I really wish I was updating you on my fight with El Diablo and all that had transpired (surgery! frozen shoulder! another infection!) but that can wait...two weeks ago we had a weather situation (putting it mildly) here in Texas and I have FEELINGS about all of this...and I know my fellow Texans do too...
So the week leading up to the ice/snow/apocolyptic storm we were warned we were getting a major weather event and we needed to prepare...
And we all thought "ok, we handle hurricanes---so we can handle this!"
And many of us were hoping for snow and all the cute Insta ready moments it would provide:
- cute pics of our houses in the snow
- kids in snow
- snowmen we build
- looking cute in our cold weather gear
And we could post all those photos and admire each others snow pics...
There was nothing cute about the Snowpocolypse.
Or should I call it Snowvid?
Or maybe "all of winter in one week"?
We were told to expect "rolling blackouts" throughout the night on Sunday night/early Monday morning.
yeah we got that...we can handle an hour off of power...no biggie...
We were told to shut off water lines (I am physically unable to do that so I had to hope for the best)
We were told to wrap pipes (I did that with some help from my daughter's partner---they were a big help as I am not the "handiest" of girls nor do I get around well enough with my bad knee making me unstable so things like kneeling down are impossible).
We were told to fill up bathtubs for flushing toilets (I forgot)
We were told to stock up on groceries as roads would be impassable---so many of us filled our fridges with food and set about to making warm comfort food that would get us through the cold snap.
I had planned meals and had what I needed on hand to keep myself fed.
On Saturday I was blessed to be able to receive the COVID vaccine but the day was an ordeal and my plan to come home and wash my hair went by the wayside...
Sunday came and I figured "I'll just wash my hair tomorrow when I am bored at home"...
yeah...so by Sunday it was a shameful amount of days since I washed my hair...I do not know how people used to go so long without washing their hair but I am getting an idea. I only wash my hair once or twice a week becaue it is so delicate since my first chemo and my hair adjusted.
My hair is NOT adjusted to how long it was since it was washed. Suffice it to say that by the time I got to wash it (and myself) it had been a very very long time...
thank you snowpocolypse!
So Sunday night I made myself a Valentine's supper (because I love ME!) of a steak and some asparagus and a salad and took a hot shower (sans washing hair because it was cold) and went to bed. (and I won't even go into how depressing it is to once again be alone on Valentines Day YET AGAIN for the 10th year but honestly longer than that because my marriage was a big dud for years before)
I had dripped my faucets, opened the cabinets, set the air down to 67 to not stress the grid, turned off all my lights and went to bed and prayed for the best.
My anxiety was running high knowing what was to come so I gathered the cats in bed with me and settled down to watch some mindless tv.
(BTW if you are a child of the 70's there are now some channels that show old 70's shows like Charlie's Angels, Little House on the Prairie, and Hart to Hart...very easy to relax to)
I finally felt sleepy about 1:30 so I turned on my Calm app and was listening to a calming bedtime story like I usually do after some deep breathing and was prepared to sleep through the night no matter what was ahead.
And I do mean a big huge loud scary thunder crash that I am sure many of you heard.
I learned later it was called ThunderSnow or is it Snow Thunder?
In any case it scared the daylights out of me and little Angel (my sweet little old kitty) and she sat upright and shook with fear.
Then the hail started...
it was beating down on the roof and the house and making quit a racket...
Needless to say my peaceful going to bed was no longer an option.
The power had flashed off and I thought :and so it begins...
I looked outside at the falling hail (it was bigger than a good sized pea) and thought that maybe the rolling blackouts had started. Or worse...a damaged power line.
I jumped on Facebook to see that the whole neighborhood had gone dark so it wasn't just me...
I also learned others had lost power then around the city as well. One friend lost hers 15 minutes before me so I was feeling relieved thinking it was probably a controlled outtage.
Wide awake at that point I watched Facebook for comments to see what was happening to others and when my friend who was 15 minutes ahead of me got power back after an hour and 15 minutes so I expected that mine would return 15 minutes later or so.
3:00 am came and went
3:30 am came and went
Finally at 4:00 am I passed out exhausted and more than a little scared.
