It came from the south

When last we saw our Hmbl Narrator, she was getting ready to reopen Rolanni’s Taxi as a result of Steve’s ICD firing, and the attached Rule that, once that happens, the firee may not drive for six months.

Doctor appointments proliferated from the above event, as you might expect, new meds were prescribed, and ourselves Warned to Watch for Side Effects, the most common being “light-headedness.” (Sure, and it’s a marvelous thing to get old, that place from which All the Health Workers are yelling in both ears, “DON’T FALL!” at the same time they’re prescribing drugs the most common side effect of same is light-headedness.  Yes, yes.  Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?)

So, anyway…absent the above appointments, we had a lovely chat with Craig at Legendarium podcast about Janet Kagan’s Hellspark, celebrated Trooper’s 14th birthday, and settled back into writing — we’re writers, after all.

We pause here to review History.  Back in, eh?  May?  I made arrangements with Andersen Windows to replace the windows in her office.  For those coming in late, my office is a former sun room, with three sets of casement windows and two enormous custom clerestory windows.  Because of how Supply and Demand work anymore, Andersen did not actually have windows to replace the old, cracked, cloudy, and leaky windows until — now.

Or, rather, December 19, 20, 21, and 22.  That was the schedule, and I spent the weekend of December 16 and 17 tearing my office apart so that Work Could Go Forth.

On the night of Sunday, December 17, it began to rain.  We were forewarned, some of us noting that usually by now, the projected storm would be snow, not rain, but tending to think that the warm air the storm was riding north was a mitzvah.

Boy, were we wrong.

Eight inches of rain fell in 24 hours, with winds exceeding 60 mph here in our little protected valley.  Around 11 am on Monday, we lost power, and the generator kicked in.  And stayed kicked in for the next 22 hours.

Steve had two appointments at the local hospital for Monday, bot cancelled, as the hospital lost power to all non-critical areas (aka, the labs).  Early on, we lost a branch that looks to weigh roughly as much as I do out of the Really Big Pine Tree down back.  Also, one of our neighbors trees fell across the fence.  The wind drove rain unrelentingly into the back wall of the house, and water poured through my office windows.

Along mid-afternoon, I heard a crack, and Steve yelled from his office, across the width of the house — “We lost the apple tree!”  — and looking out the window, I could see the apple tree had split down the middle, one half leaning on the deck; the other tangled up in the roof.

Through all this, the wind roared, and the generator growled, but we were dry (saving the office window, streaming with rain), and warm, and the lights were on.

About half an hour after the apple tree came down, Steve called me into the bedroom.  The 60-foot spruce that had been beside our house was beside our house no longer; it had fallen across our neighbor’s driveway missing his car by a literal two inches, and blocking his access to the road.  Neither one of us had heard that tree go.

We were by this time in the eye of the storm.  Steve went over to talk to our neighbor; I went out back to retrieve the piece of our deck that had been loosed by the falling apple tree, and that the wind had tossed into the yard at the base of the stairs.

The piece I was trying to retrieve was a step away from the walkway.  I stepped forward — and sank above my ankle in mud.  I pulled back, leaving my shoe in the mud.  Eventually, I rescued both shoe and deck piece, but wasn’t that a shock?  The ground’s supposed to be frozen in December!

As this was going on, Steve was talking to the neighbor, who said that he had looked out the second story window, saw that the tree was leaning, and thought, “Gee, I don’t remember that tree having quite that much of an angle.”  By the time he had that thought, and went downstairs to the kitchen, the tree was down, so gently no one heard it hit.

Lack of damage to the car being ascertained, our neighbor got out his chainsaw and cut the tree out of his driveway.

And right around then, the rain started again.

The storm finally blew itself out, around midnight.

Tuesday dawned sunny and warm (remember that warm air cushion the storm rode up?  It stuck around for about 24 hours).

Around 7 am, Andersen called to make sure that we had power, so that the window crew could do their work.  We agreed that we had power, because we had a generator, still growling, though the rest of the neighborhood was still in the dark.  The window crew was dispatched, arrived, and began to do their thing.

The cats, Steve, and I retired to his office, and I began calling the insurance company.

The grid power came back on around 11 am, about the same time that the foreman asked me step outside so he could show me something.

The “something” was wood so wet that he could reach down behind the siding of the house and pull out rotting handfuls.  Above the place where windows had been (the removal of the windows having brought this situation to light), if you pressed on the wood, water sheeted down.

“I can’t put windows in that,” the foreman told me; “they’ll crack, right off.”

“Can you fix the rot problem?” was my question.  He assured me that they could, yes, ma’am, only he had to call a boss to get an OK.

