Thursday, November 24, 2011

Becoming Thankful

Thanksgiving??!?! I can't believe it's already that time of year again! The start of the holiday season. Am I really ready for this? Sadly, I haven't been as ready as I should be for this day. This has been quite a different fall, and Satan has been trying to discourage and bring me down. Trying to keep me from thankfulness.
This oddly enough reminds me of Storm Alfred from a few weeks ago. I couldn't help but continue to think as we drove around each day, that this was a SNOW storm. It looked and still looks as if it were a storm with strong straight line winds or a small tornado in some places. Who would think to really worry about their big trees because of snow...soft, fluffy, beautiful, white snow? But that soft, fluffy snow took down some pretty big, strong trees. These trees came down on cars, homes, and across roads causing so much damage. This makes me think of Satan, he showers us with lies, and continues to pile them on. It might start out with just a few simple lies, but if we are not careful, they slowly become more and stronger in our minds. These lies can really weigh us down, even those who are older or strong in the faith can become weighed down by his lies. He wants to break us down, to take our strength from us, and destroy us. Too often we start to believe those lies, and instead of being able to shake off those lies we let them start to affect us and break us down bit by bit. And if we're not careful we can fall, and fall hard, causing lots of damage.
The morning after the storm, the sun came out, and those branches and trees that hadn't broken, but were hanging so low were finally starting to stand back up straight again. If we can hold on and not allow those lies to break us, the Lord allows the sun to shine, to melt away those lies. I am so thankful for friends and family who have been that sun for me, encouraging me, praying for me, sharing with me, caring for me, shining strong to melt away the lies of Satan. Helping me shake them off, so I can stand back strong in the Lord.
Storm Alfred really helped me to start thinking more thankful thoughts than I had been for a while. When I thought of how God took care of our house, and allowed the only branches that came down to be way back in the yard. He allowed me to get gas when I needed, food for mom and I, and to keep my phone charged up. He allowed us to find Evergreen Walk to get us out of the house. He allowed us to have the money to get food throughout the week. He kept us safe in our house. As I thought of all this how could I not be thankful! Maybe if I had been praising Him more before, I wouldn't have gotten so weighed down with lies and discouragement. I am so thankful the Lord doesn't give up on us. I'm thankful for wonderful people He has put in my life to continually encourage me and help me to grow. I am thankful for my little family. I am thankful for my extended family. I am thankful for my house, and a car that at least still runs. I am thankful for great friends, old and new. I am thankful for the joy and laughter that children bring. I am thankful for the joy, laughter and good times that Bella brings to this house. For these and many, many other things, I am thankful. Though I miss dad so much around this time (really missed him today), I am so thankful for the many memories, and all of the wonderful years we had together. I am thankful for memories I still get to make with mom.
Thank you, Lord, for the Sun!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

And So It Ended...and Began

Yes, it had officially ended. No longer would there be the same quietness in the house. No longer would there be candlelit nights spent listening to talk radio. No longer would we just be hanging out together in the living room just talking and laughing. No longer would we so many different, wonderful smells from all the candles we had lit, or as a friend from church so eloquently put it..."the house smelling like Fruit Loops". No longer would there be the simple ease in each day. No longer would we wake up to a cold house, or experience going to sleep with blankets and comforters and sweatshirts and gloves. No longer would there be that opportunity to walk outside in the pitch black and see the amazing brilliance of so many more stars than we normally see. No longer would I take Bella out at night and enjoy the smell of fireplaces and wood burning stoves. No longer would there be that slight haze during the day because of so many stoves and fireplaces going at night. No longer would there be those casual trips to Evergreen Walk with mom and Bella almost every day...visiting different stores, meeting new people and dogs. No longer would we be eating a myriad of different foods from different places as we tried to keep ourselves fed. Yes, many things that I enjoyed and some things that I didn't necessarily care for, had ended. And then it began...
The alarm was now going off again. The getting ready and making sure to have everything for the day began again. Leaving mom and Bella home alone began again. The stress of life began again....making sure mom had her medicine in the morning, making sure Bella had water and food before I left, driving on the highway in traffic, running around to stores or appointments after school. Even mom, who had no problems during the power outage, woke up Monday morning and before I was getting ready to leave for school said she could not find her glasses. I quickly tried to look for them, but could not find them. At some point in the morning my mom said something, when I asked what she said, she just told me that she was talking to the TV. Oh my! Yes, it began again. When I got back from school she still hadn't found them. I looked more thoroughly around the house and finally found them under her bed. Yes, things were getting back to normal, some ways good, some ways...well, a little stressful. Thankfully I have great memories to go back to. So ends our journey through Storm Alfred. It may be over, but will never be forgotten.
Lord, it's funny how we think we can't live without certain things, but when it comes down to it and we have no choice we make it. Then, it's funny that when those things come back, we are sometimes ready to go back to simpler times. Thank you for those simpler times, but thank you for the blessing and ease of things that we are able to experience and enjoy today.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Same and Different

