Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Weekend

I'm getting ready to leave Michael's here in Lexington, SC early tomorrow morning.  Figure I'll be in Jensen Beach, FL by not later than 5pm.  It has been an interesting visit here.

On Thanksgiving Day I went fishing with Michael at the lake behind his girlfriend, Meredith's, house. . .  My big catch:

This resident of the lake was 'adopted' by Meredith's neighbor.  They leave a dish of cracked corn out for her.  She honks loudly.

Mikey's catch-of-the-day. . .

Friday, November 23, 2012

Wednesday, Novermbert 21st

Okay, so I was up at 6am on this morning, and hit the road at 7:10am. . .  Stopped every two hours to get out of the car and stretch.

Stopped to eat lunch here, just outside Darlington, SC.  The sign told me to!
NASCAR country. . . .  Darlington's water tank.

Made it to Mikey's in the early afternoon.  He took me to his school.  This is the garden outside his classroom:

He uses it as an aid to teach Spanish. . .
 He's also making eight raised garden bed-frames in a separate site at the school. . . .  One for each grade - pre-K thru 5th plus special ed. - in the school.  The wood for the frames was supplied by R.H.Smith Lumberyard, a local West Columbia business that contributed it free of charge.  The topsoil/compost for it is being supplied by the City of Columbia, compliments of Mayor Steve Benjamin, a friend of Mikey's.  The Carolina Springs Elementary School PTO's parents are volunteering their time to do the actual construction and to work on the project long-term (weeding, watering, etc.)

This is a virtual tour of his garden in front of his classroom again, that inspired the bigger project:
You have to copy and paste the link into your browser address window to view it, but you'll see an interesting bit of the use of the garden to get the kids involved in speaking Spanish.

 The teacher and his classroom. . .   I've been here before, but I'm impressed every time!

On the Road Again. . . Tuesday, November 20th

I'm visiting Michael and his Meredith (and Gabi & Piper) for Thanksgiving, enroute to a few weeks' house-hunting expedition in Florida.  Left home on Tuesday, Nov. 20th at 5am.  (Neighbor Rocky gave me some good advice, telling me to leave extra-early to avoid the New York rush hour traffic!)

Here's where I was on Tuesday:

Stopped by Jamie and Jessica's old place in Middle River, Maryland that they have been renting out, now that they live in California.  I was going to check with his tenants there for him to see that everything there was okay, since there had been a problem with the furnace. . . .  but he later told me that it was just as well that I didn't do so.  Place looks same as always.  Last time I was here was about 5 or 6 years ago. . . .

Later on, at the rest stop in Virginia with the Tourist Welcome Center, I got a couple of cute girls to take my photo by telling them that since Virginia is for lovers and since I'm a Virgo, I just had to have them snap my photo here (actually, a lot of folks stopping at this rest stop had their pix taken here!). . . .

Reached my motel in North Richmond, VA at a little after 3pm.  This is where I had dinner, next-door.   Ohhhh, We Got TROUBLE, Right Here In . . . . 

Left the motel at 7am Wednesday. . . .  Continuing on to Michael's in Lexington, SC. . . .  See the next posting!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Preventive Incursion

About a half-dozen tree-trimming crews showed up here this morning.  Two of their trucks parked in front of my house.

In a thick Kentucky accent, the boss asked me for permission to go into the backyard, which I - of course - said yes to.  When they got there, they set right to work:

This fella was actually next-door, trimming tree at neighbors Suzanne & Pete's:

 These two, Bill & Jim, made casual conversation with big Kentucky drawls as they worked on trees above my backyard shed. . .

So now, we are all ready for the next big storm.  Mission Accomplished.  Bring it on, Mother Nature.

Monday, November 12, 2012


The tree trunks and limbs and branches were finally hauled off this morning:

 Another job well-done by the Smithtown Department of Sanitation.

Only the bagged leaves remain at the curb this morning.  They'll be taken by the usual leaf-collection garbage truck sometime soon.

