New app, ‘Ready Virginia’

It is another messy, but quiet day in Prince George, VA. Two of the local papers today are focused on storms.  Elliott Robinson has two huge articles on  on Essex and Waverly and how they are recovering (or not) from the tornadoes three months ago.

Below, the Petersburg Progress-Index focuses on preparedness as we enter hurricane season.  The subject of this article makes sense for any kind of natural or man-made disaster.

via Virginians urged to be hurricane ready – News – The Progress-Index – Petersburg, VA

Jonas, get outta here

What is our (our little patch of Prince George) aftermath of Jonas?

— about a quarter inch of ice sandwiched between two layers of five inches of snow

—  three vehicles that will take patience and sunshine to uncake

— a road that will clear in patches in the sunshine later

— a refrigerator stuffed with all manner of food cooked in advance of losing power, except that we never lost power

— a ham bone that must be cooked in white bean soup today

— a grateful Dominion Power customer

— a Prince Georger looking forward to spring … oh, another storm in on the way, you say

Never mind, I am going to focus, for the moment, on my paperwhites


 — shhh, a discreet thank you to the Weather Gods


Keeping the wellies by the door

Jack during Jonas 2016
Jack, the Aussie

Jack and I got out together a few times yesterday.  Aussies have important things to do outdoors and I can’t resist some personal connection with weather.  I make an exception for thunder and lightening storms.  A bit too much of a survivalist for that kind of escapade.


It is Saturday morning, just short of 24 hours into Jonas.  We still have power so life is good, but so as to not tick off the weather gods … I know we will lose power sometime today.  The wind is rising and trees will fall.  We are prepared to carry on.Devices are charged as are the backup chargers.  I just hope the creamy chicken stew finishes in the slow cooker before we loose power.  Not to worry.  If necessary I can continue cooking it on the Coleman stove, but one must have goals.

We will not starve. The chili went great with the guacamole I made yesterday and we never cut into the pan-grilled London Broil.  The beef and sliced ham can be eaten as is and the chili, etc., can be simply reheated.

I am cooking less today.  Will nap more as my friend Cynthia suggested, write the Moore PTO Newsletter, work on the blog, and read.  I am reading ‘Book One: Flight of the Vessel’by a fellow tweep, @RobertCStoreyJr and ‘The Road to Little Dribbling’ by Bill Bryson.  Quite a contrast.  If I lose power the writing will be challenged but the napping and reading of ebooks will continue unchallenged.

Storm Jonas, at last

After a week of alarming predictions Storm Jonas arrived in my little patch of Prince George, Virginia about thirty minutes ago.  I am glad.  The anticipation was raising my anxiety and possibly my blood pressure considerably.  I didn’t know until last night that this storm had been dubbed, Jonas.

I am not sure when we started naming storms, other than hurricanes, but it adds a personal connection between the machinations of weather and the reactive planning of humans.  My memories of Isabel and Irene, both hurricanes, are vivid as we were without power for about a week in both cases.  The ice storm of 1998 is just as vivid with loss of power for a week, but we were not naming non-hurricane storms at that time so I don’t have a human’s name to link to my memories of misery.  So, if The Weather Channel came up with the idea of naming storms, I am glad of it.

Jack in a past storm, name unknown

As I write this  at 10:30 on Friday morning, I am wondering if Jonas will visit upon us another week of no electricity after the freezing rain and heavy wind arrive during the evening and early morning hours.

While I wait I am cooking, reading, tidying, blogging, and continuing my meager preparations for the storm. Chili is cooking, chicken thighs are about to go in the slow cooker, and later a London Broil (thick flank steak) will get cooked in my large cast iron skillet on top of the stove.  With my Coleman stove I can reheat food, make coffee, and wash dishes … so we will not starve.  Take that Jonas.


Storm Pax

Storm Pax and I have so much in common.  It came in with a mixture of the symptoms of winter storms … cold, snow, ice, sleet, wind.  I awoke yesterday,  the morning of Pax, with a mixture of the symptoms of the common cold … chills, sneezing, dripping, sore throat, maybe a temp.

In Prince George most of the impact of Pax was the anticipation of Pax.  We watched it approaching (is Pax a he or a she?) on the weather maps.  When would it arrive?  Would it bring snow or ice and what timing for either? Would we lose electricity?  How long would we lose it?  What if we ran out of  _____?

My own cold had no such anticipation.  It was upon me.  I was in the grip of the juicy, nasty brunt of it.  I would take a nap and awake to a new, different set of symptoms.  No longer sneezing or dripping, but stopped up,  unable to hear well and with a headache.  Another nap taken and an awakening to a return of the sneezing and sore throat and thus the day progressed.

In between naps I made efforts to continue Pax prep … cooked up some chili, meat loaf, and veggies (such things are easier to heat up on my Coleman camp stove when we lose power); filled all of my ice tea pitchers, large bowls, doggie water bowls, and water bottles with, well, water. (Oh, nearly forgot the London Broil I roasted.)  I was totally determined that we would not starve or suffer dehydration  if we lost power.

