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Survivor - Nixa


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Impending weather conditions put my brain in “survivor mode” Friday evening. A mental check along with a quick pass through the homestead was all it took to satisfy my mind that everything would be OK for the weekend. Only a couple of items would need to be requisitioned from the storage unit, but since it was just a long “stone’s throw” away, there was no imminent need to scurry through the camping equipment.

In preparation, the boss and I moved the propane grill from the backyard to the front stoop. This would make access for cooking much easier than the option of sliding down the back steps or skating around the house. Convenience might not be my middle name, but it certainly has a lofty spot in my persona.

While the precipitation was of a liquid nature, the dropping temperatures assured us the prophecy of the talking heads was about to come to fruition. Had I had the forethought, I might have profited from brokering a pool as to the exact time we would lose power. Too late for that, as early in the evening the “hum” of the electrical devices dropped to a deafening silence and the homestead went pitch black except for the glow of the gas fireplace we had ingeniously ignited before the central unit went dead.

The silence was interrupted within seconds by the voice of the eleven-year-old munchkin who resides with her mom and me, starting with a long deep sigh and the words “I’m BORED!” As time marched on, I found these words to be echoed by every human being in a thirty mile radius old enough to utter comprehensible words. No TV to watch, no X-Box or Playstation to play, no computer to surf, no microwave to warm up Hot Pockets or cocoa. What were we to do? How would we survive? Would they find us in the morning with a thumb on the remote or game controller and a hand on the mouse with the look of electronic gadget starvation frozen on our faces?

How would we shower, eat, brush our teeth, go to the bathroom, or even sleep with no lights? How could the pizza delivery guy find our house with no street lights? What if my cell phone battery goes dead? Can I invite 14 of my closest friends to come over and spend the night?

After assigning the munchkin one of the ten flashlights I had stashed away for just such occasions and assuring her that her mother and I had both grown up in conditions much worse, she slumped on the couch with the glow of the pen light revealing the scowl that read bored, angry, defiant, and irresolute with the clarity of an FL diamond. This also resulted in almost 15 seconds of silence which would turn out to be the longest stretch of silence of the weekend.

With that, I began to strategically place flashlights around the house. One was assigned to be carried at all times by each of the humanoid residents. The others were placed in easily accessible locations in the bathrooms, kitchen, living room, and bedrooms. The last one, a large 2 million candle power spot was stationed by the back door in order to light up strange critters, perform weather condition checks, review status of the woods across the road, and help the resident killer Yorkies navigate the backyard Yorkie latrine.

As I stationed the spotlight, I opened the door and called the killer Yorkies for their first trip outside. Arriving at the open door, they both gave me the look of “you expect us to go out in that stuff?” and both returned to their spots on the back cushions of the couch. The boss gave a chuckle and let me know that the female had snorted a bit of disgust to let me know that she was offended that I even remotely would expect her to relieve herself in such conditions, and that it was apparent that I would have to share my after dinner snack with the two fur balls in order to make amends.

By now, the boss had affixed her battery operated clip on reading light to a paperback novel and was engrossed in tales of daring, do, passion, and other “Lifetime Channel” type offerings. So, I found duty in acquiring blankets to help the fireplace keep us safe and warm. The first was assigned to the munchkin who by this time had located her own clip on reading light to read her latest assignment for school. As things usually go, Dad was assigned the duty to repair the light as the switch would not allow the light to remain on. Under the light of a AAA battery powered flashlight and under the supervision of the killer Yorkies, with duct tape, baling wire, and several choice phrases later I rigged the light for reading.

Now back to assigning blankets. The next one chosen by the boss left me with a pair of blankets that would suit my frame just right. However, I was quickly reminded by both humanoids that I had neglected to assign a blanket to the killer Yorkies. Looking into the saddened eyes of the female and seeing a slight shiver crawl down her back, I felt a twinge of compassion. Then the male gave me a stare and his signature growl and slight bark which prompted my quick decision to relinquish one of the blankets I held in my arms.

The boss, the munchkin, and the killer Yorkies now all snug under cover, I settled into my couch to make my nest with the blanket left in my care. It was then that I began to calculate the probability of my 6-1, 3XL frame remaining warm under the 60 X 48 inch blanket. After several squirms, squishes, tucks, wraps, and more choice phrases, I abandoned the swatch of fleece to the resident phantom cat who had suddenly showed up to stake claim to a warm spot for the night.

