Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ice Ice Everywhere

The Ozarks were hit hard by the icestorm.

No power, trees down and terrible ICE everywhere!

Renie will "b"log on once her power is back. For right now,
she is living as Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Please pray for all the people without power, heat or running water.

She misses everyone and will post pictures when she gets
back online.

Please feel free to leave her good thoughts and well wishes!


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Learning to Cope with Nature's Fury!

It seems all I blog about lately is the weather. But that seems to be the major news in my world, so here I am doing it again. Over the weekend, dire warnings began appearing on the Weather Channel and on my weather radio. A major ice storm was on the way to my neck of the woods, and a lot of ice and sleet is to turn the woods into a magical but treacherous wonderland! Major power outages and dangerous driving conditions are a possibility. But so far, it hasn't been too bad. Of course, this major ice storm is to be around until Wednesday afternoon, so we're not out of danger yet.

The worst winter I experienced in these beautiful Ozarks was in the winter of 1983. My first winter here. So I thought I'd post a little article I wrote about that winter, when I was a regular contributor to Suite 101. So here it goes:

Learning To Cope with Nature's Fury!

I moved to the Ozarks in the sweltering heat of August, 1983. I was a city person looking forward to a new life in this beautiful, ancient hill country. Staying cool was foremost on my mind then; winter was out of sight, out of mind. Besides, everyone had told me that winter in the Ozarks is very temperate.

I moved to these lushly wooded hills and hollows because one can still find real seclusion here. The fact that the area lacked smokestack industries, major population areas, and the laws or regulations that go along with industrialization were all deciding factors in my move here. This was a place where the air and water were still clean, and where most people still had an appreciation for their surroundings.

That first fall here was magically beautiful, and I explored the countryside in an enchanted state of mind. As I drove down winding country roads, I was bedazzled by the display of vivid color at every bend. Russets and gold’s of oaks and hickories dominated the forest, while the vibrant red, crimson, yellow and rosy tangerine of the shorter understory trees positively glowed. I saw many deer, wild turkey, opossum, fox and coyote, and felt privileged to be here, witnessing all this beauty. Meanwhile, my two ex city dogs felt they were in dog heaven now, while the ex city cats hid under the bed most of the time, terrified of this jungle I had transported them to.

Being an economy minded person, I planned to heat my little log
house with wood that first winter. But I had no idea how much wood I would need. The rank of split oak, stacked neatly in the woodshed, looked quite sufficient to me.

My water source was a bubbling spring, equipped with a shallow water pump, a neat device that enabled me to have pure spring water gushing from my faucets! There was a large garden plot, too, where I planned to grow many vegetables. And there were several outbuildings, soon to be the home to a various menagerie of domestic animals. Yes, I remember thinking as I rambled through the woods and fields, life was almost too good to be true.

When my then nineteen year old daughter Andrea, arrived from the city for a visit, on December 15th, we were still in the balmy fifties. Soon, we trekked to the dark green oasis of the cedar woods to find ourselves a Christmas tree, and picked out a ten footer. We spent the next day decorating it and baking cookies for the holiday, and I was pleased with the idea that I was providing my daughter with a memorable country experience. But Nature had something even more memorable in mind for the both of us!

December 16th started out innocently enough, with a steady downpour of much needed rain. But then, an icy wind began to blow from the northern pine woods, and the temperatures began to plummet. Soon, the rain turned into freezing rain. As we hurriedly built a fire in the wood stove to keep warm, we noticed there was a sheet of ice forming all over the yard and trees. Large red pines began bending as if they were made of rubber, from the weight of the ice, although the oaks held their ground and remained straight and stout. Electric lines snapped from the weight of the ice, too, and soon we would be in the dark, on top of everything. So much for the temperate winters everyone was telling me about, I thought, as I looked out the glass door with a worried expression.

However, Nature wasn’t done with us yet, and she began dumping several feet of snow on top of the ice. Then, the temperatures plummeted even further, reaching dangerous levels by the time darkness descended. As we went to bed, we didn’t know it yet, but our survival skills were about to be put to a severe test!

By the following morning, the pipes were frozen. And in the following few days, the wood pile got dangerously low. A call to wood cutters in the area brought a curt, "I can’t deliver wood in this ice." Then, even our food supply got pretty low, and Andrea and I had to spring into action.

Twice a day, we began trekking to the spring, at the bottom of the field, carrying plastic jugs, and wearing six pairs of socks and no shoes, to get our water. It was the only way we could navigate on the ice. We began collecting sticks, wood chunks, old roots, and just about anything else that would burn, to replenish our wood supply. Then, finally gathering all the courage we could muster, Andrea drove us the fifteen miles to town, to replenish our food supply. It took us five, slippery, scary, cold hours, but we made it. Since the strore was out of just about everything, canned soup, warmed on the woods stove, was on the menu for the holiday. But we were together, and that was what was important. We even sang Silent Night, in the glowing, candle lit cabin, while Dobie, the dog, tried to sing along with us.

