Monday, February 22, 2021

Powerless: a diary of the blackout in Oregon

The freezing rain started thursday night and continued into friday evening

I took some macro pictures and scraped the layer of ice off of my car so I could make a quick run to the pharmacy

We lost power at 530pm on Friday night, just as dinner was being prepared

We ate cold left overs instead

The power company fixed some of the power and said our apartment would be fixed the next day

We read books and tried to play guitar by candlelight 

A heavy ice storm hit saturday morning damaging many trees, power lines, buildings, cars, and more

The world looked like an ice sculpture

I resisted the urge to take photos and helped to clear branches and a tree from the road instead

Glad we always have at least one hand saw around
We collected ice that fell from the trees and bagged it to keep the fridge and freezer cold

We also drove a short loop to see damage and charge phones

Dinner was cold leftovers again

Vegetarian sloppy joes are pretty good cold

We read books and I played solitaire by candlelight and flashlight

Outside the air was thick with haze and smoke as people with woodstoves burned wet wood

The next day tens of thousands of people lost power, even more than saturday, as the ice melted and more trees fell

We heard transformers blow like several gunshots

It was valentine's day

We got snacks at the store, and a bottle of champagne 

On the drive we saw the power company making their way down the neighborhood, block by block

Much progress was made, several street lights came online, less four way stops to worry about

We went on a walk to stay warm

The apartment temp was as cold as outside by now and we were wearing several layers of clothing

A family member with power ordered us pizza and we were extremely grateful for the hot food and good pizza

If they need help with damage repairs I hope they know we are there for them

We listened to music and drank champagne while playing rummikub

Monday morning got warmer, which was good for morale and health but bad for our food

The food started to go bad in the fridge, the freezer still had some good items and we started to eat them

My parents very kindly let us take showers at their place and lent us a cook stove

We were so grateful, hopfully we can help them with their roof damage if they need it 

We shopped for a lantern or some sort of light, more food and searched for wifi, then grabbed burgers as it was getting dark

We heard power might be out for the whole week

I am grateful for water and candles as well as gas in the car and family

I hope my sister is doing okay as I just heard she lost power and water a couple days after we did

Maybe the power will be on tomorrow

The day was a blur

We hoped for power, but after we heard that our powerline was restored the power company marked our complex as having power

It did not have power and so a neighbor called management who thought it was only our building and we called the power company who said it was the entire complex

This prompted my parents to call the power company and they found that they were marked as having power restored when in fact the whole street was without power

We read books most of the day

Then we cooked chili by camp stove on the balcony

The temperature got colder again tonight, I could feel it

I fell asleep reading my book by lantern light

This morning I woke a few times to trucks and chainsaws

The tree service and landscapers came back to do more work

Brian thought he heard someone talking about power outside, asking when it will be on and they said they can't really say but could get to it today after fixing a downed powerline nearby

We went for another walk

I noticed that one of the apartments has a daily letter board with short odd messages throughout the blackout, I don't always understand them but they amuse me

I found out my sister had her power turned on earlier today and my parents power came on tonight

We went to my parents house to get warm, heat up food, go online and watch movies

Their cable is spotty but the internet works so I caught up on the week's news and emails and the warmth felt good

Hopefully the power will be on tomorrow, and hopefully management can help

We called them to tell them about the loud crack we heard when the power went out which might have been one of the power boxes on property and how long the outage has been

The street sweepers were sweeping up the road gravel at 10pm, a clean road is one step closer to normal I suppose


And Ode To The Trees After A Storm

Stumpy winter tree , grown straight and tall as an overgrown coat hanger
Windswept trees reaching for the eastern sky catching precarious branches within their grasp
Trees laying down where once they stood
Fragile trees blown apart under duress
Cut up circles of trees 
Sawn off branches in neat piles
Tall proud mountain trees unafraid of the weather
Come spring buds will blossom, leaves will grow, but the memory of ice will remain

Cold today again and rainy, snow-like rain that hits the car windshield like a melted flake, but no snow thank goodness 

Called the management for an update, nothing new

Went for a charging drive and got warm too

Called power company to see if they had all the info about what happened just in case later on and they said nothing much new, just that we were in a hard hit area and there had been 400 calls from our complex, which makes sense

We are still the only large place without power in our immediate area as far as we can tell, with the exception of a house here and there

Got more chili and snacks at the store

We read, ate dinner, and waited for a package that never came

I was chilled during the night, probably need to move around more

Slept late, still no package which is our weekly food delivery

The bread, peanut butter, dried fruit and seeds are great to have for breakfast, sometimes I have avocado instead, but I'm out of them now

I stretched really good and got the blood flowing again, no more chill

I wonder how people stretch on a snowy mountain climb if they get chilled, in all that gear and in tiny tents? 

I'm really starting to feel it today on day 7

I miss warmth and hot water

Glad I live in a temperate climate though

I think the temperature has stayed between 34 and 50, mostly in the low 40s.