Friday, November 9, 2012

#$%^&*! and Tim-berrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Got outside and sawed down the evergreen out front this afternoon. 

Just as I was starting to saw, a Smithtown road crew that was picking up the branches and trunks left at the curb on earlier days shows up!  Great. . . .  These guys are here too soon.  They picked up a lot of the branches I'd left at the curb from the backyard tree, but didn't take the trunk pieces from it, nor any of the bagged branches or - of course - any of the 15 or so bags of leaves.

I asked one of the guys if they'd be back again sometime soon to pick up the pieces of the tree I was just starting to work on.  He said they'd probably be back, but he couldn't say exactly when. 

I wait 12 days for a utility crew to reconnect my power and only one day after that the Sanitation Department is here picking up the tree trunks and branches. . . .  this is so untypical for the Sanitation Department here.  Long Island Power Authority is slow (understandably); Town Of Smithtown is fast (faster than I would have thought). . . .  So I'll hafta stare at a lot of stuff piled at my curb for awhile, while all of my neighbors now have nice, clean, neat-looking curbsides.  Arrrrrgh!  Oh well, I should NOT complain. . . .  my two trees were nowhere near the size of the others in the neighborhood that came down.

And power - happily - was restored here yesterday at sometime before 1pm.  I've really got nothing to complain about at all now.  Life has returned to normal.  Yayyyyyyyyy!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

But WAIT, there's MORE

Four inches of very wet snow fell overnite.  My patience is being tested, very much.  Still no power.  They say 267,000 outages remain in Nassau and Suffolk counties this morning.  I only have Internet because I have a little bit of electricity via the generator hookup and the Cablevision service was restored two days ago.  Indoor temp when I got up this morning was 48.  Staying warm keeping 2 burners on the gas cooktop going.

The snow has brought me some more tree work.  If this one doesn't come down of its own accord, I will have to take it down:

They're saying on the radio that the snow will stop very soon and that the sun will come out and we'll have a high of 40 to 45 degrees today, 50 to 55 tomorrow, high 50s Saturday and Sunday and in the mid-60s on Monday.  Always good to have something to look forward to!  Florida is looking better and better.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Nine and a half days, and counting. . .

Still have no power here tonight, tho about half of the neighborhood does now.  I'm taking this as a sign that I'll have it back sometime tomorrow.  Of course, once that Nor'easter they're predicting hits here sometime tomorrow all bets are off.

Walked the neighborhood with camera in-hand yesterday afternoon and took photos of some more downed trees.  All of these photos were taken within a 4-block radius of my house.  I talked with the fella who had the tree fall on his car; he was taking it pretty well.

Here's the latest crop of fallen greenery:

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Sandy Blast

 I'm at sis-in-law Liz's on afternoon of Saturday, November 3rd as I write this.  She has had power for the last 2 days.  Not so for me tho.  I'll be going home to my not-so-warm house again tonight.  They say that power might not be restored for another 9 days yet.

Anyway, just for comparison sake, the above photo is what the middle of my backyard looked like just last Saturday.  Below is what it looked like by Tuesday morning:

Taking a look over the fence, we see what neighbor Tony Trafficante lost:
 It hit his fence, but not - thank God - his house.

 Meanwhile, back on my side, I had some chain-sawing to do.  Not much of a spindly little tree, but enough to keep me busy for awhile.

"The Giving Tree"


 Rooted not too firmly.

 The "new" backyard.  Compare it to the first photo, above.

 Meanwhile, out front - across the street - a tree in the yard behind neighbor Rocky's place came down putting a sizable sag in the line.
 London Bridge is Falling Down.  The sagging line that everyone had to drive under to get further into the development.

 Neighbors Suzanne and Pete lost one in their front yard. Pete also took a direct hit on the windshield of his Jeep, from a branch off of a curbside tree.  Safelite came the very next day, tho, and repaired it right there in the street.

