Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Move and The Fire

So, this is how the move went down, as well as I can recall it:

Our landlord's been raising the rent on us as often as he can, as much as he can. We were in this weird place financially where we couldn't afford to move out, but we certainly couldn't afford to stay. We've been trying to find a suitable place to live, but that's harder than it sounds when you've got a chronic migraineur in the mix.

Enter Grampa. In conversation one day, it came up that he has a cabin in the woods. I listened with interest, but it was my boyfriend who really pushed forward with it. The place needed some serious help. It was rented in the past, but not for quite a while and has been neglected for several years. In that time, all sorts of critters made the place a home, so there's been holes to repair, insulation and cabinets to replace, poop to clean up and more. We started the work before we moved, but ran out of time and had to move in before basic repairs were complete. We got our stove two days after we moved in and our fridge two days after that. It was very much like camping.

We've moved a lot, the boyfriend and I. We've been together for 11 years, and we've changed residences 11 times. We're good at it, usually. I can be a real workhorse when I have a short-term goal in mind, and my boyfriend has an ever-energetic superpower that keeps him, and by association me, going, no matter how long and exhausting the move gets. But this time was trickier, with me being all migrainy and us having very little money to work with, getting ourselves and our "necessities" up here was definitely an adventure.

We've acquired a spanking-new '91 Chevy Caprice that was pinky-promised to make it up our mountain. It has, several times now. Up and down and up and down and up and down. Thank goodness my motion sickness just gave up after a few days. I was running out of ginger.

We didn't have the time or money to get all of our belongings up the hill, such is moving without a truck, but we were incredibly lucky to have our now ex-neighbor offer to house some of our less immediate stuff. Then my wonderful bestie helped us one day, packed and loaded his car full of what we couldn't live without and hauled it up our twisty roads. And even my mom, who wasn't feeling well enough to physically help us move, brought us some basic food staples to help us get over this hump of having zero dollars. We are so grateful that we're surrounded by such generous people.

With the kitchen now almost fully-functional, it feels a bit more like home, despite the boxes that still crowd every corner. The bathroom is still unfinished, but that should be remedied shortly, and most of the floors need to be replaced, but that's a little further down the list. Also, I have no laundry facilities, and that's a source of anxiety for me. Though, the rumor is that the local laundromat is much nicer than the ones I've been to in the past. Fancy mountain people like a fancy laundromat, I guess.

I have plans to do some planting around the house, but we're pretty limited since the canopy filters out most of the sunlight. I'm thinking I need to set up a plant light for a few of my potted guys, the basil is already legging-out and my romaine looks sad. Really, really sad.


So, the fire story.

A few nights ago my boyfriend was working on the bathroom and I was taking a break from homeworking when we heard a sudden crashing noise and everything went black. For just a second I thought, "Earthquake?" But that thought was a habit, and the real source was immediately apparent. A tree had fallen close by and taken down our power lines. This was alarming in itself, but the fear really set in when the dark only lasted a moment before the trees outside our windows started flashing bright and dark.

The power lines are supposed to be hooked up to a breaker, which would cut electricity to the line in this exact scenario. But the breaker didn't break and we had a live wire spitting and crackling into the otherwise pitch-black forest.

My boyfriend ran for his dry extinguishers and put out one small fire, but he couldn't get close enough to the live wire to douse it properly. He called 911 and I leaned on the car horn to let the neighbors know we needed help.

I haven't been that scared since I don't know when, maybe never. My whole body was shaking, and I kept doing this painful dry sobbing.

I watched the sparks fly off into the forest, willed them with all my might not to catch. They didn't. One neighbor arrived, parked in front of our house and left his hazards on. The blinking and flashing and fear made for a surreal scene. The trees were strobing, the smell of fire was in the air, and disembodied voices were calling to each other from the gloom beyond the reach of the bright flashes.

The lights and noise and everything were starting to affect my head, despite the adrenaline, and panic was starting to set in. My boyfriend walked by, saw my face and gently suggested I take a valium. I did, though fumbling around in an alternately black and brightly-blinking house for my pill bottle was a challenge and a half, but I think that valium is the only reason I slept that night.

It took more than half an hour to get the power turned off, and an hour after that for the forest to go back to its normal quiet.

The next morning, the power company was on top of it, and we were back on around noon. A tree guy came out and advised us of a nasty fungus taking up residence in the douglas firs, which is what caused our little friend to fall in the first place, and that a serious survey and take-down of rotting tree corpses needed to be scheduled.

For the first time in my life, I look forward to the sound of chainsaws.


Migrainista said...

Quite an adventure indeed. I'm so glad nobody was hurt and that electricity was restored so quickly.

jasminepw said...

Oh my, what a scary ordeal! Glad all turned out well, and that you're creating a new home thanks to Grampa :)

Heather said...

Your cabin sounds great, aside from the repairs and scary live wire incident of course! Enjoy the nature and your class! :)