Two different days...woke up the same way, ate the same breakfast, but before we went to the same, wonderful place, the second day brought about something different, which I will talk about later. We went into some of the same stores we had visited during the week. But Bella chose a couple of different stores, too. One store, called Ten Thousand Villages, was very interesting. They had beautiful jewelry(I think Bella takes after her mommy), and other interesting and different items from all over the world. The girls that worked in the store loved Bella, they loved her little outfit and thought she was adorable. This was such a neat little store because people from villages around the world make every item in the store. As the items are sold, part of the proceeds go back to those people and their villages to help them out. I had never heard of this store before, but there are actually three of them in Connecticut. They also have a website Each item has the place where the item was made on the price tag, so you have an idea of where the proceeds are going. Such a cool place! One of the girls said that this store is quite popular with dogs because they love the smells of the rawhide and grass-made gifts. Bella was really enjoying, but so was I. Nice find, Bella. Oh yea, and by the way, yes, I did buy a nice bracelet from this store, made in India. Bella also wanted to go into the Gap, where once again the workers commented on how cute she was. There was lady who came up to me in the store who didn't know dogs were allowed in the stores. I told her that not every store allowed dogs, but one of the reasons why I love Evergreen is because they have stickers on doors or windows of which stores allow dogs, and how they can be brought in. Some stores allow dogs to be on leash, while others would prefer only small dogs that can be held. This lady was excited to know that and said she would bring her small dog with her next time. The whole time I was talking to this lady, Bella was being so good. She also sashayed her little self into Talbot's (the girl has expensive taste), but after a little while I think even she realized this place might be a little much even for her. But once again, she was so well behaved. We both brought mom into Pottery Barn. I think we all enjoyed looking around in that store. As we were leaving a man with a tan much more orange (and I mean oompa loompa orange) than I have ever seen, with a plastic look to his face, commented on how cute Bella was in her outfit. Later we saw a small group that was strolling around with beautiful greyhounds, Bella was able to meet a couple of them. She wasn't quite as sure about some of them, but she didn't bark, just the smallest bit of a nervous growl escaped her. We also had three ladies come up to ask where we got Bella's outfit, one of them wanted to find something similar for her small dog. While one of the others questioned whether she was a bad owner because she didn't have a coat for her dog. Since her dog was bigger than Bella she never thought about getting it a coat. Then she noticed the greyhounds and many of them had coats on, too. So, now she was seriously wondering. We had a funny conversation and again Bella was a little lady. There was another lady while we were just walking around who went by and said that Bella was too cute to be believed...awww! But, the kicker was when we were walking and a little boy about 5 came up and asked if he could pet Bella. I admit I was a little hesitant, I even told the boy, that I wasn't sure how she would do, because she gets a little excited, but I would hold her and he could try. Dad and little sister were sitting close by, so I was praying she would be good. This little boy was great! He came up and held out his hand for Bella to smell, then petted her on the back and Bella.......just sat there and let him! Wow, who is this dog?! I didn't even have to hold her much. Then the little sister, who was about 2 or 3 came over and wanted to pet her too, I held my breath and prayed again. The big brother was adorable as he showed his little sister how to hold her hand out to Bella's nose. That's when it happened........the sweetest thing that I had ever seen! Bella put her little tongue out and licked the little girl's hand and also let her pet her for a bit. I must say, I was one proud parent at that point. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I had to breathe a sigh of thanks to the Lord for keeping her from barking at them or knocking them over because she was so excited. Boy, was that different from what I see when we're at home and people come in to see us, even when they do give her some attention, too. We went by the sweet little ones again and they both came over to pet her again, and again she was a little angel. The dad mentioned something about Bella's outfit, and the little boy told me he didn't know dogs could wear outfits...loved that! I told him that I found this one and had to get it for her. I thanked them for being so sweet and we said goodbye. I have to say, I was pretty much beaming as I got into the car. I hated to think this time might be ending soon. The first day we got home to more of the same, the same cold house, the same nightly routine. The second morning there was something a little different, as I mentioned earlier. After breakfast there were trucks that we saw on the street, they tagged some of the wires and then left. So, I realized there might be some changes at some point that day. That second day we also went back to the Chinese Restaurant before heading back home for dinner...more sweet and sour chicken and pineapple bubble tea with rainbow jelly, yummm! And this time as we headed home things were different. One of our neighbors from the street right off of our street, was walking up the street, we stopped the car to talk to her, and she told us her electricity had come back on. She wasn't sure if ours had yet, because she talked to another neighbor just a couple of houses down from us and they hadn't gotten their power yet. I pulled into the driveway with bated breath. Something looked a little different, I thought, but was it really what I thought it was? For the first time in over a week, there seemed to be light shining through the living room window. I still wasn't quite sure. So I quickly parked the car, as we walked to the door, yes, it was now confirmed, we did have our power back. I have to admit, I was a little saddened by the find. I was really going to miss the low stress life of the past week plus. We walked in to find the kitchen light and ceiling fan on. I definitely had to turn that fan off, it was already cold enough in the house. Even just having the light on seemed a little too much! Mom went right into her room to see if she could put her TV on. At first it didn't come on right away, but soon she got it and was so excited to get back to her Hallmark Channel. The first thing I did was charge my phone. It was quite a different night. I ended up sitting in the living room in the dark with a candle lit, I was going to miss that. It was back to reality, a reality, I wasn't sure I was ready to just jump back into yet. I must say even now, some nights I still sit in the living room with one candle on, just relaxing. So many great memories!
Now I know some may tease me, and some people I know already have teased me about my relationship with Bella. I know some people may think it's silly that I buy her clothes and treat her like my baby. I have had people say to me, "Stacey, it's only a dog." Well, to some people she may be just a dog, but to me she is my special darling. To me, she is a life saver. To me, she is my joy (our joy)! I also just have to share and ask, what is it that many women desire? From the time that we are young girls we desire to love and to be loved back. We desire to nurture and care, it's part of who we are. We desire to be needed in a special way. We desire to be fulfilled and proud of things we are able to do, and things and people we are able to take care of, to watch grow and develop. We desire to have something that we put our all into, whether it be our home, or our family, or possibly even our job. We desire to have a purpose. Many desire to be able to be a wife and mother. And as we think about the things that many women desire, we also have to realize there are some women who don't get to experience all of those things. But, for many women those desires are still there, but maybe we just don't have a husband or children to fulfill those desires. So we put those things into what we do have. So, yes, Bella is my baby. She has brought so much joy, youth, and laughter to this house. She has brought a purpose back to my mom. She makes me feel needed. She makes us feel so unconditionally loved. And for moments like those I experienced with her at Evergreen, she made me feel very proud. It gives me pleasure to nurture and care for her, to treat her special, and sometimes spoil her a little. I am the girl who always wanted a dog. Now I finally have one and I'm going to love on her as much as I can, so please don't think me silly. Bella has kept this household going, and I am so grateful for her! Well, that was more than I'm usually comfortable sharing. :)
Lord, it has been an amazing 9 days! There were so many wonderful memories made, so much special time I was able to spend with my two special girls. Thank you for taking care of us through all of this. Thanks for the memories. Thank you for electricity, even though I wasn't quite ready for it. Thank you for keeping all of us healthy and safe. Thank you for the joy I have to be able to take care of mom and Bella, for giving me a purpose. And even though it may not be the idea of "family" I was expecting to be taking care of at this point in my life, thank you for the privilege and for helping me to do it. I want to please you and take care of my family in a way that would honor you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 7: The Journey Continues

