Saturday, June 8, 2013


Hey y’all!  Welcome back to Flowers on the Fence Country.  Been a while since I’ve invited y’all over, busy press of day-to-day life and all that.  And besides, nothing much has happened lately I thought might hold your interest enough to sit in my cyberspace country kitchen and chat with me awhile over coffee.

          But this is the country, I’m a country girl living a country life, and there’s no way life’s goin’ to run smoothly for any extended period of time.  We were due for some country drama, haven’t had any since putting in the new hot water heater put too much pressure on the old pipe connections and rendered me without hot water for a night. Okay, two nights.  Because obviously nobody puts in a new hot water heater unless the old one’s dead, right? But hey, no problem.  I’m an ol’ pro.  Heat some water on the stove, run some cold water in the bathtub, pour in the heated water, instant bath.  Okay, you’re not goin’ to soak in luxurious bubbles or sigh under a stream of steaming shower water but it gets you clean.  Anybody can do without hot water for one night.  Who knew the next night while fixing the problem of no hot water, another pipe connection would break and we’d have to shut off power to the well and thus have no water at all?  A fun three days, but just a minor inconvenience in the course of country living. 

Now our household’s always been non-conventional in lots of respects.  One of our non-conventional features is that hubby, being already retired while I still brave the interstate into the big city every week day, is Grandadddy Day Care.  Resident Caretaker and School Transport in Charge of our two young grandchildren for our daughter and son-in-law. Their jobs have some non-conventional hours sometimes. Certainly not the hours that fit commercial day care’s time schedule. (My daughter says she knows how lucky she is to have him, and I know she thinks she does, but never having not had “in-home on-demand” day care and thus no basis of comparison, I don’t think she truly does.)  Austin’s two months shy of  7 and Kinsley’s just hit six months.

And then came last Friday night. One last downpour with winds and thunder and lightning from the Tropical Storm that moved from the Gulf up the east coast this week.  It was around 7:00 p.m.   Austin and I lounged on my bed in front of my bedroom tv/DVD watching “The Bee Movie” while he ate his supper, seein’ as how  Kinsley was asleep on her blanket on the floor in the living room. Kinsley, according to Granddaddy, been a bit of a prima donna that day and a little hard to please.  In other words, “Do. Not. Wake. Her. Up.” 

Suddenly the lights went out and the television screen went blank. Well, that happens when it rains sometimes.  Power goes out.  In the country or the city.  Usually it doesn’t stay out for very long.  “Grandmama! What’s happened?!” It’s disastrous for the modern American adult when power goes out.  For an almost seven year old, it’s catastrophic. No DVD player, no lights, no computer?! “It won’t be out long, baby. We’re fine.”

So Grandmama and Austin grabbed my “Book” (Austinese for Nook) and retired to the back porch for more light. And more cool.  It’s amazing how quickly a house gets hot when the power goes out.  Even with all windows open.  Especially on a humid Georgia twilight. A six-month-old, on the other hand, doesn’t really care about power per se one way or the other.  What she cares about is – it’s hot!! This is unacceptable and any baby lets you know it. Kinsley is no exception.

After about thirty, forty-five minutes, hubby decides to check out the rest of our fair little crossroads town to see if power’s out all over, or whether we’re the only poor souls so affected.  Which can happen easily because as  I’ve explained before and explain again for any newcomer—we live in the woods.  As in the middle of.  Our house is smack dab in the middle of fifty acres of woods, and our driveway is a half to three-quarter-mile long downward slope of curves. 

It’s rained a lot lately here in middle Georgia. Like I said, that tropical storm in the Gulf.  Saturated ground means tree roots loosen up.  Saturated pine needles mean the trees are top heavy.  One final late evening downpour with wind and thunder and lightning?  Well, that frequently means a tree will just yell, “Enough! I surrender!” And crash over a power line. And when a tree falls on the driveway it sorta has to be moved before anybody’s going anyplace.

