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Making A Difference

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LisaB, Mrs.S had a great post about how lucky most of us were, when it came to the end of the wind and rain. In her update she mentioned The Volunteer Center and what they recommend in terms of helping out in the aftermath of the storm. I am monitoring that site to see when they get requests for help, and will post any opportunities I find.

I agree we were extremely lucky. A little bit farther south if the storm had turned up the Chesapeake Bay instead of going at New Jersey, and we could have had more damage across the area and the state. Right now, as I write this, 50000 people in the BGE coverage area still have no power 48 hours after the beginning when the earliest bands of bad weather started hitting Maryland. Anything we can do to assist our neighbors in the county and state will be helpful.

I agree that any financial help we can give the organizations that regularly assist others is the best way to help. But even little things mean quite a bit, and helping the other organizations in the area as well as the disaster relief organizations is just a way to give back if you were one of the lucky ones.

I will take some of my items to the Food Bank. They always need assistance, County residents who could use the help whether or not the storm affected them. I spent some time this morning looking through the pantry for items I bought and didn’t use, and to gather up those tuna cans and other staples that I can easily spare, and replace later, like pasta and sauces.

a bag for the food bank

I will also finally get the bag together for the local clothing collection bins, like the St. Vincent de Paul bin down at Kendalls Hardware. The contributions to them go to local residents in Maryland. I really do need to let go and donate all those extra work clothes I no longer need. I mean, one or two blazers, a few skirts, that’s all I need. Not the huge work wardrobe I still have sitting in a spare closet. Gloves, hats and shoes, too. I had way too much stuff left after retiring. Time to have it help another, who would like to have nice work clothes, or dress clothes.

Besides all that, I will make a point to help the disaster organizations with a donation. If you, like us, were relatively unaffected by this disaster that hit the east coast, consider helping out in whatever way you can, even if it is something as simple as helping an elderly neighbor clean up debris, or giving blood, or writing a small check.

Making a difference. Here at home.


Surviving Sandy

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Lessons Learned for the next crazy weather we have in this area.

Only buy a UPS if it has a mute capability. The UPS devices we have, on the TVs and the computers and the phone and the chargers, all six of them, are not all the same. We have three different models. One model muted. Two won’t. We got to listen to chirp-chirp-chirp-chirp for about 9-10 hours until they finally died. They were the ones that lasted the longest though. They were APC XS 1000’s. We had the iPhone on one of them until 11 am today when it finally died. The internet and modem one died about 9 hours in, but since Comcast stopped working five hours before our power went out and just came back thirty minutes ago, so much for having internet on the iPad.

Modify the bleeping cellar area where the sump pump is installed so a battery backup unit will fit in it. We procrastinated after the derecho and didn’t do this modification and spent most of the night with two hour sleep intervals interspersed with bailing sessions. Five gallon buckets every two hours, more after the wind shifted and rain ran down the south wall of the house into the cellar drain at the bottom of our basement stairs.

Always go to Giant and buy ice as soon as you can after the storm ends. It will guarantee that the power comes back in a few hours. We lost power last night at 11 pm and got it back today at 3 pm. Six hours after going to Giant and getting four bags of ice. Now, I need to find a permanent place for it, or let it melt in the coolers.

The seven cubic foot freezer did well. It was full, and when the power came back and I went down to check the temperature inside, it had only risen from -2 to +10 degrees. We had packed it with everything we could including plastic containers of water frozen solid. It worked well.

The fridge and freezer did OK. Not stellar, but OK. Fridge got up to 46, but the only things in it were fruit, veggies, a couple of bottles of wine and iced tea. Oh, and weird condiments like tabasco and some flavored vinegars. All the perishables were in the two coolers with bags of ice on top and they stayed below 40 degrees.

The freezer in the kitchen unit got up to 26 degrees, from the setting of minus 6. Still haven’t opened it, and the meats are buried below four bags of ice. Before the power went out, I did lower the temp settings on the fridge and freezer by four degrees more than the normal settings, so that helped.

