Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas 2007

Christmas 2007 is about over but we want to wish all of our friends and family a very Merry and Joyous Christmas. Christmas this year was spread out over three days so that we could get everyone in.

On Sunday, 12/23, we had our grand daughters and their mothers to our house for dinner and exchange of gifts. Aurora's mother had to work during the day so Aurora came over around 11:30 am and spent the day with Grandpa Rick and Grandma JoJo. Her mother, Maegan, had to work late and missed the rest of the bunch. She did get to enjoy a late dinner when she did arrive after 9:00 pm. Emma, who was two years old this past July, arrived around 4:00pm with her mother, Shelly, and her little sister, Lily. Emma's stepdad, C.J. also had to work. Joanne's mom, Mardell, also joined us as we shared a good Lasanga dinner together.

Christmas Eve we had our traditional gathering with Joanne's family. In addition to her mom we were joined by her niece, Carrie, and her family, husband John and son J.J. We shared a full blown turkey dinner and then had a good gift exchange. J.J. celebrated his first birthday earlier this month. John and J.J. had a good time playing with J.J.'s toys and entertaining our dog, Buddy Joe.

Christmas Day was spent with the Stone family at my oldest brother's house in Purcell, Oklahoma. My parents, George & Max, were able to celebrate with all four of their sons along with their wives. Pictured here are us four boys, Bill, Chester, David and Rick with our parents. The wives decided we should all sit together in the dinning room while they and the grandkids that were there sat at a table in the living room. We weren't sure if this was to give us a chance to visit and catch up or they figured this would be the loudest table. The wives there today were Nancy (Bill), Susan (Chester), Elizabeth (David) and Joanne (Rick). Also we had David's daughter, Lisa, and my oldest son, Alex. Later in the day Chester's two youngest sons, Jason and Justin, and Justin's wife Tiffany dropped in.

Some pictures of the day are below:
George &
Bill & Nancy

& Lisa
& Susan

& Alex
Buddy Joe

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Back to fairly normal

The winter weather has left us, at least for a few days, and we have gotten back into our normal routine. The temperatures this week have been in the high 50's and it got up to the low 60's today. It is supposed to hold like this through tomorrow and then we have a new winter storm coming in. So far we have only lost one tree from the ice storm. What is left of our Youpon Holly is now piled by the curb, waiting for the city to pick it up. This type tree is mostly brush/bush and it had very little usuable pieces for firewood. The house sure looks different with this tree gone from the entryway.

The Bradford Pear tree was also heavily coated in ice and this caused it to split at the fork. We were afraid that one side or the other was going to toppel over but it never did. After the ice melted off the tree pulled back together. I'm checking with a local nursery to see if the tree can be strapped together somehow in an attempt to save it. The Bradford Pear trees are very popular here but they really took a beating during this storm. It is normally accepted that 15 to 20 years is pretty much the life span of these trees. Most of the these trees in our neighborhood are between 12 to 15 years old. I hope to save this one because my youngest son and I planted this one about 13 years ago and really had to nurse it along to get it to take root in our very thick red clay soil.

Almost all the houses in the neighborhood have piles of brush and tree limbs piled by the curb. Although most of the houses have fireplaces it appears not very many people actually use them. I have taken out my trusty chain saw and have been liberating some of this timber for future use in our wood stove fireplace insert. Without a pickup in the family I have to use my HHR as a truck. This is the third load I brought home today. Was able to pretty much fill up one of the wood racks in the back yard with today's haul.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Winter finally hit Oklahoma

