Friday, July 14, 2017

Frozen words

It’s winter, it gets cold. It also snows in places where it snows. And sometimes we have bad storms. It can happen any winter, or every winter, but that doesn’t mean anyone has to like it, and I don’t. This week’s winter storms have been especially unpleasant, and the fact it’s all so ordinary changes absolutely nothing. I hate being cold.

The problem for us was a weather system bringing up cold air from the Antarctic combined with plenty of moisture and strong winds. The specific weather varied widely form place to place—snow in the South Island, hurricane-strength winds in the Wellington region, and winds and rain here in Auckland. And, of course, very cold weather everywhere.

In our specific area, the temperatures were cold by Auckland standards, but not by the standards of places that get worse winters. Still, we don’t live in those other places—we live here, and this is the winter we know.

The coldest night, Wednesday, it dropped to 5 degrees (41F), and that’s pretty cold for Auckland (though not the coldest I’ve experienced even here). Thursday the high reached around 10 (50F), which it was today, too. These temperatures, thought they’re cold for Auckland, felt much colder because the air was damp from the rain and the winds were very strong.

Our heavy wooden gate across our driveway blew open when the force of the wind forced a loose screw out enough for the latch to ocme loose. It nearly happened another time, too, and would have had I not been out there and checked it yesterday evening. This evening when I went out to pick up takeaways, the screw was almost completely removed. The gate only remained closed because the wood had swelled with all the rain and it was basically stuck closed.

All of that was an inconvenience, but there was more.

Yesterday afternoon, the power went off at about 4:40pm. This was annoying, because I all out heating is electric, and so is our stove and hot water. The power went off just as I was about to make myself a cup of coffee—that was the annoyance.

I realised that without power, the temperature in the house would drop pretty fast. However, I’d taken banana bread out of the oven only a few minutes before, so I opened the oven door to let the heat out, and that really did help.

By this time, I pulled out my phone and checked the Facebook Group for our area (cellphone towers usually have independent power), and found out the power was out all over the area. And then someone asked if the water was out. I checked and ours was, and then I found out (also from that group) that the water to our area depends on local pumps, and without power, the pumps didn’t work, so we had no water.

So, without power, there was no heat or lights, no cooking facilities, and no water, either. This was a first for me.

When we lived on Auckland’s North Shore, the power went out a handful of times over those more than 17 years, usually because of an accident somewhere, like a car hitting a transformer, and not because of weather. Still, when it did happen, we never lost water. And, since we had a gas hob (cooktop), I could boil water for a coffee and could cook. This is why the power outage was so unusual.

The power came back on in about 25 minutes, and apart from clearing the air from the water lines and taps, there wasn’t much to do to put things back to normal. The result of this is that we need to revamp our emergency plans: We need to have a much larger supply of drinking water (we dumped everything we had at the old house, which was due to be replaced). This will mean we can raid the supplies for a brief outage without dipping into our Get Thru supplies. We also need to find our little butane camp stove so we have cooking facilities (in this case, we couldn't have used our BBQ, because the weather and winds were just too bad). The fatc is, you never know when it’ll happen again, or how long it will last if it does, so best to be prepared for even short events.

The loss of power and water was an unusual twist to this winter storm, but there was one other: It was far too cold in my office to spend any time there, so yesterday I never even turned my computer on. I was there for a little while today, really just to catch up on email, but I knew blogging was out of the question.

So, here I am at my Macbook upstairs in the warmth. I put some files in the cloud so if it’s still cold tomorrow, I’ll have easy access to the things I may want to blog about. Or, not.

The thing is, I may not feel like blogging if the weather hasn’t changed tomorrow. I hate being cold.


rogerogreen said...

So is it that you don't like the cold? My sisters, of course, grew up in Binghamton, but they've been in SoCal and NC for so long that they don't do well in it either.

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

It IS the cold, and the older I get the less tolerance I have for it—actually, for a great many things. I didn't like the snow when I was a kid, especially not a few days after the snow fell, when snow piles on the side of the street started turning yellow, with brown logs laid on the flat areas near the sidewalks, and eventually everything started icing over, then it became covered in grey and black grit and dirt. This is why I don't like snow.

But I also thought cold was pointless without snow. Still, I had friends who claimed to prefer cold because they could always add more layers of clothes. "When it's hot," they said, "you can only take off so much clothes in public before getting arrested." While there's a certain logic to that statement, I always thought it was nonsense because I've always found it easier to cool off than warm up.