This time?  Yep. You know it. There’s a tree down at the top of the driveway.  Sure we can move it.  It’s happened before.  A little elbow grease never hurt anybody.  But a live power wire? Well, that’s a little different. And this tree was rude enough to take the power line with it and then lay on top of it. Except for the parts of the power line draped across the metal farm gate fence at the top of the drive. The one we almost never close, but the one that’s there, nonetheless.  The one that’s metal.  Live power wires and metal are not a good combination. 
Austin, already disrupted by the power outrage, is now in panic mode.

“Grandmama, my heart’s scared! I’m never goin’ home!!”
“Baby, you’re fine. Granddaddy’s calling the power company and they have to come shut off the power before we can get the tree out of the way. They’ll be here as soon as they can.”




“I hope so, but you’re fine. What’s the matter, you’ve never spent the night with Grandmama and Granddaddy before?”

All this to the background of loud protest from Kinsley, who is edging towards getting hungry and is now obviously both hot and bothered. Too hot and bothered to eat, in fact. Certainly not inside, and certainly not in the heat of anybody’s arms.  Granddaddy strapped her in her bouncy seat and sat it on the front porch, leaning over to hold her bottle for her as she ate. (Forget Grandmama here. She won’t eat for me. Or burp for me.  Only thing I’m good for is changing diapers, as far as she’s concerned.) So I made myself useful by reporting the situation to the parents.

“I wanta talk to Mimi!” (Austinese for Mama.  To him, my daughter is Mimi. She’s not Mama or Mommy, she’s Mimi. Don’t know why, she just always has been.)


“Mimi, my love? (My daughter’s called Austin “my love” or “my heart” since birth.  Consequently, it’s a bit unnerving to hear their phone conversations sometimes.  You never expect to hear the phrase “my love” come out of a six year old’s mouth.) The power’s out and my heart’s scared!! And it’s getting’ scareder by the minute!!”

Reassuring hug from Grandmama. Soothing murmers from Mimi over the other end of the phone.

“So can you tell Daddy to get his friends and come move the tree and come and get me?!”

Okay, kid, twist the knife a little more.  This is the child that goes anywhere with us for any length of time without protest. With enthusiasm, in fact.  This is the kid that spent four days with us just last month when we drove to the Great Lakes Naval Base for our youngest son’s graduation from Naval Basic.  The kid who went through Chicago rush hour traffic on a Thursday afternoon as I cringed scared to death in the passenger seat shouting, “This is awesome! I love this city!”  The kid who charmed every stranger he met with “We came to see my Uncle Lee. We’re living in a hotel now.”  The kid who proclaimed said hotel “Awesome!” and wished we could live there “forever”.  The indoor pool might have had something to do with that.

More soothing mutters from Mimi.  At least Kinsley was happy.  Until those pesky mosquitos drove them off the front porch.  Granddaddy and Kinsley retired to the bedroom.  Not quietly. She was tired and it wasn’t as hot as it was but it’s wasn’t as cool as she’d like it to be.  Austin and I played the apps on my “Book” until he tired of them and then sat at the kitchen table with the flashlight building Lincoln Log houses.  Well, he did, anyway.  He’d gotten me hooked on one of those damned apps. And finally, blessed quiet from the bedroom.  Kinsley’s asleep.  This was interspersed with the occasional “Are you sure we’re gonna be all right?”  “Yes, baby.” “I’m never going home again!” “Yes, you are, baby, it’s fine.”

By this point you understand, I didn’t even care if the power came back on during the night. Just get the damn tree out of the way and the kids home and I’d be happy as a clam.  I could do without electricity for the night.  But Austin’s heart was “gettin’ scareder by the minute!” And what was I gonna do when the “Book” lost its battery charge, for heaven’s sake? Desperate, I texted Mimi and asked if the Sheriff’s Office could exert some influence with Georgia Power and move us up on the list of priorities.  (My son-in-law’s a K-9 Deputy Sheriff.) She sent back, “Okay, but what can the Sheriff do?  Georgia Power’s gotta handle the live wire!”  I sent back, “I know but maybe they can give us emergency status—deputy’s children stranded with mean uncaring grandparents and so scared their hearts hurt!” 

