Thursday, September 22, 2005


I was going to write something to post here last night; really I was. My goal of writing something once or twice a week has more often become "once a week if it's a slow week." I have no idea how so many people find the time to post something witty and clever nearly every day of their lives. (I'm less interested, of course, in the many more people who post witless and inane prattle every day of their lives. Their time, I feel, would be best spent elsewise.)

Anyway, so I was going to write something last night. The storm that made CNN had other plans for my computer, however--namely, rendering it useless by knocking out power to the entire city of Minneapolis.

As the sirens started whining around 7:00 last night, I was on my way to my yoga class in St. Paul. I looked out at the pinkish-green sky and listened to the sirens and thought, "Is it just plain old stupid to get in my car to leave when they're suggesting people just a few miles north of me retreat to their basements?" At that point, however, there were no warnings for St. Paul. I reasoned that if something was going to hit my house, it would hit whether I was there or not. If I was in St. Paul (presumably out of the path of the storm), at least I would be safe.

So I went to yoga, and the scariest thing I encountered was a garbage can rolling directly across the path of my car on a side street near the studio. There were no power outages as far as I could tell, and though our class huddled our mats as far away from the front windows of the studio as possible (just to be on the safe side), we barely heard even a drop of rain.

The situation when I got back to my own neighborhood was entirely different, however. The only working lights in view anywhere were car headlights and tail lights. Every street light, traffic light, and residential light was out. The many downed trees and power lines made an interesting obstacle course for the drive (particularly in total darkness). I was twice forced to turn around and choose a different route due to an impassable barrier in my path.

When I got home, my sister was there waiting for me. She'd been unable to reach me by phone and decided to come over and make sure I and my house were OK. I was fine, obviously. My house was fine too. The great big 50-year-old tree in my backyard, however? Not so fine. Half of it is still standing tall (for now, anyway). The other half, unfortunately, is lying on my neighbors' deck. The parts of it that don't fit on their now-structurally-unsound deck are covering the entire rest of their yard. Bummer.

my neighbors' yard

I didn't realize how much I appreciated that tree until now. It's in kind of a weird spot a bit too close to my back steps and railing, and it covers my entire yard with leaves that I have to rake into dozens of bags in the fall. But it also provides shade in my no-central-air house, and adds character to the lot as well. Or, it did, anyway. Now I'll have to replace it with some sad little sapling, like I live in a newly developed suburban sprawl development or something.

When I left for work this morning, the power was still out at my house. As I suspect the culprit is the two power line wires dangling precariously across the alley for my block (rather than just a grid outage that simply needed to be reset or something), I don't anticipate it being fixed yet by the time I return.

I can live without TV (for a few nights, anyway), and luckily my lazy self didn't go grocery shopping this week like I meant to do, so I don't have a hundred dollars worth of food spoiling in my currently useless fridge. It's odd (and it proves what a boring grown-up I've become since purchasing a house) that the appliance I'm most concerned about right now is my sump pump. The alarm on the pump started screeching last night, presumably to warn me that the tank where water from my backyard collects to avoid flooding my basement was now full, and with no electricity, the pump couldn't pump it out. I'm not sure exactly what happens if the water continues to drain in and the pump can't push it out... I'm envisioning some sort of cartoon-like scenario where the lid to the tank bulges and recedes repeatedly, letting in small drops of water with each bulge, until finally the screws on the tank lid blow off and the lid shoots to the ceiling, a veritable geyser of water spurting in all directions out of the tank to fill the entire surface of my basement. That's the cartoon version. In reality, I'm sure the water just kind of leaks its way in and leaves a slimy, musty mess throughout my laundry room. Sounds like fun. Can't wait.

I do realize that the tree, the potentially flooded basement, and even the anticipated $500 deductible I'll likely have to pay to remove the tree and possibly replace my neighbors' deck are all minor concerns compared to what could have happened. I am of course grateful for that. Hundreds of houses in the area fared far worse last night, and twelve hundred miles from here, people who've already evacuated their homes for one hurricane are bracing for another Category 4 or 5 on its way. So I do have perspective, and I do realize I'm lucky. I still wish I could watch tonight's new-to-me syndicated episodes of "Sex & the City," however. Call me selfish; that's just how it is.

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