By no means could it have been considered a good night. I got to bed at 11:05, as I do most Sunday nights; the alarm is set for 6:40. (Used to be 6:45, but the extra five minutes is barely worth the bother.) At about a quarter to one I woke up with inexplicable pain in one leg. I tried one concoction off the shelf; it worked until about 2:30, and then decided to quit working. Off to the shelf to find a different concoction.

Around three, the storms came. I wasn't too worried about those storms; terms like "marginal risk" had been bandied about in the evening, and "marginal," in National Weather Service parlance, is even slighter than "slight." (Inexplicably, the next step up is "enhanced," followed by "moderate"; it seems to me that it ought to be the other way around, but I'm not one of the suits in the Department of Nomenclature.) And if they'd been fairly big once they'd crossed the Kansas state line, they'd surely have died out by three.


I stirred long enough to notice the sound of rain, shrugged and went back to sleep. About half an hour later, it occurred to me that the big fan that serves me as white-noise generator was no longer serving me. There's a washcloth over the front of the alarm clock that takes the place of a proper dimmer switch; the usual Big Red Digits were not in attendance. "Well, hell, the power's out," I mumbled, knowing that the clock, despite its lack of light-level control, did have a battery backup to maintain its time settings.

Sunrise was about 6:37, and the window nearest my head faces east, so the event didn't go unnoticed. Still no juice. Now we have problems: it's no particular trick to disconnect the garage-door opener, but actually pulling up the door, or pulling it back down, is a task for people steady on their feet, not for me. I called the sysadmin and advised that I might be late, depending on how long it took the utility to restore the juice.

Came eight o'clock, ten o'clock, noon. I'd phoned the disembodied voice at the utility; she had no information as to when we would have actual lights once more. "Or refrigeration," I thought, and dialed up Walmart. Monday has been my grocery-getting day for the last couple of months, but if I'm not getting out of the garage, there's no point, especially since about half the $90 order was frozen stuff. Said Walmart, no problem, but be sure to fetch it before 5 pm Tuesday. (One of their reps called later that evening to remind me.) Temperature in the back bedroom had risen to 80° Fahrenheit, which is marginal for napping.

Came three o'clock. I'd scored the workday as a vacation day. I started reading a new book on my tablet; by the time I got 25 percent through it, I'd used half the battery. As is my wont, I'd left some despair-ridden tweet, which of course accomplished nothing.

Came five o'clock. Dinner consisted of "What's most likely to be spoiled tomorrow?" I called Jeannie. When Jeannie was fifteen, she was in love with me; now, at sixty-four, she's pretty good at making the case for Not Panicking. She did what she could, which admittedly wasn't much. It dawned on me that "Don't I know someone who works for this utility?"

I did. He answered. I blubbered into the phone; he figured out I was distraught. He said he'd look at the charts and see if he could find out when they'd get around to power restoration in my neighborhood. "I'll call you back the moment I know anything."

It helps to have great friends.

At 5:45 came a loud BRRRRRRP! from the center of the house. "What the —?" Turned out to be the sump pump, which takes the water removed from interior air and hurls it into the back yard. About two seconds later, the A/C itself started up. Power was on! The phone rang: the guy from the utility. We celebrated for about 45 seconds. I went back to the bedroom — 82° — and checked the clock, which had lost all of four seconds. The appropriate phone calls were made, and life returned to normal.

There's just one thing. Why in the pluperfect hell am I getting so panicky about these things? There was a time when I would shrug, pack an overnight bag, and disappear into a hotel until the worst was over. Apparently I can't do that anymore. Being an invalid — does anyone use that word anymore? — just totally sucks.

The Vent

  1 August 2018

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