I left one small feeder out for the birds, which got quite a few visits before, during and immediately after the storm. I went out this morning and brought back the big feeder, and it got mobbed almost before I could get inside. We even had a rare visit to the vertical of a hairy woodpecker, bigger and with the long beak, but looking just like our regular downy woodpecker visitor. When I grabbed the camera to photograph the hairy woodpecker he flew far up into the cherry tree.

the feeder I left up, with our resident downy

The weather radio and the iPhone were invaluable once we lost power. I am so thankful we only lost power for sixteen hours this time. The derecho 24 hour power outage was our worst experience here. This was the second longest. For us, we still have to decide if a generator is needed as long as we don’t get multi-day outages.

NOAA weather radio and iPhone, our links to the world for 16 hours

We used none of the bottled water as we had filled pitchers of water and put them in our small beverage fridge with containers of ice. We went through them. Never used any of the water in the tubs, as we were sleeping downstairs where it was quieter and we weren’t far from the sump pump. The well pump actually held pressure for about six hours and made it through quite a few cycles before finally cutting out. Now, we get to clean up and dump buckets that were sitting in the powder room.

enough water when you have time to prepare

Now, it’s back to cleaning up, and eating all this weird stuff I made in case our power stayed out. I have lots of egg salad and potato salad and tuna to make salad. Fruit, yogurt, and granola. I do think we are extremely lucky and am grateful for the dedication and professional attitudes at both Comcast and at BGE. I never expected to get a live person on the line at 1115 pm from BGE, but we did. She asked if we knew if any of our neighbors were out, and explained why they couldn’t do estimates due to the uncertainty of when they could begin. Plus, the Howard County government twitter updates kept us informed all night.

Just glad we did OK and that we live in such an amazing place, even with this strange weather. Now, we get to go out and clean up leaves and pine needles and tree branches for a few days, or maybe a week. At least I get exercise. Here’s to living in Howard County and enjoying fall even when it is chaotic.


Odds and Ends from West County

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Just some random thoughts as we head into the storm. Not many cars on our roads. Usually there is some traffic in the afternoon.

The mailman came early today. Out here with unprotected mailboxes, it is important to go out and get the mail before it blows out of the box. During the snowstorms a few years back, the boxes blew open and we had mail scattered all over our neighbor’s fields.

We got a few emails today about CSA’s. Sandy Spring canceled Tuesday deliveries and have no idea if the Thursday or Saturday will happen. The farmers all will be affected by this rain, in many low lying fields. They can’t pick in this weather either. We hope they come through with minimal damage as we know how hard they work. There are 80 farmers in the cooperative, but all of them in the same area of PA.


We also received an email from Breezy Willow, as we have signed up for their early bird CSA starting in late winter. This week is canceled for them in their summer/fall CSA. Keep our local farmers in your thoughts as this weather affects them just as they are finishing up their harvests and heading for winter.

We had two quick power glitches so far. Taking our oven off line while I am slow cooking dinner in it. Crossing our fingers here, that my pork and roasted veggies get done. Right now, we still have power. Winds are whipping trees left and right. Thankfully, we had a local business, Oasis (Ten Oaks Nursery), aggressively cut back our property line trash trees after they were damaged during the derecho.

We did put ice in two coolers and moved the fridge items there. The meat in the freezer is covered by six bags of ice, and I am freezing plastic containers with water to move over to the coolers if I need to replenish. Dumped all the ice maker ice in the fridge cooler since I learned after the derecho how much mess we get with melting ice. Ice maker in the top fridge is a pain sometimes.

On an interesting note, my Menu magazine from Wegmans arrived in the mail. With Christmas cookies on the cover. And, a recipe for honey glazed roasted root veggies. That is what I did with all the turnips, beets, a rutabaga and a sweet potato from the CSA.

I will try and keep posting what is going on out here as long as we have power, or I may do short posts from the iPad. See how well the UPS up here keeps my iPad charged if we lose power.