It was now 7:30 pm and I headed for reclusion in my bed leaving all of my after dinner snack to the killer Yorkies who would reward me by taking up residence with the boss and me in that same bed later in the night.

Maybe tomorrow will be better.

I awoke Saturday morning shivering under the sheet. The boss and the killer Yorkies had somehow acquired the entire comforter during the night leaving me with a thin sheet of 200 thread count, 100 percent cotton to assist my retention of body heat. Turning over and revealing my wakened state, the boss spoke softly the words “coffee Honey.” Still shivering, I stumbled to the bathroom, stubbing my toe in the darkness prompting a repeat of one of the phrases used during the reading light repair session.

As I passed back by the bed, I noticed the boss and killer Yorkies all still slumbering with no signs if imminent awakening. Making my way to the living room, I paused at the fireplace to replenish myself with heat enough to bring my body temperature back above 90 degrees. I tried to hurry the warmth knowing full well that the repair and toe-stubbing phrases would pale in comparison to the boss awakening without the aroma of fresh hot coffee wafting through the homestead. I scurried to the kitchen to finish assembling the camp coffee percolator I had begun to set up the night before for some hot fresh cowboy coffee this morning.

With percolator in hand, I headed for the front porch and the grill. Ice had formed in strategic locations on the grill making it necessary to obtain the rubber hammer from the garage in order to get the grill to work. After a few bangs and bashes, the blue flame came to life and I knew we were well on the way to morning coffee. The boss would certainly be most proud of her survivalist husband. As I looked at the set up, I realized that as soon as the coffee was ready, the electricity would most likely return to the homestead making the automatic coffee maker operational.

Back to the relative warmth of the homestead, I began the task of moving the food from the fridge to the garage. While the fridge temperature was bound to rise well above normal acceptable safe food handling and storage levels, the garage was more likely to stay well below such temps. Milk, eggs, bacon, and other perishables would have a much better chance of staying consumable if stored in the garage as long as the killer Yorkies and phantom cat were kept out of said garage/cold storage unit.

Confident the most important items would make it now, I headed for the grill to check the status of the cowboy coffee. Lifting the lid of the grill, I could see through the glass percolator dome that the percolation had been in process long enough for a good strong cup of hot joe. Ready for that first sip, I reached for the handle and just as I touched my cold fingers to it, I realized that hot grill plus metal equals hot metal. Slight blisters on a couple of fingers were relieved with ice cycles from the porch on the way back to the kitchen for a hot pad.

As I poured the first cup, I heard clicks, hums, and purrs as flickers of light danced in my peripheral vision indicating the power was restored to the homestead. This awakened the boss and I greeted her at the bedroom door with a hot, steaming, strong cup of coffee. This pleased her enough for a morning peck on the cheek after the first sip. I was a good husband and survivalist after all.

This reprieve from the power company was only lived long enough for one and a half loads of laundry, vacuuming of the living room and two bedrooms, and three games of Dragon Quest. The sudden outage was greeted with another “I’m bored” from the munchkin, confused stares from the killer Yorkies, one of my repair/stubbed toe phrases from the boss, and a tail swish from the phantom cat.

Survivor mode again. I crawled back into the confines of the bed and the comforter to wait on Sunday.

After a short nap, I chose to make my way outside to see how the rest of the neighborhood was faring. Clearly the only “country boy” in this suburb, I wandered around the yard searching for signs of life from any of the other abodes in the subdivision. No signs appeared other than the fact that many of the homes had vehicles parked in the driveways in front of the garage doors. This peculiar sight made me ponder why someone would subject themselves to a bout of scraping ice from their motorcars. Just then, my neighbor exited his house announcing he was on his way to his sister’s for the weekend since she had power and he had none. I asked him about his SUV being parked outside as he scraped the layer of ice from the windshield. He explained that with no electricity, he could not open his garage door. He had been forethoughtful enough to leave the car outside.

“Don’t leave yet.” I begged as I headed for the front door of my home. Making my way through confused stares from the boss, munchkin, and killer Yorkies, I exited the kitchen to the garage. Making my way toward the door, I pulled the red lever on the garage door opener and then raised the door, exiting to where my neighbor could see me. “You have power?” he begged.

