Monday, January 30, 2012

The other side traggedy

It's been almost a week since our electricity came back on and yet somehow the whole ordeal is still the number one topic of conversation. Some of the yards have been cleaned up a bit from all the tree limbs and the remnants of trees litter the roadsides still... the fresh cut of a downed tree still exposed as if sharing a view into its soul. As I look out into my yard, I have flashes from the movie Fern Gully flickering in and out. In the movie there is a scene where a forest of trees is branded with red Xs on all the trees subject to the cut throat evil of the developers. And then there is a view of the trees who have already met their ill fated futures, cut down and sad.... That is how I view our area lately. The trees are all broken off mid way, or fallen over completely, some even taking the roots right with them. There are sections of our woods that will never be there same and the clean up is far from over. We've only hit the tip of the ice burg, and I know that even once the fallen trees have been removed and our pathways have been uncovered... these woods will never be the same.

Along with the stories of snapping trees and an inconvenienced few days we all had to endure in some way, there are the other stories being told. Some of them are heart warming tales of neighbors pulling together, sharing what food or warmth they had to give. Friends reaching out from towns away to bring safety and comfort to friends in need. There are the amazing workman, who have worked so tirelessly on our behalf, some working nearly 36 hours straight to bring us our most prized conveniences like cable and hair dryers.... Those are the good stories that I want to remember from this ordeal while others stick with me and make me want to be a better person so as not to ever go to the dark places I think some people go to in times of need and panic....

Right along with the good stories, there have also been bad ones. Tragic occurrences like these tend to either bring out the really good in people or show ugly sides of people we never thought could be there. I have seen so many comments on FB of people complaining about the power outage, as if someone was to blame for it. They want to pin it on someone and make them pay. I have heard of great loss and people making snide comments as if they deserved it and more.... only because those individuals were not in the "norm". I have felt the need to get these thoughts out, but then wondered if I really should, if the words would come out right...and then the other day it was just too much.... while praying with other moms at my homeschool co-op, it was brought to my attention that they have actually had to call out police to guard the men and women working on the power lines.... yeah, there is that kind of ugly in the world where the very people trying to help us, putting their lives on the line to work around such dangerous trees, and weather, aren't even safe from the people they are trying to help....

As for me, everyone keeps asking me if we've gotten back to "normal" yet and I just have to answer "no"... because I don't want to.... That first 24 hours of no power, I will admit, was a bit overwhelming and I felt a panic that I've never felt before. We get so dependent on things like water coming out of our faucets and lights turning on on command that we don't know how to function when they are suddenly taken away. After we got used to having to think out our next move, and plan how we were going to execute things, there was a simplicity to life that I don't want to let go of. I think that it takes times like this to make us stronger and to show us who we really are. I'm proud of the way we handled the situation, and while I was very excited to have power again.... I'm glad for the times we spent in the dim light of our little livingroom tent....I'm glad that we chose to take the high road and pray for those who didn't...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

97 hours of darkness

Wow, where to begin... the power outage ended up lasting for 97 hours!!!

97 H O U R S!! I've heard of such things on the news, and heard stories of people who lived thru such things after natural disasters but honestly, do we ever think it will happen to us?! NO!

For 97 hours we huddled under that make shift tent in our living room. It was by no means toasty but it was warm enough. My fingers were cold tho so there was little knitting for me. Bummer huh? Nothing to do but stay warm and I couldn't even knit! :) You don't realize how fast a day can go by when you have to think out and execute every little thing you need. We were able to go to my husbands work that actually had power, and fill up water jugs and take a shower. Who would have thought that after 3 days of no shower, such a simple act would change my entire outlook on things! lol I felt like a million bucks! And we went home with drinking water to boot! It was a win win!

