Friday, January 29, 2010

Storm Report

Rather than get online repeatedly over the relatively short period of time to blog the storm dubbed as "Winter's Triple Threat" by the Weather Channel, I used my cell phone to text a few tweets. Now that it's all over for me but for the melting, here's a consolidated log of what happened in my part of the country.

Wednesday, Jan 27 - Nice, balmy weather, high over mid-60s during the day. Plugged in my Garrity LED emergency lantern to recharge. Replaced batteries in electronic (lighted) Solitaire game in case TV goes out. Thought about making a run to the store but still have enough from my last trip plus my preparedness kit. Only chips and dental rinse are likely to be used up within a week and they aren't worth a special trip to the store.

Thursday, Jan 28, 1 A.M. - Took a short walk at 10:30 P.M. to talk to others who were also out. Now back, I'm feeling that the temperature is starting to fall. Still okay wearing short sleeves and light jacket.

3 A.M. - Dang! It's cold. Put on a heavier jacket to unload some forgotten bottles of seltzer water from my car's trunk because I don't want them freezing and breaking back there. Hands hurt, should have worn gloves.

4 A.M. - Rain started.

8 A.M. - Still raining. NOAA Weather Radio reports it's 35° F, wind chill 24° F.

10:30 A.M. - Still raining. Now 32° F, wind chill 18° F. Ice accumulation is 1/8-1/4 inch. Branches breaking. Wind 30 MPH gusting to 40.

4:30 P.M. - Rain finally stopped. Ice-covered trees, power lines, down on houses and across roads. Older power poles have been snapping from the wind and weight of ice up to as much as an inch and a half thick.

Local TV isn't reporting temperature or wind due to frozen instruments. It reports damage and says just about everything's closed tomorrow, running a stream along the lower edge of the screen naming specifics.

Local police are guarding live wires on roads and have blocked a long stretch of one of the major roads in town because of downed lines and poles and being wary of more poles going down along that stretch.

Only one shelter is open because icy roads make driving so dangerous that officials want people to shelter at home rather than risk injury on the road.

Some smaller outlying towns are advising to conserve water as the water pumps are electrical and not working because the power's out.

7:30 P.M. - Local news predicts possible sleet/snow through Friday noon but worst is likely over. Thank God I haven't lost power and am safe & warm.

Friday, Jan. 29, 6 A.M. - Uh-oh. Power & phone are out. Cell phone still works. Glad I have the lantern because I can stand it in one spot for general room light and save my flashlight for looking at details if needed. I leave a light switch flipped on so I know when power's restored.

7 A.M. - Considering over 170,000 people and businesses lost power yesterday, the guy on TV who took a hammer and chisel to the ice to demonstrate how ineffectual it is to chip it away, and not knowing when my power will be restored, I filled a gallon jug, five quart water bottles, and my kettle with water in case the city's water system loses power, too. This is in addition to the 3 gallons of spring water I previously bought to make tea. Thought about getting the gallon jugs from my trunk destined for the recycle center and filling them but decided it best to keep my door closed to retain heat.

Thought about taking a shower while there's some heat left in the hot water tank and decided to make do with sponge baths if it gets to that point. Should have bought baby wipes for my preparedness kit to conserve water.

8 A.M. - Whoo-hoo! Power & phone are restored after only 2 hours. Thank You, Lord, and please bless the repair crews for their great work!

11 A.M - It's snowing very lightly and evidently has been for a while. My car's covered. I find only one AM and two FM radio stations on the air.

2:30 P.M. - The ice is melting but will surely freeze again when the temperature drops tonight. No matter. It should all be gone by Monday and I can stay in all weekend.


This storm has definitely been worse than the blizzard of Christmas Eve because of the ice wreaking havoc on the trees and power lines & poles. Sure, the roads are terrible for driving, but with everything closed from government offices to schools and most businesses, the majority of people don't really need to go out, anyway.

