November 30, 2010

What’s the old
saying?  “Life is what happens
while you’re making other plans”? 
Well, that must have been what happened yesterday afternoon when we
walked into the library downtown and the power went out.  At first, since Isaac and I had just
stepped in the front door when the lights went off and an alarm began to beep, we thought that we had tripped something by accident.  Turns out, most of Elkin and half of Jonesville was without
power.

By the time we had stumbled through the stacks in the dark
and found the book of magic tricks and the one about tornadoes with the cool
pictures, it was past time to pick Harper Lee up from school.  Since the computers were down, the
librarians were writing each title going out down by hand.  I stacked mine on the desk, left my
library bag and said, “Just get to mine when you can,” as the line continued to
grow.  “I’ll send Harper Lee in to
pick the bag up after I get her from school.”

The traffic lights outside were all black and car line
stretched on further than usual. 
No way to use the microphone system, I guessed.  When we finally got Harper Lee, she
told us about all of the excitement of the power going out.  Harper’s classroom is an inside room
with no windows (I know—horrible, but that’s another entry), so you can imagine
the mayhem that ensued when a room full of third graders cleaning up for the
day went completely dark.  She said
there was a lot of screaming and stumbling over one another.  Poor Ms. Horton.  I pictured her last night in front of a
fireplace with her feet propped up and a glass of Scotch in her hand.

Getting home was a little scary with no traffic lights most
of the way up N. Bridge Street, but most people were feeling good and courteous
so there seemed to be a general sense of looking out for the other guy as well.  As we traveled up Hwy. 21, Isaac asked
if our power would be out when we got home.  “No,” I said, “I doubt it.  We live pretty far out, and these things are usually
isolated to one area.  I think it’s
just town.  I hope it is anyway,
because I have $120.00 worth of groceries in the back of the car.”

But when we opened the door and the lights did not come on
when I flipped the switch, I knew that we too had been struck.  At least it was still afternoon though;
I could just open up the blinds and let the sun (what there was of it
yesterday) in for light.  The kids
played outside in the yard, and I tried to do some of my Christmas decorating,
what I had planned on doing all day, by the ever dimming light.  My house does not have a lot of natural
light, particularly on a grey, overcast day, so it was harder than I thought it
would be.

However, when the sun went down, it became impossible.  All day I had planned to finish the
tree decorating, dust off the shelves and put out my favorite Christmas pieces,
and then make a big pan of lasagna for supper.  None of those things happened.  My living room is still a complete disaster area, and the
tree is only half done.  The
shelves are still dusty, and Rob brought home greasy KFC for supper.  My night looked nothing like I had
imagined it would.

Yet I didn’t care. 
Harper Lee went through a brief moody period when she was “bored” and I
told her to suck it up, but other than that, we had a pretty good time.  We spent some time snuggled in piles of
blankets on Harper’s floor as she read fairy tales and Bible stories to us by
the light of Isaac’s Star Trek badge, we did yoga in front of the fire, we
talked, we played card games, and when Rob got home with chicken and new
lanterns in hand, we had fun having a “picnic” in the glowing light.  It was, as it turns out, not a bad way
to spend an evening.

When the power finally came back on at 9:00, the kids had
already gone to bed.  Rob was
riding his trainer in the dark, and I was working on a letter on my
laptop.  (Good old batteries.)  But both of us said that we were
slightly disappointed when the power was restored.  I’m glad it came back on before morning, to be sure.  Having done it all too often as a kid,
let me say that there are few things more annoying than having to brush your
teeth and get ready for school with no water.  I’m also not a big fan of having no heat. 

But the peace and quiet of a powerless night was really
nice, and I enjoyed just being with my family without any distractions, even if
part of it was “boring”.  As I
unloaded the dishwasher by the light of my lantern last night and listened to
the wind blowing outside, I smiled to myself as I thought about how nice the
night had actually turned out to be and what my friend, Rex, always says: “Is
there a message there?”

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