Tuesday, December 19, 2006

And then there was light

The thing about losing power is that it makes you appreciate what you have. Especially when you get it all back.

After being stuck indoors all week by the pain in my back, the lack of napping & the pissing rain, on Thursday afternoon I persuaded Sugar Daddy to come home early to I could drive the three minutes required to get to Gymboree. Sure I could have walked but apparently I am made of sugar - that or I couldn't be bothered getting the stroller set up with the rain cover. We made it over there & Doodle Bug then went on her mission to collect all the balls scattered throughout the room whether or not they were in anyone else's hands. This resulted in a few tussels & several screeches of the velocirapter variety when someone tried to recover their ownership of the treasured plastic orbs. We were involved in this epic struggle while the rain poured down outside when all of a sudden there was the grumble of thunder followed by a huge flash of lightning. Despite the amount of rain we've experienced here I think this was the first bit of thunderstorm to date. Driving home you could see the cars ahead going through about 6 inches of water that was accumulating on the side of the roads. And the rain just kept coming down.

Then the wind picked up.

I'd seen the news earlier out of the corner of my eye while reading Dilly Duckling for the umpteenth time so I sorta knew that a severe windstorm was forecast. I was thinking Newfoundland gale but I don't remember experiencing anything quite like what was to come later that night while living in St. John's. You could hear the storm picking up power as the evening wore on & by the time we went to bed the wind was whipping up crap on the street & small branches out of the trees. It got so loud that I found it impossible to sleep properly & kept getting up every hour to look out the window to make sure the nearby trees weren't about to come through to main me & my loved ones in some freak accident.

Sometime between midnight & 2 am the power went out & the darkness was upon us. At first we just noticed that the clock was out but then realized that there was none of the regular piercing brightness from the streetlight outside our window. We figured the power would probably come back on as soon as the wind died down. Meanwhile we continued to not sleep through the night & kept watch on the desperate people still driving their cars in the total darkness. No streetlights, no traffic lights... what were these nutso's doing? We figured it had to be shift workers or stupid joyriders because we heard lots of screeching tires. Then the car alarms & sirens started. All throughout the night & the following 24 hours the sound of firetruck & police sirens were constant. Whether it was car accidents or candles left burning I don't know but it just didn't stop. In fact we're still hearing them though with much less frequency.

By morning the wind let up & taking a look outside we were a little surprised that the road below wasn't a bigger mess but I guess that the steady stream of nutty drivers throughout the night mashed the smaller branches into the pavement & pushed the larger ones to the side of the road. There was a large branch on the sidewalk from the tree outside our window & across the street we could see that the park was covered with tons of evergreen boughs & at least two large pines down on the ground (walking by later we found the playground closed because of the downed trees). The power was still out & when Sugar Daddy finally turned on the car radio we found out that we were just one of about a million people in the area without any electricity. Thankfully for us we have a gas stove, furnace & fireplace so we could make some much needed coffee. Seems we're pretty lucky. Our neighbor who works at Nordstrom's told us that many people were terribly pissed off that Starbucks wasn't making any coffee for them to fuel their shopping in the dark.

So anyway, no power. Oh well - no biggie. We've lived through 2 other major blackouts in the past 8 years. What's another one? It's not like its cold here or anything. Or is it? Apparently so. Once again I am conflicted by feelings of superior weather coping skills combined with concern for those who are suffering. Our place was a little cold the second night but nothing an extra blanket couldn't fix. It would've been a lot harder if we didn't have the gas stove but we still only used it to heat up water & fry up a microwave meal that wasn't cooking properly on the bbq. If we couldn't have used the stove we would've used our camping gear. We had a bunch of IKEA candles & tea lights, plus we had SD's bike light if we ran out of those. The dude even hooked up the laptop to the car so he could have music.

We spent Friday hanging out playing Yahtzee, reading to the baby & cleaning up. It got a little boring so we opened our Christmas presents to each other (the big things that we won't be taking on the plane to Newfoundland). Sugar Daddy gave me a digital video camera but since it didn't come with any tapes we decided to head over to one of the open stores to see of we could get one. Nothing like essentials people…. essentials. We ended up at Target & the place was packed with people stocking up on essentials (the real kind, like beer & Cheetos) & holiday goods. The flashlights were sold out & I think staples like bread & milk were in short supply.

Heading home we noticed how many dumbasses don’t know what to do at an intersection with non-working lights. Really, did you think that line up of cars in the other direction were waiting especially for you to get through mister? Oh by all means – go through. By the time we got back to the house we were once again shrouded in the darkness so we felt our way upstairs & began the search for matches & the little flashlight we knew was around somewhere. We managed to light about a zillion tea lights – just enough to be able to change a diaper with - & invited the new neighbors over for a drink. Last blackout we were in was awesome for neighborly activities. It was so warm people were wandering the streets in the evening for a bit of coolness so we got to meet a lot of the community we wouldn’t have otherwise. Folks would be hanging out on their lawns drinking their warmish beers, eating their decaying freezer food & looking up at the stars. That was good times. Good times.

Our new neighbors couldn’t come over at first because they had to go get gas. Seems everybody needed some. I’m not sure why people were driving around so much when most everything was closed, work & schools were cancelled & it was a pain in the ass with the trees & lack of streetlights. Apparently our neighbors both had to work despite the outages & needed to drive. Others were using their cars to stay warm because it was about 10 degrees Celsius (50F) in their homes. I know that’s pretty chilly but it begs the question of how little insulation do the buildings here have? I think our house might have gone down to 5 or 10 degrees during the ice storm blackout but it was about – 20 (-10F) or so outside. And this was after a week. Anyway there have been lineups at what few pumps are working throughout the area. Some pumps don’t have power & the ones that do have run out of gas because of the demand. Thankfully we had over half a tank & had nowhere to drive besides Target down the road.

Eventually the neighbors came over & hung out for a few hours, most of which I spent upstairs trying to get the baby to sleep. Of course I fell asleep once she finally went down so it was Sugar Daddy who got to do most of the socializing. And the drinking. When he finally went to bed around 2am he was pretty tipsy & the power was back on. Woo hoo! So in the end, at least for us, this was not a bad power outage at all. Of course there are still about 200,000 people without power & plenty of those are without heat. I guess we have a horseshoe up our butts because with all that could’ve happened we were lucky to have only been frustrated by inconveniences.

So we're back to almost normal except that the internet cable connection keeps going out so we lose cable channels & that most awesome information superhighway that keeps me in touch with the outside world. Also our phone is all screwed up - it rings & I can hear someone on the line but they can't hear me. Very frustrating. But we only have to put up with it one more day as we leave tomorrow for St. John's & Ottawa. We're looking forward to seeing everyone & some familiar sights, not to mention Lucky Ron. I'm super excited to see the Doodles enjoying the Christmas tree, ripping paper from presents & getting spoiled rotten from Grammy & Poppy. We've been talking to her about Santa & she points him out everytime we catch sight of one. Him & snowmen, reindeers & holiday lights. She's so much fun right now & cracks me up every few minutes. Anyway, this has taken way too long to get posted once again so I bid you all Happy Holidays & we're looking forward to seeing those of you back home.

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