The Day of Hilary's Tower

It was difficult to say when the day began.

On Friday, the 12th of March, Loie and Bucky had a supper of shad and roe cooked in the bag, watching a video in the Playroom. The weather was blustery, but a jolly fire kept the Lovebunnies warm and dry. Bucky fell asleep on his floor pillows and Loie went upstairs to bed. Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, Bucky woke up from a troubled sleep, hearing a firece wind roaring around the house.

He found his way upstairs, and fumbled into bed. Loie turned over, and wrapped the comforter closer.

"Are you awake?" Bucky said quietly.

"Mmm," said Loie, "The wind is loud."

"It woke me up."

For the next few hours, Loie and Bucky tossed and turned as the light grew. Loie's alarm rang, and she punched the sleep button several times. The vent sauvage continued to toss the trees and roll and rattle the plastic garbage cans. Loie had her morning shower, and Bucky pulled covers around his face as she sat in bed drinking her coffee and writing in her diary. Grey light struggled through the windows.

Bucky got up to see Loie off to her Dad's house for the weekly visit.

"I'll get flowers and fruit," Loie said through Rocket Grrl's window as Bucky stood beside the car while the wind blew and a spit of rain blew from the east, up the inner slope of the lane.

"OK, good," said Bucky. "I've got everything else."

The Lovebunnies were getting ready to have their friends the Hauers over to dinner. They were going to make plans for their upcoming trip to New Orleans over a Creole dinner. Loie and Bucky had spent some time with several of their New Orleans cookbooks planning a Bill of Fare. Bucky had been shopping the day before, and discovered the shad. Hence last night's supper.

Bucky had been back inside the house, listening to the wind howl for only a few minutes after Loie left when the electricity went out.

Losing the electric is something that happens at the Lovebunnies' house fairly often. Bucky says they live in the coffin corner.* But whatever you might call it, being without electricity is a challenge. Bucky can do some cooking on his Weber grill and heat with the wood stove. He has oil lamps for light. But without electricity, the Lovebunnies have no well pump, and hence no water. That's OK for a few hours or so, as Loie always has bottles of home water in the 'fridge. Eventually, though, not being able to flush the toilet or take a shower becomes tedious.

To help with that, when bad weather is expected, Bucky fills big water cans that can be poured into the toilet to make it flush. So between the wood stove and grill and lamps and water cans, the Lovebunnies can get through power outages for days. So long as they don't work up too much of a sweat and really need to shower.

But it's one thing to be Lovebunnies together, battling the elements and making do. It's another entirely to host a dinner under electrictyless conditions, especially when your guests expect to spend the night and be able to brush their teeth in the morning.

Bucky called the Hauers, and apprised them of the situation.**

"I don't know when we'll get our electricity back," he said. "The wind's still blowing pretty hard here. And I'll tell you why we lost our power. You know we didn't lose power any time all during the big snows?

"Yes," said Mary, "Dolores told me you made it through all right."

"Well, just yesterday, Loie and I agreed the worst was over. So I emptied out my toilet flushing water cans. Naturally the wind came up and blew out our electric." Mary laughed.

"We haven't had much wind here," said Mary. "Maybe the storm is passing."

"Well, OK, good," said Bucky. "I'll see if we get our power back, and call you." In the end, the electricity came back on in the early afetrnoon. Bucky called the Hauers gain, and they decided to proceed with the New Orleans dinner. When Loie got home, Bucky told her what had been going on.

"I left a message on Dad's phone," he said, "But I guess you didn't get it."

"No," said Loie. "So are Mary and Ed coming? Have you been cooking at all?"

"Yes," said Bucky, "And no. I've been doing a lot of nonelectric chores, like dusting and furniture polishing and bringing in wood and straightening up, but no cooking. The Hauers are coming. Mary said she'd help with making dinner while you and Ed talked about New Orleans plans."

"I see," said Loie. "Well, I can certainly do that."

And so the evening was a success. Mary got Bucky all organized working through completely new recipes from the Mandy cookbook.†

"I hope you realize," said Bucky as he and Mary worked in the kitchen, "This means you and Ed have either been promoted, or, depending on your point of view, demoted from the status of guests to that of family."

"Well," said Mary, "We've thought we were family for a while now."

"Run fior your lives," called Loie from the sitting room, where she and Ed were looking over Bucky's extensive notes on things to do in New Orleans. The dinner was a success. Ed stirred the gravy for the Trout Melanie. Everyone enjoyed their glass of sherry before, and Ed's gift of Cahor wine with dinner. But the highlight of the evening was yet to come.

"All right," said Loie when she and the Hauers were settled in the sitting room, and Bucky was puttering with dishes in the kitchen.

"In honor of our taking you to the Eiffel Tower, we're going to build a model of it tonight." Loie had brought out Hilary'sValentine gift of a paper model of the Tower.

Now, everyone knows Hilary and Mark are the Lovebunnies' friends. Hilary is always sending or bringing little presents of silly business she knows Loie and Bucky will appreciate. Of course Hilary knows all about Loie and Bucky's infatuation with the movie French Kiss and their first experience finding the Eiffel Tower. So not long ago, Hilary gave the Lovebunnies a scale model puzzle of the Tower.

"It says it takes an hour or two to build," said Hilary. "I thought you could have a pleasant evening at home doing it."

"And don't worry," Mark had added. "It says on the box 'Easy to Assemble."

"OK," said Bucky, "That sounds about right for me."

Well, what with the Snowiest Winter Ever in Maryland, and Loie's parents' problems, the Lovebunnies just had not had a moment to sit and relax and do their puzzle. But tonight, the moment had arrived. Loie and Ed worked on the puzzle while Bucky did dishes and Mary reviewed the New Orleans notes. Bucky took pictures of the model's progress. Although the box claimed it might take up to two hours to complete, the puzzle builders had it done in a few minutes less than one hour. And after everyone else was sleeping in their warm beds, Bucky sat and wrote this story.

He also built a gallery of the pictures of the model building, and so now you may click this text link, and see the builders and the model puzzle in all their glory.


* Being in "the coffin corner" is a phrase of Bucky's Father's. He says it began as a joke when his family had big dinners, with all the relatives gathered. The people at the far end of the table would complain, in good fun, if the serving dishes passed to them weren't full. They called being on slightly short rations the coffin corner. So now, whenever a resource is somewhat scarce, Bucky says it's being in the coffin corner!

** Loie and Bucky have a Slimline phone in the bedroom. It's not cordless, so it works even when the electricty goes out. You might wonder why the Lovebunnies don't use a mobile phone in such an emergency. Strangely enough, mobile phones have no reception at the Lovebunnies' house. This is apparently another facet of living in the coffin corner.

† The Mandy cookbook is an invaluable resource, if a bit enigmatic. It's one of the only books that gives a recipe for remoulade sauce based on the old original watercress.