Wednesday, December 10, 2014

They say there's a storm a comin' - Or 8 tips to prepare for a power outage

The weather forecasters and news reporters get pretty excited when a storm is forecast. They have been warning of a storm coming this evening. A lot of rain in northern California and snow in the Sierra. I live just east of the Sierra and many times the storms hit the west side of the mountains and never really make it over into the Nevada desert. But, it's still wise to prepare.

When I went grocery shopping yesterday I bought a little extra. Today I walked around our property, which is open to the wind, and secured items that might blow away. More that once my brother has had to climb down the bank behind my house to retrieve one of my trash cans.

High winds are expected, which can cause power outages. Since my house is all electric, I have a camp stove in case we need to cook something. I also have a propane stove in my vintage trailer we could use. I have bottled water since we're on a well and the pump runs by electricity. My furnace runs on diesel, but it uses an electric motor to circulate the hot water through the radiators. If the power goes out, I hope it isn't for long because I haven't used the wood stove insert in years and I'm not sure the chimney is clear.

Here is a good article about preparing for a storm and the possibility of power outages.

How to prepare for cold weather power outages

Cold weather can bring wind, snow and ice. But cold weather also might be the culprit behind power outages.

Sudden power outages can be inconvenient and troublesome. The potential danger of a power outage only escalates when one happens during the winter. It is relatively easy to recover from a short-term loss of power, but extensive power outages can compromise human health and safety.

Relatively recent storms such as Hurricane Sandy illustrated just how challenging it can be for people to go without power, particularly today, when many people have grown accustomed to having everything available at the flick of a switch.

Heavy, wet snow can weigh down power lines or cause branches to break and damage electric cables. Poor road conditions can make it challenging for power company crews to arrive in affected areas and make repairs, which can lead to prolonged power outages. Men and women must prepare for blackouts at any time of the year, but especially so when the temperatures dip. Here's how to prepare for an extended power outage.

1•Keep your home well-stocked with safety devices. 

Purchase flashlights and batteries and keep them in an easily accessible location. Solar-powered rechargeable batteries last longer than more traditional batteries, and if you pair them with LED flashlights, you can extend the usage time and have more light when needed. Store bottled water and nonperishable foods in a pantry or in the garage. Fill gas cans with gasoline and store in a safe location. Many portable generators require gasoline to run, and gas pumps may not work during a blackout.

2•Have an alternative heat source at the ready. 

When the power goes out, so do furnaces, which usually require an electrically powered blower or pump to work. If you have a backup generator, you may be able to plug in a space heater to warm one room in the house. Otherwise, a fireplace can provide some heat. If you do not have power and no other heating source, make arrangements to leave your home and stay with relatives or friends.

3•Assess your water needs. 

Homes that receive water from a municipal water source should be alright in terms of supply during a power outage. Those who have well water and rely on septic systems will probably find themselves without water during an outage. These systems require electricity to pump water into the home. Store barrels of fresh water to use for washing, cooking and flushing toilets. FEMA recommends storing a three-day supply of water, or roughly three gallons, per individual.

4•Keep important papers handy. 

Make a folder with copies of phone numbers, policy account numbers, banking information, and similarly valuable information. Remember, during a power outage you may not have computer access, and your mobile phone will only last as long as your next charge. Keep physical documents handy in case you need to leave home or contact service providers.

5•Create extra insulation. 

Use plastic on windows to keep out some of the chill. Wrap pipes with newspapers or insulation to help safeguard against freezing. Block drafts at the bottom of doors by using a door sock or rolled up towel. Keep the entire family in one room to maximize body heat.

6•Dress appropriately for the cold. 

Wear layers to keep warm and pay attention to your extremities, which are most susceptible to frostbite. Watch for signs of hypothermia such as uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion.

7•Don't overlook entertainment. 

Keep books, puzzles, arts and craft supplies, cards, and board games on hand. Invite friends over to quell the boredom.

8•Have an evacuation plan in place. 

