Of Blue Snow, Kerosene Cooking, and Doctors That Pass Gas

Well, hello there. And Happy New Year! I do hope it’s been a good one so far for you. All I can say is that I hope the rest of 2010 isn’t anything like our first day of it. Which we spent mostly in a hospital after a night of no sleep, making lame jokes to cover our anxiety. We sure didn’t figure on spending New Year’s Day in a curtained room waiting for Benjamin to have surgery. Nope. But…I’m getting ahead of myself.

Really, it would take me several pages to tell you about our “holiday” and who has time for that? So I’ll do it sort of Good News/Bad News/Twitter-like style since I’m working on making my writing more concise and because…well…I really don’t like rehashing bad times.

The Good News is: We had a white Christmas.

The Bad News is: It was only white because we had stale, dirty, left-over snow from an eighteen-inch snow the week before, and it was so horribly cold that it wouldn’t melt.

The Good News is: Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man and Benjamin finally got home safely the day after the Big Snow after spending the night in Benjamin’s dorm room because the roads were too bad to travel. What a beautiful sight it was seeing Benjamin trudging up through the snow from the bottom of our driveway carrying his guitar!

The Bad News is: It was a cold, cold house that greeted them because our electricity had gone out the day before. A smelly house, too, because we had no water for flushes.

The Good News is: Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man had found a kerosene heater earlier in the dumpster and he dragged it out, fixed it, and cleaned it up. We had heat!

The Bad News is: The stores in Weaverville were charging ten dollars a gallon for kerosene. And, believe it or not, there was a long line of cold and desperate people waiting to pay it.

The Good News is: We had plenty to eat because (who knew??) you can cook quite well on top of a kerosene heater. It takes a while, but the slow baking gives things a delightful crispiness.

The Bad News is: We ate a lot (1) because we were trying (futilely) to feel warm and (2) to get all that expensive Christmas food eaten before it went bad because after the third day of no power, we were beginning to suspect that it was going to be a while before it came back on and we were beginning to realize that we’d better eat it before it grew some kind of deadly culture that would kill us before the cold or the toxic kerosene fumes did. We did finally bury some of our food in the giant snow drifts on our back patio, but we were a bit late putting it out because we were in denial and we kept thinking that they’d get that power on any time now.

The Good News is: I’d given Tom an LED headlamp as an early Christmas present a couple of days before, and it was incredibly bright. So we were all able to use his headlamp to read by. And speaking of light, the night of the snowstorm when we were huddled together trying to stay warm, Ariel and I repeatedly saw blue lightning illuminate the sky and snow, looking surreal and lovely and other-worldly and making us feel quite happy despite our dilemma.

The Bad News is: Days Three, Four, and Five of the Great Power Failure of Aught Nine were not nearly as fun as the first two. The novelties of Kerosene Cooking , Snowdrift Food Preservation, and reading by the light of the LED get old quickly.

The Good News is: The power came back on for Christmas Eve! Great jubilance and euphoria ensued! We were too tired to put up a tree or any other decorations, but Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man and Benjamin did fetch my beloved Nativity crèche from the garage and I played Handel’s Messiah while we tenderly put Mary, Joseph, the Shepherd, the Wise Men, and the baby Jesus in their places.

The Bad News is: We were all wiped out from being so long in survival mode and trying to cook and wash and clean that we pretty much just ate the Christmas dinner I cooked and then fell into bed. Also, I was unable to use my computer because my monitor inexplicably died when the power did. We were still reveling, however, in being able to sleep unfettered by five layers of coat, sweater, and blanket.

The Good News is: We had five more days of relative comfort before the next Big Crisis took place. I was busy catching up on my Christmas baking and getting ready for a four-day visit from Cameron, Ariel’s boy friend. I was looking forward to meeting him because Ariel is crazy about him and he’s crazy about her and I was pretty sure I’d like him a lot.

The Bad News is: We had to postpone Cameron’s visit because Benjamin became ill with awful stomach pains on New Year’s Eve Day. I was sick with worry, thinking that I’d poisoned him with my Kerosene Cooking.

The Good News is:  It wasn’t my Kerosene Cooking.

The Bad News is: It was appendicitis. And surgery was imminent. Which was how we ended up in a curtained room in the hospital on New Year’s Day.

The Good News is: The appendix came out with ease, unburst. And Benjamin is getting better by the day. Special thanks to his anesthesiologist, who called himself Bob the Gas Passer and not only answered every question we had, but made us laugh at a time when we badly needed to laugh. Thanks, Dr. Bob.

