6 July 2011

Let there be light!

You shall not pass!
We finally have power!
Today was a busy day of organising generators, power cords, working out what the shop could and couldn't provide and all of us wearing lots of clothes.  Brrr!
I went for a short drive and examined the tree which had caused our power issues.  It was quite a large pine trtee and when it came down it pulled down about 500 metres of power line.  You can see at the foreground of my photo the blackened grass.
You may also notice something else about the picture.  No warning signs.
The council - which would take me to court for the most minor infringement of work and safety rules - finished their day without any warning signs that a tree was blocking the road.  The local fire brigade received a call late last night from a truck driver stopped at the tree that the way was blocked and the fire brigade volunteers put up some warning tape and road hazard signs.  Many times today we saw cars drive along the road only to return a short while later and try another way.
We were reasonably busy at the shop providing tea (no coffee machine) and hot food.  The generators powered all our freezers and the milk fridge so my stock was all safe.  Cheers were heard around the village at about 5:00pm when the power returned. 28 hours is a long time without power.

5 July 2011

Ariel Update #3

On Tuesday to Thursday we attended talks held by Mons O'Rielly and a different guest speaker every day. On Friday we went to a prayer vigil outside the abortion clinic for 2 hours then wandered home the long way. The time after dinner turned into an impromptu hymn singing session with R, T and some of the girls. G played the violin then M taught some of us the Pride of Erin dance. All of a sudden someone said "We are going in to the city. Want to come?"
Immediately, everyone rushed around, changing clothes, checking hair and so on and so forth. One of the housekeepers had ordered 2 cabs and then an additional 2 cars worth of us suddenly decided to come as well. We had a bit of an issue with cars, but this was good for some of them because they kept running inside to change a shirt or pickup something that was forgotten.
When we got to Times Square we had to walk for ages to get to the first group. By then they had finished and were on their way home - so all that walking for nothing!
Our group of about 8 girls went in to Manhattan to do some shopping and then go to a baseball game. I went along because I was the only one in the group who hadn't planned on going to the baseball game, but I ended up going anyway. I was standing up all day because the baseball was 4 hours long! After the game, most of us went to dinner in Soho but Me, M, H and P sort of got separated from the rest and went to a diner. We wandered around for a while and almost got lost on the way home.
On Sunday after Mass we went to St Patrick's Cathedral. It is so beautiful. Everything is carved with a pattern or an angel or something. There are heaps of side altars to different saints and a gift shop right in the church.
I was sort of in charge of getting J and G to the ferry tour we were doing as a group by 1.30 pm. We got there at 1.45 pm because we got on the Downtown train instead of the Uptown train - twice!
After the tour, which was three hours around the islands, we went to dinner in a stretch limo. There were about thirteen of us. It was really loud and a bit squishy. The dinner was in a fancy restaurant and I sat with the Marionites, L and G. We finished first and then went shopping. It was pretty funny because P actually knew where we were going but TH was impatient and went on ahead. It's a good thing we only had to cross a few streets. And Boy! Can they shop! It was amazing how much TH bought and he is always trying to get a discount. We actually got home at a reasonable time tonight.

Ariel Update #2

A passing Statue of Liberty

On Monday we went on a UN tour. Because we are such a big group the first tour had about 10-15 and the second tour had 20, so we had a guide all to ourselves. There were lots of debates, jokes and questions by the Marionites and K and D mostly, but most of us had a say. Some were a bit embarrassed by the vigorous discussion but I thought it was funny.
The first question the tour guide asked us was, "Where are you from?" One of us said, "We're Catholic, Pro Life and, oh yeah, from Australia."
After the UN we went to Grand Central Station for lunch, then went on the Staten Island Ferry which went past the Statue of Liberty. We left about 5 to 7 of our group on the other side. We recovered them before we left but lost 2 to 3 of the Marionites in the city. We weren't very worried for them. They would be left alone because they are big and tough boys.
How do you think the real Statue of Liberty compares with Rose?

For whom the wind blows ...

Flying Trampolines, Batman!
The morning started with a "lazy" wind - that is, one which goes straight through all your clothes rather than bothering to blow around you.  By 9:00am the wind picked up and blew a gale.
At Midday we had some power flickers, then at 1:45pm the power went out.  (It is still out now (8:00pm) as I write this using laptop power and mobile internet).
Trees have fallen down all over the area.  The main one of concern which knocked out our power was about 5 km along the main road from here.  The huge pine tree fell taking down the high tension power lines all over the road, knocking down about 200 metres of wire.  Luckily the old wooden power poles had recently been replaced with newer concrete ones which held up marvellously.
Current estimates are that power won't be back up until around 6:00am tomorrow.  Power blackouts have affected around 25,000 homes.
This lovely photo is of our trampoline against the side fence.  The trampoline was secured by a number of sandbags but today that wasn't enough.  It travelled over 10 metres (30 feet) before being stopped against the wire fence and small tree.
The temperature today was around 6C (43F) but a windchill of -10C left an effective outside temperature of -4C (25F)!
So here we are enjoying candle light, listening to the howling wind and the gentle rumble of our generator.  The generator is plugged into our refrigerator and freezers.

2 July 2011

House Upgrades

Peter Monkeying Around
 After many years, we have finally saved enough money to upgrade the old army barracks in which we started our home owning experience.  It needed upgrading - we will show some before and after shots in a later post.
Part of the plan for the upgraded barracks is for the three older boys to move into one of the rooms, leaving their room for the two younger boys.  Just outside their new bedroom door is a VERY firmly secured metal bar for doing chin ups and other simple bar based exercises.
It did not take long for the bar to be tested.
For strength, the builder lifted himself a few times, then Eric did his share of testing.
Then we had four of the children hang on the bar.
All of this worked without a wiggle from the bar.
We have declared the bar "Secure".
So Peter, our acrobat, set up a chair a short distance away, ran from the end of the hall, leaped onto the chair and onto the bar swinging with one hand.
That is why we lined all the walls with wood.  No more plaster holes in this part of the house!
Just hanging around, doing nothing
When Ariel left the New York, we had only begun the big changes to the Barracks. By the time she returns, it should all be finished. I was away all week, working in Sydney and I certainly was surprised at the change.

A tribute to New York

Statue of Miss Liberty
As part of Ariel's preparations for her New York trip, one of our customers gave her this priceless memory of their trip to New York - a foam Statue of Liberty tiara.
Today Rose thought it would be fun to wear it as we pondered the strangeness of not having Ariel around.
I asked Rose, "What did the Statue of Liberty look like?" and she showed me.  So we went outside to catch her shadow, but she had to squint because of the afternoon sun.
I figured she posed pretty well.  It must be because she is our American child.