Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wednesday: The COG and I are Good Citizens

This afternoon, the COG and I walked over to Town Hall and voted.   So, now, on election day we can devote ourselves to getting other people to vote.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tuesday Morning -

The power went out for about a half an hour last night and we thought that was it for two days, but it went on 1/2 hour later.  The COG stayed up late, worried about the sump pump, but around midnight the wind died down considerably and he came to bed.  We know from all the flashing clocks in the house that the power went off again in the night for about an hour and a half, but that's it.

There is some significant damage locally - lots of trees down, houses damaged.  Some houses right on the coast were really pounded.  We heard that there were 8 foot storm surges on Plum Island, which is a fragile spit of sand with too many houses and a national wildlife refuge on it.  Power is still out for nearly 300,000 people in Massachusetts.

In March 2010, the North Shore actually had a much worse storm for the local area.  During that very localized  freak storm the winds in our town clocked at 91 mph. Unlike this storm, there was no advance warning.  Thousands of trees went down in the area. You couldn't drive anywhere because of trees across the road.  We were at the airport when it began and the trip home, which normally takes under an hour, took 4 1/2 hours because we kept having to change course, trying to find roads that were navigable. The whole area - 200,000 people, including us, was without power for 2 to 3 days. Oddly, one of the worst things about that was we couldn't get any news. The Boston radio stations and the paper barely carried it because it was so localized. Phones were out. Cell phone towers were out. And no internet because of no power,  so we felt really out of contact as we changed stations on the car radio trying to find out anything at all.  Such a different experience to this one.

This storm's over, though.  It's supposed to be 70 degrees today and rainy. I'm hoping to go wave watching.  Those ancestors I was thinking about earlier in the week would have thought it was just a big rain storm, and got on with things.

Of course, the people in Southern New England and New York have been hit much harder. It's amazing and terrible to see the damage in New York City. They are saying it's one of the biggest storms in history.  The COG just read me something saying that 78% of people in the nation were affected by this storm in some way.  Which tells you something about population distribution.

And  I'm feeling so sad about the crew of the HMS Bounty, and the ship itself.  They picked up one of the two missing crew members who had been swept away during the helicopter rescue. She has since died.  The 60ish Captain is still missing and they are still searching for him. I don't suppose there's much hope for him, even in the latest hi-tech cold water survival suit.  Really tragic.  Ships are safer at sea than on land, usually.  On land, they get bounced around and hit things and their masts invariable break etc.  At sea, all they need to do is bob like a cork and point into the waves and they are pretty safe.  But once the diesel engine went, and the ship started to take on water, with no power for the bilge pump, they had to abandon ship.

The HMS Bounty underwater yesterday.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Lost Power

We lost power at 7:20 pm and were surprised that it came back on 30 minutes later.  I expect it to go off again tonight. The Boston Globe is reporting that 350,000 homes are now without power in Massachusetts.

This is just to let you know we are fine.  We've had a hot dinner and are set for the night. Plus, I discovered that I can read by candlelight so we don't even need to waste battery power.  We are in no real danger away from the epicenter of the storm. It's very windy and rainy. The tides were higher than expected, but that's a couple of miles down the road.  Our chief problem will be power outages - more annoying than dangerous.

I'll post again the the morning, if we have power.  We are in touch with our kids by text, unless the phone cells go, which did happen in the last big storm, but at any rate, we will be in touch as we can.

5:45 update

Things are getting worse. The wind has picked up. 170,000 people now without power.  We are warm and dry and still have power. Dinner is simmering, so I'm hoping that the power stays on for a while. Forever, would be nice.

One problem we've been mulling over is what if the power goes out in the night while we are sleeping and we don't notice.  The basement could be filling up with water while we sleep.

Here' s a link to some great pictures from the Boston Globe.  I want to go out to Plum Island to see the waves.  There's a Voluntary Evacuation Order there and it's dark now. But maybe tomorrow.

4 PM,

The wind has picked up a lot now and it's raining quite heavily.   At midday they were reporting that 10,000 people in MA were without power.  Now the Globes says 110,000 people were without power. The map of outages is spread like freckles all over the map of the state, many all around us.

Son of texted that friends of his in Wood's Hole have no power - the Cape is supposed to be hit quite hard.  And one of The COG's friends - who he was supposed to meet for dinner -  has just notified him that he has lost power - he lives in Boston.  Dinner was cancelled earlier to day.

So I'm about to make a nice hot dinner while I can. Squash, Chickpeas, and Coconut Curry is the menu.  It will probably be quite nice cold, too.

Here's a video I took a half hour ago. I don't know whether it really captures how much more windy it is now, but the wind is getting alarming. We keep hearing thumps and not knowing what they are. Probably branches on the roof.

