Sandy: It’s sinking in, yet oh-so-surreal

For the third weekday in a row, I’m holed up in our Queens apartment, watching/reading the news, checking Facebook a little too obsessively, and hoping our upstate cabin isn’t smashed by a tree or burned to smithereens in a power line fire. We have zero way of knowing until we drive up there. We just have to hope our vulnerable little fixer-upper is enduring, undamaged.

Meanwhile, my office, located in the Gramercy Park neighborhood of Manhattan, is one of many businesses without power. Even our voicemail and remote email went down. It’s not clear when power will be restored, nor how I’ll get there if it does come back on — the subways are shut down indefinitely, too. It’s looking unlikely that I’ll go into work at all this week.

There’s something very surreal about Manhattan losing power. It’s the nerve center of not just the city, nor the country, but the entire world. It’s just unimaginable for me to think of it going down so easily. Even things like coffee — the most basic necessity for a New Yorker — is hard to find! Actually, it’s worse than that: Friends who live there report they can’t even get water to bathe or flush their toilets with. Disastrous.

Meanwhile, just a few miles away, in the same city, my little calm corner of Queens is fine, unscathed. Yesterday, I ran errands and had a gooey slice of pizza for lunch. Life is normal, unless you count the whole not-working thing, and the terrifying news on the TV, and the scattered debris, like the many old trees toppled over, their exposed muddy roots jutting toward the sky, easily taking out entire portions of concrete sidewalk as they fell.

But beyond all the personal stuff, there’s a more ominous message I can’t stop thinking about, one posted by the president of the organization I work for:

“As a consequence of global climate change caused by human activities, sea levels are higher, the Atlantic waters are warmer, and there’s more moisture in the atmosphere – three of the reasons this storm packed such destructive force,” EDF president Fred Krupp said.

“Sandy is not just a weather disaster but also a climate disaster.”

Post-Sandy Photos from my Queens Block

Brendan and I will do a larger survey of our little corner of Astoria, Queens, later today, but this is what I saw (and heard) this morning. Overall, not too bad considering how other parts of the city fared.

[This weekend, we’ll find out what awaits us two hours upstate, where we own a home. Last year, it weathered Hurricane Irene amazingly well, though that storm was a lot more rainy than windy. She caused flooding on our street, which resulted in lots of weird debris in our creek.]

This is a common scene in Queens today, and a terrible advertisement for covering up your brick home in aluminum siding.

Another common scene across the Northeast today. This young tree a block away from us didn’t make it, one of many. I hope these can be replanted and saved, but probably not?

Our block fared pretty well — no trees down, no cars damaged, no flooding. Just lots of leaves.

And this, well, this is why I couldn’t sleep last night. Yes, I’m grateful this is the only reason why!

Charlie and Sandy

We’re doing just fine riding out this storm at home.

The dog, however, was just struck with a bad case of cabin fever, so I took him for a brisk walk around the block.

With ears flouncing and tail bouncing, our 12-year-old dog feels like a pup again in the breezy, cool, exciting weather.

A Most Handsome Blue Jay

Yes, in the birding world, seeing a pair of blue jays (because you always see them in pairs) is a big yawn. But, few birds are this blue and beautiful. So, hey, here you go. We’ve got a few spending their autumn in our front yard, squawking while they hunt.

Perched in sumac turning red.

All those striking shades of blue! Can we get an even closer look, Joy? Yes, you can…