As Friday came, it was definitely a joy to see that the "prayer tree" was down. I could now safely leave my street without fear! The wire had even been moved to the side of the road. Now we could use both sides of the street again without fear of being hit by someone turning onto the street. Good day! We were on our way back to my friend Sharan's house. She welcomed us so kindly that even though they were there this time, mom still felt quite comfortable at the house again. Sharan's daughter took Bella for a walk, and both her son and daughter played with Bella while mom and I got our showers. Before coming over Sharan told me to bring over any laundry. Huge blessing... especially as there had been a couple of accidents during the week, and because I had been making mom wear double pj's, she was starting to run out of pj's and bedding. I was starting to wonder what I was going to do about that, but the Lord already had it all worked out. He's so good like that! Why do I doubt? After our nice, hot showers we had time to sit and fellowship as we waited for the clothes to get finished. Sharan and the kids were truly gracious hosts to us! Mom enjoyed two cups of hot chocolate while we waited, watched TV, and had a nice time of fellowship. Then because I wasn't finishing my hot chocolate fast enough, she also had the rest of mine. She was really enjoying herself, which of course made me happy, even if I did have to give up my hot chocolate! Bella was having a good time, too, but she just wanted to get down and go after their cute, little kitten. Chloe would make little appearances, then go into hiding, making Bella crazy! What a nice time, and more good socialization for mom and Bella! As we were leaving, I had mom finally meet Hudson. At first she was shocked and a little afraid at how big he was, but not long after, she was petting him and even leaning forward for a kiss. Because of Sharan, my mind became convinced of only one place to go to get our dinner before we headed home. That place was Joey Garlic's! That evening mom and I enjoyed some delicious chicken parmesan, then later on, some amazing fried dough! We spent another cold, but quiet and enjoyable night hanging out in the living room with each other, listening to talk radio and laughing with one another...and of course with Bella snuggled up by one of us! Could there be anything more enjoyable, especially when it just seems that all that we/I have been doing lately is running from one place to another. Sometimes life gets so busy that we don't often enough just get to sit and enjoy each other. These were just together times that we don't get often enough. Special times that I want to hold on to and remember, which is why I have been blogging like a mad woman about each individual day. I don't want to forget or miss anything! Life goes by and things change too quickly. The week was now over and the weekend was coming. Would it bring about the change that was expected and promised? Would we have our power by Sunday midnight? I secretly wouldn't have minded if we didn't. I know, crazy, huh?? Well, time would soon tell.
Lord, thank you for good friends that treat you like family! Thank you for knowing what we need and taking care of it before we even ask or think. Thank you for taking care of us through this crazy journey, that I seem to be enjoying a little too much. Thank you for the opportunity to keep these memories alive through blogging. And thanks for the special times!