Andrea left our icy world on December 26. She made it back to the city on a wing and my prayers, able to tell her friends about her two week stint as a pioneer woman. I struggled on by myself, although the dogs tried to help as much as they could; tried to help me find some fun in all this adversity, at any rate, and they even succeeded. I couldn't help but laugh at some of their antics in the ice and snow.

On the first of January, 1984, the sun came out. The lights came back on. Balmy temperatures warmed up the region again. Within a couple of days, the ice melted. The pipes thawed out. Wood cutters offered their services again. And, I, a newly seasoned country woman, drove to town and bought myself a little chain saw. I vowed to never again to be caught off guard by another temperate, Ozark winter. And I never have been. Nature's fury taught me well!

I hope you enjoyed the tale about my first winter in the Ozarks. Four years later, I sold the log cabin way up in the woods, and bought a new place in a somewhat more inhabited area, where I still live. And this morning, we have snow and ice. Help!

Thank you for reading. I hope you're all well and safe and warm. Or nice and cool, if you're lucky enough to be in a more tropical climate.

Blessings from the icy and snowy woods!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

No Snow in My Neighborhood, and Other Things.

I took a couple of pictures yesterday. This is the gravel road I live on, and as you can see, we have no snow in my neighborhood. Thank goodness for that. And the temperatures this past week have been moderate. Of course, all that will change tonight, when the Alberta Clipper arrives in the woods. But today will be in the low 40s, and I will be heading to town, and to the Chinese Buffet. Might as well enjoy the day, before the deep freeze settles in for the next couple of days.

Yesterday was a frustrating day, to say the least. Blogger suddenly refused to recognize my password. I couldn't get to my Dashboard. It told me I had no account. Huh? All this transpired when friend Patti made her blog private, and sent me an invitation to be able to view it. But, Blogger would not honor that invitation and denied me access to her blog. Finally, it was all straightened out, but not before I had to reset my password. Now I have to make sure I will not forget it. Anyone else ever have this problem?

Here is my little pond, taken from the window in my little sun room. This is my view as I sit at my laptop. Yesterday, a Great Blue Heron landed on the far side, and Felix, who was outside, started walking towards it bravely. That bird was much bigger than Felix, but it took off when it saw the cat! I have tried taking a picture of the heron several times, but he flies off as soon as he sees me. He is a beauty!

And here is a picture of my little pond taken from the field. It is primarily a wild life pond, providing water for birds and beasts all year round. By tonight, when the temperatures drop to single digits, the pond will freeze, which means that cats will have to stay indoors for a few days. Can't have another episode of falling through the ice, and having to be rescued by me!

Thank you for reading. I hope you all stay safe and warm, whatever part of the country or world you're in, friends. And if you're one of the lucky ones, living in warmer parts, send some of that warm air my way!

Blessings from the woods!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Babbling About The Weather Again!

I thought I'd start my first post of 2009 with a favorite picture and a bit of babbling about the weather. Here is my granddaughter Nichole, enjoying a TV show along with Fred, the cat! Aren't they cute? They were both very intently watching a movie that was on.

I hope the new year has been going well for all of you. It's been going well here for the most part. The weather has been flip-flopping from mild and spring-like, to ccccold, with episodes of freezing rain.

Friday, the second day of January was nice, and Greg treated Eileen and me to lunch in town, after some power shopping! Haha. (Well, I had a gift card that was burning a hole in my pocket!) We told our favorite waiter that he was our mutual boy friend! Ha!

Sunday morning, when I went to church it was still 60F, but an hour and a half later, it was down to 40F, accompanied by a brisk wind! People who went to church without a winter jacket, hurried to their cars. We hurried off to our favorite Sunday buffet!

Then yesterday, Monday, January 5th, I had to go pick up some antibiotics for my sweet Felix-the cat. Although Dr. Fox, the vet, was out of town, Judy, his assistant told me she would have some ready for me. The problem was, the vet's office is 7 miles east of town. I live ten miles south of town, and we were under a freezing rain advisory! So I called Eileen, who lives 3 miles east of town. LOL.

"I'm scared to drive 17 miles. What if the freezing rain starts while I'm on the road?" I said to Eileen on the phone.

"I'll go with you," she offered.

"But then we'll both be in danger," I told her.

"That's okay, at least we won't be alone," she said.

So, Eileen met me at the shopping center in town, and left her car there, and off I drove to the vet's office, praying all the while that the freezing rain would hold off until we were both safely back home.

We got back to town and nothing was happening.
So, of course, we stopped at McD's for a quick grilled chicken sandwich and some delicious hot coffee. And since the freezing rain was still holding off, we also ran to the store and picked up a few things, before finally speeding off to our respective homes. Whew! Thank you, Lord!

When I went to bed last night, the freezing rain was finally doing its thing, and this morning there is a thin coating of ice on the deck! Guess I'll be stuck in the house today reading blogs, cooking a nice pot of vegetable beef soup, and maybe even baking some low-carb cookies!

Thank you for reading my babbling. Hope your weather is better!

Blessings from the frozen woods!