Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A few more hours...

In case you cared (and you're here, so why wouldn't you care!) and don't already know, on Sunday a ridiculous windstorm plowed through the state of Ohio... It plowed through other states too, but we're talking about me here, so FOCUS!




There you are! So anyway, this huge windstorm blew in, and not a drop of rain fell. The same cannot be said for trees, branches, power lines, roof shingles, and morale. Mostly power lines and morale. Fairly early on, the electricity blinked and then went off altogether. The wind kept howling, and there wasn't a drop of rain, or any thunder or lightning, and so while it might have been stupid of us, but we ventured outside largely because we had no electricity so boredom and curiosity quickly took hold. We don't have any big trees in our yard, and all the power lines are out back, so we scurried out front just to see what this storm was doing. After being slapped in the face with some errant, fast-moving loose leaves, we surveyed the scene

Well, the neighbors across the street were all standing out in front of their home too, their curiosity probably stemmed from the fact that a very large pine tree which once stood in front of their house was now laying across the lawn and the street. Since the wind was still gusting away, we marveled at the uprooted conifer for a few minutes, but went back inside. After about a half an hour the winds continued to blow, and we continued to be curious... Especially when we began to hear a chainsaw. (Keep in mind, we are still MID-WINDSTORM.) The neighbors were cutting on their fallen tree. Because really, what moves better in hurricane force winds? A whole tree, or smaller lighter parts of a tree? If you answered the smaller lighter parts of the tree, congratulations, you also have the intelligence that the neighbors lack.

Several hours later, the winds died down.

While the outdoor furniture had been overturned, and there were a few sticks in the yard, our house was unscathed... But we had no power.

We had no power, and we were starting to get hungry. We didn't have any problems with thirst on the other hand, because we'd had a couple bottles of vodka in the freezer and plenty of mix-ins in my liquor box (formerly a liquor cabinet, but here they are relegated to a box.) Since there was no power running to the fridge and the freezer, we figured that we might as well cook up some wings that we'd frozen about a week ago. We defrosted them and fired up the grill. We cooked them as best we could. We used the open bottle of sauce from the fridge, figuring that it would go bad too if it wasn't used almost immediately. But since there was no electricity, there were no lights, and thus no way to tell if the chicken was done. Well some wings were done, and some weren't. We didn't figure this out until biting into them, but we figured it out just in time to save ourselves from a really long ugly night of alternating turns in the bathroom in the dark.

Monday morning we woke up and the electricity was still off. The Admiral made some calls and found out that the electricity was out at her office too, and when you've got electronic door locks and lots of computers, electricity is kind of something that's needed. So she didn't have to go in. So we sat listening to a battery powered radio for a while surveying the damage. Basically, the gist that we were getting between phone calls and radio information was that pretty much the whole damn state was blacked out, and not just our state, but neighboring states as well. GREAT. And of course, since this windstorm was an inland, midwestern result of Hurricane Ike, we knew about the storm, and so did the power companies, but trying to be helpful to the rest of the country, we'd sent most of our utility crews and equipment to other regions to help them out, figuing they'd be hit harder than we would... Oh, little did we know. SPECTACULAR. We called the automated information center at the power company to try to determine how long our area could anticipate being blacked out. The estimate we got was not at all comforting. SEVEN TO TEN DAYS!

Shortly thereafter, the Admiral's boyfriend called. His car charger for his phone was in her car. So the Admiral prepared to take it over to him. As she left, I reminded her, "Ok, now when you're over there, hanging out with your boyfriend, and his brother, and whomever else comes along, and you might have the possible use of a generator, remember that I'm here alone with the cat... And no power." She laughed and said she'd remember and went on her merry way.

And I didn't see her for the rest of the day. I read a book, played scrabble against myself, cleaned up the back yard, you know, the things you do when you don't have access to electricity, internet, and the like.

So she spent the night over there, and I spent the night reading a book by candle light with the cat. Not too bad. A little lonely, but not too bad. The next day rolls around and I busy myself with cleaning the bathroom, sweeping and mopping the floors, and other menial tasks which occupied the hours. And as the evening wears on, it became clear that she was not coming home tonight either. So, like a caveman, I cooked my dinner over a fire in the back yard, and once again I read a book by candle light with the cat. (Dinner was spectacular by the way, and it was a shame that I was the only one there to appreciate it!) Morning comes and since things are clean already, I read for a little while, I played scrabble against myself again, tried to figure out what I was going to eat now that all the perishables were rotten or questionable at best, and the non-perishables were running dangerously low, I played with the cat, I read some more, and finally got so stir crazy out of a need for human contact and external noises of any sort, that I went to shopping centers which appeared to have power and made ordinary purchases like shampoo, conditioner, and non-perishable food items.

I get a phone call from the Admiral.

"We got power there?"

"Nope. Are you coming home ever? Scrabble solitare sucks... But between that and the newfound time to read, I'm improving my vocabulary, and feeling smarter, which is a nice change... I'm also feeling rather Amish, which I'm not such a fan of since I have no barns to build or cows to milk."

"Yeah, I'll probably be around tonight, but I have to do laundry, and since there's no power, I can't do it there, so who knows."

Obviously, I know she wants to spend time with her boyfriend. I understand and respect that... But I was admittedly a little perturbed at the idea of spending another night and day alone in the dark... I hadn't done anything to deserve being sent to prison, let alone solitary confinement.

(I realize that I just compared my life to prison, which even I see as a gross overstatement of things, but when you've been totally alone for three days with no one but the cat to talk to and you can't so much as cook a meal in a kitchen, watch a movie, get online and read the gossip columns, or turn the lights on while showering, you tend to lose your grip on rationality.)

At 5:30 PM the power came back on. Significantly ahead of the 7-10 day outage anticipated. And I immediately scared the cat by loudly lauding the praises of utility crews in impromptu off-key song. I called the Admiral, getting her voicemail, and let her know that she could do laundry here because we had power... And just in time, because if I didn't see a familiar face soon and have someone who was able to talk back to me when spoken to, I was just a few more hours from going totally feral... You know, like those children raised by wolves in under-developed countries! BAD SCENE!

The Admiral came home, did laundry, ate dinner, and left me for the boyfriend's house, again. I'm not going to complain, I'll take the few hours of human contact and functioning electricity where I can get it!

But in case you were wondering where I'd been, there's your answer.

With that said, it's good to be back!

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