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Saturday, September 20, 2003

Life After Isabel 

It has been a long time since I last blogged. Hurricane Isabel has passed. Our power has returned. I got both acupuncture and was diagnosed with bronchitis. Please excuse the super long entry ...

In general I still get a bit excited about hurricanes, but this one wore me out. As a kid in Louisiana, my hurricane memories center on one storm that toppled a few of the big pines in the backyard (which were later turned into a cool fort) and that knocked over our rabbit hutch, allowing our two rabbits to escape to who knows what fate. Shortly after a different hurricane, my mother drove my brother and me to school only to find a huge old oak blocking the road in. School was closed a few more days. There also were several hurricanes that brought floods to our neighborhood, but never all the way into our house; we would ride our bikes through the flooded streets and go swimming in the yard (until the fire ants latched on to us as a way to escape the deluge). Across the Lake, at my aunt and grandmother's houses in Pass Christian, Mississippi, there were pictures of the damage that was done to the properties during Hurricanes Camille and Betsy. In my experience, it was always a lot of wind and rain and the aftermath was about fun.

Now, however, I am a homeowner, which makes hurricanes a touch more unsettling, I think. Inside the Beltway, we are outside of the direct path of the majority of hurricanes, but we do still get hit upon occasion. Isabel did blow further southwest than it could have, but we did loose power at about 3:30 p.m. on Thursday (well before any rain ... or even much wind ... arrived). Actually, it's a bit disturbing that Pepco lost power at more than two-thirds of the households in its coverage area. We were back up shortly after noon on Saturday, but that was enough time to wipe out much of the food in our freezer (we put a bag of ice in there on Friday morning, which helped both fill it and keep it cold, but the Skinny Cow ice-cream sandwiches made a huge mess).

Outside, we lost a lot of leaves and sticks, nothing too big. In our neighborhood, a few houses were hit by falling trees, although most of the damage looks minor. One SUV did get smacked pretty good. We had most of it all cleaned up by Friday afternoon (including cleaning the gutters).

Preparation-wise, we were a little worse off. We did move the patio furniture and potted plants, but we had to run out in the rain and wind Thursday evening to get a standard telephone (both of our other ones are cordless models that wouldn't work without power for the basestations) and a portable radio. I have a boombox in my office and I could have sworn we had a little jogger's radio somewhere downstairs, but, of course, it couldn't be found, so now we have a new armband radio, which worked well even though we couldn't both listen to it at the same time.

The preparation we did do was to rent four DVDs; a lot of good that did. Instead, we played many games of Scrabble by candlelight. In fact, were out at Target again today when the power came back on picking up a copy of Boggle and any other games that looked interesting. (Actually, there were some really cool versions of Risk, Clue, Scrabble, Twister, Sorry and other games packaged in wooden boxes and using retro boards and graphics; I wanted to pick up a few of them, but wiser heads prevailed.)

Adding to the not-so-much-fun aspect of the hurricane was the fact that I'm ill. Part of why I didn't blog during the week was that was ailing. I went in to work on Monday to finish up the preprint part of the contract publishing thing, but I was told to stay home on Tuesday because my coughing was disrupting too many coworkers.

Tuesday morning, I went with Evelin to see her acupuncturist. The acupuncturist had wanted me to go through a session or two to help with the fertility stuff, so I went. After Evelin got stuck, I was treated to a couple of needles in my arms and legs. Usually, she just sticks them in and pulls them right out on Evelin; for me, she stuck them in and left them for about 20 minutes. She then did a few points on my back, which did seem to help my breathing a little, even if it didn't do much for the coughing. Evelin went to work; I picked up all three Austin Powers DVDs because the acupuncturist had warned that the treatment could leave me a bit wiped out.

I also cleaned out the wine cellar a bit in an effort to track down the source of some mildew in there. (The wines are piled up in the basement now and I need to give the area under the stairs (the wine cellar) a good disinfecting. This all also needed doing so that I could get ready for building some sort of shelving under there to better store the wine). Amidst the things I found in the cellar was a small bottle of Tobermory, a nice malt from the Isle of Mull; there was only a dram left, which I had ... strictly for medicinal purposes.

That evening, I called in to the office and it looked like things were going okay without me, so I extended the break for another day (three more DVDs: American Pie 2; Blasphemy; and Die Another Day), mostly to be lazy and, because of a big tradeshow in Europe, I did not have a big stack of stories awaiting edits. It also gave me a chance to cook down all the yellow tomatoes we'd harvested a week or so ago into a sauce (shallots, onion, garlic, yellow tomatoes, fresh basil, dried oregano, dried yellow tomatoes (rehydrated and then puréed), and white balsamic vinegar). I chopped everything (including a chunk of finger and nail from my left thumb ... that didn't make it into the sauce) and started cooking it Tuesday night, cooled it and then finished cooking for about eight hours on Wednesday.

By midday Wednesday, I was still feeling ill, so I made an appointment with the doctor (the same GP that Evelin wants us to change). Thursday morning, 9:30 a.m., I'm in the doctor's office getting my chest and back listened to with a stethoscope. In the end, she diagnosed bronchitis, giving me prescriptions for an inhaler, antibiotics and some cough syrup that tastes super nasty. The federal government was closed (which means my office should have closed, but I couldn't raise anyone on the phone to find out for sure ... not that I went to any great effort to be 100% certain), so I just hung out until noon, when Evelin's university closed, and went to pick her and my meds up.

And that brings things full circle. We finished prepping the yard for Hurricane Isabel and then went in to read when the power went out.

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