Curiously, while many run to the store to stock up on food before a storm, I never see or hear of anyone who stocks up on bottled water considering that it takes two weeks to die without food but only three days to die without water. Hopefully, everybody keeps adequate self-bottled tap water on hand for their 72-hour preparedness kit like I do.

All things considered, it's possible that all the ice and snow will be melted away before the power's restored to everyone making ice and snow as a source of water unreliable even if it's worth the effort of collection.

Respectfully submitted.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

DIY Pareo

The large piece of fabric known as a "pareo" (pronounced "pah ray' oh") in Hawai`i and Tahiti, "sarong" in parts of SE Asia such as Thailand and Sri Lanka, and by other names in other countries, is an essential item for the traveling woman because it may be used as a beach cover-up, towel, skirt, dress, blouse, bandeau, jacket, shawl, headband, head-covering, turban, belt, sheet, blanket, table cloth, curtain, sun shade, bag, or pillow. After a trip, continue wearing it because pareos are so comfortable or use it to decorate your home by putting it up as a wall-hanging. The uses are limited only by your imagination.

However, until you're able to travel to a destination that offers a wide selection, it may not be easy to find one that you like. To help you out, here are directions for a no-sew, make-it-yourself pareo:

Go to a store that sells fabric and buy 2 yards (or 2 meters) of a color or print that you like if you're in the One-Size-Fits-Most crowd. If you're thin, you may get away with buying less while a super-sized woman will likely need more.

A pareo should go around you at least one and a half times, so to be sure of ample coverage, a thin or super-sized woman should measure herself around her largest point and multiply that number by 1.75. Then, divide by 36 to convert the inches to yards. (If you're on the metric system, I apologize for making you do the conversion. My math isn't good enough for me to risk messing you up.) Deal with any awkward fraction of the result by rounding up to the nearest quarter-yard. If you find your pareo is too long after using it for a while, you can always cut the excess and re-fringe the end.

Short women may need only 36-inch wide material. Women of average height or taller should stick to material that's 44-45 inches wide. The goal is to have material wide enough to cover you from the armpits to below the calf or ankle-length. Full sized pareos are folded to get dresses or skirts of shorter lengths. The pareos I've bought measure 60-65 inches long (plus the fringe) x 44-45 inches wide.

As for the type of material, I recommend rayon, washable silk, or lightweight woven cotton because they feel good against the skin and air-dry quickly. Be wary of employee recommendations because in one fabric store, a too-stiff brocade was suggested to me. What you need is washable, drip-dry material that's soft and fluid enough to drape like a shawl, scarf, or bandanna.

Inspect the inside of the folded material, the wrong side, to ensure that the dye goes through because you don't want the wrong side to be obvious when it shows as it will in some cases depending on how the pareo is tied. If the dye goes through, it won't be easy to tell the wrong side from the right.

Once you have the material home, make a fringe on one of the short, cut ends, a 44-45 inch wide side (for the short woman, it will be the 36-inch wide side), by picking out the cross threads until there's 3 to 3.5 inches of fringe. A pin, needle, or seam ripper will make the task easier.

Use an overhand knot to tie the hanging threads together in small groups approximately 1 inch apart from each other and up against the unfrayed material to stop it from unraveling further.

Repeat on the opposite end. Then, wash to remove any excess dye and dry.

That's it!

You don't have to do anything to the long, uncut, edges because the selvages keep them from unraveling.

All that's left is for you to use your favorite search engine to get ideas on how to tie and wear your new pareo and practice while imagining yourself on your next trip.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pray for Haiti

I went back to Walmart yesterday to have the leaky tire fixed that I wrote about in my last post. On the way, I saw a man standing on a corner of a busy intersection holding up a cardboard sign that said, "Pray for Haiti."

It struck me as special because I've seen signs requesting work or rides or selling things and to "Remember the Vets" but never one requesting prayer, considering I'm living in the Bible Belt. I gave the man points in my mind for standing there on the behalf of the victims of the earthquake that hit Haiti on Tuesday.