HMS Bounty Update

The Coast Guard has rescued 14 of the 16 people who abandoned the tall ship HMS Bounty replica.  There were 16, not 17 people aboard as had been thought.  But two are 'missing.'  No announcement, yet, about what happened to them.

Old Ipswich

We've just heard that 17 people have abandoned ship off the Outer Bank in North Carolina. The 3-masted tall ship,  a replica of the HMS Bounty, built for the film Mutiny on the Bounty and used in at least one of the Pirates of the Caribbean films, had lost power and was taking on water.    They put on cold water survival suits and launched two 25 - man boats,  How do we know this?  They posted it on their Facebook page. {pauses to reflect on the modern world} Don't worry about them. The Coast Guard is on the case.

The tall ship reminds me that I've been thinking about my ancestors who lived in Ipswich in the 17th century.   They would have had two amazingly beautiful autumn days with no foreknowledge of an approaching storm.  They would have gotten up Monday morning to mild temperatures (it's 60) and bit of rain and gone about their business - as my neighbors are doing, runners and dog-walkers keep going by. They would not have known that part of the town (common grazing land, not houses, then)  would be cut off for much of the day by extraordinarily high tides.  Would they have known that the high tides meant that a big storm was coming?

On the other hand,  they would not have faced power outages, because... duh ... no power, and they probably had wood for fuel stored by their house. Little threat of glass breaking from the wind- only very few rich people had glass, and none of it was in big sheets, like our windows. They would probably have had food stored, because there were no supermarkets.  They probably had chickens and maybe some kind of milk - goat or cow, though I don't know if they drank milk or just used it for cheese. I've heard that even small children drank some kind of hard cider, so they would have presumably had that stored in kegs or something.

They'd have been at risk from fire, with high winds gusting down chimneys that were made of wood, yes, that's right - wood with mud over it. Then, there were the sparks from gusty winds landing on the thatched roofs which were untreated by modern flame retardants.  It would have been pretty miserable to have your house burn down in a hurricane and to lose the few material things they had.

That, of course, is not a misery confined to the 17th century, but I don't think we need to worry about it.

Anyway, as long as my Kindle, my iphone, my computer, and, naturally, the COG and the Cat of COG are safe, no worries.  And, really,  it's true, as someone wise once said - if you can replace it with money, it's not a tragedy.

So COG, followed by Cat.  All that matters.

Monday Morning - Where oh where is Sandy?

Actually, I know exactly where Sandy is - heading for the New Jersey coast.  But the point is, she's not here.  It rained in the night, hard at times, but now it's drizzling and there's a little wind.  Smaller branches are shaking and the heads of the marsh grass are waving, but nothing to speak of.  Still, the Boston Globe reports that already there are power outages on the North Shore (and the South Shore and Cape Cod) The wind is supposed to pick up about 10am. High tide (with storm surge)  is at 11:40.

The weather reports are very confusing.  Massachusetts has declared a state of emergency. Schools and public offices are closed. Logan Airport is open, but many flights have been cancelled. Public transportation is running but only 'as long as it's safe to do so' and some trains have been cancelled. The expected storm surges along the coast are expected to be at their worst from midday today until sometime tomorrow.  There are all kinds of dire predictions in the Globe.

And yet, it's raining slightly and only a little windy.  NOAA is predicting the hurricane will get here in 3 to 5 days, though other maps show us currently on the edge of the 800 mile radius of the storm.  It's a little hard to make sense of this. Is all the alarm premature?  Is what we have now, the Nor'easter part of the Frankenstorm, with the heavy rain and wind of the hurricane still to come?

Here is a little video taken from the back deck just now. (I'm told this may be flash because it doesn't show up on the ipad).

And here is a photo just taken from the front steps.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bedtime Sunday

We've received an emergency bulletin from the Town of Ipswich telling us that certain of the coastal roads will be underwater for a few hours either side of high tide tomorrow midday and, again, in the evening.  This means a whole section of Ipswich on two little peninsulas called Great Neck and Little Neck will be cut off.  Argilla Road which leads past house to the beach will also be cut off close to the beach.

Meaning, I can't go to Pavilion Beach or Crane's Beach to see the waves.  Because it's all about me.

We've also been told that there will certainly be power outages,  likely at least for 2 days.

It's raining and a bit windy now, but it's supposed to get much worse starting at 2am.

I'm going to bed now on clean sheets, to savor the last precious moments of having power by turning out the lights.

Storm Warnings; Punctuation Police.

So we got the following warning about coastal flooding:


'Harms way?' Does this mean I shouldn't go look at the 35 foot waves?  

And shouldn't there be an apostrophe in 'Harms?' 


The COG was cleaning the gutters while I was 'holding the ladder for him' which I pretend to do in the full knowledge that at most I could break his fall by being under him.

When suddenly, the wind picked up and the rain began to fall lightly.

