a different world before daybreak

Jack and I walked a bit earlier this Sunday morning than usual.  It was the approximately the same time we had walked just a few weeks ago before the time change, but now with the legislated time change it  was just before sunrise.  In keeping with the clock or rather my iphone I had walked at our usual time the last couple of weeks, hence in the daylight.

We stepped out into the 32 degree Fahrenheit morning with just a last gasp of moon overhead. Yes, chilly and dark.  We only walk a mile plus or so when Jack and I walk. At age 9 or 10 he is becoming a stiff Australian Shepherd and I am fairing only slightly better so we take only leisurely, sniffing, and listening walks.

Immediately, I became aware of how quiet it was — no sound of traffic from the major roadways a few miles from my place.  At least it seemed quiet for a while.  Behind the Woith’s place came the startling sound of an owl, taking just a moment for me to realize it was an owl’s screech, not a woman screaming. About a half mile or so down the road a rooster began his morning concert.  And then there was the clomph-clomph-clumph sound behind me which I recognized immediately.

Mr. Ed (that is my name for a neighbor’s white horse) and Chester had come to the fence line to say good morning and see if I had any nibbles for them.  I don’t feed my neighbor’s animals. but horses can be demanding and forgetful.  We are pretty tame in my area. Horses, a pot bellied pig who caused considerable excitement on one of our walks, roosters and hens, goats, dogs both big and small, and the odd horse or two are our only population of critters to be encountered on our walks … if you don’t count the wildlife … possums, raccoons, deer, turkeys, snakes (not so much this time of year).

I did say hello to Mr. Ed.  He is always a gentlemen and I rubbed his muzzle and spoke softly to him.  Chester … well, Chester is a nibbler.  Maybe they are love bites, but they hurt so I give Chester, the Scotland Pony, a wide berth.

Jack and I continued down the road, made our turn at Route 10 and began our return. Chester and Mr. Ed had moved on into the darkness of their pasture.  The rooster and the owl had obviously gone back to sleep.  Jack and I were rewarded with a glorious sunrise as we made the turn and headed east toward home.




things of the past … stick shifts and cursive writing

I awoke to the news that Fidel Castro had passed away.  Another event that seemingly is sharing the arc of my life.  I was only 9 or 10 when he ‘liberated’ Cuba and subsequently visited the UN.  Huntley and Brinkley covered him on the evening news and my memory is that he was impressive in his beard and fatique-green uniform. Other things that have disappeared … Huntley – Brinkley (both long passed) and fatigues. … all tactical military uniforms now are black, desert sand, or some variation of cammo.  We won’t even address the Eisenhower jacket.

Other things are disappearing … cursive writing, multiplication tables, parsing and diagramming sentences. Door keys, hardcopy receipts at stores (“we’ll email your receipt”), irons (I don’t know where mine is), wrinkles in clothing for that matter, toll takers at toll booths, parking lot attendants, cars that need drivers … all of these things or people are gone or quickly disappearing.

This morning the paper reported that for cars that still require drivers, the manual or stick shift transmission is a thing of the past.  Most manufacturers don’t even offer the option of a stick shift, not even Ferrari.


Fall, however, is still with us every year, at least until the tipping point of climate change.  Jack and I enjoyed a bit of chill in the air this morning on our walk and the stiff breeze has quickly dislodged bushels of the fading leaves.

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 Richmond.com  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 7600advocates.wordpress.com 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 …