Date: 23 Jan 1999 00:00:00 GMT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (the Right Big Rev. Boss Dr. DeWaffless "Jubo" Schmeerz)
was perhaps six thirty in the a.m. when a combination of a generous
thunderclap and similtaneous old-fashioned burn and stink flashbulb in
the face FLASH and a split-second-later shoulder shake and slightly
shrill "HEY! Did you unplug the computers?!" jolted me out of a dream
- that had something to do with menacing street trash and guns that
refused to work and instead just spewed sparks like the one in the old
Flash Gorden films, and punches and kicks that felt like they were
being thrown underwater - and back into the world of the living. "No"
I said, opening the eye that isn't black, hacking a couple times and
assuring her I was on it.
Got up, logged both of them in just to make sure the modems weren't
already fried, then unplugged the phone lines, shut everything down,
and yanked the power cords to the whole mishmosh of printers and
scanners and what not. Seemed it was providential I was awakened when
I was. Not thirty seconds after I finished shutting this and that down
and throwing the breakers that powered my stereo and TV stuff and
stationary tools and anything else that was worth saving, a DEAFENING
blast and spectacular flash that made the dogs howl and wriggle under
the bed like stubby-legged slugs indicated something within a stone's
throw had been clobbered, and some kinda god-awful spike backfed my
electrical system. Lights got bright for a second. Then dim. Then
flickered out. I surmised one of the transformers on the highway had
taken a hit.
Anyway, I threw the main and the rest of the breakers except for the
40 amp 220 volt breaker that serves as the totally
not-up-to-regulation infeed to the box for my generator, got an
umbrella and wandered out to the little shed I keep it in (diesels
make a lotta racket. Farther they are from the house the better),
tanked it up, and was tickled that it actually started. Let it warm up
for a bit while I admired nature's fury in the feeble light of the
semi-dawn. Rain was coming down like shotgun pellets fired at a
downward forty five degree angle, and the falling water was regularly
whipped into water dervishes by a wind so strong it was threatening,
even in the semi-shelter of the shack doorway, to turn my oversize
Budwieser bumbershoot inside out, and howling with such ferocity that
the not-inconsiderable racket produced by the generator was nearly
drowned out. Lightning finger-fucked the treeline with hairy,
incandesent plasma tentacles almost continuously.
"Neat." I said outloud.
I went back in the house, and started flipping the breakers to the
critical equipment. I was primarily concerned with the zillion-odd lbs
of snow crab legs and cod the wife had recently stuffed the freezer
with (caught some kinda sale at the market), and checking out the
appliances in the kitchen, as they were about the only things with
motors I had not cut the power to prior to the strike.
The light rigged to the power feed above the main breaker indicated
the line feed was still off, and having gone to so much trouble to
prepare for stuff like this, I was almost hoping it would stay off for
a while, so, at least for a bit, I wouldn't feel like a complete idiot
Anyway. Everything seemed to be cool. Phones were still working, so I
went back out to the loading dock to watch water run through my ditch,
and since I was already pretty much soaking wet from the sideways
spray and it wasn't particularly cold outside, this time I didn't
bother with an umbrella.
When we built the place, we had to cut into the none too gradually
sloping terrain to form level pads for the two buildings, and as a
consequence, both are set on terraces facing steep banks that recieve
a ferocious amount of runoff from the front of the property.
The first bad thunderstorm we had here convinced me that the fellow I
hired to do my grading (becuase he was ten cents cheaper than
everybody else) was a nincompoop. Water rapidly filled the just below
grade depression in front of the big building, and was on the verge of
washing in under the front door when the storm suddenly abated.
A week later I had a trench dug alongside the building, dropped in an
18 inch corrugated pipe and big storm sewer drain, and put in a crazy
mishmosh of buried six and eight inch plastic piping to funnel water
from the gutters and collectors at the base of the bank into it.
Worked like a charm, thank god.
The pipe runs about 150 ft, and pokes it's snout out in lower ground
in the vicinity of my loading dock, where it dumps into a
approximately four foot deep by two foot wide by 200 foot ditch, that
eventually joins a small tributary of the creek that crosses my
property (a ditch, incidentally, that I dug ENTIRELY with a shovel,
for no reason except that it seemed the free equivalent of a health
club membership for a couple weeks). I've never understood the
mentality that drives some people to buy riding mowers and log
splitters and god knows what other kind of labor saving devices, then
shell out money and get in their car and drive across town to be
abused by a Nautilus machine. Well, maybe the females sweating and
huffing in the shiny stringbutt leotards provide SOME reasonable
justification for that seemingly insane behavior, but hell, that's not
enough to make me rent a ditch witch just so I can make the time to
hump a slimy vinyl ironing board while discreetly ogling would-be buns
Ah sheesh. Where was I?
