Do the Thing & You Will Have the Power*

Anyone who knows me, knows that winter is not my favorite time of year. Many of you may wonder why I would choose to move back to Maine, or even more, how I grew up in Maine and then lived in Colorado for 20 years, and not like winter, but the fact remains winter is my least favorite season. I have been told living on the coast of Maine results in us having less snowfall than the rest of the state, which I will admit was a huge plus in my book.

What I was not told, however, was that thanks to our lovely coastal breezes, we do experience coastal gales that seem to wreak more havoc than snow.

When I first moved here and spent some time wandering the neighborhood and exploring with my faithful four legged companions, I started to notice that a large majority of my neighbors up and down the street had generators attached to their houses. I decided some investigative research might be in order, and decided to start polling my neighbors.

Sure enough, the resounding results of this survey was that Yes!! a generator was a must living here. Not only did the coastal gales knock out power on a regular enough basis, but evidently when power did go out, we were also low on the priority list for getting that power restored, living way down here on our peninsula and all.

I have never had (or needed) a generator before, but I decided to embrace coastal living and call in the experts. I connected with an electrician, scoped out the perfect generator to meet all my electricity needs, and put in my order.

Back in June.

I was told the generator would be delivered by mid August and installed by the end of that month, in plenty of time for gale season.

But this is 2020. So of course that didn’t happen.

When I still hadn’t heard anything from my electrician by the last week of August, I decided to reach out. He replied that he was going to be off the following week for Labor Day, but they could come out to get the work done the week following. Great!

The Monday after Labor Day I reach out again to find out when I might be on their schedule for that week. I am told Wednesday at 9am.

Wednesday at 9am arrives, but my electrician and my generator do not. Nor have they arrived by 11am. So I take to text again, with a patient inquiry about when they might be popping by. I am told by 1pm.

I know you know that if I am writing this, this is not what happened.

1pm comes and goes, and after yet another text to try to figure out what is going on, I am told that “Oops! I thought you were another customer, and we are now at their house doing their work, and so sorry, but we won’t make it to you today after all.”

Let’s just say the next few texts weren’t exactly patient inquiries, but we finally come around to the idea that they will be at my house the following Monday afternoon at 1:30.

This time, wonders of wonders, 1:30 actually brings electricians to my door. I also had some work they were going to do in my barn at the same time, so he says they’ll start with that, to which I reply “Great, and then we can talk about where you want to put the generator.”

“Oh, we don’t have your generator” is what I get in response.

I give him my signature blink, and say “I thought that was why you came out today”

“We have no idea when we are going to get the generator. The factories are completely backed up due to COVID and just can’t make them fast enough, so they have no idea when they are going to have any to ship out”

Is it just me, or does anyone else feel like there might be a small lack of communication occurring here?

He goes on to say, “We are telling all our customers they can cancel their orders and get their money back, but you aren’t going to be able to find any anywhere else either. Or you can continue to wait. Right now they are saying hopefully mid October”

I decide I don’t have much choice but to wait, but you can believe I jumped on the phone trying to find anyplace that might have a generator hidden in their back room or a better time line to report, but of course I didn’t .

Fast forward to mid October, when I am again told, nope, no generator. Now maybe end of December, but who knows. This time he throws in the extra caveat that they are offering free hook ups on portable generators to all their customers if they choose to go that route. But I might want to get on that ASAP if I wanted one, because the first big storm that knocked out power and those would all be gone too.

So now I find myself shopping for yet another generator.

I find one that gets great reviews, is big enough to handle all my devices and gets a thumbs up from the electrician, so I order it.

It ships the next day and is supposed to arrive the following Wednesday. My electrician is on standby to install it on Thursday, and I will be ready for all the gales the coast wants to send my way!

On Tuesday I get the tracking notice that my generator has arrived in Portland, and is on track to be delivered the following day.

Again, Wednesday comes, but does not bring my generator with it. Nor does Thursday.

You all know by now, that I did not just take this lying down.

By Friday I had talked to at least 5 different people at each of the freight delivery company that got it to Portland, the “Last Mile” delivery company that was supposed to get it from Portland to my house, and HomeDepot corporate offices. I had reached high level managers at each company, had their direct cell numbers, and had all of them calling each other to figure out what was going on with my generator.

Home Depot had a local store associate who was going to pick it up and drive it to me. The “last mile” delivery manager physically drove to the freight dock, saw my generator, tried to pick it up to ensure it was put on their truck the next day.

And still, my generator sat on a loading dock 45 min away from my house for a week.

The freight company finally guarantees the last mile company they’ll have it to them “first thing in the morning” on the Thursday before Thanksgiving, and the last mile company guarantees me they’ll have it to me by end of day.

The generator arrives at the Last Mile at 2pm- (Can I just pause to say the reason the freight company is so backed up might be because they consider 2pm “first thing in the morning”??) – but they come through and still get it to me by end of day. Whew!

Now to get the thing installed.

Through all this, I’ve been talking with my electrician and he has assured me they would have me up and running by Thanksgiving if it arrives by the end of the week. I let him know I have it, and he says they’ll be there Monday or Tuesday.

Again, I know I don’t need to spell it out for you…. Thanksgiving comes and my generator is still sitting in it’s box outside my front door.

And we lose power the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

I have now purchased 2 generators, and still spend 17 hours without power or water or heat.

My less and less patient texts finally secure an appointment for the install the following Monday.

I really wish I could say that was the end of the story.

They do show up to do the install, but as soon as he takes the generator out of the box, he turns to me and says “Do you have the cord?”

Because of course. Why would the generator actually come with the cord?

I make a flying run to town to buy literally the last generator cord in stock anywhere in town, get back just as they are finishing the install, get my tutorial on what breaker to throw and button to push when and in what order, and finally have a working generator.

