Talking Story


candlelightI was piddling around in bed playing Candy Crush level 147 and losing for the fifteenth time that morning when the lights flickered, once, twice, and went out.

Holding my breath and staring at the light fixture, I waited.

Dang, I thought. Late last night I didn’t double-save my manuscript.

Beep, beep, beep nagged the UPS in my office like a toddler’s persistent Mom, Mom, Mommy, Mom. I know nothing’s foolproof. All the UPS really does is allow me twenty minutes to gracefully shut down the server and computers—assuming I’m even home. During an outage smart money always unplugs everything from the wall to protect delicate electronics from a power surge meltdown when the electricity comes back on.

Most days I choose lazy over smart. When I realized I’d have to move my desk, I just turned my computer off.

I can always write another novel. Hernias are forever.

With the UPS no longer beeping at me to do something, anything, quick, I considered my next move.

No writing on the manuscript, I thought, not even on my laptop since I can’t get to my most current files on the server. No social media stuff either unless it’s from my smart phone. Yuck. There’s a headlamp hanging on a peg in the mud room. I could—horrors!—clean the bathrooms. No laundry. No vacuuming. I could empty the dishwasher and wipe down counters.

Oh, joy. Without my favorite electronic gadgets to lean on, I’m like a housewife in the 1890s, but without a snazzy rug beater or ruffled apron.

Or maid. In the 1890s I’d have a maid, a nice homely hardworking lass who cost me 5 cents a day. I’d totally pop two bits a week for someone else to clean. There’s probably a month’s wages in the couch cushions. With Ella scrubbing her heart out, I could recline on the fainting couch all day and read trashy novels while snacking on chocolate bon-bons.

Wait. Do I even like bon-bons? Not the chocolate and fruit kind, that’s for sure. And when’s the last time I read a book on paper? There’s not a printed book in the house that I haven’t already read.

What if this power outage never ends? It’s November. We’ll freeze! No, we’ll just put more clothes on. It’s fine. Eskimos lived without central heating for thousands of years and they didn’t have ski coats or thermal underwear.

Dinner! Well, at least last night’s bread is still fresh. Peanut butter sandwiches. Blah. The kids will just have to deal with it. Hubby’s out of town. Typical. I wonder how the camp stove works. Last I saw it was piled under all the scout stuff in the basement. Propane canisters are green, right? Maybe I can build a fire.

I glanced through the window.

“Oh, #@^!$*!! The horses!”

Out loud it sounded worse. How am I going to water the horses? No power, no automatic watering pump, no heat. The water trough will freeze solid. That means we’re back to filling buckets and breaking ice like the pioneers. Horses need at least 5 gallons of fresh water a day. Six times five plus spillage—

Damn. That’s a lot of buckets. The kids will have to get up really early to get that done before school.

But if the pipes freeze, they can’t get water from the tap. Where’s my nearest water source?

The hot tub.

It’s insulated so it should stay above freezing for several days. The kids can dip buckets out and carry them down to the horses. Maybe it would it be better to bring the horses to the deck. Can horses climb stairs? Should we even give spa water to horses? It’s a salt system, not chlorine, but salt’s hard on kidneys. People lost at sea go crazy drinking ocean water. That settles it. The horses are crazy enough already. Hot tub water is for washing dishes and clothes.

Did Eskimos wash clothes? The wore furs, right? Do you even wash furs? Cats lick themselves clean.

I’m not licking anybody’s parka. Seriously. I’m not.

So no hot tub water for the horses. That leaves Deer Creek Reservoir. It’s what? Ten miles each way? Twenty miles on horseback will take most of the day. We’d have to start at dawn.

But really, when did anybody last add salt to the hot tub? Maybe it’s still an option.

I sighed. Too bad my daughter loves them. It would be easier to set them free. Worked for Willie.

Holy crap. Twenty miles each day. After I get snow pants and a jacket on, I’ll dig the ax out of the mess in the garage and use it to break ice and chop wood. The kids and I are going to need water, too. I better figure out a way to tie coolers to the horses. I think we’ve got bungee cords in the truck. Maybe take fishing poles—

Huh. Power’s back on. Guess I’ll shower and write a blog post.

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