Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ike: Part the Fourth-Life After the Storm

The question of where to stay after the storm was a pretty simple one. On the one hand, my Mother-in-law needed someone to stay with her while there was work to be done. My wife volunteered to cover that venue. My youngest stayed there to supervise Saturday night.

My 17 year-old and I went to my parents’ house. They have a large house, a big deep freeze, a refrigerator, electric well pump and a butane generator. And a big tank of butane.

Allow me to backtrack a little. In 1999, a friend of my Dad decided that Y2K was a real threat, and that my parents needed a generator to keep them going until the new world order re-formed the grids and restored power. So he hooked them up with a generator wearing a butane adaptor behind the carburetor and the electric line buried and tied in to the house at the box, all up to code. At the first of every month she gets started up and run for five or ten minutes, just to keep loose. That’s been eight years of preparation.

With the generator running and the boards still on the windows, the house stayed very bearable Saturday night. I slept like a rock. We cooked out on the propane stove when something needed to be hot, and when we needed to be cool, we sat still inside and drank water. The first evening was pretty quiet, still assessing what all got busted up by the storm. Late in the evening, the generator started to lope and hunt for a spark. My Dad and I went out and pulled the spark plug, changed the gap on it, and she started purring like an electric cat. That night I slept like a load of concrete.

Sunday morning early, the day started up a little wet and rainy. My Dad and I went out and put a tarp up over the door of the pump house to keep our little electric factory dry. For some reason we figured that a generator and rain would come to no good conclusion. As we hung the tarp and stuck the poles I the ground to support it, the air got a lot cooler, nearly cold. A really good feeling.

When the cool front came in on Sunday, the temperature really dropped and on Monday as we started cutting limbs and raking branches, the girls didn’t even have to break much of a sweat. At night after dinner, we’d sit around telling stories on each other, laughing, cackling, and snorting at all the old stories. My girls, hearing some of them for the first time were staring in wonder at the fun we used to have. As we sat there telling stories in the semi-darkness of the back porch with the sky glowing in and the sound of the generator running 24 hours a day like a manic yardman, it was like a big luxury camp trip.

Monday, after cutting and hauling limbs at my parents’ house getting all hot and sweaty, I decided that I would take a shower at their house. A cold shower. No big deal; I took a cold shower at our house on Sunday after going over and getting some work done. What man can’t take a cold shower every now and then?

Well, when you say you’re going to take a cold shower in a house supplied with city water, and when you say you are going to take a cold shower in a house with a three hundred foot well, you are talking about two completely different showers.

I have some advice to pass along; if you are going to take a shower in the latter, a) take the shower in late afternoon, and b) don’t let your body temperature get back down to normal after working outside.

When the icy needles fired out of the showerhead, it was all I could do to keep from screaming like a little girl staring down a big spider on her Barbie. It was THEN that I remembered the depth of the well. I hurried through the process of the actual bath with such haste and on such a shortage of oxygen that I have doubts about the total cleanliness that was achieved that evening.

The next few days were spent going to my house and trimming and dragging and piling branches from our yard. And our neighbor’s yard, and the widow lady’s down the street.

A lot of oak was lying around Alvin, taunting all of the fireplace owners. On my trips around the neighborhood, I noticed that the local gypsy whose house always looks disheveled, the front window has been boarded up for about three years, so Ike came through and made a couple of thousand dollars worth of improvements. So if you have a lowboy trailer and a log splitter, you could end up with a tidy sum of change.

So when the clouds finally parted, and most of the cleanup done or nearly done, Ike’s silver lining shows us that we can put up with almost anything if we think we can get some free firewood.


invigilator_tex said...

We Geezers think alike... I too have been fantasizing about the firewood just laying everywhere. In fact, I cut up the large maple branches my neighbor's trees so generously sprinkled across my property, and took extra care to cut the larger circumferences into neat, barbeque-sized chunks. Maple makes good BBQ smoke, man! Got the pecan from my buddy. The oak came from my front yard. Is that a smorgasbord of smokin' wood or what?

aA said...

You are SET, Tex! Pecan is about the best wood for smoking, in my book! My sister's pecan tree dropped a couple of limbs, and I think there is a bidding war going on for the BBQ rights...

DammitWomann said...

New meaning to cold shower, huh? LOL

Never knew that about flavored wood and bbq-ing.

Learn something every day here.