Things that go bump in the night

Last night we had a really bad storm in the area.  Bad enough that even in a brick house I could hear the wind blowing outside.  Coupled with a torrential rain (we live on high ground so flooding isn’t really an issue) that had lasted most of the day there were parts of town that were inundated with the wet stuff but not too terrible.

This past winter we’d had a fairly significant heavy snowfall that had weakened several trees near the property.  One in particular while belonging to the village also encroaches upon our front yard slightly, meaning one of the larger branches hangs over the property line.  The tree’s base has a rather old but unsightly gash in it, and it’s probably on it’s way towards dying in the next 10 years or so.

Last night around 10:45 I heard what sounded like a significant crash from the front of the house.  One of the cameras in the front of the house showed some accelerated activity in the form of leaves blowing around the steps, but nothing that suggested there was anything major amiss.  Looking out the front door, my wife informed me that there was something in the darkness that didn’t look quite right, that her view toward the street seemed to be blocked.  Turning on the porch lights I could see why.

windstorm1Granted this is the next morning, but going right off from our porch (off to camera right) I could tell that a significant portion of the tree I had been concerned about since this past winter was now residing in the front yard.  I put on my shoes and a jacket, went outside (it had stopped raining at this point but was still pretty windy, probably 20-25 mph gusts) with a flashlight and my phone.  Couldn’t really take any pictures at that point as there wouldn’t be any depth of field.  With my flashlight I could tell the positioning of the tree and the piece that had broken off.  It wasn’t impeding traffic so it seemed pointless to call anyone to take care of it.

About an hour later, the whole thing became moot anyway as the power went off.  Not just for us, but apparently for pretty much our whole town and quite a few towns around us.  The local electrical co-op posted on Facebook that NYSEG had for some reason shut off the electrical connection between them, so they were without power to distribute.  Until that was turned back on, their hands were effectively tied.  Certainly it had something to do with the windstorm, as the NYSEG website’s outage page was lit up like a Christmas tree with outages all over the state.  So it wasn’t just my area, it was all over the place.  One can surmise what probably happened.  One grid goes down, and like dominoes, as each grid is overloaded by others failing, someone needs to pull the plug before they all go down.  So, in my opinion, that’s what someone decided to do.

Regardless, the power was off for a little under five hours.  Came back on around 4:30 and in the morning, I took a few pictures before calling the village street department and informing them about the tree.  About an hour later a crew arrived and disposed of the debris.  I chatted with the foreman about the final disposition of what was left of the tree, and he agreed it will probably have to all come down, it’s pretty rickety the way it is.  Even so, it’s still standing as I’m typing this out.  We’ll see if they bother to remove it.

Kitty Forgiveness

I made a boo-boo the other day.  And inconvenienced the kitty inadvertently.  We’d been having power outages on Sunday, and it completely escaped me that the kitty box runs on electricity.  We’ve been using a LitterMaid™ for the past ten years, and it sits in the basement, raking the box approximately fifteen minutes after the kitty uses it.  I empty the collection box twice a week (usually on Wednesdays and Sundays) and fill the box with litter as needed.  I’ve been getting the inexpensive litter from Petco for at least the past three years, I paid the initial $20 for the 30# bucket and have been refilling it every time we’re in the area shopping or on some other errand.  It’s $10 for subsequent fill-ups, and that’s a nice bargain.

While I was working on Sunday, in the morning there was a blackout due to the state electricity provider (NYSEG) having a series of problems in their transmission lines that (from what I later heard and read) was caused somewhere in the Hudson Valley near the Indian Point nuclear plant.  Where I live has its own electrical co-op, so they provide electricity at a cheaper rate than what others can get from the state.  It’s one of the reasons it’s so relatively (by comparison) inexpensive to live here when we were outside of the village/town here, our utility costs were at least double what they are now.  So it’s one of the big reasons we stay put.  We could live somewhere that was more picturesque, but the costs of doing so are just prohibitive.

As I was informed by the wife at lunch via text, the power had gone out several times.  We have a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) at the place where our main computers reside, so if there’s a momentary or short term power failure, our computers are unaffected, we can shut down safely, rather than being shut down all of a sudden, which is not good for the components.  Businesses use the same sort of contraption for their registers since they’re highly susceptible to things like power spikes, brownouts and things of that nature.  Need to protect the data at all costs.

However, the cat’s litter box is considered a non-essential commodity in that vein, so I don’t have it hooked up to one.  And when the power goes off, it stops working.  And doesn’t turn itself back on.  It requires one of the humans that live here to remember that there are things plugged in that won’t just turn themselves back on when the power returns.  Except, in this case, both of them forgot.  And it didn’t turn out well for the littlest resident of the house.

Starting Sunday evening, Rochester was being vocal about something but I couldn’t figure out what it was.  I checked his food bowl and it was mostly full, his water fountain was running as it was supposed to be, but the fill container on the back needed some more water.  I filled that and cleaned up around his area of the spilled food, thinking that this might be the cause of his consternation.  He looked up at me, rower’d a couple of times and had a bit more food.  Then went off to another part of the house.  A encountered him a few more times during the evening and there was a similar conversation.  The cat box just didn’t occur to me, since we keep it in such an ‘out-of-the-way’ area.

By Monday morning, I’m certain things were getting out of hand as it had been about 20 hours since the power went off the first time.  Kitty was probably getting a little concerned that his box wasn’t clean when he needed to go to the bathroom, but since he doesn’t speak English, he wasn’t able to adequately communicate.  I got up for work as I always do around five, and he wasn’t at the top of the stairs to greet me, which I thought was a little unusual.  His normal routine is to come upstairs while I’m in the bathroom, keep me company and sit at the top of the stairs for his morning rub while I’m putting on my socks in preparation of going downstairs to get dressed and have my morning tea.

In my morning routine that day, there was nothing that required me to go to the basement, so I was still oblivious to the fact that something needed to be done about the cat box.  Rochester was still vocal about something, but I went off to work thinking things were ok here at the house.  Upon arriving home again nine hours later, I just happened to look down the basement stairs and saw something that looked like a pile of brown at the foot.  Going down to investigate, I found it to be a pile of kitty crap.  Oh dear.  It all started to make sense.  Glancing at the cat box, I saw there were piles of litter here and there, brown spots and heaps and the light on the box was most definitely off.  Kitty had finally had enough of trying to find fresh spots to do his business and started to (logically) make a new spot for his bathroom duties.  I felt really bad that I had goofed.

I cleaned up the area where he’d crapped, cleaned the box thoroughly and refilled it with litter.  Turned it back on and came upstairs to apologize.  Giving my buddy a good rubbing, telling him how sorry I was I couldn’t understand him as he harangued me a good bit about being a stupid self-centered human.  Yup, guilty as charged, buddy.  I told the wife about what had happened and she face-palmed as she admitted she forgot about it too.  Just one of those things that you don’t necessarily think about when it happens, you reset the clocks on appliances like the microwave and Keurig, and then go on about your day.

As I mentioned to a friend of mine whom I was talking to the next day relating what had happened, I suggested I needed to make a ‘to-do’ list of things that need to be checked after a power outage.  She said that it was probably a good idea, and would look forward to me doing something in that regard.

Since then, no more power outages, and Rochester is back to using his litter box.  So we’re set, at least until the power goes out again.