Day By Day

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Winter's Tale

Winter came early this year -- much too early. The trees weren't ready for it. For that matter, neither were "She Who Must Not Be Named" and I.

This is what the mountains looked like just last week. Every day I could look out on the realms of gold.

But it was not to last. Early last Sunday I looked out the window and saw this.

Yep, that's snow and it's coming down hard. It continued all morning long, and into the afternoon..., and into the evening..., and into the night. The next morning this is what I saw.

There was beauty in the new-fallen snow. Like this:

Or this:

But there was also this:

There were downed branches everywhere. The trees had not yet dropped their leaves and the snow clung to them. Gravity did the rest, ripping the branches untimely from their trunks. We cleared the driveway and figured that would be enough.

Boy, were we wrong!

Late that evening "She" was dozing in front of her computer. Suddenly she was awakened by loud popping sounds and the smell of burning plastic. At the other end of the house my computer began to flash off and on. Immediately I unplugged it and then I, too, smelled burning plastic.

"There must be a short in the electrical system," I thought. Frantically, we searched through the house looking for any hint of fire. All we found, though, were burned out surge protectors and light bulbs.

We shut down everything except the heat. "She" went to bed while I stayed up, just in case. I actually was fairly comfortable. I lit some candles for company, got out an emergency flashlight and some books and spent the night doing some serious reading.It was sorta nice -- no distractions.

In the morning we called an electrician who had installed some lines for us a few years back. He was busy dealing with emergency calls -- a lot of people had lost power in the storm and had no heat. We told him we still had heat, but were experiencing power surges. He promised to drop by on his way back from the emergency calls. We sat and waited and worried about fire.

That evening he arrived, checked out the circuit box, said "I shoulda come here sooner" and immediately turned off the main switch. His instruments had registered a power surge of 230 volts. Normal is 120.

That's not a short, he said, the problem is outside. He and I traipsed back through the woods, following the power line. Sure enough, it was broken. A falling limb had cut the neutral line and that was the reason for the power surges.

"Nothing I can do here" he said. "That's for the power company to fix."

So we called the power company. They were busy handling emergencies. They'd send a crew out as soon as possible.

Once again we waited. This time without heat or water or anything. Eventually it got dark. "She" went to bed while I sat with my books and flashlight and waited..., and waited..., and waited.

Around midnight a repair truck showed up. Only one man aboard, and he was not happy to be crawling around the woods in the middle of the night. I showed him the break and he got to work. About an hour and a half later he said it was OK to turn on the main switch. Aaaaah! Heat and light and water!

By this time "She" was awake again. As soon as the electric company guy left "She" went around the house checking to see what worked and what didn't. A lot of minor appliances, like her hair dryer, were fried, but all the big ones, like the refrigerator, were working. The only problem was the security system was out.

The next morning we called the security company and they promised to send a repairman as soon as possible, but there were a lot of emergency jobs in the queue. Once again we waited..., and waited. Of course our plans for spending the holiday down in the DC area were shot. That evening a repairman finally showed up and fixed the security alarm.

That left only minor problems to deal with -- the garage door opener isn't working, things like that. A few hours later we packed up and headed to the harbor. When we left the mountain the temperature was 31 degrees. When we arrived at the harbor in the wee, small hours of the morn it was 58 degrees. Today it was in the seventies and people we talked to were completely unaware that a major storm system had passed just to the north.

The mountains and the harbor. Two completely different worlds -- so near and yet so far.

At least now I can get some quality sleep time.