#tenyearsdunne

Like it was just yesterday. I still remember you on one knee at Manchester Airport (if you want me to say yes to something, asking when I’m jet-lagged and just getting off an 8 hr flight is a good time to ask), and I remember Louise looking concerned that I might have said no when we got to the car. I can still feel the loose buckle on my left shoe that made my leg wobble throughout the ceremony. I can still taste that first sip of Yorks Tea at the reception. 
How are we ten years older in the picture on the right than we were in the one on the left? How have we had ten Christmases and Easters and moved house twice and country twice? How has our house been home to seven dogs and a cat in that space of time? Didn’t I just arrive at Heathrow and have my visa stamped? Wasn’t it just a few minutes ago when we drove to Atlanta to get my biometrics done, or to Berea to sort out your social security? I’m certain it was only a week or so ago, maybe a month, that I picked you up at Hartsfield right after you collected me at Manchester when we were basically living at various airports and train stations. Wasn’t it?
I’m so grateful for the macaroni and cheese, the shared nerdiness, the willingness to put up with my shenanigans, the flashlights bought for me to take to faire, the resolve to get up when the girls are howling so that I can lie in, the whispered, “love you, bye” when I think I’ve managed to get out the door without waking you, the love of travel and history, the debates over whatever has just been said on telly, the ability not to laugh in my face when I think I’m speaking Yorkshire, the shared love of Greenville, the support and encouragement to be a writer, the shared – and different – expat experience, and all the other things that I have been given over the past ten years that I most certainly did not and do not deserve. 
Ten years done and dusted, and as many more as I can get to come. Love you to absolute bits, Simon.

Further thoughts on the past few days

So a few more things have come to mind since I am now back in my warm office and sipping HOT cider. Like a first-worlder. Like a person who lives in the wealthier part of my town and got their power restored first while Simon and I waited and shivered.

Wow, that escalated fast. For anyone concerned that I was just having a bit of a lie in on Monday or that I decided that I just didn’t want to turn up this morning – have a look at that picture and then remember that I drive a Honda Fit. We got a bit stuck when we dropped the girls off this morning and – small car FTW – Simon was able to push me off of the snow drift I’d become stuck on because I drive a matchbox car. That was my street on Sunday afternoon I think.

So things we learned:

  • It doesn’t matter how many days you have been snowed in/without power, you will continue to try to turn on the lights in your bathroom because it doesn’t have a window and it’s dark in there.
  • Dogs handle adversity much better than humans.
  • You cannot use a generator that is less than $300 ish to provide heat to your house because they can’t manage more than 6.5 amps.
  • If you wait till the day after Snowmaggedon, no one in Greenville will have generators, propane heaters, or, more importantly, propane.
  • Harbor freight sells fantastic flashlights.
Okay, now I think I’m finished…unless Duke Energy misses the deadline tonight.

How to avoid Whamhalla and other Holiday Fun

What do you mean we have to leave this warm house? – Ciaragh

Oh, y’all. It has been a DAY already, and it isn’t even 1pm yet (almost, though). Let me just recap the past few days for you, my Lettuce Readers.

Last week we heard that there was snow moving into the area over the weekend. Yucky and cold and wet Saturday, snow and sleet on Sunday, and moving away by Monday. Great! Now, normally I like a snow day as much as anyone else does, but not this week. This is final exams week at work and that is a schedule that shall not be interrupted.

For those that weren’t sure, that was the point at which Mother Nature asked the southeast to hold her adult beverage.  Sure enough, the cold/wet/freezing happened on Saturday and snow overnight Saturday/into Sunday. What also happened was that at 5am on Sunday morning, Simon woke me up to tell me the power had gone out.

If you were not raised in the South or you haven’t lived here long, what happens here rather than a “snow event” is an ice storm, where layers and layers of ice coat everything that it can find – including trees and power lines. (Do NOT get me started on a country as rich as the US that can’t seem to understand the UNIVERSAL benefit of burying power lines.) So anyway, the freezing rain and sleet make ice that coats the trees and causes them to bend and sometimes break. It also coats the power lines and poles, making them so heavy that they too sometimes bend and break. If you can avoid that horrific combination, watch out for the ground which will also be covered with – you guessed it, ICE. That makes walking and driving very dangerous.