Oh the Drama...

As the week went on...and on...and on...without power, people were slowly starting to lose patience. As we listened to talk radio, more and more people were complaining about the length of time the restoration process was taking. Some areas, including our own, hadn't even seen any trucks come to check out the damage. There were workers from other states who had come to help out, but at first many of them weren't given instructions as to where to go or what to do, so they had to just sit and wait. Of course I wasn't able to hear much news from our local stations about what was going on, but I did get updates through Facebook on my phone from one local station to have some idea. Shelters were filling up with people, people with young children or older adults in the home were trying to find places to go to get out of their cold homes. People were not happy. For our family, it was just another day to be together and find some more adventure at Evergreen Walk. We still had cereal, and no...not with the milk from all week! I bought some milk when I went to Whole Foods again. I filled a pan with snow and placed the milk in the pan! It was time to get a little creative about this no power thing. I also filled the ice container in the freezer with snow, to keep our little pints of ice cream cold.
We went to the Hallmark store in Evergreen to get some more candles for the house. I needed to make sure they were good ones, that smelled good, but would also last for a long time since we had them burning for so many hours. The wonderful sales lady introduced me to WoodWick Candles, the wicks are made of wood (hence the name WoodWick!), and the candle makes crackling sounds. They had great fragrances and I love things that are different! I also love the sounds of a crackling fire, so I had to get that candle. We enjoyed some more fun at Evergreen. It was great to see Bella socialize for a little bit with other dogs. She also did well in the stores we visited. Some proud moments for this dog owner! Those of you that know Bella, or have ever been to our house, will understand why. After a fun day of meet and greet, and a little shopping, we got some dinner and headed back home. Nothing had changed, well, maybe except for the fact that more neighbors were out of their houses enjoying the sun and one another's company. It was neat to see people checking on and helping one another. As, I was talking to a happened...for the very first time since the storm on Saturday, we saw CL&P on our street! Now to be fair, I have to admit that they were probably there before at some point, because Thursday morning I think it was, when I took Bella out, a cone had mysteriously been placed in front of the hanging wire at the end of the street. That had been the first sign to show that we hadn't been forgotten in our little dead end neighborhood. But... this was the first time I had seen them with my own eyes. They were in a minivan, checking the "prayer tree" and the different wires along the street that were down. There was hope! They left not long after, and soon after that, we were in for the night, under the blankets, in front of the candles. I was so excited to light my new WoodWick candle. It smelled wonderful and made those wonderful crackling sounds as promised, though we had a little trouble hearing them over the radio. When mom was getting ready for bed, I took Bella out one more time before bed, then put both of them snuggly in to bed. Not long after that, around 10, we started hearing loud noises. It wasn't generator sounds that we had been hearing plenty of lately, it wasn't sirens from police cars and fire trucks that we also heard plenty of that week. It was a different sound than any we had heard lately. I sprang out of bed, and flew like a flash to the window, and what to my wondering eyes should appear? Well, it had nothing to do with reindeer. There was a man in a bucket way up in the sky, but as I watched him, he didn't really seem to fly. As I looked closer what I could see, were men finally cutting down the "prayer tree". Oh joy! (end of my crazy poem, sorry, just couldn't resist) I would no longer have to feel as if I were playing Russian Roulette every time I left our street! It's OK, cut away guys! I did get in bed later to rest up for another trip to my friend Sharan's house, this time we would actually have them as company. I wanted my mom to meet the kind people that offered their home and shower to us. I also really wanted her to meet their amazingly big, beautiful dog Hudson! So more adventures were yet to come!
Lord, thank you for another awesome day with mom and Bella. Thank you for allowing us to see some help coming our way. Thank you for these men and women who worked so hard, even into the late night to help take care of problems on so many different streets throughout the state. Thank you for those that came from other states to help, and bless them for their hard work. Thank you for this precious time to spend with mom and Bella, I'm really kind of enjoying it, Lord. Thank you for that!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A New Day