 Taking a spin around the block on Tuesday afternoon, enroute to Ruthann's I came across this "tree growing in the middle of the street."

 Here it is "close-up". . .  just around the corner from me, on Essex St.

 Turning the corner from Essex on to Renssaelaer, the road that exits my development onto Commack Rd. But there's even more trees down - 3 biggies - within the one block yet to go to reach Commack Rd.

 Swerving around "tree number one" within that stretch.

 Tree number two, dead ahead.  I was so swerving so much by now that I missed getting a photo of that 3rd one, which was one of the biggest of them all.

 Made it to Ruthie's and she was chit-chatting with neighbor Brian, having cleared away a lot of limbs with the help of one of her other neighbors.  I stayed awhile and helped saw up a bit more of what still remains.  Tree had come down across her driveway and if she'd parked her car in its "NORMAL" place in the driveway it would've become a piece of scrap metal.

 Back home again.  That sagging line in the street is now 'flagged.'  Kinda small flags, tho, don'tcha think?

 Town of Smithtown tree-trimming crew at work on that tree on Thursday.  They say that the linesmen will be back "in a few days" to reconnect the wires.

 Suz and Pete brought in an even _bigger_ RV to supply more power.  They left the first one in the driveway running too.  I owe them big-time.

 Another shot of the tree down in front of Suz and Pete's. . . .  after Fire Department trimmed the branches that were hanging onto the street.

Heavy-hauler. The town crew brought the tractor-trailer along to haul away any tree trunks or bigger limbs.

I lost electricity last Sunday at 1pm. I immediately switched to a generator in my neightbor's RV camper she had parked in her driveway ("Hey Bob, throw me an orange extension cord and I'll give you some power.") So I ran the 'fridge a lamp and Internet, cable TV and home land-line phone until they crapped out on me by Monday morning. Am still without the power, but using the RV generator have fridge and light. I heat up my food on the stove (gas) and closing the doors to all of the rooms in the house other than the kitchen and living room it keeps me warm enough. I plug an electric blanket into the generator extension cord at night, too. Temps at night have been in the high 30s at night.

Trees down all over the neighborhood. . . . lots of them _huge_ and torn out by the _roots_, but  I only lost one small tree - as you can see abovre - (about 20 feet tall) which I cut up myself using my small chain saw.

In the past 6 days I've only seen _one_ utility truck go thru the neighborhood, and he didn't even slow down. They say it could take up to 2 weeks for everyone to get power back. They're concentrating efforts on the south shore, where whole neighborhoods were destroyed. "100,000 homes devastated," according to yesterday's Newsday front page.

Right now I'm visiting sis-in-law Liz in Bergenfield, NJ for the day. The drive over here via Long Island Expressway and Cross Bronx Expressway went _very_ smoothly. The reason for that is the fact that everyone is conserving gasoline by keeping their cars off the road. There are more cars lined up at gas stations than _on_ the road! Half the gas stations are closed because without electricity the pumps to power the gas pumps don't work.  The lines at gas stations are up to a mile long and the waits have gone to 8 hours in some instances - no exaggeration. Here in New Jersey they have National Guardsmen helping line up the cars at the gas stations. . . . And I'm sure they're helping prevent the fistfights that they say were happening in the lines earlier in the week. I'm lucky that I have a Toyota Prius hybrid and smart that I gassed her up last Saturday. . . . I'm down only a tenth of a tank, even after driving over here to NJ.

On the drive over here we passed four long convoys of utility trucks from out-of-state heading eastward. I could only make out the name of one of the companies - Sumter Utilities, which I think must be from South Carolina. There already are linemen here from as far away as California - a couple of whom had their photos in this morning's Newsday as they were up it the cherry-picker buckets working.

And now the bad news: They're predicting a Nor'Easter for Wednesday and Thursday of next week with winds of about 50mph. The fun is only just beginning!

I feel lucky and blessed, tho, considering the homes totally destroyed and the lives lost not so far away from here.  Good to have good neighbors, friends and family at times like this.