“Nope,” I explained. “Come over and I’ll show you.” It was then that my country-ness manifested itself even more. Without much thought, I had figured out that the red handle was an “emergency manual” switch. Looking over the rest of the subdivision and the driveways full of cars and trucks, I talked myself out of presenting a seminar on this discovery.

After reading two novellas and the battery going dead in the portable DVD, the boss and munchkin decided the best entertainment would be to take a drive to look at the ice and damage. Knowing that the natural resistance to cabin fever for the two of them was virtually non-existent, I agreed to the outing.

Cruising through different neighborhoods, our emotions ran amuck. One section would bring tears of sympathy for those who had trees now taking up most of their living room or removing limbs from cars and pickups. The next one would find the munchkin whimpering as she pressed her nose against the glass watching the kids through a picture window playing video games on their big screen TV while snacking on hot pizza, popcorn, and fresh baked chocolate chip cookies while sipping hot chocolate. The devastation was scattered with tree limbs smothering yards and darkness at noon in many areas around town.

As the sun began its decent into the western horizon, camouflaged by the rain clouds that now opened up a new deluge of freezing liquid, the killer Yorkies suggested it would be best to find an eating establishment with electricity to avoid dinner from the front porch grill. We found a favorite deli in a local strip mall to have neon signs of life, so we ventured in from the cold and wetness to order our evening meal. The killer Yorkies had suggested something with chicken (their favorite), so club sandwiches, grilled chicken wraps, chili cheese dip, and hot potato soup took up most of our order. Another directive from the killer Yorkies was to make the order “to go” in order that they might have portions from the main meal rather than leftovers. So we had our soup, sandwiches, and iced tea bagged and ready for a candle-lit dinner.

After finishing my hot cup of soup and club sandwich sans two-thirds of the meat and half the bread (killer Yorkie food), I settled in for a night of staring at the darkness of the house with periodic checks on the outside conditions and how far into the books the boss and munchkin were. One final trip outside, with the killer Yorkies as bodyguards, and I was off to nestle my frame within the comforts of the king-size bed. As I crawled under the covers, I began to long for just a few watts of electricity; just enough to power my electric blanket until I fell into a nice slumber.

At least the killer Yorkies had decided to retire early and take up residence on top of my feet.

From the living room, I again heard the echoes of “I’m bored” coming from the munchkin.

Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Ah, Sunday morning. This means Sunday morning breakfast. Not wanting to brave the cold morning air to cook on the grill, I opted to only brew the coffee outside and cook breakfast on the little Sterno heated hiker stove I had in my fishing and hunting pack. This little stove had served its purpose well in the past, warming beanie weenies for lunch on the banks of the White River and chili during a cold morning 15 feet up in my tree stand during deer season.

I lit the Sterno, set it in the stove, and acquisitioned eggs, bacon, and a can of biscuits from the cold storage box that doubled as the garage. Using the small frying pan from the pantry, I cooked in shifts starting with the bacon, then biscuits, and finally a batch of scrambled eggs. By the time the bacon was cooked, the eggs were at room temp. By the time the biscuits were done, the bacon was cold, and by the time the eggs were ready, the boss had already consumed three cups of cowboy camp coffee.

But, I offered three paper plates on the dining table as a hot brunch which was quickly gobbled down by the boss, munchkin, and killer Yorkies. My cold bite of bacon on a half-frozen cinnamon pop-tart would get me through most of the day.

As the killer Yorkies licked the last crumbs from the paper plates, the familiar hum, pop, whiz and flickering began again. POWER! The boss made a mad dash for the laundry room while I plugged in cell phones and flashlight batteries for refreshing. The munchkin had somehow magically morphed from the dining table to her bedroom with a game controller in her hands and already deep in a trance of video game land. The killer Yorkies found this an opportune time to get in yet another nap.

The boss was a blur of “wash, dry, fold, hang” while I vacuumed with one hand and checked my email with the other. I quickly discovered just how addictive the internet had become. I was finishing my last email read when I turned to see the boss and munchkin arm wrestling to see who would get to check their email next. The killer Yorkies would get to check their emails after them. The phantom cat, being a cat, opted to ignore the whole scene and would check his email at his convenience.