We were among the lucky ones, having the generator meant we didn't have to lose all of our food. I was able to move a lot of it into one freezer and that one freezer was hooked up to the generator. Then it became a game of putting food from the fridge outside in the snow, on the back porch and eventually into the freezer (the snow melted away fast with all the rain) that was not plugged in but still very cold as I had a few big containers of ice that just happened to still be in there. All and all, I think we only lost about $100 in food. It could have been SOO much worse! Some of my friends were able to be reimbursed their losses thru insurance, and we could have too but our deductible was higher than what we lost so I'll just consider ourselves lucky! :)

I've had a few people ask if this all happened due to the snow. Yes and no but mostly it was the freezing rain that quickly followed and then the wind that came thru with a vengeance.

It started out with a beautiful snow...

Followed by LOTS of freezing rain....

And ended in what looked like a tornado had come thru our trees....

It went from this.....                                     
                        To this.....

What a difference a night can make huh?! lol

Friday, January 20, 2012

Indoor camping

Its hard to believe its been over fifty hours since i first sat down to write about our blackout. We thought we were out if the woods when it came back on... only to last about an hour before going out for good.... and so, its been over fifty hours total that we've been without it and we don't really see an end in sight!

An adventure is putting it mildly! We managed that first night in the cold but after it had been out for over ten hours,the house temp definitely took a nose dive! Dh decided to brave the roads and head out to get us a generator, definitely not something in the budget but wow am I glad to have it!

When he first hooked it up, we were so excited to stand in front of it and feel heat coming out of our fireplace... but soon realized that it wasn't going to heat the room. It wasn't getting any warmer and it had been a few hours already! I must admit, I thought he was crazy. DH suggested we build a tent out of plastic to help hold the heat in. Maybe I was in denile about just how long we were going to be in this predicament.  So, we moved the furniture in close to the fireplace and build a tent with big sheets of plastic we had from moving. I still can't believe the difference it makes! As long as we are in the tent, it is taking the chill off but boy, if you step out of the tent you'll know it!!

I still can't believe how crazy this is, sitting under a plastic tent in my living room watching movies on the laptop. But  I can say how thankful I am to have such a resourceful husband!! :)


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Simplicity unexpected

It’s funny how a simple thing like electricity going out can cause what feels like chaos in a house hold. The mad dash for flashlights, the digging in junk drawers for matches, the occasionally tripping over a much confused dog or two… lol  In the 30 minutes or so that its been out already, I’ve found my mind racing to figure out how we will manage without it and coming up fairly empty on answers.  Our dinner was about half cooked, but not warmed enough to eat and after a bit of digging we have a nice warm glow coming from the candles we have placed around the house.  I do find it funny all the little things that the girls keep asking if they work…. If I turn on the night light in the bathroom will it work? Why can’t we watch a show? Will you make me something to eat? Lol

IF you’ve watched the news at all, you know that the Pacific Northwest has been getting hit with one heck of a snow storm, on top of snow storm and yet another snowstorm! And now we await the freezing rain that's on its way! We have been finding it fairly comical to watch the news and see the reports of people who clearly weren’t using their heads while they were driving (SLOW DOWN!), or should have just been staying home all together.

Having spent time in Alaska, this little break from the rainy norm has been a welcomed diversion! Even our dog (who is an Alaskan husky) is in pure joy over the 10-12 inches of goodness that fell over night. She was literally like a kid in a candy store when she plowed out passed the girls to race them to the snow first! Lol

It’s times like this that  we are forced to slow down and re-group… it shows us how programmed we are to something we’ve come to depend on entirely too much!  I think back to pioneer days and what they must have felt when the sun went down and the lights grew dim. It’s no wonder they were early to bed and early to rise! Lol I have candles scattered all over and it still seems as tho the dark will swallow us up. It’s kind of funny just thinking that I am sitting here in the dark typing this out on my laptop! Typing out my thoughts are just so much easier than handwriting it and scratching out mistakes and such. Plus it would be an adventure in itself if I were to go in hunt of a notebook at the moment!! lol

 Lego play by candlelight! :)

