And on the seventh day, we gave the heck up.
I’m writing today’s installment of The Hurricane Diaries from my dad’s house, where we have power and heat. You may wonder why we didn’t head over here earlier, but every messed-up family is messed-up in its own way. Also, the house has way too many open doorways, and the dogs keep wandering from room to room, gravitating toward the open kitchen area.
So why did we leave the house? Well, partly it’s because the temperatures tonight are expected to go a bit below freezing. I’ve been running the wood-burning stove for seven days straight, the wood’s beginning to run low, and I’m afraid of how much it’ll take to keep us warm tonight. (The fuel’s not dangerously low, and I’m about to order a cord of wood for delivery, so we should be okay, but I still figure the stove could use a night off. We can clean it out tomorrow morning, since the ashes are starting to pile up, even with my mid-fire clearance procedure. (Which is improvised and, I’m sure, dangerous.))
But it’s not just the impending cold snap that drove us here. We fled because our town is cursed.
When I woke up around 4:00 a.m. to recharge the stove, I turned on my iPhone and hit Facebook. It loaded up the most recent updates, and I noticed that one of my high school pals, who lives perhaps a third of a mile away, posted “EARTHQUAKE? WTF?” for her status a few hours earlier. Another two townies in my feed also posted about it. I shook my head, got back to the stove, and wrestled it back to life. Once it was going, I got back on the Aerobed and tried to get back to sleep. It took a while, and when I woke up around 6:30, my FB feed was flooded with news about the earthquake. It was a small one, 2.0 on the Richter scale, but apparently enough to shake some people’s homes. I figured that if the dogs slept through it — including Rufus, who panics at the first sign of thunder and hides in the guest bedroom — then it must have been negligible.
Still: hurricane/superstorm, week-plus blackout, earthquake, impending nor’easter? Seemingly, there is no reason for these extraordinary intergalactical upsets, but it’s clear to me that we’re being targeted by Ming the Merciless. Amy’s more biblical in her thinking, and expects a plague of frogs or locusts, but my bet is that we’re looking at Hot Hail soon.
In other news, I had to get back to work today. We set up the office servers in the home of one of my coworkers, and I got out the remaining pages of my Nov/Dec issue without incident this morning. On the way there, I noticed a gas station with virtually no line and pulled in to fill up. I’ve only used a third of my tank since last Sunday, but figured I’d be safe. The attendant walked up and apologetically told me that I had to come back tomorrow, because I have an even-numbered license plate. I admitted that I forgot about the rationing scheme here in NJ, but would stop in tomorrow.
After finishing the mag, I called United to cancel today’s flight to Seattle. They confirmed that the exchange fee would be waived when I decided to use the ticket anytime in the next year. We’re still not projected to get power back in my zone until Friday, and that’s assuming the nor’easter doesn’t cause further delays or more outages.
Then I stopped by our actual office, which got power back yesterday. (The servers are really finicky, so once they were set up off site, it was best to leave them until we were done with the past-deadline issues.) I picked up the packages that had arrived for me last Monday (I stayed home rather than deal with the storm) and today: a pair of my Allen-Edmonds back from reconditioning, 16gb of memory for a new Mac Mini, and Cicero’s On Duties and Julius Caesar’s The Gallic War: Seven Commentaries on The Gallic War with an Eighth Commentary by Aulus Hirtius. I also picked up some empty cardboard boxes to use for kindling in the stove.
From there, it was on to a fireplace store, to pick up some fatwood and fire-/heat-resistant gloves, then Batteries Plus to stock up on D-cells, the LL Bean in Paramus Park to exchange the hand-crank flashlight I bought Saturday for one that has all 3 LEDs functioning, and finally Fairway to do some grocery shopping for Amy (and myself) before going home and making my overdue afternoon coffee.
That flashlight has been my rosary during this blackout. When I’ve been walking around in the dark this week, I find myself turning the little plastic crank absently, charging away, the whirring forming a sharp counterpoint to the constant thrum of our next-door neighbors’ natural gas-fed generator. I was a little bummed when I got it out of the package Saturday afternoon and discovered that one of the LEDs was a dud, but I got a lot of use out of that phaser-looking flashlight in the past week.
And now I’m sitting in my dad’s dining room, looking across the foyer to Ru & Otis grumplily lying on their beds in the sitting room, where Amy’s reading. Dad’s got the TV on upstairs kinda loud. (I had no idea that Two and a Half Men uses a laugh-track for 95% of the show.) It’s kinda disconcerting to be in a house that has heat and light without the background noise of a generator. I’m sure I’ll get used to it again.