Not Pioneering Stock

 

I am not pioneering stock.  My prayers were not answered.  My satellite went out at two and my power followed at five…in the AM.  It’s seven seventeen and it already seems like a lifetime.  Too much time stuck inside my head with nothing to distract me is the main problem.  At least the morning is brightening…a gray light, but at least I can see without a flashlight.

There is a beautiful winter scene outside my window…hemlocks and cedars laden with snow, their fronds drooping toward the ground.  There is an underlying silence, the sounds muffled by the snow…until a tree snaps under the extra weight of snow, sleet, and ice.  It sounds as if a war is being fought on the ridgeline above us.

It is eight oh two and the “Snowpocalypse” is upon us.  There is nothing to do but wait.  A cheery fire in the fireplace…cheery but not near warm enough.  A cast iron Dutch oven is heating water.  Cheese grits are on the menu…instant cheese grits.  Uck!  At least my coffee had perked before the power went off.

Stepping outside to bring in the wood I heard the winds on the ridges above us.  The sound of an old steam locomotive running at top speed…without the steam whistle of course.  Just a rapid chugga-chugga sound I associate with old movies I watched in my youth.  So far, we have been sheltered from the wind, but I see movement in the cypress cedar just beyond my backyard fence.

The snow, flakes once large and wet, have now changed over to sleet.  I can see my clothesline and it is covered with ice…much ice.  This does not bode well for trees or powerlines I would think.  My hothouse is without power and I worry about Linda’s plants…particularly her thirty-year-old scheffleras.  Worry…but there is not a damn thing I can do about it except feel her pain if they die.

Old poots like me are always talking about the good old days and how much better it was back then.  I wonder?  I surely wonder about the good old days the former tenants of my little piece of heaven had.  Three different sets of families left their imprints and memories before we began to add ours.  I wish their ghosts would speak to me.  I have many questions like, “How did you keep those fireplaces fed?”

Built in 1892, the old farmhouse had five fireplaces.  I am only trying to keep one burning and maybe later an old wood stove to cook on if necessary.  I can’t imagine…don’t want to imagine what it was like feeding four open fireplaces and the wood stove pumping smoke out smoke one end and heat from the other.

No, I’m not sure about those good old days especially as I look at the expanse of white between my house and the old privy.  A book comes to mind, “Ten Miles to the Outhouse,” by Willie Makeit and illustrated by Betty Don’t.  I think the cold is addling my brain…or the Jack and Coke.  Five o’clock in the PM and we still have no power, but we have seen power trucks on the move…and the power flickered once…dashed hopes in the blink of an eye.

I’ve also seen turkeys on the move.  A dozen or so all puffed up against the cold.  They look comical taking high steps trying to navigate the now five or so inches of hard packed sleet, freezing rain, and snow.  Thankfully the temperature is now hovering above freezing and it is now more snow than sleet.

The wind is still up.  Trees are popping all around.  Cannon reports in the distance.  Even if the power comes on soon there is no assurance that it will stay on, but I’ll take what I can get…damn!  A hemlock limb just hit the fence.

Light, heat, and water have returned.  At six PM the lights flickered and then held.  There was the welcome sound of air handlers kicking in and the feel of warm air.  Quick microwave something warm to eat.

This is not the worse “storm” we’ve ridden out.  Our first winter was in 1987-88 and in January we lay buried under eighteen inches…for those of you above the Mason-Dixon, that’s like you getting eighteen feet.  We were in complete shutdown mode for a week with only a VW Beetle and a Thunderbird to motivate with.  I swore I would never be without four-wheel drive again.  I think I’ve HAD to use it once since then.  An ice storm with a hurricane came through in ’93 but the four-wheel drive doesn’t work on ice.  I’ve used my four-wheel drive a lot but not because the weather dictated it.

No, I’m not pioneering stock.  There was once a time.  Now I have grown old and lazy…and hate the cold.  I think my next acquisition will be a generator.  Hopefully, I won’t need it any more than I have needed four-wheel drive.

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“Bread and Milk?”

 

I am waiting out the approach of our first snowstorm of the winter…except it’s not winter yet!  I despise winter and for the second year in a row, winter is here early.  Mother Nature…what did I ever do to you?

Our local weather prognosticators have predicted anywhere from a dusting below us to an accumulation of twenty inches above us; possible rain, snow, sleet or freezing rain…all the previous possible or none of the previous Imma thinkin’ or hoping.  In the foothills of the Blue Ridge, we are bracing for six to eight inches…of something.  A “Snowpocalypse” by Southern standards.  I’m just going to sit here and wait until it is over and melted.  Just let the meteorologist tell me how much we got.  Since retiring from teaching, snow offers no perks for me.

The impending “Snowmageddon” has claimed its first victim…me.  I’m sitting not because snow is falling, it isn’t yet…wait was that a wet snowflake or a big, slow raindrop?  I’m sitting because I hyperextended my knee while cutting and splitting “emergency” wood in preparation for the attack by “Snowzilla.”  If the monster is successful with its evil-minded plan, I will at least have wood to burn should the power go out.  By the way, I’m okay, just feeling clumsy and stiff.  Thanks for askin’.

The injured knee was once called my good knee and I guess there is no particular advantage to having one good knee as opposed to having two bad ones…. I do have to flip a coin to decide which knee I should limp on and I’d just “ah soon” not to lose power by the way.  I don’t want to limp out and bring in wood to feed my fireplace.

I went grocery shopping yesterday morning before the slip with an eighteen-inch diameter log and screw up your knee event.  A stop by at Wally World is a normal activity for a Friday morning…right after my two-hour walk and coffee with a best friend, “Hawk.”

As I approached the bread area, I found bare shelves and the aisle deserted.  I expected to see customers locked in an epic battle over a loaf of French bread or such.  Maybe two ordinarily sane mothers pulling at each other’s hair, fighting for the last loaf of cinnamon-raisin bread.

The fresh Italian bread I usually buy, gone.  So was yesterday’s Italian bread and all other bread.  Same was true with the milk shelves…and eggs it seems…bare.  The milk and eggs were, to quote John Hiatt:

“Gone like a Nixon file

Gone like my landlord smile

Gone like the furniture

Gone like the rest of her”

There may be no French toast in my future.

I really don’t understand the rush on milk and bread.  I always wondered if there was a conspiracy between the weather services, bakers and the dairy industry.  Payoffs slipped under the table to just mention the possibility of snow.  If I were going to stockpile for the blizzard of the century it would include bourbon and barbeque…not bread and milk.

It is not just a “Southern Thang” I found out.  Those odd cultures above the Mason-Dixon line also rush out and sweep the bread and milk shelves clean.  Who knew.  It’s wasn’t even begun by Southerners…I believe they lie.

I am ready.  Bring your best Snow Monster.  Books to read if the satellite goes out.  Wood to burn if the power goes and batteries for the flashlights and lanterns.  Most importantly, Jack Daniels in the pantry and pulled pork barbeque in the fridge….  Okay, I did find a loaf of day-old French bread and a dozen extra-large eggs.  My bride boiled up a half-dozen but kept six for French toast.  Like a true country boy, I will survive.

Don Miller’s author’s page can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

Lyrics from John Hiatt’s song “Gone”.

Snow image was liberated from https://marcusashley.com/artwork/elm-tree-blizzard