Monday, November 5, 2012

Generating Laughs Through the Storm

generator-blow-me-sandyHere in the stubby tail of Connecticut, where we are surrounded by two types of damage-causing greenery – trees and hedge funds, we tend to lose power whenever a storm blows through. You name it, we’ve gone Dark Ages during it: Hurricane Irene in 2011, the Nasty Nor'easter of ‘10, the arrival of "The Jerry Springer Show" in ‘09, etc.

Even minor of atmospheric disturbances seem to cause a power grid failure in our slice of suburgatory. As such, I instinctively grab a flashlight when I sense a hint of a breeze or that a member of our household has consumed Mexican food.

These frequent and prolonged outages prove especially precarious to our family as Uncool Estates depends solely on electricity. Not just for lighting and refrigeration but also for heating (electric baseboards!), sewage (injector pump!) and sanity (Excitable and Li’l Diva are surgically attached to iPhones, iTouches and ¡Ay, caramba! who knows what other gadgets).

This spring, My Love and I agreed we had had enough of bad weather and the occasional burrito turning us Amish. We blew a few years of the kids’ college tuition on a standby generator: a 20-kilowatt-creating, blackout ass-kicking savior.

Or so I thought.

What follows is my official “Superstorm Sandy / Frankenstorm” diary:

Monday, Oct. 29 – morning: Up early to fret. Did laundry as washer/dryer can’t be on generator because of the heavy electrical load. Same with electric stove, so I boiled what seems like 18 pounds of pasta for later microwaving. Also filled bathtub in case water supply goes out. Wife passive-aggressively mocks my overpreparedness by Googling cocktail recipes for a proper Hurricane and starting a blackout pool with the kids.

2:42 p.m.: Daughter wins blackout pool as the lights flicker and then the generator kicks on.

2:46 p.m.: Even with satellite TV and Internet still operational, first cry of "I'm bored" heard. Well, the kids wouldn’t give me a turn on the Wii.

4-ish p.m.: Massive black oak in backyard snaps in half, crushing part of our deck while scraping the house. Wife asks if I'm ready for that first pitcher of Hurricanes. Yes, I tell her as I sift through my clean laundry for underwear.

8 p.m.: We hunker down in basement for microwaved kettle corn and a DVD showing of Rock of Ages. Maybe it's the Hurricanes talking but that Tom Cruise can bring it! Unable to take dog outside during height of storm, I contemplate hooking his leash to the treadmill.

Tuesday, Oct. 30 – morning: Internet down and cell service spotty. Wife swears off drinking Hurricanes while I offer her a brunch of nuked pasta.

Afternoon: Psyched to use my electric chainsaw to clear tree off deck. Then it locks up within three minutes, choking on limb all of two inches in diameter. I spend the next two hours using a pruning handsaw and the two after that mainlining generic Aleve.

Evening: Home overridden with children and adults claiming to be friends and relatives who are randomly flushing our toilets, plugging in gadgets and eating my pasta. I'm certain I've never seen these people before; however, my vision is clouded by consumption of Hurricanes and naproxen.

Wednesday, Oct. 31: Kids disappointed that Halloween activities canceled due to neighborhood's lack of power. They salve wounds to childhood psyches by scarfing the three bags of Milk Duds, Laffy Taffy and Swedish Fish we had bought for trick-or-treaters. They perk up when a horde of friends and relatives come by for a taco dinner. I pray the generator can withstanding the repercussions of so many refried beans.

Thursday, Nov. 1 – afternoon: Despite the many comforts offered by our propane-fueled home, Internet still eludes us. As son is suffering Wi-Fi withdrawal, I do what's necessary – take him to a bar with a powerful wireless router (for him) and 30 beers on tap (for me).

Evening: MY GOD! WE ARE OUT OF RAGU!

Friday, Nov. 2 – morning: Propane tank gauge reading a comfortable 60 percent. I'm worried about its oil consumption, especially since I used all extra virgin stuff on last night’s pasta.

8 p.m.: There's a beep and whirring sound. The stove clock has turned on! In a minute, the generator sputters off and whole house is again online. I scramble onto the fallen oak and declare, “With God as my witness, I shall never eat reheated pasta again!"

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Note of Uncool Seriousness: Many people were not as lucky as us and suffered Sandy’s wrath. If you have it in your heart and bank account, please give to those in need. One organization involved in the relief effort you should consider is AmeriCares, which is based here in my hometown. You can read about their work on their website and then donate online. Thanks … K

25 comments:

  1. You forgot the mind numbing effect of an entire neighborhood running generators so that they can get their TV and Internet fix. I'm ready to lose it after hearing ours for 30 minutes. Glad you survived. Would you believe there are still people here without power? All our First Energy people were sent your way!

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    1. Having lived it before, I believe it. I now the hum well. We have about 6 homes in our neighborhood with them. They are, sadly, essential now.

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  2. This is why I live in Atlanta instead of near the coast! That, and it's where I was offered a job after college.

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    1. We have blackouts, you have MARTA. Six of one ...

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  3. You are one funny man. Congratulations on being the Erma Bombeck writer of the month. I'm just wondering why it took them so long to realize you've been channeling her for years.

    (This is why I live in NH. That, and I hate I-84.)

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    1. Thanks, Cheryl. This summer was the first time I drove I-84 west of CT. It sucks that way, too.

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  4. Funny stuff Kevin! Thanks for the laugh. Glad you guys are okay.

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  5. Aw, you crack me up.

    We lose power easily out here in the sticks, and our generator is worth EVERY PENNY we spent on it.

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    1. Wait, isn't it worth every LOONIE up north, there?

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  6. Oh man, you made this sound hilarious. Also, the next time I am powerless for six days in a row, I will be camped out at your house. I wild have killed for a microwave!

    PS: Congratulations on being the Erma Bombeck writer of the month! That's amazeballs.

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    1. Thanks. You are just a bridge up the Turnpike and across the GWB from me. But feel free to leave your digestive issue as home, sweetie. I've gone through enough of those on my own and with my dog. ;-)

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  7. So thankful you did't lose your sense of humor (at least not completely, I assume you were selective with your post) along with your power. I loved this post - just the right amount of sarcasm and wit and a touch of empathy to those suffering from the storm. Honestly, we live in Orlando and haven't been hit as often as you guys up north have, with the exception of 2004 anyway. Take care and enjoy your new friends.

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  8. Congratulations on your Erma Bombeck honor--I hail from her home state, as in BattleGroundStateofOhio (I was thinking of turning it into a drinking game--if I took a sip whenever I heard the phrase, would it have made the political ads less annoying?)

    GREAT writing, Erma would be so proud of you!

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    1. Thank you, Paula, that's very kind. And go Buckeyes!

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  9. Congratulations on being the Humor Writer of the Month! Good job. Fun read.

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  10. Funny, funny guy! Am glad you're all safe and thanks for spreading the word of much needed help! Liz
    Liz Raptis Picco--www.stretchmarks.me

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    1. I just hope it made a little bit of difference. Thanks, Liz.

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  11. I'm a long way away (on Vancouver Island), but we felt for you folks. Glad you could still find the funny in a tough situation. And congrats on the Erma Bombeck honor (or, as we spell it, honour)! - Judy

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    1. Thank you, Judy. I visited VI last year. Beautiful country. Or is is "couuntry"?

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