Monday, January 9, 2023

One for the Books Holiday Recap: Part 1

What book genre would it be?  Hmm, do they have a light horror, PTSD, exhausted genre of books?  That would about sum things up.  I remember gleefully sending a note to my bestie with the projected forecast about a week before we were to leave for Vermont.  By Christmas, we were projected at one point to get 24" of snow!  Heaven to us but not to most people.  As the days got closer, that second storm two days before Christmas turned from another 8" of snow to a rogue 50+ degree day out of nowhere with torrential rain that would likely take away all of the snow we were watching fall remotely via webcams at Trapp Lodge.  It's not the first time.  In 2020, it snowed every day except Christmas day which was Grinch green from torrential rain but snow the rest of the time.  Because of that, I still considered that trip a success because I'll take snow 13 out of 14 days.  We packed up the truckster and began our 13+ hour trek.  We got to Stowe 7 minutes after the Christmas tree farm closed.  *twitch*  I'm used to having trees up the same night we get there but honestly, my body hurt so bad from the drive I don't know I could've handled it anyway.  I did a wee bit of decorating so I wouldn't have to do all of it the next day.

(Thank God for bloggers and their free winter printables!  Easiest way to still decorate on the road.)

I continued checking the weather and we were now upgraded to a 'high wind event.  You WILL experience power outages.'  Aces.  We hopped over to the grocery store and got some of the basics as well as some stuff for our Christmas/Cmas Eve meals.  We were glad to have that out of the way.  I was beyond thrilled having brought what I refer to as my "leg squishies" to help us recover from the long drive.  We just laid in bed and let those babies pump any potential DVT out of our systems and felt so much better the next day.  I can say I will never travel without those or our grounding mats again.   

The next day at 10am, it was time to go to our favorite place to get a tree.  We pulled in, got out and were greeted by the head of the family who said they closed the field a week ago...moose out front should've told ya.  Just as I was about to jump into an icy chasm, he directed us to the next town that had cut your own so off we went.  This was the real deal.  Here's a sled, measuring stick and saw.  Attach it to the roof of your car and I hope that thing does well in snow, flatlander!  The Mr was ready to roll.

While we didn't search much, a lot of what I saw initially were pretty anemic and the snow was up to my knees.

The Mr found his tree and pretty much went to it before I could say yay or nay which was fine.

We had a nice 6 footer and began the drag back.

We had ratchet straps and bungees so we thought it would be a cinch to put it on the roof rack.  Forty minutes and a lot of curse words later, it was finally attached.  

(I spread Christmas cheer far and wide)

I was fairly certain the owners were sitting on their porch giggling their Vermonty asses off at us and I would do the same.  I have to say this is when I missed Ben the most from the other tree farm because he would bale and attach it for us.  But it was good for us so we got on our way.  We put 8 trash bags around the bottom for snow melt purposes and got decorations out and got to it an hour later.  When the lights were on, we realized the tree was leaning.  A lot.  We wrestled that bastard for a good 30 minutes or more having to reset the tree, then I got it decorated.

I wanted a retro tree this year.  Typically I make the ornaments for the tree but if you think that was happening in the midst of the great bedroom remodel, you don't know me very well.  So I found these flat, wooden retro ornaments that would travel well, grabbed some candy canes and got some garland on sale at Target.  I found the tree topper last minute and it reminded me of the one I had when I was a kid.  My only, and biggest regret, was not running out to grab some silver tinsel because it needed it.  But knowing we were going to saw it in half and chuck it into the woods when we were done meant we would have to pick every strand off so I didn't push it.  That filthy animal banner was not my classiest but given I had zero desire to stare at audio components at the only TV/living area in the home, it was the best solution I had.  When we were finally done, it was 3pm.  We started the day at 10am.  FIVE FRIGGIN' HOURS of tree related mayhem and if you're not from the Northeast, then you would be surprised that dusk happens at about 3:45-4pm in the winter.  We burned out of there in attempts to get in some snow pics to prove we had any since we now only had potentially two more full days of snow left.

(Drove around downtown, picked up linner and ate it at the Trapp Lodge parking lot which has the best view of the mountains and visited with their shaggy cows after.)

We went over to the spot where we watch the snowfall over the winter on the Trapp cam and texted my friend to see if she could access it and waved to her across the miles.  I did a screenshot from the webcam:

From this point on, everything was geared toward Operation Hunker Down.  Local reports said power outages were imminent so we filled up the tub with water for the toilet.  While I typically loathe gas appliances, we were happy to have them so that we could at least still cook Christmas dinner.  (Roast was already pre-cooked and Food Saved but we'd need noodles and mashed potatoes.)  I filled all of the stock pots, kettles, coffee pot, etc with the filtered water from the fridge.  We had a gas fireplace so figured we should still be okay there but that turned to panic when upon further reading on IPI fireplaces, they're supposed to have battery backup behind the removeable grill.  Ours didn't have a removeable grill.  Okay, well we'll have to worry about that when the time comes.  I placed an order at Shaw's for a few big ass drinking waters (they're on a well at our place), unscented wipes in case that's how bathing was going to occur trying to save water and I had already brought some soup with us so we were saving those in case the town was without power.  In addition to this rogue 50 degree day full of rain, by the night it was supposed to turn over to a "little to no accumulation snow" or ice and 'flash freeze' down to 10 degrees.  Once we did all we could to prepare, it was off to enjoy all of the potential normalcy we may have over the next two days. We got 4 entrees from our favorite breakfast spot in town which has a habit of closing without warning just before Christmas.  We wanted to have another breakfast from them available.  Then over to Bragg Farm in Montpelier for our maple creamees.  (Maple soft serve ice cream)  We went to Trapp Kaffeehaus to pick up our Linzertorte courtesy of a gift card from my mom where we played how many Vermonters does it take to apply a gift card.  (It was 4 this time.)  This happens without fail.  EVERYWHERE sells gift cards and then no one knows how to apply them when the time comes.  😑  There were a lot of fails pretty much everywhere we went the rest of the day which took us into early evening.  We tried to enjoy some sledding (our favorite!) and building a snowman which is a must every year but the snow was not sticking or allowing us to move down the small sled hill at the house.  