Wednesday did bring some new developments. Not quite what you might be thinking, though. It brought our first visitor after the storm. Our family friend Glenn came to check on mom and me. He and his wife had tried to come check on us on Sunday, but they couldn't get to us because roads were blocked. He wasn't quite sure where we lived, but he found us, and checked on us. That was such a kind blessing. He was also kind enough to offer us a chance to get warm by their fireplace at night. As much as Glenn and I like to give each other a hard time, I have to say it was a blessing to have him check on us and offer his home. I just really hope he never reads this, because he will endlessly tease me about saying he is a blessing! But he really was. OK, I've got to stop there before I make myself ill! We were also blessed by another family. My friend, Sharan invited us to her house to take a shower since she and her family were going to be out that day. That was the key to getting mom to go. We had other offers,but she was always hesitant. What a blessing to get a nice, hot shower! We also had a little entertainment while we were there. Though my friend and her family were gone, their adorable, new little kitty was there. Of course, as we did every day, we brought Bella with us, so to see the two of these go at it was so much fun! Chloe was in the clothes basket and Bella and I were on the floor next to it. Bella kept wanting to get at Chloe, but she let her know who was boss in HER house! She gave her a few good swipes, and mom and I couldn't help but laugh! At their antics. Had to take some pictures and videos, it was too great to pass up! At one point before we left mom was sitting in a chair, and somehow ended up with Bella on one leg and Chloe on the other. Does it get any better than a nice, hot shower, and cute animal entertainment? What a nice change of pace for the day! So thankful for the blessing this family provided for us. After our nice day, we went back home to more of the same evening routine. Oddly enough, I still wasn't tired of it,I enjoyed the time together, the sights, smells, and quiet sounds of special time spent together. It may have been at this point that we started hearing that this was going to be our way of life for a little longer. It was estimated that our area would probably have power restored by Sunday night at midnight. It was also around this time that my mom's sister started to become concerned about mom still being in such a cold house. She wanted to try to put us up in a hotel, she was concerned about mom's arthritis causing her problems. Mom (me too for that matter) didn't want to go anywhere. Plus, my mom's brother checked hotels in the area, and all were booked. We would have had to go a little way to find one that have room for us, but also that would allow Bella. So, we were going to continue to hang in there and see what the rest of the week would bring.
Lord, thank you for sweet friends that care, check on us, and offer their homes, etc. to us. Thank you for kind family members near and far who offer to take care of us, and also try to check on us. Thank you for hot showers. Thank you for playful animals that keep us laughing. Thank you for YOU, taking care of us, and blessing us with all of these things. You are so good!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

And So It Continued...

And so it continued both day and night no...oh well, sorry, slipped into Christmas mode for a second. Of course it's not that hard to do since so many places have already had Christmas decorations out for a couple of weeks! I mean, I love Christmas as much as anyone, if not more, but let's have a chance to remember to be thankful first, just for a moment anyway. OK, a little side-tracked there, so now back to the real post, hee hee.
But it really did continue...when I woke up Monday, there was still a cold chill in the air and no lights to greet my eyes. The same morning routine took place since I had already been informed that there would be no school. After our cereal for breakfast (since the milk was still fine), we just went to sit in the living room. I had my phone charging in the car. I hate to admit this, but it seemed that I could smell a little of the exhaust as we sat there listening to the radio. Mom just kept wanting to rest, so that made me nervous, thinking of CO poisoning. I figured it would be a good idea to get out of the house and do something. We got ready, and along with Bella, got into the car to at least drive around or something. This way, I could charge my phone without possibly killing us, we could get warm, find something to eat, and get out of the house to do something. Streets were blocked by trees all around us. I thought of possibly just going back into West Hartford to see what we could see and do. It was a much different scene from the day before. My town still had nothing going on, 100% of the town was still without power. As I got to South Main Street in West Hartford, there was more traffic than I have ever seen. Not only was there lots of traffic, but it wasn't moving much at all. Some of the cars going in the opposite direction were telling people to turn around because there was no gas at the THREE gas stations up ahead. I couldn't believe that, first of all, were all these people really hoping to get gas?? I wasn't. Thankfully, I had gotten mine the day before! Then, were all three stations really out of gas? Well, since we weren't getting far, I chose to go down a side street and head back the other way. Still driving under trees and wires and around fallen trees everywhere, I ended up going to another town. That ended up being the best thing. I decided to see if there was any power by the mall in Manchester. There was lots of life over there. Again, there were super long lines for the gas stations, thankfully I already had mine! As I drove farther, it hit me, the perfect place to go would be Evergreen Walk. It's a wonderful, outdoor, walk-around-type mall. The reason it was so perfect for us, is because we had Bella with us, and this is a dog-friendly mall. Not only could Bella walk around freely, but she could also visit some of the shops with me. There are also several benches everywhere, so when mom got tired of walking she could sit out in the sun. We went into L'Occitane because that's where Bella chose to take us first. She enjoyed her time in there, getting a little treat, and then smelling all of the wonderful smells. From that point on, she was pretty much ready to try any store to see if maybe she could get more treats. I also decided to buy some yummy cupcakes from Ganache! We had an amazing time walking around and relaxing in the sun little family. After eating, we went back home for another night of the same. One of the things I started noticing more of that night were the amazing smells of fireplaces and wood stoves going. I love that smell! We had another relaxing, cold night with the candles going, and the radio on...and of course, mom's ice cream. We continued with another cold night, but under those covers, you would never know.
And it continued more, Tuesday was more of the same, no school, eating cereal for breakfast, driving around, going to Evergreen Walk, walking around, meeting new people and dogs, finding something good to eat, going home, having a nice dinner, bundling up, sitting in the living room with candles glowing, listening to talk radio, and of having her ice cream. Another cold night...would a new day bring about any new developments?
Lord, I know I should probably have been pretty tired of being in the cold and dark, but thank you for helping me to handle it. Thank you for mom, Bella, and I doing OK. Thank you for great places like Evergreen Walk where we could all spend some special times together. The simple life has brought some simple pleasures! Thank you for that!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Storm Alfred, Part 2

