Here 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