Monday, September 15, 2008

What Do You Do When the Lights Go Out?

Saturday I went shopping to make sure I had groceries for what looked like a LOT of rain coming from the tropical storm Ike.

So I went to bed Saturday night under quiet skies, thinking about plans for a rainy day Sunday: blog about the one-year anniversary of my last day at American Express; catch up on emails and online bill-paying; catalogue new photos; work on cards..... it was going to be a very busy day. But Sunday actually started for me at 2:30 a.m., after I'd been asleep for only about an hour. Rain was pounding against the windows and the wind was picking up. Ok, check the TV for any weather warnings -- nothing. Crash! went something on the deck -- a couple of chairs blew over. Poof! went the power. Crap. Walking through the house using the hands and feet braille method to keep from bumping into things or stepping on animals. Found the cell phone first so used it's new Tinkerbell wallpaper to find the flashlight left in a handy spot --- my night stand.

By now the wind was howling and torrential rains were power washing the house on all sides. No thunder or lightning, which was good because one of my dogs would be scraping paint off the ceiling by now. She did, however, indicate in no uncertain terms that she wanted to go to the basement. Ok, away we go. At least downstairs only one wall of the house would be getting the deafening pounding like a wet growling beast trying to get inside.

At 5:30 a.m. I was still awake with 3 of the 4 animals either piled on or next to me. (Sure miss the computer -- I could have been blogging and creating all this time.) The beast outside was still furiously huffing and puffing, but weakening somewhat. Hmm, how long till daylight? I guess I fell asleep about 6:00 but woke up at 7:00 to near silence. Looking outside I couldn't believe the pale blue sky interrupted by curves of grey clouds, the edge of the storm. Still quite blustery, but not raining. No power, either. Well, up to bed; maybe it will come back on soon like it usually does. Quickly back to sleep until about 10:30 and the electricity made a feeble attempt to fire up. Then silence again.

Power or no power, certain things need to be done upon arising in the morning. Oh, the well pump is electric and two households are currently on that pump so no telling how long the reserve will last. Only one of me here (Jerry is on the road) and three next door. Ok, the shower can wait. Feed the dogs and cat then make coffee. Uh, scratch the coffee. Don't open the fridge, keep the cold inside. Ok, go outside and check for any damage. Everything looks good. Walk to Mom's, the air is so cool and fresh!

Had some nice talk time there; got a bite to eat; listened for some updates on the electricity but looked like we were totally cut off from the rest of the world for awhile. Finally came a prediction from the radio speakers that some households would be without power for another 20-24 hours. Crap! Well in case we were some of those households we were resigned to an evening of reading by lantern light.

Got back home and arranged the reading materials, lantern, radio, extra batteries and water. (God, how I miss the computer!) Caught up on my "Artful Blogging" magazine. Wow, there are some great stories in there. Gotta look up some of those blogs --- ok, maybe later. (I really wanted to blog today; by blog I mean read my favorites, find new ones, and write a new post.)

Ok, good tunes on the radio, a bit of static but lucky to have this. (Could have used my ipod but an earache prevented the headphones from being comfortable.) It would have been really quiet except for the sound of a generator droning on and on through the hills. It would be really dark, too, except for a bright full moon that cast a spotlight over our hills and took away the scary shadows. I went through the house and opened all the shades to let that moonlight in! Thank you, God, for that!

Too quiet to sleep.
Too tired to sleep.
Too bored to sleep.
Too crazy not to sleep, so I left the music playing to drown out the generator. (Could have been creating and/or blogging! Did I mention how much I missed that?) Somehow, hours later, I heard the TV in the living room. Woo hoo! The power was back on! The TV and everything else that was on at the time of the Poof! came back on just like that --- poof! What time is it? 5:30 a.m.! Cool, back to sleep for awhile. Then a v-e-r-y long hot shower!

So, after 27 hours did I trip over myself getting to the computer? Not quite --- I fed the dogs first, and made coffee. Then the demands of that day took over and it's business as usual.

But to the tune of oldies and the drone of the anonymous generator I gave much thought to what life would be like without electricity. I didn't like the prospect of it. Never, never, never take it for granted!

I also thought about the power of weather and how each area of the country had it's beasts: earthquakes, tornadoes, heat, cold, rains, snow, hurricanes. Then I remembered reading about Ike hitting the Gulf Coast and comments on that article. The very first comment was from an idiot who said it served those people right for living by the water and now HE had to pay for THEIR damaged property with HIS taxes. How pathetic is that? He was in snow country. Ever heard of white-outs, record-breaking snowfalls paralyzing highways and knocking out power --- that would mean your heat, buddy! What's even more pathetic than this guy? There were more like him!! I couldn't continue to read the comments. Only cowards hide behind anonymity.

Mom and I spent some of the quiet time reminiscing about one of the neighborhoods we lived in when I was growing up. It was our own "Happy Days" kind of street. We were able to remember nearly all the families and their names. Those were the days of backyards with no fences; we could play outside after dark collecting lightning bugs; all the moms knew all the kids and watched out for every one of them like they were their own; when my sister was born (after I waited through 3 brothers) our babysitter yelled from the front porch "Helen had a girl! Helen had a girl!" There was no one within a 2 block area that didn't either hear that or heard about it within just a few minutes.

I thought about what September 14 will always mean to me: in 2007 it was my last day at American Express in Phoenix. It was tearful and exciting all at once. I still hear from folks back there and hope I always do. I still miss them. I wonder how situations turned out. I remember some report names, but have forgotten all my login IDs and passwords. But I haven't forgotten the send off I received --- the biggest pot luck in the history of Amex pot lucks! So, the year since I left (has it really been that long?) --- have I accomplished what I wanted to? Yes and no. The "no" part can be blamed in part on the plummeting housing market, the high fuel prices, the general economic skid. The "yes" part is good, but I need to do much more of what I set out to do.

I thought about the stories I read in "Artful Blogging"; about why people blog and what they love about it. Since this is a magazine about "Artful" blogging, obviously there is creativity involved. That and wanting to reach out to others for give and take, learn and teach, show and tell, all around the world. Then I remembered why I started blogging and wondered if I am being fulfilled in that endeavor: uh, Yeah! Can I do more for others who are blogging for the same reasons? Yes. Am I being genuine in my blogging? Yes, I think so. Am I projecting who I really am in my blogs? Pretty much; gotta reserve some. Am I an "artful" blogger? Workin' on it and will be doing more.

All this thinking brought me to the big question for me: Am I developing my artist in the way I set out to a year ago? Honestly? No. Why? I think I know most of those reasons. Am I giving up? No! Why? Because all my life I've wanted to be an artist, because I knew I could, because I know I am. So, what will I do? Never, never, never give up.

1 comment:

Carol said...

I was wondering where you were Barb. I'm glad you're ok and that Ike didn't do too much damage there in Missouri. I don't like it when the power goes out either. It's like you're going back in time.

We had a bit of a storm here but nothing major, the power just flickered on and off a couple of times. It's good that you have the dogs to keep you company and of course your Mom lives close by too, so that's good.

I'm glad you gals are ok.