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Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Friday Night's For Fighting
By the second night, life without power was beginning to get old, mostly because I was so freaking cold! It was then that we realized we had a gas fireplace in our bedroom that probably would work with a match. I can't remember the last time we used it. It's very close to the bed so I'm always afraid we'll catch fire. Besides, I usually sleep with a fan blowing on me even in the dead of winter.
We opened up the glass doors that we had wedged shut with a piece of wood to stop the rattling on windy nights, and got rid of the ancient spider webs. We tried using a match but it wouldn't light. We could hear the sound of gas coming out, but I guess we couldn't find the right point to ignite it. My husband said he would work on it some more once he got the generator up and running again. I asked him to run an extension into our bedroom so I could watch tv from bed. I had faith in him that he would get the fireplace working and planned to have the kids sleep on an air mattress on the floor in our room. Their rooms are always cold to begin with, and after stepping into them that night I realized I probably could have kept my milk colder in there instead of having it buried outside in the snow.
My husband started the generator up and then had the bright idea of running an extension cord to the refrigerator in the sun room. What would be the worst that could happen? It wasn't like we would blow a fuse or anything. We hadn't seen any action outside all day; the tree, the pole and the wires were still there and I was starting to think this power outage might go on for days. Once again, the only things that moved were the orange cones.
You can't believe how stupid some people can be when they see orange cones. Rather than think, "Hmmm, there must be a reason they're here blocking the road" they prefer to either a) get out of their car and move them, b) go around them, or c) go through them.
While my husband set out to perform the task of trying to make things cold in the refrigerator and hot in the bedroom, I threw on my mega bathrobe and slippers and snuck outside to grab a smoke. I watched one pick-up truck come all the way up to one set of the cones and just sit there pondering what to do. He decided to go around them and went right up to the tree and then just sat there. What did he think, if he put it in four wheel drive he might make it over??? I just laughed to myself as he finally backed up down the block.
Then I heard something even more absurd, the whirring of wheels coming up the hill. I saw the lights first and called to my husband, "You're not going to believe this, but some moron is trying to make it past the cones and up the hill!" He replied, "This is how we weed out the herd." After the wheels stopped spinning, I assumed they had gotten free and went back down the hill. As I was about to go inside I saw an elderly woman just standing in the middle of the chaos of wires, and then get down on her hands and knees. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, but I ran to the street anyway.
I noticed it was an elderly neighbor of mine who lived a couple of houses away. We had spoken about 15 years ago when we were adversaries. I stopped a cell phone tower from being put up on her church's property which was next to the elementary school. After that we nodded to each other in the past, and she always compliments my husband on his Christmas lights, but that's been about it. When I reached her she seemed disoriented, and was carrying a bag from Food Lion and her pocketbook. I told her to stop what she was doing and to give me her hand. I pointed to the wires which she was about to get entangled in. She hadn't seen them. I asked her what she was doing out there and she told me she went to the store. I asked her didn't she know that a tree has been down two days here? She said she forgot. It was then I saw a car sideways in the road lodged up against the root ball of the tree.
"Is that your car?" I asked. She replied yes. "Didn't you see the cones and tape blocking the road?" She said there weren't any. There were. She just had plowed through them. I took her bags from her and told her to hold my hand while we navigated through the wires and tree limbs and up the icy road. Slippers do not do well on ice. When we got to her house she couldn't find her keys in the darkened driveway. I had my mini flashlight with me and held it for her while he searched her pocketbook until she found them. We went inside and I told her to put the lights on. She then told me she had no power. I was surprised because I had heard that side of the street was fine.
She thanked me and said she could find her way inside as she knew every inch of her house even in the dark. I wouldn't let her go in by herself and asked her where her flashlights were. She said they were in the bag I was carrying. When I looked in the bag the only thing there was a gallon of ice cream. I showed her and she asked me, "Where is my flashlight?" I suggested it might still be in the car. That's when she remembered about the car. "What am I going to do about my car? I have to call the police." I used my mini flashlight to help her find candles. She found one and we lit it with my lighter. Her house was very cold too.
She asked what the number for 911 was and after I told her she dialed it on her yellow rotary phone. Haven't seen one of those in years! As she was explaining to the dispatcher the situation, she kept saying she didn't know about the tree, and the dispatcher is trying to tell her that they can't personally inform every person. They were going back and forth until I finally asked her to hand me the phone so I could explain the situation better. As I suspected, the police couldn't do anything about her car. If they sent a wrecker it would cost her a couple of hundred dollars, and until it was moved no restoration work could begin. I told the dispatcher that I would handle this.
