Power to the people (or not)

Friday we had our longest power outage yet. Of course, the generator is not yet hooked up. My prediction is that as soon as it is, we’ll never have a power failure again.

I woke up Friday morning because our HEPA filter and humidifier turned off. The wind was blowing like the dickens. At one point the top of a dead tree blew right off and landed in our pond as I was watching. Our power was off for the next 19 or 20 hours.

I made a city slicker error early on. I was figuring on how much hot water we probably had and took a shower. I forgot that our well has an electric pump, so the next thing I knew, we were out of water. Luckily, or it would have been a very unpleasant day, the power came back on briefly within the hour. That was enough to get our water pressure back up. We had our lanterns and our wood stove, and our cooking stove works off propane, so we were relatively comfortable. It was a long, boring day, though, and I can tell you right now that I hate reading with a headlamp. To break up the monotony, we invited my sister out to lunch and made a trip to the hardware store. I bought suet for the birds. My husband bought stuff for his new riding lawnmower. My sister bought bean seeds.

There was not much going on this week in relation to our work on the house. The contractors came out on Thursday to finish up odds and ends, which included installing a closet door in the bedroom (the previous owner apparently removed both the mirrored sliding closet doors from two bedrooms to use in her dance studio as mirrors–crazy when you realize that mirrors cost a lot less than closet doors–then she took them with her), putting the hardware on the door to the basement, filling the holes in the ceiling next to the new lights, and finishing the flooring in the new closet.

Other than that, my job was to go to the design center and pick out vinyl for some rooms that have worn vinyl. We have vinyl only in the small toilet area of the master bathroom, in the half bath, and in the laundry room. We also need something on the floor of the new closet under the stairs. We decided not to go into a big expense for these small areas and just replace the vinyl.

Unfortunately, I figured out as I looked through the samples that I hate vinyl. That’s because all of it is trying to look like wood or stone, and it’s not wood or stone. I didn’t mind so much the vinyl that tried to look like tile, but that does not seem to be the fashion these days. Also, because everything is trying to look like wood or stone, the colors are so dreary. I really don’t like brown or beige or tan. Gray is about as far as I will go. If it was actually stone, that would be different.

So, I asked about linoleum, which is apparently no longer used as a flooring term, and found out about marmoleum or marmorette. That’s that old fashioned speckled stuff that is often used in stores. It’s not trying to look like anything except linoleum. And that’s what we’re looking at. It comes in lots of colors, too.

Hillary, during her more calm moments of assisting the bed-making process

So, I spent a lot of the week lollygagging—there didn’t seem to be much else we could do on Friday, for example, and cleaning up the house. I made the beds on Monday, and was assisted in this activity by my cat Hillary.

And oh, yes, my first drawing class was Wednesday. At first, my sister and I weren’t sure what we thought. My small experiences with art classes have been with those that have a set start and end date, but at this art school, classes just continue. That works okay if you are already a student, but wasn’t handled so well with us, the new students. When we came in, everyone was sitting there working on projects. There was a mix of mostly older women and children, because of spring break. The students were at all levels, and some of their work looked really good to me.

However, my sister and I didn’t know what to do. We found seats and just waited for the teacher to pay attention to us. She was making the rounds from student to student, and it took her 20 minutes to get to us. Once she did, things worked out much better. She gave us an exercise to try to draw a set of mathematical solids. Later she came by and gave us hints to correct them. My shapes were okay, for example, but I made my shadows too short. My sister needed to round out the bottom of her cone. Later she showed us how to use our charcoal to do shading and other tools to blend and put in light spots. So, all in all, we saw her four or five times during the class.

Since my sister had complained that her only other class involved no instruction, I was a little worried about this slow start, but all was okay. She told me as we were leaving that she would like to stay in the drawing class for a while instead of moving into painting. I said that was okay with me. In short, we had fun and learned something!


