Hurricane Journal

Hurricane Journal

September 16, 2017

Being a sometime compulsive poster of either spiritual/magical truths, photos of friends and loved ones, or cultural commentary and anti-politically-correct diatribes, I have been uncharacteristically silent for a while. So here’s a recap of the last twelve days or so.

We start with my buddy Alaska Dave, handyman, tree-guy, and all around ok person. I spoke to him around September 2 about taking down some pine trees that posed a danger to my home in the event of a hurricane coming from the east. We had all kinds of arrangements in place to buy a tree climbing belt and set of spiked leg gear for him. He bailed after a few days as it grew closer to the anticipated arrival of the storm.

By then, I had called Pete the Thug sensing Dave’s reluctance. It was a perilous job as several branches of one tree hung over a power line. Pete the Thug has been in the business for decades and did some work for us before. With a crew and a truck and insurance and the rest, he seemed like a better choice anyway. We disliked him because of a violent temperament in which each tree seemed to represent his father, and downing it his revenge. But, in a desperate situation, we acquiesced to his presumed skills. After some days of avoiding us, he came on Wednesday, September 5, showing up in the late afternoon in the driving rain (as opposed to our 9:30 am appointment in the sunny morning). His crew included some weird guy about our daughter’s age who was acting strangely, to say the least. After some period of wrangling, arguing, stress, planning, awaiting a break in the weather, and the rest, Chris and Pete started taking down some trees, finally tackling the big one over the power line. I had grown so tired of their chaos that I went into my office and began working, deciding not to give them an audience. Then with a large snap, the power was cut.

I went outside to witness Pete’s anger and Chris being up in the tree, the line being down, the two assistants milling about. Chris was yelling at a neighbor who was worried about him and called 911. Soon the street and the yard became the scene of at least a dozen police and emergency workers milling about. They were trying to get Chris to climb down the tree, questioning Pete about what was going on, and talking to us. This went on for a couple of hours until Chris did come down, was laid on a gurney, and taken away in the darkness. The trucks and police cars with their flashing lights were finally gone and the neighbors and onlookers had cleared away. I paid Pete half of what we agreed and was happy to get rid of him. The next day, he came by looking for a chain saw Chris had dropped in the dark and told me Chris was still in the hospital in a medically-induced coma because of high blood pressure from an overdose of crystal meth!

FPL rewired the broken lines Wednesday the 6th and my sentence as the neighborhood pariah was commuted as the power was restored!

The storm continued to approach relentlessly as the media continued to amp up their hysterics. I continued the process of shuttering the house, professionally and intelligently as this was not our first rodeo. The stores were wiped out of supplies, but again, we were ok. Drivers were acting like maniacs with panic adding to their general lack of road skills, but it was an act of will for even a good driver to keep himself off the edge. We prepared candles and grill and hurricane lanterns and plastic sheeting and cleaned gutters and protected roof seams with black goop and stored all outside equipment safely and sensibly and etc and etc.

I managed to send two projects to press Friday and Saturday nights because I knew what we would be in for as soon as the power failed.

During the driving rains on Sunday, I was digging a channel in the back where a pool had been forming near the shed. The shotgun sound of the blown power transformer at 7:30 am was right over my head when it went off. Normally, a rabbit sneezing will shut down our power so this was no surprise.

The darkness is the worst part of a hurricane. I never imagined that would be the case. The entire house is in darkness, no light coming through the covered windows. I used to wonder why solitary confinement was so bad, imagining the quiet and alone time would allow for meditation and reflection. I don’t think that is the problem. I think it must be the darkness and lack of sunlight.

The bullet largely dodged us on the east coast. I expected to get my generator to work with the brilliant but untested system I had set up ten years ago, a year or so after the three hurricanes we endured in 2004 and 2005. But the main plug had gone bad. We at least got the refrigerator working. I might add with some pride that the generator, so carefully stored eleven years ago, started on the first pull.

But I was unable to get the water pump working for the well, and couldn’t remember how I had done it before. We called Saint Van to see if he had any idea what was wrong. Water, dear friends, is the name of the game. If you can’t bathe with all the mud and sweat and dirt—faugettaboutit. Misery.

Van and wife Jan came over! They were getting tired of the sitting around listening to the storm and wanted a change and wanted to help. He and I spent about an hour analyzing the issue and he was able to repair the main plug sufficiently to get the master generator hookup functioning. But the water pump still wouldn’t work.

He realized that it had never been hooked up properly and that it went through the main power meter, which was, of course, off. He brilliantly but temporarily corrected that by yanking the meter off the house and explaining that while this created a death trap in case anyone touched anything, it would allow us to bathe! (Death is a small price to pay for cleanliness. I have long assumed lack of proper hygiene was part of our problem in the Mideast.) Anyway, it worked. God bless him for his intelligence, knowledge, and help.

They took off before their access road would flood and we were fine, although one does not want to try to sleep in Florida in September without either air conditioning (not able to be powered safely by our generator) or a fan (which would require keeping the generator running at night while experiencing gas shortages).

So the long days of heat and dirt followed as we took down the shutters, cleaned the masses of debris out of the yard, the infinite amount of dirt tracked in to the floors, the spoiling food despite the refrigerator operating a few hours a day. The mail was shut down, the post office out of power.

Thursday, our power was restored. The power guys looked at my rigged generator/meter issue and just looked at me as I explained. Mercifully, they put it all back together before they turned everything back on without the nasty lecture. Friday, the line that had been knocked down the second time was repaired. We joked about the gene pool protecting itself as reports of people killed by running generators in their houses had been on the news.

After Hurricane Matthew last year, we had to do a major maintenance on shutters, including reconfiguring one set that had been rendered faulty by the house settling over the decade since last they were up. Obviously our task this year is to correct the wiring problem that prevented the well from working properly, and replacing the damaged plug Van managed to get working.

The good news? Just before Hurricane Matthew I had gotten an ambidextrous leather pocket holster that had taken a set after days of working outside and sweating. It’s been a bit annoying over the past year but I wasn’t going to wet it and try to reconfigure it. That just seemed uncool and unnatural. This time, I carried it in the opposite pocket and it is now remolded to better serve my needs. One gets one’s kicks where he finds them I guess.

Meanwhile North Korea and the corrupt media and our feckless Congress went on, with or without my paying attention. A return to the 19th century does help to give one perspective.

Glad to be back in the game. Watched the movie Snowden last night and was both troubled and impressed. Worth seeing if you haven’t already.