Sunday, December 30, 2012

Power to the People

Backyard at my parent's home in Hot Springs, Arkansas
Prior to loosing power in Hot Springs, the start of the snow.
Christmas is always a busy time of running here and there and everywhere.  Christmas Eve is spent at my in laws, Christmas morning at our home so our little one can open his special gifts from my husband and I as well as Saint Nick, then Christmas day we go to Hot Springs an hour away to spend time with my family.  This year, my husband's time in the Spa City was cut short as a winter storm quickly swept over the state.  Along with its path of destruction, the storm left behind some beautiful images; sadly, many could not see the majesty of the ice and snow because they were inconvenienced by their loss of power.  

Our Power Outage Diary
Christmas Day 3 PM- Power lost in Little Rock
Christmas Night about 8 PM- Power lost in Hot Springs

December 26- No power in Little Rock
December 26- We leave my parents for their office where they had power.  Later in the evening, power restored and we return to my parent's house.

December 27- No power in Little Rock, husband getting restless.
December 27- Power in Hot Springs and we venture out to the mall and other shops.
Anthony ventures out into the snow.

December 28- No power in Little Rock, husband wants us to come home anyway.  Slowly leave the warmth of Hot Springs and return to an icy house in Little Rock (thankful for a 1950's gas heater in our bathroom and a gas hot water heater).  Very uncomfortable overnight for us but we survive and have hope as a few streets in our neighborhood start to get their lights back.

December 29- Awake to signs of progress on the power front-- crews all over the neighborhood busy with chainsaws and cherry pickers; power popping up in nearby sections.  I, however, am loosing patience with the guys who are busy putting together Legos and being silly (feeling very third wheel) so I head out to do after Christmas sale shopping and attend a painting class.  By the time I get home, power!

Looking up through the canopy of icy trees to a clear blue sky,  Hot Springs, Arkansas, December 26, 2012.
As frustrating as it was to be without power, I have to think that it was probably even more uncomfortable to the linemen and power company employees working around the clock to repair and restore power to thousands.  Temperatures in a house without a heat source may get down to the 40's, but outside temps were only in the mid-low 30's with a biting windchill.  It was sad to see such horrible posts on Facebook complaining about the speed of the return of power.  Yes, we all get frustrated, but keeping in mind the big picture sure does help in a situation such as this winter storm.

That said, Christmas 2012 Winter Storm, I'm glad to see you go.  We've had our "dusting" of snow, see you again next year; hold the ice, please and thank you.  You've made me very appreciative of my warm and cozy home, my great friends and family, and for those who worked in the elements to make life more comfortable for us all.  Oh, and thanks for the beautiful photos (mine and those of others) that we rarely get to enjoy in Arkansas.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Preparing for Holiday House Guests

As a former TV producer, it's difficult to say no when someone in the media calls or emails and asks for a favor.  This week, KATV asked if I could come up with segments for THIS SATURDAY (yikes!) as well as January.  

The segment this morning didn't go as planned.  It wasn't horrible, it just wasn't great.  The well-thought through props were all set up and the anchor and I started rolling along when she got the message in her ear to "wrap."  We were a little over half way through the segment and not to the part where we talk about photography, tying in to my business.  Oh well, such is TV, huh?  Next time I guess I'll knock the shameless plug out at the start of the segment; that's just FYI.  

Below, for your reading and viewing pleasure, are the tips from today's segment (Saturday, December 22, 2012).  When/if the video becomes available, I will post that for you as well.      

Preparing for Holiday Houseguest
1.     In the bathroom have a container filled with everything you might need in case of emergency when staying overnight such as spray on deodorant, disposable razors, toothpaste, toothbrushes individually wrapped, q-tips, cotton balls, Band-Aids, etc.

2.     Also in the bathroom, a basket with towels, washcloths, shampoo, and body wash ready for the shower or tub.  And make sure there is plenty of toilet paper and tissue in an easy to find location too. 

3.     Next to the bed, fresh water and recent magazines or a fun to read book. This is a great way to use a decanter and a mismatched cocktail glass.  You should also make sure that TV remotes or CD players and disks are out where people can see them.  There's nothing worse than settling in and being wide awake and not being able to find the remote.  A "TV Guide" or a list of channels on your system plus your wireless codes is a nice touch too.  Note: Don't have a guest room?  Put your items on an inexpensive tray and set it next to a couch or air mattress.   

4.     Fill the room with fragrance, have a candle and matches on the dresser or a vase filled with fresh flowers or greenery and berries.  A candle is great because sometimes a guest arrives last minute and you can always keep it in a drawer to pull out and use; also during the winter fresh flowers may seem out of place and a candle more warm and inviting.  Of course the scent of fresh greenery is very nice too and festive for the winter months and usually easy to access just outside your door. 

5.     Provide guests with maps and brochures to local attractions as well as their own house key to come and go as they please.  This is something you can have handy in a drawer all year round.  A stop by your local visitors center is a great idea!  

6.     Remember, personal touches matter.  As a photographer, I like to remind people to take a photo of themselves and their guest and put it on display in the room; wouldn't it be fun to have a dresser full of framed photos of all the people who have stayed in your guest room?  And if you don’t have a photo with the guest, take one while they are there and send it to them after their visit welcoming them back in the future or thanking them for something nice they did for you or your family while they were there.  Note:  While you have the whole family together, consider hiring a professional photographer to come on location and take pictures.  

7.     Houseguests, don’t forget your manners too-- bring a hostess gift, clean up after yourself and follow up with a thank you.  A question I am frequently asked is, "Is an email is ok?"  If the offer to stay was extended via email then sure, an email follow up is fine.  But in this digital age, it's still nice to get an old fashioned hand written letter in the mail.