Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ozarks drivers be warned!

It seems the good citizens of Republic are on a rampage. Maybe they're retaliating for the flack about the fish symbol on the city flag from a while back. Maybe they just need the revenue because they've given too many tax breaks to Wal Mart. Whatever the reason, Republic has apparently become a speed trap.

Feel like heading towards Republic Ford at 360 MPH, as the commercials suggest? Ha! I would not suggest going 61 MPH on Highway 60 these days. And keep an eye out for the speed limit signs. The limits may change without warning--they're almost as tricky as Macks Creek used to be back in their speed trap hey-day. Make sure your license plates are current and easily seen. Mud on the numbers? Uh oh, you're in a heap 'o trouble there, fella.

One sunny afternoon, Thinking Things was at a stoplight just outside Republic. Since something painful was stuck between my contact lens and my eye, I decided it would be a smart choice to pull into a little historic marker area just past a gas station and fix it. Good idea, right? Seems it was suspicious behavior, though. The Republic city police officer who came to my window said he thought I was hiding from him because my license plates were past due.

Oh puh-lease. I wish I was that creative. No, that's not right, surely if I was going to hide from the police, I'd find someplace better than right beside the highway in a rest area.

Anyway, you've been warned: Republic is no place to be in a hurry, or to forget your insurance card, or not wear your seat belt, or have an overdue plate, etc. etc.

Not that you'd do that anywhere else anyway, right?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It is so easy

to complain and worry--as I so readily did when the airwaves were full of weatherpeople spouting doom and gloom about apocalyptic ice storms. And it was so easy to let it pass virtually unnoticed when the worst case scenario didn't come to pass--for me.

For many other folks, including my mom in Tulsa and my sister in Bartlesville, Springfield's January ice storm had just boomerang'ed back around, about 185 miles to the west.

Thank God my nearly-80 year old mother kept her power. She lives in almost constant fear of power outages, and keeps a supply of no less than 20 cans of potatoes, pears, peaches and the like on hand at all times. But she is way too frail physically to survive without heat, she breaks bones just by stepping too hard, and psychologically would not have coped at all. At all.

The utility company buried the lines in her neighborhood last summer, and though that is no guarantee the lights will stay on, it sure helps. Living a few blocks away from a gigantic (and oddly pepto bismol pink) hospital doesn't hurt your odds either.

That sort of luck chased my seeester, too, at least the living near a hospital part. Or maybe it is her Unitarian "I'm kind of amused by this entire life" outlook that makes it all fall into place. Anyway, she's got lights and heat, too, so she can continue her do-gooder work which is essential in the best of times, and during this sort of challenge, people like my dearest sib are precious and few.

Looking at the slide shows on the Tulsa World website was sort of like looking at a scrapbook from last January.

And I did not want to look. So after the first few days, I stopped clicking on the web page. As much as I hate the cliche, I have truly "been there, done that, got the T-shirt."

I tried to offer advice for the Maternal Unit from the benefit of our 13 2/3 days of no power, no lights, waiting for the blessed sound of a whirring refrigerator motor.

She might as well have put her hands over her ears and sang "la la la la" for all the good I did her. She gets her advice from the Tulsa Daily World and her State Farm Man thank you very much, and not from the peanut gallery.

That's okay. It is much more fun, during non-ice storm days, listening to her rail on about how "that awful George W. Bush" is ruining this country, and how "there is no reason US oil companies can't be using the wells we already have to get at the tertiary oil and gas sources..." Seriously--that's my mama.

Get that kind of heat going and we'll melt the ice in T-town in no time flat.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

CU speaketh

Props to KSPR, who during their Friday newscasts-showed an interview with CU's Joel Alexander. Guess I'm not the only one wondering what CU is doing to prepare for the potential storm. Alexander says they've done all they can, and have made sure they've gotten in touch with contractors around the region so that they can get power back on quickly if needed. I'd like to say he looked fully confident when he said this, but as a do-gooder, I hate to lie.

In my still-storm-wearied brain from last January, I interpreted his words to mean this:

Somewhere in downtown Springfield, between the tunnel of vampires and credit card savvy city employees, a contingent of utility workers and contractors sit at the ready. They're our version of Caped Crusaders. These men and women do nothing but prepare for the ice, with thermoses full of hot, steaming coffee, wearing an extra layer of long johns and thick woolen socks under their boldly embroidered CU capes. The first CRACK of broken branches will send them off to the Asphlund lot where they will jump into fully loaded yellow trucks, laden with spools of wire, every possible tool and magic wand needed to bring warmth and light back to the huddled masses. They'll speed off into obscure neighborhoods where, this time, they will hook up first the homes who had to wait the longest the last time.

There's still a part of my brain that holds out hope for a lovely icy-cold winter storm--with power--so we can curl up in front of the fireplace (where there's a fire for pleasure not as the sole heat source, thanks)and read. The Young One is reading Stephen King's The Stand (his English teacher thinks he's reading A Tale of Two Cities) and I'm finishing David Baldacci's Last Man Standing. There are three or four other library books waiting, not to mention bookshelves full of books to be re-read.

Until last January brought two weeks of waiting for power I was crazy for winter storms--I love snow and I still wait around the radio for school closings. I can't help myself. So for now I am going to behave like that is all that is in store. I mean, I've got the candles, I've got the soup. I've got a little wood. So as the Other Half would say, I'm gonna "kick back and reeeelax."

Friday, December 07, 2007

You'd think...

we'd be prepared for another ice storm. And I guess I am prepared for ice, what I'm not prepared for is a long bout of time with no power. Again.

The TV news folks have asked county officials how they're getting ready for the potential ice storm heading towards the Ozarks this weekend. They're talking about shelters, reminding folks to get batteries and water.

Yeah, yeah, we get it.

What I want to know, and what I haven't seen any news outlets asking, is what City Utilities is doing to protect us from another 13 1/2 days of no power?

I realize they covered this ad nauseam last January. Reporters asked about tree maintenance and line replacement, etc. I watched it, I heard it, I got it. I guess I just want John Twitty's feet held to the fire (but not my fireplace, thanks, I'd like it to be just for pleasure this year). I want someone to say it won't happen again. We therapists call this "magical thinking."

I suppose that in the logical part of my brain I understand CU can't really prevent power outages in an ice storm, but dammit the instinctive part of my brain says one of these smart folks at CU oughta be able to keep the lights on.

This morning I went to the store with the sole purpose of buying the batteries and water and other supplies.

I left with a coffee cake.

For now my co-workers are happy. I think I'll get the supplies this afternoon.