Sunday, August 28, 2011


There are days that it just doesn't pay to get up in the morning.  Some Machiavellian destiny awaits, and we, unsuspectingly, march blithely forward, innocent of where it lurks or how it will affect our lives forever more.

One of my dogs has seizures and is on phenobarbital.  The other one, Razzy, above, doesn't.  However about a week ago I was sitting on the couch with Razzy behind it where she likes to lie next to the air conditioning floor vents, and I felt this shaking of the back of the couch.  I put my feet on the floor, thinking that now Razzy must be having seizures and wanting to go to her to comfort her while she went through it.  The floor was shaking, and I looked at DH and said "The dog's having a seizure!"  The shaking got worse and worse.  The whole house seemed to be bouncing up and down from it!  My husband, being from California and experienced in this sort of thing,  grabbed my hand and said, "That's no seizure!  That's an earthquake!" and he tried to drag me to the stairs to the basement.  An earthquake!?  Who ever heard of an earthquake without a fault line nearby?  I tried to go to the dog to make sure it wasn't her quaking, but he was insistent.  No sooner did we get to the top steps than it subsided.  Nothing broken, no stonework in the house loosened.  I still couldn't believe it.  But there it was, on the internet.  A 5.9 quake centered near Lake Anna and felt as far as Atlanta, Rhode Island, and Ohio!  Go figure! 

So, that was interesting, and we were none the worse for wear, but over the next few days, Hurricane Irene formed, strengthened, and travelled her inexorable route along the East coast, wreaking havoc in her path.  We cleared the patio of furniture, covered and tied down the tarp over the mulch we had just had delivered, put away the lawn tractor and wheel barrows, and planted the few remaining chrysanthemums that remained from my gardening spruce up spree.  We called in an electrician to correct the errors that the idiot who had wired the house and generator panel when we first built this place had made, and we thought we were ready.

Then came Irene.  Wind and rain blew SIDEWAYS at 40 mph, hard as a pressure washer against our Pella windows, two of which leaked.  Water ran down the great room wall from the clerestory window far above us.  We sopped it up with towels and waited. 

Of course, at this particular moment in time, the dogs needed to piddle, so out I went with them.  They took one look outside and cowered, but a mixture of firmness and coaxing got them out into the storm.  A dead tree that belonged to our mean neighbor was swaying.  Finally they finished and we went back in.  About an hour later we heard a thump.  It was the dead tree.  It fell onto the mean neighbor's yard, not ours.  Hurray!

Then the power went out.  Smugly, I went outside to turn on the generator.  Nothing happened.  Much criticism from IH (irate husband) about my technique ensued until he went outside and couldn't get the darn thing to go on, either.  Turned out that the electrician that checked out our generator the day before had turned it off, so we had to dissemble the front panel and turn the switch back to automatic so it would work.  This in gale winds and pouring rain, whipping our faces like tiny splinters.  Success!  We had power!  Lights.  Microwave. Gas stove. Air conditioning -- ahhhhh!

But no phone.  So no internet.  For a short time we had TV, but then the power went out to the DirecTV people, too, and that was the end of that.  We watched DVD's and listened to the howling winds.  By about 11 or 12 at night, the rain settled down and the winds calmed to about 20 mph.  One more bathroom trip for the doggies, and we toddled off to bed.

This morning I let doggies out, totally forgetting that the underground fence was not on, it being a "non-essential" item and therefore not on the emergency panel.  They, of course, took advantage of the lack of warning beeps and went scampering off into the neighborhood.  We jumped in the golf cart to look for them, taking with us a chain saw in case a neighbor needed help or there was a tree in the road, but two trips around the development failed to reveal their whereabouts. 

We did find some trees down across the road, so DH fired up the chain saw and had at it.  During the second tree, the chain saw clutch seized up.  Brand new Poulan. Apparently he had had this same trouble with it before, and no amount of fiddling with it could get it to loosen back up.  So he threw it on the ground a few times -- his version of anger management.  Wouldn't you know, the neighborhood psychologist drives up at that instant, hears what happened, laughs his head off and goes on to breakfast.  We go back home.

When we returned, a neighbor was in our driveway (the phones still being out) in her van.  Our dogs had gone to her court and had treed one of their "volunteer" outdoor cats and had killed the other.  We were heartsick!  She told us where they were, still  circling the tree that the second cat had escaped into, so we hopped back into the golf cart and high tailed it to the empty lot, capturing them before more damage could be done.

Back home, chagrinned and sweaty, generator chugging away, air conditioning beckoning, dreadful dogs refusing to meet our eyes.  They knew they had done two bad things already, and it wasn't even 9 AM!

The phone service returned.  We checked in with our kids to let them know we were fine and to see how they had fared. Fired up the internet and checked Irene's path and email.  Then the phone lines went down again.  We decided we had had enough of being responsible adults for today and went out for lunch, badly in need of some mothering and comfort food.

When we got home, the alarms were going off.  Specifically, the carbon monoxide alarms.  We opened all the doors and turned off the generator, which emits alot of carbon monoxide in its exhaust since it runs on propane.  Every single alarm in the entire house was shrieking "Warning!  Carbon monoxide!"  There was nothing more to do but go outside and begin cleaning up the leaves and branches all over our lawn and blow off the patio.  About an hour into that, we'd had enough, so we poked our heads back into the house.  Silence.  We shut the doors and discovered that Razzy had gotten out again.  This time she was only two doors away when we found her, and she came right back.  Good thing.  I think there may have been an iota of murderous intent in our tone when we ordered her to "Come!"

In another half hour we fired the generator back up, took showers, ate something, and nearly died when the alarms went off again.  This time we decided to disarm the alarm that seemed to be triggering all the others.  And that did the trick.  Apparently all the alarms were having sympathy pains to this one alarm.  We had replaced the battery when we went outside to work on the lawn, thinking that that would do the trick.  But it didn't, so it got dissembled.  We intend to sleep through the night.  All other alarms are now silent!  Hurray!

I'm tired of being a grown up this week.

No comments:

Post a Comment