No Toto, We Didn’t Make It To Kansas

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 2:28 pm

Not for lack of trying, though. Some of you out-of-state types may have heard through your local news outlets about the Killer Windstorm the Puget sound area experienced late Thursday/early Friday. Over a million people in the greater Puget Sound area lost power, ourselves included. This would explain the disappearance of your friendly neighborhood Uncle Andrew dot Net from the blogosphere (we really need a better term for the extended community of Web logs. Just about anything beginning with “blog” is right out: blogscape, blogopolis, blogobahn….nothing really works. Gotta mull that one over some more.)

We lost power about one-thirty Friday morning. I had been lying in bed dozing on and off, listening to titanic gusts buffet the house and watching the arc-white flashes of transformers going down in the distance. The flashes grew closer and closer, until finally I head the distinctive, gritty “BZOWT!” of high-voltage electricity going somewhere it ought not from somewhere just outside, and knew that our own power had gone down.

Everyone has their task to perform when the power goes out. Margaret had already covered our snake cage with a sleeping bag to help preserve the heat, and I was running around turning off the myriad battery-backups that power our computers and other devices, all of which were bleating plaintively about the sudden lack of electrical nourishment. Shawn, who had basically just gotten to sleep (he keeps weird hours) came up from the basement to let us know that the burglar alarm was complaining as well. We got the alarm settled and went upstairs to the living room to watch the storm out our picture window.

It was there, upon opening the blinds, that I noticed our mountain ash tree, reclining in a manner that seemed much chummier with the house than was usual.


Shawn and I went out to investigate, and so that he could move his car across the street to the parking lot of the dentist’s office, in case the cedar and the ash had some kind of suicide pact. In near-total darkness, with pieces of the neighbor’s roof occasionally whipping past us, we noted that the hardly-in-the-prime-of-its-life ash had cracked at its base, rather than being pulled up at the roots.



By some miracle, the forty-plus-foot-tall tree had fallen completely clear of the house, failing to seriously disturb even the lavender beds. And to make matters even better, the tree is not on our property, but in fact is on the causeway leading to the large lot behind our house, recently purchased by a developer to turn into three single-family dwellings. So not only is the fallen tree not a problem, it is also not our problem.

Margaret and I sat around our rapidly-cooling house for most of Friday, trading off having our endothermic pythons stuffed down our shirts to keep them warm, reading books and serving as electric blankets for our spoiled, fur-covered cats. About halfway through the day I remembered that I could turn up the gas hot water heater to nearly 150 degrees Fahrenheit, and after that we had cups of tepid coffee and tea to—well, not warm, exactly—lightly defrost our spirits. Shawn brought home some delightful marinated lamb from work that we grilled on the barbecue outside, and turned in early.

Allow me to proffer an observation at this point: if getting to sleep in a raging windstorm is difficult, getting to sleep in the power outage following a raging windstorm, with a pillowcase full of nocturnally-active ball pythons under the covers with you, is also difficult.

The next morning Margaret’s clinic had had its power restored, so she took the snakes to work with her, while I stayed home attempting to prepare for another night without electricity. This consisted largely of making sure that our serious perishables were surviving in a cooler out on the porch and that nothing else was leaking/melting/slowly waking from its ancient sleep in the nether corners of the freezer. I also went and did a more thorough lookabout of the house and property. Really, we did amazingly well. Nothing of a disconcerting size or weight fell on our house, our fence stayed up, the pole for the bird feeder didn’t bend….hell, we didn’t even lose any shingles that I could see.

Power was restored about 5:00pm Saturday, and we luxuriated in our new-found warmth and freedom by re-booting the Web server and microwaving some leftovers. Oh, and making a big-ass pot of real coffee.

As roughing it goes, we were pretty damn lucky. When the hardest part of your harrowing story of survival involves keeping snakes in your shirt and having to mix chlorine into your slowly-cooling hot tub with a kayak paddle, heart-stirring drama it is not.

Which is exactly how I like my crises.

I hope my fellow Puget Sounders are holding up well. If you’re reading this, post a reply and let us know how you’re doing.

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