The Bad News is: I am struggling to regain my usual optimism and my ability to see silver linings. All of this together knocked me for a loop.

The Good News is: Although we’ve had to restrain ourselves a bit so Benjamin won’t bust loose his stitches, we are all still laughing. And we are still hopeful that the rest of 2010 will be much better than the first of it. We are grateful for that hope. And grateful for blue lightning and toilets that flush and water straight from the tap and Christmas cookies and bright lights shining in the darkness. And, yes, we are grateful for the ethereal beauty of the snow and how it renders the ugly beautiful. Praise be.

The Blue Ridge Blue Collar Family joins me in wishing you a year of joy, hope, blessings, and peace. God bless us everyone.

25 Responses to “Of Blue Snow, Kerosene Cooking, and Doctors That Pass Gas”

  1. Connie Says:

    I vow to never complain again. There’s a saying, “God will not give us more then we can bear.” He sure has a lot of faith in you. What spirit you have. The rest of 2010 has to be better.

    My best to Benjamin and the rest of your family.

  2. Pat Says:

    Holy moly…what a time you had! Y’all got way more snow than we did in Sylva.

    Spell check suggested I replace “moly” with “moldy” which hopefully your snowdrift food preservation prevented.

    Loved the pictures especially the LED reading time. Here’s hoping that was a once in a lifetime experience.

  3. Sweetflutterbys3 Says:

    Good News: I think your ability to see the silver lining in things has never gone away. Though I am so sorry you all went through such a time of it, your ability to see the humor in it and write about it in such a fun way leaves me with little doubt that everything is going to be just fine!!

    A big Get Well to Benjamin! And Happy New Year!

  4. Clara Melvin Says:

    Holy Cow! What a start to a brand new year. I would have had to laugh to keep from crying. I wish better things for you for the rest of the year. I’m glad Benjamin is feeling better. Sending my love and good wishes from snowy Tennessee!

  5. Bonnie Jacobs Says:

    We have reached two degrees above freezing here in Chattanooga, with no snow, and our weather alert expired 25 minutes ago. The sun is actually shining, and my cat found a way to sleep with her eyes sqinched shut so her nose could be in a puddle of sunlight. Best wishes for quick healing for Benjamin — and for a happier new year for all of you!

  6. wesleyjeanne Says:

    I’ve sent my good wishes to you and Benjamin privately but I will say them again to the whole family.

    I agree with sweetflutterbys3 that your ability to see silver linings has not really gone. Otherwise you would not have been able to tell your story in such lovely words and you would not have been able to see/take such absolutely beautiful photos.

    I do hope the rest of 2010 is easier on you, though.

    Hugs to you, my friend.

  7. wesleyjeanne Says:

    By the way, I especially like the photo of Benjamin with his guitar case…and the one of the family reading by headlamp (is Ariel reading Cold Mountain there?).

  8. eemilla Says:

    Happy New Year! It sounds like you got all of the trouble out of the way early. I hope Benjamin’s recovery speeds along so that he might enjoy some of his time away from school without worrying about stitches. I’d throw in some money for a generator fund as long as you promise to keep posting!

  9. Jeff Says:

    Such pretty pictures – ones to hang onto for a long time. It’s been more than a few years since your area has seen this much snow, I’m sure! I hope Ben doesn’t miss too much school while recovering from the surgery. I’m glad you’re back and hope you go after those price-gouging kerosene dealers! There is nothing worse than those who take advantage of desperate people. It happens quite frequently after hurricanes down here.

  10. Martha Says:

    Oh Beth, I’m so sorry for the way the old year ended and the new one began. But even through all that, you and your lovely family manage to find something positive in there. I love your photos, especially of the one with Benjamin and his guitar and the shot with the LED headlamp. They’re both so…um…full of emotion? Can’t quite find the right word to describe the feeling they give me.

    Anyhow, I wish your son a speedy recovery, and a wonderful year ahead for all of you. May 2010 grant you all that your heart desires!

  11. june Says:

    Wow…this one will go down in history and family lore! Great pics all Beth…and a happy, healthy new year to you!

  12. Betsy from Tennessee Says:

    Beth, you have such a gift for writing and expressing yourself. I’m sorry for all that your family has gone through the past month—but sometimes, things like this can make families stronger!!!!

    I’m just glad that hubby and Benjamin got home –and didn’t get stranded somewhere else. Glad you made the best with a horrible situation. Hope 2010 is MUCH better to all of you.

    When does Ben go back to school? Did you ever get to meet Ariel’s boyfriend?????

