Saturday, February 04, 2023

Stranger In A Warm Land

Thanks to all for their patience in my responses and posting this week.  There was, of course, an adventure involved.  And thus, the rest of the story...

I had an out of business travel appointment set since the middle of January to a contractor for a project review.  This was part of a larger team.  We would leave on a Monday and return on a Wednesday.  Everything was in place and we were moving along fine.

Around last Saturday or Sunday the weather reports, which had been predicting rain and cold, suddenly began to take a turn for the worst, predicting the potential for freezing weather and ice.  Even by Monday, when we were getting ready to leave, things were still not in alarm mode but the temperature was falling.  

As it turns out, I may have gotten out on one of the last planes to leave New Home.

Our meeting went off without a hitch - but New Home, caught in the midst of an ice storm, did not.  We followed the news, got updates from spouses and coworkers of the low temperatures, building ice, and resulting power losses and falling branches.

All of this, while we continued to "endure" the weather in San Diego.

Our flights home Wednesday were either canceled by Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning; like other refugees we rebooked our flights - and then needed to find a new hotel.  Four of us were stuck in town for another day and headed 5 miles up the road for one more night.  Fortunately we were already all accomplished in working remotely and continued to manage ourselves even though we were a ways from home.

For An Taigh Thoirdhealbheach Beucail, everyone was okay.  School was canceled as was work, and so everyone sheltered in place.  Apparently they lost power Wednesday night which was not restored until Thursday afternoon (doubly fortunately, we have one of those almost illegal gas stoves, so they were able to cook).  Other than the cold and the popping and crashing branches, no serious harm done.

I arrived home Thursday night and thus could not look at the trees until yesterday afternoon.

On the "bright" side, none of our trees split down the middle, but the three major oaks near us all lost more than one branch.  And we, of course, are not the only ones - estimates are around here that up to 90% of certain kinds of trees suffered damage.

There is now a growing tunnel along the streets as the branches stack up on the side of the road.

All of these pictures are from the front.  Yesterday, I was able to get all the branches out and all but one of the fallen branches still in the trees down and cut up.  The last one is within my reach and I should be able to do it today.

If you have never seen ice-encrusted leaves, the picture below is an example:

Hard to see, but the picture below is of the major tree in the backyard.  There is one branch weighting down another one on our side of the fence.  Unfortunately it is much larger than I think I can handle and likely I will have to find someone to do the work (perhaps mysteriously, tree services are currently 60 to 90 days booked out).

A couple of interesting lessons here.  The first is simply that being out when any kind of major event happens - a not great one - is something worth planning for.  Even if it is a regionalized issue, both you and the folks back at home may essentially be "on your own" (so remember to pack extra socks and underwear).  The second, of course, is to accept what you can and cannot control.

After all, I was pretty much a victim of circumstance.


  1. Tough break, TB! Glad all was well at home.

    1. Leigh, we endure what we must. We were very fortunate - oddly enough, this was far more damaging to our trees than the major ice storm two years ago.

  2. Nylon125:45 AM

    An adventure! Not quite like Mr. Baggins in There and Back Again but one, nonetheless........ :) Excellent points on what to pack also. Good to hear folks back home survived and look, talking about trees again! Might have to play a short session of Minecraft later today.

    1. Nylon12 - I am going back and revisiting a number of ways we could "improve" for next time. Every emergency, we get a little better.

      And yes - we are talking about trees again. Almost as if we are getting a message...

  3. That ice. I remember tough times in Lubbock county when it would ice over. Trees were few, but mostly around houses, so the damage potential was there. I remember losing telephone service more than power. Glad you basically skated on damage.

    1. STxAR, the big issue here (beyond just the trees) is that most of the electric in the older parts of town are still overhead, so they are affected by ice and falling things. As of this morning, we still had acquaintances that were without power (since Wednesday).

  4. This kind of thing used to happen on Long Island every few years. I can indeed put myself in your shoes!

    The weather you "endured" in San Diego was also unseasonably cool. I live... somewhere in the surrounding area,... and it's been on the cool side; fireplace-worthy, in fact. It's better than slipping on the ice though... Your trees didn't end up on your house... That was a good thing...

    1. Pete, one of our party was from Wisconsin and basically wore shorts the whole time we were not in business garb. It was definitely coolish in the morning, but pleasant after that.

      All the branches are cleaned up except for three that are rather firmly lodged in the trees and exceed our ability to remove them.

  5. They can pry my gas stove top from my wheezing asthmatic hands!

    I've often wondered why there is so much tree damage during events like that. Is it just that the trees are weak compared to their northern brethren, not being used to such loads, or that ours have just been "pruned" by our frequent ice events over the years that all that remains are strong limbs. One thing for sure, after such events, firewood is hard to give away as it is plentiful everywhere.

    1. Ed, mine as well. One of my few "complaints" about the Ranch is that it currently has an fancy electric stove tabletop unit (I should check to see if there is a gas line available underneath - knowing my father, there probably is). If I have gas, I can at least always boil water.

      Why the trees seem to "fail" has been a thought and a discussion as well. It seems like certain kinds of trees - oaks, for example - seem more prone to it than others. A possible reason (maybe, I am no arborist) is that with oaks keep their leaves in the Winter, thus giving more surface area for the ice to build up on.

      Sadly, most of the branches do not even constitute much for firewood; more likely to be chipped up and used as mulch.

  6. Your victimhood is noted, TB. I'm glad your family was safe and fared okay; glad they're toasty again.

    One winter when we had only one little one and hubs was on a business trip, we suffered a once-in-a-lifetime ice storm. Power was out for days, maybe the better part of a week. I tried to stay and just endure because once the damage was done it started warming up. But after spending a day and one night there without a working furnace, I got out of dodge before nightfall the next day. If I remember correctly I went to stay with my inlaws - which only makes sense as they were an hour closer than my folks' home.

    At our new place, with a gas fireplace and a gas stove, I'm thinking we should manage okay if power is down temporarily in the winter. We have an electric pump on the well, though, so we'd have to depend on stocked water. Which reminds me... I ought to fill up some more of the empty gallon milk containers I've insisted hubs not recycle. Ice season isn't behind us yet.

    1. Thank you Becki. I feel validated.

      This has been the second "event" in a two year period. The really remarkable thing is even as late as Sunday, they were treating it as no big deal. It was only on Monday (literally as it was happening) that things seemed to become alarming.

      We are on a gas furnace and electric blower. Our water is through the Municipal system, so we usually have it (as long at the power does not give out at the pump plants).

      We are definitely (and again) revisiting preparations for storms. We can do some things differently (like me not be out of town, for example.

  7. Glad everyone is safe.
    We have indeed seen leaves and branches with ice. A crystal winter wonderland.
    You all be safe and God bless.


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