Christmas Cactus in the Snow or How I Survived the Texas Blizzard of 2021. We all have a story to tell.
I wanted to write, to let you know how the week went. And through my still frayed emotions I wanted to write to give myself some perspective. As it goes for me, if I can explain it to you, then I have gained some clarity for myself.
I wanted a picture or a piece of art to help me tell the story, I found this watercolor, Christmas Cactus in the Snow from maybe 2007. When I painted it, when I got done, I decided it was visually confusing. I know it is two pots of Christmas Cactus in a snow drift, but I think it is hard to tell what it is. The colors are beautiful, it looks like snow, but there is confusion. Those lovely plants aren’t supposed to be in the snow. It seemed like the perfect piece of art for this week of confusion, disorientation and being out of place. The perfect visual statement for a Texas size blizzard. It was a lovely snow fall, but good grief we were not prepared and had no way to be or even comprehend something like this could happen here.
I am not the only one effected by the storm and certainly my situation was far from the worst. But I was affected, and it was difficult. There is a little anger here too about how things are run in Texas. That I would go without electric for 18 hours, heat not working for 24 more, that my son would be without heat going on three days and hearing of people without electric going on 4 days makes me cry angry tears.
Monday 4 a.m. through Tuesday 10 p.m.
My heat and electric went out Monday at 4:00 in the morning. It came back on 18 hours later. At that time, it appeared that my heater wasn’t working. I did have a space heater, so I barricaded myself in my bedroom putting towels under the doors. I was able to keep warm all night. The electric came on at 10:00 o’clock in the evening with the heater blowing cold air. My condo was at 45 degrees. Two hours later with the air blowing it was 41. There didn’t seem to be a lot of options, so I turned the heat off.
Casie, my son’s girlfriend had volunteered to come get me earlier, but I wasn’t sure of the condition of the roads and didn’t want her to risk it. I was hoping my electric would come back on.
That night it was 12 degrees outside and went down to 5 by daylight. I turned the heat off because it was blowing cold air into the room I was trying to heat. To stay warm the next day while working from home, I worked from my bed using the space heater, under three quilts and two bed covers. I had on gloves, a hat, a scarf, multiply layers of clothes, and three pairs of socks. The temperature in the condo went to 40 degrees and stayed there. For that I am grateful. Some people’s houses went below 30 degrees with pipes freezing and breaking.
When I got chilled, I walked around, going up and down my stairs until I got warm. I was able to warm-up that way.
To Stay or Not to Stay?
Casie offered to come get me again after work. This time I said yes, although at first, I said no. A HVAC company close by had put me on an emergency list. That put me on the schedule for the next day. I wasn’t sure if I could get back to the condo because of the roads. We were expecting more snow. So, I abandoned my condo. Extremely relieved I walked into my son’s home where I was finally warm and had a hot meal waiting for me.
Minutes before Casie arrived the HVCA company called and said they could come that evening. But I was already packed, and everything was set in motion. It was ready to start snowing again and I would be stuck if the unit could not be repaired. And I was done being cold.
As we were driving to their house, I texted my neighbor, asking him to let me know if the electric when off again. He told me his heater blew cold air for hours and but finally began to heat up his place. After 18 hours it had finally reached 65 degrees.
Safe and warm, my attention was turned to my son Scott in Austin who was dealing with no heat and car battery issues. He made it to his girlfriend’s house to have her heat go off the next morning. They were now on day two without heat.
I was able to go back to the condo the next evening although the roads were bad, and turn on the heat again. Casie and I waited for 10 minutes and first I smelled the heat and then we both faintly felt the first signs of warmth. It was 27 out, so maybe the unit was good to go.
Now, the heater was working, but the water was shut off because pipes had burst in another unit. I left again, praying the heat would continue to warm the place up and that I would not come back to a mess.
The next day was sunny and a bit above freezing so I came back to stay. I am still without water, but the roads are clear. I can shower at Sean and Casie’s. There is plenty of food in the condo, clean clothes and lots of bottled water because I had miraculously taken care of all of that before the storm. It was not planned. Now I am pretending I am camping. I told my mom this evening all the camping we did when I was a child has been very useful this week.
This is the story of what went on, but there is a whole internal story I haven’t told. I am still frazzled and exhausted. I am trying to rest. This won’t be over for me until my water is back on and I know if I have plumbing issues or not. But I am optimistic and grateful.
I have been working on a two-part conversational interview with Mariajose Fernandez, the Family Therapist who wrote the article on self-care over the holidays. We will be covering the topic of the therapeutic effects of art. Mariajose will share how she uses art with her clients and answering many of my questions.
Stay safe and warm and love those around you. It goes a long way. And as always Be Inspired!