14 December 2008

The Ice Storm

Written Thursday at around 11:20PM:

At the moment, I'm writing this on battery power. We're getting an ice storm, and the last hour and a half has been one of listening to transformers explode and branches crack, while the power blinks off and on. Now it seem to have gone out for perhaps 40 winks, so candles are lit and we wait to see what happens. It's only just below freezing, so the house should stay warm enough to keep the pipes from freezing overnight, should the power decide to stay out for a while. Still, it makes me wish we had a way to heat with wood.

We had friends Kit and Melissa over this evening for a while, which was nice, and Kit's wife Sue and son Jesse also put in an appearance for a bit. For our guests, I made a lentil/quinoa tabbouleh which turned out fabulously and was easy peasy to make. Here's what I did, more or less:

1 dried cup green lentils
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup chopped parsley (I used flat leaf, which I like better)
juice of one lime
2-3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (Okay, a couple of glugs. You know I don't measure things)
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
5-6 cloves of garlic, crushed
salt to taste

Remember to rinse the quinoa in cold water first to remove any residual saponins, which are very bitter. Bring the lentils and the quinoa just to a boil in separate saucepans, each with 2 cups water, then reduce to simmer until expanded but still a bit firm - this should take 20-30 min for each, so monitor closely. Rinse with cold water, then mix with a mixing spoon in a large bowl with the remaining ingredients. Enjoy!

I also sliced up some pears and kiwi fruit with some cheese my mom sent us for the holidays, one of which was a stinky cheese that the very same variety that figures in my worst cheese experience ever. It's a stilton from the little village of Colston-Bassett, in the East Midlands of England. I've actually been to Colston-Bassett, so when I saw some in Whole Foods several years back, I had to buy it. It smelled like the bottom of the manure piles at farms I also visited in that area, though, so I could only manage to choke down a couple of bites before giving the rest to me friend CJ. I'm pretty sure my mom didn't remember that this was the cheese, but this particular chunk was much more edible - drier and more crumbly -so long as I ate it in small pieces with the fruit and crackers. I was pretty sure that Kit would love it, though, and I was right on the money.

Oh, and speaking of kiwis, I got a package in the mail today from James, that contained an Irish linen tea towel with prints of different Aran stitch designs, some Jaffa candies (yum!) and a skein of some gorgeous sock yarn from his shop. Hopefully soon I'll be getting a package off in his direction with a little something special. I've been told it should be ready before Christmas, so I await patiently.

And now I must be off to see if I can scare up some more tea lights.

So, now it's Sunday afternoon, and I'm at the clinic. Shortly I'll be running off to shower and shave and generally make myself presentable to the general public. As of 2PM, when I left the house this afternoon, we were still without power, but the rising temperatures mean that we're less likely to have to worry about pipes freezing at this point.

Despite the inconvenience, we've done quite well overall. Being on municipal water, we didn't have to worry about losing water supply, though it's noticeably quite chilly. This storm has, though, driven home how badly we need to have a source for wood heat. Fortunately, Paula and Wendy do, so we've spent a good bit of the past couple days at their house enjoying the wood stove. I've also learned a few things I thought I'd share:

  • Our house doesn't cool down as rapidly as I feared it would, which is a good thing. When outside temps drop into the teens, however, a 2 liter bottle filled with hot water can help keep the pipes from freezing.

  • Hot water bottles, thermal underwear, and lots of blankets are enough to stay warm, even when the bedroom temperature drops to a few degrees above freezing.

  • Split pea soup (cooked on a wood stove), good wine, and good company are a really good way to make the best of a not-so-great situation.

  • One quart of hot water is all that's needed to take a decent sponge bath. It's also all you need to steam up the window and mirror in our bathroom when the temperature is about 46 degrees (That's about 8C, for the metrical folks).

  • When the hot water is gone, though, and you're all wet, 46F is very, um, bracing.

  • So is the toilet seat at 42F.

  • At a certain point, the refrigerator becomes redundant.

  • As previously mentioned, we really, really need wood heat. And a gas stove. Those two items would have made all the difference in the world.

In other news, I finished the back of the Japanese sweater! By candlelight! So now the front is in progress, which should be much more enjoyable, despite - or actually, because of - being a bit more complex. At the moment, though, I think I hear the shower calling my name. Mmmmmmm, hot water.

UPDATE: Just talked to David and we got power back at around 5PM!


Sheepish Annie said...

This has been a rather "interesting" experience, hasn't it. I probably shouldn't comment since my power was only out for 24 hours, but it was exciting nevertheless. Here's hoping that your power is restored soon!

Excellent job on the storm survival actions, BTW. Hysterical Mind had a ball with this. We were on full alert and all her emergency planning was much appreciated!

Molly Bee said...

I've been thinking about you guys! Mu Mum only got rain up in The County but I've been watching the news reports of the mess you 'tropical Mainiacs' are in! Hope you get power back soon. Does make you greatful for what you have when all is working well doesn't it! Sending warm hugs!

Anonymous said...

When we got hit with ice storms a couple of years back, one of the things I had to deal with was that while it was cold enough that the fridge became redundant, it wasn't cold enough outside that the fridge freezer became redundant. Thawing of frozen food became a big problem in our apartment building, and there was considerable stuff tossed in the garbage. A shame, really.

Alwen said...

When you have wood heat (a Woodstock soapstone stove) and a well and the power goes out, then the refrain becomes, "Man, it sure would be nice to have an old-fashioned pitcher pump in the kitchen." (Or at least a generator to run the well pump and fill the pressure tank!)

Glad your power is back. Heat and lights and water are such luxuries after you've missed them for a bit.

Anonymous said...

The girl and I went tent camping in a cold snap last spring break in SC. Our beach idyll hovered at 36F for a couple of nights, in which we discovered the excellent insulating qualities of quantities down and wool. Wood heat can be a blessing, and I have nieghbors who are raving about their pellet stove. Worth investigating.

Sam said...

In 1998, in Quebec we had been badly hit by an icestorm - there were people who were out of electricity for 3 (yes, three weeks. Our major energy supply is hydroelectric and some of the towers were broken down (total disaster - I am sure if you google it, you will find pictures). We didn't lose power those days, but another tower fell a year later in my area and although we were out of power for 36 hrs, we didn't have much trouble - I had a Vermont Casting woodstove (low emission) - I could heat water (wash) cook and everything on this - loved it !!

Anonymous said...

The municipal water is also electric powered; pumps get it up into the tower, and gravity feeds the rest. Had you been without electricity long enough, you'd have noticed that lack (the voice of experience). We now have a cistern for rainwater, and without electricity for the pump, we can still rope-and-bucket the water. Worth considering, as long as you are contemplating all the grand improvements needed on the estate.
Nancy NeverSwept

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear you survived the storm. Our power came back on today around 1pm.