Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Hydro Outage with Dogs

Another test. One I came close to failing.

The roads became impassable up here on Saturday night and Mud Mama couldn't get back from her visit with old friends.

The next day it rained in grey sheets that covered the lake. Then the winds rose. blowing the water from the other shore towards me like some enormous flat grey tidal wave. In an instant the wind changed direction and took the greyness swirling away. It was beautiful in its own way.

Trees bent and broke ... across roads ... onto power lines ... scattering every surface with debris ... and causing power outages across the province.

I coped by cooking on the wood stove, gathering water from the brook and melting snow, and setting up my emergency lighting supplies ... candles and flashlights.

Mud Mama and family stayed in the city and I shared my room with Mica, Kenya and Stella.

Things became worse about 6 last night shortly after Maggie arrived. She was not feeling great, possibly would have diarrhea from the long car rides to which she had been subjected plus the excitement of coming into a dark house lit by flickering candles, and populated by three other excited dogs.

I had already dealt with one unplanned evacuation by Mica that afternoon ... a large puddle of pee. I used straight vinegar and "washed" the mop in snow afterwards. I wasn't looking forward to cleaning up diarrhea in the dark without water.

About 6:30 I decided to feed everyone. Have you ever tried to feed four dogs different food in different bowls in the dark with only a small flashlight? Try it when two dogs are identical. It is not easy, and it proved impossible when one of the dogs was Stella the food thief. She operates best in total darkness. First she got Mica's food. I crated her, gave Mica a second bowl, and went to prepare Kenya's and Maggie's bowls. Kenya ate hers but Maggie's tummy was not ready for food so I put it up on the kitchen counter till later and brought the wailing Stella out of the utility room.

Within seconds Stella had Maggie's bowl on the floor and had scarfed down almost the entire ration. Kenya usually deals with Stella's bad behaviour but I guess she couldn't see her any better than I could, and was unaware until the bowl crashed to the floor. I managed to salvage a dozen small kibble pieces and moved the bowl to the back of the stove.

Maggie said she needed to go out so I opened the door for her and Kenya, keeping the earlier wanderers inside (more about that later). She promptly disappeared ... straight up the hill following her nose to where her people must be. I went up after about ten minutes of calling to which Kenya responded ... without Maggie. I could see her eyes shining in the rays of my flashlight and breathed a sigh of relief.

We walked down to the house past Mica's tether. Mica growled and Maggie shot up the hill again. I put Mica inside and brought Stella on lead as she and Maggie know each other. I got them all rounded up and back to within thirty yards of the house when they all took off again.

I got considerable aerobic exercise and balance practice as I went up and down that slippery hill. It took close to two hours all told but finally I had four fed dogs inside a darkened house and we were all worn out and ready for bed.

I made myself a cheese sandwich and poured a glass of wine.

That was when the dogs set up a howl. There were flashlights moving along the road. I kept the dogs inside and went out to ask who these spectres were. Hydro Quebec. They were the line searchers. Two young men slip-sliding on the snow covered sheets of ice. I walked with them, falling only once, to show them Tanya's line that has been in jeopardy for some time and the one from Lise's house that was sprawled across the road in a tangle of broken tree limbs. They asked if I was frightened being the only person on this road. I laughed. Who could be frightened with four large dogs?

They knew about the line I had called about earlier so we didn't have to walk down to Mountain Road.

I made my way gingerly back to the dogs.

I understand that cliche better now. Ginger effervesces in the mouth especially if you add too much to your boiling water. My feet skittered and skated and danced me in pirouettes all the way to the heavily sanded part of the road. Like bubbles of champagne I shot upwards over and over again. Each time I landed clumsily but always on my feet.

One fall is not bad for an old woman traversing over a kilometre of icy hilly roads.

I finished the sandwich, drank the wine and went to bed. Maggie slept near me all night. Kenya slept elsewhere. Mica started out with me and moved to the bathroom later. And Stella spent the night back in her crate (more about her adventures later). About 3 a.m. I awoke to light.

Blessed light.

Now I could see the dogs. I could take the bucket of melted snow for the toilet, the jug of bottled water and the small cooking pot for daily ablutions out of the bathroom. I could stop collecting and rationing water for the dogs. I could stop using antiseptic wash on my hands. I could cook on the kitchen stove. I could eat real meals again. I could wash dishes properly. I would no longer be tethered to the dining table by candles, a journal and a deck of cards. I could read after 4 p.m. I could watch a movie.

But mainly, I could see the dogs.

When there were three dogs all easily identifiable and all used to each other, me, and the house, it was considerably easier than when we added Maggie to the mix. But yesterday the mild weather reminded Mica that she was a husky and that began another set of problems. Another post for that.


deb said...

And here I thought that you were just taking a bit of a blogging break. We were out for a few hours too, plus no water for a day.

Oma said...

Don't I wish? We were without hydro or water for almost 2 days.

What happened to your water? Mine of course is inextricably linked to power.

deb said...

Ours was a different sort of problem. Our shower in the spare bathroom broke and the water had to be shut off to the whole house or we would have a flood. Of course this happened on Boxing Day so we couldn't find the missing piece till the next day. The company is in California and they are sending us two replacement cartridges, so that when it happens in our ensuite...we don't have the same issue.