Sunday, March 20, 2011

Big storm adventure

We've been hunkered down indoors all day. The rain hasn't let up. In the afternoon, it got heavier, and as we watched weather websites online, we saw dark red storm cells moving in on our part of the mountains. The rain pounded on the roof, overflowed the gutters, filled the storm-culvert beyond our yard. The jacaranda tree next to the house tossed in the wind, and gusts curling around the windows and chimneys moaned and howled.

At 4:19 the power went out.

See there's Jack looking out the window.

I went outside and gathered up some lanterns and lamp oil and some botanica candles - which are my favorite candles for times like these, because they have so much fuel and they're safe. [The Man I Love] found the hand-crank radio in the cupboard and some flashlights. I filled the lanterns and got them lit.

We pulled our chairs up to the window, looking out at the storm. The announcer on the radio said that the storm was just hanging over the Santa Monica Mountains and Malibu - and it was true. Gone were the strong winds of earlier in the afternoon. Now the trees were still and the rain just pounded straight down, relentlessly. The weather reporter said it was expected to rain two inches per hour.

We peeked out the front door. Here's our front steps, with its own little waterfall.

What to do? The phones don't work, if you have a typical modern wireless phone (oh, where is that cheap old push-button phone that doesn't need electricity?). Even our cell phones didn't work - couldn't get a signal.

Our laptops worked, but couldn't get on line without power to the modem. So our only lifeline to the world was the hand-crank radio. It got darker and darker.

We opened the dark refrigerator and poured two glasses of wine. A package of crackers and a bunch of grapes; a wedge of packaged cheese. [The Man I Love] opened a little can of smoked oysters. The candles and the lanterns gave a warm amber light. Jack lay down on the floor between our chairs. We watched out the window as the rain came down, listened to it pound on the roof, and listened to the radio.

It didn't sound good. Traffic reports told of mudslides on the 405, closures on Sepulveda. Storm cells moving in. Water over the roadway on Topanga Canyon Boulevard at Old Canyon. Cars being washed away.

It got darker and darker. We carried our lanterns into the living room. We gathered blankets. [The Man I Love] could use his Droid to read a downloaded book. I thought about how long the food in the fridge would last if we avoided opening the door.

I started cleaning the wicks of some of the candles to keep them from guttering out. Hey! That really made a difference! It's a lot more bright!

Oh, wait. The power's back on. The familiar hum of the refrigerator, the clacking as my printer boots itself up again.

Three hours with the power out. Some pioneers we are.

It makes you think, though, doesn't it? Keep your emergency supplies in order, friends. You never know. My thoughts are with those in more dire circumstances, everywhere.

UPDATE at 9:51 pm: So much for the calm. The wind is back with a fury. We're keeping those flashlights and candles handy.


smalltownmom said...

We had a power outage a week ago and got out the old phone... funny that a plain push button phone is an old thing now.

Karen S. said...

sometimes those power outages can be comforting for a slower pace to your norm...the lanterns are great and wine and crackers and grapes oh my lovely really! Hope the rain stops soon ...why can't the weather just be normal rainfalls and snowfalls....instead of so intense and heavy!!!!!

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I still have my old push button phone. It worked in NYC when the power would go out (for instance, I lost power for a while back on 9/11, and my parents were able to reach me thanks to that phone).

P.S. A few years later a Con Ed station blew up, and I had no power for three days. At least I was on the 9th floor, rather than the 27th!

Kate said...

That's some storm....hope your power stays on. It's true though; when the power goes out we're all reminded how lucky we are and how much we take for granted.

I still have the oldie type phone; can't bear the thought of losing all connection to the outside world...sort of like backpack camping...way out there in the Cascade wilderness.

Love your photos; wine and cheese and candle light ease a lot of the pain, no?

cactus petunia said...

Glad you're all okay! It looks like you made the best of the situation, though.

I've been working on updating the disaster kit since last week. Cat food, dog food, people food, water, TP...check! Even so, I can't fathom what it must be like in Japan right now.

Gilly said...

That is some rain! I suppose, being on a mountain range, when it rains, it sure rains!!

Love those candles and lantern. Way back in 1976-ish when there was a three0day week and power cuts, we had an array of candles and a small cannister gas light. There's something about candle-light, isn't there?

Salty Mama said...

Hope things are better this AM! I hate wind, unless I'm hot. Wow, that sounded really spoiled!?! Hope your day is sunny!

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

It actually sounds sort of romantic and relaxing (of course I wasn't there)! My husband is with the power company, so if the power goes out around here...I get left home alone and he goes to work. Not romantic at all or relaxing! We also have a handcrank radio, it can charge our cellphones and has a flashlight. We've never had to use it, but I keep it within reach. I hope all is well at your house.

Kathy Rogers said...

I believe that 2" per hour thing. Our back patio turned into a lake that was lapping at the door sill.

We had a handful of mini power failures where the power would go out just long enough to kill every digital clock in the house and then come back on. Your power failure looks kind of cozy.

kcinnova said...

I saw the news and thought of you.
We keep an old plug-in phone handy for times like that, but after a few hours, it's no longer fun.
Great little waterfall shot!