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Saturday, Sept. 20, 2003
Well that was fun.

Yeah, we’re still here and kicking, hurricane or not. It appears that most of my East Coast pals are too, especially Sixweasels (who appears to have spent the entire hurricane period writing entry’s. Heh. Just kiddin’.)

Like most of the region affected by this storm, we just went ahead and made no real plans for Thursday and Friday, stayed off work and sat at the breakfast table watching the winds pick up on Thursday morning. Predictably for our neighborhood, the transformer blew promptly at 9:30 am and stayed blown for the next 36 hours. This transformer does the same damn thing every time it gets anything more serious than a wet sneeze.

Ally and I, being the sentient beings that we are, would have been content to just sit there and watch the storm brew for a goodly portion of the day. Or read, or play cards or any of the other stuff that used to happen prior to the advent of 21st century entertainment techniques (that is, requiring mass amounts of electrical appliances and subsequent trips to vendors who support them). But three kids, out of school and immediately bored, plus two teenaged houseguests, put the brakes on our budding old-fogyism in sharp order.

It was Maggie who called “Uncle” Stu, and to her delight discovered that he still had power. He also has a big screen TV and a vast selection of movies. Not to mention a pool table. Hi Ho, off to Stu’s we go. Packing as much of the contents of our refrigerator into coolers as possible.

Hurricane’s at Stu’s are like most anything else at Stu’s: high on entertainment and the cooking of such exotic foods as potato pancakes and stromboli. With the seven of us on board, we waded into a determined hurricane party and commenced to snackin’.

And it was wild. We had the TV on, watching the weather and news. Which after a while became one and the same, because the weather was the news. The storm started in really well around noontime. We managed to keep one eye on the TV and one on the scene outdoors through the windows as trees turned into pretzels and limbs started falling. We had a bit of a snag when the power went out at Stu’s as well, but were back in business courtesy of the Outfoxed Crew generator in short order.

It is a telling thing that we chose to run the TV in place of lighting.

I think the thing that amused me the most about this hurricane is how well it played into the hands of the media. “Expect the winds and rain to really pick up around 10 this morning,” they said, and by golly it did. “The worst of the storm should be over around midnight,” and so it was. Sort of a made for TV event, a prime time storm.

No, I take that back. The thing that really amused me, as always, was the appearance of so many dweebs disguised as television reporters of the weather. Where oh where do they get these people? Standing outside, right at the oceanfront, the waves smashing into their feet and wind bouncing them around, they have the gall to tell us that “Nobody should be out in this weather! For heavens sake stay indoors! Stay in your homes! On the lee side of the wind!” Or the infamous “Authorities have ordered that all citizens should refrain from driving,” reported from location A, then 20 minutes later they’re back on the air from location B, which happens to be a good 15 minute drive away. What, they’re exempt?

By the time we decided that enough generator TV and propane stove foodstuffs had been consumed and it was time to return to the house for some sleep, Stu’s yard had piled up a pretty impressive collection of limbs, big ones. Stu rubbed his hands in glee and painted a picture of a Friday spent “Cranking up the chainsaw and making some cash”. And lord knows, there were trees aplenty strewn everywhere, uprooted or snapped off, in yards and on houses and everything in between.

In a darkened house (“Where the hell are those kerosene lanterns Ally?”) there was really little else to do but sleep, or try to read by flashlight, which is always a rather disconcerting thing. By the way, did you know you can get a pretty decent amount of light from a cell phone screen? Try it next time.

Sure enough, Stu and I cut some major lumber yesterday and saw more than enough downed trees and potential insurance claims. We weren’t thieves about it, we did most of our choppin’ for people we know, people who gladly slipped us some cash, and one fellow who slipped us a whole lot of cash. For a backyard that closely suggested deepest Cambodia. We even came up with the novel approach of cranking up the generator for these people, plugging in their refrigerator for a quick recharge and cutting limbs in the meantime. I tell ye, the combination was a sales technique unmatched in recent memory.

But there were the ones, of course. We’d happen to be doing somebody’s house and look across the street, where an able bodied lad was getting to the point of despair over a forty foot oak tree and a dull hand saw and looking like he'd been at it since sunup. And we, being the possessor’s of a mighty chain saw and many other fine implements would just stroll over and thresh the damn thing in about 15 minutes. After which he would pump our hands enthusiastically and offer us beer and the use of his wife. No cash, though. ‘Twas a pity.

After a dozen stops the toll was being taken, two fat men and lots of manual labor and a fair amount of disposable income. Enough for one day, certainly. Like a mental alarm clock, the Watering Hole beckoned.

Closed. No power.

A further search turned up two more of our beloved local taverns also closed, and we were beginning to despair (or curse, to put a more accurate light on it) when we happened on the Sports Bar. Which also had no power but the door was opened and the place was packed.

Seems that the enterprising owner had stocked up on ice and had a dozen large coolers full of promise, if not beer. And curiously, a bunch of folks with dead cell phones. On went the generator again, and for the price of a beer, you got your phone recharged.

I don’t think we spent a dime in the place.

So we drew the curtain on another big storm. It was supposed to be the “big one”, the one which would submerge this little slice of heaven and as always, it fragmented before it really made landfall and turned into a Category 1 or 2 hurricane. We’re supposedly a disaster area, but what’s disastrous about downed trees, some holes in roofs and loss of power? Yes, I know there was some loss of life. I’m not insensitive to that at all. One guy capsized his canoe and drowned (which sort of makes you wonder just who goes out in a canoe in the middle of a hurricane) but there’s loss of life on the highways and elsewhere everyday.

If it really was the big one, the one of dire prediction ever since I’ve lived here, a Category 5 monster with 150 mph winds and 20 foot storm surge, I wouldn’t have a house. Nobody else would either. Most of us would be out of town long before the thing hit.

And, of course, I’d be sitting out in the Texas panhandle somewhere, sipping a Lone Star.

You know. Out there where things are safe and all.

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