When last we spoke (already a couple of weeks ago), I was relating our experiences with the Ike-induced windstorm that swept through back in September. Already that seems like ancient history, although there are still signs of the damage everywhere: downed trees in places where it wasn’t important to move them right away, blue tarps on roofs, roofing company signs mixing in with political signs in yards around every neighborhood.
I’m one of those people that has to finish a story; so even though it’s been a long intermission in my narrative, I’ll continue:
I phoned Diamondqueen from Krogers to inform her of the D battery shortage and to ask if she had any to spare. She thought she might, plus she had an AM/FM radio to pass along, so I said I’d swing by before I drove back to Mom’s. Once I left the crowded Krogers gas station behind and was driving up Montgomery-Mason Road, I saw that Wal-Mart was open. I hate going to Wal-Mart but I thought maybe there would be batteries for the plucking (plus I had to go to the bathroom).
There were no batteries, at least not out in the racks that had been swept clean. I wondered about stockpiles in some backroom but didn’t think it worthwhile to pursue. I picked up a few more things from the food section as long as I was there, including a foot-long turkey sub. It wasn’t long until lunch.
When I arrived at Diamondqueen’s house, I found That Poor Man with his laptop hooked up to the PT Cruiser in the driveway, trying to do some work. Diamondqueen and the kids were in the backyard, cleaning up fallen limbs and general leaf debris. She’d left the batteries and radio inside for me to pick up, and I took it upon myself to invite her and the kids up to Mom’s to share the turkey sub and some Krispy Kreme danish-type things for dessert. I didn’t think she’d agree, but she was very grateful for an opportunity to get the kids out of the house for awhile. After all, there was no electricity–no TV and no computer!
I arrived at Mom’s after my 2-hour Oddysey to find that kind neighbors had finished cleaning the fallen tree from the lawn and driveway. I told her the Hooligans would be arriving in about a half hour, passed along the batteries, radio, and some magazines I’d picked up for our entertainment, and went into the bedroom for a quick nap.
Lunch was okay; the turkey sub wasn’t particularly good and the danish things were kind of wet and slimey, but it was nice to have some light and activity in the house. After lunch we went into the living room and listened to the radio for awhile. At least talk radio was good for passing along information and for phone-ins from people about their individual experiences where they lived.
Normally I wouldn’t be caught dead listening to WLW, but it served its purpose, until one of the hosts went into a tirade about how people had acted at a local Meier’s the day before — dog-eat-dog panic buying, apparently — and the white host went on about everything that had been said about New Orleans after Katrina and weren’t WE supposed to be better? “Everyone acted like they were from Louisiana!” he fumed. His coded racism wasn’t particularly subtle.
Diamondqueen had brought the kids’ bikes along, so she and I took them (along with Rusty) on a long trip around the neighborhood to wear them out. As they continued to bike on Mom’s street, I started raking twigs and leaves into piles on Mom’s lawn. Later, after the Hooligans went home and while Mom and I were taking naps, a township truck with a wood chipper in tow came down the street, and soon the wreckage of the pear tree was but a memory.
Early in the evening I asked Mom if she wanted to go out to dinner. I trusted that the restaurants along Montgomery-Mason had power if the stores did. We headed for Carrabas and had a very nice meal. A distant TV was playing the local news when we first walked in. I gazed longingly from afar, trying to catch even a few snatches of storm coverage, until it became all football, all the time when the channel was switched to ESPN.
I overheard a server talking to a family who had just been seated behind us. Obviously others without electricity had the same idea we did, running to the restaurants that did have power for a hot meal. Our server was very unhappy. He’d lost power the previous afternoon as well. He and his girlfriend had gotten by watching a movie on the portable DVD player (until they wore the battery down) and digging out the board games. He’d just gone grocery shopping, though, and he was going to lose over $100 in food in the fridge. We sympathized.
Mom and I swung by my apartment just to check on things. Back up on Loveland-Madeira Road I realized there were signs on and the traffic lights were working. We cut up to Diamondqueen’s house and cheered when we saw their windows aglo. We stopped in briefly to visit (“Why didn’t you invite ME?” Diamondqueen wailed when she heard we’d gone to dinner.) Mom was concerned about the roasts and some other meat in the freezer, so we retrieved it from her house so Diamondqueen could store it for her until power was restored. Along the way, I saw that the line at the Krogers gas station on Loveland-Madeira wasn’t that crowded, so I popped it. It was cash only, so I was glad I’d hit the ATM that morning, but $20 worth of gas was enough to get me through the week and to and from work.
It was getting dark by the time Mom and I returned to her house. We took Rusty for another walk, then huddled around the kitchen table for another game of 500. For awhile we listened to the radio, Mom looking at magazines in the dim light of the candles and me hunched over my handquilting in the glow of the emergency beam. I stayed up for awhile yet after she went to bed and finally retired myself around 11:15.
I was roused from sleep by — something, and I opened my eyes just in time to see the bathroom explode in light. (I realized later the ceiling fan kicking on had awakened me first.) I heard Mom cheer from her bedroom, “Yay! The electricity is back on!!!” She headed downstairs immediately to check on the temperature of the food in the freezer. I hurried in and switched on the computer. Long after Mom was back in bed, I stayed up looking at e-mails, catching up on the news, and reviewing the blogs. It had been only about 30 hours, but it had seemed like a lifetime without power or connection to the world. It was almost demoralizing to realize how dependent I’d become on modern ways and conveniences, except I was so thrilled to have it all back again, I didn’t care.
The next morning I stopped at my apartment for fresh clothes for work. The electricity was back on there as well. Both the power and phones had been down most of the day at work on Monday, but everything had been restored by the time I arrived. It had been an adventure getting to Kenwood. I’d had to turn around several times because of blocked roads, and many traffic signals still weren’t working properly. On top of that, there was a water main break on the Interstate and all the area roads were jammed with re-routed traffic. Things were hardly back to normal.
However, we were lucky. Some people still didn’t have power that following weekend. I was grateful every time I walked in the front door and could simply flick on the kitchen light. I still am.