Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Location: United States

Monday, September 15, 2008

"I want to give mankind the gift of electricity." - Harry, 3rd Rock from the Sun


We’ll miss you, Mr. Oak. You gave shade, oak nuts, oak fries, and oak electricity. May your cellulose rise to meet your roots.

Wow. Didn’t see that coming.

Oh, wait, we did. On radar, on the radio, on the Intertubes. As I said, it was unlikely that we’d stop until the power stopped or the beer ran out.

I still have beer.

At 6:20PM, the lights went out. They flickered on, off, on, off, on, then finally, utterly, off.

We dug out candles (the last of the ones left over from our attempt to forestall the coming dark ages presaged by Monica Lewinski) and hunkered down around a crank-radio we bought for emergency (Y3K?) purposes.

Then, we put the young ones to bed, and sat around a candle-lit table and listened to the radio. There may be nothing more boring than listening to radio announcers talk about a storm you can’t see (that’s worse than frigging baseball on the radio). So, we dug out The Mrs. laptop and began watching John Adams, the HBO© miniseries. We saw John Adams and Ben Franklin duke it out in Summer Slam™ 1778, and then went to bed.

Oh, we went outside first to encounter the winds. They were moving about sixty MPH, and it just seemed like the storm wasn’t trying hard enough.

So, after a bottle of pinot noir, I shouted, “Is that all you’ve got?” at the top of my lungs, into the wind.

The next morning, I lounged on the couch, tired from waiting for the hurricane. Still no power.

After our next-door-neighbor, Gladys, came to check if we were dead from carbon monoxide poisoning, I ventured outside.

Siding gone. Shingles gone. That metal stuff that goes underneath the shingles on the edges, gone. Fences (two) gone. There were so many palm fronds outside, it looked like the Skipper and Gilligan’s hut exploded.

My neighbors faired better, for the most part. My whole, “Is that all you’ve got?” defiance must have come home to roost. Never, ever, ever, taunt a hurricane. They will mess you up.

The day was spent in shock, like the day they announced that Val Kilmer would play Batman®. It was horrifying. No Internet!! Beer starting to loose that frosty-cold taste. Ugh. Welcome to Houstonistan.

We listened to the radio, which mainly told us that the power company wasn’t going to do anything that day (though, that afternoon, The Mrs. indicated that the power had flickered while The Boys and I went out to reconnoiter. Sorry that we missed it, but we did find that there was power on either side of us, not three miles away. No stores were open, and we had no phones. Thankfully, one of the previous announcements for hurricane preparedness had told us to have “food, water, and ammunition” (I am not making this up). We had food for a month, water for a similar time, plus more ammunition than the Pakistani army. We were set. The only thing we were missing was sweet, sweet propane for heating the grill.

Eventually, washing came up. I avoided the subject. The Mrs. doused The Boy and Pugsley with coldish water (they howled) and then we ate cold Spagetti-O’s® and sat around in the dim candlelight. Living in the 18th Century was rapidly losing it’s charm.

The radio had limited information. The hosts kept telling us to check their website for more information, even though 98% of their listeners were without power. Perhaps the average person has a hand-crank satellite Internet connection?

Then FEMA came on and indicated that you could contact them by calling (no phone!) or by Internet. The Mayor of Houston indicated that within 24 hours they would have 24 trucks of ice in, but he didn’t say where they’d be. He didn’t know.

A representative from our power provider indicated that we might be out of power forever, really, since they had no idea where that mythical lightning in the wire came from. It was really a mystery to them. They even indicated that changing a light bulb might require Federal authority. They began blaming FEMA for the problem. (In actuality, they said that it might be four weeks until the power was back on, in which case I would be looking for a suit of armor, a mighty steed, and a really cool battle-axe.)

That night, perhaps the coolest person in the world (a next-door neighbor) delivered salvation in a can. Propane.

On night one, The Mrs. and I had grilled hot dogs over candles. It worked okay, but our hot dogs tasted a bit like apple potpourri.

Now, ugh, Mongo have fire!!

The next morning I made coffee for The Mrs. and I. It improved our disposition greatly. Then I cooked ribeye steaks that I’d gotten on sale and frozen. That helped our disposition more. Ribeye for breakfast? Mmmmm.

I took The Boy and Pugsley to see if we could get a generator. This act in Houston (currently) would be like searching for Paris Hilton’s virginity – just not there anymore. Lowe’s® was open, and had a generator. Nah, just kidding. They had bottled water and some Chiclets©.

I came home, and began cleaning up Gilligan’s hut in the backyard. It was horrible, little pieces of red shirt, but the white cap came out whole.

It appears that hurricanes smell like sex to fire ants (jerkusantus invictus). I got bit five times pulling branches out of my formerly fire-ant free backyard. I then unleashed a genocide of Biblical proportions on them, making the chemical warfare of WWI look like a Disney production of The Little Mermaid® in Candyland™.