Daybreak Sunday came all too soon, after a sleep-interrupted night. The sound of the continuous cracking and crashing of branches all around had me on edge all night. After reluctantly peeling the warm, cozy covers off, I immediately felt the cold air hit me as I went in to wake mom and Bella up. Mom's first order of business, as has been her habit lately before getting up, was to turn on the TV. Of course she was surprised when it wouldn't come on. I had to remind her we had no power. She sadly, and also quite reluctantly got out of bed. I then took Bella out into "the unknown". I didn't know what to expect when we got outside. I didn't know how many inches we had gotten and I didn't know how many fallen limbs I would see on or around our house or street. When we got outside, oh the sights we saw! It was a beautiful, bright day, with lots of sunshine. I had to make a little path for Bella from the porch to the yard as the snow was a bit too deep for her to trudge through. As we trudged off of the porch onto the driveway, and she found her place of relief, I was greeted by those same cracking, crashing sounds that had brought me concern throughout the night. As I started to look around, I couldn't help but think of how pretty all the snow-covered trees looked. One thing I did notice though, is that they were much more weighed down than I was used to seeing them. I could now clearly see that limb that came down in the backyard. I also noticed a couple of smaller branches that had also fallen in back. I shuffled through the snow so Bella and I could be nosy and check things out in front of the house and along the street. The neighbor had a couple of big limbs down in the front yard right in front of her door. Some of the wires were heavily weighed down with snow as well. At the end of the street (the only way into and out of our street), there was a huge part of a tree that was leaning on some wires and there was a wire hanging part way onto the road. And here I was thinking the cracking and crashing was simply big branches and limbs. Definitely didn't expect to see a big part of a tree like that!
After getting some pictures, Bella and I went back inside to see if mom was up and to share with her what we had seen. We had our cereal for breakfast, as cold as it was I knew the milk would still be good. Mom was also hoping to have her toast with egg. Once again I had to remind her we didn't have power, so that wasn't on the menu for the morning. After resting for a little while I needed to get the driveway and porches cleaned off. I took the cover off the car and started shoveling the driveway. The snow was pretty heavy, but I figured I would just take it easy and go slowly and carefully. Yes, we still have a snow blower, and I was pretty sure it still worked fine. I was just fearful of walking all the way back to the shed under those heavily snow-covered tree branches. Some were hanging pretty low. And...if I am going to be completely honest...I was also a little afraid of the possibility of mice scattering out of the shed all over my feet. OK, there I said it! But I think BOTH reasons were quite reasonable fears. The neighbor across the street was kind enough to go back to the shed with me. As he was taking the snow blower out he realized that the tires didn't have much air. Instead of taking the time to put air in the tires, or having me do it, he just kindly offered to use his snow blower to clean our driveway! That was a great blessing! As the day wore on and there was still no power, I realized although I had planned not to drive under that ominous-looking tree, it was going to have to happen. For one thing, I needed to charge my phone, and I could only do that in my car, BUT, my gas tank was also almost on empty, and we only had cold Chinese food in the house. I got in the car to go up the street to the gas station to get some gas and possibly grab something to eat. As I was heading out, I was shocked to be blocked on one street by a huge tree across the road. As I kept driving I was shocked by the trees and wires down all over. I got to the gas station up the street, there were a few cars there. I went to put my card in and just noticed that the screen was blank. Someone came out from the store and told me they didn't have power, so there was no getting gas from there. I drove into the center of town to see if I could get gas from the station there, but the line was unbelievable! It seemed to me by the time I found the end of the line and got in line to wait, I would have probably ended up being on empty before I got there. I kept driving. I drove into West Hartford and though there was a bit of traffic at the big intersection I was able to get into one of the stations. I did have to wait a little, but there was only one car in front of granted the car just so happened to be a Cadillac Escalade, and unbeknownst to me, not only were they filling up the car, but also about 4 or 5 huge gas containers! But I was right behind them...on the property...unlike I would have been at the other station. This is pretty important information because as I got comfortably behind them waiting my turn, I saw the station manager go out to let the cars on the street know that they didn't have anymore gas. Wow, another huge blessing! As I pulled up to the pump, an older man on foot came with a gas container to the same pump and swiped his card to start to put gas in his container. Those that know me, know...I of course said nothing, though I was a little miffed. I just got out of my car and waited. The transaction didn't go through, he tried again and it still didn't work. As he went to go check with an attendant, I decided to go ahead and try my card, it was my pump anyway. I had no problem. He came back over and asked me in a cute little accent if I could help him. I tried to swipe his card and it still didn't take. Well, again, if you know me, I chose to offer to use my card so he could get the gas he needed. So, I swiped my card and it worked again. He was so thankful, he told me I could take the $40 he had. I wouldn't take the 40, but since he insisted, I told him I would just take $20. When he finished filling up the container it came out to $23. That worked out great! It also ended up being another blessing because, I don't normally have cash on me, and with the power out I couldn't go get money out. Also, some stores could only take cash for payment because of all the power problems. As I left the gas station I went across the way, thinking about possibly getting some food from Bertucci's. It looked a little busy, and then it hit me! I could go into Whole Foods where they have a great hot bar. I got some great food for mom and I. I also had to try some gelato. This would have to satisfy mom's ice cream craving for the night. I didn't even have to wait in line, paid for our wonderful dinner and dessert and headed back home...under trees and lines, and around fallen tree parts. We enjoyed some delicious food, and then later as we sat in the candlelit living room, bundled up, I brought out the Gelato. Mom enjoyed her Caramel Apple Gelato, and I enjoyed my Basil Gelato. Not long after we got into our cold beds and bundled up for another cold night. Will they try to have school Monday? If we don't have our lights back by then, I will not be leaving mom and Bella in a cold house all day. Only time would tell...
Thank you, Lord for so many neat blessings today! From protecting our house, allowing me to safely get around, get gas, help someone else, and get some delicious food and dessert. Even though we don't have power yet, I am enjoying the nights together sitting in the living room with mom and Bella, special times and memories.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Storm Alfred, Part 1

