When I was little, I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder. And this was many years before the world came to know her only as Laura Ingalls and she morphed into Melissa Gilbert and her father turned into a smiling, crinkly-eyed ex-Bonanza hunk Little Joe Michael Landon.
I read those books over and over and over. My mother took me to the library week after week and I took them out again and again and kept reading and reading and I actually bought the whole set about 10 years ago to keep for myself and read them all again. Now that I’ve been thinking about Laura Ingalls Wilder all week – “The Long Winter” in the Dakotas was 1880-1881 – I think I’ll read them again when I’m finished with “The Sweet Potato Queens’ Big-Ass Cookbook and Financial Planner“. Love love love those books. By the way, I only call her Laura Ingalls Wilder, as I knew her when I first fell in love.
So one week ago today here in Connecticut, we had one whopper of a blizzard. October 29 as many of you know. Now I am used to exaggeration and downright lying by local television and radio about weather predictions in order to generate ratings. Scare every frigging, cretinous moron and lots of non-morons as well into thinking every dusting of snow will be a 4-day blizzard that will SHUT DOWN THE STATE and they will keep coming back and watching and listening and ratings will rise. These pathetic individuals, morons and non-morons alike, will talk about it too ad nauseum till you want to poke a fucking fork into your fucking eardrum. As you can tell, another one of my pet peeves/rants – could have put it RIGHT UP THERE WITH THE POTATO SALAD!!!
Ergo, I love that word ergo, I ignored all the warnings. October 29? Right. I even went grocery shopping Saturday morning. Threw most of it into my condo dumpster too around Tuesday I think. The only concession I did make is to do poop patrol (65 lb. poodle in residence). Thawing dog waste buried between layers of ice and snow is not a good thing. I do have half a brain. Oh and one more concession, just in case… I got the shovel and ice breaker out of the shed and put them on the outdoor-furniture-covered deck just outside the slider. Unlike the first year I lived here when I unthinkingly left them in their summer home. Then the storm came and the snow drifted up the front of the shed and its door was frozen shut and I went out and bought another shovel. See? I’m not too old to learn.
So the power goes out Saturday night about 7:00. It’s been flickering on and off for a couple of hours. I figure I’ll lose it for a while. I decide to sleep on the couch. Mike Dog Bunn slept in his chair in a red sweater. It’s always much warmer on the first floor of my condo than upstairs, as my friend Colleen can attest. Years in Florida have thinned her blood. I bought an electric blanket a couple of years ago so she can use it during her annual Thanksgiving week visit. But I digress. What else is new.
My power was out for almost exactly 4 days – within an hour or so. I am luckier than most. I have city water and a gas hot-water heater. Hot showers in the dark. I didn’t bother to shave my legs but I didn’t stink. City water means running water so I could flush. I also have a gas stove. I could cook and clean up the dishes after. I cooked a nice marinara sauce Rita, a pile of shells and all the chicken breast I had bought Saturday morning; and combined it in a huge Tupperware bowl that I stored in a snow bank along with my milk for my coffee. By the way, the new gas ovens do not light with a match so I couldn’t use it for heat.
I could however, fill my outdoor lanterns with Coleman fuel and set the kitchen counter on fire. Here is how that goes. Insert funnel into hole in lantern and pour in the fuel. It is dark so you can’t begin to see by the “glow” of the dimming flashlight clutched under your chin because you didn’t buy lots of extra batteries because whoever heard of a huge power outage in October from a snow storm, right? Overfill and let extra fuel flow over surface of counter. Wipe up overflowed flammable liquid with paper towels. Even a wet one too. By the way, my sister was in attendance. She apparently is possessed of a larger brain then her elder sibling. She and her man had stopped in for hot showers in the dark. The conversation went like this.
K: What are you doing with that open flame around all that fuel?
S: I don’t worry about things like that.
K: I’m going in the living room.
S: Shit! Shit! Shit! (Beating flames with dish towel.)
K: Get out of the way moron. (Throws kitchen rug over fire.)
So where was I. Oh yes – Laura Ingalls Wilder. When I was sweet little girl, I thought those books were so romantic. Oh how I wish I could have crossed the prairie and lived “On the Banks of Plum Creek“ in a house dug out of the dirt side of a hill and been Laura Ingalls Wilder‘s BFF.
The Ingalls family crossed the prairie. Because frigging Little Joe had wander lust? He had a wife and four, count ‘em, four daughters. And he didn’t have them all when he left. They were born along the way. And the oldest one went blind. So across the prairie they go, not to mention the friggin’ frozen Mississippi which broke up the day after they slid across the ice. In a covered wagon. Made of wood. Pulled by a horse. Followed by their dog Jack. Who incidentally, Little Joe didn’t invite into the “floating” wagon when he crossed a huge white-water flowing river. Luckily the poor little bastard by what miracle I don’t know did not drown and caught up a couple of days later. And the women were menstruating and birthing and not bathing and there was no hot running water and no gas stoves and no Pampers or tampons and no flushing toilets and no heat and no generators and not even a book of frigging matches and no washing machines and they had maybe two sets of clothes each tops and they couldn’t buy their blankets or their electric blankets at Walmart they had to make quilts of the scraps from the one or two sets of clothes they had made with their own hands and there was no toilet paper and no canned dog food and no canned people food either and if they were hungry Little Joe had to go out and leave them to the Indians while he shot dinner and doesn’t that sound romantic.
So I tried not to bitch too much this week. I made out OK. I was cold. That was my only gripe. But if I had lived on the prairie, at least I would have had a fireplace. And Little Joe could have chopped some wood. And another thing, no wonder they had so many freaking children. They were freezing. And they got in bed at night and snuggled together to share body heat and well you know how men are. Even Little Joe apparently. My parents did offer to let me sleep in between them in the big bed like I did when I was little and we had no power. I regretfully declined. But truly I didn’t want to.