87 No-Power Hours

We are now closing in on 5 days—we’re actually at the 87-hour mark—without electricity. (I’m dictating this blog entry to my virtuous [inserted by editor] husband at work.) I’ve been scouring the newspaper, the paper newspaper, for power-outage tips: Turn off or unplug sensitive electronic equipment, blah, blah, blah.

Not being one of the power-priviliged, I’ve also discovered a few of my own:

  • Candles not only light up a dark corner of the kitchen (I get very S.A.D. without light), but they can be a great de-stressing aromatherapy fix.
  • The mall has power—-so (yay!) I could blow-dry my hair using the oh-so-powerful hand dryers in the restrooms.
  • Order ice water at Chick-Fil-A in the food court, where we had breakfast, and you can take the cups of ice home to your cooler.
  • Mostly melted popsicles make great smoothies. (Just add milk; use wooden sticks to stir.)
And lastly, cars are great havens for cell phone charging, AC, and books-on-CD for the kids. We happen to be listening to the ever resourceful Tom Sawyer. Maybe he’ll offer some 19th century-style tips as well.


We’ve been without power for 38 hours now. To find out what was going on in the world (School on Monday?), we couldn’t check online, or turn on the local news, and AM radio (WBAL) had gone back to baseball. So we had to go down the street and actually ask a neighbor. Luckily, the grapevine is still working just fine.

The Panic Before the Storm

I love watching shoppers prepare for a storm, partly to see what they consider  “emergency items.”

What, for example, is up with all the milk? Or frozen food? Isn’t  the main worry in most places simply power outages? These are some of the things on my list pre-Hurricane Irene: batteries (bought early at the slightest mention of a storm), bread (already cleaned out by today), peanut butter & jelly (industrial size–we won’t starve at least), ice (3 bags), and, of course, jugs of water.

  • A few more essentials:  A bag of Granny Smith apples and other fresh fruit
  •  A Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate Bar from Trader Joe’s
  •  Wild pink salmon in peel-up cans (TJs) & crackers.
  •  Cans of Sterno (Two; I should probably get more, but the stuff scares me).
  •  Four gallons of bleach, one bottle rubbing alcohol, two large hand sanitizer bottles (hurricanes and floods get messy, and so do semi- or non-working showers and toilets).
  •  One box Hostess Ho-Hos snack cakes.
  •  A Spider Sense Spiderman Jumbo Coloring & Activity book for my son and Moments in History Word Find book for my daughter. Posterboard. Library books. Anything that can be utilzed by  daylight or flashlight.
  •  And, lastly, hot dogs, waterproof matches, and the makings of ‘smores  (more chocolate!) in case we need to make a campfire in the back yard.
So, what’s on your list?

‘Cane vs. Quake

So where are the Four Horseman? I was talking to a friend of mine, a news editor in  South Florida, earlier this week; she described the newsroom debate over whether to lead with the hurricane or earthquake story that day. Hurricane Irene was veering off to the east of storm-weary Florida, and heading north. I told her about our Tuesday earthquake woes, and thought we were in the clear. Oh, Maryland, my Maryland. My weather worries made The Baltimore Sun today http://www.baltimoresun.com, with a letter to the editor. 

After the Quake

  • I noticed late yesterday that the big picture over our couch was tilted.
  • And I wondered, was  that from the earthquake or the playdate my son had with his friend, another five-year-old boy, earlier that morning? With all of the swordplay, misbehaving puppies role play, and couch acrobatics I wasn’t sure.
  • “Did you get all of that boy energy out?” my friend asked when she picked up her son. She too knows about the colliding plate tectonics of boys in action: more than a few things might topple during such two-hour events of no- so-little-earthquakes of another sort.

Earthquake Rocks My World

So now I have to worry about earthquakes too!??

Check out what happened moments ago in our area, actually the whole East Coast:

A 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered northwest of Richmond, Va., shook much of Washington, D.C., and was felt as far north as Rhode Island and New York City.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was 3.7 miles deep. Shaking was felt at the White House and all over the East Coast, as far south as Chapel Hill, N.C. Parts of the Pentagon, White House and Capitol were evacuated. The quake was in Mineral, Va., in Louisa County. — ABCnews.com

Our entire house outside Baltimore shook. I was resting in front of the TV and thought my son was shaking the couch. Half asleep, I looked around and heard a whrrrrrrr sound and glass rattling. I looked outside because I thought there was a tornado (we’ve had to worry about those in the Mid-Atlantic region lately too!) but it was sunny. I opened the basement door to listen for our furnace, thinking maybe it was ready to blow. Finally, my son and I switched on The Weather Channel and caught the breaking news, just in: Earthquake Rocks Washington, D.C.

Cell phones were tied up. I got hold  of my husband, who led the evacuation out of his high-rise office building downtown. Funny thing is: I left Florida partly because of hurricanes, after witnessing the devastation of Hurricane Andrew. I’ve stayed away from my husband’s hot native state of Texas partly because of tornadoes. And I always felt a twinge of relief that I didn’t live in sunny California either.

Maybe this shake-up will allow me to follow the sun, because the earth under my feet is no longer solid, or so stolid.

Go, Scary Mommy

Just saw that the brilliantly funny Scary Mommy blog has hit the traditional publishing arena–A great example of a blog-to-book deal for Baltimorite Jill Smokler. (Her book, “Confessions of a Scary Mommy” (Simon & Schuster) is due out next Mother’s Day).

I’m not jealous. Really, I’m not.

As the Scary Mommy Manifesto goes: “I shall not compete with the mother who effortlessly bakes from scratch, purees her own baby food, or fashions breathtaking costumes from tissue paper. Motherhood is not a competition. The only ones who lose are the ones who race the fastest.”