When I read the open call notification before clicking on it, I immediately went back to my time managing two households in an ice storm that knocked power from one for 13 days and the other for 14 days. At the time I was also a selectman in a community that was the epicenter for the storm, and was therefore in daily conference calls with the Governor’s office while hearing from angry citizens.
That was the easy part. The hard part was also dealing with an ex wife whom I had recently left while trying to maintain that home from afar. That’s like a marine veterinarian cutting himself shaving and then trying to hop into the shark tank to give them some inoculations.
It might be for their own good, it might be your job, but Sweet Jesus what a price to pay.
So reading the open call turned my mind to things like generators rather than casseroles. How to wire pig tails to panel boxes so you can fire up a generator, turn off the main power feed, and run your basic household requirements such as refrigerators and heaters in the dead of winter. I thought of the need to fill bath tubs if you have well water. I thought of the need to have PCs and video game consoles if you have self absorbed teenagers.
I turned to the cycling of generator use to cut down on gas and keep pipes from freezing.
Food was not on my list.
So I had to think back on what “meals” I had during the 14 day period of walking through the Winter War Zone that was my internal and external life but two short years ago in the middle of an ice storm when such preparedness was critical.
I got nothing.
There was no guy equivalent of Martha Stewart dancing in my head when you were still concerned with tree limbs falling and potentially killing you as you tried clearing the debris around homes and in the roads to be able to navigate around the communities. To this day when I hear a branch crack, I immediately tense my body, look up, and get ready to run or dive. I suspect it will always stay with me.
Those mothers are not called "widow makers" for nothing.
I mean, when a 10 foot tree limb with a diameter the size of your upper thigh crashes next to you while you have a chain saw running so you don’t know it til the wind blows as it misses being a direct hit on your skull by less than six inches, you stop the chain saw and go inside to change your underwear. You’re not thinking of what can go with your fava beans and nice Chianti.
So while this is right up the alley of One_Irritating_Mother and IamSurlierThanABullMooseButWithoutTheSenseOfHumor to go toe-to-toe in their Bette Davis/Joan Crawford imitation from Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? I am all out of prizes that relate to food recipes from some smarmy Midwestern Gingham Living Magazine that would make Laura Ingalls puke on the set of Little House in the case of the former, nor do I have some heart-attack-in-cans concoction from the 1970s in the case of the latter.
I cannot even tell you what I ate during those two weeks. I was more concerned with freezing pipes, irate citizens, sufficiently fueled generators for elderly neighbors, and the continued secrecy of the community where I was a selectman that I did not live there anymore.
But here’s a few recollections:
- Cans, and I don’t mean the film festival in France, either.
I ate Dinty Moore Beef Stew. I ate baked beans. I ate soup. I ate Chef Boy Ardee Ravioli. I ate undrained tuna so I could choke it down and fill myself up with a mercury/protein burst for long lasting energy. I think I might have even eaten some canned vegetables.
Key there, of course is power. The typical generator cannot take the draw of an oven, but it can handle a burner or a microwave fairly well if you keep the tunes down on your stereo. Thank heavens for iPods.
- Freezer Food was Fair Game … and Fairly Gamey
The stuff was thawing, anyway, so I had to chow it down. I think I ate some Raspberries picked during the Good Bush Administration. (For you bomb tossing lefties who give no quarter, that would be HW Bush, to you.)
The freezer was an odd archeological dig of various major parties at the lake house. Four year old pig roast remnants tested and tossed in the garbage. Specific types of breads bought by specific, regular guests at the home likely from different New Years or Labor Day extravaganzas.
It wasn’t as bad as Elaine Benis in Seinfeld woofing down a piece of wedding cake from the Duke of Windor’s Wedding bought at Auction by neurotic boss J. Peterman, but you get the idea. Some of the stuff got left outside for the animals and was turned away. You know it’s tough when a family of skunks turns down your food offerings.
- Trail Mix
That stuff is the WD40 or Duct Tape of food stuffs. It’s good for any time of the day. Fruit, nuts, and chocolate. What’s not to like? Protein, good carbs, and desert all in a fist. Been living on that stuff for 2 ½ years.
Once again, you got your protein. Likewise it’ll keep you slowly regular, which is a good thing when water is at a premium, as it were.
I couldn’t fucking do it. I’d sooner eat one of IAmSurlyasShit’s 1970s Hazmat recipes while Agnes Moorehead as Endora gave me an erotic massage with ashes falling on me from the butt hanging out her mouth while singing Raffi tunes to me than choke down a piece of spam.
No Open Call submission, I am sure, is complete without a recipe card, so here’s mine.
Gwool’s Emergency Preparedness Pot Luck Casserole:
- Recognize Power has gone out.
- Flick enough switches to no effect to get it through your thick head.
- Open door of abode and look outside.
- Figure out you’re fucked.
- Close door.
- Open Refrigerator.
- Make mental checklist of what will spoil first and eat in order of expected shelf life.
- Open Freezer.
- Make same mental checklist.
- Find phone book.
- Hope you have an old fashioned phone not needing electricity.
- Determine what restaurants have back up power at the least. Prioritize by those that can also deliver.
- Dine as needed in sphincter tightening leisure while constantly running the mental checklists of what you have to do to forestall any further property damage to you and to those close to you.
- Meditate after meal to calm oneself and digest the indigestible by chanting softly “Fuck off, Surly… Fuck off, Surly.”
- Repeat as necessary until the power comes back on.