More Storm Preparations

I'm washing linens and towels.  This was not suggested by the Emergency Bulletins we received but I thought - hey, gotta have clean sheets for a bad storm.  Plus, tomorrow morning before it gets too bad I plan to shower, manicure, super clean my teeth etc. Because you need to be clean if your roof blows off.

I'm also picking all the roses and other flowers still blooming in our yard - better to have them inside, where we can enjoy them than blown to bits outside.

I keep looking out the window at the beautiful fall colors. Most of the leaves will blow off.  This part of autumn - after the peak colors when maybe 1/4 of the leaves leaves have fallen - is in some ways my favorite.  The lighter leaf cover makes the sunlight shine through the remaining leaves in a really beautiful way. Things just glow.

They are predicting 3 to 5 foot storm surges with flooding on coastal roads and in basements.  This won't affect us, too much, unless we want to go anywhere between 6am Monday and 1pm Tuesday.    I've been reading up on storm surges and decided that, although knowledge is good, I don't want to learn any more. Too Boring. This is what I already know:   wind+ rain+( high tide x phase of moon) = flooding.

Here's a video demonstrating what a 3 foot surge can do:

Our basement will be wet, that is a certainty.  I've been down there getting things off the floor.  We have a generator that will keep the sump pumps working, but the floor still gets wet.  Our backyard will be mostly underwater. Our house adjoins the wetlands and the yard always floods when there is heavy rain. We are due for 4-5 days of rain, they say.

Off to pick flowers.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Frankenstorm - Preparing for the Worst, Hoping for the Best

We are preparing for a storm that could be 'history making', but equally could be kinda windy with some rain.  The Tropical Storm Formerly Known As Hurricane Sandy, is coming up the Atlantic coast in our direction.  When it gets here it will meet a cold front from Canada and another storm from the west,  which will pull Sandy back onto land, from the ocean. The combination of these three storms, plus a full moon so the tides are very high, makes conditions ripe for a really big storm.  But, it all depends on which storm goes where, when.  One thing it could do is to stall the storm systems over us for several days. We're hearing 4 to 5 days, but are unsure what that means.

At this point, Governor Deval Patrick has declared a state of emergency and applied for some kind of federal assistance.  The National Guard is standing by. We have received a number of robot calls from the city emergency services warning us to prepare for a big storm.  FEMA is collecting water and blankets and designating contact points. There are shelters being set up etc.

 We are told that we should have supplies prepared for at least 3 days without power.   We have purchased a battery operated radio, some new flashlights and batteries, bottled water, and a power-free menu consisting of bread, peanut butter, tuna, baked beans, cereal, UHT milk, graham crackers and cheese.  Yum.  I also got lettuce and we are having roast chicken tomorrow so there will be leftover cold chicken.  What is kind of funny is I bought the groceries before I got the list of recommended groceries and I had bought everything on their list.

We dug out our old Coleman stove, which still had fuel in it though it had not been used for 20 years or so. It started right up and we bought more fuel.  Our cars are full of gas, the generator is ready and there's also extra gas for it.   And we've tried to bring stuff that could blow around,  inside.

What we have not done is nail plywood over our windows and sliding glass doors.  Nor have we bought a plastic bucket with a tight-fitting lid and plastic bags to create a 'toilet'.  I just can't wrap my mind around that. Plus, we are quite sheltered in our location.  The large storm surges caused by heavy winds and high tides won't reach as far as our house - 3 miles inland.

At this point, they are saying that it will begin to rain tomorrow evening with temperatures in the 50s and winds of 10 to 20 mph.  The rain will continue and the wind will pick up on Monday and be 35 -45 mph, gusting to 55 to 65 mph, possibly higher.  High tide at midday on Monday will be a crisis point along the coast,  with large storm surges expected.  The coastal areas just a couple of miles from us will have it much worse  than us, because of these surges.  The evening tide will also be a crisis point.  Heavy winds and higher than normal precipitation will continue into Tuesday.

The most likely problem for us is power outages.  We have been told that they are nearly certain to occur because high winds blowing against trees that are still fully leafed, means that the trees are more likely to blow over and damage power lines.  We just don't know how long we will be without power. The last big storm was in March 2009 or 2010, I think, and we were without power for 2 1/2 days.  It was kind of fun actually.

I read that the waves will be between 25 and 35 feet high and I hope the weather will allow us to go see them. I'd really love to see that.

I'll update the blog, as long as we  have power.

Friday, October 26, 2012

60s British Rock, revisited

The COG and I spent an evening watching The British Beat on PBS during the pledging cycle.  It was an evening of elderly rock n' roll singers singing their hits from the 60's.  We couldn't help noticing that they all looked really old. Like us.   I told the COG that it all gave a whole different meaning to Gerry and the Pacemakers.  What's next, I said, Gerry and the Zimmer Frames?