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Pre-2008 Posts

Storm Update: Revenge of the Trees

Tree through House, East SideNot Uncommon Site!  East Side

North of SeattleHow it looks in my neck of the woods!

This is how it looks where I am, too!

Very scarySix Trees on House Not Far From Me

Thanks to all of you amazing wimmin for your thoughts, prayers and encouragement, much appreciated.  I’m posting from a Kinko’s about 30 miles from my house. 

We are still without power, water, internet, although we have phone service now (thank the goddess for the old-fashioned, non-electric phones).  It’s been four days now– this will be our fifth night without power or running water.  We have it much better than some– we have plenty of dry, seasoned wood, and our woodstove heats the entire house very well, even though the temperatures got down into the 20s last night.  We are hauling water from the stream to flush toilets, for cleaning and bathing, and for the animals.  All of the local stores are without drinking water, which is the main reason I drove into town, that’s something we can’t do without.

We are using up what is in the refrigerator, cooking on our Coleman stoves, and we are heating water and keeping food warm on the top of our woodstove.  We’re using candles and lanterns for light.  We have a great generator and two full propane tanks, but we can’t get the generator started; we need a new battery and then we have to figure out how to wire it, so we’re thinking we might haul it into the hardware store.  If we could get that going, then we’d at least have (cold!) , but drinkable, water.  (We have a private well which runs on an electric pump).  It’s been gratifying realizing the house can be kept warm with wood alone; wood we have plenty of.  People are having a really hard time finding wood for their fireplaces and woodstoves — all the stores are out.  There are hundreds of people who have gotten carbon monoxide poisoning  because they’ve tried to use barbecues or generators in their homes to keep warm, and several have died.  My oldest son  and his family are on out in Bellevue, which was very hard hit.  There is still no power there, or very little, including to gas stations.  People have lined up for blocks and police have had to come to keep order.  A huge tree fell on my son and his family’s apartment complex and they were evacuated the first night.  They have a useless, for-looks-only fireplace; he said last night he has spent about $150 just for wood so far! 

I don’t mind this at all, although I miss blogging and all of my internet places and friends.  I always wanted to live this way, connected to the land, from the land, and I moved to the land 16 years ago with this dream in mind.  I had scheduled this week as vacation time from work so I’m home with my kids.  We’ve already read nine chapters of Watership Down by candlelight– what an amazing book that is, something I never realized before.  It is all about power, about animal rights, about male violence, the brutalization of the earth under male heterosupremacy.  It’s about the way male power works and the way  dominance heirarchies work.  I am really enjoying reading this with the children!  I can’t believe how good an out-loud reader my 8-year-old Maggie is!  She reads fluently, with passion and expression, though this is very much an adult novel, tiny print, long, written by an English author, too, so the words are a little different from American words.  The kids have been drawing pictures of the storm, of the things we have seen.  Naomi (who is 15) has taken a bunch of photos for the school paper– she is so an instinctive journalist.   We’ve got shots of all of the many, many trees hanging off of the power lines and one shot of a tree split straight down the middle all the way to the ground.  It looks as though it might have been hit by lightning, although there was no charring or signs that it had been burned. 

I don’t know when we will get power back.  Our electricity is supplied by a small, rural co-op and the word is, we might be without power throughout the week.  Before we can get power again, crews have to remove the huge evergreen hanging over and across the lines at the top of our long private driveway.  These lines supply power to about 15 homes– we are hoping that will make it more likely to get us some attention than if it were just our house affected (something which is the case for many out here where it is so sparsely populated0.   We are just one of hundreds of thousands of families without power; it takes time to get all of those tree-cutters out there, all the crews out, on this sprawling, wooded, rural peninsula.  I’m just very happy we were reasonably well-prepared and know how to live without what most people view as the essentials of life.  I am loving the quiet, the peace, the hot chocolate, the coffee, reading all the books I don’t read because I’m on the internet!  Today we are going to make clove oranges.  🙂  I like getting up when the sun rises and going to sleep when the sun has set.  I love the beautiful, brilliant stars I can see through the huge windows in the sunroom where the woodstove is.  It’s been clear the past couple of nights.  Orion has been spectacular!

