Thankfully, it happened after dinner, after our house-bound snow day was over. I swear I’ve been economical about our use of heat; the house is kept at 60 during the days, lower at night. Having been through this now three times this year, I knew well what was going on when the thermostats began to drop. Phooey. We’re out of oil again.
I checked the oil just day before yesterday, and it seemed we were experiencing a Biblical type of respite; it looked like we had nearly six inches left. My frugality had paid off. I figured that I had til mid week to face the dilemma – I would find some oil before we ran out cold. But no. I must remember that the four inches on the bottom of the tank lies below the intake pipe – it counts for nothing. Six inches really means two.
Thankfully, Elihu wanted to sleep with me tonight, in my bed. While we have finally found our way into our own beds these past six months, Elihu pouted uncharacteristically about sleeping alone tonight. “It’s scary in my room” he’d said. “And there’s a big owl on the ceiling”. Geez. His owl kite was scary? I didn’t say anything. He was feeling a bit clingy and melancholic tonight, so I agreed without any discussion. Usually he’s a happy, bouncy kid with a quick wit and a Monty Python-esqe take on things. Although the dark and angry attitude of an unsatisfied artist lurks not too far below the surface, he is not a child who needs too much coddling or intervention. He knows himself, and his needs pretty well. (He’s often more honest with himself than I am about this.) While I refuse to debate the hot topic of ‘co-sleeping’ I will however offer that our situation – living in a tiny house far off the road, just the the two of us – makes sharing a bed feel very natural, cozy and reassuring. Good that he chose this sleeping arrangement tonight, because now, once again, my room is the only warm one in the house. God bless our portable electric heater.
I fight with myself to keep my mantra an upbeat one. We don’t live in a war-torn country. We’re not hungry. (My dark side rises up – we’re still one day away from food stamps and we’re out of milk and produce.) Oh, be quiet! I say to my dark voice. “I am supported. I am supported” I say, guided by the advice of a counselor I knew in my first, frightening year here. I must remember that the universe always supports me. I must not succumb to negative thoughts. Shit, I’m out of everything. I’m out of toilet paper, toothpaste, milk… and heating oil. Crap. No – be positive. Maybe all my years of over-tipping waitstaff and rounding up will manifest in some assistance now. I’d had a couple of old friends offer help. But how do I accept it when I have no ability to pay them back? And what about my husband? How does he expect us to live on $750 a month? Round and round. The voices battle.
The snow has resulted in hundreds of lost dollars in piano lesson income. Just today I lost another $55. Last year my ‘buffer’ – the extra bit of money that helped us pull through each month – had been social security income for Elihu’s ‘disability’. But since the court had allocated our monthly support all for him, (rather than for me, the head of household) he was disqualified, and we lost our extra $220. That hurt. But then the new students made up for it. Now, with both sources gone this month, it’s been very tight indeed. I remind myself that I have a house in which to live. The mother of one of my students has very kindly offered me the job of feeding her horses while she vacations in Florida. That will bring in some money, just not soon enough.
The chickens lost their heat today too. When I went out to shut them in for the night I smelled burnt plastic. Kinda wonder why it hadn’t happened before this. Yup, the heat lamp had shorted out in the muck. Not sure how, but the plug was melted and just gone. One more thing to fix, to buy.
I will not succumb. Or will I? (How did I get here? I’ve always been a good person!) “The universe supports me. I am supported” (How can this be happening?) “I have everything I need right now”. (I don’t deserve this!) “I bring to my experience what I give energy to.” (Seriously, does Jill have to go without toilet paper and heat?!) “I choose to feel supported”. (How is it that Fareed is in Indonesia staying in a five star hotel and eating out every day when his son has no milk for breakfast?) “We have what we need in this moment”. (You’re right. I give.)
Hookay. I guess I do have what I need for right now. My heater is purring along, the room is comfortable. I am thankful that we played board games inside rather than make snowmen outside, because Elihu’s coat and snowpants will be dry tomorrow. I will regroup and re-assess after he’s safely on the school bus. For now, I will be thankful for what I do have. And I will climb into bed beside my dear son, and be grateful I’m not alone.