Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind

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Thanks to all of you who emailed and asked about us… we’re just fine.

Didja know that the United Kingdom has more tornadoes, relative to its land area, than any other country? Nope, when we moved here, we didn’t know that either. Of course, the United States still holds the dubious title of Tornado Leader, but it has a lot more land mass, and a lot more territory in the Midwest especially, prone to the nasty buggers. Prior to moving here, we would never have imagined that tornadoes were a part of the United Kingdom at all. The first winter in our tiny flat in the high rise, where the whole building tower swayed, though, should have been our first clue… Today, folks from Belfast to Bo’ness are suffering through flattened cars, uprooted trees, and sandstone bricks and slate roofing tiles scattered about.

Ladies and gentlemen, yesterday, we lost a mill building. We are now Hayford Mills – 1. Granted, the building wasn’t occupied, and the roof was shingle-free, but it was a four-walls, wooden-roofed, standing derelict building. Now it’s a roofless, crumbled wall, messy pile of bricks. We felt the house – – ours, and brick, mind you vibrate beneath us while we lay abed, and got up and got hurriedly dressed at a ridiculous hour, for fear of ending up in pajamas in our bed in the front yard. It’s disconcerting to feel a brick house vibrate, to be sure. It’s weird, when you don’t live in a high rise, to feel like things are swaying. And the noise – freight trains and eerie howling all day.

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At least we don’t live near the sea – the Beeb posted pictures of the poor people near the coast. With all of this wind and rain, the flooding is insane. Our adopted family in Largs is lucky that they live up a slight incline, since pictures news footage shows the main street of their wee town awash – the sea came over the seawall and into town (We hate to think of the island!! Oy.). Since they’re happily vacationing in Cuba at present, and have a bit of a creek in front of their B&B, we were concerned – and doubly worried, because there were NO trains going for awhile Tuesday, and we couldn’t easily get up to sandbag their house if they needed us – but it turns out they wisely have someone house sitting, and all is well.

Fourteen hours without power made us get creative with the daily activities. Since it’s dim these days anyway, night seemed to last a loooong time. Many of our neighbors went into town to coffee shops and theaters with power, but a few of us lit candles and settled in. D. read aloud, while T. knitted. It felt very pioneer-y, and would have been enjoyable if it hadn’t gone on for so many hours. As the sun begins to go down at 2:30, it was all a bit much. T. was disappointed in herself – she likes candlelight and knitting is supposed to be peaceful. She couldn’t settle into it, until she found the caving lights and strapped one onto her head. And then her mood improved greatly.

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Fourteen hours without electricity is hard, but it was the blackness – the choking, profound darkness that made things really difficult. After true sundown, the dark just went on forever. We hadn’t realized how much we relied, in our more rural circumstances, on streetlights and the glow from others’ homes to not feel like we were isolated in a tiny boat on the edge of a trackless sea. “I don’t know how they did it back then,” T moaned at one point, aggravated by walking into a room and automatically switching on a light yet again. We know, though, that the early Scots had no TV, radio, computers, or electricity to miss, no light switches to fruitlessly flip. They had storytellers and musicians and they could knit in the near-dark, or add to their population – that’s how they “did it.” The fact is, they were tired after dealing with sheep, cattle, fishing and nets, oats, stills, and other hard work all day. We can be sure they didn’t sit around and fuss about when the power company was at least going to have some explanation for the cold, dark hours. Only we wimps did that.

Meanwhile, D. did well with what T. began to call “house camping,” and made foil reflectors to capitalize on the candlelight, lit the hob with matches and boiled up big pots of water and pots of tea, and made a nests of blankets (which, at age ten, he might have called a fort) and dug around for snacks. He read aloud to T. for hours, photographed the stars, bivouacked into the frigid blackness of the garage to find useful items to make the time pass. At least one of us enjoyed being on The 1890’s House, Hayford Mills episode.

And The Countdown Continues: Eight days to the viva!

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For those of you who have been asking how the job hunting is going — well, it’s going. It’s a lot of hurry-make-the-deadline and wait-for-some-response, and we’re in the waiting bit right now. Meanwhile, recruiters and tech personnel are phoning, now that D.’s taken his resume out of mothballs. He’s been contacted by Amazon, and weird (not at all likely to get polite responses) people are even calling Martinez, looking for him! Fortunately, the parents there have one of those Byzantium phone tree things – If you’d like to speak to the lady of the house, say your name clearly, and whistle the first three bars of the Largo from Dvorak’s “New World Symphony.” I’m sorry, we don’t recognize that name. To try again, press 3, and jump on your left leg while raising your right hand – and no one ever really makes it through to speak to them anyway. (We do want to warn all of those people that bothering our people makes us VERY UNLIKELY to be willing to speak nicely to you. Go away.) Job prospects remain a little iffy – lots of nice people want to talk, but it’s difficult to be able to read a situation, job, or person long-distance, and while we’re wary on this end, they’re wary on their end as well. However, we remain confident that we will end up exactly where we’re supposed to be, and if that’s a beach in the Bahamas, well, then, so be it, right?

T., struggling with finishing her latest novel, has begun counting words. She doesn’t usually, but the Winter Blahs (TM) are killing her creativity, so she’s trying a variety of ways to revive it, and her current means is to write two thousand words a day. For the rest of us, this is not the way to happy liveliness, but it seems to be working for her so far. She remains giddy that at long last, her orchids are preparing to bloom, and has high hopes for her African violet as well. For someone who has killed more plants in Scotland than she has kept alive, this is Symbolic and Meaningful for her. Meanwhile D. continues to work on his notes for The Kelvingrove Review, the University’s journal for which he is reviewing a book on the internet. He’ll be glad to be finished, as ironically, the review is due the day of his viva – he might actually want to look at his completed dissertation one last time!

Before After
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Despite flying branches, howling winds, pelting sleet and a lot of sneezing — when it’s not raining, the dust is certainly airborne – all is well at Casa Hayford Mills. Hope you’re doing well, too.

3 Replies to “Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind”

  1. I don’t know how they did it back then either! I can only assume that they did not miss what they did not know. Sadly WE well know what can be missed and dreadfully fear Frozen Pipes and Lack of Avacados.

    Truly, we are a Sad Species.

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