After The Storm!

Labor Day found heavy rain and thunder and lightning in our area. I know by reading the newspaper that other areas got a more severe storm than we had. Nevertheless, Hickory Heights was not spared a strike by lightning and the aftermath that it caused. Last week was filled with repairmen and phone calls. You know how the saying says “the calm after the storm” well there was nothing calm about it.

The children were here for a gathering on Labor Day- after the storm – so I had the boys check the electric supply and other major appliances that could have been struck. The lights were blinking like crazy so I made a call to the electric company early the next morning.

I also called the insurance company and the phone company. Now, everything went well until I went to contact the phone company. The first thing they suggested was contacting them via the Internet. If you are calling because you cannot access the Internet you have a problem.

I spent upwards of an hour on the phone getting shifted from pillar to post within the phone company before I had a live body that could actually help me. Let me back up here and say that I had no phone line at all, first, but that was remedied speedily.

I told one person I called that I was actually talking from outdoors. There was a dial tone at the box outside for a while.

Back to my experience with the “service friendly” phone company. The automated system is a joke. No matter what you say or punch in the voice says, “I did not understand that” and repeated the original message. Finally, a voice said are you speaking from a rotary phone and I said “yes.” A person came on the line to help except that they routed my computer problem to a Fios representative. I never indicated that I had Fios service since we cannot get it out here.

The technicians I worked with were fine, but I told one of them that the whole service system stinks. The last lady offered to call me back when she could not reach her supervisor for an answer. I hung up and went about my business.

Part of my frustration was with the old phones that I was using. The wireless model and the answering system went down when the bolt of lightning struck something very nearby. I was thankful for the old phones that do not require electricity. I kept the last one that I had purchased just so I would be able to test my line outdoors at the box before I call for service.

I also have a cellphone so that worked as well – but the whole business of service to those in this area is sketchy. Even after the Bucky incident when they upped coverage I sometimes I have to go outdoors or stand near a window to be able to use my cell phone. There is not a chance that I ever will become dependent on my cellphone because I never know if I have service.

The next day a new router for the Internet arrived along with directions for installation. The girl who promised to call did make the call but she was off duty in less than five minutes so I postponed her help with installation until the next morning. That evening my son-in-law and I got the thing installed on our own. I read the lengthy numbers and he typed them in. It was not as bad as it first appeared. We did not need half of the information that they provided.

The service from the electric company went much better. The service team determined that the transformer had been struck. They changed the transformer as well as the box on the house. I told them I had already taken the electric reading and sent it in. They said that would be fine.

I had a lot of questions for the service team. I want to know how things work so they took the time to explain he equipment. I think I am prepared if I ever have another service call.

It was four days before everything was back to normal. Luckily I did not have to go anywhere that first day. I think everything is up and running, but yesterday at church someone asked if I had run my furnace. I had not. That remains to be tested.

While I spent the day at home waiting for service and phone calls I worked on those peaches that I mentioned last week. I had to dig out the cookbook that I just use for canning and freezing since it had been years since I had done that. I found a neat hint that I had never read before. The directions told me to crumple up a piece of waxed paper to put on top of the peaches to keep them all down in the syrup. I tried it so only time will tell.

The other thing I read about was watermelon pickles. I used a whole watermelon over the weekend so it was time to make watermelon pickles. That recipe is in my first cookbook so I did not have far to look. I ended up with about five pints of pickles. I let each of the children take a jar home and kept the rest for when we eat at Hickory Heights.

My service experience was tough enough. I pity those poor people who lose everything in one of those storms. Although I cope with loss of the amenities quite well an extended time would certainly work on one’s patience.

I am truly thankful that I had no more damage than I did. No one was hurt and the few things that needed to be replaced were nothing major. I am still thankful that I live in the country.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa. Contact at