Written 26 July, 2020
Today the power wavered and collapsed, rose, wavered. I’m writing this at 9.32pm and waiting to see what happens.
The world still rages. Gale force winds, 100 ml of rain last night, the wheelbarrow so full, as I pick up its handles, I look back at me before the water slops out.
Yesterday, a zoom interview, with Ruth, serial retreater with me and soon to be a novelist, for an online magazine, the SheSociety. Ruth was in Brisbane, smooth and elegant on a sofa, me on the deck with the creek roaring.
A drama today with solar power that seems a catastrophe: I’m a reluctant learner of techno things but I’ve had to learn over 20 years here but always till now on holidays that the sun beams into the solar panels and gets stored in batteries for when the sun isn’t shining, for days like this, or for night time. If there’s not enough energy in the batteries, the power crashes when we ask it, for example, to keep the fridge cold. So we must either wait for the sun, or we turn the generator on. And as for me, no matter what I don’t want to learn, life is insistent here!
So – today, the batteries collapsed, came good, coughed, collapsed, seemed to die. GG disconnected and tested them, all 20, hoping there was just one bad one infecting them all. One was only just a little weaker than the others-less than .1.
Surely that wouldn’t be the problem.
Battery replacement is a major expense- but, it’s true, we don’t have electricity bills. We’ve been through several generations of solar power equipment and I longer ago worked out that the expense works out more or less the same. Dy happened to message about the weather – he’s in the Blue Mountains taking Trippy to the vet, and he’s ready to come back. I told him our worries. Within minutes he was messaging back that he’d found cheap battery replacements for us on E Bay. What a neighbour! They were new, the old style – but cheap. We rang and told Ian Smith, the wonderful golden hair streaked with grey builder with no immunity and he said wisely:
Cheap batteries are cheap batteries.
Then we rang Solar Simon, ( he took over the business form Solar John) who’s put power systems in most houses in the bay, including ours 15 years ago. He offered us good batteries that’d last 20 years, he said, but to get them soon we’d have to pick them up from his warehouse in Gosford – or he could sell us cheap second-hand batteries, but he said wisely:
Second-hand batteries are second-hand batteries.
They’re all heavy brutes, not the men the batteries – 50 – 60 kg. So we can’t choose on the basis of weight though they have to be dragged up 42 steps. We’re going to need our strong neighbours.
That’ll use up all the money I’m to earn teaching this semester at ANU. I said nothing but I’d hoped to be able to pay for something pretty. A stonework edge around the stretch of land out the side of the upper house. Terracing for gardens up the back. Steps up to the water tanks- that’s more than pretty, for we clamber there over rocks, and there’s a slippery bit and no rails- you just hold on to bushes, hoping they’re not spikes. But at least we’ll have power, and being able to run a fridge and turn on lights is better than pretty.
I mooned around on a walk just before dusk, amongst all the tiny creeks and rivulets and gurgles and trickling that the rain has made. I realised that we don’t need pretty, it’s all around us. Remember this , I said to myself. Remember this.
Now at 9. 45, we’re hoping. The power has held after a burst with the generator. It must’ve been taking out that one that underperformed. It might’ve taken down the others- Solar Simon has also taught me that. One poorly performing battery infects the others. It’s like a virus.
I told friend R about this drama. We pretend we’re sisters, and nothing is boring.
You could just buy one new battery to replace it, she said.
No, you can’t. They’re organic. They’re like teeth, you can’t grow a new one. And you can’t put in a foreign one.
I know more than I thought.
But i’m keeping my fingers crossed. i might get my steps up to the water-tank, after all.