Note: I wrote this Friday, January 5. The events described happened on January 4.
Last night, I was sitting in the living room waiting for John to come home and reading Three to Get Deadly. I had positioned myself in front of the wall heater, because really, there are few things in life quite so joyous as standing in front of a blast of warm air and monopolizing it.
Anyway, so I’m just at the part of the novel where violent things get more violent, when suddenly there’s this booming noise from outside, and a whole lot of crashing directly above my head, finally culminating in more booming and what look like a couple of high-grade fireworks exploding about twenty feet above the road.
The lights flickered, went out, then came back on, but fluctuating wildly.
I paused a moment to make sure nothing further was happening. The earth hadn’t moved. Nothing was on fire. And, so far as I knew, nobody had actually scheduled a fireworks display for the road in front of my house.
I took a deep breath and went upstairs to unplug my laptop. The lights were still fluctuating, and as much as I trust the various surge protectors and UPS’s in my house…. I don’t trust them to sustain a direct lightning strike (for instance). Not that it was raining or in any way looked like a lightning strike was imminent.
I then went downstairs and dug around in my purse for a flashlight. One of the great things about my new job as a dog-walker is that I’m almost always prepared for two things: darkness, and dogs relieving themselves.
I went out to the porch and shone the flashlight around. I flicked the flashlight beam up to the power lines and saw that there were no large tree limbs on the power lines, which is good. I then saw the 30 foot long tree limb that had fallen on the roof (the one above my head and the heater), landing neatly in front of the house (not blocking the driveway, thank goodness). I followed the power line with my flashlight more slowly and saw what I thought was a twig hanging from one end (turns out it’s one end of the cable), and a snapped/severed cable on the end next to the house.
Well, that’s not good. It seems that the snapped cable is/was a supplier of power to my home, though not the only supplier, and that even though it was innocently sitting there, exposed to the world, it was probably still “live.” I went around and started unplugging everything I could think of that wasn’t mission-critical. The fish tank lights went off, but the filters stayed on. All computers got unplugged. Printer, off. Router, off.
The power continued to fluctuate oddly, so that I heard an odd whining at one point that turned out to be the stove. At another point, the CO detector in the bedroom went off– why, I have no idea, since there was no sudden influx of CO. It scared the hell out of me, though, because it sounded like a smoke detector and, of course, my biggest fear with a major electrical disaster like this is that the house will catch fire.
John came home about a half hour later, to find me rather quietly freaking out. It had finally occurred to me that:
- The tree branch had hit the roof above my head.
- The tree branch, being a 30-40 foot long redwood branch, probably weighs over 400 lbs.
- The tree branch could have easily gone through the roof and landed on my head.
- The house feels very haunted with unreliable power.
We had already planned to go out to dinner, but John called the power company first to arrange a visit to repair the line. As we left, we worried about fire, and I asked if we should bring the cat with us, just in case. John paused, and said “I would say no, but now that you’ve said it,” (this crazy, stupid, baked idea) “if something happens, then I was the guy who said no.”
Our neighbor came out while we were debating this, and agreed to watch the house while we went out, and to give the cat an escape route if a fire started. When we came home, the house was still there, the cat was fine, and the downed lines were still down.
I had John flip the circuit breakers on anything non-essential, so at least we won’t have power surges going through everything. At about 8, I was ready for bed, and read for another half hour or so before finally falling asleep. Adrenaline can be very tiring!
In the morning, we still had no electricity, so we went out for breakfast. Just before leaving to go to work, John called the power company again, and it was just like he had never called before. The power company had no record of his previous service ticket.
Note: this part was written on Saturday, January 6, at some ungodly hour of the morning when sane people should be asleep.
At 10 AM, just as I was leaving for an appointment, the power company guy showed up to fix the power. I explained I was leaving, and would be happy to have electricity on my return. He stopped me as I was pulling away to ask who had put in the power cables “because it wasn’t us.” I refrained from yelling “do I look like I know who built my house?” and just shrugged and told him truthfully that I have no freaking clue.
This is not entirely true, as I can guess it was a friend/colleague of either the previous owner, a concrete contractor who built some beautiful concrete works around our home, or else a friend/colleague of the previous owner’s wife’s ex-husband, who owned the house and land before there was a house here, and who is, to this day, a thorn in our sides (he still owns a property next to ours, and is what we lovingly call the “Bad Neighbor”).
I should probably give a recap of what happened to the freezer, but I’m a bit fuzzy on that since John dealt with it, then fought with me about dealing with it alone.
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