Sunday, February 01, 2009

January is the cruelest month...

Actually, the quote is “April is the cruelest month,” but, for me, as far as 2009 is concerned, April is going to have a long way to go to make up for January. I’ve been sick twice, for several days at a time, which stole large chunks of the month away from me. Plus, for the past several days, we’ve been exiled to a hotel due to a power outage caused by winter storms. And now, the month is over and I’ve not been able to do half of what I planned on doing, including that the weekend trip that the aforementioned storms scuttled. So you can see I’m not that enamored with the month at this moment. Oh well.

The whole storm thing has been fascinating in many ways, annoying in some ways, and terrifying in others. The weather started getting bad last Sunday and Monday, with the first snowfall. By Tuesday, we had graduated through snow and sleet to full-fledged ice storms. Wednesday, we awoke, along with much of the city and a good part of the state, to no power.

Keith went to work, but I decided against showering in a freezing house. We called the vet as soon as they opened to see about boarding the cats. Luckily the vet’s office did have power. Bennie is 16 and doesn’t handle the cold very well at all. We wanted to get her some place warm, if at all possible. They called back after ten and said they could take them. Keith didn’t even have the car dug out at this point.

He kept digging and I went on a hunt in the dark for the cages. I only found two, so the boys had to share, which normally causes problems, but they were so freaked out by the cold that they just went instantly still and quiet in the cage. Bennie was so freaked out by everything that she didn’t even run when the cage came out, which is her usual behavior. I was thankful for that. She’s fat. She’s old. But when she wants to get away from the cage, she’s fast. Running after her through the dark house would not have been fun. I’m old. I’m fat. And I’m slow.

She did however, immediately commence her cries of protest at being in the cage. And she didn’t stop until we got to the vet. Honestly, for an old lady, she sure can curse.

After finally getting the car out (which took several more minutes after the cages were loaded), we discovered that the easiest routes to the vet were blocked by fallen trees. At this point, none of the streets were cleared of snow, ice, or debris, so the five minute jaunt to the vet took half an hour. At one point, we were actually stuck half way up a huge hill with an SUV barreling down at us. The one slightly clear lane up the hill zigged and zagged around piles of fallen branches. Avoiding the SUV (who never stopped or paused once), cost us our momentum on the hill, so we ended up backing down the hill, around the branches and back to level ground. And all the while, Bennie kept up her monologue of profanities.

After the cats were dropped off, Keith went to work and I went home. After spending the day constantly adding layers and blankets, I told Keith there was no way we could stay in the house. Coming home night after night to a dark house was bad enough when the power was out in September. There was no way I was even going to consider throwing freezing cold into the mix. Especially since, based on past experience, it could take several days for the power to be restored.

I packed several bags with clothes, computers, munchies, medicines, and reading material. When Keith came home, we loaded up and headed out. While we were loading, our neighbors were packing up too. We had no idea if we could find a place to stay or not. We checked out a couple of extended stay motels, but one had no power and the office at the other one was closed. Then we passed a Red Roof Inn with a sign advertising weekly specials.

Just as we were walking in, a woman was turning in her key. Her sister had called her and reported that the power was back on at her house. When we asked for a room, they gave us her key and told us it was our lucky day. They’d been turning folks away for hours.

Incidentally, there’s a Waffle House in front of the place, and it just happens to be the same Waffle House Keith and I went to the night my father died. Coincidence?

The room isn’t much, but it is warm. It’s been interesting trying to fit both our plus-sized persons on one full-sized bed, but we’ve managed. We’ve been kind of treating it like an unexpected vacation, so it’s been a fun change of pace. The only downside is missing the kitties.

We’ll be checking out tomorrow and heading back home. The power is on and there’s lots to do back there. Plus, we’ll have three petulant felines to appease. The temp's rising and everything is melting!

Fascinating things about the aftermath of an icestorm:

Seeing all the trees bent over double from the weight of the ice. It’s beautiful, creepy, and dangerous all at the same time.

The way everything is encased in ice. Not covered, but more like coated all the way around.

Hearing the ice crack and pop when it starts to melt.

The sky was grey for days! Combined with all the ice coating everything, it was like living in a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale or a Little Nemo comic strip.

Turning on the national news and hearing stories about Kentucky. For some reason all the coverage centered on the little burg west of here where I grew up. Nothing is more bizarre than seeing Leitchfield, Kentucky on CNN! (By the way, I still cannot reach my mother. Been trying for days.)

Driving through familiar areas at night. Between the lack of power and the ice everywhere, even places that I know like the back of my hand were strange and unfamiliar. It’s really unnerving to drive down a street and realize that the only light for blocks is coming from your headlights.

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