Just in time to lose power again 7 hours later.

I am out in the pouring rain, gusting winds and pitch dark with two flashlights that I can’t get to work, trying to hold my iPhone in my mouth so I can see to get the “cord sold separately” plugged in so I can start the thing, but of course this isn’t a typical cord, and I’m a generator newbie, and I cannot figure out how to plug it in. I am stuck at step one.

After an “I don’t think the cord fits” text to my electrician and a desperate FaceTime call with my dad, I finally get it plugged in, get it started and survive the remainder of the 27 hour outage with all the modern comforts.

And thanks to another 24 hours without power 3 days later, I am now a seasoned generator owner and operator.

Maybe someday I’ll actually get my original generator too…

*Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is why We Can’t Have Nice Things…

As most of you know, we just got back from a few weeks overseas. Evidently, while we were gone, we got a lot of rain, and the weeds, which seem to be the only things that grow easily in my yard, had taken that as their cue to grow thick and tall.

Basically my yard was overrun. And the fake grass, that seems to be the only grass that really wants to grow on my “lawn” was knee high.

So, I decided that this past weekend would be a great weekend to whip my yard into shape for the summer.

I decided that not only would I attack the weeds into submission, I would also plant flowers and shrubs to replace the ones that didn’t bounce back from last year’s hail storm, and give my yard a whole new face lift.

So off I went to HomeDepot after my coffee Saturday morning, to get supplies and plot out a landscaping strategy.

I added so much top soil, bark mulch, flowers, shrubs and vegetables to my cart, I actually had to make two trips to my car with it all. Every square inch of my car was full of my future garden.

It was a beautiful, sunny morning, and I was actually enjoying working up a sweat pulling weeds and digging holes.

And let me just say, I pulled SO. MANY. WEEDS. Enough to fill 3 extra large hefty bags.

My yard, as you my faithful readers know, is all on a hill, so I have many tiered beds, formed by the retaining walls, on all different levels up my hill.

I didn’t even mind hauling all the bags of mulch and dirt up my 28 steps.

Probably about 3 hours later, I had finished weeding, planting and mulching all the beds in the front of my house, when the afternoon showers forced a rain delay.

I wasn’t even upset by the call of the game, as it gave me time to run back to Home Depot for more bags of mulch and plan for the next day’s planting.

Bright and early, right after my coffee on Sunday, Auni (my faithful canine helper, who, by the way, is a great gardening assistant) and I were back at work, tackling the beds by my front door.

Another 3-4 hours later, my masterpiece was complete. I had planted beds of flowers, pots of flowers,  a bed of tomatoes and fresh basil (Hello, Caprese salads!), planted some shrubs around the fence line, and even strewn some wildflower seeds, hoping they might be more hardy for our Colorado climate. I had watered all the new plants, added root boost to give them the best start in their new homes, and done everything possible to help their transition.

I’m just going to say it. My yard was lovely!

And I was already looking forward to the coming months, when the plants and shrubs really started to flourish and I was eating fresh veggies from my “garden”

I took some pictures for posterity (and maybe a little bragging rites) and then poured some ice water to sit on my deck and enjoy my landscape for the remainder of the afternoon.

This was about 1 o’clock in the afternoon.

Around 4 o’clock I got ready to head to my hair appointment.

As I walked down the steps to my car, I smiled at how pretty my yard was, and what a reward those hours of work turned out to be, and took more mental pictures of the results.

If only I had known this was to be the last time I was to see that lovely yard.

On the way to my hair appointment, about a 10 min drive away, it started to rain. I’ll admit my first thought, was Good! This will be great for all my new little flowers!

By the time I pulled up to the hair salon, it was a torrential downpour. So much so, I sat in my car, literally right outside their front door, for 10 min, waiting for it to let up enough that I could make that 5 foot or so run, and not be completely drenched.

While it did let up long enough for me to reach the door, the torrents continued for a solid hour. The roads had trenches 3 inches deep along both sides as the drains struggled to keep up with the deluge.

People’s phones kept going off in the salon with weather alerts and flash flood warnings.

I’ll admit, I was a little concerned about what was going on at my house, partly because I had left all the windows open, and a little bit about the yard.

But I checked the radar and the weather alerts, and it appeared that the storm was just missing my area. Maybe we just got a lot of rain too.

If only that were the case.

As I drove home a couple of hours later, the closer I got to my house, the worse the roads and yards around people’s houses got. In fact, about a mile from my house, there was such a pile up of slushy hail, it looked like there was about 3-4 inches of slushy snow in the road. The rest of the road was covered in inches of thick mud and sand the rushing river that had run down it during the storm had left behind.

When I pulled onto my road and rounded the corner to head up my hill, I already knew I was not going to like what I saw.

Apparently the storm not only brought torrential rain to our area, but very gusty wind, and lots of hail. While the hail was not big enough to do any damage to the cars or houses, there was so much of it, it piled up literally inches thick.

My whole yard looked like it was covered in 4 inches of snow.

And not only were all my flowers gone, and plants completely crushed or literally razed away, but the leaves and debris from the surrounding trees and that the rushing water left in my yard, made the weeds that had been having a hay day just a couple days before, look inviting.

I couldn’t even really assess the damage until this morning, when the hail all “melted”. But it was basically as bad as I assumed.

So, I am very glad that my 6+ hours of work, allowed me to enjoy my pretty summer yard for exactly 2 hours. And the good news is, I have lots more projects to fill my weekend’s for the rest of the summer now!

I also have a feeling I will be putting that “unconditional plant guarantee” to the test in the near future, so stay tuned! You know there will be a story or two to accompany that!