Know where you will go if you cannot stay in your home. Find out if a friend or family member has room for you. Hotels and motels are another option, but they may be booked during an outage.Power outages can occur at any time but are especially common when snow and ice accumulates. Preparing for such outages in advance is paramount to your health and safety. 

Metro Editorial Services

What's your best advice for preparing for a storm?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Update: Writer's/Artist's Oasis or how I got sidetracked and found my fashion style

This last week I was able to move my computer back into my office after a month-long remodel. I'm glad to be back at my 1924 editors desk, one that was used at my local newspaper, where I also happen to work, until the paper moved into a modern building with cubicles.

My desk now faces the window where I can see the mature pine and spruce trees in my back yard (that it seems like I am always watering - three-year drought), the cottonwood trees on the river beyond, the mountains on the east side of the valley and most of all the sky. I was working on a shaky card table there for a few weeks. Every keystroke made the monitor vibrate. I was getting a back ache because the table was lower than I'm used to. I wasn't getting anything done.

This weekend I'll be putting up the curtains to frame that view. I love the peacock feather curtains, they're perfect for my Peacock Room theme. I will also add ivory sheers to the window.
Peacock Feather Grommet Top Curtain from Pier 1

The hard job I'm doing now is going through years and years worth of the products of a creative mind. Drawings, paintings, crafts, needlework, photos, writings, collections of "pretty, clever, and interesting things". Oh, and pieces of furniture that I will refinish "some day".

In the middle of all this I signed up for NaNoWriMo. Suffice it to say my word count has suffered. I'm just over 8,000. I'm excited about the new story, but I really need to think it through. I could have chosen to revise one of my other stories that is closer to publication, but when a new story pops up I feel the need to get the germ of it down and NaNo is a good way to do that.

How did this all lead me to finding my fashion style? 

I have spent a good deal of time looking on line for decorative items for my room, which led to looking for organizational ideas for my room, which led to finding Get Your Pretty On (GYPO).

Alison Lumbatis, creator of GYPO, organizes style challenges. I joined her Fall Style Me Pretty Challenge (which is no longer live but on sale) and had the most fun I've had in a long time. I am currently in her Build Your Wardrobe Basics for Over 40 Challenge, and I just signed up for the Winter/Holiday Challenge.

I was needing to turn over my wardrobe. I was sick of most everything I had, and I've lost weight so nothing fit well. I never knew how to put an outfit together, I didn't know what to shop for, or even how to assemble a basic wardrobe.

Here's how it works: You sign up for $24.99, then download a shopping list of about 21 items of clothing, which comes with examples for all sizes. You have a week or 10 days to assemble the items from your own closet and/or purchase. It's a lot more fun to shop knowing what to buy and that it will work with the rest of your wardrobe.

Everyday for 21 days you receive an email with the outfit for the next day. You get access to a private Face Book group where you can share a selfie of your #OOTD (outfit of the day) with other ladies in the challenge from all over the US and beyond. It's fun to see how even though we each got the same OOTD we look different because of our own choices for each item.

It's exciting to get the email and see what we will be wearing the next day. It's great to get up in the morning and not have to stand in front of the closet wasting time because we can't decide what to wear. I love my closet now. It's organized, everything has a purpose and all of it can be mixed and matched. My closet is small so I have to make everything in it count.

I highly recommend this experience. It has helped me in so many ways. Not just in revamping my wardrobe, but giving me more confidence in my own personal style. It has helped motivate me to continue my weight loss journey. It has made me feel beautiful and put together.

If you are interested in upping your style game, check out the challenges. It's like having your own personal stylist, only way cheaper. You can join the Wardrobe Basics Challenge late for just $5 more. You can get in on the Winter Challenge now.

I think so much of these challenges that I signed up as a affiliate. Sign up through my links above and I earn a little commission. You pay no more and you will enjoy the journey and meeting all the nice, pretty ladies and making new friends with the same ambitions. We have all sizes, all shapes and ages from 20-something to over 70. Join us, we'd love to have you.