(A whole 2 feet.)


That evening I decided to bake everything I'd need the oven for since a quick search said we couldn't use the oven without power.  I baked and frosted all of the cookies which took it out of me.  

I pre-baked the crescent crust for veggie pizza which is a Christmas Eve staple and everything that could be made ahead, was.  It was scheduled to hit overnight and given the horror we were already seeing across the country, we said a few prayers, took showers in case they'd be our last for a few days and hoped for the best.  The 23rd loomed large and our 31st "I love you" anniversary afternoon tea was on the menu.  The only question would be would the candlelight be for ambience or necessity?   

I was awake at 6am and my instinct said "get up and make breakfast while you have power.  Jack up the heat a little because it was 69 in the house" but the devil on my shoulder won and said "but it's cozy under the duvet, just scroll while you have a charger available."  I got up to do my morning bidness and I could hear what sounded like semi's going down the street.  As I scrolled and they weren't passing by the house, I realized it was that 'freight train' sound people talk about right before a tornado.  The lights began to flicker.  "Shit."  I put on my clothes and it flickered a few more times.  The Mr's alarm clock for the morning was me declaring "great, there it goes."  

We were out.  

A peek out the window showed that the rain did not take our snow and we got a surprise 3".  As the Mr says Stowe finds a way.  We got dressed and because we didn't know how long it would be, we decided to head to the next town to see if the only McDonalds in the next 40 miles was open.  We called and they were so we headed out.  As we drove to the town 10 minutes away, we noticed all of the homes on the way were dark so everyone was out.  We ate in the parking lot and the Mr got a notice from the security camera we had set up in the foyer which meant power was on.  We rushed home and didn't trust it so we went down to finish Home Alone 2 that we conked out on the night before.  When it was over, I ran up to assemble the sandwiches for our afternoon tea so if we did go out again, I would just have to grab them real quick.  The lights flickered the way they do in propane run homes, leaving us both feeling uneasy.  The winds were picking up and the trees were really swaying.  We were filming little snippets in small files to send to my friend and just when we stopped, a big one blew threw and bam...out again.  It immediately brought back the moment the Mr and I watched a huge transformer by our home explode 10 years ago during a derecho (land hurricane) and we were without power for a week.  Given how quickly the previous outage was fixed, we assumed it would be a few hours.  After contacting the owner, they told us how to do the battery backup for the fireplace which we were prematurely greatly relieved by.  There was no wood burning fireplace so this was our only heat source other than the thermals and snow pants we brought and whatever blankets were available.  I hung up some battery operated fairy lights that I travel with usually to hang in the windows but I didn't feel like putting them up.  I grabbed the sammies from the fridge real quick and got everything else heated on the stove for our afternoon tea with our new mood lighting.  We finished up by him doing a come from behind win in Uno to hand me my ass.

We'll call this the 'romantic' phase of the power outage, much like the novel beginning of the pandemic.  We enjoyed the string lights on the windows along with the little battery operated tea lights I bring.  Playing Uno, happily keeping our phones charged with the solar charger we bought, had some linzertorte and more tea later while watching the new Rachel Maksy video and even enjoyed our tree with the battery operated fairy lights on it.

Because we didn't have any outdoor lights, we couldn't even enjoy the snowfall but would check on it from time to time with a flashlight.  A quick call to the electric company said the crews were done working until the morning so we knew we were going to have to settle in.  That awesome fireplace we were so relieved for quickly showed it had ZERO output and it didn't have a blower so the electricity really didn't affect the "toastiness" we were promised in the binder.  We designated the upstairs bathroom with the half full tub the '2 poo' toilet before we could flush and even then, knowing it was a well I had to hope Mr Poopie Pants could keep his regular go's to a minimum.  The lower bathroom was going to have to be 6 pee's and even then, if he had to he would need to start whizzing outside for the team if this stretched into days or we'd have to go somewhere with a public bathroom provided they didn't close for the storm or holiday.  It might be us shittin' in the woods with the bear who was poking around our front door.  We went into the only living area which was in the basement which is NOT insulated and it was freezing.  We tried to enjoy the tree with the battery powered lights but could only stand about 30ish minutes with blankets before having to abandon ship.  Finally it was about 11pm and we strapped on our thermals.  I was already stinkin' hot under the feather duvet so I knew I'd be fine and we both woke up sweating through the night.  No chance of freezing for us.  We kept the fireplace remote upstairs so if it got unbearably cold we could turn it on and hope for the best but the owners were real adamant about never leaving it unattended and after the beyond janky install, I didn't feel like we could ever leave it on without being in front of it.  Now the question was, what were we facing and for how long?  We also made a stupid mistake that cost us money and sanity.

Swing on over for part two tomorrow!

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  1. I love the pictures. It's still hard to believe that it's all in the past already but definitely another one we'll not soon forget!

  2. Love the pics.
    Have a great week

  3. Fantastic pictures! Looks like a wonderful winter wonderland!


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