Harrowing Domestic Adventures in Lone Star Land

Yesterday I was not able to write a single word for the first time in years. I had a crippling headache, possibly a fever off and on, and I was too miserable to do anything but toss and turn in bed… with three layers of clothes on. I think I had a sinus infection brewing in my forehead, but with prescription antihistamines, hot chocolate, and lots of bottled water, I got by. My head finally drained and having actually slept last night, I feel better this morning. Although, disturbingly, I did not get better until I turned the space heater off, let it cool, and then turned it back on. Could it have been producing carbon monoxide or possibly methane?

And this, of course, is in the middle of the worst week of freezing temperatures in recorded Texas history.

Five straight days of single-digit low temperatures, rolling power blackouts, and pipes bursting everywhere in the community has plagued Texas with problems our lovely conservative government was totally unprepared for. Of course, we had a similar crisis in February 2011. The power grid was unprotected against cold weather then too. You would think they would take that lesson to heart and be prepared for those same problems a decade later.

But in Texas, the business-friendly political climate deregulates the power industry in ways no other State is allowed to do. We have our own sovereign and sacred power grid, and the geniuses in the power industry have realized that weather-proofing costs money and lowers profit margins. And as a bonus, you can charge extra for electricity when the power available is scarce and the demand is a matter of life and death.

If you see a snow baby in a blizzard, it means somebody will freeze to death. (But these two don’t count. They are just colored-pencil drawings.)

We were relatively lucky so far here in the Dallas suburbs. My family did not lose power for more than fifteen minutes total all week long. Others in the area were not so lucky. Some had power out for multiple days. And we do have a fireplace, though we would have to burn furniture for firewood.

We kept water trickling in every faucet the whole time, so no pipes have broken yet, and we should be okay even when the pipes thaw out.

The only devastation we still face is if our electric bill for this month is through the roof. We have to heat this old house with space heaters, none of which are powerful enough to keep the rooms warm without running on high constantly. I heard of people in Dallas looking at $200,000 electric bills (although I am sure that those rumors are based on raw computer output unmodified by human decisions, so ours will probably be higher.)

So, I didn’t have a chance to write anything yesterday. But I did complete a real-life Snow Babies adventure. And I did not see a single snow ghost made of ice.

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