Finally, my daughter reserved a hotel room for us should we really lose power for the duration … so much cheaper than a whole house generator.

Awoke this morning with slushy snow on the ground, a heck of a lot of cooked  food in the refrigerator, a sore throat,  a juicy cold, and power.

Derechos and tornadoes and quakes, oh my!

“Don’t like the weather … wait a minute.”  That mantra has been quoted to me in every state and part of the country in which I have resided or visited.  A chuckle usually follows and,  depending on the state, the speaker does one of the following 1) removes his Stetson and wipes his sleeve across his forehead , 2) resumes picking his or her  teeth with a worn toothpick, 3)  shrugs and pours another glass of Perrier … you get the idea.

Oddly, Virginians have seemed graciously abiding when it comes to the weather.  Summers hot and humid, winters are mild or not, and fall and spring make up for any bad weather in between.

That graciousness was tested this week with the back to back derechos, confirmed tornadoes, a 2.0 aftershock in Louisa County, and power outages in RVA and beyond.  I haven’t even mentioned yet the  heat (approaching or exceeding 100 degrees each day) and the power outages that many Virginians have endured since late Friday (June 29th.)  Even Northern Virginia (a different state altogether) and DC are suffering the power outages.

Insultingly, no one I know had ever heard of a derecho wind.  Is that redundant?  Only meteorologists know that term.  It’s right up there with a gibbous moon.  Though I had never heard of derecho winds, I heard the wind about midnight on the 30th and was so glad we’d had those lovely, but dangerous old oaks removed that bookended our home until March.  After surviving an ice storm, Isabel and Irene since we bought the house  twenty-three years ago, I needed to endure a storm without worrying about being crushed by one of my beloved trees.

Any storm that begins with an I is especially worrisome.  In the aftermath of the aforementioned storms we were without electricity between four and 6 days each time.  One gets very grouchy going that long without power.

We skated through the derecho on the that hit around midnight on the 29th/30th losing only cable and internet for a day.  We braced for the next storm knowing that it was our turn to get really clobbered.  We checked all of our battery-powered preparedness supplies, gathered water, and charged all of our cherished phones, iPods and iPads.

We had a spectacular storm that lasted about three hours that night  but didn’t lose power.  Living in a rural county it is hard to know if there were significant power outages in Prince George, but our sense is that the storm shook its fist at us but basically decided this time just to bully us.

But I just knocked on wood.  I don’t want to tick off the weather gods … the summer has really just begun.

Prince George Post Irene

Incredible that I hadn’t posted since Irene had robbed me of five days of electricity, a number of trees on my property and two weeks of normal digestion thanks to a pesky pathogen.

What has happened since Irene gave the east coast an object lesson in the power of nature?

  • Trees continued to fall.  One very tall oak fell along the back edge of my yard over the New Year’s weekend.  Anyone up for a walk in the woods?
  • Our local voting districts were redrawn to conform with Census data.  Prince George is now repreneeded by  two GOP white males and one tough black woman, Rosalyn Dance, in the Virginia House of Delegates and in the Virginia Senate by civil rights hero and Democrat, Henry L. Marsh and by a GOP man from somewhere.  His last name is Ruff and he represents my Senate District and I haven’t even haven’t even had a postcard from him.
  • Did I mention that the Congressional Redistricting is still in dispute?  Fortunately, however it goes after the two law suits and the DOJ review, I will still be in Democrat Bobby Scott’s district, the 3rd CD.
  • The Board of Supervisors election was fun.  I served my first stint as the campaign treasurer for Bill Gandel from District 2.  Our Board Districts are at large and we have two of them, cleverly designed to dilute the black vote.  I am white, but even I can see that.  Bill essentially defeated Reid Foster on a Respect Our Heritage But Plan For the Future Platform.  Good luck with that  future thing, Bill.
  • And moi … I was elected Chair of the Prince George Dems for a two year term in January and have the pleasure of working with some funny, brave, hip, with-it and cool Democrats in the county and it’s environs.

There will be more shoes to drop …

Irene, Not Just a Rain Event


My heightened activity before Irene battered Virginia began about 5 days before she made landfall in North Carolina.  I pulled our power outage supplies out of the garage.  Extra flashlights, battery-powered lanterns, Coleman folding cookstove, batteries, weather radio (battery & crank) and various other supplies not needed for most other occasions.

Fallen Trees on Power LInes
Fallen Trees on Power Lines

We keep two Jerry cans (a  of water for washing up, flushing the toilet and other things and a neighbor brought us one more.  I went to the ultimate preparedness center, the grocery store, and bought 2 cases of bottled drinking water, canned goods, matches, extra pet food, newsprint, bandaging and tape,  extra wine and a few odds and ends.  We made a special trip to a store in the mall which is the only local purveyor of Godiva Chocolates and bought a large box of chocolates.

