My Storm Story

Everyone’s storm story is different, and hell, I’m home now on the EIGHTH DAY, so I may as well tell you ours. Oh, and I’ll try to throw in a few pictures along the way!

Last Thursday, January 16th, I actually went to work.  (God, it feels like it’s been so long now!) Almost as soon as I got there, I could hear my coworkers around the office buzzing about the storm.  There was much chatter about the projected snowfall, about how heavy the winds would be, and about when and if schools and businesses would be closing.  I overheard calls to loved ones at home discussing what provisions were needed. I heard one lady say to another, “Geez, if we wind up coming to work tomorrow, we won’t be fit!”   

True enough, but the comment made me smirk a little, as I felt it was safe to assume that we would be off work the following day.  “Even if we get the low end of the estimate; 40cms, it’s still more than enough to shut everything down,” I mentioned to my workmate Alex.  He agreed, and I think we both figured we were getting a four-day weekend out of this. Honestly, the anticipation made for a bit of a fun day.  (An extra day off here and there does wonders for office morale!)

The only thing dragging me down was this nagging headache I had going on in the front of my face.  It wasn’t debilitating, but it was there. pound. pound. pound.  I had often wondered if I was one of those people who got headaches because of barometric pressure changes.  This seemed like evidence to support that hypothesis. There was nothing else wrong with me, so I got an ibuprofen from someone in the office and I moved on.  The pill seemed to help quite a bit.

That was good, because I was also instructed to change my desk that day.  Kind of annoying, but there have been a lot of changes at work lately, so this wasn’t a surprise.  I took most of my possessions to my new cubicle assignment on my break. The new spot was two floors below me, and I like my workspace to feel like home,  so it was a bit of an undertaking. I moved the rest of my things down at the end of my shift. I took my time cleaning up the old desk for the next person, but left a bit of a mess at the new desk downstairs.  No big deal. I could get fully up to speed before work on Monday. I’d probably have the new digs in order by 9AM on the 20th. Perfect.

I went home, and we generally made sure things were as prepared as possible.  Shovels inside and at the ready. A bucket of salt in the basement as well. Nothing left outside that that could blow around.  Electronics charging. My stash of candles accounted for (I make ‘em, so there’s always a box somewhere!) plus a couple of flashlights, of course.  

As for food and basic supplies, we are fortunate enough that I knew we had at least enough for a few days.  Plus, we’re both pretty dang creative with food when times get tough; him through training, me through cheapness and previous moments of desperation.  All good, as far as we knew.

We heard that schools as well as the Metrobus service were preemptively cancelled for the next day.  “You know it’s going to be bad if they’re cancelling the buses now,” Jason said.  He had a point. I couldn’t remember the last time they’d done that.

Day 1: FRIDAY

No school and no work and it’s no surprise!  We awake to a storm, and it keeps up all day.  In fact, it gets worse in the evening, when the winds pick up.  The gusts are well in excess of 100km/h, and all the while the snow continues coming down.  It really is something to watch. I feel worried for anyone who needs to travel. I think about all of the essential services people.  I also think about my friends in radio. Those guys are amazing. (Mad respect to everyone who made it in to work, and who wound up staying there for a few days!)  

By evening, the windows have acquired an intricate pattern of snow spray, preventing us from getting much of a view.  Not that you’d see much if they’d been clear. The storm is intense. White-out conditions all over the place.

I’m not feeling great  My headache hasn’t really gone away from the day before, but now I also feel a little queasy and very cold.  I eventually quit watching the storm and head for the bath. (Jason gives me a flashlight, just in case!)

The lights flicker, but they never go out for more than a few seconds.  Each time they go, I think, Oh, this is it!  But no, we manage to keep our power throughout the storm..  

I stay in the bath for a good long time, with Jason periodically knocking on the door and telling me, in disbelief, how high the snow is. “It’s nearly to the top of the patio railing!”  “It’s just at the top of the patio railing! You should see it Jennnq, it’s crazy!”   By the time I come out, the snow has filled the patio, it is now drifting over the sides of the railing, and it is indeed “crazy.”

Snow filling the patio…

We watch the storm in wonder and listen to records late into the night.  The drifts get to be taller than me and then taller than Jason. Crazy indeed. This is a serious amount of snow.  We also slowly realize that we have fewer and fewer options for exiting our home. The front door has a storm door that opens out.  That is now blocked by a huge drift of snow. The side door is the same. The basement door was a possibility until snow finally filled that stairwell in too.  That leaves the windows. One of us is headed out the window tomorrow.

Well, that’s something to look forward to.  I do so relish the opportunity to use the word “defenestration” in a sentence.

Day 2: SATURDAY

I wake up feeling like I’ve been run over, and I haven’t even lifted a shovel yet.  Not good. 

At least there’s no rush.  We’re under a State of Emergency, so everything is shut down.  It’s easy to see why. The snow is piled in great, unbelievably high drifts.  Some places don’t look too bad. Some places are 8 feet high. Sweet merciful.  The work we’re going to have to do to get out is nearly unfathomable.

