Friday, December 16, 2005

We'll Frolic & Play the Eskimo Way

Morning sun through the glazed black walnut in the yard

Well, that was interesting...

Had surgery early yesterday afternoon, a followup to the Ass-Cancer Incident of this summer. This was not nearly as complicated a procedure as the earlier one, but it still involved general anesthesia and a nontrivial recovery. Put it this way: On the one hand, Yay! Vicodin!; on the other hand: I need Vicodin.

As I was face down & ass up in the arms of Morpheus, it came on to snow pretty hard -- snow that was the precursor of the pissin'-est frozen-rain ice-storm I've seen since, well, since the last one we had. Fuckin' Central Atlantic coast -- neither Atlanta nor Boston, but a combination of the worst winter traits of both. Feh. Ptoo. As I was forbidden to drive home, Wonder Woman was the Designated Non-Pie-Eyed Driver. Everything went smoothly through the storm until we reached a point a couple miles from our house where a steepish uphill grade on the dirt road was absolutely glazed two inches thick with mirror-smooth ice. Our four-wheel-drive truck (I swear we're one of about 200 families in NoVa that actually needs the 4x4 drive) would have negotiated the hill just fine, but two roller-skate rice-burners were akimbo across the road, and we couldn't just squeeze past them with a jolly wave.

With my surgeon's stern admonition against physical exertion ringing in my ears, the local anesthesia wearing off, and the first couple Vikes well kicked in, I hopped out into the freezing blatter and tried to help one guy push the other guy up the hill. I was worse than useless; it was difficult to tell which I lacked more of, strength or foot-traction. And, of course, I was in terror of feeling those sutures snapping like a zipper coming undone.

Now, I know you're sitting there slowly shaking your head at my rashness, but you have to understand: We couldn't get past these stranded cars. If I hadn't helped to push, we would still be there waiting in the frozen rain. Triple A? Did you see that ice storm? That same drama we were enacting was being played out ten thousand times on ten thousand glazed roads in that dreadful storm's wake. Triple-A was busy. And very far away.

Part of the driveway. About a 20-degree grade. Solid ice.

Well, the sutures held, and the stranded motorists were taken care of -- one drove home, the other parked and accepted a ride from another neighbor who chanced by. So: home. Nice fire in the den, hot shower, dinner. Very nice. Post something silly about the Small Faces. Cool.

This morning: Tinkety-tonk, old bean.

Power went out in the night.

I lay in bed and assessed the situation.
  • Can't drive out. That road's a nightmare, under two-inch-thick sheet ice, until it gets some hours of sunlight.
  • We're down to the last few sticks of firewood. Was expecting a delivery today. That's not going to happen with the road like that.
  • House is freezing cold -- propane furnace requires electricity.
  • No hot water -- no water at all, in fact; we're on a well with an electric pump.
  • By the same token, no toilet-flushing.
  • I'm medically forbidden from exerting myself.
I contemplated cutting down a tree -- a poplar near the old kennel died this summer. I'd already cut up some of it for firewood a couple weeks ago, and it burned nicely. A cell-phone call to the power company elicited an estimate that the juice would be back up by the evening. I decided to trust their assessment and make Doc happy by undertaking not to try the Paul Bunyan routine unless the heating situation became dire.

So we spent the day in the nineteenth century, approximately. No flush toilets. Husbanding the remaining firewood. Opening the refrigerator strictly forbidden, windows and doors likewise, and perishables banked in shaded snow. Wearing lots of layers of clothing. The stove still worked, being on bottled propane, so we melted gallons of snow to wash dishes and flush toilets. Snowmelt tea: Delicious. We played Scrabble and Apples to Apples with the kids by the fire. Freddie learned that young teens in the 1800s didn't learn until they went to college that their first names weren't "Fetch wood."

Mid-late afternoon, the power came back, and with it the TV and Internet. By dinner the time-trip spell was over, and we'd slid back into our old solitary routines. I whipped up a London Broil and some oven fries with one eye on The Simpsons in the kitchen mini-TV, mentally composing this blog-post and reveling cheerfully in my cherished modernity.

They didn't have Vicodin in the 1800s.

Sunrise from the front door

I do believe we might be in the market for a generator. Price quotes accepted at the tradesmen's entrance.


helmut said...

Neddie, you're beautiful. Hope the ass stitches are a-ok.


Anonymous said...


Beautiful photos.

"...teens in the 1800s didn't learn until they went to college that their first names weren't "Fetch wood."

Funny line.

Hope you heal quick! And don't take too many pain pills! I don't want you to end up all "Rush-like" on us....


rvkujz - the sound those spinning tires make when trying to push that car on 2" thick ice!

Anonymous said...

Best wishes to you, and as your medical advisor, I'm telling you to take all the Vicodin you need. I think Rush got to where he is in part because addicted was what "other people" got, and he wasn't like "them". You know-hippie, black, brown, lower class. He wore a tie, fer chrissake! How could he become addicted?
I sincerely wish you a speedy recovery, uninterrupted power and warmth, and a lovely holiday to your whole family.

tvkmny-- game show winnings

Kevin Wolf said...

Hope the family appreciates the experience. I'm not kidding, being a survivor of a 1973 or 74 ice storm in Conn. that knocked out our power for more than a week. Thank God our neighbor had (or had rented) a generator. Keep this always in the back of your mind...

ibcnwvct - The international organization in charge of finding survivors of calamitous winter events. You might want to take note of that too...