This time we made it. Emails were read and replied to, laundry was done, dishes washed, floors vacuumed and mopped, and the munchkin even got enough dosage of TV and video games to last a couple of minutes. But just as the boss and I reclined to watch a bit of TV ourselves, the power gremlins snickered in our direction again. Blackness was followed by scurrying for flashlights, most now fresh with recharged batteries.

Oh well. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

I awoke Monday morning to the sound of running water piercing the darkness. I was convinced the pipes had frozen and broken when I realized the boss was getting ready for work. My hasten to save the homestead from flooding changed to a frantic dash to get hot cowboy camp coffee in a cup for the boss before she exited the shower and after she applied makeup and hair styling by flashlight. The hot cup and my comment on how nice she looked was greeted with a groan and instructions that she had to go to work and my assignment was to either find a babysitter or become one and miss work. No school today.

I manually raised the garage door, started her car, and hoped it would be nice and warm for her commute to work. Then I began to call the only neighbors and friends in the area to see if someone was going to be home who could watch the munchkin while I was off to work. The boss’s front wheel drive car made it fine on the thin sheet of ice leaving the subdivision, so I got into my little hoopie ultra-light-rear-end semi-pickup truck and tested the waters myself. Thirty minutes of spinning, shoving, slipping, sliding, and pushing later, I managed to get said hoopie back into the garage and called to inform my employer that I was babysitter for the day.

Once I hung up from that call, I heard the familiar “I’m BORED!” from the depths of the munchkin’s bedroom. I wondered how she could shout so loud in her sleep. Then I wondered how someone in such a deep sleep could even BE bored. Maybe Cocoa Puffs and cold pop tarts would keep her mind occupied for a few minutes anyway.

After finally awakening and enjoying her continental breakfast, the munchkin decided to attempt killing her boredom by telling me stories about her life. I was first treated to a 45 minute explanation of how girl-munchkin “A” had told girl-munchkin “L” that boy-munchkin “J” liked our munchkin and that she didn’t like him back. This was followed by two hours of the differences, similarities, and many questions about different breeds of horses and how “Miss J” had horses that were the same breed but different color coats ending with the description of each section of each horse owned by “Miss J.”

This, of course, was quickly followed by a long sigh and “I’m BORED!”

Thank goodness the doorbell rang giving both of us a surge of energy and anticipation that this might be some boredom relief. The munchkin opened the door to find the mother of her best friend standing there. As I recognized friend’s mom, I was in hopes that this was a visit to invite the munchkin to their house for fun and frolic. I invited friend’s mom in offering warmth, conversation, hot drink, food, appliances, gadgets, pets, and all my money in hopes she would take the munchkin to her house out of my earshot. This would offer me peace and quiet for a few moments.

However, I soon learned that friend’s mom and family had taken up residence some 40 miles south in a motel with sufficient heat, light, and TV to keep their kids occupied. Their residence down the street had no power, no heat, and was “unlivable” for them. I could see the wheels turning in the munchkin’s head trying to figure out a list of reasons we should move to the same motel. I held out that friend’s mom might still invite the munchkin to share their room for the next night or three, but to no avail. Friend’s mom simply left a phone number and instructions for the boss or me to give her a call when power returned to the neighborhood for any length of time. She had to return to the motel and deliver the four dogs, three cats, 14 fish, gerbil, guinea pig, and three hamsters rescued from their silent, cold domain.

The door shut to the sound of another long sigh and “I’m SO BORED!!”

Some 237 sighs, moans, and whimpers later, the boss arrived home from a day at work giving me a brief moment of relief as the munchkin filled her in on the day’s activities – or lake thereof. The boss and I debated the value of purchasing a generator or moving to a motel, but decided that our time and money was better spent without such conveniences. She still had several books to read, and I was beginning to enjoy the silence interrupted only by the sound of crashing tree limbs across the road in the woods.

That night, I was lulled to sleep with the sound of generators humming around the subdivision. Images of lights, ceiling fans, microwaves, and Andy Griffith reruns danced in my head as I slept.

Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Tuesday and I must go to work today. The boss left for her early shift and called to inform me that the munchkin was now allowed to stay at her workplace during the day if need be. Calling in to make sure my place of employment was among the powered; I quickly got the munchkin and myself around to make the trip to the boss’s workplace followed by a commute to my job. The killer Yorkies gave a look of abandonment with a hint of mischievous planning as I closed the door and fired up the hoopie.

