Not deferential enough: Catching a break?

Posted Saturday, February 14, 2015 in Opinion

Not deferential enough: Catching a break?

by Gina Hamilton

Down at Turning Tide Cottage, it was perhaps 12 degrees below zero last night when there was an electrical fire in the basement, in a cable that carried the 220 lines, including the dryer and maybe the hot water heater.

For those who don't know, the ducks are living down there too, and Ollie is brooding a nest of eggs, though I can't imagine they'll hatch in this horrendous weather. I'd bring her and Stan and the younguns into the house if Chris wasn't likely to pitch a blue fit and if Ollie would permit me to gently carry the eggs, but he would and she won't and so with luck, the eggs won't hatch and we won't have to deal with freezing babies.

My son and heir, who a scant year ago, would have melted down at the very thought of an electric fire, calmly informed me of the situation and I went down to see what, if anything, could be done. I covered the melted bit of cable with some electrical tape and checked to see if it would hold current. It didn't, so we turned off the main breakers and went upstairs. I phoned the insurance company -- no idea whether it will be covered or not -- and then called Chris.

There's probably nothing less wonderful than getting news like "We had an electrical fire and we don't have power or any heat other than the wood stove" when you still have to be at work for the next few hours, but I told him what I'd done and that the woman who took my claim at the insurance company suggested I call the fire department.

"Well, call the fire department," Chris said succinctly. He's said that before, when we had a fire in the pellet stove exhaust. I'd already evacuated all the animals to the car on what was probably among the coldest nights of the year before I called them that time.

"OK, I'll call the fire department," I said.

I called the fire department, and Captain Hudson came out and isolated the problem as being in the 220 lines, and he shut those off and restarted the power to the rest of the house, and to the animal enclosures, where they needed the warming lights just to survive the night, bless 'im.

He gently pointed out we have a water problem, too.

I knew that. The water problem began by pipes freezing and cracking. It's been a tough winter in Maine and we'd better damn well have a summer to beat the band, or I'm moving to Belize. Really.

Our son and heir responded calmly to the loss of dryer, which is new. "I guess I'll wash these clothes again later," he said.

"No," I said, "That's why we have a wooden clothes dryer. Let's put them here and the wood stove will not only dry them, but the moisture will go into the air." They're not completely dry today, but they're a lot drier than they would have been if they'd been left to freeze in the washer.

The bigger problem, if we can't solve it today now that we can go back into the basement as something other than an icicle, will be to see if we can't get the hot water started again. If the hot water is in the same line, we're screwed for now. If it isn't, we can try to restart the hot water while leaving the dryer alone until an electrician can come.

Which may be weeks, since there is a blizzard in our forecast tomorrow.Today, in addition to solving the hot water issue and putting down a lot of food for the outdoor livestock,

The claims adjustor is supposed to contact me on Tuesday at the latest. But it's been that sort of winter and I know there will be some kind of delay, because there are going to be a million claims following the blizzard that can't wait. A dryer line fire might be considered the type of thing that can wait.

Maybe we'll get lucky and a tree will fall on our house and they'll have to come out.

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