12th: Shake not the head, feet, or legs; roll not the eyes; lift not one eyebrow higher than the other; wry not the mouth; and bedew no man's face with your spittle by approaching too near him when you speak.
The Other End of the Leash
TODAY ON DVD
Into Thin Air
Over the River and Through the Woods
IN THE DARK
4 September 2004
The first thing I noticed when I woke up was that it was pitch black. Now, that may not seem so strange, but I had fallen asleep in the recliner in front of the television, waiting for Jay Leno to interview Ellen Degeneres. Walt was at his mothers in Sacramento and if he comes home and finds me sleeping in front of the TV, he usually just leaves the TV on and goes to bed. I was surprised that hed turned it off.
I was also surprised that hed turned off the light in my office, which usually stays on all night.
The glow-in-the-dark function of my watch ceased to function several months ago, so I couldnt see what time it was. I reached for the remote for the TV and went to turn it on. Thats when I began to get the idea that our power was out.
I also became aware that the wind was howling outside, that trees were blowing very hard, and that our bamboo wind chime sounded like the drum section of a drum and bugle core.
I knew I had left my flashlight by the CDs, because thats the only way I can read the titles on the spines of the boxes, so I stumbled across the room, trying to be careful not to step on any of Sheilas toys, and checked my watch to discover that it was 5 a.m. Too late to go back to sleep, to dark to do anything constructive.
As I sat there in the dark, wondering how soon the sky was going to start to get light, I was flooded with all sorts of thoughts. The first thing I thought about was going into labor. Now that may sound strange, but I gave birth before birthing rooms or birthing beds or any of those great things that mothers have now. You labored in a hard flat bed, and then were transferred to a hard, flat gurney and wheeled into a sterile delivery room where you were put on a hard flat delivery table. Your legs were strapped in stirrups and your hands were strapped to the side of the bed (presumably so you wouldn't sock the nurse). Invariably the first thing that happened every time they strapped my hands down was that my nose would start itching. I was a good LaMaze birth mother and didn't really need the nurse's assistance to help me stay calm for delivery, so my nurses always got to scratch my nose.
It reminded me that you don't really realize how much you need something until you don't have it any more. I couldn't use my computer, read, watch TV, listen to music, listen to the radio, run the dishwasher or the washing machine and I sat there ticking off all the electronic appliances I had come to rely on throughout my life. I suddenly had this burning need to do a whole host of things that all required electricity.
I also thought about the folks in Florida, in the path of Hurricane Frances, and the people who, after Charley, were without power for days.
I also thought about having seen Oprah yesterday, the segment where she and her friend Gail went to spend the weekend in a settlement in Maine, where they were to experience what it was like to live in this country in the 1600s. No toilets, no underwear, no ovens, no clean clothes, etc., etc, etc.
So much to think about when you sit alone in the dark at 5 a.m.
I managed to get a couple of candles lit (one of which leaked wax all over the kitchen table, I discovered later), but still couldn't really do anything. As it began to get light, I really wanted coffee. But I make coffee with freshly ground beans in an automatic coffee pot and could neither grind the beans nor turn on the coffee pot. I could boil water, at least, but there was no instant coffee in the house. We're so spoiled!
We were smart when we bought our stove. We got a gas stove. It still needs electricity for the oven, and the burners on the top need a match or flint to start when the power goes out, but you CAN turn on the burners, if you can find a book of matches. Fortunately, I knew where there was such a book.
I noticed that the house behind us had power and went outside to see that it appeared to be only our block that was dark...that meant the Peet's Coffee, a few blocks away, probably was open!
Sheila was astonished when I drove off without her, but I went to Peet's, bought a French Press coffee maker ($30+) and a pound of French Roast beans ($10+), ground, and for only $43 I was able to come home to make a pot of coffee. Thanks to a box of Biscuick and a can of canned milk, I was also able to make pancakes for Walt's breakfast.
Walt went off to work around 8:45. I didn't envy him his bike ride to the office, since I know what it's like to bike in strong winds.
In the meantime, I sat there wondering what I could do. I couldn't vacuum, wash clothes, or check e-mail. I couldn't even use my laptop on batteries because Shelly had borrowed it. I couldn't do any transcription. I couldn't even return the phone call from my friend Lynn because the number was on my "caller ID" screen, which was dead without power.
I gave myself permission to veg out with a book. I'm reading a book on dog-human interaction and how to read dog body language (fascinating book) and eventually I decided it was time to brave the storm and take Sheila to the park, so I could put some of my newly discovered observations to the test.
It was sunny by then and she had a good run with Jasmine and Ruth, while their owners and I wondered where we could stand so as not to be hit by falling tree limbs (the park was filled with such broken limbs and the wind continued to blow).
We returned home at 10:15, by which time all the lights and all the TVs in the house were on, so I could finally do all those things that I had a burning need to do at 5 a.m.
Somehow they didn't seem to be quite so pressing once I knew that I could do them!
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