Anyway, best thing about having a big pipe that water whooses through
is that I still have a childlike fascination with watching it run out
the end and through the ditch, especially when there's enough of it to
carry off a flailing midget, and I'm sure there was this morning, even
if I couldn't verify it because I didn't have one to throw in there.
So I went out, wandered around and did just that.
Lotsa ankle deep, expansive puddles form in the vicinity of the ditch,
dammed by the lay of the land and the clumps of field fescue. I like
to use my hands or a sharp stick and cut through the dams and watch
the water go whoosing out and join the torrent in the ditch. So I do.
And did. I was having such a big time I didn't even consider how
completely idiotic is was to be standing out there digging and poking
in the middle of a ferocious electrical storm, but I've always felt
I'd be an unlikely target, given the trees and the metal buildings and
what not, and so far, I haven't been penalized for my mixture of
infantile hydrological pecadilloes and meteorological hubris. Meaty
oars and ill-logical probably being applicable in this context, but
hey, I didn't write the goddam dictionary.
Anyway, I got to thinking that this was just too much fun to keep to
myself, so I wandered back into the shop, dried off some, then grabbed
a couple shop towels to use as stepping stones (by tossing them
alternately in front of me) so I could go up front and into the house
without making TOO much of a mess. Got to the bedroom, opened the door
and said: "Hey, wake up. Let's go play in the mud."
"WHAT?" she said.
"Let's go play in the fucking mud. C'mon," I said. "Bet you used to
like to play in the fucking mud."
"Maybe," she said, sorta irritated, "but I don't want to now," then
she got a look me in the light. "God. You're a mess...what have you
"Playing the fucking mud!" I answered, cackling, wildly pleased and
self-amused to no end that she'd offered me the opportunity to do so.
"You're nuts," she said. "Can I please go back to sleep?" Aw, c'mon, I
persisted, "this is important to me.. get dressed and c'mon."
"No," she said. "Take the dogs."
"Okay," I said, all hang dog myself. "Yer no fun."
Anyway, the dogs DID seem to have a pretty good time. Lightning had a
let up a good bit, and they were getting quite a kick out of wallowing
in the ditch and trying to drink all the water that ran through it,
except bones, who seemed almost sorta pissed off at it for knocking
him off his feet and more or less bit and chomped at it. I dug and
poked and sat in the water and tossed the dogs around until we were
all good and filthy.
I was about ready to pack it in, because, despite the moderate
temperatures, I was starting to get a case of the shivers, when I
noticed the new neighbor who is renting the ramshackle dump on the
property that adjoins ours, a few hundred feet away, heading out to
his cinderblock carport shed thing in a too-small neon yellow Gorton's
fisherman outfit. Even though he and some sort of significant other
have been renting the place for about a year, I've never said a word
to either of them, or they to us. Now seemed like a good time to break
"Yo," I holleerd, Whussup?" "Huh," he answered, looking over at me
with obvious uneasiness, then making his way to the fence, saying:
"Oh, nuthin...Yer power out?"
"Yeah," I said.
"Just going out here to see if I kin git this goddam generator
runnin," he said. "Probably won't. Put the fucking thing up without
draining the gas a year ago....carb's probably fulla shit." "Yeah," I
said. "Well, we got juice...come by if you cain't and it don't come
back on and you get tired of being in a house without it," I said,
unconciously effecting the sub-suburban hick vernacular. "Thanks," he
said, kinda cautiously, checking out the grass and such in my hair and
the mud splattered all over me, "What are you doin...you got flooding
problems?" "Nah," I said. "Just playin in the fucking mud....but I'm
gettin tired of it...headin in."
"Uhhh." He said. "Yeah." Then scooted off in the direction of his
When I got through hosing off myself and the dogs, putting them in the
shop to dry off, taking a shower and getting dressed, I was
semi-pleased to see the power was back on, because then I knew I
wouldn't have to make good on my hasty and generous offer to allow the
neighbors access to our electrical appliances.
But I never felt there was much of a chance that they would, anyway.