Friday, December 15, 2006

"It was a dark and stormy night."

Yes, and crazy too. Coming back from visiting our friend Marian in Forest Grove, Dad and I started off the wrong way (he had his homing instinct on and had temporarily forgotten that I needed dropping off on the way) and then tried to correct our course, only to be routed by a combination of downed trees, accidents, flooded roads and a dubious GPS across an asphalt (and occasionally gravel) menagerie of tree-debris-strewn roads in a route which must have ended up resembling one of those "Family Circus" dotted-line adventures of little Billy (or whatever his name is). At various points we found ourselves:

-- heading down a road nearly overgrown with trees from both sides, evidently cutting across someone's farmland through a thick forest (Dad didn't like the looks of that one so we turned around);

-- almost driving right into a tree which lay with the end of its broken trunk on the road (no, this wasn't the overgrown road, this was a paved and very public one) and the rest of itself angling upwards and away, into the forest;

-- looking at a GPS arrow that resembled an epileptic snake; and

-- watching the GPS arrow point right back at us, instead of forward!

The whole way, there were obstacles to dodge and distant flashes, presumably of transformers blowing up. Most of the way was dark; few buildings were lit and even fewer road lights.

Then, upon finally reaching home, I found that a huge chunk of Salem was powerless (part of nearly 1/10 of the whole state, I later learned), including my home. No lights, no heat, no computer (and thus of course no Internet), no TV, no radio, no cooking. Wow, man. Bummer! :-( At least I did have my MP3 player with some Jack McLamb and Webster Tarpley podcasts to listen to, and of course my trusty charged-up battery brigade. So, after a little while, I tried to call PGE to see how long I might have to wait. All circuits were said (by that nice, if rather impersonal, lady who seems to answer so many of my calls lately) to be busy. Hmmmm. My folks had no power either, and Katherine (who lives elsewhere and is usually up late, like me) didn't return my call, so I soon got pretty restless and set out for Denny's restaurant on Market to try to get some help. I was hoping perhaps they'd have a computer and be able to check PGE's web site, but if not, at least I could warm up and relax for a bit while I waited for PGE's circuits to debusify.

I won't tell the (frankly, rather boring) story of the walk there and back, other than to mention that I -- or, more precisely, the gusty wind with an assist from my foolish optimism -- killed my new umbrella; fortunately, I got it at the Dollar Tree, so its replacing will set me back less than the item I ordered upon reaching Denny's (and relaxing a while, just to kill time). The people there were nice, and the manager even dialed PGE for me on their phone (I had mine with me, but she dialed before I realized she was doing it) and then handed me the phone and let me hang on the line while "Julie" at PGE looked up my problem. Julie finally did find it, and then told me it could be 8 AM before power was restored.

After another brief pause to consider my options, and with the book I'd brought with me wrapped in a plastic bag donated by the manager to protect it from the rain soaking through my backpack, I decided to head for home anyway; extra blankets and long johns should keep me warm enough even without power. Well, not 10 minutes out of Denny's' (yeah, that does look weird, but how else would it be punctuated?) door, the lights came on as I walked down Market. Yaaaay! So, here I am, relaxing at home again with everything back to normal. Oh, sure, we're still headed for economic collapse and possibly a disastrous invasion of Iran, and most Americans are blissfully unaware of how deeply mis-educated they are about almost everything important, but at least my microwave works.

{sigh}

Anyway, I'm glad to have my power back. No doubt about it, we're a nation of wusses nowadays, and there's definitely a spot for me somewhere in that sad yearbook. (Maybe the walk to Denny's and back will save me from the Dean's list.)

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