I went back inside, and the power-gods deigned to tease us again. The lights flickered during dinner (T-bones and bratwurst saved from spoiling through immolation).

The utter lack of information was maddening. Anecdotal reports of FEMA commandeering truckloads of generators. Reports that Responders (I am ever so tired of that word) being stuck without food – you’da thunk they would have thought far enough ahead to stock up their patrol cars with Snickers®, pantyhose and Pez™ before heading to Houston. No. A Congresscritter was on the air complaining that the responders didn’t food, and wanted THE PEOPLE WHO HAD NO POWER TO COME TO THE NICE AIR CONDITIONED AND POWERED PLACE AND BRING THEM FOOD.

If you’re a responder without chow, you’re part of the problem, not the solution, bubba. I was not feeling sympathetic as I threw out $200 in spoiled food.

Power? That was a myth at this point, the electric company representative, and never really existed. Those things that you call “outlets”? Used for hanging meat to feed short animals. The representative suggested burning furniture to boil water to create steam to power a crude generator. I would have built one, but I had no power for my welder.

We went to bed early. Nice.

The next day I went to work, to an office with power. And ice. And TV. I charged the laptops so the kids could watch Garfield© DVD’s. I had hot coffee. A functioning microwave to dry my socks. I’m not sure why I came home. Oh, yeah, the fam.

I got home and told The Mrs. that, indeed, there was more electricity running about today then yesterday. I then loaded The Boy into Wondertruck and we went in search of shingles. I saw a power company truck go wandering by. A bit of hope filled my evil soul.

I purchased $43,762 worth of shingles, $2,121 worth of nails, and some bottled water and then headed home. I saw . . . our porch lights on.

The mythical lightning had returned.

More to come.
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Blogger Jane said...

Why did you have to microwave your socks?

Still good to hear that you all came through it.

8:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hoping to hear that all were well. We are suffering from the heat and humidity, but all we have are sand storms!

9:10 AM  
Blogger GoGo said...

"bottle of pinot noir, and shouted, “Is that all you’ve got?” "

I pictured a man standing in a the driveway in a bathrobe with slippers on holding up a wine glass.

Im glad yall are ok! Are shingles wind rated? They should be. I dont want to loose me shingles someday too. Maybe if you got some big slices of tin and screwed them in every 6 inches?

hmm, anyway. glad your ok.. again!!

4:51 AM  
Blogger The Mayor said...

Clearly I have been outta the loop... when did you move to Texas?!!?

5:32 AM  
Blogger Dame Koldfoot said...

Dude, you're getting gouged on the shingles! Someone needs to investigate this outgrageous pricing scam! It's Big Lumber out to get you. Seriously, our 2000 sf metal roof was only $10k at ALASKA prices. Maybe the shingle refineries shut down in case Ike decided to jump the Panama Canal and head up the Oregon coast?

9:21 AM  
Blogger GoGo said...

Hey Dame Koldfoot, Dont be talkin no hurricane business bout Portland!

7:17 PM  
Blogger dogsled_stacie said...

LOL Mayor!!!

Glad to hear you and the family are ok! Why-oh-why did you leave Alaska for that??!!

10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw you in a skipper costume one time, you should have put it on and trooped around the neighborhood screaming for your little buddy (JM). What would have been better is if the Mrs. had donnned her star trek uniform and wandered about on the side of one of your superhighways talking into a tricorder....

Glad to hear you have the sweet, sweet electricity back. To help save some for you we turned off some lights upstairs when we were out of the house, I hope it helped get power back to you a few hours early. Think of the bright side, you get to go buy all new stuff to put in the bottom of your freezer that you will never see again until another power outage or you move.

7:10 AM  
Blogger Duck Hunter said...

that was a well told story. Glad you survived. . .so far. BUT what about the BEER? Didn't it just keep getting warmer? Did you ever get any of the FEMA ice to keep the beer cold?

10:31 PM  
Blogger John said...

So that they're nice and crispy, and sizzling. Oh, wait, no, that's bacon.

Keep the sand out of your keyboard - that might lead to typus grindus.

You forgot the pipe! Then I could be the Hugh Hefner of Hurricanes.

Shingles were wind rated, I guess, in that they were good for at least thirty-yards of air time.

Since it's been twenty-five years since the last hurricane, I've got my fingers crossed.

Nice to see that Fist City let you out for a day! Moved here in 2006 . . . though in spirit we're still up North.

dame koldfoot,
Nah, at least I didn't buy them "one at a time" like lots of other folks. All in, I'll probably spend less than $500 on roofing materials.

I'll let you two talk it out.

We. Still. Don't. Know.

We did get some super-kewl phasers at Amazon. Now The Boy and I spend each Saturday watching Battlestar Galactica (TOS) on the Intertubes. You *can* buy a Colonial Viper Pilot jacket online . . . . !

duck hunter,
Alas, I managed to get the last bunch warm. But, more on that . . .

5:18 PM  

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