We’re very much shut inside, and the window in our living room is the best option out.  I had thought I would be out first, but I just feel so awful. Jason is the hero who goes out through the window.  (He isn’t thrown out the window, so technically, there is no “defenestration.” The word rolls around in my head all the same.)  Jason digs his way toward our front door while I stay inside and try to remember how to human.  

I get a shower and some tea, but after half a bagel, I feel queasy and like I’ve eaten too much.  Strange. I feel as if I have a brutal hangover, and I have had precisely nothing to drink. Ugh. Unfair. 

Within about a half hour I’m outside with him.  I take out a waterproof speaker, and we listen to everything from Anthrax to Caravan Palace while we tackle clearing the deck and regaining access to the house. 

It would have been impossible without him!
Regaining access to the driveway

We shovel the deck for a few hours.  It is very tiring, and sometimes I stop and take breaks.  By the afternoon, I notice that my breaks are coming with a side of hopelessness.  I just keep getting this feeling every time I stop…a feeling of deep despair. It’s like something inside my body is giving the activity of shoveling a great big “NOPE.”  I do my absolute best, but at a certain point I have to call it quits.

At the end of the day, the driveway still needs to get done, but our deck/patio is 80% clear and you can get in and out through all the doors.  (Accomplishing this was much easier with two!)

That evening, even under many layers I cannot get warm.  The power stays on, which I am thankful for. I wear a toque as I sit on the sofa under blankets.  Every time I lift my arm, a shiver courses through my body. My throat is scratchy, and the headache…It’s more like POUND. POUND. POUND now.  It occurs to me that this may not be because of the barometric pressure.

I take my temperature.  101.8 degrees. Oh. I see.  I’m actually sick. I realize this explains why my body just wanted to give up earlier.   Awesome. Jason seems worried he may catch something too. He hugs me close anyway. Good man. 

I barely eat and go to bed, hopeful that I will be of more use tomorrow. 

Day 3: SUNDAY

I still feel gross.  I shovel for a short period of time, but Jason takes care of the lion’s share of the driveway snow with the snowblower.  I am thankful.

Inside the house I read for a while, but when my queasy stomach seems less-than content with that, I listen to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods on Audible.  I love it. All of the different voices make me feel like a child hearing a bedtime story. (Ok, it’s a pretty racy bedtime story, but Alan Rickman is one of the voices!  How cool is that??)

An enjoyable listen!

I have no desire for my beloved espresso.  I still barely eat. The only food that appeals to me right now is oranges.  All that I want is an orange. I fantasize about cutting into one, and the sweet juice running out, and I imagine biting into the fresh cold flesh.  Yes. All I want is an orange. I imagine the taste on my tongue, and imagining is all that I can do, because guess what we don’t have???

The state of emergency is lifted in St. Philip’s so that during the day people can run out and get essentials.  Jason is still outside struggling in the driveway, so when Mom calls here to check on us, she gets me. “You sound so stuffed up!  I’m heading out to get a couple of things. Need anything?”  

“ORANGES,”  I blurt, as they are currently the only thing on my mind.  

Sure enough, a short time later Jason comes back inside with two oranges in his hands.  “Your mom dropped these off.” He says.

I cut into one almost immediately and am surprised to find a blood orange.  It’s colour is unexpected and striking. It is almost ombré inside. I wish I had the skill to paint it, but instead I eat it quickly and enjoy it immensely.  It’s funny how the body must know what it needs. I don’t recall ever wanting an orange this badly. 

OMG I want another one right now!

Tonight, for some flipping reason, the weather stirs up again.  15 fresh centimeters fall overnight. More work to do tomorrow.

I am somewhat relieved to learn that the State of Emergency continues.  I would not take my nasty fever to work anyway, and this way there is no sick day required.  A little silver lining.

I sleep fairly early hoping that I will be back to myself tomorrow.   

Day 4: MONDAY

I still seem to have a slight cold, but I feel a lot better.  I have some energy, which is good, because we now have yet more snow to shovel, and the driveway (did I mention that our driveway is one long hill??) could still use some work.  

We work on the driveway and Jason and I bicker about nothing.  I think being cooped up is getting to us.  

Jason is also bummed because we had tickets to see Jim Gaffigan, and the show (scheduled for Sunday, aka “Day 3”) was cancelled. 

The slightly-disappointed Jason works on widening the driveway with the snowblower.  I go inside and eat my second orange. It still tastes like everything I want it to be.  (Oranges, man.)

Espresso still isn’t tasting good to me.  Must be a residual thing from the cold. This seems like a good time to actually go with it though.  Hadn’t I been meaning to break the addiction? If I can drink less coffee, that’s great. I’ve been sipping black tea instead.  For some reason, it continues to taste much better to me right now.  

Nothing much else happens.  We spend time with the cats.  I spend a bunch of time on Facebook and start to feel like I’m not doing enough with my life.  It’s not exactly time well-spent. Not too kind to the ol’ ego. Social media really is poison sometimes.  Also so distracting. I resolve not to let is take up too much of my precious time in the future.

Cats! Way more rewarding than social media!

Day 5: TUESDAY

Yay, I’m better!  No more temperature, and I actually feel alive!  