We hiked the croisan scenic trail as far as we could and there were less downed trees than I imagined, except a patch of beautiful old maples or oaks which are now gone

We passed a two person crew who cleared much of the fallen limbs

Found a nearby neighborhood with no electricity, so we aren't the only ones without power back in this area

It is a neighborhood known for its tall trees and many of the oaks came down or lost limbs

Came home and read

Went to parents again to heat up soup, take showers, and do a little laundry

We got to watch some tv, which was nice

Apartment parkinglot was half empty last, so people are finding other places to sleep

Another day

Temperature rose to about 48

Was able to get public wifi on a street corner nearby

Got our food delivery, which included as much nonpareshables as they had available

Read most of the day until there was a flash of light from the light bulbs for a second in the bedroom where we were reading by windowlight

It was 5pm, hopefully this is a good sign

For dinner we got fancy and combined chili and italian soup

As dinner was cooking outside, the electricity came back on for good

I was way too excited, but it had been 8 days with no electricity or heat, except for the car and the couple visits to family

I feel for others who are in a poorer situation, I am very aware this could have been much much worse

As of this post, there are still ~27,500 homes without power in Oregon

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

P o e t r y

Come Out And Play

When will the sun come out and play
The sun has hidden beneath a shroud
Heat radiates from behind a cloud
It suffocates an open wound

Why won't the sun come out and play
Like it did the day before
The light casts a sickly hue
Not dusk or dawn, but muted grey

I asked the sun, "Please, come out and play"
"No," came the distant reply
Echoing like thunder in the cloudy sky
Boom, flash, away birds fly

Light came trickling softly, slowly
I did not say a word
The sound of wetness undeterred
Just rain drops, drip, drop


Let us walk and
I will talk with you.
How I should move my mouth?
I can't recall.
Nervous, heart pounding
Drowning out your voice.
I forgot the words
To my favorite song.
I hear a sound;
Shouts and screams in shrill nuance.
Silence is preferred.
I can't remember how to speak,
I forgot the words.

5 Haiku For Modern Times

A Summery haze
Blankets the perfect valley
Forests are burning

Gentle breezes drift
Fall fragrance filling the air
Masks cover noses 

The Winter Finch perched
Softly chirping a sweet song
Far away from home

A bountiful spring
flows freely from the mountain
And is bottled fresh

A beautiful mess
Healthy fungus breaks down wood
Natural decay

-2020, L.A. Miller

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Photo of The Day, end of July

 A photography project in which I take (at least one) photo a day with my Sony A7 and a single lens. The first week I used the Canon 500mm manual focus. This is a fun lens. It has mirrors in addition to glass elements, aiding in the magnification, creating a lighter telephoto lens. I also used a Jupiter-11 135mm f4 from 1976. This is a cheap but beautiful rendering lens. Apologies for the quality of some of the photos. There was a heat wave that made for an interesting challenge.

July floral firework
July 14th

July 15th

Deep red
July 24th
Not too hot for bees
July 26th

July 27th

July 28th

Food for butterflies
July 28th

photos copyright 2020 L. A. Miller

Thursday, August 6, 2020

New Times, New Habits

It's been 147 days since Covid-19 lockdown began for me; 2 more months and that's half a year. I started thinking about how my life has changed and what new habits I started because of the new normal. Not all of my new habits are a direct result of the pandemic, but I made changes for better or worse to adapt to a new way of life. Most of us have a few new habits that are obvious. We wash our hands when we come home, after unpacking groceries, and after touching any new or foriegn surface. We wear masks like we wear pants; they are necessary for decency and hygeine. These odd or tactful habits are fitting to new situations. 

I formed new habits without the consultation of the WHO or CDC, and sometimes I wonder what led me to that particular habit. For instance, I use paper towels now. I dislike paper towels for various environmental reasons, but now I am an avid user of the product. One reason is that I do not have a clothes washer or drier, I have access to a comunal laundromat. So, this disposable product found its way back into my life. The other reason for the paper towels leads me to another new habit: I clean with bleach now. I have not used straight bleach to clean since college. I recently used a combination of vinegar, lysol and clorox wipes. The latter of those products are like diamonds, very rare and expensive. (And, yes Clorox wipes are disposable, but less waste than buying multiple products.)

Other habits that intrigue me are my new clothing habits. Aside from mask wearing, I now wear more head coverings when I go outside. I used to wear baseball caps, but now I wear them more often. I also wear bandanas on my head. I tuck my shirts in too. I used to hate tucking in my shirt, having grown up in the pop-punk era of skate boards and surf wear. But, now I feel all clean and put together when I tuck my shirt in, don a cap, and mask.

I love my hobbies more. I have always had numerous hobbies since I first banged away on my parents piano, picked up my pink 110 camera, drew rainbows and sunsets in watercolor, and rode my bike around the neighborhood. But recently, hobbies seem like important sanity savers. The world is burning and corporations and tyrants are playing chess with our lives; we deserve a little sanity to get us through. And so, I make an effort to draw, write, photograph, and garden every week.

Speaking of sanity, my most helpful new habit is listening to calming music. It helps me think, breathe easier, and be calmer. These times make me want to be an angry punk. Relaxtion is necessary so I can get angry when I want, and not stay angry. 

Last of all, I get grocery deliveries. I never thought I would do a food delivery service, but here we are. I kind of love it. I get fresh veggies, some new foods to try, and I feel healthier. I hate shopping, so this was a great change.

Change can be good, if we are able to adapt with ease and flexibility.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Photo of the Day, Week of July 5th, 2020

A photography project in which I take (at least one) photo a day with my Sony A7 and a single lens. This week I used the Jupiter-3 f1.5 50mm manual focus lens from 1957. This is a fun lens. It can have an older look to it because of minor distortion and round bokeh even when stopped down. 

Tree Rings
July 6

July 7

Monster in the wild

Monster in the green
July 9

Synthetic Rain

Fern Lines
July 10

Hand Sewing
July 11

photos copyright 2020 L. A. Miller