No Lights, No Heat- It’s Honked!!!!

Dear Readers,

Last Thursday night our power went out due to power line being taken out with icy branches, In case you don’t know, Central Texas doesn’t usually get ice or snow, and while we are on the subject, we don’t have snow shovels or a snow plows that regularly come by to sweep away the snow since it’s pretty darn rare in the first place to have itlet alone the infrastructure to handle icy temperatures such as these. On the rare occasions we get ICE in Austin, we pretty much cancel everything simply because we lack the skills and experience our neighbors to the north possess so in general, we hunker down when weather is predicted to be 1 danged degree.

So last week, it took 24 hours to get it fixed and power restored for a downed power line. When we called the power company we talked to the very lacking in empathy person at our power company who advised “a team was assigned” and they expected it to be back on sometime the next morning. No apology, no ETA on when it would be fixed. Not an awesome experience but also not awful. Awful was to come later, but I will get there.

In the car where Vivienne proclaimed the trees, “honked”

My four-year old daughter looked at all the ice laden branches and said, “they are all honked” My partner and I laughed and agreed. We did our best to make it seem like an “adventure” for her, and for the most part, it was.

Spelling!

Our friends who live nearby who had power offered us a place to hang out (with social distancing measures in place) while we waited for power to be restored. Then at about 5 that evening we got the notification that our power was back on and so we headed home to settle in for the cold and wintry weekend where we, as mentioned above, planned to lay low and hibernate to ride out the coming winter storm.

Note lights on in background.. so precious!!

We had two days of power. Then at 4 am on Monday we were rudely awakened to no power and no heat, we got the dog, the child and slept in the same bed for a few hours trying to go back to sleep and stay warm. No easy task when it’s 7 degrees outside (not a typo, friends!) and snow and ice is covering EVERYTHING.

Viv’s Birds

We tried that for a while and realizing the house wasn’t going to keep us warm enough we headed to our car, to put ourselves in a smaller space to stay warm. We pulled blankets and snack foods and drinks to be sure we could all stay in one place. I definitely anticipated another 24 hours, and while I wasn’t thrilled about it, we thought we were prepped and had been told to expect “rolling outages” (45 minutes to an hour off and then an hour on) this wound up not being the case.

Heading to the car to get warm!

Meanwhile, trying to continue the trend of “adventure” but feeling more and more like “this is good and truly honked” because more and more hours were going by with no heat and no power.

Honked!

I can “spin” with the best of them, but there is no part of this that doesn’t suck. That’s the reality, and I am saying it here and now. We are not alone, at last count between 3-5 million people are WITHOUT power across the state of Texas. and as a by-product, no heat!

According to the powers that be, this is due to the fact that when power needed to be cut it was limited to residential areas. The power company had to keep power to hospitals and fire stations (which I absolutely understand) but everyone else’s power was apparently expendable?!?!

This is unconscionable neglect on the part of the people who decided to do it and it makes me so angry when I think about it, so more to come once the power is back and I can spend more time digging into this instead of focusing on staying warm and keeping my family safe from these arctic conditions.

Back to spinning- I kept thinking the entire time, surely the lights are sure to be on tomorrow, this can’t be heading into 36 hours, but then as we realized we were going to run out of gas, we decided to drive super slow to get gas in the car, we actually got stuck in the parking lot and thankful for three good Samaritans who pushed us out of that dip, and then we drove even more slowly back home, and tried to go back upstairs but it was just too cold. 😦 so back to the van we went. It’s the warmest safest place to be. We considered going to a shelter but that also meant driving in icy conditions and possibly getting stuck again, so we decided it’s not worth the risk.

It’s now hour 43 into this frozen nightmare and we are doing our best to keep our spirits up and it’s a task.

Please join me in hoping we wake up tomorrow to electricity.

Edited to add- it took 77 hours to get our power back, and as of now, it’s still on, but the trust that it will STAY on has been thoroughly eroded.

The message this week is about changing perspective. Last week my biggest complaint was how tired I was of not being able to see people and talk face to face or the lost art of a “real conversation”

This week all I want is some lights.

Think About It.

Viv reads by candlelight as we wait for power to be restored… Hour 43- really don’t want to make it to 48 without restoration!!!

The Fine Art Of Conversation

Dear Readers,

When was the last time you picked up your phone to talk to someone? I don’t mean to call your partner to remind them to pick up the milk, or other transactional items, I mean calling someone to talk, to catch up, and to converse rather than text.

I know, texting is easier, and you can say all you need to say in a text, so why bother with a good old-fashioned phone call?

