Our host for this week's Fun Monday is Bookworm Extraordinaire Angela over at the The Lurchers . Angela wants to know what we're reading now. Are we enjoying it? Why? Why not? Well, like any Fun Monday blogger who has a story she wants to tell, I think I can make my tale of survival fit Angela's topic. See what you think.)
Earlier last week I finished Lipstick Jihad about a young Iranian-American journalist's account of her struggles to live in both the U.S. and the Middle East. Check out my Shelfari listing if you want to know more about this book. After finishing Lipstick, I immediately began reading the novel, Pretty Birds, by Scott Simon, host of NPR's Weekend Edition. Simon has covered ten wars, from El Salvador to Iraq. Pretty Birds, his first novel, is the story of Irena Zaric, a Muslim teenager who was the victim of ethnic cleansing waged by the Serbs during
the seige of Sarajevo in the early 1990s. Irena was a teenager at top of her game: pretty; star basketball player for her high school girl's team; reader of pop culture magazines; admirer of Madonna and the Clash; good friend; wearer of Air Jordans; and owner of a pet gray parrot, Pretty Bird, whom she taught to make the sounds of Sarajevo from the whirring of a washing machine to the staccato punches of mortar fire.
The good life vanishes when Irena and her parents are driven from their apartment, brutalized by Serbian thugs, and forced to cross the river which divides the city of Sarajevo to live on the Bosnian side. Daily life is a string of horrible realities in order to survive in a war zone--moving about their apartment in a crouch so they won't be shot through the windows by snipers, carrying water and dodging bullits, stealing from the dead to buy food, eating boiled grass, being isolated from friends. Eventually Irena is recruited and trained to be a sniper for the Bosnian side because of her reputation as an athlete. "Pretty birds", as the girl snipers were called , were highly prized soldiers--they freed the boys and men for the front lines; they were small, swift, and hard to detect as they moved around the hills of the city or through bombed out buildings. They were like birds in flight, here and then gone.
Luckily this was a page turner from the beginning. I needed something to take my mind off my own struggles here in Louisville. I needed a reminder that people manage in a crisis--dare I say, even learn from their misery? I've tried to keep all these survivors in mind since last Tuesday, January 27, when Kentucky was hit by the worst ice storm in recent history. All of Kentucky was paralyzed by the rain-sleet-ice-snow-ice that hit us without let up. In Jefferson County alone over 174,000 homes were still without power on Saturday. Here's a photo account of how we survived the storm on Summit Court:
Tuesday, January 26--the power went of around 10:00 p.m. Outside I could hear first the rain, then sleet coming down. The house immediately starts getting cold. The temperature drops and in the early morning hours I'm awakened to the terrifying cracks and crashes of falling tree limbs from all over the neighborhood. I go from window to window trying to see what's going on. I see big limbs down in the yard, perhaps on my neighbor's car. I hope it's not the entire tree. At 5:a.m. the power comes back on for about an hour so we can get the initial news reports. More tree branches crack and crash and the house is dark again.
Wednesday, January 27--this was the view out my front door at daybreak:
My neighbors and I stood in my front yard and watched this tree break in half over the street that leads into the Summit Court cul-de-sac, tearing down more power lines as it crashed. We are stuck. None of the houses have power.
So, we're officially without power, only communication is by cell phone (even worse for a blogger and e-mailer, no internets!). My sister lives in a senior citizen's apartment nearby. She thankfully is just fine. My neighbors start packing up and leaving to stay with friends, relatives, and in hotel rooms. Willie and I decide to stay. I drag out the storm box which contains candles, matches, batteries, flashlights and a can of sterno. I rig up this "stove" by the back door so I can kick it outside quickly in case it catches on fire. We can have hot coffee--which makes me happy--while the snow starts to come down seriously and add to the ice weight already on the trees
I decide to keep a storm journal of what happens and how we deal with each crisis. Notice the "we". As the week went on Willie was my only company, except for two cell phone calls each day to save the charge. Willie, two phone calls and the newspaper. Thankfully the Courier Journal was delivered every day. My only contact with the outside world. It was troubling to read about how people were suffering, including seven deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Thursday, January 28--the power is still off. The house is seriously cold. More snow is falling and the temperature dips to 12 degrees Thursday night. I make coffee and heat soup on the sterno stove. Willie and I stay wrapped up in everything we own. I read Pretty Birds with a booklight and Willie is by turns bored and sleepy. This is his bored look.
Friday, January 29--the power is still off. The house is frigid. The temperature hit 11 degrees before daybreak. It's getting lonely. I keep writing, recording the ice storm of January '09 for posterity. Up in the day, Willie suggests that we walk out in the neighborhood and see what the storm has done. I don my snow/ice cleats and we head out, camera in hand. Here's what we saw:
The happiest sight was at least a dozen power trucks just a few streets over from Summit Court. Adjoining states sent in crews to help restore power to the over 205, 000 dark and cold homes in Louisville. I wanted to hug them! As late as 11 p.m. I could see and hear them working on lines the next street over.
Saturday, January 31--up in the morning the boys of Georgia Power pulled their trucks in the cul-de-sac. Good things began to happen! New wires were strung and at 4:10 p.m. we had power. Hurray for the Georgia Power Boys!
It still looked like this on Saturday afternoon, but we had survived without leaving home--no harm done. And, I also finished reading Pretty Birds today. Highly recommend.
Now Angela's final question was what one book would you take with you if stranded on a desert island? That's easy. I'd take a big blank journal so I could write my own story. Although, it wouldn't be about surviving an ice storm, do you suppose? Now be sure to check out everyone else's Fun Monday reading list.