I went back inside, told Steve what the problem was, and called the insurance company again.  This time they answered, and Amanda helped me open two claims — one for the wind damage and the other for the rotten wall.  I got claim numbers and an assignment to the Catastrophe Team (yes, I’m going to swank about that for a long time).

Eventually, the boss’s OK came through, with an additional number of $$s attached to the job total, which was already, um, hefty, but at least we’d budgeted for it.

Wednesday, we managed to get Steve to the hospital for a Pulmonary Function Panel, one of the two tests that had been canceled on Monday due to lack of power.  The second, an xray will wait until after the holiday.

After the hospital, we stopped at the local grocery, the shelves of which were pretty much bare, between lack of deliveries (lots of roads still under water, and bridges closed even on Wednesday), spoilage, and accelerated shopping.  They did, however, have fresh milk, eggs, bread, and wine, which was pretty much what we’d come for.  As we were standing in line to check out — the power went out.

People yelled.  The emergency dims came on, and about two minutes later, the grid lights (and the computers) came on.  We checked out and came home.

The window crew worked like a well-oiled machine, swapping out the rotted wood for new, replacing the insulation and getting the new windows finished.

The Catastrophe Team called, and made an appointment for New Years Day at noon for an in-person, onsite assessment.  We were given leave to have “things cleaned up” aka get the downed trees taken away, but were instructed to save receipts.

I called our Tree Guy, leaving a message explaining we had a three-tree problem (two downed trees and one that has to come down, because if it falls, it will not only land in the driveway across the street, but will take the wires down for a mile before it makes landfall).  No answer as yet, of course, because someone was sloppy enough to have plunked an Enormous Traveling Holiday smack dab in the middle of our Southern Catastrophe.

Which is to say that everything clean-up-wise is on hold at least until next Tuesday.

In the meantime, there are still people in Maine who are without power, going on five days now.  We were extremely fortunate, all around. As Steve and I keep saying to each other, “Luck of the clan.”

And that warm wind?  If it had been a typical December, the ground would have been frozen.  The wind would have undoubtedly knocked down trees, limbs, and wire, but whole trees would not have simply . . . uprooted, as happened to the tree that fell across our neighbor’s drive.

Temps have cooled off to more seasonal now — into the 30sF — and the mud is frozen.  The rivers have receded somewhat, but there are still places that are largely under water.  Federal Disaster Aid has been requested, but it’s going to be a Long Fix for Maine.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the cats’ part in all of this.  We of course had to keep them “confined” during the window replacement.

The first morning, I went around the house, gathering up cats and tossing them into the hallway into “Steve’s Wing” of the house.  Even though we were all in the same space, they acted like they were trapped, and kept trying to orchestrate a jailbreak — at least until they got tired and found comfy places to nap.

The second morning, the gathering up was more difficult, because the cats were Wise to Me, but I got the thing done in time.

The third morning, I went looking for cats, and found none, because — they were already in Steve’s office, and well into the first nap shift of the day.

So, that’s the Newest Installment of the Thrilling Adventures here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory.

Be aware that I am going to post donation links to the very bottom of this correspondence.  I’d been doing a play-by-play on Facebook, and people began to write to me, asking how they could “help.”  Help is very much appreciated; it is not mandated — actually, just being able to type this all out in one place is a help in itself — but if you wish to send money, the links are available.

And before we go, here are the windows Before and After.


Oh, and, hey — here’s a picture of that downed tree, and the other tree, still standing, that will have to be taken down:

Ways to help:
Buy me a Ko-Fi
Check:  US funds only, to:
Sharon Lee and/or Steve Miller
PO Box 1586
Waterville ME 04903-1586

4 thoughts on “It came from the south”

  1. Have kept up with the incremental reports but more informative to see it all in one place. So glad you went for the generator, that is about the time I joined the Liaden family. Wishing you many blessings for the Holly Jolly Days.

  2. I’m very glad you had the generator, that the trees did not cause a lot of damage when they fell, and that your window replacing guys were also able to immediately repair your wall as well!
    Your repaired windows look good, and the view from them is really lovely; I’m glad you can look out there in between when you are doing your writerly business.

  3. For what it may be worth, have you checked your furnishings and moved them (where possible) to allow for a quick steadying grab if you feel a fall coming on? I’ve been coping like that for years now – when my step fell to half its normal length Ie rearranged chairs, bookcases etc so I could prevent a probable fall from turning into an actual one. My wife has died since then, and although my stride is down to 2 inches and I have to do all the things she used to do for me, wobbly feet or no wobbly feet. Check your furniture and make sure that as much as possible is moved to give you good grabbing points if you feel insecure!

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