Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Uncle Cran Rejoins the 21st Century

Let me open Uncle Cran's report with the photo above, showing that the ice storm -- which came in two separate icy blasts -- included a bit of snow atop the ice. Uncle Cran tells us:
This is the lovely scene that greeted our eyes on Tuesday morning. I didn't get a picture of the 40-50 birds . . . blue jays, snow birds, woodpeckers, starlings, and a few others . . . that I fed with dog feed for about two weeks, until the ice melted. Yes, the birds did just fine on dog feed. We didn't have any bird seeds to give them.
Note the broken trees in that photo above . . . and this is just the beginning of a horrific tale of Uncle Cran's struggle against nature's formidable odds in "The Great Ice Storm of 2009!" But before we enter fully into Uncle Cran's world, let us wholeheartedly agree with Cousin Bill's sentiments:
Good to see your written words again! And welcome back to the world. Send pictures. Let me be specific -- make those ice pictures. We don't need any of you soaking in a wash tub or dressed in red long johns [and] screw soled work boots [while] clutching a circa 1940 Sear's catalogue in preparation for a midnight run to the outhouse. Trust Aunt Gay will edit all you send.
I especially second Cousin Bill's sentiments concerning the outhouse run and thank Aunt Gay for her prudent editing. Now, let's see the rest of those written words and the remaining photographic images, starting with Uncle Cran's summary of his ordeal:
After the biggest ice storm in recent history, we are surviving, and doing ok. Grover Borden, a local resident about 95 years old, said he has never seen anything like this in his lifetime. Since there were no previous stories current in our area from our parents or grandparents, it likely would be back in the 1800's to find anything comparable.
I would have expected Uncle Cran to provide some wild stories about the terrible ice storms of his youth, so this humility is unexpected. But I suppose that the reticence simply enhances this story of his current ordeal, a story that we now learn about in horrific detail:
We were stranded from Monday until Saturday after the storm, before we could get out of our yard and go to get groceries. When it became obvious that we were going to be one of the last ones to get electrical service restored, and likely not before March 1, I bought a 5000 watt generator. So for two weeks we huddled by the wood stove at night with candles and two old coal oil lamps. Luckily we had several flashlights after lights out at night.
Note how subtly Uncle Cran claims to have gone without sleep for two weeks! Burning candles and coal-oil lamps . . . and shining flashlights? Sounds like games of scarey shadows on the wall!
The generator is a a real help. We run it three times a day to keep our freezer and refrigerator usable, and have a wood stove in the basement, where we do our cooking, plus we have a bedroom in the basement where we sleep.
Oh, he now admits to sleeping!
When I grew up, we didn't have electrical service until I was 10 years old, and the only running water was twice a day we ran down to the spring a thousand feet away, with a bucket in each hand.
I interrupt Uncle Cran's addition to his "Legends of Uncle Cran" to point out that this is an addition to his "Legends of Uncle Cran" -- especially the point about being a grown-up at 10 years old! The precisely measured distance to the spring is also a nice detail, very authentic sounding. Anyway, back to his legend-making:
Now I run to Bakersfield and get city water in two large new plastic containers, and 6 gallon jugs. We buy bottled water to drink.
He's now claiming to run to Bakersfield for water! With his new titanium hip! On ice! As we see:
The ice was about 2 inches thick, and a total of almost three inches of precipitation. It was too dangerous to get on it, so I took an old worn pair of work boots, and ran screws through the outside edges of the soles and heels, and I could walk anywhere without slipping, so I could tend to the cows.
And run to Bakersfield...
I told Gay, This is just like the Good Old Days! . . . sure will be glad when it's over!
Right, because you can then safely brag about it. But before this grows too mythological, let's see the rest of those images . . . with Uncle Cran's sometimes cryptic commentary:

The morning after the night before.
There is an inch of snow over two inches of ice.

That, for instance, was a rather cryptic comment from Uncle Cran. But let's not remain mired overly long in hermeneutical musings on what Uncle Cran meant by "the morning after the night before." More photos await our critical, if meandering eyes:

On Tuesday after the first inch of ice came,
it rained all day and night, adding another inch of ice
with an inch of snow on top. When the limbs started falling,
it went on for three days. Every time a limb or tree broke
it sounded like a shot gun firing. We could hear them
down in the woods . . . every few minutes another boom.

Great guns! Just like hunting season!

Luckily every limb fell straight down,
and none of the trees in the yard broke over.
There wasn't any damage to buildings or vehicles.

Do limbs ever fall in any direction other than straight down? I'm just asking...

The view to the southwest.

