Monday, December 10, 2007

Ice storm in Hutchinson Kansas

We are in the midst of an ice storm here in Hutchinson Kansas. I have no net access except on the phone. It's only raining so far but it's 32 degrees so it's freezing on the trees and power lines. My power has been off three times but it's on right now.

In the big storm of 2005 I never lost power so the fact that it has been off three times in the last three hours doesn't seem like good news. And it's flickering now.

I have the heat turned way up and the electric blanket on to keep things as warm as possible in the event the power goes. Doesn't it seem bizarre that something we're so dependent on is at the whims of the weather?

The cable company is rather laissez faire about the fact that people have no access to tv weather or the internet or phones for those who have their phone through cable. They said they'd get to it tomorrow.

Things look beautiful outside - if only it weren't for the threat of no heat.

Speaking of which... The power just went off again... And stayed off. I have 5 minutes of battery backup. Looks like I'm done for the night.
(sent from mobile device)

Bracing for an Ice Storm

This is the view of Main Street from my office. You can spot our new Christmas decorations on the light poles. They're wreaths with bells inside them. I took this a little after 5 today, but it was already twilight because of the rain. You can tell everything is wet. We're thankful for the rain at the moment, because rain is not sleet.

They're telling us it's going to be very nasty - sleet, snow, ice - a "wintry mix" as they love to euphemistically put it. The Governor has already declared all 105 counties disaster areas.

So far my power has been off once for about 45 minutes and it's flickering again. I'm not sure why this is, since there's just rain coming down. In the major ice storm of 2005 I never lost power. So, why it went off in the rain is a mystery. I find it very, very, very weird that at this point in our evolution as a society that we still have to worry about things like the power going off.

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O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

I love everything about the holiday season. Strangers wish you a Merry Christmas, just driving to the grocery store means there are pretty lights to look at, you get cards from friends you don't hear from often, your house has pretty sparkly things in it, and, to top it off, there are presents! How can anyone not love it?

This, of course, is in addition to the religious significance of the holiday season for people of many different backgrounds. I'm already looking forward to Christmas Eve services.

When you think about it, isn't it really a lovely custom to drag a tree into our homes and stick baubles on it? When you think about the basics of what we're doing - bringing a tree into the house - it's somewhat astonishing. Of course, now they're plastic and metal and the baubles are electrified, but the basic idea of hauling in a tree is interesting. Bringing the outside in is no modern idea of home decor, obviously.

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Questions People Ask Me at Christmas

Greg took this ornament photo the other night and I just love it. He's so darned handy to have around. Handy as a pocket on a shirt is the phrase, I believe... although Greg is far better than a pocket.

Each year people ask me lots of questions about Christmas. Some of them I expect - some surprise me.

1. How many lights are on the tree? more than 10,000

2. How many ornaments? I don't know. Greg estimates 2,000.

3. How long does it take to do the tree? I kept track this year and it took between 70 and 80 hours. I realize that's somewhat ridiculous, so I'm looking for ways to simplify it.

4. How many trees do you have? It varies every year. This year I have five in addition to the main tree. They are 2, 3 and 4 feet tall, with a taller one in the kitchen that's one of those tall, skinny ones.

5. Does your power bill increase? I don't know. I have an average pay plan so I don't know the difference. I had an outlet installed that is on its own circuit to run the tree. This year I have put more lights on than before and that circuit breaker has thrown. So, I've divided the load out over three circuits. Before next year, the electrician will have to come back and put in another outlet that is on its own circuit - maybe two more.

I am so weary of the breakers throwing. Four different electricians have told me that Christmas lights don't pull that much juice and that one circuit would be more than enough. Obviously, that is not correct. I'm not sure why I can't have as much juice as I want. I'm willing to pay for it. I keep employing people that can facilitate it, but - yet again- I'm out in the dark throwing circuit breakers. Where are these keepers of the juice then? No doubt tucked into their warm homes, with sufficient juice to run their Christmas trees. Juice. I need more juice. I want more juice.

6. What is your favorite ornament? I don't have a particular favorite. I have lots of special ones that people have given me or made me or that I've picked up on trips.

7. Did your mom decorate this way? No, definitely not. And I can practically hear her laughing from the great beyond whenever someone asks that. She put the tree up one week before Christmas - Dec. 18 - not a day sooner. And it came down either Christmas afternoon or the day after. She was "normal" and I'm a fanatic. However, she ALWAYS put up a tree - even her last Christmas.

8. Are the presents real? Yes. I cannot imagine that anyone has time to wrap fake presents but I guess people do or no one would ask that. This girl doesn't have time for wrapping fake presents.

9. How many people do you buy for? About 30 - mostly family and a few friends. But bear in mind that some of those presents are simple things - like ornaments for my Creative Sisterhood group.

10. When did you start doing this? I first started buying ornaments in 1984, I think. I had small trees even when I was in college. I had my first big tree after I moved to Kansas. My then boyfriend, Curtis, wasn't around for some reason, and Greg helped me haul it into my apartment, which was the lower floor of a house at Fifth and Adams in Hutchinson. It was not as involved as the trees I do now. But things quickly grew into the "mega trees" I do now.

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