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Running From Zombies

I don't know what day it is. Let me think about it. Yes. Ok. It's Thursday. I've been on the run for four days. Four days since the end of the world as I knew it. Four days since the wicked winds of Hurricane Sandy arrived and destroyed the power grid.

Now my life has shifted into solving the “how do I” of mundane tasks. How do I get something to eat when all the food in my refrigerator has spoiled? How do I keep myself clean if I don't have running water? Where do I go to the bathroom if I cannot flush the toilet?

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Before the storm.

It boils down to that due to Hurricane Sandy, I live in a winterized cabin with no plumbing. The home I knew is gone for now-until Connecticut Light & Power has time to come to my middle class neighborhood and reconnect the line that is currently laying across the road, snaking its' way across the open woods.

The first few days weren't too bad, it was an uncomfortable flashback to last year's outage, but the nights have gotten cold. The temperature in the bedroom was in the 50's, which is not as bad as I've experienced, but it's very uncomfortable if you have to get out from under the covers. To make matters worse, the simple act of getting up to pee turns into having to get mostly undressed (at least the bottom part of any pajamas), then hover over a watering can. Yes...that's what I rigged up for myself. Its' shape is more like a pitcher so the top is open and the handle is at one end. Hovering over it with my bare feet on the cold tile, I tell myself to go ahead and pee, but my middle aged body says NO WAY. You do not just squat and pee here, you just don't do that! That's gross! But if you have not other options, what do you do? Run outside? It takes a tremendous amount of water to flush a toilet, which I was saving for “other purposes.”

Road Closed.jpg
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Only two ways out of my neighborhood. Both were blocked by fallen wires. One road was opened after less than a day, thankfully.

Eventually the task is completed. The vessel is sprayed with bleach. The contents carefully poured down the sink. Yes, gross! I hate it. I bleach out the sink and rinse it with water I saved in a large bucket before the storm hit. I'm trying very hard to keep things clean while feeling like I'm turning into a savage. I'm also worried that if I see a watering can months from now I will wet my pants…okay, maybe not.

I only worry about having my bladder suddenly behaving like Pavlov's dog is that because in the 1940's my grandmother got constipated. Her doctor prescribed something but it took a long time to work. He told her to get a copy of the New York Times and sit on the throne and wait. So she did. It worked, but after that my mother told me that every time my grandmother read the Times she had to go to the bathroom.

Fallen Pine.jpg
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. A common sight-many grand pine trees fell onto power lines, their root systems not deep enough to hold them in place.

Today I was able to wash 16 dishes at Animal Care & Control since I'm buddies with the ACO and they have a brand new generator so things are working there. I warmed up the raw cat food (which has not gone bad due to my pre-loading the freezer with ziplock bags of water to make big ice cubes). I got something to eat. I helped Sam do two runs to the dump to get rid of ALL the recycling that had been sitting around in the garage for months. I went on a fool's errand to Loews to try to find more portable lights, mirrored tiles (to put candles on to magnify their light and a wick for my mostly burned out hurricane lamp), but they had none of those things. I overheard one of the salespeople say you couldn't buy a gas can in the entire state since folks needed to haul gas to keep their portable generators going.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Coating the doxycycline pills by flashlight.

I finished some paperwork for the Town that was due today. I got a cup of tea at the local grocery store that just opened back up. I read SOME email, but it's too difficult to reply so I gave up on that. I posted a few things here and there. Somehow that took me 11 hours. Normally I'd get all these things done in a flash.

Inside the Fridge copy.jpg
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The one thing that worked-ziplock bags filled with water before the storm kept the precious cat food cold.

We've learned that we MUST be home BEFORE dark to feed all the cats or we just can't see what we're doing. The kittens want to bust out of their room and they still have to be medicated twice day. Trying pilling a cat with the light from a flashlight as your only source of illumination or scooping the litter pan in the dark.

Relationships Fortune.jpg
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. I knew that already!

I told Sam I feel like we're running from Zombies. We can only be out during the day. At night we race home not only for our cats, but to take shelter. To try to get some heat out of our lousy fireplace to warm the cats, to try to put on more clothes to keep the chill away, to try to think of something to do for the rest of the night, sitting in the dark by candlelight.

At least we don't have to worry about boarding up the doors and cowering in the corner in fear of having our brains eaten. The only thing that's truly horrible outside is our neighbors generator, which makes so much noise we can hear it through the walls of our house when we're trying to go to sleep. Maybe the generator is protecting us from the zombies by distracting them to go to the neighbor and kill him and crush that noisy-ass thing?

I can dream, can't I?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The second biggest oak tree in the state of CT is down the road from my house. Once I saw it still standing I had hope in my heart that everything would be okay.


I finished writing this post Thursday night, a few moments before Sam and I got kicked out of the Town Hall. They close at 8pm and we'd already run back home, fed the cats, then came back for some work time. I wanted to stay longer, but there was no place else to get internet access so we headed home.

There's a traffic light about a mile from my house. It's been off since the Hurricane hit. I said to Sam that our power would be back on when that light was on—which was wishful thinking on my part.

Empty Fridge.jpg
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Empty fridge again, but this time we didn't load up on food before the storm. The loss still stung, but not as bad as in 2011.

As we approached the traffic light, Sam noticed it was on. As we drove closer to home, we saw lights in other homes, but they were located before the break in the line. Certainly our power was not back on yet?

