Tuesday morning, I woke up early and checked the weather on my phone. The temperature read “-0”. In other words, negative zero degrees F. “Negative zero? What does that even mean? Is it, like, colder than regular zero?”
What a drag. We’d been in a deep freeze for five days already. One of the two tankless-water-heater intake lines had frozen so we had no hot water at that end of the house.
Brent, concerned about sensor batteries, had moved two of our bikes inside from the garage. Then all the rest of them.
Two inches of ice encrusted the swimming pool. Rolling blackouts kept us guessing (unlike some friends and family, our outages have been fairly short with a couple of hours in between). Only about four inches of snow had fallen, but swirling wind had piled it a foot deep–in front of the garage door.
I mean, we were okay–we had food, water, and heat–but kept busy trying to stay ahead of everything. Instead of going out through the patio door and letting all that 12-degree air inside, we took to exiting via the garage, which stayed above 40 degrees. This saved a lot of heat. Brent dubbed it “the airlock.”
First Brent, then I spent part of the midmorning shoveling snow. This was actually kind of fun.
As long as I never have to do it again.
Late that afternoon, Brent took a hair dryer and extension cord to warm up the water line. About the time he collected and hooked everything up and removed the cover from the water heater, the power shut off.
Meanwhile, I’d started dinner. In one pan, my lucky special barbecue beans simmered. When the electricity shut off I’d just pulled out the griddle to cook the burgers.
Fortunately, I knew the old-school way to light the gas stove with a match. Too bad I couldn’t turn on the vent fan. I decided NOT to grill the onion slices I’d cut earlier.
I’d flipped the burgers and was slicing a tomato when Brent asked me for an old towel to use as extra insulation for the water heater, since he had the cover off anyway. “Sure, I’ve got a couple upstairs.” I ran up to my stash and came back with a suitably faded, scruffy towel, which he took outside.
Back to the stove to check… wait, that smells like– Sure enough, a bit of smoke drifted above the griddle, right through the splash cover. “Oh crud…” I hustled that skillet out to the garage like I was a bouncer and it was a 13-year-old who’d sneaked into a nightclub.
Too late. The nearest smoke alarm gave a couple of experimental whoops and then launched into its earsplitting tirade. Great. How do I turn it off? I’d run into a similar problem before and was not optimistic, even if a tall enough ladder had been handy.
I left the slightly charred beef patties (griddle and all) in the garage and went back in, covering my ears. No way to hush the stupid alarm until the smoke dissipates. But how, with no vent fan?
Desperate, I opened the patio door and swung it back and forth, fanning that 12-degree air into my own kitchen.
So much for the airlock.
Moments later, the smoke alarm blared less urgently, then tapered off to a few last whoops.
Blessed quiet. The Monty Python skit was over. Wisely, I refrained from asking, “What else could possibly go wrong?”
Please don’t think I’m complaining. In fact, I had to laugh at the comedy of errors. After all, we at least had power most of the time and weren’t in any real hardship. So many people all over the state are still in serious danger. And we couldn’t get out to do anything for anyone. We can only check on our family and friends via phone, and pray.
But eventually this deep freeze will thaw and it’ll feel like Texas again. I am hopeful.
We even got to eat our well-done hamburgers.
I’d love to hear your stories or comments. There’s room for you in the box at bottom of screen.
Thanks for reading,