The Irene Chronicles - Part 2By Sunday night at bedtime, we noticed that the water I had put in the bathtub had drained out. We had already used some of the tub water for flushing toilets during the day on Sunday. But Sunday night saw the end of that source of water.
I knew our tub leaked, so when I filled it, I had resorted to shoving a plastic bag and wash rag into the drain as best as I could. I even topped them off with a heavy, stoneware bowl, hoping that the weight would keep the bag and rag in place. I tried to plug that drain.
I may have slowed the drainage, but clearly, I didn't stop it. And now the tub was empty. No more designated toilet flushing water.
During the day Monday, I called five or six hardware stores within a reasonable driving distance of our house. None of them had water containers. None of them. Bottled water, yes. No containers.
We had periodically been calling the power company to get updates on our expected return of power. The recording didn't change: Monday, 10:30 PM.
Monday night at 10:30 didn't sound so bad. We wouldn't have to worry about the empty tub if the power came on Monday night at 10:30.
We still had plenty of bottled drinking water. But we still wanted to get more water for everything else. We loaded up the containers we could and decided that a fire station should be able to help us.
We chose our closest fire station. They have a beautiful new building. Our daughter had even had a tour of it as part of a school trip. They didn't quite know what to make of us asking for water. But they showed us into their firehouse kitchen and we filled our containers at their kitchen faucet. It turns out that they didn't have power either and were running on backup generators.
We were very grateful for the water and tried to thank them on our way out, but we barely got any acknowledgment at all. That felt a little weird. But we had more water.
We puttered the rest of the day and fixed another dinner on the camp stove and grill. We called the power company again. Still Monday, 10:30 PM. I headed to bed hoping they were right.
Tuesday morning arrived. No power.
So much for Monday at 10:30 PM.
Time to call the power company back. Apparently, that 10:30 PM recording was a "glitch" in their system. They didn't expect to restore power for us until Friday or maybe Saturday.
Friday! It was only Tuesday morning! Friday was a long, long way away.
We would have to do something about finding more water. We couldn't wait for Friday.
We needed water. The little bit we had gotten at the fire station wasn't going to be enough.
We needed all kinds of water. Water for the toilets. Water for bathing. Water for cooking. Water for cleaning dishes. Water for drinking.
We needed more containers to hold water. Drinking water containers. Many gallons more.
While my husband had been out cleaning up debris on Monday, some of our neighbors whom we had never met offered their pool water. Pool water for flushing toilets. Great. Now we just needed a way to transport it from their pool, across two street corners, to our house. I didn't want to put pool water into our drinking water containers. But I was willing to put pool water into our large cooler and one small cooler and five-gallon bucket and a three-gallon pail.
We drove our containers over to their house, filled them, and drove them back. Wonderful! Flushed toilets, and chased with a bit of chlorine. Terrible for the septic system, great for the toilets. I guess.
You weren't really expecting to see a picture of pool water, were you? I don't have one.
I was relieved to have the toilet water issue solved, at least for the time being. We still needed more drinking and cooking water and we didn't have quite enough containers for our liking. Friday was still a long way off, and we weren't really interested in having to chase down water every day until then. We really wanted more containers and more drinking water to put in them.
I emptied what drinking water we had left in our containers into the pots in the kitchen. We loaded these empty containers and all the other lidded containers we had, plus three for another neighbor into the car and headed out on The Great Water Hunt. Monday we had had success getting water from a fire station. They didn't seem overly thrilled with us, but I figured we might have success again with another fire station. I didn't want to push our luck with trying to go back to the same fire station so soon.
On our way to a different fire station, I spotted our favorite, local health food store. And then it hit me:
Health food. Environmentally conscious. Reusable containers. They might have reusable water containers! Wait! Go back! Let me just run in quickly and see....
They had them. They had a lot of them. In all different sizes. And a water filling station! Bliss! We paid an arm and a leg for two, five-gallon reusable water bottles. We filled them with Reverse Osmosis water. We paid and I didn't care.
We had containers full of pure drinking water! Big containers!
Next we headed to a different fire station. This station was attended by a Firehouse Mom. A talkative, caring, helpful Firehouse Mom. She and the others invited us around the back and helped us to use their hose to fill all the other containers we had.
