Patti Soldavini

Hurricane Sandy: Part 1

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/09/2012 at 8:15 pm

“Is this what they call BUNK beds?”

Where do I begin? On Monday, October 29th, the Day of “Frankenstorm,” Olive and I spent the day atypically, watching TV. Early in the day, the wind started to pick up noticeably. It shook the trees, making the tops of them sway like hula dancers. And the fine drizzle that began around 11am was now transformed into a hail of needles slicing sideways through the wind. It didn’t really seem that unusual. However, the three days prior were cloaked in an unusually heavy grey cloud cover. Looking at the horizon, it felt like a big grey pool cover was placed over this corner of the earth. It’s important to note that when our friendly TV meteorologists announce that a hurricane is headed our way, South Jerseyans have a party while North Jerseyans yawn and simply go about their business. Inland we usually just get lots of rain and some wind and that’s it. Now that I think of it, why are weather reporters called meteorologists when they do not report on meteor showers or meteorites that fall to earth? But having gone through last year’s “Snowtober” storm and losing power for eight days when three telephone poles in front of my house snapped in two, I’m not taking any chances this time. I filled the car with gas, did a load of laundry, and showered. I also filled two large plastic storage containers with water and placed them in the tub. I didn’t have to worry about getting bottled water because I have six to eight cases in the house at all times because I buy them in bulk. It’s about 1pm and I glance out the living room window and watch the trees being thrashed back and forth in moderate winds. I call my friend down the street and as one of us is talking I say, “What the hell? Why are there two COCONUTS on the front lawn?” My brain knows they can’t possibly be coconuts, but my eyes say coconuts. I excuse myself from our conversation and go outside to discover that these coconuts are actually two of my faux oil-rubbed bronze solar lights. I pick them up and the other four that were still tethered to their stakes and bring them into the garage. I believe all potential missiles are now accounted for. As the afternoon begins to fade away, the wind gusts become more powerful and more frequent. This is Olive’s finely-tuned biological cue to run downstairs into the darkened bathroom and alternately whine, cry and bark. She does this on and off for the next few hours. For the first time I think, “This is going to be one long night.” I had planned for Olive and I to sleep in the living room because if the monster century-old tree in the backyard falls, it will come crashing down on the master and guest bedrooms. It’s now between four and 6pm and the house posts and beams begin to actually creak. Frequently. The Wizard of Oz ditty floats to the forefront of my brain, “The wind began to switch – the house to pitch and suddenly the hinges started to unhitch.” Olive does not like this at all. I’ve noticed that because weimaraners are so hyper alert they do not like random, unpredictable motion or sound. Olive’s head snaps around and she looks at me for reassurance. “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? SHOULD I BE WORRIED?” I look directly at Olive and purr, “Everything’s fine Olive. You have nothing to worry about.” She seems to accept my tone of voice as confirmation that she’s safe. Until the next creak. Which prompts the next head snap. Again and again and again. It’s now 8pm and Frankenstorm has made landfall about 100 miles away in South Jersey. Like clockwork, the power goes out. In an instant, our nice warm contemporary home has been transformed into a Taliban cave. The wind starts to howl loudly and actually whistle. Some of the gusts are so powerful, I am afraid the house is going to be air lifted from its foundation. In between the furious gusts is constant wind that sounds like a freight train hurtling down the tracks. “Screw this Olive, we’re going to sleep in the basement.” I go downstairs with Olive trailing me very closely. I open the pull-out couch, throw some blankets on it and place the Coleman battery-powered lantern on a chair next to the bed. I try to read. It’s impossible. The wind is frightening. I keep waiting to hear a tree snap and drop onto the house like a two-ton hammer. Olive is very restless. She keeps getting up and just standing on the bed. I try repeatedly to get her to lie down. “This is going to be an even longer night than I originally thought.” The wind howls and whistles and screams incessantly for the next five hours. I am conscious of the fact that I now feel like the subject in the Edvard Munch painting, “The Scream.” We’ve never experienced anything like this up here. If I wanted to live through this kind of event repeatedly, I’d move to Florida. And the 70mph winds we’re getting is nothing compared to what they get elsewhere and what the Jersey Shore is getting battered by right now. I lie in bed in the dark checking Facebook and trading posts with friends. Olive is now next to me curled up in a little brown ball. I finally fall asleep by about 1am. Five hours later I open my eyes and ears and am met with a deafening silence. It is eerily quiet. One, because the storm has passed and two because we still have no power. “Thank Christ that’s over Olive.” Olive opens her eyes and lifts her head towards me in a very familiar and expectant way. To her, it is no different from any other morning. Hurricane or no hurricane, my little food whore wants her breakfast. To be continued…

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