I don’t know if she actually complied with that request or not, but at 9:30 p.m., she called.

“We’re at the gate with Georgia Power.  They’ve been here about half an hour. The wire’s draped all over the gate. They’re hooking it up and pulling it back up in the air now. Shouldn’t be but another few minutes.”

“Mimi?  I wanta talk to Mimi!!”

I handed the phone over and sank back in relief.  “Mimi, they’re never coming!!  My heart’s really gettin’ scared! And it’s gettin’ scareder by the minute!”

“Baby, they’re here! It’ll just be a few minutes and we’ll be down to get you!  Got you a surprise!”

“Surprise?” Perked ears.  “What, what, what?”

“It’s at home. You’ll be home in just a little bit. They’re working.”


Loud noise from driveway.  Headlights!!  A giant Georgia Power truck came down the hill, maneuvered and backed up—and started back up the hill!  Noooooooooo!!!!!!!!!  Don’t leave meeeee…………

“Grandmama, they left, they left!! And the lights aren’t back on!!”

Then I realized, “They’re checking the rest of the lines on the driveway, stupid.” (NO, that was not directed at Austin, I was talking to myself.)

Five minutes later—surge of light. “Let there be light.”  Truly glorious words.  Whirr of overhead ceiling fans.  Yes, yes, yes.  Sound of incoming vehicle as  parents came to collect children.  Oh, glorious reunion! Or not. It seemed to have lost urgency with Austin.

“Grandmama! Now we can watch t.v.!”

Yes.  Priorities here, please.  It only took the sight of incoming headlights to send him flying out the door, though.  And so ended the night when I was Trapped!!  A prisoner of electricity in my own home.  Our children and grandchildren headed up the driveway.  Hubby flipped on the t.v.  Only three innings into the Braves game seein’ as how they were playing in L. A.

We settled onto the couch, twisted the top of two bottles of beer and pulled open a bag of pork rinds.  We’re country.  Gotta celebrate the same way.

And until drama unfolds again in Flowers on the Fence Country – take care and y’all come back now,  hear?


  1. ROTFL! Absolutely priceless. Ya'll settle down and have another cold one now, you've earned it. Jude

    1. So glad you enjoyed it! My life is just full of those things that aren't funny at the time but are just hilarious after you manage to live through 'em!

  2. Love your Flowers on the Fence, Gail. Can see everything as I read, you have a real flair for bringing everything into 3D.

    1. Lord love you darlin'! Yeah, it's funny now. Wasn't at the time. Can you say "desperate"?

  3. You're really going to have to put that in a book. Maybe the pepper jelly one. Loved it.

  4. I accidently popped in here read the title and thought...OH MY WHAT'S HAPPENED?!

    I read along, nodding my head, memories from my own country childhood flashing inside my newly lopped bean,(yep I lopped off about sour inches of my hair earlier tonight with my sewing scissors,) around and between your unfolding drama.

    I remember a glad this did not happen...when my parents went out to the nearby town...I think Dad needed more flexible coil for his weed whacker. (Dad mowed all of our two pristine acres with...not his John Deere Tractor with all its bells and whistles, but with the weed whacker...Dad liked taking his time.)

    Off they went to buy the coveted thread needed to lacertate the long, really long yard...and a storm hit. I didn't know a storm hit...I was in my own world...writing...when a word popped into my head that didn't look right flitting inside my I trudged downstairs to get an exra notepad...couldn't mar the one I was composing my teenage epic on, and I spelled out the word...OKAY now it looked right. With it accurately in my head I returned to my room and my ever growing saga leaving the notepad on the kitchen table.

    Lost in my world I didn't hear my parents come home until my dad bellowed and my mother charged up the steps screaming at the top of her lungs. "Where are you, Lin? What happened? Are you okay?"

    She catapulted into my room her eyes bugging, salivating like some kind of a dog right before you give it the hex sign and yell RABIES!

    In her hand she held scrap of scratch notepad...and she shook it at me demanding to know what I meant?

