Power Outage

January 30, 2008

It’s been a day of power interruptions. Mom returned home from Portland today to report that the post office couldn’t give her a phone card because the power was off all the way to Lombardy. Forfar seemed fine, so I checked that the generator was gassed and plugged in and headed for home to nurse a cold.

This afternoon at 5:30 my computer screen faded to black and the lights came back on at about 1/3 intensity. The energy-saving bulbs didn’t look much different, though, until one started to smell really bad and quit. (It returned to service when the power came back on, though, to give it credit.) Not wanting another computer meltdown I pulled the power cord out of the processor, shut off the furnace and the refrigerator, and settled in to await developments.

Bet had just arrived home with groceries, happy that she had cleared the supermarket before things shut down.

I’ve never seen it as dark in Smiths Falls as it was at 6:30 this evening. By 7:35 I had had enough — nothing to do without electricity, eh? — so I jumped in the truck to retrieve the little generator from the farm and stockpile some gas. Who knows how long these things will last? The only working traffic light in town was the last one on the highway. Just past it one service station was lit up and pumping gas to a lineup of cars.

Information was scarce and the speaker a bit insincere. The cashier said, “A little bird told me the power will be on by 9:00 or 9:30 this evening.” Uh, right. I decided to get the generator, just in case.

Once at the farm I loaded up all of the goodies, returned twice for things I had forgotten, and headed for home to the country tunes of Y101.1. All I learned from that is that It woulda been cheaper to keep her around. Y101.1 programing must be recorded in advance. Here we were in the biggest emergency to hit Smiths Falls since the ice storm and they just kept running corny country songs, car ads, and promotions for a tropical getaway.

I felt a stirring in my pocket. The phone! Bet called to tell me that the power was back on. With great relief I glided into town, chuckling at the lines of cars aimlessly touring the parking lots of the fast-food restaurants, trying to find one that had remained open. Then I learned to dodge the disappointed customers: they weren’t looking very carefully when returning, caffeine-less, to the highway.

Bet had everything up and running by the time I returned. Frankly I had dreaded coaxing that little generator to life in the dark. It only likes to start in warm weather, and I’ve never actually hooked it to our furnace: the power it makes is o.k. for a reciprocating saw, but I’m a bit reluctant to feed it to an expensive gas boiler in the middle of winter.

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