Uncle Cran's helpful enrichment of our orienteering information -- to fill in the details that Google Earth lacks a perspective on as we gaze down upon Uncle Cran from above . . . as we've been doing for a couple of weeks now. I saw you, Uncle Cran, on your run to Bakersfield!

Just to the left of Gay's Mother's trailor
you can see the mound that is the cellar
that saved our lives during the tornado
on April 2, 1982.

Have you reported on that experience for our blog, Uncle Cran? Note that I say "our blog" . . . now that you're back.

I will push the 27 piles of limbs
out of the yard with the tractor.

His winter wonderland vanished, the ever-precise Uncle Cran gets back to work. But all kidding aside, Uncle Cran, we're glad to hear from you again and see that you did, in fact, survive the ordeal. We look forward to hearing more about this experience over the next several years as the story grows and becomes even more fascinating.

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At 7:23 AM, Blogger Bill said...

I've talked to Cran twice in the past couple of weeks, and if those conversations are indicative of written additions to follow in future blogs/comments we'll all have additional good reading.
And my measurements from the house to the spring were roughly 1750 feet, (he either had a longer stride as a 10 year old or bigger feet). Or he'd sipped a little before hoisting those buckets.

At 7:33 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Bill, some things -- such as the Ozark Standard System of Measures -- remain a mystery.

But I'm sure that we'll have more big tales to come.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

After I joined the Navy, I came home a year later, and to my surprise Mom and Archie had put in a water line from the spring to the house. Why was I surprised?
I should have known. Brother Woodrow assisted the backhoe man in installing the water line, and connecting the house. I suppose He also did some of the plumbing, although Mom told me that Uncle Earl Harbour put in the bathroom.
As far as the water line, nephew Bill must have been taking baby steps. The water line, according to Mom, was 960 feet, with a 60 feet rise from spring to house.
Since our route to the spring meandered through the barn lot, I added the estimated 40 feet.
As far as running to the spring goes, we actually usually walked, rather than ran. And my trips to Bakersfield were in my pickup.
I was hauling two new plastic cans, and 6 one gallon water jugs.
The truck motor was doing the running.
Now that you mention it, I never told the tale of the Tornado of '82......when I recover from this ordeal, maybe I can be persuaded to relate that experience.
Monetary funds aren't required, but would be appreciated.

At 8:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those plastic cans had 30 and 45 gallons of water in them respectively.
Plus 6 gallon jugs....a gallon of water times 8 pounds or so each....
Guess I should call James or Kevin or Mark to figure out the weight.
Can you picture me running down the road the 3 miles from Bakersfield carrying all that?

At 8:19 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Uncle Cran, for the extra details. I had no idea that the spring was 60 feet lower than the house.

How much lower was Big Creek? And what's the elevation of the highest point on that ridge? I realize that it's not so high above sea level, of course. I'm guessing around 800 feet.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good to "hear" from you Cran. I admit to some worry but all the tales of your superhuman capabilities did offer a degree of comfort.

Oh Jeff?

Actually Cran did need to explain the limbs fell "straight down." I'd bet when he survived the tornado he mentions (without I add - his titanium enhanced rear end) I'll bet any limbs falling then were not falling in that manner.


At 8:29 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yeah, JK, I realize that limbs can break off without a clean break and swing down to hit something not directly below. I was just being a wiseacre.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:51 AM, Blogger writtenwyrdd said...

Glad none of the limbs broke over the house! Ice storms are something we expect up here in Maine on occasion, but Texas and south of New England? Not generally an issue.

Must have been a mess down there.

At 10:15 AM, Blogger Bill said...

Let's tell Cran that's 675.97775 lbs., or about 635.97775 lbs. more than the Dr. advised he should lift.

At 10:43 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Written Wyrdd, ice storms actually hit the Ozarks rather frequently. Northern Arkansas often gets those arctic blasts that freeze the ground, trees, and all, then receives a Gulf weather system bringing rain that freezes on top of everything.

But this recent one was a doozy.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:44 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Bill, I'm glad that you -- rather than I -- did those calculations.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Do limbs ever fall in any direction other than straight down? I'm just asking"

I know that question was facetious, but as a native Arkansan, you know that limbs do not fall straight down during tornadoes and hurricanes.

If Arkansas, too, is getting a preview of spring like other parts of the country, then all that ice should be melted by now.

At 10:16 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sonagi, when I called home this morning, my brother John informed me that the weather report included storm and tornado warnings, so folks might see some of those horizontally falling limbs.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:04 AM, Blogger Al-Ozarka said...

We're happy that the stormy weather knocked a few of the hanging limbs out of our trees. Hunters will be in danger for months to come!

At 6:44 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I thought that this might happen. By the way, I've received even more photos just this morning, the most stunning ones so far. I may post some in a few days.

Jeffery Hodges

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