Friday, January 11, 2008

Powerless

You can wash your hair, but you can’t dry it. You can’t read past 4pm. The garage door is in a closed state. The ice cream in your freezer is gradually melting. The house gets gradually colder, reaching 56 degrees at night. I put a sweater on Heidi and we light our gas fireplace and put the birdcage next to it. The parakeet hangs on for dear life, onto the side of the cage facing the fire, warming his belly. It is day one without power. I come in to the house after work and it is dark. With the aid of a flashlight, we manage to cook on the campstove. I feel half blind and consequently like half a brain is functioning. The storm outside is fierce, with strong winds
and rain. I can only begin to imagine what it is like in the mountains of Santa Cruz. We are thankful for 4 walls and a roof, even if it is cold.
Day 2. I find many chores to occupy my day. How productive one can be without computer and internet. I frame several photos that have been sitting around for a few years, thoroughly clean the house, put away all the Christmas decorations, and handwrite thank you notes. As night falls, we try to plan an evening away from home. Jen and I talk about going to the movies.
At the theatre, we luxuriate under the bright lights. Driving back, we notice that all the other streets have power. I look at the homes with their Christmas lights on, thinking how we don’t even have power to light a lamp! The house is dark and oh, so cold. I knit a scarf by firelight. Time to get under the covers and stay warm!
Day 3. Ray talks to John, our neighbor behind us, who cannot believe we don’t have power. He throws an extension cord over the fence and we are so grateful to be able to plug in the freezer, charge our cell phones, and dry our hair. On my morning jog, I am overjoyed to see the blue PG&E truck parked on the corner. I go up to him with a big grin on my face, welcoming him, telling him how happy I am that he is here to give us lights. “Lights, what lights?” he says. “I’m the gas man!” The PG&E automated line, stopped giving a time of day for the next info. report, saying instead that they did not know when they would have info. I spent the day in the stores. What a luxury to be able to plug in one lamp at nightfall. I discover that the gas stove does indeed work-and we don’t need the campstove after all. I cook a wonderful dinner and we play scrabble by candlelight. When was the last time YOU played Scrabble? Our street is dark and I wonder where our neighbors are.
Day 4. We talk to PG&E at 8:30 and they have no idea when power will be restored. I go out for my run, and lo and behold, a convoy of trucks is coming around the corner. I learn that they are a contract company from Riverside, who came up before the storms and have been working 32 hrs. on and 8 off. Power is restored a couple of hours later.