Don’t Rock the Boat
The contrast provided by the juxtaposing of candles alongside Terra Jean, my laptop, is startling. On the one hand, the presence of the computer indicates everything 21st century; the glow provided by the flickering candlelight, screams 19th century. I am somewhere in the middle, planted firmly in the twentieth century, not quite all the way to the present, but a lot further into the process, than I might have expected.
So what’s with the candles? We have no power. This is a common enough event, that of the power suddenly cutting out. It is par for the course, that we encounter and endure a plethora of logistical happenstance, in order to keep our lifestyle alive and flourishing. Normally, it means having to go out and determine which of a number of possibilities exists, which has thrust us into darkness.
Generally, because of the lack of sun, the solar panels have not generated sufficient electricity to charge the batteries, and I now must supplement the flow of energy, with my generator. Unfortunately, after charging for hours, the eight deep cycle batteries refused to hold a charge. After running down the list of possibilities, I checked the water level in the batteries, something that should be done monthly, and found that two of the eight batteries, were drastically low on water.
Filling them up, and adding water to all of the rest, provided no relief. I usually monitor the water level closely, but have been lulled into a false sense of complacency by the benign weather pattern. Now, I fear the batteries are history. Like shock absorbers, or spark plugs, one never replaces just one. If one of the eight batteries is wasted, the others are in the same predicament.
Logistically, replacing the batteries is painful, because they are far too heavy for this old cowboy to be shifting them around. There was a time, but those days are gone forever. Now I rely on the strong backs of the twenty-somethings around me, to take care of these things. I will cook the chicken cacciatore, and make the salad, and they will switch the batteries.
For the time being, I can go out to the inverter, and push buttons to activate the system, for fifteen minute intervals. Casey explained that he thought there was sufficient energy stored in the batteries, but that the one or two batteries which had gotten so low on water, were probably shorting out. So I have power for fifteen minute increments, just long enough to post a piece of writing, or sneak a comment in.
Meanwhile, Annie and I resigned ourselves to an adjusted lifestyle, until these plans to rectify the power outage can be implemented. I washed the dishes from our meal of tostadas, Spanish rice and salad, with candles on either side of the sink, while Annie put the dishes away. We don’t get too excited by these challenges, because we’ve had a lot of practice. After all, the fierce winds and heavy rains have knocked the power out for many of our contemporaries in town, so we are in good company.
On a whim, Annie got out the dominoes, and we played four consecutive contests, with the two of us splitting the victories. We had been playing cribbage lately, and the change was pleasant. The television remained off, and when the time came for dinner, Annie had gotten out the candles and their holders, and scattered them throughout the downstairs arena. Each trio of candles is in a metal pie pan, or some other type of receptacle, to ensure that neither wax drips, nor candle flips. If a candle does get knocked over, it can’t burn the joint down.
I hear dripping in the downstairs bathroom though, a result of all that trampling around up there earlier this year, while I orchestrated the connecting of the new addition to the original house structure. I had been up on the roof, weaving the composition shingles that still exist on the original roof, to mesh with those of the new addition. My actions had taken their toll. Luckily, the bathroom roof is small.
The other development is that the little generator is smoking, an ominous sign. If I keep running it, I risk extensive, additional damage. But if I take it in to the shop, I will have to borrow Casey’s for the extravaganza tomorrow. That’s not a problem, but it just means things are starting to domino out of control: power outage, leaky roof, genny in the shop. You know what they say about not rocking the boat-I wonder if Annie and I should have stuck to cribbage.