Let me just take a moment here to ask those that want to make fun of southerners for not being able to “drive in the snow.” Just shut it, okay? This is not the snow you are accustomed to – I can drive in that, and did when I lived in West Virginia. This is trying to drive on a sheet of ice that is masquerading as a road. It is very dangerous and while most of us down here are taught to drive on it safely back in driver’s ed, we are also taught that it is smarter and safer not to attempt it at all.

Right. So anyway, back to me.

5am Sunday, the power goes out. By 5:19am on Sunday I have reported the outage to Duke Energy. I got back a canned response that they were assessing damage. Groovy. Tuck in the duvet and try to go back to sleep. By 3pm Sunday when it was getting a little chilly in the house, I checked the webpage for Duke Energy again. The little triangle by our street still said Assessing Damage an hour prior while another similar one about two streets over said On Site. But this time, the one a few streets over said On Site still and ours said Enroute. Fantastic! This is the service we are paying so much to have.

Well, not so much. Nothing happened by 4pm, or by 8pm Sunday. We were still not freezing but it was getting uncomfortable, so we decided to go to bed around 10. I checked a few more times before I fell asleep and nothing. It was still Enroute. From where? Roanoke?

On Monday I called into work and Simon and I decided to formulate a plan – buy a non-electric heater or a small generator and a small heater to get warm – buy a camp stove so that we can have coffee and warm food. Surely when we decide to do something like that, the power will come on, right?

Not hardly. It was still Enroute until late last night when they sent another text message that said that it would be fixed by 11pm tonight. So we did what any normal people would do – we gave up on the generator and heater and crashed at a friend’s house.

But what did we learn – and are still learning, because I’m not expecting that power to be back on until 11pm on the dot – from this experience? Several things.

  1. We are keeping the camp stove even though we did not use it. Just the thought that we could make tea in a pot on that little stove brought spirits up.
  2. We have amazing and wonderful friends. Callie brought us THE BEST pumpkin oatmeal I have ever tasted in my life along with some coffee from Starbucks yesterday morning. I could have floated up to the shops after that. Anne and Damien let us sleep in their guest room last night, along with our rowdy and ridiculous girls (who think they are on the vacation of a lifetime right now). Last but most DEFINITELY not least, Robin and Laze are keeping our girls today so that they didn’t have to be tucked into their crates in a cold house while we went to work. And all of the FB messenger and text messages that I am still getting asking after us are so welcome and appreciated. It is easy to think you are literally alone out in the cold when you have no electricity or heat in December. We are not.
  3. We have so much more than we need and are far better off than so many. Sure, it was cold, but we have a roof and lots of clothes to pile on and blankets. So many folks affected by this cold have none of those things and it truly gives me pause when I complain.
So if you were affected by Winter Storm Diego (Carmen San’s wayward brother), I’m thinking of you and holding you close and hoping that you have power and heat…and that you aren’t staring down the total cleaning out of a refrigerator and freezer. Ick. But I haven’t heard the Wham song, and I am in my warm office with heat and internet so this holiday season may get on track sooner rather than later. I just hope it isn’t sooner that our power coming back on…

March for Our Lives

View from the old courthouse steps at the end of the march

So there was this thing yesterday, this public gathering, this demonstration called March for Our Lives. It was started by the Never Again MSD movement that was born out of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. This is a group of high school students – kids – that have decided that if the adults are not going to act like adults and make sure that they are safe in their schools, it’s up to them.

These are amazing kids, and the groups that have sprung up all over the country are made up of even more amazing kids. I feel like I say the word AMAZING too much, but in this case, it is warranted. Millions upon millions of people came out yesterday, all over my country and indeed, all over the world, to join with this group of kids – whose pain is still so raw – to say that enough is enough. They are asking the adults of their world how many more of them have to die before someone in charge does something to make them safe.