An introduction to the winter weather

Snow on the first day
Snow on the first day

We’ve had a lively week, as far as the weather is concerned. As you know, we moved away from Texas partially because it was too hot for us. Well, we have come to the right place.

We were being lazy last Sunday, just watching TV, when it began to snow a little. We were thrilled. We got a light dusting of snow and then it stopped.

On Monday we got well over an inch. It’s difficult to know what the weather will be here because our weather forecasts all come from the valley in Portland, Oregon. There they were forecasting snow on Monday and again on Thursday, with slippery roads on Friday morning. But they said it would all be melted by Friday afternoon. They were wrong, as you know if you watched the national weather on Friday. But we are up 1000 feet, so our weather is quite a bit different. As my niece said, “If it snows in Portland, we are snowed in here.” I have to take that with a grain of salt, because my niece grew up in California, whereas we are both originally from Michigan, where the state would be shut down all winter if we stayed home for a little snow. On Monday she told me she was planning on staying home all week.

On Tuesday our carpet layers came, and they started out making a fuss about the weather. Down in the valley there was no snow, so they were surprised to find us covered with it and our drive quite messy. They objected to driving down our lower drive to the daylight basement. They said we had nowhere to cut the carpet, which they had brought in a big roll. Finally, I got shirty with them and told them we had been waiting for weeks to get the rooms downstairs carpeted, and that there had been no snow on Friday when they were originally scheduled to come. I showed them the huge room crammed full of stuff that we were not unpacking until the carpet was down. They said they’d go in to the warehouse to cut the carpet.

They did a great job, but there is one more delay. They said we need baseboards over the carpet. We hadn’t even noticed there were none. So, we have to get that done before we move in all the bookcases and create a library downstairs. (We have so many windows upstairs that there is no room for bookcases.)

On Wednesday, we drove down to the valley to run errands. The roads were a little slick in the morning, but the day turned out to be beautiful and sunny, which made the snow look bright and cheerful when we got back home. There was no snow in the valley or even within a couple miles of our neighborhood.

Thursday it snowed all day. We stayed home. I would imagine we ended up with a couple of inches or more of snow.

Friday was the day it was supposed to melt. It is Saturday, and the snow is still here. In Portland it was a mess. Here, it was slick, and we stayed home again, unpacking boxes and cleaning.

Today was our day to go out for breakfast with my niece and her family and then go to the U Cut for our Christmas trees. We were debating whether to take separate cars or let my niece’s husband drive us in his car, which has studded snow tires. We don’t actually have any snow tires yet, although our car has all-wheel drive. We opted for driving with them, and it was a good thing we did, because when we went outside, we found that a tree was down across our driveway. Our power also went out around 9:30 AM.

My niece and her family picked us up and we went out to eat and then had a great time tromping around in the snow looking at Christmas trees. Because we have a 20-foot ceiling, we got one that was several feet taller than we usually do, although I didn’t want it to be too tall, because I don’t want to climb a ladder more than a step or two. My guess is we got a 12-foot tree. I don’t usually talk about money, but this tree cost us $25. It was a noble fir, and in Texas it would have cost about $150. Maybe more, because we used to spend more than $100 for a 7-8 footer. We had high ceilings in Texas, too, but didn’t want to spend that kind of money to get a taller tree.

It started to rain while we were eating breakfast, and by the time we got the tree, large pieces of ice were falling off the trees. We went home, unloaded the trees, and then my niece’s husband brought back his chain saw, and the four of us spent a delightful couple of hours dragging wood off the driveway and out of the road.

We still don’t have the tree up, as it is too big for us to handle by ourselves. Our niece and family went home to put up their tree, and they will be back tomorrow to help put ours up. The power came back on around 3 PM. That was the second power outage of note since we got here. We spent the afternoon playing dominoes.

The snow did not melt, so I expect that it will freeze tonight again, and those who have to drive tomorrow up here in the hills will have an exciting trip.