Of course, it doesn’t help that our house runs completely on electricity, and that the only fireplace we have also plugs into the wall!! Ah, the joys of being renters! Blah!  We are starting to feel the temperature in the house drop and the layers are coming out. Our trusty knit slippers and cozy robes are coming to the rescue for now but to be honest I’m not sure how we’ll manage long term. DH ran into town to fill up the propane tanks (I do believe I remember mentioning about that a few days ago! I’m not one to say I told you so tho! Lol)  If it gets too bad we could go out in the camping trailer and stay warm that way plus I’d have the stove to be able to cook on out there. Hot water might come in handy… oh wait! We have very little bottled water! Ok, maybe I need to make a list of things we need to have on hand or rethink in case this happens again!! Lol  I guess we’ll just have to go find some clean snow out there!   Oh the adventure!

FYI- The power ended up being out for about 10hours... so we layered up and added a few blankets to the bed and snuggled in for the night! :) The list of survival gear to have has grown tho... will be saving for a small generator! :) Last night makes me think of this song... it's one of my favors... just picture two adults, two kids, a cat and a jack russell under a feather down comforter! ha!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Dying to be creative!

I started this year off with ideas of what I wanted the new year to be... goals I want to accomplish I guess. Not really resolutions, because come on, how many of those do we actually follow thru on? I set a goal for myself to really use my stash of crafting materials this year, to at least try not to by any materials but rather use what I already have! I know I'm only two weeks into this challenge but I'm really excited with what we have accomplished so far and am really enjoying the joy that I feel when I have completed a project... So take a look into what the girls and I have been doing this week and how we turned this boring Fisherman's wool into something to really get  excited about! :)


We started with this Fisherman's wool that can be bought at Michaels or JoAnn's (use a 40% coupon and it's a great deal!)


I then used this chair to wrap the yarn around and get it ready for dying... you can see I had lots of help for this stage of the process! lol NOT! Kobuk enjoyed this step way more than I did! lol

Then we used cotton yarn to tie the yarn into something we could hopefully keep somewhat neat! I read that you could use cotton yarn because it will not get colored in this process and will then stand out easier in the mess of colors and yarn.

From here on, you should probably follow this tutorial. It's the one that we used and it turned out great! Definitely take her warning about the red tho.... that stuff is wicked!!! One the first batch the colors really bled... on our second batch R accidentally poured almost a whole packet in... and it was VERY RED!!!!! lol So red that I had to dump the water because the yarn wasn't soaking up all the color, nor did I want it too!! Luckily, I was able to add in some other colors and all was not lost. I'll have to post pics of the second batch tomorrow tho as it is still drying and we have yet to use the yarn baller with it yet! Another day!

Now J is plotting her newest  project... a scarf! She has been knitting for awhile now but only making little projects like book marks. So, I gave her a challenge. If she makes her own scarf and finishes it, I will make her a pair of matching mittens. I guess I gave myself a challenge too since I've never actually made mittens before! lol I like a good challenge and it has given her the boost she needs to keep going. She even asked if she could knit in bed instead of reading! I so enjoy doing these kind of creations with my girls. I hope they learn to love creating worthwhile and useful items and that with hard work and perseverance you can create beautiful things no mass producing machine could compete with!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Duck, Duck, Coyote

I really thought that I had run out of tears this week. My face has ached from it actually and I thought I was done... but Mother Nature had another idea.

It was actually a wonderful morning. Our first snowfall of the winter had come in the night and the world was a calm and quiet that only a winter white day can bring. The girls actually couldn't wait to get outside and before I knew it they were bundled up in their pjs, rain boots and a miss matched collection of hats, mittens and layers of coats. There was no stopping them. It was actually pretty comical. Hubby FINALLY had a day off and we were enjoying a cup of hot coffee on the porch while the girls played. Not long after, the girls and I went in to warm up and make more coffee while Daddy stayed outside. I saw him out of the corner of my eye as he walked in the direction of our duck pen.... I saw him looking around and then I realized that Max was no where to be seen....he had to just be inside out of the snow right? I knew that something was up....

