Editor’s note: We asked three people in the community to keep “journals of the ice days.” Here are their fourth journal entries. More installments will follow.
By Kathleen Corkery Spencer Special to The Spokesman-Review
This is our sixth day without electrical power. The gas fireplace works but the fan that pushes the air out into the room is dead. Cranked to capacity, the fireplace gets hot enough to heat the main floor to about 50 degrees.
I have become permanently attached to my snake light. Like a miner journeying deep into the earth, I take my light with me.
I twist my snake light around my neck and open the newspapers to read about what has happened in the world. I can get weather reports on my battery-operated radio. What I’m looking for are stories.
I read about other people’s tragedies and feel, in my relative ease, as trivial as Martha Stewart. The difference between me and a lot of other people is that I absolutely know there is an end in sight to my troubles, at least those connected to power lines.
I remember my mother’s advice to me at a particularly bleak point in my life. She said there would always be someone in the world whose suffering was greater than my own. I didn’t appreciate the wisdom of her words then. People in pain are often not philosophical. But now I understand.
One of our neighbors has a tree through his house. Most of the houses up the road are completely disabled. Dozens of broken trees cover the roads and driveways. Fat black lines are down everywhere. Tiny candles flicker in the windows of some of the houses; others have been abandoned. In the nearby woods, I hear deer running from the sound of another tree splitting and falling to the forest floor.
We get into our four-wheel-drive rig (a word my husband cannot utter without first flexing his biceps) and go in search of food. Our dining selection is not based on anything other than what’s open. We find a place whose fluorescent lighting and all-fried fare fits our needs perfectly.
Later, on the way home to eat Pepcid, we pass by a half-frozen WWP crew. I roll down the window and shout, “Thank-you.”
Corkery Spencer, 42, is a Spokane free-lance writer.
Blessed with the best friends in the world
By Marilyn Hart Special to The Spokesman-Review
No power yet. Out of my routine. No dishes to wash. No vacuuming to do. No laundry. But church was warm this morning. It’s the spiritual stuff that keeps us going.
My daughter Mandy and I came home from church and danced to the Celtic Nots. Their music keeps us warm. Thank God for our battery-operated boom box! Mandy is placing two layers of clothes and coats and hats on her Barbie dolls, dressing them just like we are dressed.
Inverse relationship between electric energy and spiritual energy. Same people. Were distant. Now close. When they couldn’t look at a game-show host, they were forced to look themselves and each other in the eye.
There were five of us in the bed last night - three wild old stray tom cats, Mandy and me. Computer animation has nothing over flashlight shadow puppets.
Friends have been great. They loaned us a propane tank and a camp stove. They even gave us extra propane, too. So we’ve been able to have hot soup, hot tea and wash our hands in warm water.
I remember one time six years ago when Mandy and I ventured out, braved a blizzard, and then returned home, bus-weary after picking up a toy from Toys for Tots. I went into the kitchen to revive my spirit with a cup of tea. Mandy opened the toy in the living room. She came into the kitchen and said, “Mom, does anybody love me?” I’ll never forget how cold our house was at that moment. Emotional cold is infinitely harder to bear than physical cold.
Mandy does not ask if anybody loves her anymore. Mandy asks if we are rich. I say yes. We have the best friends in the world.
Marilyn Hart, 43, is a Spokane single mom.
Lost without adrenaline-coffee high
By Gleyn Bledsoe Special to The Spokesman-Review
In the afternoon, I called over to my apartment and got my answering machine, so I knew my power must be back on. I was on an adrenaline and coffee high and had slept four hours in five days. It was time for a break. And I didn’t really have a choice.
My relief shelter manager, Walter, kept saying, “Go home!” So, at 4 p.m., I did. I opened the door to my apartment and saw all these blinking lights. It was the microwave clock, the VCR clock, the radio clocks. For some reason, I wandered around and set them all. My priorities flew out the window.
I grabbed a shower. They usually last about four or five minutes, but this one went about 15 minutes. I got a bite to eat. I made soup and toast. By this time, it was 5:30 and I sat down in front of the television news. I dozed off. I woke up to the news and thought I had only slept a few minutes. But it was the 11 o’clock news!
I then slept another hour. I got back to the shelter about 1:30 in the morning. I felt lost. That adrenaline and coffee high that fueled me the first several days was gone. I had to start all over again.
Gleyn Bledsoe, 32, is the Red Cross’ Libby Center shelter manager.