But yeah, definitely missing the internet anyway, I won’t lie!

When I posted from work last Friday, I turned the comments to “moderate” because during the Britney Spears debacle,  I’d approved a few posts for people I’m not sure I wanted posting while I couldn’t moderate.  I’m going to reset it so that all of you who have had posts approved at least once will be able to post without moderation, keep the good discussions going.  If someone manages to get through and troll, please ignore them until I’m up and running on the internet again, hopefully soon!

 The politics of all of this are very interesting.   The scuttlebutt is, emergency crews are favoring the shopping malls and giving residences short shrift.  People are all upset because their neighbors have power and they don’t.  The hard thing is, the grid itself was badly damaged.  Before crews can work on houses, they had to fix the grid itself, the main distribution lines.  This isn’t even Katrina.  It’s not even The. Earthquake.  which we all talk about here in the Northwest that will come someday.  We are so dependent on a very fragile, earth-hating, earth-destroying infrastructure.  Under the reign of Men, our beautiful earth which we all must share, has been so abused, destroyed.  In times like this we have a chance to realize how significant that destruction has been.  I’ve got plenty of good writing to do about this.

I’ll be  back!




29 thoughts on “Storm Update: Revenge of the Trees

  1. Thanks for letting us know you are okay. Take care.

    Posted by rhondda | December 18, 2006, 9:29 pm
  2. Hope everything gets better soon. My prayers are with you!

    Posted by truckerswife | December 18, 2006, 10:10 pm
  3. Pleased you are ‘k
    Hmm the revenge of Gaia

    Posted by sparklematrix | December 18, 2006, 10:19 pm
  4. Oh, Heart, how happy I am to see and hear you posting again! And how happy I am to feel surrounded by your immense love of Our Earth.

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | December 18, 2006, 10:20 pm
  5. Good to see you posting – I’m amazed at the amount of damage. I have just finished watching ‘Edge of Darkness’ which was an eco-thriller short series broadcast on UK TV in the early 80s. The Gaia myth was a central theme …

    Posted by snowqueen | December 18, 2006, 10:49 pm
  6. Wow, what a storm!

    I am glad you are OK – look forward to reading what you write about the abuse of our Mother the Earth under the reign of men.

    Posted by Branjor | December 18, 2006, 11:11 pm
  7. Glad to hear you are allright.

    Your post has put any worries I’ve had about Christmas TOTALLY into perspective.

    Wishing you all the best…

    Posted by puddlejumper | December 18, 2006, 11:15 pm
  8. I’m so inspired by your true enjoyment of the good things the storm has brought. Please stay safe and take care of yourself.

    Posted by anonymom | December 19, 2006, 12:09 am
  9. Glad to hear you and yours are OK Heart.

    Posted by delphyne | December 19, 2006, 12:26 am
  10. Glad to hear you’re all OK, but somehow knew you would be. There are only a few people I know (even though I don’t really “know” you) who would be prepared to live without the things we see as necessary, but you’re certainly one of them. Love to you and your tribe.

    Posted by Melissa | December 19, 2006, 12:38 am
  11. What a good attitude.

    Posted by chasingmoksha | December 19, 2006, 12:45 am
  12. The same on the British Columbia coast and Vancouver Island.

    Heart I am so glad you are well, and READING. What an image. I just had to smile thinking of you and your girls there, living through terror in real and in print.

    By the way, I believe the reason they keep malls and similar going is for possible evacuation places.


    Posted by Pony | December 19, 2006, 1:54 am
  13. That link above doesn’t work.

    Posted by Pony | December 19, 2006, 2:04 am
  14. *phew!* glad to hear you and the family are all ok, Heart. my home town had it fairly easy, barely a power-outage. we have no real fireplaces (tho they might work without electricity, being gas) so that’s a good thing, heh. I can so picture your wonderful giant fireplace and the sunroom, 🙂

    hoping you get power soon

    Posted by Cinder | December 19, 2006, 3:50 am
  15. I immediately thought of you when I saw news of the storm, Heart. Glad to hear you’re making the most of a scary situation. Take care – I look forward to more blogging on the flip side!

