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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window

Issue Date: May 29, 2019

Black Out

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,

Mike and I were sound asleep on a recent early morning. All of our four-legged friends were also resting peacefully " but everyone was jolted awake at 1:30 a.m. when our power went out.

We have a small nightlight in the bathroom next to our bedroom, and also leave a small light on all night in the kitchen. Those lights going dark would probably not have awakened us, but a cacophony of alarms in the house was impossible to sleep through.

All the appliances in our Oklahoma house except the refrigerator were built in; so we have new appliances in our kitchen. Apparently each of them is endowed with a "voice" to let us know something is amiss.

The freezer in the garage chirped an alarm. The refrigerator sounded its distress. And chimes announced all was not well with the stove and the dishwasher. Over it all, the relentless three-tone beeping of the desktop computer sounded the news that all connection to the server was lost.

Of course all this racket woke the cats and dogs, who were not sure of the nature of the interruption, but signaled their interest in getting fed breakfast anyway. And then both of our cell phones received a text - I suspected from my in laws down the road but no, it was the utility company letting us know they were aware of our powerless plight, and predicting a repair time of 3:30 a.m. That's a new one on me, but it was nice to not have to wonder if we needed to call our utility company.

What a difference from when I was a little girl, fast asleep in my upstairs pitch-black bedroom in rural Marinette. My friend visiting from suburban Milwaukee marveled at the lack of street lights. The power might go out overnight, but I'd sleep blissfully unaware until the morning, when someone would notice the clock had stopped.

My first thought was that while it was raining, it was certainly not storming. My guess was someone had hit a power pole with a vehicle (and it being 1:30 a.m., a likely time for such an unfortunate occurrence.) I said a prayer for anyone who might be in that situation, as well as the safety of the linemen called from their beds in the rainy night to go in search of the issue.

As we tried to settle back to sleep, the utter silence in the house was strange. Most unlike my bedroom upstairs in my parent's home, where the only sound at night was the ticking of the clock, we have a "white-noise" machine in our room that my husband finds helpful for quality sleep. Also I am accustomed to the sounds of his CPAP machine; a sound that assures both his restful sleep and my own. The quiet in the powerless bedroom made the sounds of Wolfgang moving around in his dining room dog bed very noticeable. Then Spanky the cat came in, and performed his trick of opening up the wooden cabinet I use for storage by pulling repeated on the knob of the door. There is no reason for him to do this; he is too big to get into the cabinet and nothing stored in it is of interest to a cat; I just think he likes to show off his talent. Normally I sleep through his performance, but now his pawing and the clicking of the cabinet hinges was very noticeable. And irritating. The rain audibly coursed down the downspout of the house, and little creaks and groans of the home surprised me.

About 3:28 a.m. the power came back on. Simultaneously our phones received a text informing us of this fact; and all our power-starved machinery starting chirping and chiming as it reset and started up. The animals woke up again, wondering at this strange night, but soon we were settled back in to the familiar sounds of white noise and CPAP lullabies.

We are blessed to be able to take our power for granted. It is only when it is gone that we realize how comfortable, convenient and safe it makes our lives. It is amazing that a disruption to those of us on Brookfield Road was immediately noticed in the wee hours of the morning; and quickly attended to. We didn't need to call for help, and it is reassuring to know that should we be traveling during such an outage, someone would know and work to get our power back on before we came home days later to a stinking mess in our freezer. Thank you to all of the men and women of our utility companies - you are appreciated and we probably don't say that enough.

But I have been pondering all day the difference between my life as a 10 year old, when I could sleep peacefully through a power outage without even realizing it had happened, and my life now. Almost makes me wish my appliances could sleep through an outage, too; or were elderly and primitive like my washer and dryer who had nothing to say when the power went out.

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: JanieTMartin@gmail.com.


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