For 5 years we had been living in our first (and last) lake home on Muskegon Lake, about a mile from Lake Michigan by water. A quiet cul-de-sac at the bottom of a steep hill which originally held 5 homes and some extra lots. The back of our house faced the lake with downtown Muskegon on the opposite shore. Our view from the front was an older neighborhood straight up the hill or the park due east with soccer fields, a baseball diamond and shelter house.
We were enjoying most aspects of life on the lake except for ‘Shack City’ which appeared on ice (without an invitation) every January. From that day forward I longed for the coveted day in mid-March when the solid ice broke up and returned to liquid form. We added a massive sea wall to stem the loss of land which ironically included a bonus. The influx of 100’s of snowmobiles on the ice who routinely zipped through our backyard-on and off until our shoreline was filled with bowling ball sized rocks. Unless they wanted considerable damage to their machine they had to find another place to exit off the ice. Win-win for us!
I’m not sure of the exact date but it was around Memorial Day in late May. We had a wicked spring storm that knocked out the power for a day. When it was restored I caught up the laundry, cooked a meal and things were back to normal-for less than 24 hours. Early the next morning we were hit by a massive storm. Torrential rain and unbelievable winds around 100 mph. They called it a ‘straight wind’ storm and the damage to our small town was significant.
This was two months after I made the decision to get healthier and lose weight. And I was committed. Walking 5 miles a day, eating better, (tough because I worked at McDonald’s and still love their fries and sausage biscuits to this day). The storm started right before dawn and knocked out the power again. But it was light out and warm enough so I put on walking clothes and headed up the hill and west.
About a mile from home I noticed a huge branch on the sidewalk ahead of me so I veered onto Ruddiman and continued walking. My nifty little iPod was cranking out crazy tunes to keep my butt moving. A few seconds later a utility truck stops right in front of me and a guy hops out to get my attention. I took off my headphones and he yelled, “Lady, what are you doing out here? Those are live wires on the sidewalk and road. It’s not safe for you to walk. Go home and don’t get close to any wires!”
Dang, that was harsh, but I took his snarky advice and trudged back home. Hubs had heard strange noises during the storm and was in the back yard inspecting the house. The wind had knocked out several under eaves and he was picking them up off the lawn. I followed his upward gaze. “Holy cow, that’s pretty high up. Who are you gonna hire to put those back up there?” “No one, I’m gonna do it.” “No you’re not!”
Which of course he did. Probably the scariest thing he’s ever done and that included his friends holding him upside down by his legs over a railroad trestle on Highway 18 so he could spray paint RV 66. But then he had been 17 and omnipotent. A couple months before the storm Hubs celebrated birthday #50. The tracks that kept the under eaves in place were damaged so he decided to rivet them in place-very near the top of a 20 foot ladder on our 2 story house. He still thanks God for keeping him safe through that.
By day 2 after the storm most of the power had been restored in North Muskegon-but not for the folks residing in the cul-de-sac at the bottom of the hill. We grilled supper or ate out but stayed in the house because we had a gas water heater and could shower.
But I was fretting about my freezers (which were full of meat and fruit pies) when my amazing McDonald’s boss/owner Mark told me I could use the walk-in freezer at the restaurant to store my foodstuff until we got power back. It was 7 long days before the power was restored.
Since that storm 25 years ago I have acquired a healthy dose of fear about losing power again for any length of time. Others might say my fear leans more towards irrational, illogical, unrealistic or implausible. They are entitled to their opinion as am I.
I have been a quantities shopper since I’ve had a spare 20 dollar bill in my wallet. I keep my freezer filled with supper options depending on what I’m craving ribs, shrimp, steak, chicken, pork chops or a beef roast. And I still ‘stew’ about losing power. Since our move 7 years ago I’ve periodically zhanicked (Dutch slang for whined) about buying a generator as Hubs nods in agreement. Lo and behold last fall he quips, “found the generator I want. It’s on sale, I’m heading to Chelsea.” (Thank you Jesus)
Not been without a couple hiccups getting it ready to run our house should the power go out. The generator rolled over Hubs as he was unloading it (he said it’s quite heavy and rolls rather fast on those little wheels), which required a trip to the ER. Subsequently he can’t lift anything over 5 pounds with his left wrist and later developed water on his elbow which was just drained by a specialist. Then we discovered our breaker box was obsolete and doesn’t supply enough juice so we hired an electrician to install and upgrade a new Square D box while waiting 2 months for Consumers to kill the power, then coordinate with the city inspector to approve the electrician’s work and sign off on it, which meant a day without power in December. Part of the irony of having a generator ready to run the house but unable to do the job until receiving Consumers’ and the city’s blessing.
Finally in mid-December we were ready for a natural disaster. Yay! (Should I really be celebrating that)? John filled multiple 5 gallon tanks of gas and periodically starts the generator. Two short months after the necessary improvements we were hit by a massive ice storm. We lost electricity at 7 pm on a Wednesday but didn’t get the generator out immediately in case the power was out for a short time. After an hour Hubs slid the generator near the deck and started it. Lights, furnace, (and most importantly, my freezer happily humming again). We lost the internet so had no TV but every other comfort of home. Our electricity was out for 48 hours but the neighbors across the street were without for 72. They brought their phones and tablets here to charge. Hubs brought them thermos’ of coffee every morning and I made them a pot of soup for supper. Our granddaughter, her boyfriend and 2 cats stayed here for several days because their house 8 miles away was without power a couple days longer than our neighborhood.
We were surprised at how much noise the generator generates. It’s loud! This spring Hubs is gonna vent it out of the garage so we can leave it in there and the noise level will be substantially lower. Was it worth the money and hassle? For my peace of mind? Ab-so-lute-ly…
2 thoughts on “May, 1998…”
We were without power for 5 days one year. The rest of the street was out only 3, but our own trees had knocked down the line to the one on the street. Guy went to work and our son went to school. I decided I didn’t want to be a pioneer anymore! And I’m skitterish about having the power go off, although we still don’t have a generator.
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I’m right there with you Joy, on not enjoying the pioneer life. Ugh, they had it hard. I also appreciate modern medicine and dentistry.
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