The neighbor was quite distraught at this point. She didn't know what to do. I told her to sit down and let me call my husband. As soon as he picked up the phone he started yelling at me, "Where the hell are you? I've been calling your name up and down the streets! I thought you were lying in a ditch somewhere. You're in your robe and slippers." I told him to calm down and briefly filled him in. I then asked if he could please try to get her car out of the ditch and off the road. We went back to my house.
I handed my husband the keys and he told me he got the fireplace working. Thank God! My feet were wet and freezing. I couldn't wait to get into my pajamas and go to bed. We stood there and watched as my husband expertly rocked the car out of danger and onto the road. He slid down the hill and drove the car around the corner and into her driveway. As he was getting out of the car, I see another car pull up behind him and yell to him, "Who the fuck are you and what the fuck are you doing with that car?" Oh shit, here we go. My husband gets out and says, "Who the fuck do you think you're talking to?" Oh shit, here we go. I turn to the neighbor and ask her, "Do you know that guy?" "That's my son," she says. I scream, "It's her son, it's her son!" before anything could happen. Mr. Pleasant turns and sees me hobbling in a bathrobe down the road with his mother on my arm.
"Your mom got stuck and my husband helped her get unstuck," I say. He looked like he wanted to beat the shit out of his mom. "Mom, what are you doing out driving?" "I didn't know the road was blocked." "Yes, you did! You told me this morning!!!" I didn't want to get in the middle of this so I start to make my exit, telling him, "everything is fine, she's okay, there's no damage to the car, take it easy," and head back to my house.
Ah yes, the fireplace is blazing! I took off my wet slippers and placed them near the flames. Before I could even change into warm dry clothes my husband comes in and says, "She's spending the night with us." "What?" "I told her she could sleep here tonight." "I thought her son was here to take her to his house." "No, she asked him if she could sleep at his house and he said, and I quote, "No Mom, I'm not prepared for that. I don't have an extra bed." "Are you fucking kidding me?" "No, I'm not. We can't let her stay in that house tonight. We got the fireplace going. She could stay in here."
For a brief second I was pissed at my husband, not because he did the right thing by inviting her over, but because he didn't turn to her son and say something like, "How can you not let your mother stay in your home where you have power, heat, and food? If you don't want her sleeping on your couch, how dare you not at least offer a hotel room for her instead of handing her off to total strangers?" Did he not get a look at the psycho wearing slippers and a bathrobe traipsing down the icy, slushy road?
The whole situation had me stressed out, and when the pain started heading up from my jaw to the top of my head I realized I was probably clenching my teeth too hard. Serenity now...serenity now! Mr. Pleasant walked his mom almost to our door then bee-lined out of there. She thanked us for letting her stay, and I told her it was no problem. I asked if she was hungry and she said she was. I hadn't planned on cooking, but things change and I couldn't very well serve her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, so I took out a package of shrimps that were almost defrosted anyway, along with some hash browns and whipped up something quickly. It was horrible but she said she liked it and even asked for seconds. I gave her cold apple pie and offered her a glass of wine, which she really seemed to be most thankful for. "My friends don't drink, but I like to have wine." When she asked for a second one, my husband was quick to pour, but I was worried if maybe she was on some sort of medicine or something that would interact with the wine. She said she wasn't. She asked for the name of the wine and when I offered to write it down she said she would remember it. She couldn't remember a tree had fallen across the road but the name of the wine she would remember?
I wanted to find our more why her son wouldn't let her stay in his warm house so I asked her a couple of questions. I thought maybe he was married and the wife didn't like her. No, he was divorced and lived by himself in a large condo that wasn't affected by the storm. I didn't want her to feel bad so didn't ask anything else about him. She said she was tired and just wanted to lay down. I couldn't imagine her lying on the floor of a blow up mattress so instead we moved a chaise lounge from the sun room into our bedroom. It was a little larger than the doorway so we ripped off a chunk of wood as we tried to make it fit. I positioned it far enough from the flames so she wouldn't fall off of it and into the fire. I gave her a couple of pillows and blankets and off to the land of nod she went.
So much for watching tv from bed that night. I called my son and suggested he stay at a friend's house after work. His room was an icicle. When my daughter got home I told her she was sleeping with us in our room. It took a lot of convincing, but after she got a Charley horse in her frost-filled room she agreed. The look on her face as she passed a sleeping stranger on a chaise in my bedroom was priceless.
My bones have never ached more than that night. I always thought the cold didn't affect RA but after the pain I felt, I think it does. The fireplace was great and it wasn't long before I was able to move my legs and hands again. Bella jumped into bed with the three of us and it was quite cozy and warm. In fact, at one point I had kicked the covers off because I was too warm, and if we hadn't had a house guest, I would have probably shut the fireplace off. I hoped my snoring wouldn't scare our guest!