Thursday, November 03, 2005
The End of a Power Struggle
Clearing debris during the eye of Wilma.
Our nine day Power Struggle has ended and the last (I hope) of the debris has been raked from the front yard. I hope the event known as Wilma is over. Well, I know it’s not really over yet as much of the damaged items have not yet been repaired and the body of my orange tree still lays on it’s side, roots splayed out in a vertical plane as they dry and die in the Florida sunshine. I don’t want to get rid of it as the agriculture people may have been planning to take it as a result of a recent canker sighting in the area. If so, they are supposed to give me $150 at Walmart for each tree taken. I’d like to not only leave the work to them but also make something in the process if that’s possible. I am unsure of the effectiveness of my plan, but I can hope. Supposedly they will take my grapefruit tree too, and then, I am sorry to say, my yard will be officially naked and fruitless. And so goes life.
Orange tree down.
We also had the big grill going with three pots on it (manning that was my job). The kids had a bonfire after dinner in the backyard.
As for the end of the the power struggle, the power guys came yesterday morning as I was ready to walk out the door. They were greeted by my unbridled excitement as they got out of their truck and my neighbor lady next door was out there clapping for me. You see, our house was the lone powerless sucker in a sea of now bright front porch lights and had been for days. The guy told us both right away not to get too happy as he didn’t know that he could actually get my power back on. In fact he was only here it turns out to cut the downed wire and remove it. Oh great. But he said he would see how it looked and maybe he could do something. When he went out back, he took one look at the pole and told me there was no way he was climbing that thing and that the only way he’d even try to fix it was with the truck and the bucket and that he couldn’t be responsible for my yard. That meant driving the mega truck through my nice grass the entire length of my yard from the street to the back fence almost. He guaranteed huge ruts. Yikes! This was a dilemma. I asked him how long til FPL might get another person out to do it and he said, “Possibly two weeks, one if your lucky... and they might end up driving through the yard too”. I made a quick assessment in my head regarding continual plugging and unplugging of the generator, driving with an explosive device (my defective gas can) in my car every day (sometimes twice) for two more weeks along with the 10 to 20 dollars a day it was costing to run the generator depending on usage. I quickly assessed the mental torture of listening to whiny kids and the ear numbing sound of a generator right outside jalousey windows that sounds akin to having an airplane engine as a house guest 24/7. I pondered these cons along with a whole host of other related issues, not to mention the lack of a/c should the weather turn rainy, muggy or hot again (and after all, this IS Florida). I made my decision and chose door number two which came with ankle turning ruts in the grass and I prayed the guy could get back there without damaging the sprinkler heads and pipes and that he could actually connect the line to the pole after I allowed this invasion. I am happy to report that the sprinkler heads sidestepped destruction, at least this was in my favor. The two guys worked and sweated and lived their dangerous life and the one guy rode the bucket to the sky and touched power lines and brought life and TV back to our home...it doesn't get much better than that.
And so I bid my power guys a fond adieu and sent them off with what in my book is to be considered among the greatest gifts you can give power guys after they have risked life and electrocution for the comfort of some stranger... I offered them my last two ice cold Cokes. These are the Cokes I had been powering my fridge for all these days... well, the cokes and the Half and Half. Some things are so important they cause a person to behave erratically, like spending $20 dollars a day to keep the fridge cool enough for cream and Coke. It’s easy to be rendered senseless by our vices. I did finally begin using the power for only a couple hours in the morning and a couple at night to save gas (I come around to practicality sooner or later) and I learned to just transfer the cream and Coke to the “ice box” as needed when the generator was off then transfer them back to the fridge when I kicked it on again. It really would have been cheaper to drive to Dunkin Donuts and buy the world’s greatest coffee every morning rather than run the generator, but “people” don’t always use common sense. I will say I also used the generator to do my hair in the morning (also of considerable personal value), to make coffee in the morning, and to power the computer so I could send emails. Yeah, we also turned one lamp on a few times and I watched a few videos on the little VCR TV and managed to charge cell phones once. But we had to wean ourselves off the generator, especially when it sounded like we might be on its life support for another week. Oh, but those crazy days are over, I sure hope so anyway. Now it’s back to daily life. A well-stocked grocery store has been elevated to somewhere near the status of say Saks Fifth Avenue, it seems like a luxury store full of so many cool things. I was thrilled beyond thrilled to discover I even got cable back. I can’t wait to see a home show again! So much to enjoy, better get busy. You never know how much luxury you have until it’s gone for nine days. For the moment I am still finding a renewed appreciation for the many fine things I usually take for granted. I get a big burst of excitement, like I just won a cool prize, every time I get to go right through a green light at an intersection. Despite the red light runners who turn across your path well after their light has gone red, I love the traffic light system. It often feels chaotic and like the world’s longest wait, but no, four way stops at major intersections three lanes wide on each side plus two turn lanes on each side, that’s chaotic, especially when you also have 10 more times down the road at all the other smaller intersections to stop at too, even more chaotic when you realize how many people are talking on the phone while attempting this brave feat.
I noticed after last year’s hurricanes as well as this one, how cool it was to enjoy the things that don’t come by any other means these days except through the help of such natural disasters, at least not around here. Things like the sounds that come through open windows, conversations among neighbors that otherwise seldom happen, walking across the street with a laundry basket to do wash at a neighbor’s home because they have the power to help and the heart to share, the feeling you get looking out past your window through the darkness to see candlelight glowing through your neighbors windows. Front doors wide open, everyone out and about in their yards and working with their hands, helping and sharing what ice they have, giving tips on the best gas lines and how far you might have to go for hot coffee or cold dairy, and which road might have a working signal. It was like being back in a 60’s childhood where we all felt sort of like we didn’t have much and yet we had so much. For reasons such as this, hurricane season hasn’t soured me. Of course, my unshuttered windows somehow held like they were sealed with super glue, my computers and tapes were unharmed and intact. Sure, the world’s greatest orange tree went down and took the cable and power lines with it, the gutters were all stripped from their screws, the new lattice is history, much of the food we had didn’t make it through all the offs and ons of power and generators, the generator gas cost as much as a big month’s electrical bill, and as expected, the back room flooded. But those things are just like getting a skinned knee while playing Kick the Can. Because of Wilma (Wilma, another 60’s favorite from our cartoon loving Saturdays) if you want to think of it that way, we had a week-plus to re-pace, and God provided. Friends and family were kind and let us share the storm with them and share their food and their company, their generator and their lives.
Together is better, especially when it comes to yard work.
Life is interesting and people are generous and giving and you know, somehow, someway, we will have citrus fruit and shade in our backyard again one day. Certainly we will. Can you see me like Scarlett O’Hara with my fist full of dirt saying over and over as the sun sets behind me, Tara, Tara., Taraaaaaa.... or maybe I should say, Greenbriar, Greenbriar, Greenbriar. Nah, that doesn’t work.
Besides, it’s not the place so much, it’s the people, it’s always the people.
But having a home to lay your head IS pretty nice, even by candlelight.
And by the way, I am officially the mother of three teenagers today. When do they hand out the medals? Hmmm... that's what I thought. But then who needs medals, look who came into my life 13 years ago today...