When I woke up there was all that cute white snow I had wished for and the power had been out for 6 hours and my house was a toasty 45 degrees.
No I didn't take pics for Instagram...
And I didn't have cell service...or rather I did but it was very very spotty...sending a text could take minutes or not at all.
I bundled up and wrapped the cats in blankets and shivered.
I thought about all my friends and loved ones who were doing the same.
And I was super grateful for the warm fuzzy robe I was wearing that is a constant reminder of yet another battle I once had with the ex who thought it was a frivilous use of money when we were once on vacay. I am grateful I didn't listen to him when I bought it.
I tried to figure out how to turn on the fireplace as I had never used it.
no...not once in 8 years...you would think...but no...
And I had shelves built since I moved in and looked in vain for a pic of the space before so I could see where the little "hole you put the key in" would go but in my panic and distress I failed to see the "before" pics.
I pushed a few things around in the cabinet but the room was somewhat dark from no power and the inside of the cabinet is a dark almost black color of grey.
So I, as one of my former student's would say---"Guy looked".
(Guy looking: looking for an object and then when not found after a 10 second scan you yell for wife/partner/girlfriend/mom/dad/husband/brother/sister/the dog/anyone more responsible than you to come help you find what you are looking for. Which 9 times out of 10 is right where it should be. Former student who taught me this term would lose costume pieces and me or my girls would find it in 10 seconds...he would "guy look" and we would "mom look"...btw Guy Looking is not just exclusive to males...)
I texted the former owner (sweetest guy ever) who said it should have a key but at that point my panic was climbing higher as I got colder.
And then realized that even if I located the place to turn it on I probably shouldn't use it anyway since it had been so long...even though it was just gas logs...
but I knew having a fire might make the difference between being able to withstand my house and not and had I taken a klonopin and settled I might have found it.
Because it is right there in the cabinet.
As it should be...
But I digress...
I thought about going out to my car and warming the cats and I up in there but I had parked my car in such a way that I could not get to the handle to pull to unlock it so I could manually lift it.
So I sat down to cry and prayed my tears would not freeze like they did when I last snow skied...
And then I went to lay down and eyed my klonopin again and should have popped one for my anxiety but I decided to power through by reading Bridgerton and thinking about how handsome Rege-Jean Page was in the Netflix series as I read the exploits of The Duke and Daphne.
I fell asleep (because I had very little the night before) and dozed about 20 minutes and woke up to the phone ringing...
It was KuteKelly
And she was having none of it with me stranded in a cold house and she had power.
She wouldn't take no for an answer and she informed me she would be there in 20 minutes and to be ready. And yes the cats could come.
So she got to Casa Frio (usually Casa Bonita but #freezing) and loaded up me, my bag, my pillow, my walker, my cats, a litter box and my lymphedema pump and off we went to her beautiful WARM home.
We settled me---got some side eye from the kitties---and headed down to her den to catch the news and see what was going on.
She made us a lovely early supper of salad and turkey burgers and we were grateful for food in bellies and warmth and lights and the wine or cocktails we were planning to make.
And then we were plunged into darkness.
Yup...less than 2 hours after I arrived the power went out.
We thought "rolling blackout" and knew my power was still out but chalked it up to something wrong with the service line (like ice).
We moved into her living room and sat by the fire and she dispensed with cocktail making (she makes an incredible vodka/peachy/cranberry thing that is pretty much witchcraft), gathered the dogs, lit candles (and by "we" I mean her and I sat like a lump on the couch petting a dog) and watched "Black Panther" (and cried...AGAIN) and laughed and passed the time.
It became apparent that the power wasn't returning so she took me upstairs and grabbed another blanket and a flashlight and got me settled.
I was so exhausted by the day's events that even as cold as it was (maybe in the 40's?) I went to sleep.
And slept hard...and thankfully did not need to get up as it was freezing.
The cats, who usually hate to be under covers, burrowed themselves into the bed as close to me as they could). They were cold and confused...but mama was near.
I woke up Tuesday to Kelly making us coffee in her french press (she has a gas stove) and her hubby offering to make us some eggs...yes please!
