Saturday, January 23, 2016 12:20 AM
Friday morning we woke to a cold house and a broken furnace. This was not supposed to happen—there was no storm to knock out our power (yet) and we moved our fuel tank from underground into our cellar a few years back, so the fuel is supposed to be free of impurities that once sometimes clogged the filter—impurities that come from having an old fuel tank buried and rusting in the yard—mostly water condensation, with a touch of rust flakes. We were understandably disappointed that the winter cold had found yet another way to come at us, after we thought we had come to know what to expect. A spring in the fuel pump had broken, or so the repairman said, and it was repaired later in the day.
Now we’re expecting an historic storm tomorrow, just as we have recovered from a very shivery morning—these are incredible inconvenient and uncomfortable things—the loss of heat, and now the prospect of a power outage—but they do give a person perspective. Politics and personal demons seem to fade away in the face of possible exposure in one’s own home—I understand there are already tens of thousands of people down south who have lost power from the storm that is expected to show up here tomorrow—and two people have already died in what I heard described today as “all of winter in a single storm”.
We’ve almost become used to terrible storms in recent years—people are aware that the temporary inconvenience of a big snowfall, while serious, may be less dangerous than the high winds and potential coastal flooding that are also forecast this weekend. It’s a bad time for a lunar high tide—those on the coast have more reason to fear the winds than the snow. A big storm was forecast last year—and then pooped out in reality—if only this storm will poop out before it causes too many too much hardship. But I’m a pessimist and I expect the worst.
My neighbors all have generators—I don’t know why I persist in doing without one—every winter there’s at least one power outage from storms—usually more than one. Westchester is tree country and while the trees are beautiful, they tend to get weighted by snow or ice, and blown by the wind—with the result that they inevitably bring down a power line, or a few hundred power lines. One year we went three days without power—which meant three days without heat, among other inconveniences—so again, I can’t imagine why I keep putting off getting a generator—I was raised to just live with power outages, but there weren’t a lot of easy-to-use, affordable generators back then—so I guess I’m just an old guy.
For someone who hates getting a chill, I’m a terrible homeowner—I should get modern windows to replace the old sash ones (that are missing their respective storm windows and screens, anyway)—moreover, this house was originally a summer cottage, and I’ve never had it properly insulated—winters here are much more a nightmare than they need to be—and it could all have been avoided if I hadn’t been putting off these simple improvements for decades.
You’d think I’d appreciate the winter, when my inability to get out and about keeps me from braving the terrible road conditions—but the truth is I feel worse in winter when Bear has to go out, when I should be telling her to stay home and let me run errands and shopping trips in the bad weather. That’s what a husband is supposed to do—it’s what I used to do, when I was fit enough. It’s hard to be a hero when you’re old and sick. I hate not being a hero.
One bright spot in all this is that our daughter is warm and safe in sunny California, and well on her way to making me a grampaw sometime this summer. Here’s a picture of her work in progress: