Friday, December 27, 2013

Day 24: Holiday Disasters!

**Funny how I had already started writing my account of what we went through with the storm and then found that Day 24's prompt was all about holiday disaster stories! Talk about timing! Here's what I began Monday night and finished this evening (Friday):

Hey everyone!

If you've been paying attention to the news here in Canada the past few days, you'll have heard that we experienced a horrific ice storm. It started here in Toronto and is moving east across the country.
Chris and I worked late Saturday and got home around midnight. We stayed up watching a movie, but at 1:20am, all the power in the area went out. We had passed by other areas that had lost power earlier when we were on the bus ride home, but didn't even think that we'd experience it as well.

We were so not thinking about any preparation the days before the storm, that we didn't stock up on any food or provisions. Hurray for silly people!

Luckily we had enough to scrape by for food, but holy cow, we just barely scraped by! Good thing we love the smell of candles in the apartment - we had those aplenty, so at least we had that going for us.

Here's the breakdown of what we went through starting from when we woke up on Sunday morning.

10:15am - Woke up to find out that not only did we not have any power, but also my cell phone was getting no reception. I saw that my aunt had called and left a message but there was no way to check it or call her back. Chris' phone battery was only about 30% full, so I made a quick call to my aunt. We were supposed to be going up to her place for Christmas dinner, but their power was out as well so we were all out of luck. I called my mom afterwards to let her know that I was okay, and she still had power so I was happy for that. Once I finished the calls, we plugged his phone into our laptop to use what little energy we had from that to boost it into it. We were fortunate enough to get the phone up to 81% before the laptop battery gave out.

I grabbed my camera and took a picture of the tree outside the living room window. We're on the 2nd floor of a lowrise building, and the tree towers over the lawn.

Since the milk in the fridge was slowly going to go bad, we ate as much cereal as we could that morning. It's become our little tradition for Chris to make lasagna for Christmas, so we already bought all the cheese for it. 2 containers of ricotta cheese and 2 big balls of mozzarella sat in the fridge just begging to be gnawed on by us. Add a half a loaf of bread, and that's all we had to last us throughout the day. The sidewalks were so awful, there was no way we could go out and get anything at all. We slid right into the bus shelter when we got off the bus the night before! It was insane that absolutely nobody had salted the walkways. Hunkered down for the day, we paced ourselves with what we had. But wait ... what's that in my bag? A muffin from Tim Horton's that I forgot to eat yesterday? Huzzah! More food! I was so excited by this that I took my time and ate it over the span of half an hour. Talk about being mindful!

Chris and I sat bundled up in our papasan chairs - him reading a book, and me doing crosswords, of course! - until about 2pm when I became quite tired. Since we couldn't have any coffee, I wasn't able to perk up like I always do in the morning. I didn't want to head back to bed when there only a few more hours of daylight left, but I could only fight for 15 more minutes before my tired body had to go and lie down again.

When Chris came in to wake me up, it felt like it must have been at least 10pm. I felt as though I'd had a pretty deep sleep, so I was feeling good. My heart sank when I looked at the digital alarm clock in the living room and it said 6:19pm.
I was only out for 4 hours? Sigh. oh well.

By this time, our best friend Shaun had made it back home (he lives in the apartment next door). He came over and we decided to play Scrabble. Our combined flashlight inventory would help the candles out in seeing the board and the Scrabble dictionary better.

Just before we started, Chris and Shaun decided to each drink the wines they had bought for Christmas dinner presents to help keep them warm. Since I don't drink, I ended up breaking open the box of Pot of Gold chocolates I had bought as a gift as well. 

SIDE NOTE - Many of my friends might be questioning how I could eat chocolate when they know I can't eat it. A few years ago, my doctor told me that the reason I was having pain in my right breast was the result of too much caffeine and chocolate. It happens to a lot of women when they get into their late 30s, especially if they have dense breast tissue. Well, there was absolutely NO WAY I was giving up coffee, so ... bye bye chocolate! Back to the outage ... since I couldn't have coffee that morning or afternoon, I could have some chocolate. It really perked me up and filled my tummy, but you know what? I haven't missed eating it at all. I thought it would be glorious to be able to enjoy it again, but it really didn't do anything for me. Ah, well.

