Yesterday, we drove up to my dad and step-mom's farm to drop Darcy off. My parents are taking her for several days while Thomas and I go down to the Outerbanks for our anniversary. (10 years... when did that happen?)
It's not really that bad of a drive, as long as the traffic is good. The problem is, the area we're driving through, the traffic is seldom good. Although yesterday it was fine. There was a tiny back up near the tunnel, but that cleared up really fast... so we made it there in good time. Darcy was excited to be up there, even if she did turn shy for the first hour or so that we were there. She frequently does, but it didn't take long before she was running around like a half-sized maniac.
My step-mom, Rosie, had made lunch for us, 5 points worth of chili con carne (she'd even been careful to use the 97/3 ground beef) and a side salad. We were sitting down for lunch when Dad told us he had a little project that he needed our help with...
Back before Darcy was born, there was a hurricane in our area (Isabelle) that knocked out power across most of the state for various amounts of time between 7 days for us, and almost 17 days for my parents. My parents had an electrical generator (they live out in the middle of nowhere, so a generator is a good plan) but they hadn't realized that the basement fridge/freezer wasn't connected to the same bits of the house that the generator was running. So, several days passed while a metric ton of wrapped venison, steaks, bags of frozen shrimp, and other things slowly thawed out, and they didn't know about it.
Yuck. In any case, Rosie dumped all the old stuff out, and restocked it after the power was on. A year later, the compressor went out. Same scenario. The stuff all defrosted... tossed, got the thing fixed, restocked it...
Another year passed, and the freon needed to be recharged. Old stuff tossed... freezer fixed.... etc.
(This will be important later, I promise.)
Finally, they decided to replace it. Rosie had made some offers to people in the area who were selling used fridges, and gotten a mostly-new one for about $125... the project, my dad explained, was that the lady who was selling the fridge was unmarried and there was no way my dad could get the fridge onto his truck by himself.
So, we drove down to this lady's house, and Thomas and my dad maneuvered this fridge off her porch (around her garden swing), down the stairs, across the yard, and onto my dad's pickup truck. My job was mostly to ferry the drawers and shelves over into Rosie's trunk and to keep Darcy out of the way. Now, my dad had parked his pickup right over the stairs (the lady's lawn was elevated from the parking area which seems to be a common landscaping thing in that area, although I don't know why) and there's a two foot drop around the rest of the driveway. I wasn't even thinking about it, and just stepped down, without worrying about my ankle giving out. Which, I might add, it didn't. And I was able to climb back up onto the lawn without effort.
You know, really, that's pretty amazing. I've noticed that I've stopped doing the old lady shuffle down the stairs, too. One step at a time, gripping the handrail for dear life. For years, my ankle's been so weak and unreliable that I haven't dared to trust it for any support. And now suddenly I'm clambering around someone's yard, a refrigerator shelf in one hand and a crisper drawer in the other, and I'm not worried. And I'm not hurting.
We get back to the farm, and my dad and Thomas start trying to figure out the best way to get the fridge DOWN from the back of his truck. Gravity is your friend, but we didn't want to bring the thing straight down onto the driveway. Eventually, they backed his truck up to their embankment (I told you, these lowered driveways were popular, but I didn't know the reason they were in fashion was to unload shit from pickup trucks. Although, given the redneck sort of area, I probably should have figured it out...)
While they did that, I helped Rosie unload the old freezer. Remember what I said about all the thaw-outs they'd had? I think that the freezer had never been completely cleaned, since it was in the basement where no one usually went down into the basement area.
I opened the fridge to start moving sodas and beer... oh.
The smell was awful, just awful. But not, perhaps, the way you might be thinking. It wasn't... overpowering. It was subtle. Like breathing about twenty feet away from something that had died last week. Or the faint traces of blood smell that a badly cleaned woman's public restroom will get from all the women who have pads to toss in those little containers near the stalls that never seem to have a plastic bag inside them... or an office building that's just up the street from a slaughterhouse.
Well... the more stuff we emptied out, the worse the smell got. We finished unloading the sodas and ice-packs for coolers, and frozen chickens and bags of shrimp and several racks of steaks...
Finally we started taking out the crisper drawers, just to see if there was anything in there. Rosie said they never used the crispers, but she wanted to be sure. I pulled out the bottom drawer. It was half full of bloody water. Sunk in the back corner of this mess was a lump of... unidentified rotten meat. And the few flecks of leftover paper.
Oh. My. GOD.
I became extremely glad that we'd eaten at least an hour before, because if it had been anything closer to then, I probably would have added to the mess and smell.
The boys (neither of them are, you know, boys... my dad's almost 60 and his once-black hair is silver and even Thomas has gone mostly grey at this point in time) knocked the doors off the old fridge and took it (and all the bagged up trash) off to the landfill while I went and washed up.
I was just coming back into the kitchen when Rosie said, "There's a present for you, in your bedroom, if you haven't seen it..."
No, I hadn't. I turned back around and checked. On the blanket chest were the two 10-week sheets for weight watchers... Yay! As we are getting down to only having 2 coupons left. And a card. I smiled and opened the envelope; my dad's cards usually come with checks in them for anywhere between thirty and a hundred bucks. Pulled the card out of the envelope and a sheaf of bills fell into my hands. I blinked. A wad. of. bills. Fifty. Dollar. Bills.
I swallowed hard, and then counted it.
Five. Hundred. Dollars.
Oh, my god.