Sunday, July 7, 2013

Don't Know What You've Got 'til it's Gone

Yes, Joni Mitchell, you are wise.

But I write not about a love gone away - unless one regards my love of the comforts and conveniences of 21st century. You really don't know how much you rely on electricity until you don't have it. Our community has had plenty of opportunity to learn how to rough it without electricity (and heat) during a couple of freak storms. We just happened to live in a certain spot on the grid that we didn't lose power during either the Frankenstorm or Super Storm Sandy. We offered our home to others without, but no body ever took our invitations. We knew we were lucky both times - even though the first storm knocked a tree limb on the house that resulted in a substantial amount of money to remove the damaged green house.

While the green house was being dismantled, the contractors found the fan switch we'd been looking for since we moved into the house. Too late now - it's gone. So was one year of tuition for one kids' college. After Super Storm Sandy, we knew we needed to remove the huge liability-waiting-to-have-another-limb-fall-on-another-part-of-the-house tree. Bye-bye tree. And another chunk of college tuition savings.

We seem to be spending home improvement money on having less to show for it.

Murphy's Law also plays a good part in our household drama. On Wednesday night, the first night of a long holiday weekend - the electricity went out. It's happened before, but now it's going out more than once a day. On the holiday, the electricity popped out five times. The main breaker box kept shutting off. We turned off all electronics we weren't using. Unplugged all but the essentials. We ran the dishwasher - and yes, the electricity went out one more time.

Friday, we called an emergency electrician. The fee and the visit confirmed we need to replace the breaker box. The one we have now is more than 50 years old, and the company that recalled it is out of business. Steve read up on it - and oh joy, it's a fire hazard.

I had to get to campus to finish an overdue report. Steve worked at home, sweating over a laptop and kept an eye on things at home.

We opt to stay in the ridiculously hot house Friday night - even though our kind neighbor offered his couch -  to keep an eye on the breaker box, and the make sure we can reset it to not lose the fridge full of food. I should also mention that more than half of the windows are sealed shut - so cross breeze isn't happening. At least the kids could swim in our neighbor's pool so that their body temps were low, their figer tips pruney, and they were tried out from a day of "marco - polo."

Saturday afternoon, we took the neighbors' kids to a movie with us - just to give their parents a break from all the pool time.  We couldn't leave the house for longer than 2 hours at a stretch. We ate dinner outside again, and got ready for another over night battle of the hot and humid house. We put bed sheets in the downstairs freezer. We all slept in our undies.

Sunday morning, we decided to find the happy switch. A long, slow brunch at a diner, leisurely walks down the isles of K Mart and WalMart, and then Lady B and I hit the laundromat. All of these locations have A/C. Even though our neighbor offered to use their washer and dryer - we got seven loads washed, fluffy dry and folded in three hours. Lots of quarters, but at least I don't feel like I've lost an entire weekend.

Tonight - we gave up on the heat and the house. As much as we'd love to take our neighbor up on the offer for a couch, Steve's back would have taken such a beating. We found a deal and we're entering the den of sin.... staying at the casino hotel. At least this is a hotel we didn't have to drive seven hours to get to. Most of our hotel stays are rest stops on our way to Detroit.

The kids really needed something adventurous for the holiday weekend from hell. We got to the hotel in time for a dinner at Emeril's Burger joint. While the kids swam in the indoor pool, Steve went back the house to check on the breaker box and the animals. Tomorrow, Steve goes straight to work and the kids start their first day at Camp Touchstone.

I want my house working. Let's see if an electrician can make things right tomorrow. According to, this heat isn't going anywhere.

... Don't it always seem to go? That you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone."

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