Where's my beer and when's the power going out?

Hollow Road
 Photos from the storm in March 2010. It was hard to get out of the Sourlands.

I am doing what I imagine many other residents of New Jersey are doing - wasting time until the power goes out. With all the warnings, I feel like I have been waiting for days.

On Saturday, we were at my in-laws' house joking about the lines and empty shelves at McCaffery's. After a couple minutes my mother-in-law started shifting food around in the freezer and noting what she might bring to the cube freezer in the basement. My step-father-in-law said he would adjust the temperature lower. No one can resist the urge to batten down the hatches. It is contagious.

On Sunday, Jared headed for work, and I knew after a terrible night's sleep, Beren and I needed to get out of the house. I weighed a hike against shopping, and chose shopping.

We were not successful in finding toddler shoes and rain boots at the Flemington outlets and Kohl's. I bought four pairs of Marc Anthony socks for my husband, on sale, buy 1 get one half off. I postponed buying clothes for Beren - birthday, Hanukah, and Christmas are looming in December.

Shoe shopping was fitful - numerous stops at the coin operated rides including Lowly Worm in his apple car, a school bus, a red race car, Jurrasc (sic) safari, and a Kermit mobile. Beren requested that I join him in each one. I fit in about half to the amusement of several male adults who passed us at intervals.

No stores had acceptable, sturdy women's rain boots. "I work outside, I'd tear those apart in a day," I told the clerk at Bass.

In Stride Rite, three sales clerks asked if we needed help. The last one found me trying to wrestle lame khaki sneakers with Velcro straps onto my feisty son. "So you can hear us up front, huh?" I asked the clerk. No reply. The clerk drifted away.

"Do you like these?" I asked Beren. He vigorously nodded no. I had to agree.

An unattended toddler ran by with Clifford slippers on. Beren hugged him three times.

The mother came by as I said, "Oh, you have nice red shoes on! Just like Beren." I wrestled to get his other red Converse sneaker back on.

The mother was friendly. "They're slippers," she said. Beren protested as I continued to work his sneaker.

The mother warbled, "Oh your mother has nice shoes on. Are you getting your shoes on?"

I looked down at my several year old hiking shoes, with cracking leather and a slash across one of the toes. The fittings at the end of the laces are long gone. The soles are worn.

It must be the impending weather.

I came home to two messages - my mother, "Do you know about this storm? You can come here."and my father-in-law, "Just checking to see what your are going to do in this storm and say hello."

I took Beren outside, he began hiccoughing, which signals my suspicion was incorrect. I am not a terrible mother, but instead my son was going through another growth spurt. Hence, we had a week-long houseful of a cranky toddler, a weary, annoyed, and depressed mother, and a weary and bewildered father.

I made a few calls on my cellphone as Beren clambered on stumps and a 2x4 balance beam we set up. "Mom, we're all set. Water? Yes. Food? Yes. Might barbecue with the neighbor. Call if you need anything." "Jared, your Dad called. Give him a buzz during a lull at work." "Hey, Adam (my brother)...do you have to evacuate?"

Adam and his girlfriend live about a mile and a half from the beach. "No, we can stay. You know, we were making fun of people at the market. There was this one lady who bought two cases of water and all these gallon jugs, too. Then we went home and looking the fridge. Beer and a moldy banana. We thought maybe we should go get some food. We'll go after I hang up with you."

We chatted for awhile. Beren climbed up into my lap, nursed and dozed off. "I was going to go to Mom and Dad's but then my girlfriend's training in Virginia was cancelled. Hey, you know, Rachel, I'm looking at this weather on the TV, and I think we better go get some food now. I'll see you later."

I plopped Beren on the floor and bustled around the house. I gathered kindling, removed the greenhouse skylight, did a couple loads of laundry, draw ten gallons of water, thanked my landlord for cleaning the gutters, brought the umbrella in from the car, did the dishes, made my first chuck roast. Later, I baked a pumpkin pie and cream biscuits, drew more water, and did more dishes.

It's contagious.

 Dutchtown Zion Road

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