    Love and LOTS of HUGS,

  13. Jayne Says:

    God love you, sweet girl. I don’t think I could have been nearly as optimistic after days of that. I had to LOL at… “I was sick with worry, thinking that I’d poisoned him with my Kerosene Cooking. The Good News is: It wasn’t my Kerosene Cooking.”

    Like others have said, the old saying of “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” seems to fit. So glad everything has settled down. Wishing you and yours nothing but joy, wonder, and blue skies in the coming year. :c) Hugs aplenty to you.

  14. Sharon Says:

    When I read your title, I fell over myself getting to the text as quickly as possible, even though I already pretty much knew the news! The best news is probably that the appendix didn’t rupture, and Benjamin is on the mend. But at least the bad news makes us appreciate the good news (The power is on! We can flush! We’re not in the hospital!) even more. Thing is, we want to go around kinda looking upward and whispering “I’m appreciating it! I’m appreciating it! Really!” Love you, Her Bethness.

  15. southernlady64 Says:

    Beth! The pioneer people have nothing over on you and your family! I could not believe all the things that have happened to you in such a short time but am so glad it is over and Benjamin is doing so well. I have always said these kind of things make us stronger in the long run. I remember when we went without water for six weeks one time when my girls were little. My husband would break the ice in the creek and sit a bucket of water beside the back door for a flush! I look back at those times now and remember how close we were. It seemed the hard times brought our little family closer. I know it made you all closer, too. It is good to see you back. It won’t be long until you will be posting pictures of your beloved mountains in the spring and your flowers. It is snowing here today and zero temperatures forcast for the weekend but I won’t say another word. You have made me realize it can always be worse.
    I am so glad things are better for you and your family and hope you have a wonderful New Year. Love and hugs, Judy

  16. Benjamin Says:

    Thanks, everybody for wishing me well!

    Haha, it wasn’t your kerosene cooking–even if that’s what I thought at first (just kidding!). Thanks for ending on the Good News and sending praise where it should always go…to God in Heaven above!!!

  17. CountryDew Says:

    Goodness, what a trial! I am so glad it all turned out OK in the end. I hope Ben gets better quickly.

    After we went through a long spell without power some years ago, we tightened our belts and bought a small generator. I think every country home needs a little one, if only to power the refrigerator and well pump from time to time. I hope you can find a way to prepare for such an outage in the future. Best of luck to you.

  18. Ariel Says:

    As crazy as things were when I was home, I loved, as always, just being with y’all. When we lack in everything else, we never lack in joy. I miss you already and can’t wait to see y’all at spring break.

  19. Ginger Says:

    Whew. At least it appears you have taken care of all the drama necessary for 2010! Let’s hope for running water, lights and a working stove (not to mention health, heat and all the other basics) for the rest of the year.

    Thanks for reminding each of us, in your characteristically wonderful way, that troubles can be conquered when families work together. And that laughter is sometimes the ONLY medicine. BTW, I thank God for getting Benjamin to the hospital in time…

    PS I can almost taste the kerosene!

  20. colleen Says:

    Wow. What a rollercoaster! I’m glad it’s over and everyone is safe and well now. The pictures are beautiful and sort of making a statement about what endures.

  21. Debi Kelly Van Cleave Says:

    Even through all of that, it looked like such a loving, wonderful family spending a special time together. Someday you will tell this story and you all will laugh–“Remember when Ariel’s new boyfriend couldn’t come for the holidays because first we lost our electric and then we thought Benjamin got food poisoning from the kerosene heater?…” Maybe this new boyfriend will be the father of a child and the child will be clamoring, “Tell me more Nana! Tell me more!” Who knows? Miracles happen all the time.

  22. Shannon Says:

    What a roller coaster of an expereince, and a doozy of a post! I hope everybody is better, and Ben is doing well.

    And when you’re up your up
    And when you’re down you’re down
    And when you’re only halfway up
    You’re neither up nor down.

    That little ditty kept coming to mind because your post is up, up, down, down, up, up,

  23. A Sweet and Healing Balm « Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl Says:

    […] know I should have written this back before Christmas, but, as you know, we were a little overwhelmed at the time. So forgive me, but since I’m too shy to write a fan letter, this will have to do—my […]

  24. clairz Says:

    May you always find the good news!

  25. A Blog Post, Post-Blog « Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl Says:

    […] should have known what 2010 would be like when it started off (on New Year’s Day!) with Benjamin having an emergency appendectomy.  But, being my usual optimistic self, I thought, “Hey…maybe we’re getting our bad luck […]

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