    Posted by Sassafras | December 19, 2006, 3:17 pm
  16. Oh! The top picture! With the little christmas tree inside and the giant outside tree breaking in? Oh lordy! Don’t tell me that’s what your house looks like.
    Well, when the going gets tough, right? I know when I was homeless due to Katrina it was an adventure at first, like: now my survival skills are paying off. But I am sorry for your situation and hope you gather your resources enough to make it through this. I think we will survive too.

    Posted by saltyC | December 19, 2006, 3:48 pm
  17. As I said, my parents live in Kent & I’ll be there in a few days (we’re driving up). If you need anything, you have my email or you can post on this. But it sounds like you’re enjoying communing with our mother 🙂 I always used to enjoy power-outages; it meant I could read by the light of candles near the fire. The best to you and your friends & family.

    Posted by Miko | December 19, 2006, 4:23 pm
  18. Glad to hear you’re weathering it!

    We went through a bad ice storm in NC about six (?) years ago. I had seven days with no electricity, no heat – and it was getting down in the teens at night.

    I was the only one on my block who had done extensive camping, so I rigged a hobo’s chiminea out of an old tin trash can and brewed coffee all day/week long for my neighbors, cooked for them, and then everyone gathered on my porch at night for music, tall-tales, and beer.

    It would have been festive if it hadn’t been so damn, damn cold.

    Hang in there!!!

    Posted by Q Grrl | December 19, 2006, 5:50 pm
  19. I’m glad you’re all ok too, Heart. Though…there is something about the unstoppable power of nature that has me in thrall every time.

    I like to think women are a bit like that.

    Posted by witchy-woo | December 19, 2006, 11:38 pm
  20. ((((((Heart))))))))

    I’ve not been online because of, well, you know, and just read this tonight.

    It’s amazing to me how things from the past can still pop up in your mind like it was just yesterday. I was living in SC in 1989 during hurricane hugo, and the photos you posted immediately took me back there. The visual of literally seeing the walls of my house bow in and out with the wind… the smell of all the downed pine trees (still can’t buy Pine Sol), the sound of the wind and the trees crashing around me, living without electricity for over 3 weeks and all the things that come with it. I was lucky, my house was damaged by not destroyed. But show me a photo and it’s like I can smell the pine and hear the wind and am right back in the middle of it. I swore I’d never stay there through another hurricane – and it’s one of the good things about Ohio, no hurricanes!

    Glad to hear that you and yours are doing so well! Now I think I’ll settle in and catch up what looks to be some good reading.


    Posted by JJ | December 20, 2006, 1:03 am
  21. Sounds like you were prepared for disaster. This is something that most Americans spend a lot of energy avoiding: the thought that “It COULD happen to me” I am so glad that you and yours are okay. It would not be a bad thing if more people would sit up and take notice, however. We are WAY to dependent on those fragile metal wires that connect us to the power grid. How many people do you know that have about one day’s supply of food in their house, even after all the urging from our powers that be plus just plain common sense? I can think of several right off hand.

    Posted by healingmagichands | December 20, 2006, 2:29 pm
  22. Hey, thanks to all of you for those good wishes. Q grrl and JJ, you wimmin are Amazons. I love that you made that chiminea, Q grrl– there’s something about meeting the challenges of natural disasters that has always appealed to me. JJ, re the smell of pines! Yes! Such a beautiful-smelling ominous-ness. The air has been thick with this smell and yet, very hard to enjoy it, even at Christmas time, where the devastation is so much.

    Obviously, power has been restored to my house! It’s good to be back; however, another storm is forecast and so I am crossing my fingers and doing ALL of the laundry right away just in case. The fear is that trees made unstable in the storm last week could come down in the one that is forecast, even though it’s not supposed to be anything like the first one. The forecast is 35-mile-an-hour winds. I’m hoping for the best and taking things as they come.