I came out yesterday and joined the March in Greenville. I have never in my life seen that many people crowded into the NOMA square at the top of Main street! Now, normally I am not a fan of large crowds, and I will admit to being trepidatious yesterday – there was a point that I found myself spending too much time trying to decide if a man nearby us, who was wearing a clerical collar, had something hidden under his blazer. That’s how nervous it makes me – but yesterday was different. I wanted to surge up to the front of the line yesterday and surround those kids to keep them safe from the 2nd Amendment counter protest that we heard was going on just a few blocks down. That’s been my motivation in this whole thing – to protect. I don’t even have kids, y’all, but the thought of my niece, my friend’s son, or anyone having to go through a lockdown drill at school just hurts my heart. It is so preventable! I wanted them to stay kids a little longer because if you hear them speak at rallies or on television, they sound so poised and intelligent – like the young adults they are.

They are often more adult than the actual adults.

But protection wasn’t their bag yesterday. They led the march, heads held high, and passed by the…five or six?…2nd Amendment counter-protesters and kept on going. They held signs reading “Am I Next?” and “The NRA is a terrorist organization” and “Thoughts, Prayers, ACTIONS!” There was a rally at city hall, and it was peaceful – but forceful. I have never been so proud to live in my town as I was yesterday.

Tell me what democracy looks like? THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE.

Blogging Face Deployed

Or why I was almost late to the bus on Monday

My “this is getting blogged” face doesn’t really work when there’s no one around to see it, as happened this morning. I was leaving home and traveling up the big road that connects to our road.

A bit of explanation for those not from the South: a “big road” is one that has fast moving traffic on it and leads to an “even bigger road.” For those familiar with Greenville, South Carolina, the “big road” in question is Keith Drive, in the Overbrook area.

So back to me traveling along the big road on my way to the four way stop at Lowndes Hill Road. Y’all, four way stops are the absolute bane of my existence because NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO USE THEM. You get to proceed based on WHO GOT THERE WHEN unless you all, miraculously, arrived at the same time. There was no such miracle this morning.

I got there first, then the car in the oncoming lane and THEN the car to my right rolled to a stop…or so I thought as I proceeded into the intersection. Car To My Right pulled out in front of me and turned right, I suppose, because I was moving too slowly for conditions. That condition seemed to be late arrival at work at the Greenville Humane Society, if the next few minutes were any indication.

I texted hubs to ask if he knew of anyone there with a vehicle matching that description and he didn’t, so we moved on…sort of. Y’all…it is not hard to wait your turn. Not hard. The fact that you didn’t make it out of the house on time to get to work is not a Go Through Every Intersection First guarantee. Sorry. I’m just glad I was moving slowly or else I would have known for sure who was driving that car because it would have become part of the front end of my car.

So, happy Wednesday, and if you haven’t already, review the rules on four way stops. This is why our country can’t have nice things like proper roundabouts…there would be carnage.

Flashback Post: The Aftermath of Snowmaggedon 2015

Rock on with your bad icicle selves…

First, please read this: In which I rant…

Now, as you know, there was another Winter Weather Event here in the Carolinas a few weeks ago.  Our meteorologists went crazy predicting 10 inches of snow and ice and all sorts of mayhem.  Didn’t happen exactly like that but apparently there was enough chaos of the frozen variety that my University closed for a day and a half.

And once again, thanks to those who can afford time at work without pay, some of it was not “forgiven” by the governor’s office.  Seriously, if you’re going to order us to leave then go on and pay us for the time that we are not permitted to be at work.  It just makes sense…

Lions and…yeah, you know the rest

Tower of London by Nancy Dunne
Tower of London, a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.

I don’t have much to say today, and clearly haven’t all summer, if you go by my blog here! I’m formulating a “catch-up” post about what has happened since returning from Europe, Simon moving to the US, and our seemingly never ending search for a house in Greenville. In the meantime, please enjoy these lions made of wire and mesh that grace the front of the Tower of London.

Hey, at least it isn’t a bunny with a pancake on its head…