Yes, if nothing else, please pray for Haiti.

(There was a small nail in my tire.)

Friday, January 8, 2010


One of my tires went flat in 2008 and I took it to the nearest service station to have it patched. Unfortunately, the tire started leaking. Fortunately, I used the leak to motivate me to check my tires more frequently. While on a road trip, I'm really good about maintaining the PSI, but at home, I don't check once a month as is recommended and have let it go as long as three months.

Expecting the ice and snow predicted for Wednesday, I took advantage of the relatively nice weather on Tuesday to check the pressure of my tires before running errands. Sure enough, that particular tire was low.

Driving to my favorite convenience store, I discovered that the air machine was broken.

Driving a mile to another convenience store with air that I've used before, I tried to fill the tire. By this time, my hands were pretty cold and I had trouble using the pressure gauge but by the look of the tire, I was swearing that it was losing air instead of being filled. I pressed my gauge against the air hose and got a reassuring hiss of air, yet my tire kept getting flatter.

Cutting my loss before the tire became completely flat, I switched on the hazard lights and headed for a gas station a mile and a half away, driving only 10 MPH so I wouldn't ruin the rim.

Turning the corner a mile away, I noticed that the convenience store had an air machine and pulled in. Drat! The machine needed 75 cents before it would run.

Now, 75 cents may not be much, but when you're used to getting air for free, having to pay for air seems like highway robbery. Still, my tire was so low, I figured I may as well bite the bullet and got back into my car to fish out the quarters I needed.

Just as I approached the machine to feed it it's snack of change, a man called out to me from his pickup truck by the nearest gas pump.

"The Phillips 66 station down the road has free air. It's only a half mile away," he said.

"That's where I was going, but my tire is really low."

"Yeah, I saw you on the road." He came over to inspect the culprit. "You'll make it. It's only a half mile. The air hose is on the south side of the car wash, right in the middle."

"Thanks!" What a relief! That he made the effort was really nice of him. Please bless him for it, Lord.

I got in my car, drove the half mile slowly on the shoulder, and filled the tire before heading off to Walmart to get a few groceries in case the roads remained iced up for more than a few days.

Approaching a red traffic light near the service station that had patched the tire, I pulled in and stopped by the air hose at the self-service island wanting to ensure that it was something about the air hose at the second convenience store that caused my tire to lose air and not the tire itself.

Dust cap in hand and gauge at the ready, I was interrupted by the attendant that I recognized from when I got air there this past fall.

"May I help you?" he asked.

"Oh, no, thanks. I'm fine. I just need to check this tire," I replied.

He grabbed the air hose and started to drag it over.

"I don't think it needs air. I just want to make sure," I said.

He let go the hose and came over. "I can do that for you."

"Thanks, I almost have it," I said as I continued to check it myself.

He walked to the opposite tire. "I'll just check these for you," he said.

"That one is fine. I already checked. They're all fine except this one has a slow leak. I used an air hose a couple of miles away and I'd swear it was letting air out instead of filling it. I just need to make sure."

I finished checking the tire and replaced the dust cap. "Yes, it's fine. It had to be that air hose."

He started walking back inside saying, "We don't like to see ladies checking their own tires."

With a Captain Jack Sparrow-like wag of my head toward his retreating back, I thought, "I don't like it, either, but neither do I like you overfilling my tire the way you did the last time I was here." It had felt odd when I drove away so, I checked how much air he had put in. Sure enough, he had exceeded the PSI that I had told him which is the maximum PSI stated on the side of the tire. He didn't follow my instruction and didn't bother to read the tire or ignored it if he did.


Considering that it took four stops before I got air, I decided I'd had enough of this leaky tire business and I'd have Walmart check the tire while I shopped only to learn that the auto service department closed early because the technician went home, sick.

Oh, well.

Happy New Year!