Wednesday, March 12, 2008

And now for the main event

Guild was such fun on Saturday. It was Rummage Sale Day. I brought the left over fiber from Maggie’s Farm and some odd ball hand dyed blue face Leicester. I don’t think it was on the table more than five minutes when Jane came to put her stuff next to mine. She had some rug quality yarn and a hand made purple vest. You know I picked that vest right up. She did it in moss and popcorn stitch and some cables. I don’t like to knit any of those stitches which made the vest even more special to me. Jane had knit it for a friend who decided to change her shape and actually did (unlike me who would love to change her shape but does not manage to do much about it).   Jane loved my fiber offerings so we made an even trade, although I think I got the better end of it. I saw a similar trade happen several more times and then a latecomer complained that there wasn’t anything on the tables. Well, sadly, that’s what happens when you are late to Rummage Sale.

And to think I almost did not go because the weather forecast was horrible and because there was a blizzard on my hill. Jim reminded me that for 22 years I left my hill 5 days a week to find the weather almost always milder at the bottom of my hill. Saturday was no exception. In the afternoon it started pouring rain in town where we meet but since it was not icing the cars I thought little of it. I did notice the icicles forming on the power lines and trees but again, as long as the road was wet and the cars wet there was no problem.

On the way home, maybe a hundred feet from our driveway, a small tree was down. I got out of the car to move it and was entranced by the amount of creaking, popping, snapping and falling trees in the woods. We arrived home to 4 inches of slush instead of rain but also very icy tree branches. Jim went out to shovel the steps with Sparkles right behind him. Sparkles likes to play with the snow coming off the shovel. Jim was about two thirds done when Sparkles looked up, stopped and then scampered into the house.
About two minutes after Jim got in himself and sat down we heard a great crash and more crashing and popping and snapping plus the lights went off. Sigh. This has happened before but this time it was right in our front yard.

Then we heard another huge crash and saw this. 

We waited a while in case more was about to happen, then Jim went out, very very carefully, and saw that the lines from the pole to our house were now sitting on the ground, our service box was wrenched open 
and the overhead power, usually along the road, was now being a sling for a large tree branch that was also being held up by my shop roof. 

One of our ancient maples had lost it! This was more serious than we had thought and certainly more dangerous. Oh my! So we called it in. We actually talked to a real person who did not seem alarmed at all. We also did not know at the time that this tree took out our entire hillside leaving 60 houses without power.

In the past most power outages have lasted no more than 5 or 6 hours, maybe 12. Six years ago, right after New Year’s, we had a big ice storm that left us powerless for 5 days. We learned a lesson and acquired a good generator that has helped us through the dark into light several times since. This time, however, the lines to the house would not be helping the generator get its energy to us. We even heat with a pellet stove, but alas, it needs electricity to run the fan and feed.  Sigh.    OK nothing we could do so, we got out the oil lamps and sleeping bags for a night of reading and early bedtime. We filled 2 gallon jugs with water and made lots of tea as the stove runs on propane. Jim’s cell was fully charged and mine was at half.

Jim also called the electrician he works with who generously came out about 7pm to look it all over. Tim told us we would need a completely new service box and that it would have to be inspected before the power people would hook us back up.  Certainly news to us but we were grateful for Tim's expertise.  We made arrangements for him to return on Sunday morning as he said that once NYSEG was here it might take awhile for them to return if we were not ready for the hook up.

Our house is well insulated so with a couple of stove top burners on low and the oil lamps putting out their heat the inside temps only fell about 8 degrees that first night. It was a one dog and one cat cuddle night. SmokeyBlue was a happy camper as he likes it as cold as it gets outside.

Sunday morning Tim came by about 9 all dressed in outdoor warm clothing as it was no more than 20 degrees. He worked for over 2.5 hours putting the new service in and even called the inspector who showed up about noon with his seal of approval. I felt so fortunate to have so many people helping us right away.

We waited all day for NYSEG to show up but were disappointed. We called in about every 3-4 hours for updates. Since we had no landline and no electric we needed to conserve our cell phone energy as the electric company wanted us to be phone accessible,  meaning at least one cell was left on all the time. Jim went in to Staples and brought back a recharger that could be run from the car so at least one cell was always charged up.