Find Your Style! 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Update: Writer's/Artist's Oasis or How to spend your life savings

Ok, so I didn't spend my life savings but a big chunk went out to the contractor for final payment. Yea! The construction is done! I have a door to the outside, always nice in case of a fire. But mostly convenient so I can do yard work and come in and write, rinse and repeat. Mostly I'm talking about setting out the sprinklers on my big trees and then going out every hour or so to move them. And getting up from the computer or drawing table every hour or so, at most, is good for us.

All the heavy furniture has been moved back in. Only half the garage is taken up by my junk as apposed to all the garage filled when the room was emptied. I'm still computing on a shaky card table that makes the monitor vibrate every time I hit a key. I have to finish, as in stain and varnish some shelves behind the desk where my printer, scanner and supplies will go before I can move my computer back in the room.

Here are some before and after pictures.
Too much furniture, not enough light. The ceiling is 9ft, the window was above my head, frosted and barred! The previous homeowner had designed it as a gun room for his hunting gear.

Furniture removed, popcorn ceiling removed, ugly green '70s commercial carpet removed.

Yeah! I have a door and windows.

Wow! Look how big the room is. It's all done. Note the floor. Sanded, stained and sealed concrete. It looks like a cross between stone and leather. It is the original floor which extends from the garage. The cracks also extend from the garage. The floor guy put a darker stain in the cracks so they show up, which help make it look like stone. Several colors of stain are used to give it the varigated look. My contractor came in and sealed the cracks so creepy-crawlies can't get in.
And there's my Peacock pendant light which I blogged about before.

This is the other end of the room where I've created an "alcove" with paint. The chocolate color extends from the corner onto the side walls and ceiling by 2 feet. I love the feeling it gives the room. Here the pendant is too low, I had it raised to match the light at the other end of the room. The contractor call the Peacock light my "dolled up" chandelier. I'm planning to paint the baseboard radiator and curbing the same brown. I had told the contractor not to paint it, but now I want to carry the color all the way to the floor.

The pendant cost me $5 at a rummage sale, then another $50 in paint and beads to "doll it up". The feathers were free courtesy my neighborhood peacock flock.

Now I am in the process of moving my stuff back in but NOT all of it! This is were the sentiments will be tried. I have artwork I created as far back as college, maybe even some from high school. And all the treasures I've collected because they tickled my fancy, were beautifully made, or remind me of a spacial occasion or trip. I have to decide who gets to stay and who goes. Working through that process will help me write better characters as I will have a deeper understanding when they have to give things up.

Since I started writing seriously nine years ago I have found that I will move out of my comfort zone more readily so that I can experience something new and add it to my Life Experiences Catalog to draw from when one of my characters needs it.

What are some of the things I've done outside my comfort zone? 

  • I toured a brothel out side Reno, Nevada (I was invited by a friend of a friend to join their club outing, so there were about 20 women on the tour). 
  • I joined Sisters On The Fly and have traveled the Southwest in my vintage trailer. 
  • I spent a lot of time caring for my father during his last days. Well, that wasn't out of my comfort zone, I loved helping him. It's just that I've never been the nurse-type but it's different when it's someone you love. And therein lies the writer's lesson: what will one do for someone they love, how far will they go?
  • I joined the authors' night at my local library. Me? The shy introvert? It was a meet and greet, so I didn't have to speak or anything as terrifying as that. 
  • I attended our local sheriff's office Senior Law Enforcement Academy. A week-long introduction to everything law and emergency related in our county. You should have seen the weapons they let us examine and hold! More on that week here
  • I volunteered to have gall bladder surgery! I wanted the "patient" experience. I had gall stones for years and they seldom bothered me. But I knew one day they could. However, I would say adding the experience to my Life Experiences Catalog was the big decision maker. 

Have you done something out of your comfort zone to add the adventure to your Life Experiences Catalog?