    Still confused about the panic I now saw on both my parents' faces...Dad had joined us...Mom looked rabid, Dad looked like a crazed banty rooster.(He was only 5'7")

    What had I written?

    NOTHING BAD...I just needed to know how to spell it and had to SEE it to be sure. It's not my fault my parents lost it...I mean it was just a word...OKAY...maybe in the wrong context it might be an UNSUAL word...How would you react?

    The word?


    Love Ya Darling and ADORE your story telling voice. you and Nonnie would have been Best Buds!

    1. Catastrophe -- Yes, truly a word parents love to hear! Love you too, darlin'!

    2. I probably would not have said least not to my Dad since I was merely trying to remember how to spell it. Might have asked Mom since she liked doing crossword puzzles and was disgustingly good at them...still I might not have bothered ASKING how to spell the word. Deep inside I knew how it needed to be spelled, but couldn't bring the spelling to the forefront of my brain in a way that made it look "right". To check out my gray matter's auto-spell I had to write it out.

      Now that I've been a parent for a bit I guess I CAN see why my parents blew their cool when they read my notepad. I guess getting lost in the world of teen angst I was busily creating didn't allow me to think beyond verifying the correct spelling of the word. You have to a pretty powerful way or another!

  5. That's supposed to say FOUR INCHES...maybe five...but no more.

  6. Austin is the grandson of a writer, all right.

    1. Can you believe that phrasing? From a six year old?

  7. A scared heart...that boy is going to be a writer for sure. And you've just got to use it for a book title.

    1. Stored away for future reference, for sure, that phrase! Sometimes the things that pop out of that mouth just knock me down!

  8. A great read, Gail. I enjoyed every minute of it. I think you should write an anthology with little clips like this. It would be a winner.

    1. Why thank you, darlin'! Actually, pretty much everything that happens in Flowers on the Fence Country ends up somewhere in one of my books sooner or later. This one's definitely filed away! Glad you enjoyed it!

  9. Gail! Great story! Glad to see you blogging again. You have a true story-teller's gift. I feel like I'm sitting around a campfire with you (um, except I don't camp), listening to you weave a tale.

    1. Stuart! Thank you, darlin'! (I have camped, but trust me -- I didn't like it.) Blogging sorta comes and goes with me. Got to have that story to tell first! And between you and me and the gatepost, I'd just as soon not tell have another one like this to tell anytime soon!

  10. Hilarious, thanks for a great story! :)

    1. Welcome to my world! More often than not, actually! Glad you enjoyed it!

  11. Awww, all of that is scary to a little kid, you know, ESPECIALLY if you live out in the boonies IN THE DARK DOWN A LONG DRIVEWAY...sure am glad he had a happy ending (which I knew he would anyway - though he doubted it, I do believe, LOL)

    Gail, I have to big are your skeeters? Ours look like escapees from Jurassic Park!!! (and they are gleefuly sadistic especially when their victims live IN THE BOONIES IN THE DARK DOWN A LONG DRIVEWAY...)

    1. Yeah, I know, it's scary to a little kid and between you and me, Granddaddy's been known to drop the "B" word every now and again at night too (you know, that B----man word) despite my repeated threats to inflict bodily harm. Our skeeters can carry off a DOG, honey! (Now there's a story idea. Even a title! "Boonies in the Dark Down a Long Driveway....)

  12. Came in late here, Gail, but darn that was an event worthy of going down in your family's oral history and beyond. Love your grandson's creative use of words. Glad things turned out fine, you had me on the edge there for a moment. I know how frustrating, annoying, crappy and etc., it can be when the power goes off. What is it with the east coast? It's not if the power goes out, it's "Oh, hell, it's happened again!"

    1. I'd like to say the family doesn't have that many nights that will live in infamy, but I'd be lying. But all of 'em make for those memories that weren't funny at all at the time but were hysterically funny afterwards! Thanks for coming by!

  13. How did I miss this? You are a great storyteller...making the usual life so entertaining!!Love Austin!