Welcome to Texas

For Week Three of my Less is More Thirty-Day Challenge (Day One—get rid of one thing, Day Two—get rid of two things, Day Three—get rid of three things, and so on), I hoped to make it into my garage to continue my purge, but ya’ll it’s freaking freezing in Texas. 63% humidity intensifies the chill. Thank goodness I had a 61 item surplus over my goal for Week One and Week Two. This week I collected a few more for give away, throw away, recycle, or sell (I’m not much of a salesperson)—6 items of my clothing and 32 of Kody’s, 9 outdoor items, 25 decorative/Christmas, and 5 candles which I burned to the bitter end (candles below still hanging in there). That adds up to 138 items for Week Three. 12 over my goal of 126 for Week Three. Next week. The garage.

Speaking of my candles, they served me well this week. We spent twenty-four hours at my house without electricity and forty-eight hours without water. My candles provided light in the darkness and a little aromatherapy. Now we have water (without pressure), and the city of Houston has issued notices to boil it. Don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful. Millions of Texans have gone days without power or heat in subfreezing temperatures. What’s wrong with Texas? Explanation below. But first, I made a run for groceries yesterday. Do you know what’s worse than grocery shopping in a pandemic?

Answer: Grocery shopping during a Texas winter weather event mid-pandemic.

But as bad as that looks. I found frozen flounder and Ahi Tuna, chicken sausage links and ground pork sausage. Jasmine rice and pinto beans. Loads of veggies. We are warm, safe, and fed.

Article below excerpted from The Texas Tribune. Click here for text in full.

Texas leaders failed to heed warnings that left the state’s power grid vulnerable to winter extremes…

Millions of Texans have gone days without power or heat in subfreezing temperatures. brought on by snow and ice storms. Limited regulations on companies that generate power and a history of isolating Texas from federal oversight help explain the crisis, energy and policy experts told The Texas Tribune…

Energy and policy experts said Texas’ decision not to require equipment upgrades to better withstand extreme winter temperatures, and choice to operate mostly isolated from other grids in the U.S. left power system unprepared for the winter crisis.

Policy observers blamed the power system failure on the legislators and state agencies who they say did not properly heed the warnings of previous storms or account for more extreme weather events warned of by climate scientists. Instead, Texas prioritized the free market.

‘Clearly we need to change our regulatory focus to protect the people, not profits,’ said Tom ‘Smitty’ Smith, a now-retired former director of Public Citizen, an Austin-based consumer advocacy group who advocated for changes after in 2011 when Texas faced a similar energy crisis.

‘Instead of taking any regulatory action, we ended up getting guidelines that were unenforceable and largely ignored in [power companies’] rush for profits,’ he said.

It is possible to ‘winterize’ natural gas power plants, natural gas production, wind turbines and other energy infrastructure, experts said, through practices like insulating pipelines. These upgrades help prevent major interruptions in other states with regularly cold weather.

In 2011, Texas faced a very similar storm that froze natural gas wells and affected coal plants and wind turbines, leading to power outages across the state. A decade later, Texas power generators have still not made all the investments necessary to prevent plants from tripping offline during extreme cold, experts said…

Texas politicians and regulators were warned after the 2011 storm that more “winterizing” of power infrastructure was necessary, a report by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation shows. The large number of units that tripped offline or couldn’t start during that storm “demonstrates that the generators did not adequately anticipate the full impact of the extended cold weather and high winds,” regulators wrote at the time. More thorough preparation for cold weather could have prevented the outages, the report said…

Texas’ grid is also mostly isolated from other areas of the country, a set up designed to avoid federal regulation. It has some connectivity to Mexico and to the Eastern U.S. grid, but those ties have limits on what they can transmit. The Eastern U.S. is also facing the same winter storm that is creating a surge in power demand. That means that Texas has been unable to get much help from other areas…

Rhodes, of UT Austin, said Texas policy makers should consider more connections to the rest of the country. That, he acknowledged, could come at a higher financial cost — and so will any improvements to the grid to prevent future disasters. There’s an open question as to whether Texas leadership will be willing to fund, or politically support, any of these options.

Texas Tech University, University of Texas at Austin and University of Houston have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

Back to the candles, they served me well this week. We spent twenty-four hours at my house without electricity and forty-eight hours without water. My candles provided light in the darkness and a little aromatherapy. Now we have water without pressure, and the city of Houston has issued notices to boil our water. Don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful. Millions of Texans have gone days without power or heat in subfreezing temperatures. What’s wrong with Texas? Explanation below. But first, I made a run for groceries yesterday. Do you know what’s worse than grocery shopping in a pandemic?

65 thoughts on “Welcome to Texas

  1. Wow! I wondered how you were getting along in Houston. But then I said to myself, “Crystal is from the Oklahoma panhandle where folks know how to get by when in a pinch.” Your grateful attitude is an inspiration. Here in SW Oklahoma we lost power for 12 hours on Valentine’s Day, but that’s it. 🙏 for Texas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, David. We’re still below freezing this morning, but the sun is shining. Temperatures are on the rise, and to think we’ll be in the 70s next week. Crazy Houston winters. Happy your power loss was limited. We have a gas stove, so we were lucky there, too. Joining you in prayer for those who need it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad you are well and your positive attitude in the midst of all this is so beautiful.
    Hope that all will be restored to normalcy with regards to the electricity, water and shelves in the stores being stocked.
    Blessings to you Crystal, may the Lords hand be upon you and your family 💙.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my goodness, who would have thought snow storm shopping could be worse than pandemic shopping? Glad you still had full tummies anyway. The weather did finally reach us here in Virginia, but it wasn’t nearly as bad. Ice storms, but not frigid like it was in places like KS and northern TX.