I will give you four reasons.

1. You can’t enjoy the same level of intimacy that you get from hearing your friend laugh at something you said in real-time, not reading it on a screen.

2. Last time I checked, job interviews still require you to answer questions and talk about yourself, so you might as well hone that skill with someone you love and trust.

3. Friendships are born at the moment one of you says to the other, “you too?” I thought it was just me who felt that way. That just doesn’t happen in a text.

4. It feels good to have another person hear your voice and talk to you, especially given all the distance.

I am definitely an outlier on this, because I schedule phone calls a lot, and I think my relationships are the richer for it. There are also the “I love you” (my Mom has dubbed these Stevie Wonder calls) so much better than a text. Definitely a “poor baby” is more effective voice to voice and sometimes the very act of talking something out is cathartic.

Getting right down to it, my favourite way to connect with people is face to face, but for the sake of safety, that isn’t really advisable so, I would love to see a resurgence of the “conversation” as a result of all the social distance. Is it hard? Will it be a little awkward? Probably.

But before you go back to texting, please think about the richness you could bring to your relationship just by picking up the phone and talking.

Think About It.

Buy Nothing? Sell Nothing? Um, Yes, Please!

Dear Readers,

When was the last time you got something for nothing?

What in the world am I talking about?

During this time of social distance, it’s really hard to not feel isolated, and as some of co-workers were discussing recently, the temptation to buy more things is stronger than ever…. so what do you do? So how to fill both needs?

Easy- join your local buy nothing/sell nothing group!

Our Book

It’s exactly what it sounds like, and it’s all people in your neighborhood giving things away, (most of it porch pick up so no contact but you have to coordinate timing with people and when you post, sometimes you talk a little about the thing you are giving away or why it’s available, or in the case of our KARAOKE machine (telling the story of how we met, which charmed the owner and won it for us!) and asking for things. It the modern day equivalent of asking a neighbor for a cup of sugar and it is great! It encourages the idea of getting something for NOTHING. Where else can you get that? NOWHERE!

I have made friends, gotten job leads, and some cool stuff for the munchkin! not to mention some VERY nice clothes for moi!

Freeeeeeeee!

My shirt-Her hoodie- FREE!

The best part is that when you get something for nothing, you feel compelled to commence decluttering and give back yourself, so you get free things and you give away things that you were not really using anyway…. sounds like a win-win to me.

How about you?

Check it out and see what I mean!

Think About It.

Amplifying Black Voices- Amanda Gorman

Last week on Inauguration Day, we saw this extraordinary woman capture the world.

We will rebuild, reconcile and recover

and every known nook of our nation and

every corner called our country,

our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,

battered and beautiful

When day comes we step out of the shade,

aflame and unafraid

The new dawn blooms as we free it

For there is always light,

if only we’re brave enough to see it

If only we’re brave enough to be it” -Amanda Gorman~

Birthday in Quarantine

Dear Readers,

Today is my birthday, and I definitely like to really celebrate every year. Most of the time, it’s a birthday week or weekend, not a birth(DAY) because as my good friend Jessi says, “I do what I want!” especially regarding my birthday.

When it hit about December, I started thinking, my birthday is really not going to be “the usual” this year. I mean, how could it be? Lockdown and social distance, do not exactly go with loud and crowded karaoke bash, which is what I have called my parties before.

This year was bound to be different so trying to lean into that and accept it, instead of railing against it has been my stance. A friend said, “you have to do something” and so I started planning.

It actually led to something awesome.

First, no karaoke and no in-person meet up meant I could decide to have several celebrations, not just one. I really like to take the whole week or weekend as it turned out, this year. Started with cookie delivery from my husband and daughter!

She did the dishes for me!
TIFF’s Treats! If you are in Austin, try them!

Secondly, the family Birthday day! Breakfast made for me by my partner.. (no pictures because I ate it)

Then, socially distanced, 8 feet apart outdoor coffee!

If you mask, be “extra” about it!

Then cheesesteaks and cookie cake- (my new favourite birthday meal)

Masked up!
My Sweet husband had them decorate a slice!

Finally, on my birthday, a zoom call that was fully international and full of love. So many people I love on one screen.

Viv stopped by for a hi before bed!

It would be easy to complain about the birthday party I did not get or the hugs or high fives I missed, and I am doing my level best to look at that glass as half-full.

What is a good thing to come out of all this social distance?

Well, for me? A zoom call with people who are all at least a state, of not a country away, that would not have happened without the need for creative virtual meetings. What are you embracing because of social distance?

Think About It.