pillow.  Warm food was consumed and, with the aid of my itty-bitty book light, I was able to read my recently acquired library books until bedtime.  It was not the most pleasant night spent here at the manse.  But not at all unbearable.  Thanks to me.  Hysterical Mind.  Not Rational Mind who thinks that I am crazy for buying chemical handwarmers in July.  She gets no credit whatsoever for our still being alive and in possession of all our toes.

The power was back on when we awoke this morning and all was right with the world.  I remained in charge of things in case there might be a relapse of some sort and, I must admit, to gloat a bit.  I also wanted to review the Survival Plan and see if there was any way to tighten things up a bit for next time.  The only things I see that need to be done differently were these:  

1.  We forgot to charge the ipod.  We were forced to leech power from the laptop in order that we might continue to enjoy our audiobook.  However, I might question the advisability of listening to Max Brooks' World War Z ( a chronicle of the zombie wars) while Armageddon rages outside...

2.  We were low on D batteries.  We had to resort to doing that thing where you mix old and new batteries in order to keep the little TV running.  That is not a good idea.  But those were the circumstances and you do what you gotta.  We will be remedying this state of affairs as soon as, well...we can find some D batteries.  There are none right now.  The shelves are empty.  A lot of folks still don't have power...

3.  The new recruit needs training.  The Big, Fluffy Kitty remained by Mommy's side and lent of her fluffy warmth just like we'd planned.

But the Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty, oddly excited by this weather event, used his time to plan sneak attacks on the Christmas Tree.  This shot was taken by flash in utter darkness.  There was no way to tell what was going on, but I suspected tom-foolery:

The flash reveals all!  Busted!!!!!

I thank you for your time and attention to my Ice Storm Survival Update.  I trust that you will remember my deft handling of this situation the next time you read one of those HM/RM posts and chuckle at my expense.  I am a master of planning and execution!  I am a hero among hypothetical constructs devised to illustrated the concept of abstract thought!  I walk with the giants!!!

I'm probably going to write a survival guide or something.  Just not right now.  I'm a little tired from all the excitement.  I should probably rest up a bit.

This is just the beginning of the season, after all...


Disclaimer:  It's really SA.  I should say that because we don't want anyone to think that I am not in full possession of my own brain.  I am.  Honest.  I just sometimes let HM think she is in charge.  Yeah...that's how it works.


Karen said...

HM is great in a crisis. Would she be willing to help out in Washington should the need arise?

Jeanne said...

I'm on HM's side. When one lives in the winter climes, one must be prepared for what winter does. That is some ice.

Kath said...

Gotta give HM serious credit on this one! Excellent job!

Donna Lee said...

Yay for HM! Gloat away baby. That is beautiful ice. That's one of the ironies of winter. The most beautiful scenes are the most dangerous. I'm glad you survived. And don't underestimate the power of those hand/foot warmers! I love them and stock up on them because my toes are always cold.

catsmum said...

I'm sorry Sheepie but I knew it was you ALL ALONG ... that post was altogether tooooooo rational for a hysterical mind ... and no WAy would HM let you get away with the trivet cooking - she'd be all "you're going to burn us all to death"
in fact she probably wouldn't like the candles for the same reason, or the staying put instead of going to the shelter ... although she's probably worry that you'd run off the road getting there ... and ...
oh just forget I said anything okay ??

and my verification word was outeree which is kinda what you just experienced

trek said...

I'd buy massively discounted hand warmer thingies in July too if I lived in the wilds of Maine!

Glad that power has been restored and that all toes (both of the feline and the ovine varieties) are present and accounted for.

Anonymous said...

HM is napping now, isn't she? Time to take pity on RM and let her out of the corner. Glad all survived more or less intact.

Knitting Linguist said...

Oh, wow. Those pictures of the ice trees are insane. HM did an excellent job of preparing you all for any contingency, though (and you're doing a nice job of letting her feel in control). :)

April said...

Sheepie, I am WAY impressed with your survival skills. And who knew you were the MacGyver of the Culinary World?

Rabbitch said...

I need to buy those hand-warmer thingies. And some hot water bottles. And candles and a trivet and such.

HM's pretty smart.

mehitabel said...

Glad to hear you made it through and that HM was in charge enough to prepare you for the Ice Storm of the Century. Here we are currently preparing for Rain. Doom and Severe Weather Alerts abound, since there might be up to an inch of rain.

At least now I know where my flashlights are and don't have to text my friend in Las Vegas to tell me where he put them@!

Mia said...

Oh Sheepie.. I BOW before your greatness in survival skills! I might have 50 pounds of rice and beans, but you got the grill action happening over there!