This is great for me, but I’m probably driving Jason nuts.  More energy means more talking, singing and dancing. Especially since we’re largely cooped up together.

We have all of the shoveling done except for this one area of our deck.  It is a giant leftover drift from Friday’s storm. It’s not impeding our ability to come and go, it’s just this giant snow mountain on the patio. And now it’s really compacted and heavy. We had put it off, but it’s not great to leave snow on your deck.  It can freeze, get really heavy with rain and damage the wood.

Today we both get out there and tackle it.  We hack at the snow mountain with our shovels.  It takes a while, since it has a hard crust on the outside, and the snow inside it is anything but light and fluffy.  We get the tunes going again and it’s a damn good workout. The best part? In the end we can say that everything is finally clear!  Woohooo!!

We’re still under the state of emergency, but today in St. John’s the supermarkets are allowed to reopen from 10-6.  People go a little crazy. The lineups snaking across the parking lots are so long that they make the news. Hundreds of people turn up to wait for the stores to open. They’re anxious to stock up!

Jason and I don’t go, as we have no interest in battling the crowds, and other than the orange drama, we’re not really that desperate.  

Jason had made a bunch of pizza Saturday, and since I was sick and couldn’t eat much of it, it’s lasted us for a while.  (I was SO sad I couldn’t really enjoy fresh pizza!)  

Jason’s pizza is no joke! Mmmm!!

I use some of this extra time today to dye my hair.  I clearly can’t be left in the house with hair dye for this long and not touch it!  Nothing too crazy, I just take what’s already there up a notch. A little yellow. A little green.  Some hot pink. (Ok, so maybe it is a little crazy!)  I was really wishing I had some blue, but somehow I don’t think blue hair dye counts as an “essential” right now.

Tonight, Jason and I bust out Mario 3 and play it via the Wii.  I love it, but I still kinda suck at video games. We play for a while, and then I switch it over to Dragrace.  I haven’t felt very fabulous during the SOE, but hey, I can dream!

Day 6: WEDNESDAY

Day 6 of the State of Emergency dawns with an unstoppable blue sky, and a winter sun that my skin would have to be mercilessly coated in SPF to withstand.  It is, in a word, beautiful. It makes the absolutely insane amount of snow surrounding us sparkle like so many diamonds.  

We both need to get out of the house so we head to the grocery store.  I’m damned excited to go. Thankfully, yesterday’s lineups are nowhere in evidence.  We get what we need (more citrus, yay!) and we head back home. There. We can at least feel like we’ve accomplished something today.

I am still reading a lot.  This is good. Since I’ve been a little more depressed and anxious the past couple of years, I haven’t read nearly so much, and I have always loved books.  I’m going to try to keep a list of what I read for 2020. I can always try to beat my number next year!

I’ve just finished one called The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober.  It was ok.  Good encouragement at least. I’ve been sober for 11 days now.  It’s a start.

Later, I go see my Mom.  We talk about nothing for a couple of hours and watch the “Baroness Von Sketch Show.”  I can do this visit because she also lives outside of St. John’s, and St. Philip’s actually isn’t under a state of emergency anymore.  It’s just St. John’s. Just like how people can go to work now if they work in Mount Pearl. It’s kinda weird.

I get official word that my work building will be closed tomorrow and Friday.  Wow. This kinda sucks, because that big mess I left last week at my new cubicle will remain exactly as is for the next three weeks.  I’m scheduled to go elsewhere for training starting Monday. My new desk must remain a cacophonous explosion of quotes, origami figures, books, notes and lipgloss for the next while.  Nice first impression on my new work neighbours. Also, a bit annoying if you’re like me and can be just a little fussy about your stuff. 

This snow has now derailed the city for an entire week!

Day 7: THURSDAY

I coughed all dang night last night. (Just when you think you’re done with it, ugh!)  I still don’t feel like myself, and it’s such a bummer. I’m still heavy on the tea and water. (Haven’t gone back to espresso.)

Huh.  No wine and no espresso or coffee.  I’m pretty cheap, lately! 

I try to leave today (car needs gas) and succeed only in getting my car stuck in the driveway.  It takes me an hour and a half to free it. Even after all of that shoveling, it’s still iffy in that driveway.  I blame the incline.

Afterward, I still feel energetic, so I do an at-home workout.  (If I don’t stay active, I may crack up in here!) I walk on the treadmill, do some squats, planks and bridges.  I don’t cough, even a little bit. Jason smirks a little, as there is more Lizzo involved in this workout than one might initially expect.  (She’s so fun though!)  

Later I decide that I need to finish writing about this, so I can finally post it!  Things are almost back to normal.  

The latest word is that the city will be fully operational as of 6AM Saturday. Hooray!  It would appear that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. We’re nearly done with this State of Emergency business.

I get a couple of edits into this thing, and somehow I wind up watching Doctor Who instead. 

Day 8: FRIDAY

The SOE is basically over, as far as I know.  Everything should be lifted early tomorrow, as I mentioned yesterday.  

I have read more, not had anything to drink and I’ve even given up coffee in my time off.  I feel as though I’m coming back to reality as a slightly improved version of myself. 🙂

Now, can we please hurry up and get everything back to normal?

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