Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Rude Awakening

It is 7:05 a.m. precisely when I hear a voice in my sleep. "You'd better get up. The power's out," it said. I pulled myself awake, a little groggy at first, and felt the cool night air slip beneath the blanket I am casting aside. I take a glance at the clock radio on the nightstand beside my bed. The clock is dark.
The voice was Dad calling from the bottom of the steps. I grabbed my bathrobe and went downstairs to grab the cell phone because when the power is out our electronic phones do not work. I brought it back to my warm bed, propped a flashlight on my pillow and proceeded to dial the power company.
It's the usual sequence: "The number you are dialing from is not in our database. Please enter your home phone number, area code first."
I tapped it in. After five minutes the system finally hangs up on me, the outage still not reported. I dial again and this time I manage to get through.
We've had an ice storm overnight and the first light of day shows the road reflective and slick. In the distance I hear sirens - then lots of them coming from all directions. A bevy of firetrucks, ambulances and police vehicles pass the house. Another contingent presses east along Hemple Road, flickering through the trees in the distance.
Normal traffic that is passing the house is going at their usual speed.
Oh, my, we'll be without power for a while today.

Outside the back door, our "dinner bell" has a halo of ice dripping around the edge. It would be a prettier sight if the concrete porch wasn't equally icy.

And the satellite dish, right at the edge of the porch, is rimmed with ice. It's usually smooth reflective surface is rippled with ice, surely throwing some of the signal away. How do these things work when it is brutally cold anyway?

If the power failure was a rare event, we wouldn't care so much but last year we lost power 18 times. That's too much. On average we lose our power once every 20 days.
In the past months - particularly since the remnants of Hurricane Ike on 09/14/08, the power company has cleared limbs, replaced poles and made valiant efforts to improve the infrastructure here in the county. Just last Saturday they replaced a pole out front of the house.
So it is an "act of God" they will say. It is the weather. It is a car striking a pole.
It is ... ridiculous.
The power was restored at 9:10 a.m. We waited a while before turning the furnace back on and we're holding our breath still. So far, so good.