We heard from my neighbor that our street got power back at midnight so we (I mean they...because stairs are hard for me) loaded up the kitties, the litterbox, my suitcase, my pillow, my blanket and my lymphedema pump and walker and we headed back to my house.
The power was OFF
It had lasted 12 hours (yay my food was saved!)
The house had heated up to a perfectly toasty 61.
I told them to leave me and I would be fine...
and I was...
cold but fine (they didn't get power back either)
so I lit every candle I own and found my battery operated ones and sat bundled in my chair drinking hot broth because I didn't want to open the fridge.
Fun fact: my house smelled like the Yankee Candle section of a Cracker Barrel (btw I love me some Cracker Barrel). It is possible to have TOO many scented candles going (thank you $9.99 annual 3 wick candle sale at Bath and Body Works).
Once I had the candle situation under control I set about to make sure I had water for flushing toilets because it was a tiny trickle.
My neighbor across the street gave me a large bucket of pool water and brought it to my door...and I went outside with my big stock pot and scraped snow into it and melted the snow (I have a gas stove) so I could flush the toilet.
I passed the time playing games on my phone and being grateful I had charged my brick charger so I could recharge because I was on my way to becoming a Spider Solitaire master and Flood It was not proving to be a big challenge...and yes it is possible to play too much solitaire...and Dragon was unimpressed with my wins...
The temp in the house plunged down to 51 (not bad compared to other friends) and Angel (the little old kitty) wandered off inside the house and found a warm (relatively speaking) hiding spot and refused to budge.
Dragon and I spent another night huddled under the covers.
KuteKelly called the next morning to inform me that her power had just come back on and invited me to come and be warm. I told her I would just stay for the day as I had not located Angel and didn't want to do a repeat of me and half my house having to go to hers...
I knew I had to get my food out of the fridge so I grabbed it and put it outside since it was colder than a fridge out there. Luckily my butter was still very hard so I caught it in time.
I spent the day being warm next to her fire and her hubby heating up the delicious veggie soup she had made and being so grateful I had a friend who was so kind. They had water issues with the house so we did the "flush the commode with pool water" trick.
I learned that trick in 1989 when we had a freeze here in Houston and all the pipes were frozen.
That time I had insisted on getting a bath. We had power but water was a tiny trickle. So I heated up pool water on the stove to a boil and carried it up and down the stairs (funny how I can't do that now and it saddens me that I can barely carry a cell phone upstairs since I must hold onto railings). I made myself a hot bath and the ex invited himself to it so before he could get in I poured an unseemly amount of Coco Chanel bath foam into the bath to keep him from invading the bath he had poked fun of and I had worked hard to get.
(Still in the freeze of 1989) I bathed and we went to my mom's house where she had a guest who showed me how to take the powder room trash can and fill it with pool water and dump it into the toilet bowl.
Well color me impressed...I didn't realize that is how a toilet worked.
BTW the man who taught me that trick was none other than Dr Red Duke (his wife at the time was a friend of my moms) and it was reason #453 that he charmed me (along with that Aggie ring he proudly wore that was worn out from all his scrubbing)...Trauma surgeons know all the tricks...
But I digress...
KuteKelly and The Hubby even made it to the store to get flats of water for them and for me (so grateful for that) and we settled in to watch The Blind Side and have a little snack of cheese and nuts and some wine.
Right as we were drying our tears from Blind Side...THE POWER WENT OUT.
They dropped me at home (by my insistance) and headed to a friend who lived further out of town that had power and water pressure for showers and laundry (and the power went out 5 minutes after the arrived so there's that).
As we drove through my neighborhood the only lights were the gas lamps...it looked eery...
But less than 2 minutes after we arrived THE POWER CAME BACK ON.
They left to head to a shower and I waited for the power to go out again...
It stayed on an hour...
It stayed on another hour...
I finally felt safe enough to put the food in the fridge and to cook a bit of dinner.
The power made it until 10 and I felt like maybe I was out of the woods.
I boiled water to soak the dishes and headed to my bedroom.
Another "wipes" bath and I finally got to use my lymphedema pump for the first night in 3 days.