As the filling of the containers started, the boy and I scoped out the engines. Big, beautiful, red and white and gold fire engines! He never tires of looking at fire engines. When we went back to help with the filling, the boy counted how many gallons we filled at the fire station. About 15 gallons in the large cooler. Two gallons in the small cooler. Two 3-gallon bottles. Eight 1-liter bottles. One 1-gallon milk jug. One 5-gallon paint bucket. Three 4-gallon bottles for our neighbors.
That's about 31 gallons of fire station water for us and 12 gallons for our neighbors. Plus our brand-spankin' new 10 gallons of Reverse Osmosis drinking water in their brand-spankin' new, 5-gallon bottles.
Now we were set. I felt like we wouldn't have to be looking for water again the next day. We might be able to skip a day before going back out for more. And we knew where we were welcome to go back for more water. That fire station is getting cookies at Christmastime! Well, the other one will too, but these guys might get a few more cookies.
I felt a distinct sense of relief. We had water and knew where we could get more without any problems. I could relax a little.
Before heading home, we went into the grocery store for a few necessities. Not bread. Not milk. Not toilet paper.
The fixings to make S'mores. Chocolate. Marshmallows. Graham crackers. Now we were properly set.
The kids had been great throughout all of our efforts to get water and all the uncertainty of finding water. They deserved this. And if nothing else, it was one bit of fun deliciousness that we could enjoy without power. They had earned it!
Once home, we unloaded all the water and had some time to relax before starting dinner. The girl had a bit of summer math to finish up with some help from me. And we chatted in between problems. And then it hit me:
The library has internet! If they have power....
I got so excited at the prospect of reading email! I had missed several meetings at work while out hunting for water. I was a bit curious how things went and what was or was not waiting for me.
We called the library and they had power! We made a plan to go to the library after dinner. We were all thrilled and I even promised that the kids could play computer games the whole time we were there!
I was just kicked to have some way to check email and let the kids have some computer time. I was sorry it hadn't occurred to me sooner. And then I realized that right next door to the library is the community center. And the community center has a gym. And if they have a gym, I'll bet they have a locker room. I'll bet they have showers!
I called the community center and asked how much a one day pass was. Five dollars. Fine. Steep, but we were all so ready for showers, it sounded great!
But then the guy at the center asked, "Does this have something to do with the power being out?"
"Yes, I wanted to find out if you have showers there."
"Well, I didn't want to embarrass you by asking that, but if you don't have power and just want a shower, we will let you in free."
"Free?!! Embarrassed?!! AWESOME! Thank you, thank you, thank you! How late are you open tonight and what time do you open tomorrow morning?"
That was it! We made plans to eat dinner quickly and go take showers and check email! We were ecstatic! We had a plan. We were all bouncing around with excitement over getting a shower soon.
As we cooked dinner, we got a call from our next door neighbor. They had power.
We did not.
Humpf. That took the wind right out of my sails. We still had a plan, but that pales in comparison to getting power back.
We ate our dinner by candlelight. We cleaned up quickly and started packing our ditty bags and preparing to go to the community center to take showers. And just as we were getting things together...
The power came back on!
Woohooo! Happy dance, happy dance, happy dance! Friday came on Tuesday night! We'll take it!
Of course, we didn't need to go to the community center or the library now. We did need to start plugging things back in. Well, my husband and I did that while the kids ran outside whooping and hollering. They showered a bit later, at home, after burning off some energy outside.
We had just one more thing we needed to do that night. S'mores! We had cause for celebration!
It was time to get those marshmallows cooked. We still had the camp stove out....
I had a hard time paying close enough attention to the cooking of the marshmallows, keeping them from burning, and trying to take an adequate picture. I fear it was too much to ask.
As you can see, my cooked marshmallows were far from ideally done. But they were melted in the middle and I was ready to eat S'mores!
Everyone else had the usual gluten graham crackers. I had these.
They taste reasonably good, but the texture is much firmer and denser than a typical graham cracker. Better than being to soft or too fluffy. These are certainly adequate for making s'mores. They are better than adequate. They are good! Even on their own, they are good as cookies.
They would make better graham cracker houses than traditional gluten graham crackers. But that's another story altogether.
I built my s'mores and pulled them apart. See those hot marshmallow strings? I'm ready!
But they weren't.
My chocolate wasn't melted and it didn't look like it was going to be melted fast enough for me. I needed to eat these. I had already waited long enough. This meant I needed to take drastic measures.
I put this plate of s'mores into the microwave and nuked them. Just for 11 seconds.
Hey! We had power finally... why not use it?!
Stay tuned for the conclusion of The Irene Chronicles... right after another book review....