    I’m super impressed that you kept working on your declutter challenge through the topsy turvy weather!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m wondering if the store had to dispose of refrigerated items due to loss of power. It was eerie. Like the makings of a Priscilla Bettis story.

      During those coldest, non-power, non-water days, I wondered how I would meet the goal. Yesterday was National Drink Wine Day, and the store had wine. So I served my husband a glass or two and then recruited him for my cause.

      Like

  4. I’m glad you are OK during this weather crisis. Sadly, the decision makers in Texas have reminded everyone else what happens when they choose money over responsibility. Let’s hope people learn from this experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’d been thinking of you this week, as I read and watch the news of so many suffering in the cold and without power in Texas. Glad you’re hanging in there.

    Like

    1. Hi Rhonda. Thank you. This week made me thankful for things taken for granted, like toilets that flush and hot showers with water pressure and clean laundry and clean dishes and coffee and the internet and warmth. I should probably make an actual list.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Crystal, I’m so glad to hear from you and to know that are warm, safe, and fed 🙂 You were the first person who came to mind when I saw the news. Praying that the people of Texas recover from this weather disaster.

    Like

  7. What an experience to go through. I’m glad you had your candles, but am sorry to see your grocery store shelves, literally. see. the. shelves. Take care, and thanks for stopping by to comment on my blog.

    Like

  8. So glad you’re ok! Warm and fed. Chicken sausage, jasmine rice and beans sounds real good considering. And regarding the Tribune – sounds like Texas needs more Democratic leaders! Putting people first — INSTEAD of profits.

    Like

  9. Advice from someone who lives in a northern state:
    – have a generator- gas powered or otherwise that you can use from outside
    – stockpile food before winter
    – always have a lot of extra boiled water
    – before a storm hits load up jugs of water and keep in the bathtub for flushing toilets.
    – if you have a fireplace stock up on wood prior to winter

    I have lived in Texas and I know winter down there is usually a 3-4 day drop in temps, many places rarely see snow, and if they do it does not last. I doubt the homes were insulated like they are up north. Places in NY several years ago lost power for three weeks due to a very bad ice storm which took down power poles and trees everywhere. I think everyone in those areas that did not have a fireplace or wood stove before that have one now.

    Like

    1. Those are great tips! Thank you, Sharon. A generator sounds like a good investment. My husband was able to defrost one outside tap on day one, so we had water for the toilets. And our stove is gas, which knocked out some of the chill and kept us fed. I feel fortunate for that, and today is warmer.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Geez, that’s rough. And I know that this is not your first extreme weather event you’ve had to deal with, If memory serves. And Texans are not used to that kind of cold. It’s so weird that the jet stream dipped so low this year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. After a hurricane/flood, I can’t imagine anything else could even compare. We just hit 70 today, and I’m able to run my dishwasher now. It’s all pretty crazy. I thought about the Native Americans this week when I saw the grocery store. At least, I had solid shelter and didn’t have to hunt or forage for food. It’s all good.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Our recent situation in Texas is a disgrace. There is lack of investment in our infrastructure. It seems as though the rich get richer and the poor pay the price. I am beginning to thaw out and so grateful that we were affected less than many. Keep safe and warm. K x

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Sorry, Crystal, this last response was intended for another blogger – either WordPress has Gremlins or the cold has addled my brain (most likely the latter). 🤪 I think many of us Texans feel that we need some change – when I have had the vaccine, I would like to start volunteering again so that I feel part of my community. K x
    PS You are so much more gracious in your comments to people than I am…

    Like

  13. Harrowing, Crystal. It’s good to read things are beginning to improve for you, though after what you endured, really, could they have done anything but?

    Major respect for going forward with this whole decluttering drive, despite the crisis and the unimaginable scarcity it brings. It speaks well of your character. Anyone can stand on principle when things are easy, but to do so when it’s difficult takes someone special. That’s you.

    The empty shelves are terrifying. Far worse, even, than the depths of the pandemic, when there were still a few things. Sure, they were bizarre, odd options, like, apparently, Albania’s #3 brand of paper towels, but at least it was something. Sadly, the storm denied you even that.

    Like

    1. Thankfully I didn’t need toilet paper this time around, Keith. See, I have learned something from the past year.

      As I think about Week Four of the challenge, I’m not feeling it today. I realize it’s early. This week could be a test. Hope yours is a good one.

      Like

  14. Oh my gosh, that is scary. Glad you are okay and have a stock of pretty candles to keep you all company. I can’t believe how empty all the shelves are. Stay safe over there and I will keep you all in my prayers. Wish I could send you some Arizona sunshine, we get enough of it, would be nice if we could package that up to send out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your sunshine reached us. It looks like 70s and sunshine for almost this whole next week. I won’t need groceries for a few more days. I’ll be interested to see how the store looks this next trip. I’m betting on a big recovery.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s