Yes, Storm Alfred was coming. Now don't get me wrong, this is New England, the issue was not a snowstorm in the fall. That's happened before, not a problem. The issue was the fact that there was the potential of several inches of wet, heavy snow that was going to be falling on trees that hadn't yet lost all of their fall leaves. All of this was also supposed to be accompanied by some strong winds as well, which was cause for a little concern. The concern was that it could bring some power lines down.
Well, as I stated in my last post, I was hoping to get to the mall for a little bit Saturday afternoon, but once the sleet started, I changed my mind. If I took longer in the mall than expected who knows what I would have come out to find as I tried to make my way back home. I'm not a fan of trying to drive on slick roads. Since I was already over by the mall, I just decided to head to the Chinese restaurant over that way so I could get my staple sweet and sour chicken. I was also looking forward to this specific restaurant so I could get some pineapple bubble tea with rainbow jelly! As I was inside waiting for my food, I checked Facebook and saw people commenting on the snow coming down with huge snow flakes. I looked out the window and there was just the same little bit of sleet. I looked out just a few minutes later and there were those big, huge snowflakes everyone was talking about. Those flakes were really starting to come down. By the time I got out to my car there was a pretty good little coating on it. I carefully drove home through the snow, enjoying the beauty of seeing it, not necessarily driving in it.

I made it home safely, got the cover put on the car, went inside to eat our delicious dinner, and then sat back to see what this storm would bring. Would it be as bad as they said? Between 4 and 5 that afternoon the lights went out. OK, maybe they were at least right about some power outages. I gathered together the candles, lighters, flashlights, batteries, and lanterns...just in case. It was starting to get dark and who knows how long the power would be out. Maybe it was somewhere around this time that my senses started to become truly heightened. As it started to get dark, I started lighting the candles on the mantle in the living room. I love the look of candlelight, especially when it's dark. Along with the beauty of the candles came the awesome smells from some of them that filled the house. As night came on and it started getting a little chillier in the house, we got bundled up in our pj's, blankets, gloves, etc. I got mom's radio out of her room and put it on talk radio so we could keep up with what was going on. As we sat there listening to the host of the talk radio station and the people calling in, we saw a few flashes of light. I figured it must have been a transformer that was sparking-though I'm sure some of those flashes may have been from a transformer-not long after a couple of flashes, I also heard some thunder...snow thunder. So, as we sat there watching the candlelight flickering in the room, smelling the wonderful smell of the candles, listening to the sound of the radio, bundled up to keep from getting too cold, we saw flashes possibly from transformers, and flashes of lightning and heard snow thunder. Later that night mom was needing her daily fix of ice cream even though she was quite cold. I figured we may as well indulge ourselves with some, just in case power didn't come back would have melted anyway. So we had a little ice cream. As I took Bella out to go to the bathroom before bed, there were a few good inches of snow on the ground. It was a little hard for her to get through, so thankfully we didn't stay out for long. I was a little nervous about the lightning and possible sparking transformers, so I hoped and prayed she would be quick. Once I got mom her medicine, and put her and Bella to bed, wrapped up with covers and blankets galore, I went back to blow out the candles around the house and get to bed myself. I finally got to bed, but it wasn't the peaceful sleep I was expecting that night. It had nothing to do with the cold, because once I was under my comforter and blankets with my sweatshirt on, I was fine. No, what kept me awake were the sounds I kept hearing throughout the night. As I put my head on the pillow, I kept waking up to cracking sounds, sounds of tree limbs breaking off of trees. It's hard to explain the actual craziness of the sounds, especially when they were just so constant, and seemed so close. Quite a few times during the night I would jump up to check and make sure none of them were coming down on or too near our house. We have a few trees in the backyard. Mom's bedroom is on that side of the house, so I had to check to make sure they would be safe. At one point in the night I did see a decent sized limb that fell in the backyard, but it was farther back, thankfully just missing our shed. What a wild night! Never have I experienced anything quite like that. I could only imagine what daybreak would bring...
Lord, you already knew all along what was going to happen with this storm. What a comfort, peace, and blessing to know that no matter how crazy things were all around us, you were watching over us and in control, protecting us the whole time. Help me to remember that even in other areas of my are in control, you protect and you care. Thank you!

