Hurricane Irene and having extra cookies

Okay, 4 days without electricity isn’t exactly overwhelming. Just inconvenient. Friends of mine are still in the dark after Irene.

And during the days of darkness my husband Ed and I discussed whether, even given the facts that we had no lights, no internet, email or hot water, and the cold water was beginning to become a trickle (so there was the potential pesky flushing issue), maybe even so we were still much better off than our great-grandparents, who never got any warnings that a storm was coming and even if they did, they couldn’t have prepared the way we did. I did all the laundry, filled the freezer with ice, bought extra butane tanks for the portable cooktop, had plenty of batteries and flashlights. I have a loyal battery-operated radio. They didn’t even have Scrabble or Monopoly.

As long as I can make hot coffee in the morning I can feel human. I made coffee the way my mother did back in the day: old fashioned, pre-electric drip pot.

The reason so many people in Connecticut lost power is because so many trees fell on wires. The ground is extremely wet from all the rain we’ve had this year so the big old old trees are just giving up.

A day after the power went out all the cleanup and repair crews were out in full force. These photos show the mess on the street next to mine. We were lucky the weather was warm and sunny so cleanup could proceed and I could also go out and watch. For hours. Four hours. And I took photos of almost the entire process.

I wasn’t there when they cut the first large limbs. But for a steady four hours the tree people buzz-sawed the enormous trunk and limbs, the City Operations staff picked up the debris and loaded it into containers, more City of Stamford workers trucked the stuff to a center where the trees would be chopped down into mulch. The telephone repair people, the internet repair workers and the workers from the electric company worked steadily for hours. All this included the drilling of a deep deep hole for a new pole (an amazing process to watch as an enormous drill gets into the ground and the drill truck shakes like it’s in an earthquake). I left just as the men had finished putting the new pole in place and the electric company workers began bundling the wires.

If anybody grumbles and tells you that these workers aren’t doing their job or that it’s taking too long, they should call me. This was one tree on one street and the entire process of getting it cut and carted away, drilling a new hole for the pole, putting the pole in exactly where it needed to go to be safe and bundling the wires and putting them in place took hours and hours. And even with hundreds of crew working around the clock, they couldn’t get everyone back to normal because there was so much damage in Connecticut.

Anyway, we did have some goodies in our freezer so we nibbled. I was really happy to have some of these Lemon-Oatmeal Cookies to eat as I listened to the latest hurricane updates on WSTC, our local station.

Lemon-Oatmeal Cookies

1 pound butter

1 cup sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups quick (not instant) oats

1 tablespoon grated fresh lemon peel

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

confectioner’s sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer set at medium speed, for 2-3 minutes or until well blended. Add the flour, salt, oats, lemon peel and vanilla extract and mix to blend ingredients thoroughly. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Remove small portions of dough to form 1-inch balls. Place the balls on ungreased cookie sheets, leaving some space between them for the cookies to spread. Spoon some confectioner’s sugar onto a plate. Press the bottom of a drinking glass into the confectioner’s sugar and press the balls with the bottom of the glass to flatten the cookies. Add more confectioner’s sugar to the glass bottom as needed. Bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool for 10 minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove to a cake rack to cool completely. Makes about 100