preview of the apocalypse
Sunday, February 6 2022
It was down to something like one degree Fahrenheit this morning, so the ice covering the world didn't seem to be going anywhere. And not only did we still not have power, but the time power was predicted to be back on had been moved to Monday evening. It was looking like I'd actually have to go to the Red Hook office if I wanted to get started on my workweek.
This morning, Powerful, Gretchen, and I went with the dogs down to Ray and Nancy's house so we could get some 21st Century amenities. Ray and Nancy had power, which meant they also had water, though at some point they'd lost internet service. Their backyard was full of the carcasses of fallen trees and branches, all of it still glittering beneath an all-covering skin of ice. In their house, we immediately plugged all our devices into various powerstrips and then Nancy started making toast and oatmeal. There was also a pot of coffee made in a strange dual-tower Oxo brewing machine. My breakfast consisted mostly of avocado toast, since I've never liked oatmeal (or, as Nancy's mother calls it, "porridge"). As usual, our conversation was a steady stream of punchline-heavy anecdotes, starting with several Ray told me about people from various ethnicities embarrassed by having to do something in public with a food stereotypically associated with their ethnicity. Later we had a good chuckle about the use of the oriental riff to introduce (with typical crude American insensitivity) any Asian theme. I mentioned that it had even briefly appeared as a lick in the song "Wuhan Flu" from Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. Ray had brought out a tool by Dewalt that was like a heavy-duty battery-powered Dremel, and he'd occasionally spin it up to the annoyance of both Neville and Nancy. He and I had a fairly long conversation about tools, which has become a recent interest of his. He says he's tired of painting (after being prolific for several years now) and wants to start making sculpture.
After Gretchen had taken a shower and we'd drunk something like two pots of coffee, the three of us returned back to our still-unelectrified house on Hurley Mountain. In the several hours we'd been away, the house had cooled down substantially, and we were all a little miserable for the couple hours it took to get the living room back to a comfortable temperature.
At around that time, I noticed that our outage on the Central Hudson outage map now featured an icon of a hardhat on it, meaning repair crews had arrived and were working. This suggested to me that we'd be getting power restored in a couple hours or so. First, though, they would have to fallen debris from the lines in several places, including on the Farm Road. So I was very happy when I heard the beeping of large trucks and saw a crew headed up the Farm Road.
By this point, Gretchen had decided that just she and I should go on a "date" down in New Paltz to check out a new Indian restaurant called Krishna Kitchen and also visit our old college friend Kristen, who has lived in New Paltz nearly her entire life. I liked the idea of Indian food and definitely was happy to spend some time in a place not heated by our woodstove. So at about 5:30pm, we left in the Forester with me driving.
The roadways still had the feel of a war zone, with lots of places where cut-up trees lay on the shoulder or even poked out into the lane. The quickest way for us to get to New Paltz is via Dewitt Mills Road to Route 32 and then south. But when we got to Lucas Avenue, we found a car with blinking blue lights and a barricade set up, suggesting that Dewitt Mills Road was impassable. So I drove us south on Lucas with the idea of taking Binnewater to Rosendale. When we found a barricade at the north end of Binnewater, I decided to drive around it and see if we could get through anyway. The road south of the barricade was in bad shape, with trees out in the road with just enough of a cut for a single vehicle to get through. At some point we drove over a downed electrical wire (it was clearly dead, so I wasn't worried about it, though it immediately had Gretchen thinking this was a preview of the apocalypse). Eventually we came upon two Central Hudson arm trucks that were completely blocking Binnewater, and we didn't want to interfere with their much more important work, so I turned us around and drove back to Lucas, and we managed to get over to a better stretch of Binnewater further down via Cottekill Road. From there, the drive to New Paltz was almost normal.
Krishna Kitchen is run like a buffet, though your options are more limited. You pick a rice, a protein, three vegetables, and a sauce, and an employee spoons it into a bowl and hands it to you (kind of like Chipotle). Much like a buffet, though, the food felt dry and listless, like it had been sitting out exposed to the air for a long time. I thought it was a fairly dismal Indian food experience, though it's possible we got there when the food was in an especially bad state. Still, there were a fair number of people dining there this evening, though they mostly looked to be college kids. While there, we also picked up something for Powerful, though not a standard bowl, since it wouldn't really have the things he would want. I thing Gretchen might've gotten him a couple of samosas instead.
Next stops was Kristen's house, where we found her with one of her daughters. Eventually the other daughter came downstairs. Both are mature and funny and had some amusing tales from the perspective of two teenagers living in covid times. One, for example, had experience a "drive-through birthday." They also both made it clear that they'd been learning things for the past two school years, but these were not things from anything resembling a conventional school curriculum. A further point of depression-tinged amusement is that one of their friends has a mother who has been completely swallowed by anti-vax conspiracy theories, having arrived at it from the left, not the right. (This mother used to drive a car she'd modified to resemble Bernie Sanders.) Both Kristen and one of her daughters recently had covid (presumably the Omicron variant) and it hadn't been bad (the daughter had experienced no symptoms at all). Meanwhile, Kristen's husband Taffa has been in Senegal since December, and when he heard that his wife and one of his daughters had corona, he freaked out; one of his good friends had been one of the earliest to die in the epidemic.
On the drive back home to Hurley, I opted to drive us all the way up to Dewitt Mills Road on Route 32 and then to attempt to drive westward on that despite the barricade. In stretches back there, the road hadn't been cleared of sleet and snow and again we encountered places where only enough of a tree had been removed for a single vehicle to get through. And in one place I had to swerve a bit to avoid a low-hanging wire. But ultimately it was passable, at least for an all-wheel-drive vehicle driven by someone who was paying attention. We appeared at Lucas from behind the barricade and the vehicle with the blinking blue lights. It was still there, evidently to advertise how treacherous Dewitt Mills still was.
Back at the house, as Powerful had already informed us, the power was back on. Our second-longest power outage ever was finally over after about sixty hours. Now that I no longer had to be in the living room area for heat, I wanted to retreat into the laboratory and be all by myself (ideally without cats, but of course Oscar had other ideas). Gretchen was eager to watch Jeopardy!, but I was so hungry to be alone that she had to end up watching it by herself.
The indoor scene this afternoon during the power outage via the wide-angle lens on my phone. Powerful is in the foreground and Gretchen is bundled up on the red couch. Diane the Cat is there too. Click to enlarge.
The indoor scene this afternoon during the power outage via the wide-angle lens on my phone. Ramona is in the foreground and Powerful (with Celeste the Cat in his lap) and Diane the Cat are in the background. Click to enlarge.
The indoor scene this afternoon during the power outage via the wide-angle lens on my phone. Neville and my legs are in the foreground, Powerful (with Celeste the Cat in his lap) is in the background. Click to enlarge.
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