Before the Storm

This may have to be broken up into a couple posts. There is so much that I want to share. I almost thought of breaking it up by the senses, but I think I'll just keep it in chronological order. Last Saturday started off somewhat normally. I say somewhat, because I took Bella out like I normally do. I came back in and was hoping to lay down for a few more minutes before getting up and having breakfast. Not long after, I got a text telling me that some men from my mom's church were coming over to take care of some things at our house. Our washer has been spewing water everywhere, a drain pipe was loose, an outside faucet was leaking, some steps needed to be nailed down again. So mom and I got up and tried to look as presentable as possible before they came. As I was making the eggs for our breakfast, there was a knock on the door, and the first of the men arrived, followed not long after by a couple more, and a couple more, (one being the pastor) later on. I showed them where some of the problems of concern were,and right away they got started. The carpet in the laundry room needed to come up because of being soaked by the washer. The easiest way to get it out of the house would be through the trap door which had not been opened since dad had gotten too sick to go downstairs, so it had been a while. And I was too scared to even begin to open it. The brave men got it open and it wasn't as scary as I thought. There were no creatures living under the steps or hidden in the door or walls, and the steps were still in good working condition which had been another concern of mine...good to know! Though, if I can help it, I will not be opening that door or testing the steps out again anytime soon without someone else being there. The soaking wet carpets were brought out, and the washing machine was checked out. The reason for all of the water was found to be a small hole in the bottom of the tub of the washer. The hole probably could have been patched up, but the men decided to get a washing machine that had been sitting in the shed of the church for a few months, and seemed to be in good working condition, and give that one to us. They took our old one and put it in the shed at the church. They are going to see if one of the men of the church could fix it, and hold on to it for someone else in the future who may need it. So that morning we got a "new" washing machine. The wet, moldy carpet had been removed, the drain pipe was fixed, the faucet to the outside turned off to keep it from dripping needlessly (saving us money). A couple of other things were left to finish up for another day, and with other men that would be able to better help with those. What a blessing to have all of these things done by wonderful men of God who wanted to be a help to us. Men who expected nothing in return than just the knowledge that they were doing God's work for God's people, following Scripture. They left in the early afternoon after having worked very hard. What a blessing to be so well taken care of and loved by these people!
I had planned to go to the mall quickly after they left, but by the time they left and I was ready to go, sleet was starting to come down...the sleet that was supposed to just be the start of a possible huge storm. October??? Huge October??? Sounds crazy doesn't it? Well, it ended up being much crazier than any of us expected. Alfred was coming...
Lord, thank you so much for your constant provision for us. Thank you for these men who just wanted to be a blessing! Bless them for being a blessing to us! Also, thank you for allowing these things to be taken care of before the craziness of the storm came. You were right on time, as you always are, though so often I have trouble with that. Help me to trust your timing and your knowledge for what we need when we need it.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Back to blogging!

What a long and crazy week it has been around here! I have never experienced anything like it, ever. I am so excited after a week and a day to be able to finally get back to blogging! I have really been missing it...not just writing, but also reading the blogs that I have the great privilege of following. I can't wait to get back to reading some of the posts I have missed. I also can't wait to write some. There is so much in my mind right now. There were so many senses that were affected this week. Things that I look forward to sharing: sights, sounds, smells, feelings- both physical and emotional- that were experienced this week. I know people are calling it winter storm, and I know it brought very wintery precipitation, but it's still fall, so FALL storm Alfred brought about some interesting memories that I will look forward to sharing soon! So great to be back to blogging!!
Lord, thank you for helping us make it through this storm safely, and allowing me some very special memories with mom and Bella.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Missing blogging

Really missing blogging right now! Hope to get back to it again soon, when I have power.