The Porches Days 3-5

Days 3-5

Day 3 was quiet. We had decided that we wouldn’t workshop. I rose early and prepared Shepherd’s Pie for RB, well for everyone, but it was RB’s last day and she really wanted to share that. So, I roasted meat, potatoes were boiled. Meat chopped and a happy, relieved Sunday dinner served about noon. And well, it was Shepherd’s Pie, so then everyone napped. It was an uneventful day, with little writing. RB headed to West Virginia, home, where she knew there was no power.


The silence woke me up on day 4; my air conditioner had stopped sometime over night, it was about 6 a.m.. The Porches was without power, again. I moaned and rolled over, but just for a minute. No power meant the return to nineteenth century chores, without coffee.

I thanked the Universe for my idiosyncratic habit of carrying baby-wipes. I always have them on hand. There’s nothing they can’t do. I washed my face with one and went in search of bottled water to brush my teeth.

B. was already up. She’d placed post-it notes to remind us not to run water or flush. She’d drawn the shades and lowered the blinds on the idyllic porches to preserve the coolness of the predawn air. Buckets of water (toted from the neighbors hand pumpable well) had been placed in strategic places, next to toilets.

One by one my housemates straggled into the refectory looking dejected. Should we stay? Go? It had become a recurring theme to the visit. Millions were without power—and the house really stayed cool, what purpose would leaving serve? B., R, and I had a brief conversation about how most of the writers in history had functioned under these sorts of circumstances. Mark Twain, Shakespeare, Jane Austen. It would be an easier process mentally—emotionally—if we worked with the assumption that we would have no power and moved forward from there. It would be less disruptive.

In two vehicles, C., P., and I would venture to Lovingston for coffee and news. C. would call the power company, again.

The McDonald’s in Lovingston had a long line of disheveled, unshowered, weary patrons all looking for hot coffee, and something that at least resembled food. One woman was sobbing, “I just don’t know how we’re gonna get by,” she said. “I don’t know how to make sense of it.”

Several people had laptops open on their tables, but there were no outlets, no sources of power. Isn’t there like a code, or something? And there was no internet available.

Because I am that nerd, my iPad has its own internet, and my cell phone acts as a hotspot, so I was fine to do some email, mostly work stuff, and briefly check the news and Facebook. Millions still without power. Millions who had had no power since the storm hit Friday night, three days ago. Three days in triple digit heat.

I felt grateful and I drank my coffee quietly. And power was restored before we returned home. We did two ten minute group-writing exercises in the afternoon. P. made amazing shrimp Creole for dinner. We made a pot of coffee, put it into a pitcher, and into the refrigerator. Even if the power went out again, we would have a morning dose of caffeine. Wearied by the continued stress of nineteenth century living, we all retired early. But not before I took pictures of the moon:


Yesterday, day 5, I opened one eye cautiously checking for power lights on my laptop and cell phone. Electricity is a luxury; one you don’t expect to be without on vacation.

Based on the stress of the previous workshop, I was anxious about workshopping. The group had settled into a comfortable camaraderie, or at least in my presence made that pretense. I was ambivalent about a situation that forced opinions on to the table. I spent the morning distracted, unable to write. I walked the grounds and took some pictures. C. left shortly after lunch.

Workshop was good, productive. No stressful moments. We sat on the upper porch and watched another storm roll through. I cooked dinner: baked chicken breasts, baked potatoes, and sautéed asparagus, mushrooms, scallions, in olive oil and garlic. We polished off the last bottle of RB’s amazing Moscato wine, did dishes, and settled in to watch a movie: Julie and Julia. There was a too brief discussion about blogging and platform.

Now it’s the Fourth of July. We’ll write, cook ribs on the grill, and take R. to Charlottesville. K. arrives this afternoon.

I hope to revise an essay to send out, revise another essay, or two, and write a new essay.


3 thoughts on “The Porches Days 3-5

  1. I swear Mel, I want to make one of these retreats just for the food….Shepherd’s Pie, Shrimp Creole, baked chicken breasts, baked potatoes, sautéed asparagus, mushrooms, scallions, in olive oil and garlic….You should open a restaurant. Sounds like your coping mechanisims are in working order as long as there is coffee…:) I wish all of you writers a Happy and productive 4th.

  2. Pingback: Derecho | streetlight magazine

Comments are closed.