Wednesday, January 16, 2008

In The Dark

Yesterday was an eventful day. I had to maneuver through the day key-less, wallet-less, and phone-less after leaving my purse in Wasilla the night before. James had his first day of his last semester, but was late to his 8:30 class (and 1st day quiz--engineering school is so fun!) due to snowy, icy roads and traffic. After work, I drove to Wasilla (on those same snowy, icy roads) to go to a Bible study with Mom Kuenning and Kiana (and get my purse). Then James called having been sent on a work errand to a commercial neighborhood . . . and run out of gas miles from a station! He was rescued by Dad Smith (Thank you!).

Finally, I came home to James and Titus in quiet domestic tranquility and set about preparing a hot ham dinner (with steamed veggies, baked potatoes, and cranberry sauce, yum!). Then the lights flickered and went out, came on, went out, came on, and went out one last time. While the lights were going out each time, I looked out the window down the street and saw blue and red fireworks (or so it seemed) sparking in time with weird grumbles that either came from our confused printer or the electric meters mounted on the wall below our window. It scared me so badly, that I quickly opened up the electric bill that just happened to have come in the mail that day, took the paper over to the candle that I had just lit, and dialed the electric company to report the problem.

Our hot ham dinner turned into a cold ham dinner with cheese, crackers, and Craisins, but it was a romantic candle-lit dinner (James said he felt Medieval eating cold ham and hunks of cheese by candle light. Pepsi = Ale?). With no computer, music, or even extra light to distract us, we were focused on each other and our simple meal. After dinner and a waterless clean-up, we took Titus out. We were half convinced that the southern part of our street was on fire, but all we saw was darkened apartment windows, black streetlights, and snow. We walked until the deep snow filled our shoes, and then we turned around and followed our footsteps home. We really settled in then. I lit all the candles I could find and cleared the table for a game of Settlers. About half way through, my phone rang with an automated message asking if our power had been restored. It had not. As we were putting the game away, a brilliant light and noise filled our apartment. After nearly three hours of blackness, the electricity was on again. We got both an automated message AND a personalized message then. It's nice to live in America!

The quiet evening was suddenly full of the hum of the refrigerator, the rush of hot water through the pipes, and the hiss of air in the water spigot. The softly glowing lights disappeared in the harsh glare of the overhead bulbs. The reminiscing of by-gone days and exploring Ukrainian sewer pipes with candles seemed pointless now. I thankfully brushed my teeth with fresh cold water and showered in fresh hot water, all to the friendly light of a bathroom vanity bulb, but I could not help but think how helpless and dependant we have become upon modern amenities. If the electricity was out for good, what would we do for water, heat, cooking, refrigeration, hygiene?
Thankfully, de-cluttering the front closet allowed us to find our other flashlights and batteries for just this time. Candles and matches were just within reach as well. Our pitcher of water in the fridge didn't take us that long to go through, though. I think my next steps in our emergency kit making will be to put an extra gallon or two of water away for us and Titus, buy a decent sized bottle of waterless hand wash, and post all emergency contact numbers where I can find them in the dark!

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