Although we had experienced some cool weather here in Oklahoma since we returned from the East Coast in October, it had really not gotten "winter" cold. That all changed this past week. On Sunday evening, 12/9, we started getting rain mixed with sleet. As this continued the temps got colder and the ice started forming on all the trees, fences and the electrical wires. By Monday morning the tree branches started crashing down, bringing down the electric lines with them. Joanne's mother lost power around 11:00 am Monday morning and ours went out about an hour later. The house and trees were coated in ice by this time. After listening to the radio news reports it appeared that this was a major strom and we would be without power for a day or so. At that point we decided to get the motor home from the storage lot, park it in the driveway and move into it. With it's generator we would have heat, lights, TV, microwave and all the other comforts we did not have in the house.
As the week drug on we realized the enormity of the situation with over 600,000 homes and businesses without power in Oklahoma, over half of that number in the Oklahoma City area. We kept a fire going in the wood stove in our fireplace to keep the house from getting freezing cold and to protect the water pipes but it was not enough to get it warm enough to stay there. In the coach we were warm and comfortable. We did elect to go out to eat each evening rather than try to cook in the coach. Jo's mom accompanied us to dinner but elected to stay in her house at night, having gas logs in her fireplace to keep warm. Jo would take her a pot of coffee each morning, in a thermal pot, that would last her most of the day. Her power came back on Wednesday.
By Wednesday we were made aware that it would take some time for them to get all the broken lines repaired in our neighborhood. I took an assessment of our trees and shurbs in our front yard and saw the damage. A large Youpan Holly tree in our entryway was completely broken down and was ruined. This tree was approximately 25 years old and protected our front door from the western sun during the summer months. Also the other shurbs in the entryway were coated in ice and leaning over. It made it almost impossible to get to our front door. Also, we have a rather large Bradford Pear tree in the middle of the front yard that my youngest son and I planted about 15 years ago. It was now loaded with ice and had split in the fork of the main branches. (As the ice melted off the branches have come back together but it appears that the split goes almost half way down the trunk of the tree. Not sure yet if this tree can be saved.) On Wednesday the temps came up some so I took this opportunity to get my chain saw out and take out the Youpan Holly and the other damaged shurbs in the entryway. The house really looks different without that large Holly tree.
As the week drug on most of the ice melted away but we still did not have power. On Thursday we were informed that they had found at least a dozen different broken power lines in our neighborhood and it would probably take at least another week or possibly two before we would get power. Concerned about a freezer full of food in the garage, I ran a cord from the freezer out to the coach and operated it off the generator. We did lose some food that was in the two refridgerators. By Friday another front was moving in with snow forcasted. This strom did not come in as strong as predicted and we got about two inches of snow on Saturday morning.
Although we had most of the comforts of home in the coach we did not have access to the internet on the computer. Our internet access is through DSL and the modem requires electricity and a phone line. After going six days without being on the computer I was starting to have withdrawals. On Saturday evenings we normally travel to my parents home, about 45 miles south, to play cards with them and my brother and sister-in-law, who live close to the folks. We decided to go down early in the day so I could log on to my brother's in house WiFi with my laptop and check my e-mails, pay some bills and get my computer fix. (When I logged on I had over 530 e-mails, not counting the over 300 in the Spam Box.) I took care of the necessary stuff and then we joined the folks for our card games.
Later we headed home and, after dropping Jo's mom off at her house, we were discussing how great it would be to drive into the neighborhood and find the power on, even though we had been told it would still be a week or two before that happened. Well, miracles do happen. As we turned off the main street onto our street we noticed some houses had lights on. As we came around the corner we saw that our porch light was on and there were lights on in the house. We are not sure what time it came up but it had been on long enough that the furnace had kicked on and the house was warm. So, we are now back in the house and getting settled back in. Tomorrow I'll take the coach out to Flying J and re-fill the propane and fuel tanks and put it back in storage. At that time we'll know how much this power outage really cost us considering the price of diesel fuel.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Baby, it's cold outside!

Winter has definitely hit here in Oklahoma. The ice storm moved in last night and has not let up. They are predicting this to continue through the first part of the week. So far the firewood is holding out so we are staying warm. Buddy has decided the best place in the house is directly in front of the wood stove with it's forced air blower.

We celebrated our favorite nephew's first birthday yesterday. His mother, Carrie, is Joanne's neice and is one of the joys of our lives. A great party was held at her in-laws house with as many family members we could cram in there. This is a picture of Carrie, John and the birthday boy, JJ.