I was finally starting to relax and was most of the way through using the pump and...
Darn...I was in the middle of my Real Housewives of Salt Lake City reunion...
I turned on the battery operated candles, got out of the pump, wrapped my legs in my bandages (yes, this is EVERY SINGLE NIGHT OF MY LIFE) and got ready to knuckle down for another cold night---grateful that my fridge was once again down to the proper temp.
I played Solitiare again hoping to get sleepy and checked the neighborhood Facebook page and saw a few people got their power back and...
IT CAME BACK ON
Oh thank you God, the Son and the Holy Spirit for loving me...and my neighbors and friends...
because we all know ERCOT does not!
I had a fitful sleep because I had PTSD that the power was going to go off again so I left my celing fan on to know if it went off. We were told to use as little power as possible so I had been conserving all evening since it came back on.
I woke up the next morning to the house being a fine and toasty 66 and this time Angel decided she better sleep warmly next to mom.
The power has remained on since
And I am tired of resetting the clocks on my appliances...
I made it through the storm with much less loss and problems than others.
My house never got below 45
I was always able to eat
I had 3 very cold nights but plenty of blankets
I had a friend who shared her home with me
I always had water even if it was a trickle
I did not have any pipe issues
I had friends who were out of power from Sunday night until Thursday and the didn't even get small chunks of time with power being back on...I at least had 12 hours in the middle of it
Friends who have whole rooms in their houses having to be torn out (and one who had to move)
Friends who did not have water and some still don't
landscaping lost pretty much all over the city
and we all now shudder at the thought of snow
I learned a lot those few days and not just that I prefer to be hot over being cold.
I learned that friends who will not take no for an answer are the best kinds of friends to have
I learned that once again this city is so much more resilient than the rest of the country thinks we are...this also goes for the state of Texasa
I learned that going with the flow when given no choice is the only choice
I learned that I need to have my fireplace inspected and make sure it is working before next winter
I learned that I have more candles than any woman needs but I am grateful for them
I learned that a cocktail when you are cold is a warming thing
I learned that a friend that says "you can bring the cats" is a friend indeed
I learned that I can do hard things alone but it is better when you have a someone...especially if that someone is a friend
I learned that I am a damn good solitaire player
I learned that I should have taken some anxiety meds
I learned that my anxiety is really fueled by stress
I learned that as much as a worried for myself that I can't stop being a mom and worried more about my kids and family
I learned that I am really happy I have a cell phone charging brick
I learned I can't read when I am stressed
I learned that a hot shower is truly a blessing
I learned that putting off hair washing day is not a good idea
I learned that the sound of a toilet tank filling is a soothing sound
I learned that I really really appreciate my dishwasher
I learned that putting food outside when the power is out is a good idea (thank you Marvelous Martha for that suggestion)
I learned that I can be my own company when I have a tv but notsomuch when there is no power or internet
I learned that I need to park my car in a better placement in the garage before the next storm in case of power outage so I can open my garage door
I learned that I have amazing friends who all love and check in on each other
I learned that being challenged with mobility makes things like this much harder
I learned I want my knee fixed more than ever
I learned that I need to get some hose bib covers for next winter
I learned that my old lymphedema bandages can be a pipe cover and plan to do that next time
I learned that we need to demand better from the powers that are supposed to take care of us as a community (I am looking hard at you here ERCOT)
I learned I could do things I did not think I could do...but then again I have been doing that for 10 (and most especially the last 4) years now
I know I am most certainly not the only person who went through hell...all of us did. I know that many many many more people had it so much worse than I did.
But I am proud of how we all came through it
And doing hard things is just something I have had to get used to
And next time it snows...I'm going somewhere else!
Inspiration Song: "Cold as Ice" by Foreigner...because I hate being cold as ice...and I don't think I will ever be excited for snow again..seriously
Bye Darlings...I hope you came through the storm ok...so many of you had it much much worse than me...and I just wanted to share a glimmer of what some of us went through for those who don't understand how Texas got crippled...I know places that get snow all the time don't understand why we were in such distress but we know we were unprepared for what we were put through...