Do broadcast networks still say that? It used to be when they had breaking news that they would cut into regular broadcasting to inform their viewership of that news and then tell us that they ‘now resume our regular programming, already in progress’. I heard it often enough that the phrase echoes for me sometimes.
Last week I apparently tempted Fate when I wrote this piece. (Although Fate may want to take a refresher course in reading comprehension – I was empathizing with people dealing with anything outside the norm of their regular lives.) Fate is nothing if not capricious and possessing a strong sense of the absurd. Not that anything truly awful happened to me, not last week anyway, but plenty of little and middle sized things were piling up to keep me just off balance from routine. Mostly things at work.
Friday afternoon we looked out the windows of the office and noticed it was ominous, like deep twilight, and then the rain came along. This has been such a regular occurrence in recent time that we got back to work. This time my son called to ask me if it had rained heavily and I said it had. He hadn’t experienced heavy rain where he had been, but was surprised to find trees and branches down all around our neighborhood and our power out.
I could see that the storm had been more intense as I drove north toward home after work. More leaf and branch litter in the roads, and then I started to come across traffic lights without power. (FYI treat them like a 4-way stop, please.) And roads blocked by police cars. Oh, my. Now I could see big branches down and large wounds on trees.
I have 2 large cottonwoods in the front yard and 3 large maples in the back along with some smaller trees (plus 2 done-for ash trees). I love my trees, but at moments like this, I cringe a bit. But my son hadn’t mentioned any significant damage to our house and yard.
Our power was still out when I arrived, which is somewhat unusual. We have been pretty lucky that it is rarely out more than an hour or two. Thankfully I have a gas water heater and a gas stove… That has electronic ignition. We can light the burners for the stove top, but no oven. Don’t open the refrigerator too often and wait it out. We did go out to eat, partly out of curiosity to see the damage. And felt pangs of jealousy for all those who had power.
We played some Yahtzee by the light of lanterns and talked, then went to bed early as earlier generations often did before electricity. Hoping that the power would be back over night.
The power wasn’t restored until around 5 am on Sunday. Saturday became a struggle to maintain modern life. My son’s phone had died, he needed to print something before work that evening, we could no longer access our internet because the back-up battery had died, the computer’s battery was running low and most ominous of all the fridge was warming up.
Have I mentioned before that my father was a professional Boy Scout for 33 years? We figured out short term solutions to each problem, and it started to look like we were camping out in our own home. My sister, bless her, has a generator that we got set up by Saturday evening and started the process to cool the fridge back down. My son’s various finds like work lights and extension cords came in handy.
When the power came back on I had been in a deep sleep in a pitch black room. Suddenly the small red glow from my bedside clock seemed like klieg lights and I had to chuckle at myself a bit how quickly I went from grateful to grumbly.
Electricity flows into our houses and we pay the monthly bills without thinking about how much more comfortable our lives are because of it. My son kept trying to turn on light switches. I kept forgetting to grab the lantern when I moved from room to room. Thankfully it was a beautiful day in the high 70s, but when we got warm we wanted a fan…
I really needed a restful weekend so I could hit the reset button for this week at work. At least I got a fairly normal Sunday. I’ve had plenty of personal lessons in resilience, this was just the latest. ‘Normal’ life resumed, for now.
(Disclaimer to Fate: I’m just telling a story here, I read an article on electricity in India, where it is not yet widespread or terribly reliable. I get it, there is always someone doing better and always someone doing worse.)
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