Let's get back to Scrabble and the fabulous hand I had at one point. NOONEE!!   :)

After I demolished my competition (I sprang ahead by placing TOOTSIES on a Triple Word Score and then adding 50 points for a bingo), we brought out the Star Wars Trivial Pursuit board and played a round of that. Yes, we are huge nerds! The guys retired rather quickly after the game, but I took a picture of the aftermath. Couldn't believe how great the flash worked on my camera in the dark! 

Before Shaun went back next door, we came up with a plan. When the other people on our floor got home around 9pm, they told us that there was power up the road from us in the next grid (Victoria Park and Eglinton). We decided to get up at 4am to head up there and fill his tank up with gas. We'd also see if the Walmart that's open 24 hrs around Christmas was indeed open so we could stock up on supplies and food. 

We then put my present to him to use. A set of walkie talkies from Canadian Tire. I thought it'd be a funny gift seeing as how Shaun loves gadgets, and we live right beside each other. It seems kind of eerie that I had the foresight to somehow know we would need these! 

4am came rather quickly (we hit the hay around 11pm, but I couldn't fall asleep), and we got ready to hit the roads. It was so nice to see power on up there, and comforting too. There was no way we could be without power for too much longer if they had all of this still working right here, right? We followed the plan to a T. Getting gas was a breeze -there were hardly any cars out! And Walmart was open. I hope nobody judges me on shopping there. Yes, the way the workers are treated is horrible, but there were much-needed supplies to get. And get them, I did. When we walked through the door, my mind instantly went to candles. I asked a few people who were near the door where they were, and they pointed right behind us. "That's all that's left." We turned and saw a half-filled shopping cart and a box next to it, that was only about 1/4 filled. I grabbed 2 boxes of 3 candle-sets with a couple extra. Shaun grabbed 2 large candles. He then decided to go back to the car since he realized he could charge his phone in there. I continued on to the grocery area and grabbed what I could to last us a few days. 

When I was finished, we loaded the car up and then had the best moment ever. We drove across the street to Tim Horton's and got fresh, piping hot coffee. Aaaahhhhhh! It was the best! We got back home around 5:30am, and put all my shopping just outside the kitchen for yet another picture.

Think ahead next time, silly girl! :)

I was still not tired at all (even though my body felt exhausted), so I borrowed Shaun's radio to listen for updates and stayed up 3 more hours til I had to wake Chris up for work. We both worked 12 hours on Monday! As fate would have it, we were showing free Christmas movies all day, so we ended up being an unofficial warming centre. Though we were a lot busier than we were expecting, the most wonderful thing about Monday was that in lieu of charging for tickets, we were collecting donations for the
Stop Community Food Centre - both monetary and non-perishable food items.

We had such an outpouring of love, that we filled 10 huge boxes of food and raised over $1300!!!

Halfway through the evening, I found out from Shaun that our power was still out. He got an offer to stay at a friend's place, so I decided to book a hotel room for me and Chris. We couldn't really afford it, but we couldn't really afford not to, so I got us a room at the Courtyard Marriott downtown. When we finished work, we bolted down, got the room, grabbed a couple of Subway subs for dinner, went back and inhaled them, and then had THE BEST SHOWER EVER!!! We may not have had clean clothes to put back on, but feeling fresh again was the greatest early Christmas present we could have received.

I took a photo of our view the next morning. Hey Toronto!

We found out that our power came back on at 10am Christmas Eve morning - just 2 hours before checkout at the hotel. Huzzah! We grabbed a bunch of fresh food and then Chris went right home, while I went back to the theatre to grab more last-minute change to get through 2 days of bank holidays. Coming home to our apartment was a wonderful feeling. The supers had cranked the heat, so it wasn't freezing in there anymore. We made some dinner and later that night we *chose* to turn off all the lights and watch Alastair Sim's "A Christmas Carol" by candlelight.

It was quite the experience to go through (and sadly, some people are still without power now), but it was wonderful and humbling to see friends offering their homes and showers to us in our time of need. Seeing people come together during this ordeal really brought home what this time of year should really be about: being there and spending time with loved ones, and telling them how much you love them.

I hope this long and rambling story finds you all warm and happy and in the company of those close to you! Hugs galore to you all!
xoxo   :)

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