Patti Soldavini

168 Hours

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/07/2011 at 7:59 pm

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7 days without power. 168 jaw-clenching hours. Over 10,000 minutes spent curbing a hair trigger temper. “I DON’T CARE IF YOU HAVE NO LEGS. GET. ACROSS. THE. STREET. NOW.” No cable. No internet. No landline. Nothing but my street mattered right then anyway, but it would have been nice to see or hear the local news. Except for the local politicians who everytime they opened their blowhard mouths, just confirmed their idiocy. Oh, and no water. Because when you live in a beautiful rural area like me, it means you are the owner of a private well…that runs on an electric pump. The loss of heat is nothing compared to the loss of water. Flush the toilet? Fuggedaboutit. Wash your hands? No dice. You have to use antimicrobial baby wipes. Shower? “HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA.” Only if you are a Comfort Inn VIP Guest or you have a friend lucky enough to have a generator. And because the power lines went down when colossal wet snow-covered tree branches cracked in the dead of night, crushing them and snapping telephone poles in two in the process, the road is closed. Which also means that your newspaper won’t be delivered and your garbage won’t be picked up. But FedEx, UPS and the USPS did not let a “Road Closed” sign deter them from their missions. They delivered. But it gets worse fast. Gas stations within a 5-mile radius are simply “out of gas,” because people lucky enough to own generators are sucking them dry down to the earth’s core. Area restaurants ranging from Panera to 4-star bistros are standing room only, densely-packed hives overpopulated by cranky, angry bees with a bad case of “Bee-O”. Laundromats, never a good place around which to loiter, are veritable tinder boxes, just waiting for the spark that will ignite a brawl. All the local hotels, motels and bed & breakfasts’ are bursting at the seams. Even the roads that are open aren’t immune to this locust-like event. The traffic is spectacular. You’d think people were out Christmas shopping already. EVERYONE is out on the road because NO ONE wants to be inside their cold, pitch black home where their toilets have been transformed into indoor outhouses. The only thing missing is graffiti on the walls of the bathroom that say things like, “Here I sit so brokenhearted, tried to shit and only farted. Yesterday I took a chance, saved a dime and shit in my pants.” (My all-time personal favorite which was scrawled on the inside of a bathroom door at a real campground in Maine.) For the past 7 days, Olive and I might as well have been living inside a tent in Calcutta. She probably minded all of this less than I did, but it severely disrupted both our routines, filling every day with dozens of minor, irritating inconveniences, many of which you don’t even imagine until you’re in a situation like this. I am happy to report that Olive was quite the trooper. Especially since she was essentially tethered to me for 7 days while we traipsed about neighborhoods throughout Northern New Jersey like Monty Python searching for the Holy Grail. We slept at our neighbor’s who lives behind us. We’d get up in the morning and go back to our house, check on things there, I’d feed Olive and let her out, then I’d get changed in the dark, trying to balance a flashlight in one hand and my pants in the other, and then we’d both go into the office. After work, we’d go over to a friend’s house, shower, have dinner and hang out there awhile. Then we’d make our way over to another friend’s house where I did a giant load of laundry and then it was back to our neighbor’s to sleep and start the insane routine all over again. I think what made it all worthwhile for Olive was that she got to sleep in the single pull-out bed with me for five nights. She’d sleep soundly, curled up next to me, never getting up once. Although it was funny to watch her expressions when people walked “above us.” Her head would jerk up and you could tell she was getting ready to bark, trying to determine what was making the noise and whether it was a threat to our safety. Her head cocked slightly, teeth barely exposed as half of her lip curled, and her pupils microscopic, frozen with interest. I would quietly plead with her to keep her bird hole shut. She’d look at me somewhat incredulously and then sink back down into the bed, safely tucked close to me. Since she doesn’t normally sleep in my bed, it was a nice, comforting treat, and a nice way to end each shitty day. Only I had to go to bed every night disturbed by the knowledge that the fact that this country relies on toothpicks strung together with dental floss to create its power system is a national disgrace. Olive, just snored contentedly next to me. We worry about different things.

  1. Hello,
    I just got a Weimaraner on Wednesday!! She is a year old. Her name is Zoie. Her owners have given her up b/c they say they do not have the time to spend with her. I have 24/7 to spend with her. I know very little about the breed. I could use advice if you would like to give it. Come see me when you have the time please.
    Zoie & Fern

  2. New appreciation for community. Glad you have power. Being without it extended periods is incredibly difficult.

  3. Wow. It is hard to imagine in this day and age that we can be reduced to living as they did eons ago. I am glad to hear you and Olive did well and that power has returned! : )

  4. I read your post and believed I was there! Though, fortunately I wasn’t!! We have fairly regular power cuts here and the water supply suddenly stops for no apparent reason, sometimes for days. It’s always a challenge without heat, light, water, flushing toilets and the other essentials such as internet!!

    Big hug for Olive who seemed to take it all in her stride 🙂

    Hope you are back to normal now or soon.

    • I don’t mind the cold so much when this happens; it’s easy to bundle up. But not having any water is tough. Our “power grid,” (and I take exception to the word “grid” which implies order) is built on 1930s technology (“American Telephone and TELEGRAPH). Here’s what I learned from talking to a guy in a Verizon truck erecting one of the new poles in front of my house: different companies actually own different telephone poles on each street. They don’t even know who to send out until they know “whose pole” it is. They don’t rely on local municipal governments for any help. Crews from other states are sent out here to help and they drive around with maps searching for the streets they’re assigned to. It’s positively insane. Someone said the cost-benefit ratio must favor “clearing trees, putting up new poles and re-stringing wires.” By that logic, we’d still be rising horses, not driving cars. We continue to try to solve the problem by “draining the lake, instead of fixing the boat.”

  5. “toothpicks strung together with dental floss” seems like a very appropriate description!

    • It’s crazy. The trees aren’t going to go away; they’ll continue to fall on power lines. Mother Nature probably won’t get any kinder. It’s time for a new solution.

  6. Oh, my goodness sweet Patti, do you have your power back yet? That is horrible! I heard on the news that there are still some in the NE without power, I sure hope you are still not one of them. Keeping you in thoughts and prayers. Sweet Olive looks like she doesn’t have a care in the world…sweet picture. Hugs and nose kisses

    • Yes, we got power back on Friday afternoon. It made for an extra pleasurable day. About 20,000 people in Connecticut are still without power after 11 days. Thanks for your good thoughts.

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