So far, owning a generator has turned into a $1,200 hassle but I intend to remain cheerful.
The Lowe’s third-party vendor delivered the thing at 10:30 a.m. today, in a rainstorm. My kind neighbor Tom got it ready for use about ten minutes before the power went out. Alas, for reasons I cannot reconstruct, I had not purchased gas.
Fifteen minutes drive-time brought me to the Ace in Rio Vista, where a clerk about to go on lunch break walked me over to the gas cans. He and a younger man stood debating whether I could lift a filled 5-gallon can into my car. The first fellow shook his head and spoke with a candor that I could see he regretted. “Not with the way you wobble, ma’am, to be honest.” I bought it anyway.
I had just finished paying when a voice inquired if I intended to take that can back to the park. Another angel stood behind me, clad in a yellow slicker and holding a bundle of purchases that turned out to be for someone else. I grinned at him, called him by name, and asked what brought him to Ace. I should have known that Rod would be buying supplies for other moderately helpless people in our park. He glommed onto my gas can and said he’d fill it when he did the others on his list and would see me at home in 45 minutes.
As the rain quickened, Rod along with Ken from the next lot struggled with the 50/30 adaptor and the plug to my tiny house. I could do nothing but stand nearby, water running down my cheeks and frizzing my hair. A few minutes later, we shouted “Hoorah!” and everyone ran for cover as the Westinghouse 3700/4500 roared to life.
By two o’clock, I had discovered that the new generator didn’t run my electric heat and that I was supposed to have bought something called a “generator running cover”. When the power returned at 3:00 p.m., I ran outside to switch the plug from machine to local pole, which it turns out my hands are not strong enough to do. A few frantic waves brought Ken back to rescue me. An hour after dark, I finished reading the dire warnings about leaving your generator outside in the rain. Clutching the (standing still) cover against my chest, with a stout walking stick in one hand and a flashlight in the other, I braved the wind to creep around the side of the house and drape plastic over what I was learning to call my thousand dollar baby.
That electric heater hums. I’ve finished a book, eaten some jasmine rice, and ordered the right protection for this apparently delicate piece of machinery. It arrives on Tuesday, unless I find one at a local vendor before then. I’m praying for clear skies. I’m researching options for a diverter plug. My muddy Blundstones stand by the door, beneath the damp wool bomber jacket and cloche. I have fought back tears that nearly always threaten; and suppressed the endless urge to regret reluctant choices which steered me to this solitary life.
A friend recently told me that I had no right to grumble about power outages in rural California since I had voluntarily left the city. “First world problems!” he hissed onto my Facebook page. “You chose that life!” He is not wrong. The reasons that I chose this path made sense at the time; and in calm, clear moments, they still do. So I will take the stormy skies with the spans of blue. I hope that an afternoon of rumbling in the rain has not damaged my new generator. But if by chance it has, I will figure out my next move. For now, I am warm. My belly purrs with pleasant fullness. Cool water sits in a blue tin cup nearby. The lights hold steady. I will survive.
It’s the eleventh day of the one-hundred and ninth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.