    magichealinghands (and everybody), one thing I learned in my years and years of comparative poverty raising my huge number of kids was that so long as you keep a few things on hand, you are relatively prepared for most emergencies, and those things are (1) water; (2) matches; (3) oats; (4) canned milk; (5) peanut butter or tuna fish; (6) candles/lanterns; (7) wood/paper; (8) campstove. If you’ve got those things and some ingenuity, you can get by for a while. Then again, I’ve been a back-to-the-lander for most of my adult life and I grew up camping and hiking; those skills are in my bones. People who are poor and have never been out of the city often have a much different experience/perspective, and the poor can really, really suffer, as some have here, 1,000 so far have been treated for carbon monoxide poisoning because they tried to stay warm with campstoves or barbecues in the house. 😦


    Posted by womensspace | December 20, 2006, 4:45 pm
  23. New reader here. I have never been through a bad storm, well not really. When I was little, I slept through the eye of Hurricane Diana rolling across Southport, NC. But nothing like Katrina, Hugo or what you have been through. So glad you and your family are alright! Those pictures were shocking! Talk about attack of the trees! I hope if/when we ever get struck here in Southern Jersey, I will be able to recall the things I learned primitive camping growing up. Sounds like you did a wonderful job! Best wishes to you and hope that you do not have any further damage with that in coming storm.


    Posted by xanadu1015 | December 20, 2006, 9:48 pm
  24. No. No! Not the laundry. There will be another power out.

    Add an axe to your list.

    Posted by Pony | December 21, 2006, 2:52 am
  25. Wow. I’m glad things are okay. I have my fingers crossed for you and your family with this next storm coming. The pictures are amazing, though tragic.

    No storms like that here except sometimes during El Nino years, but Santa Anas can whip up fierce. some times. But we’ve been very fortunate.

    I’ve been in a couple tornados and some earthquakes. Northridge in L.A. knocked out power and water for a week and phones(except cell) for longer. My parents had water but also hit the wine for liquids. You improvise a lot. You do get to know your neighbors better like the woman across the street who needs dialysis but whose garage has collapsed on her car and trying to find a way to get her to a hospital which does dialysis because hers is damaged and one of the trauma centers is in the parking lot for wounded people and Highway 10 is impassible because some overpasses collapsed. Neighbors got together to help her get much needed medical care for an illness that doesn’t go away when disaster strikes.

    And everyone compares notes on FEMA and state assistance because earthquake insurance usually doesn’t cover chimneys(the first thing damaged) and everyone on the block usually needs a new one and is usually thankful that no one’s collapsed inward.

    The thing about Northridge is that a lot of people who died getting buried in their homes lost their lives because of shoddy practices in the construction industry. They found a lot of code violations in some of the apartment complexes which collapsed and killed people including in their beds. More of that than with Sylmar in 1971.

    In your toolkit for quakes, a good wrench helps for turning off any gas supply if you need to, in my parents’ house it leaked. Also to keep some supplies in the trunk of your car in case you’re closer to your car than your home. My moms’s got her kit set up pretty well.

    And the thing with quakes is that everyone thinks, either Alaska or California will get them, but they’re in many other places too. The two riskiest spots for huge quakes are the Pacific Northwest(Sorry Heart!) and the Missouri area(the last major one actually shifted the flow of the Mississippi river) so it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.

    Posted by Radfem | December 21, 2006, 7:19 am
  26. Ugh, I forgot about the carbon monoxide poisoning. We had many deaths during our big freeze because the kerosene heaters being sold in our area hadn’t been hipped to our growing Hispanic population. None of the warning material was in Spanish! Grrr.

    Glad to hear you have your power; I’ll keep my fingers crossed about the upcoming storm.

    Posted by Q Grrl | December 21, 2006, 3:27 pm
  27. Oh my! Take care!

    Posted by Amananta | December 21, 2006, 9:24 pm
  28. Heart–

    Thanks for posting, I was getting worried. Best of luck to you and your family.

    Posted by Gaia's Muse | December 22, 2006, 12:33 am
  29. I am glad you are ok. Really wild huh? Weather has been kinda strange. I don’t believe all the last days stuff but whenever something big happen people start asking me such questions. Here in Oklahoma City we had two EARTHQUAKES! So bizzare that everyone thought they must be explosions. Keep care of yourself!

    Posted by Alterangel | December 23, 2006, 5:15 pm

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