Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Is Silence Really Golden?

The last day of my 58th year around the sun turned out to be a whopper!  All was fine---despite the very unusual wind---until I lost cell service around 11am during a phone call with my mom.  Not to worry.  I have a land line and could call her back.  The winds started howling. The empty pots outside the door starting hitting the door and flying around in small tornados.  I made my way down to the greenhouse with 2 armloads of wood to split to start the stove.  I'm telling you, the wind was so cold, it was sucking heat out of the greenhouse so fast!  We are so lucky that the roof didn't blow off since last summer Curt fell off the roof putting the last screws in and decided to leave the last screws until this summer.

Anyway, it was nice sitting next to the stove.  But still, the wind howled.  By the time I got back up to the house, I had internet service again and thought I'd watch a TV show and wait for the wind to die down.  It never happened and my phone died.  Since I couldn't do much outside, I thought I'd go to town.  I needed my restless leg medicine. , I knew from experience I wouldn't sleep much that night without it.

I went down the 31 stairs to the garage and remembered ---after I punched in the code to the garage door--that it was an electric garage door and it wouldn't open.  So I walked back up the 31 stairs to check on the "speck,"  our junk car we keep for visitors.  Curt had just charged it up the day before so it would start.  I got in and no matter what I tried, it just wouldn't turn over.  So.... back down the 31 stairs to try the Suburban, our boat puller that we don't drive in the winter.  Curt had also charged up the Suburban.  What a crazy racket the Suburban made.  I'm guessing we need a new starter.  So.... I thought I'd go back up the 31 stairs to have lunch and think about my options.  Maybe the power would come back on.

An hour later----still no power.  I decided Curt would know how to open the garage door without power, but I had no cell phone battery left.  Choice one:  get out the emergency cook stove that has a phone charger on it, or go down to the car and charge the phone.  Back down the 31 stairs.  Yes, I started the car in the closed garage.  I did leave the man door open so the fumes wouldn't be that bad, but the kept wind slamming it shut.  Luckily, the phone came on before I lost consciousness (just kidding--it wasn't bad) and I called Curt.  He picked up and explained that there's some string next to the garage door motor.  I couldn't see a string by the motor, but there was a different string by the door.  I pulled and tugged.  I dragged a log over to stand on to get a better look, but to no avail.

What to do?  I got back in the car and started it again.  I blocked open the man door so I wouldn't die and I started watching You Tube videos to teach me how to do it.  I had already done what those videos said to do.  I tied a piece of wood onto the string to see if that would help me pull it.  Nope.  Then I glanced over to the other garage door and that string was different.  It had a loop.  I pulled it and VIOLA!  I heard a snap and pushed open the garage door!  I was FREE AT LAST!

Driving to town was no easy feat either.  The wind was pushing me all over the road---debris was flying.  I drove by a guy walking.  He had his elbow over his eyes and shirt over his mouth and nose, so I turned around.  I was going to pick him up.  By the time I caught back up to him, I saw he was carrying what looked like a whiskey bottle, so I left him walking.  I swerved around a tree that was down.  A truck in front of me (happened to be my neighbor) turned in there and later I found out, she had her chain saw in the back of the truck and cut the tree out of the road.

I made it to Carrs and luckily the generator was working so the cash registers could still work.  I went to the pharmacy and THEIR registers were not working.  I begged for my pills -- just enough for the night and I'd come back the next day.  She took pity on me and wrote an I.O.U. which I'll have to go and pay today sometime.  So with that, I ventured into the dark aisles with my cell phone flash light gathering the stuff I needed---not much:  milk, yogurt, salad, fruit and cinnamon.  When I started whistling, since it was so creepy in there, my neighbor found me (the one who cut the tree out of the road) and we went through the aisles together.  Just as we finished our shopping, the generator died.  That meant only those with cash (not even checks) could buy their groceries.  What?  I saw a woman in near panic, "I've GOT to have matches! We can't eat if I can't buy matches!"  Another said that Walmart was out.  Someone else told terrible stories of the carts going crazy over at Fred Meyers (since no one wanted to take them back) and they were damaging all the cars in the parking lot.  So..... I had to abandon my cart and drive home.  All that and no way to buy groceries.

When I arrived home, I decided to get out the emergency radio that I haven't used in 8 years or so.  I became so aware of how much I rely on noise:  TV, or music, radio, or books on tape, or podcasts.  All of that was not possible.  I made a mental note to start practicing working in silence.  So, I happily pulled down the wind-up radio.  Wouldn't you know?  You have to replace the batteries every 5 years or so or they won't take a charge!  What kind of an emergency radio is that?  So....I went on the hunt for batteries.  So lucky!  I had 4 AAs still in the charger that were charged.  Ah.....the sound of voices warning me that there's a wind storm out there.  Ahhhh.

So....what to eat?  I wanted comfort food and my granddaughter had just told me about the wonderful banana bread she ate.  So--because we have gas appliances,  I pulled the frozen bananas out of the freezer and let them thaw (no microwave to defrost things) and started mixing.  When I turned on the oven, it didn't sound right.  Then I remembered ...... no electric start.  So I abandoned my banana bread and made rice on the stove.  But to light the stove I had to find matches!  So funny!  My matches were totally dead.  They had oxidized or something.  They wouldn't strike on the box.  So I knew there were emergency candles and lighters upstairs in the bathroom, so I lit a candle and brought it down---even though the sun is setting at 9pm now and I didn't really need a candle.  It was useful to start the stove with anyway.

With warm rice in my belly, I wondered what I should do next?  Curt wasn't coming home until 10pm or so.  We usually watch a TV show or two and then go to bed.  Oh....yeah....bed.  All the sheets were in the washer and it didn't finish its spin!  I wondered if I should try and hang them on the clothes line or would they just make their way down to the river at the bottom of the hill? I left them in the washer.

It started getting cool in the house.  I decided instead of going outside to haul and split more wood to start a fire, I would go put my long johns on.  With no good book to read, or TV to watch, I curled under the blankets on the couch and listened to Public Radio.  The cat curled up next to me and it was very cozy.

When Curt came home at 10, he said HE had cell phone service, why didn't I?  Hmmmmm.  I re-booted my phone and, what do you know?  I had it too.  So.....we turned off the emergency radio and we watched "Lost in Space" on his cell phone.  Creatures of habit, I guess.

So today, while I treasure hunt down the mountain and in the woods for all the things that blew away, I'm pondering if I'm really up for a long emergency?  I take pride in being prepared.  But am I prepared for silence?