Monday, June 12, 2006

home sweet homestead

The lights finally came back on this morning. "Thank god," my mother said. "I'm so sick of being a pioneer woman."

We've been without power for roughly 36 hours. This is not unusual for us. Our house is about 50 years old, and so is the transformer-doohickey-thing (that's a technical term) that runs the circuit in our neighborhood. I think it's held together with spit and string. And maybe a wad of Bazooka gum. So we lose electricity for a least a day every time it drizzles. And AmerenUE doesn't give a shit about you if you're not in the right tax-bracket, which we don't seem to be. This has been going on for the last 20 years. We're pretty used to it.

This time it was a gust of wind that did it. We lost power before it actually started raining.

And honestly, I don't really mind all that much. In fact I secretly enjoy it. I used to wish the power would go out when I was a kid, it was exciting and thrilling. If it was out long enough we'd get to sleep on the porch because of the heat. Which, when you're eight, is totally awesome. Probably not so much if you're the parent and you're hoping it comes back on before the milk you just bought spoils.

It was the first proper thunderstorm I've experienced since I've been back. My folks went four days without electricity when I was bumming around the UK, and obviously they're not nearly as romantic about it as I am. I know they're right, but I can't help myself. I grew up in Tornado Alley; I love thunderstorms, the wilder the better. Not to drive in, of course, though I've done that a few times too. It's not unheard of for people here to sit on their front porch and watch the tornadoes on the horizon; my friend RC's done it (the usual caveats apply, obviously. Don't try this at home, kids! Especially if you don't have a basement). Maybe that's what annoyed me so much about the weather in Europe; if I'm going to be wet and cold, can't you at least throw in a few lightning bolts and make it interesting? Sheesh.

So I spent Saturday night listening to the thunder and lightning and wind rattle the windows in their frames, reading The Spiral Dance by candlelight. Dad didn't have as much fun, he spent the whole night putting out fires from lightning strikes and getting stuck in a tree (who do you call if a fireman gets stuck in a tree??) All in a day's work.

Part of the reason I like losing power is that it seems to slow everything down. The day is a lot calmer and quieter. If it's hot out you don't feel like moving, you stay out of the heat and do as little as possible. But it's been nice and cool lately. If it's cloudy out, like this weekend, it gets dark inside a lot quicker so you spend the evening reading with what little light remains, listening to the crickets and the frogs. Watch the bats and the lightning bugs come out, and then turn in early. Because the candles they make these days are not meant to be functional, they're meant to smell nice and look pretty, which they do, but they don't give a lot of light. The strategic use of mirrors does help a bit. Beeswax candles are what you need. I used to buy them at the Friday market in Verdun (oh god, the past tense already), from a little old beekeeper who was 105 if he was a day, 1 euro a piece, at his table filled with home-made honey and soap and other bee products. Beeswax gives off tons of light, but it doesn't last very long.

The flashlight battery is dead, in case you were wondering, because even though this has been going on for 20 years, we refuse to be prepared, just out of spite.

So that's what I've been up to the last few days; sitting, thinking about blogging and reverse culture shock. There'll be posts on that later. Reading the shitload of books you see on the right. I'm bingeing. I went almost a month and half without a chance to really sit and read (can't read in a car or a train, makes me sick). And I have a pretty severe case of bibliophilia, a week without a book and I start to get the shakes. Hence the wierd combination of hard-core thealogy and fluff entertainment.

I'm hoping to get five more applications out there this morning, bringing my total up to 20. Maybe 5-8 more this afternoon. I applied for a publishing internship at Ms. magazine in D.C., I have no idea if it's even a paid position, but cross your fingers for me because this would be a dream job.


At 1:56 PM, Blogger JaneFan said...

Ms. mag would be perfect for you!! good luck! maybe they would let you revive their blog:

At 3:38 PM, Blogger Andygrrl said...

ooooooh that would be so cool. I'm afraid to even think about it.

At 3:47 AM, Blogger Winter said...

Oooh good luck. I've had no luck in the job search so far. It's a freakin desert in the UK.

At 3:48 AM, Blogger Winter said...

And I like power cuts and thunderstorms too ... not sure about tornedos though.


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