I didn't want to get too hopeful. Most of our neighborhood had power, just our street was out. As we passed over the downed line there were signs someone had been working on it. There was an orange highway cone and some official looking tape on the line. I looked to my right and the lights were on in the house nearest the break. As we continued down the street, every house had a few lights on.

DOOD and spoiled food.jpg
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. the DOOD minds the bags of spoiled food.

Could it be true? Were our lights on FOUR DAYS SOONER THAN EXPECTED?

YES! Our nightmare was over. The lights we had hung by the front door for the Halloween celebrations that never came to pass were on. I ran to open the front door and was greeted by the caress of heated air, the lights were on and a few cats were sitting by the doorway looking confused and perhaps, a bit relieved. I started jumping up and down, cheering for our good fortune.

Spoiled food.jpg
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My food is bratty, but not that spoiled.

I immediately felt badly, too. I started texting any of my friends who were nearby and who didn't have power yet and told them to come over right away. I thought about all the other people who don't have power yet, who are cold and in the same lousy state as we had been. My joy was short-lived, but my appreciation for having a chance to get back to normal will stay with me for a very long time.

It's interesting to consider less than 100 years ago, the power being out wouldn't have been such a big deal. We depend so much on electricity it gives me pause. Being without it twice in a year makes me realize how poor my survival skills are and that this is a wake up call for all of us.

cats on the bed.jpg
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. It's al over at last. Exhausted from the craziness of the past week we simply spent the day in bed with a good book, cats and a cup of tea---and loved every second of it.

It was OVER, but it's not over for good. The latest reports are saying that this Wednesday we may get hit by a Nor'Easter-a combination of a wind, rain and snow, which will surely blow the power back out and us into darkness again…back to running from Zombies.


Robin - I forgot you had to do all of your nighttime pilling in the dark. That must have taken forever and been very difficult.  So glad to hear that your power is back on.

Having gone through this (but not for that long, thankfully), I empathize.  So glad you're once again powered up!  The oak is quite inspirational ;) and the photo of the fluffsters is *PRICELESS* :)

Hi robyn


Great to hear things are back up and running and you and kitties survived it. 

Ive suggested the dry oce and didnt link packed ice, cold weather result in ability to keep food longer as here in the tropics, the ice would have melted in a few hours.

Great analogy, love it! 

You went through quite an ordeal. The longest we've been without power was about 20 hours and it seemed never ending. After that, we bought a generator (a quiet one) so we can keep the essentials powered. But is sounds like you were reasonably well prepared and weathered the monster storm pretty well and everyone's ok.

We lost power for 1 week last summer due to some very high winds up in Waukegan, IL.  We didn't have a generator, but a menagerie of kitties and a not quite 1 year old human baby.  So, we got by on candles and lanterns and our gas stove.  But, what galled me was how many people were running generators gobbling up tons of gasoline (and the local gas stations didn't work because they had no power to run the things that you pull up to (whatever they are called), just to run their televisions and lights.  It seemed... so.... gratuitous and needlessly noisy.

I know of at least one online friend who is still in the cold and dark and I know she's one of many.  But she still has her home and many people don't have anything at all.  My county was one of those hit by the tornadoes that hit Alabama and other parts of the southeast in April 2011.  I was very thankful I had no damage to myself, cats or property and that we were without power for several days, but the temperatures were mild so we didn't freeze or sweat.  When I thought it would be several more days without power, I bought a generator.  Less than 24 hours later the power came back.  Grrr.  But I was so happy I went dancing through the house.  Ever since I've been more conservative with power usage.  It's a precious thing!


Glad you are nice and warm and in the light again!

 Read you blog posts earlier, asked a couple of food companies for coupons for you for dry food, not much response. I've been under water inside and out most of the last two months. I'm working constantly to keep down or eliminate water damage. Three houses in a row have had that problem at once, we have bad water that corrodes pipes here. I am grateful the storm passed us because with problems already I would have been homeless and nobody would be taking in me and my cats.  The NY Times would not have allowed it. That is a FACT that I know from having been driven into the streets after a lawsuit against them. When I rescued the Cat that is the mama of my cat family, it was freezing out.  I was facing foreclosure. I had no heat, I could not afford it. A former Sheriff's deputy threw out a sheepskin carpet when he moved.  I had taken it from his garbage and washed it - with bleach. They dry fine. That rescued cat slept on that carpet night and day, until the weather warmed up. We managed to avoid foreclosure.  Next week if you have a storm that your electric company is not prepared for dry food for the cats and an old fur carpet might save your lives. We struggle with food every month.  I keep space blankets in every room of the house in case of a tornado or hurricane,  you can use them to tent a kennel.  I grew up in an industry that took care of their own, until some of them ended up in mental facilities from stress (air traffic controllers), it seemed like after the strike and some breakdowns, there was so much change it was every man and woman for themselves. I don't think that much of the cat blogging community so far, but I'm new and have other things to write about in other formats. Please stay safe with a plan for the worst. 

I'm so glad everything is back to normal and am keeping fingers crossed that yesterday's storm didn't knock out your power again. I think it's time you asked Santa for a generator. And maybe a couple of rain barrels to store up water for flushing, at least. I'd go mad... I'm not that resourceful. 

Your bags-of-ice technique is pure genius! 

When we lost power last spring, and had to do sub-Q fluids and pills by flashlight, I wished for one of those goofy-looking headband lights you see in catalogs for men's gifts. I know that, the next time we lose power, I'll wish for it again as I go around, absent-mindedly flipping light switches that don't work.

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