I won't go into details but things were not alright, and Max is no longer with us. There was no being strong in front of the girls this time, and it literally felt like my heart was breaking even before I had to tell them the bad news.  I had seen a coyote earlier in the day, so I made sure to keep Max penned up. I thought that would keep him safe but it just wasn't enough...

What I want to know is how... not how this creature took the life of our much loved pet.... there is no going back on that now, but rather, how do you move on from this? How do you deal with the loss that comes from living in the country and having animals. Is it something that you just have to get used to? Is that really even possible? I don't want to be so hardened to life that I don't love animals or that I just don't care at all but I do have to wonder if I am cut out for this. I so want to be more self reliant and live off the land but at the same time I just don't know how to manage the heart ache....

Saturday, January 14, 2012

There's a change in the air

Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only one that hates taking down Christmas decorations.... it's really not the act of taking them down and packaging them up for another year that I dispise, it's the come down off such a warm and cozy season down to an other wise bleak and dreary month of January. Everyone else seems to be happy to have the holidays over with, to get it out of site and move on and here I am on the 14th of January, just now taking my holiday decor down! lol We took our tree down last weekend but I have been dragging my feet on the rest of it...

I just woke up this morning, after a long emotional week (the funeral was yesterday) and decided that today was the day... there was a change in the air... I could feel it... So I dug out the storage boxes and packed away our treasured decorations. All the special little things that just seem to "make" the season... they are all packed away with care

It was almost exciting to get out something "new". I always enjoy setting up the buffet with pictures and the mantel with photos and trinkets we've collected too. I store my mantel decor in the drawers of my buffet so there are always little things that get lost in there, tucked into table runners and table my display from year to year is always kinda of the same but with a different flare. :)  I was digging out some frames that I knew were in there and would go with my Valentine's theme, when I reached between two layers of a table cloth and found this... I knew just what it was as my fingers touched it and I had a big lump in my throat before my eyes even saw it...

This was the first wedding present we received before our wedding...I remember getting it and being so moved that it was so early and had been specially made just for us...This picture doesn't do it justice but it is simply beautiful... and was the first time I'd seen our names together and with the date like this... It also meant so much that it was from Aunt Joy.....

So once again, I had a good cry...

And just in case there is any question... I am not trying to wish this time away and rush the holiday of Valentine's day either... I want to enjoy every minute of every day with my husband and two girls.... I just love the favorite pictures and the essence of LOVE in the decor....I will take all these bleak January days... with high hopes of snow and warm days knitting by the fire place. We drink more tea and read more books and try to savor the stillness of the season.... I think these quiet reflective days make the spring and summer that much sweeter! :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A black cloud

I feel like there is a black cloud hovering over me... I have felt it for a few days now and for once it's not because of my dreary's due to loss...the kind of loss that has no words, no way of fully being able to describe it, no real relm of comprehension that life is changing and we can't go back...

I'll warn you now, and apologize for rambling... I just need to get this out in hopes of healing...

We take it for granted when we are kids. We get used to being able to count on certain things and don't realize that we are making memories that will stay with us forever...they help to shape us and give us a sense of belonging. I've been thinking a lot lately about what has shaped me as a person. The little things, events and people that have helped to make me who I am today. My very earliest memories are with my Gram and her sisters.... I look back now and I realize how lucky I was to get to spend time with these great ladies.

