Saturday, December 13, 2014

Derailed by Dr Who


Maybe I'm back now. I'm not quite sure. I haven't ordered all of my Christmas presents, or sent the ones that are lying on my dining table. I'm still supposed to make up two photo books and a calendar before I'm finished. I'm here anyway. I'm delinquent in so many ways, aren't I?

I really have been busy while I was gone. I promise. One week I cooked a meal for twenty people. Well, it seemed to take a week to shop, cook, and then clean up the mess.

The next week, I judged a literary contest. Me! Can you imagine that? Those people were desperate for somebody to help. "Honestly," I told the woman who asked me, "I'm really not qualified. I have an engineering degree."

"That doesn't matter," she said, pleading with her eyes. "I really could use some help."

So, I immediately went out and bought nice journals and pens for the ones that I guessed were the top three winners. I figured the best advice I could give writers was the advice that Anne Lamott gave me in her book 'Bird by Bird,' to write crap often enough and maybe I'll be able to find something good in it once in a while. I figured that the journals and nice pens might inspire these writers to write more than my judgement would.

And last week I lost to preparation for the big storm. There would be hurricane-force winds, they said. Big trees would be toppled, they said. There could be landslides, they said. Power outages would be widespread, they said. The Weather Channel app on my iPhone had a blinking red warning that only added to my fear. One night before bed, Mike told me that this was supposed to be worse than the wind that hit us in 2006.

The wind storm in 2006 sounded light a freight train going overhead. It went on for hours as we hunkered down in our unfinished basement. We didn't have power for nine days, all just before Christmas. It was so cold afterward that we put our food in a cooler and put it outside, hoping that no rodents could chew their way through or learn to open the lid. Even with the wood stove running constantly in the den, we couldn't get the temperature above forty-two degrees in any of the rooms but the den. Nick's fish nearly died and when I discovered him, he snuggled next to my belly as I hugged his little tank to warm it up. Isn't that sad? Nearby neighborhoods looked like war zones.

So when Mike started to talk about a bigger storm that night, three days before it was supposed to hit, I didn't sleep much after he traipsed off to bed. For two days, I cleaned, ran the dishwasher, caught up with laundry, shopped to feed a fourteen-year-old for two weeks without the grocery store. For two nights, I worried about the worst wind storm I might have ever experienced. I worried about my trees, trying to visualize their roots digging deeper, like toes digging down in the sand. I even talked to them. Yes, I suppose you already knew that I was a bit off, but I talked to my trees and told them that I hoped they'd manage, that I was worried about them. Ever the practical one in our family, Mike went to Lowes and bought a generator. I secretly wondered if a tree would land on the truck and smash it all before we could unload the hulking box from the back.

The night the storm was supposed to hit, I sat at my computer, trying to finish my mother's birthday photo book before power went out. Her birthday had been in August. Yes, I said August. I told you I was behind. So, I was looking out the West window when I saw the cloud. It descended like the cloud that accompanies an alien ship.

Here. Look at this shot! This photographer was outside in all that weather. I wasn't sure I wanted to be in front of the window let alone stand outside. Even the dog didn't want to go outside to pee. He asked to go out, then shivered next to the sliding glass door, staring at me with a pathetic look on his face. There were pine cones hitting him and leaves. Oh, the pine cones. Still, I didn't blame him. I didn't want to be out there with him either.

Yet, we never lost power. I finished my mother's birthday present, finally, and got it sent out to her to arrive just before Christmas. At one point, I turned up the TV so I didn't have to listen to the wind blowing. But where we live, it never got as bad as they expected. That night, I slept. The next day, I slept too, having missed about a whole night's sleep in the past three nights.

I felt like an idiot for all the canned goods and peanut butter I had stored on the counter in the pantry downstairs, for all the tubs of water next to the sinks, for the drink cooler that I filled with water that leaked water all over my shirt when I tilted it and found that the lid wasn't leak-proof.

On the other hand, all the dishes were clean, the floor had been vacuumed, and the laundry was washed, dried, folded, and put away. I'm telling you, it takes the storm of the decade to get me to finish all of that cleaning in just a few days.

Oh, and I have another excuse for not seeing you in quite a few weeks.

I started watching 'Dr. Who' on Amazon Prime. Yup, I'm an Christopher Eccleston fan, though I warmed up to David Tennant and those crazy changes from serious to ecstatic he could do with his face.

So, the real reason, probably, that I haven't been here as much as I should have been for the past three weeks, is that I've been traveling the universe with Rose Tyler and the good doctor, whichever one he was at the time. I admit it. I am delinquent.

Do you forgive me?

Thank you for listening, jb

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