A Candle in the Storm

candle in the storm - ink drawing on handmade paper

Last night I learned the hard way that one should not try and write a blog post while under the influence of fatigue and preoccupation.  I wanted to write about my experience during Sandy, but I was so busy wondering whether or not we’d be affected by Athena that I hit “publish” way before the post was done.

The dilemma – trash it or try and fix it?  It didn’t seem like deleting it was the thing to do, so I tried my best to fix it by keeping it short and sweet and changing the title.  All in all, a confusing experience and I don’t plan on repeating it any time soon.  About three seconds after I published the post and before I “fixed” it, Katie’s email arrived.

“I think this one got published a little too soon or something went wrong.”

I burst out laughing and called to tell her my tale of blogging woe.  We had a good chuckle about it and in the end concluded that it was OK because it was truly a “musing and random thought.”

The good news is that Athena didn’t hit my area as hard as they were predicting and although I’m not thrilled about the snow on the ground, I couldn’t be happier that I have power and there is sunshine in the forecast.

a little snow after Athena - Trees still have leaves

This morning I pulled up the pictures I took the night Sandy hit and thought about that day and the days that followed.

I realize now that I was completely unprepared mentally for the storm.  I stocked up on water non- perishable food items because my mom and dad told me I should.  Although there were plenty of warnings that hundreds of thousands of people would lose power for up to a week, it didn’t occur to me that we’d be among them.  My point of reference was Irene, during which we lost power for a grand total of three hours.

I can’t decide if eerie or surreal is the better word to describe the hours leading up to the actual storm. On Sunday Christian helped me batten down the hatches and secure everything we thought might turn into a missile or be damaged.

On Monday we rolled up the rug in the basement and put all of the electronic gadgets as high as we could without disconnecting the network of cables and cords.  I tried my best to concentrate on my projects and research but every time the porch door banged and bumped against the house my mind wandered.

I finally gave up and Christian and I decided to take advantage of our power and cable access.  We took a risk and made microwave popcorn that had expired in May (we threw out the package that had an expiration date of 2010) and watched Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter followed by The Incredibles.

The  first movie was surprisingly entertaining and we made it through the entire show without interruption.  Lights flickered and teased us during The Incredibles, but we made it to the very end before the house went black.

I’d forgotten how dark it is when there is no power.  The tiny beams of color from televisions, laptops, modems, and whatnot keep rooms from turning pitch black even if the lights are turned out.  Fortunately I knew exactly where the lighter was and could quickly light some candles.

fireplace by candlelight during Hurricane Sandy

We played cribbage by candlelight, not an easy thing to do.  The most challenging part was trying to figure out whether or not I was moving the right peg.

cribbage by candlelight

“It’s weird to think that people lived like this before electricity and batteries,” I said.

Christian responded, “It explains why they went to bed at 7 o’clock.”

It wasn’t much past 7 when we decided to call it a night and get ready for bed. It was disconcerting and more than a little scary to watch the white curtains dance with the wind by candlelight. The flickering flames added a haunting quality to the night.

candles I knew that if the wind was strong enough to blow the curtains on the inside of my house there was no way we would wake up with power.

We were lucky.  There were quite a few branches down in our yard; but no live wires, no trees, and we got power back within less than three days.

I’m not sure why but I didn’t take any pictures of the aftermath.  Maybe it’s because I don’t want to remember it or maybe it’s because I’ll never forget it.  Instead of taking pictures of fallen trees and sparking live wires my album from that day contains the candles that provided light throughout the storm.

One of my friends challenged me to embrace the experience and find a way to let my artistic side express it.  In an “artistic moment,” I took this picture of one of the candles in my bedroom.  I liked the way the flame reflected against the copper color metal and cast a soft-star shaped shadow against the wall.

candle in the stormOver the next few days the image of this candle and the warmth of the flame and shadows inspired me to capture this Candle in a Storm in ink on a piece of my hand-made paper.candle in the storm - ink drawing on handmade paper

I’m extremely happy and thankful to be warm and safe.

The Hatches are Battened Down

In spite of the ongoing coverage of the the latest hurricane making her way up the east coast, I was oblivious to the news until Thursday afternoon.  Thank goodness I embarrassed myself at my hair appointment by responding to the question, “are you ready for Sandy?”  by asking “who’s Sandy?” so I had a clue that something was going on before anyone else asked me.

I decided it might be a good idea for me to turn on the news and find out more about the storm and what to expect.  Is it wrong for me to admit that I had to use the TV Guide channel to locate the local news station?  I quickly became absorbed in the reports of the storm and the predictions of high winds, widespread power outages, and potential flooding.

Fifteen minutes into the broadcast, my musings as to whether or not my trip to Raleigh would be affected by the storm, the phone rang.  I didn’t need to look at the caller ID to know it was my parents.

“Hi there, so do you know what’s going on around you?” asked my dad.

“Oh, you mean about Sandy, the storm that’s coming up the coast?”  I replied (quite pleased that I actually did know).

“Have you gone to the store yet?”

“No, I was planning on doing that tomorrow,” I said.

We chatted for a while and discussed what supplies I should buy, whether or not it would be a good idea to use the gas grill if it was on the porch, and options for traveling to Raleigh if my flight on Tuesday is cancelled.

I realized I was holding my breath and interrupted my dad, “Ok, so I wasn’t freaking out before but now I am.  I’m going to the store to stock up and I’ll figure the rest out later.”

“Just one more…..”

“Bye, I’m going now..I’ll call you when I get back from the store.”

While shopping for bottled water, bagels, pop tarts, and really green bananas (that are already ripe) my landlord Jeanne Marie left me a voice-mail to make sure I was aware of the storm and knew how to prepare.  It seems that my reputation for being in my own little world precedes me.

She also sent me a checklist of things to consider and I’m happy to say that the majority of them are covered with the exception of filling the tub with water.  Unfortunately I’ll have to ignore the caution against using candles because by the time I got to the store there wasn’t a C size battery to be found.  However, my gas tank is full, I have two hundred dollars in cash, and there’s a good old fashioned can opener in my silverware drawer.

Jeanne Marie called yesterday and she was impressed to know I was so on top of things. Not only were we stocked up on water, Christian and I had already moved anything up to and including the trash cans, that could turn into a missile from the backyard onto the porch.  I had to confess that the only reason I was on top of things was because I’d had a hair appointment the day before and that my parents urged me to get to the store.

trash cans on the porch_preparing for Sandy

I think Romeo knows something strange is going on.  He stood still as a statue in front of the screen door and finally nosed his way out onto the patio.

He stood guard and watched intently while Christian lowered the basketball hoop down on the driveway and weighted it down with bags of sand.

basketball hoop laying in the driveway_preparing for Sandy

I have to wonder what was going through his mind and whether or not he realizes that his 13 pounds of bravado wouldn’t be much of a match for a a 50 mph wind.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that phrases like “we’re far enough inland…” and “maybe it’ll be more like a nor’easter…” are part of my vocabulary.

So for now, we’re as battened down as we can be and it looks like just a normal but blustery fall day.  My guess is that the pretty red and gold leaves on the trees in my neighbors backyard will be shredded and on the ground three days from now.

leaves on trees in backyard two days before Sandy

The wind is picking up bit by bit and if the way my porch curtains are being lifted already, it’s going to get interesting. I’m hoping that we get as lucky as we did during Irene when we only lost power for a couple of hours.  And I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my travel plans aren’t completely disrupted.  In either case there’s not much I can do other than be thankful for the people I have in my life who made sure I had my house ready for Sandy and hope for the best.

wind blowing my porch curtains two days before Sandy arrives