My Gram is the baby of two brothers and three sisters. I never got to meet one her brothers and the other one lived away, but those three sisters are so much of a part of my growing up and the memories that have been filling my mind these last few days....they are woven into my very being and the memories are so vivid....lunches out with them and my Great Papa Harry, visits to their houses (two of them being basically on the same street as us) and one amazing car ride to Florida for a trip to Disney..... gosh those ladies had some patience! lol

As an adult, I now realize how lucky I was to have such a sunny childhood, surrounded by people who loved me. I know it couldn't have been easy to have a toddler always in tow and I know they probably dreaded it at some point, just out of human nature, but I never felt it... I just always felt safe and loved and included....I have memories of all four sisters gathered around the table in a restaurant near a buffet... they were all cackling (I mean this in the nicest way) and eating and all was right with the world... that's how memories work as a child... you don't realize that they were probably frustrated with the day-to-day life like we are today, you just remember the good.... the smiles, the laughing, and the way they made you feel.

My Gram lost one of her sisters years ago, and Aunt Bern has been so missed...I remember thinking that I couldn't imagine life without her in it too... but new memories have been made with the remaining two sisters.... I long sinced moved away but those lunches I had with them still stick in my mind with such love... as do the lunches and visits we have when I return....

I am preparing to take my girls back for a visit for the first time since my gram has had her strokes and the dementia has taken so much of her... and those lunches are the a thing of the past now.... and would be lacking so much....a few days ago, my world lost another one of those treasured woman and my Gram lost another sister....

My Aunt Joy passed away at the age of 85.  Just saying that seems impossible. I can't seem to believe it. She's just gone and I keep waiting to wake up and have it not true...

Aunt Sis, Gram, Aunt Joy

This cloud just keeps hovering and I just keep praying for peace, glad that she's not hurting and never had to suffer. I know its being selfish to be so sad but I just can't fathom her not being there.... and I hope she knew how much I loved her... I love her... In the words of my seven year old after telling her about Aunt Joy.... " Ah... I miss her already"

If you are still reading this, I thank you for being there.... I just needed to get that all out and have a good cry... thanks for listening...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

One last inspiration of 2011

I always have the best of inspirations. I see great ideas on other blogs, or simply dream up a craft on my own (I'm often creating even in my sleep! lol) and I'm even good about getting the materials to make them happen.... but the follow thru just isn't there. I really do mean to but somehow the days just get away from me and unfortunately there are many crafts in our closets that are still waiting to come to life!

Making candles has been on my list for so long, I don't even remember how long! I was so excited to find an older gentleman at our church who raises bees so that I could purchase local bees wax!! I love the idea of taking something ugly and "worthless" and turning it into something beautiful and useful! :) But again... the days just slip away from me and this blob of beeswax has been taunting me from the pantry for months now! So, just two days before the new year, when nothing else about my day seemed to be going right I decided to drop everything and make those darned candles! No more putting it off till the perfect time for a learning opportunity, no more casting it off till tomorrow.....and one less unfinished project was going into the new year! :)
We started off with  this blog of beeswax that had to be cleaned and cut into smaller pieces...


Then we melted it in a coffe can placed in a big pot of simmering water, and began dipping the wick into the wax. It didn't go an easily as I had envisioned... and then I realized that the wax just wasn't sticking to the wick so we got out an old jar and filled it with ice water. We alternated dipping it in the wax and then into the ice water and after just a few dips the wax started to build up and the candle started to take shape!!

 When all was said and done, we had made 4 beeswax candles!! These candles were far from "pretty" but I think for a first try they were pretty good! I'm sure there is a right way to make them and I'm sure we were not doing it by any rules of candle making so the fact that they turned out at all is a small miracle! lol The girls were so excited to eat dinner by candle light and it really opened the door for so much nice conversation. The girls love learning about pioneers and pretty much anything having to do with them so it was really fun to have started with such a raw resource as the beeswax and followed it all full circle into a useful item in the house. 

I know as adults it probably seems silly to sit in the dark with two little candles eating dinner but there is something calm and enjoyable about taking away all the distractions and just focusing on the food in front of us and the people closest to us. While we won't be eating every meal in the dark, we will definitely be doing this more often. I think it makes for such a nice meal time experience and something I hope my girls will grow up treasuring as much as I do! 

I've joined in on these great parties!