By Maria Schulz
Hurricane Sandy, a.k.a. “Frankenstorm,” has been heading our way for days now. I first heard about it on Thursday afternoon and felt my heart sink. For those of you who remember, I wrote a post last September called “Dancing in the Dark.” In that post, I talked about living without power for 5 days following Hurricane Irene.
Apparently, Irene was small potatoes compared to Sandy. I knew I was in for a lot of work and aggravation before she even blew into town. On Friday, I went to the store and stocked up on water, batteries, flashlights, candles, and other important staples such as: Nutella, spaghettios, Entenmann’s chocolate chip cookies, bags and bags of Halloween candy and a few wigs and makeup for Halloween, just in case I can’t get out because of the storm. I find that it’s important to have priorities and think ahead.
On Saturday, my family and I drove back to the supermarket for bread, milk, fruit and vegetables. The sense of panic was building and the store was buzzing with anxiety. One elderly lady was so excited she turned to walk out of the store…without her groceries.
“What would happen if I ran up and down the aisles yelling ‘Hurricane!!!’ and waving my arms like a lunatic?” I said.
My children and husband eyed me warily. “Don’t even think about it!” They said, because they were afraid I just might do it.
When we got home, we did loads and loads of laundry just in case we lose power and can’t do it for days. We also took down all of my very cool Halloween decorations, which was a bummer. I thought I outdid myself this year and was sorry to see it all come down ahead of Halloween.
By Sunday morning, I was feeling pretty good. I had everything we were going to need and we were set. Then my phone rang.
“I don’t have batteries or water,” my mother-in-law said.
“Okay,” I replied. “I will get you some.”
Have you ever been out on the morning of a hurricane, blizzard, or some other impending weather catastrophe? It doesn’t bring out the best in people. Folks who are normally borderline crazy become completely off the charts crazy. Think Lon Chaney Jr. before the full moon, and then after.
If I had run down the aisles screaming “Hurricane!” and waving my arms like a lunatic, I would’ve been competing with the other nut-jobs who were clearing the shelves of everything, fighting with each other over bottled water, and racing to get to the checkout line first in their last minute attempts to be hurricane ready.
My daughter and I ran from store to store, waiting on long lines and getting water, batteries and candles. Then we went in to visit the original Hurricane Irene. Besides her disaster prep stuff, we also brought some corn muffins and big books that will require extra concentration, including “The Thorn Birds,” “Becoming Jane Austin” and “The Other Boleyn Sister.”
“This will keep you busy for a few days if you get tired of watching TV or you lose your power,” I said. What I didn’t say was that they would also keep her mind off of the weather channel and thinking about her basement filling up with water.
“Oh I loved The Thorn Birds!” Irene said, as she handed me back another book I loaned her. “Here’s that James Garner memoir. I just love him!”
What a smart lady! No wonder I love her.
“Just one thing,” I said. “We didn’t bring any canned goods. Do you have enough to last you, or should we run out and get some?”
She opened up her cabinets and pointed at a stash that I think she started back during the Y2K craze. “I have enough to keep me going for weeks!” she said proudly.
Once we knew she was all set, we headed back home to wait for the coming Armageddon.
We’ve been waiting for Sandy to hit the area for the last 24 hours. It made me think of all the times when I was a kid and a hurricane was headed straight for us.
I can still remember when Hurricane Bella marched into town back in the late 1970s. I heard my mother talking with her mother on the phone, and in between the Spanish and English mix, I could tell that it was going to be a bad storm.
“Si Mama, necesita aqua y spaghettios.”
Of course! Who doesn’t need water and spaghettios in a crisis? I learned so much from my mother. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Twins, she always knew the rules to follow in a crisis situation.
When Mom got off the phone, I turned to her for reassurance. “Are we going to be okay?”
“Sure,” she said. “No reason to get too upset. Whatever happens, we’ll be okay. But it never hurts to be prepared.”
So, while my mother ran into Flushing to get her mother water and canned goods, I swung into action in my bedroom.
I packed all of my essentials: my copy of Little Women, a pen, some paper, my toothbrush and a hairbrush. My Barbie Travel Case was filled to bursting with all of the Malibu Barbies (minus Francine, who went missing), Busy Hands Barbie, Sweet Sixteen Barbie, and Little Poppy, the girlfriend of Mr. Pop and Fresh Dough. If I had to leave town in a hurry, they were coming too. Francine and Mr. Pop and Fresh Dough would just have to find us, if and when they ever showed up.
Then, I got to work putting all of my big dolls into size order. From life-sized Suzie to Rosa the Spanish Doll, Malachi the African princess, Paula the doll with green glass eyes, Shirley Temple, Drowsy and baby doll Tommy, all 20 of my dolls were poised and ready to be evacuated if the tree in the back should come down and we had to run for our lives.
Of course, if the tree in the backyard came down, all 20 dolls (not to mention their owner and entire family) would be crushed and unable to escape anywhere, but I didn’t consider that. I tend to overlook important details sometimes.
Next, I checked our cupboards. Yes, we had tuna, spaghettios, canned beans, creamed corn, crushed tomatoes and some Alba 77 packets. We had all the fixings for one nasty meal and a horrible milk-free milk shake, but at least we had something. Since we only had an electric stove we wouldn’t be able to cook too many meals, but the hibachi in the yard would do since we just bought charcoal.
After dinner, I helped my mom fill a few pots with water and then we all sat down in the living room and watched TV.
“What do we do now?” I said to my mother.
“We go to bed. Maybe the storm will be gone when we wake up.”
The storm raged through most of the night and part of the next morning, but then the sun came out. My dolls and I were not crushed by the giant tree in the yard, we were not forced to eat a spaghettios-beans-creamed corn and crushed tomatoes stew, and we were able to drain the pots of water and put the pots away.
“Wow,” I said. “Nothing happened.”
“Yes,” my mother replied. “And that’s the best part of all.”
A lot of years have passed since Hurricane Bella blew in. Now that I’m facing Hurricane Sandy, I have to say, I hope I can complain that ‘nothing happened.”
That would really be the best part of all.
Empty The Fridge Grilled Chicken and Pasta
We’ve been trying to eat everything in our fridge for the past couple of days so that we don’t end up throwing out tons of food like we did when we lost power last year. If you’ve got some boxed pasta salad or tricolored pasta in the pantry along with some grilled chicken and any vegetables you like, you can make this tasty treat.
5 chicken cutlets, seasoned with salt & pepper
Tri-colored pasta or boxed pasta salad
Red & Green peppers, diced
Broccoli, mushrooms, asparagus
Your favorite vegetables
Your favorite salad dressing (we like ranch or Italian)
Grill chicken cutlets; cut into strips. Boil pasta according to package directions; drain. Place in large bowl and add broccoli, mushrooms, or your favorite vegetables. Drizzle with salad dressing and toss with Parmesan cheese. Serves 4. Enjoy!
So, Hungry Lifers…do you have a hurricane or disaster story you want to share? What’s your favorite “clear the fridge” recipe? Please leave a comment and let us all know. I promise to respond if I still have power! Thanks, and stay safe.