By Sunday evening I couldn’t stand being unplugged from the internet any longer so drove into town to our favorite restaurant/café where there is free internet access, heat and warm food. A couple of hours at the Smart Monkey was a great relief and help for my psyche. I made internet contact for a bit, caught up on email and orders coming in even though I could not fill them yet, and talked and read with real overhead lighting. Jim had been in to town and stopped there earlier when he got the cell phone charger. We were taking turns during the day but needing to have at least one of us home to care for the animals nixed a night at a motel.

Monday dawned sunny, cold and beautiful

 but this camping out in the house was getting old, very old ---  still we knew we were not alone as at least 1900 (down from 5000) households were without power even with the crews out working 24 hours a day. We received a call from Verizon to expect a repair person. HURRAY!!! Something definite about to happen. Again we waited and waited.

I must say I got an awful lot of knitting and spinning done these powerless days. Hand and foot power kept me warm. Finished the Dogi Vest, made a tam out of the left over yarn, started a cardigan design using some leftover stash coupled with some bfl and alpaca/merino/silk I spun up.

Finally I went into Ithaca to get groceries and do a few errands while Jim held the fort. He called me on my way in to say NYSEG had phoned telling us they would be here today for sure. HAPPY DANCE!!!!!!!! I was just leaving Wegman’s when Jim called again to tell me all the trucks had just left. “What do you mean left?” I wanted to take pictures. I wanted to watch this re hook up to the modern world. I wanted to see the crew in action. Oh well. Jim has given me the entire story, item by item which I don’t think you want but I will give you the highlights.

Two large vans from Rochester G&E came first and looked it all over. They could do nothing until the limbs were removed as they were specializing in hook ups not removals but they each gave Basel some cookies and lot of pets.
Then within a few minutes THREE cherry picker trucks from Binghanton NYSEG arrived and 2 supervisory trucks from Ithaca NYSEG. They did not want to come into our driveway so blocked the road for their 1.5 hours of work here. No one complained though.

The part of the crew with pruning saws and wire cutters began cutting branches out of the way, while another person had a chainsaw attached to a long pole. Can you imagine that? It sounds like a mighty special skill and I do wish I had a pic to show you. They cut and cut and cut.

 Then a guy got into the bucket of one of the cherry pickers and was maneuvered way over our driveway from up on the road down down down to about the limit of the cherry picker’s stretch. Two other guys got large ropes and a ladder and began feeding the ropes over the lines. The one in the bucket also used a chainsaw on a pole, which I suppose gives him more reach but is surely odd to visualize. He trimmed the branches to within about 6 inches of the lines. The rope guys held the wires taut so they didn’t bounce around and then, at exactly the right moment, pulled sideways so the wires slid over the tree and up up up back into their original safe place up high. 

Now the RG&E people could do their thing. Lastly, one more supervisory truck pulled up with a guy who used a chainsaw in the normal way. He kindly cut one of those huge branches into smaller more manageable pieces. Like they came, they all left.

POWER!!!!!! I came home to warm air, lights and sounds of the dishwasher and clothes washer. YES!!!!

Verizon arrived and the nice man set us up temporary lines until the trees can be removed. Then one of the tree guys came while the ice was dropping off the branches and gave us an estimate. We are now on the downhill side of this. All that is left is cleanup and catch up. I was able to enter the shop again by the end of the day. Ice and small limbs continue to fall and will until the weather gets drier and warmer. We are grateful none of us were hurt, that the damage could be fixed or replaced and we stayed warm and healthy. Today I will try to start catching up on orders and ask that you be a bit patient as I get the shop back in order and going smoothly again.


Anonymous said...

This makes me very glad that here in Luxembourg all powerlines are underground... except for the high power ones, but those are up sooo high that the trees can't get to them hehehe.

Cheers Eva

Jenger said...

OMG!!! That sounds like a midwestern strom. That is so crazy. Hugs, I am glad all is well.