When I finished the painting -- my first “commission” -- I wondered if its subject matter might be prescient, given the weather forecasts. For, Dallas forecasts are not always reliable. This time, though, the weather forecast was right! Sleet and rain started falling early Thursday evening – resembling my modest painting.
So began another Texas weather adventure, from which I enjoy a reprieve as I write.
A chilly damp night seemed a perfect time to sample the chicken tomatillo tamales, and Whole Foods’ chili that I bought in anticipation of the possible coming cold weather. When its vestiges awoke me about 3:30 AM -- it was just in time to hear a piercing short “beep” erupt from the kitchen.
What in the world . . . oh no! The carbon monoxide alert! Quickly checking the gas connector to the fireplace, and then the stove – before it started shouting -- we then remembered it had a battery back up, and changed out the battery, amidst its yelps. Could a power outage have drained it of life?
As we crawled back to bed, the lights went out, along with the furnace; finding flashlights took just enough time for the lights to recycle on and off – on, and once again all was dark, except for a weird green light we saw from the kitchen window that flashed across the sky—an exploding transformer. Quickly we headed to bed, adding a wool blanket for good measure – this could be a bummer!
Then, suddenly, Doug popped up from bed, suited up in hat, gloves, leather coat and shoes to venture out and turn off the automatic sprinkler, which was set to water next morning. Since, they predicted an accumulation of ice approximately .1 inches, we didn’t need to add to that!
We finally settled own, hoping with the morning sun, we might enjoy a reprieve.
Friday morning – no reprieve.
The cars were caked in ice, and our cedar tree was bent low, and rested on Doug’s car, limiting any chance of a quick getaway – as if driving any where would have been smart, given the thick ice coating on all the roads!
The blessing of natural gas – a stove top and gas logs – kept us steady: We boiled water for coffee; filing our thermos with life supporting caffeine, we assessed our options before a cheery fire. The well-charged smart phones filed in details the lifeless TV and radio could not. So, too, did the old transistor radio, I brought from Maryland. It might be a long day – and driving conditions meant having to decline kind invitations from family to bunk with them!
Reluctant to let food in the refrigerator go bad, I cooked up a few meals on our stove's gas burners, storing them in the back of my frozen car. I just kept telling myself – keep cooking and don’t turn on the burners until you light that match!
I found several fat candles; their cheery light would seem brighter if the lights weren’t on by nightfall. And they did, because come nightfall the only lights were the neighbors’ across the street! Odd, how power grids work . . .
As the temperature outside the house fell from 30 to 18, the temperature inside fell too. We added more layers of clothing. We ate dinner by the fire, eating fast, as the chilly air dissipated the stew’s warmth. I have not done dishes as fast as I did that night, since I was kid! We played Scrabble by candlelight. That wasn’t as much fun as it sounds. (I won by five points, though.)
By nine, there was not much else to do but hunker down in front of the fire, sleep and hope the power grid would operate soon. The power returned about 1:00 AM. When the light and heat waked us, it surprised me – I didn’t know just how cold we had been!
We are still in a deep freeze and housebound for the time being,but happy and warm. The prospect of more days of freezing weather has one bright spot, hopefully: those deadly West Nile mosquitoes that flourished in several recent mild winters will be gone. This adventure also is a prod, silencing any grumbling. Some folks here may not get power on until Monday!
Get ready if you are in the path of this wintry blast!
And please remember: Some people have no home; much less, the hope of heat and light and extra layers of socks and sweaters – they and the people who serve them need our help.
The best way to do ourselves good is to be doing good to others; the best way to gather is to scatter. ~ Thomas Brooks
Dear brothers, . . .
If you have a friend who is in need of food and clothing, and you say to him, “Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat hearty,” and then don’t give him clothes or food, what good does that do? . . . ~ James 2:14-26 (TLB)