Sunday, January 06, 2008


This isn't our fence btw.

I woke up in the dark on Friday and realized that I couldn’t read the alarm clock. When you get to a certain age, you stop assuming that it’s just a problem with the alarm clock. I checked to make sure that I could still make out at least a few shadows. It had been raining all night and the big storm that hit Northern California had brought winds that closed all three major bridges around San Francisco. Our power was out.

I spent half the day at work and got a call from my daughter in the afternoon complaining that the power was still out and that she had heard from my wife that it might be out for two to three days. We didn’t know it when we moved in sixteen years ago, but our street sits on an odd patch of the electrical grid. It’s common for houses within a hundred yards of us to have power hours and even days before we do. That was the case when I came home that night after stopping to buy candles and firewood. One stoplight and a couple stores downtown were in darkness, but pretty much everything but our street seemed to have gotten power back. Actually, there’s one house three doors down from us that seemed to have power. Perhaps they have a generator or perhaps they’re tied to the grid in some other way.

I got inside. My wife had built a fire in our woodstove and was lying beneath a blanket in front of it along with two of our cats and one of the dogs. We found a bunch of old flashlights, listened to the radio, and my palm-treo still had enough battery life for me to surf the web for a couple minutes. We read some by flashlight and I fell asleep near the fire. We still had no power the next day. We had no lights, no internet, no television, no refrigerator, and no stove. The wind blew down a thirty foot section of our fence which meant we had to keep the dogs in the garage. Our daughter also put her chickens in a rabbit cage in the garage as well.

We made it through the day then prepared for another night of candles and flashlights. Fortunately, my neighbor’s nephew who also lives nearby also happens to be a lineman for Pacific Gas and Electric. Around eight at night, he pulled by our house in his truck. He’d been on a thirty six hour shift fixing everyone else’s power only to come home and discover that he didn’t have hot water. He pulled together a crew and made it a thirty eight hour shift. Our lights came back on at about ten. If we didn’t happen to have the neighbor, I suspect we still wouldn’t have power.

So much of the way we live is so fragile. In this case, a couple power lines came down. It’s still raining and there’s another larger storm headed this way in two days. I liked the reading by the fire with my family part, but I’d just as soon do so by choice. It’s amazing how little there is to do late at night when you don’t have electricity.



At 1/07/2008 12:38:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our power used to go out all the time in the winter on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Ice storms mainly. The lines would ice up.The wind would blow. Down would come all the wires. All wires were above ground in those days.

Our power woui;d often be out for 5-10 days & it was a bore, but it was before tv in our house and we didn't have radio or a record player either (all a Thoreauian matter of principal on my stepfather's [Socrates re-incarnated]part.) So we read books willy-nilly.

My favorite moment was when my baby 1/2-brother Andrew was swaddled & resting in the big dark-grey speckled turkey roasting pan on the open door of the gas oven.

I think that was when Mother said to my little sister Tracy, "No, little girl, I am not your mother, I am the Reverend Rajah Ray Boyd" in a faux basso profundo. Scared the heck out of her. "No, no, you are my mother." This happened because Mother had pulled this beastly trick on me 15 years earlier and I goaded her to pull it on Tracy. I remember beating on her shoulder while we drove and she kept declaring, "No, little girl, I am not your mother, I am the Reverend Rajah Ray Boyd. "No, no, you're my mother." It was very funny to see it done to someone else. This is probably why we're better off having electricity. Less familial mischief.

Gosh, I hope you've given your neighbor a case of scotch or of chili or something. What a doll.

At 1/07/2008 09:30:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Mr. Pogblog,
terrific story about the brother in the turkey roasting pan etc.
We gave the neighbor's nephew a bottle of wine. I hope he doesn't drink it before he goes out on another shift to put the lines back up. Apparently there are still a bunch of folk out there without power.

At 1/12/2008 07:25:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

Usually I don't wonder whether I should comment on weather but everyone seems to suffering through extremes lately don't they?

My parents went through 4 snowstorms in 7 days where they live not long ago and here we had a deep freeze followed by insanely high temperatures. Thankfully your neighbor came to the rescue.

Pogblog's turkey pan and Reverend tale was pretty funny!

At 1/14/2008 04:42:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Pogblog's tales of her youth and early adult years are always quite funny.

I sometimes wonder how long it would have taken us for us to get power had it not been for having a neighbor who works as a PGE lineman.

Glad your parents made it through the storm/heatwave okay. I remember learning that your father is 80 years old, probably not something that mixes well with snowstorms.


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