As the storm approached, I added books, magazines, booklights, etc., to my ever-growing nervous anticipation of how long we would be without power.  Our usual wait is 4 days and I watched The Weather Channel frequently hoping that the storm at veered off to sea and would leave only wet and a bit windblown rather than soaked, wind scoured and without power.

My greatest fear was that of falling trees.  During Isabel we lost 8 trees, I believe, though not near the house.  I one of the huge oaks on either end of our house fell on our home, I believed we would be goners, or at least very injured.

The Thursday and Friday before landfall I began sending emails to clients and tweets to my tweeppl (you know what this means if your are a tweeter) community that if they didn’t hear from me it would be cause of the storm and probable power outage.  Some replied that I was being melodramatic, if not whiney.  I bucked up and put on a stiff upper lip, but quietly tried to warn some of my less hurricane experienced friends in the northeast to take Irene seriously, because it was clear we were all on the east coast, going to get a memorable visit from her.

Friday night we had a large turnout at our 15 year Charter Party for the Rotary Club of Prince George County at Luca’s Restaurant and nervously joked about it being an Irene party.

Saturday morning dawned as usual though shortly into the morning Irene made landfall in NC.  As the morning progressed there was rain, increasingly gusty winds and a foreboding that all would not be well.  About 1:30 p.m. I stretched out and decided to get a bit of rest before the full-blown storm hit.  At 3:20 the power went out.  We had ourselves  well-organized so we just turned on the radio and followed whatever news reports there were about Irene.

I napped through the night on the couch wondering if we would hear a tree as it was falling and have time to scramble.  Needless to say, no tree fell in our yard or on our house on that night of Irene.  Jack and I stepped outside before daylight so he could air (Jack, is my Aussie) and it was clear the winds had dissipated significantly and within a couple of hours, for our part the storm was over.

Sunday was a day of relief that we had not injuries to our home, vehicles, family and pets.  And it seemed our neighbors had been similarly spared though the neighbors on either side of our place were cut off from the road by felled trees.  We helped one neighbor cut out and the other neighbor had cleared his tree before we could get to him to help.

Monday, day 2 without power, was still hopeful.  My tweets were still coming over my Blackberry and my netbook still had battery life so we could check things out on the web.  We learned that there was a Shower & Power at the middle school so we headed there to shower in the locker rooms and power up our cell phones, iPods and the netbook.  I was feeling, OK, we are cool.  We can deal with this.

Tuesday, day 3 without power, my husband traveled to Northern Virginia on business and headed to the land of AC, running hot and cold water, and television.  I prepared to endure the experience.  I did pretty well, except that then it was very hard for me to sleep.  My backyard continued as  my tidying up and cooking area.  The two dogs and two cats didn’t know how to handle my sharing their space with them.

The next day, the fourth without power, I helped distribute cases of water to Prince George County hurricane citizens and got a bit too much sun, but felt it had been good for me to get out of the backyard.

Water after Hurricane Irene
Me & Fellow Rotarians at the Water Handout

  In fact I had lunch with a friend in a restaurant and felt very 21st century again. That evening my neighbors across the road  with a whole-house generator charged up my netbook.  I think I’ll save this topic of generators for another post.  I was very grateful and felt I could endure to the end, but hoped it would not be long before I had power again.

Thursday, I was much less sanguine about when the power would be restored to my residence and was pretty exhausted mostly from lack of sleep and a bit too much sun the day before.  I also had contracted a pathogen which made my circumstances very unpleasant.  That morning I took my car in for a brake job and a service and Shirley, the nice lady at Crossroads Ford, loaned me a Focus which meant I could continue to charge my personal DVD player, iPod (with movies) and Blackberry until I could get Xena back (yes, I name my vehicles.)

I stopped for breakfast at Rosa’s, washed up in the bathroom and headed home for another day without electricity.  On the sofa I curled up my legs and continued reading “Slaves in the Family” by Edward Ball.  Grayson, the gray cat, of course, curled up with me and we got absorbed in the quiet of the moment.  About 10:01 we heard a beep, beep, beep indicating that some appliance, probably the microwave was coming on.  We were both startled.  I had left one lamp on and had unplugged just about every major and minor appliance in the house when we lost power, but when I saw the lone lamp on, I knew we had power, though sometimes that is temporary as the power people diagnose just where a failure exists.  But the power stayed on and after a while I set about plugging everything in.

The weight on my shoulders lifted and I took a very long nap.

The next couple of days involved cleaning and repacking the emergency power outage equipment, doing my own “lessons learned” assessment and deciding what I need to add to our bevy of equipment to better last out the next outage.  Our answer …have those nearby oaks cut down and putting the house on a whole house generator.  Again, both items are due their own future in another post.

Signing off this post as “Glad I’m

wired again.”