After dropping off the munchkin in a room with a TV and the remote in her possession and control, I embarked across town to my place of employment. I soon discovered that many of the residents of the community did not understand the traffic laws in effect during such conditions. Traffic lights were out or flashing and some of those coming to these intersections were convinced this was and indication they did not have to stop. Dodging imbecile drivers, crashes, fallen tree limbs, and passing numerous lines of people waiting to purchase gasoline, generators, batteries, cigarettes, and popcorn, I finally made it to my office.

Ah, warmth, lights, and internet access.

But soon I looked at my watch and discovered it was time to go home. Uncertainty about the conditions at the homestead made the choice to leave the comforts of my office chair and computer screen difficult, but I knew that the boss, munchkin, and killer Yorkies depended on my coming home so they could survive another night without power. So I powered down the computer, turned off the lights, and headed to the parking lot, looking back over my shoulder as if to fathom how I could take some of this electricity home with me.

The trip home was unexpectedly smooth. I avoided roads with signal lights as much as possible. Traffic was normal now as the only intersections with traffic lights I did encounter were working. This color coded system seemed to be more understandable to the imbecile drivers.

Cresting the last hill before my street, my worst fears came true. No power. The entire subdivision was dark and dank. Another night without power. The boss and munchkin were still out with a late afternoon appointment. I was reluctant to dial her number to inform her of the status of our homestead.

Walking in the front door, the killer Yorkies greeted me with much love and affection as they had missed me. After a short session of petting and hugging with returns of licks, snorts, barks, and pawing, I pondered what delicacies I would concoct on the Sterno stove or grill for the evening meal. Not in the mood to cook in the dark, I dialed the pizza place to order dinner. As the conversation with the pizza chef ended, there was a sudden buzzing, flickering, and hum.

POWER!

I dropped to my knees and begged my creator to allow this night to be full of light, TV, and microwave popcorn.

Apprehensive about another power outage, I slept sound, but guarded. Finally, I fell into a deep much needed sleep. I was awakened again by the sound of rushing water. This time, a look toward the bathroom revealed a sliver of light around the doorframe. Checking the clocks, I could read numbers. Then, the telltale sign - air from the ceiling fan was hitting me in the face. The killer Yorkies returned from their first trip outside of the day, hopping in bed to inform me that the power was still on.

And the boss treated me to my first cup of coffee of the day - from the automatic coffeemaker. Ah, thank you Ben Franklin, Tom Edison, and Joe DiMaggio.

Today will be a better day!

But, as luck would have it, the munchkin is now bored with TV and video games. She now wants to read in the dark.

TIGHT LINES, YA'LL

 

"There he stands, draped in more equipment than a telephone lineman, trying to outwit an organism with a brain no bigger than a breadcrumb, and getting licked in the process." - Paul O’Neil

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The most entertaining read all year! Two thumbs WAY up! - NY Times

Of course you could have taught the munchkin how to tie a woolly bugger...

Each time I buy a new fly............

My wife gives me the same look........

I give her when she buys another purse...

................4171.gif..............

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Good job Terry!

Tho you made me think with 'hoopie'. Hadn't heard that since long before my Father passed away in the mid '80s.

"You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in their struggle for independence." ---Charles Austin Beard

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Disclaimer (in case the boss reads this story...)

This is (in the words of Kris Kristofferson) "partly truth, partly fiction..."

I plan on it, RR... Maybe have it on there this weekend.

Geez, Tom... I figured you drove a "hoopie" yourself now.... :lol:

TIGHT LINES, YA'LL

 

"There he stands, draped in more equipment than a telephone lineman, trying to outwit an organism with a brain no bigger than a breadcrumb, and getting licked in the process." - Paul O’Neil

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Excellent :D

It reminds me that in the early 80's we went without power for 5 days. We had 3 teens and a 8" B&W battery operated TV, it was amazing to watch them plan on how much they could watch it while not wasting the batteries, stay glued to it, and never complain over a TV they wouldn't have watched under any circumstances normally. You would have thought it was a 30" color when the batteries finally died and there were no replacements.

Today's release is tomorrows gift to another fisherman.

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