Monday, October 31, 2011

The Year Halloween Got Canceled

I had just finished tucking my son in for his afternoon nap when my husband called to me, "Look at your clock."  It was the only sign on the bright afternoon that the power had gone out.  I had spent most of the week worrying about the neighborhood trick-or-treating, which we had scheduled a month ago for Saturday night.  With a forecast of 3-6 inches of snow for Saturday afternoon, I was worried my kiddos wouldn't get to trick-or-treat.  The flurry of email exchanges reassured me that we would just dress the kids in parkas for trick-or-treating and then enjoy the Halloween party in costumes at our neighbor's house.  Earlier in the day on Saturday, with the snow coming down heavily, we had canceled the outdoor treating, and with the power out, the party was in jeopardy.  Twenty-five kids and their parents in a house without water or lights would not have been a good idea.

Ultimately, we moved the party to a house with a generator, and the teenagers took our bowls of candy to the upstairs rooms, where the kids had the most interesting trick-or-treating experience of their lives.  My family left the comfort of the party, and the warmth of our neighbor's house, to sleep at home, where we had no lights, no water, and no heat.

On Sunday morning we woke to a balmy 56 degrees, and while my husband spent  nearly four hours removing snow from the driveway and sidewalks, brushing snow off of sad tree limbs, and cracking the mound of snow deposited at the entrance to our drive by the overnight snowplow, I played with the kids.  All of us had on knit hats, and my son even wore mittens while we constructed a helicopter and truck out of his blocks.  We burrowed under my down comforter, the three of us snuggling for warmth and reading book after book, every so often before heading back to the toys. "You're hands are freezing," my son kept telling me.  "It's hard to build helicopters with mittens," I replied.

When my husband returned inside, I told him that we had to take the kids somewhere with heat.  Our plan was to shower at our neighbor's, eating lunch from the leftover party fare, and to head out for errands.  Though we did not expect the power to return, we were hopeful.  Then I looked at the power company's website on my charging phone.  "Oh, my," I exclaimed.  All the adults in the full kitchen looked my way.  "All the dots are red.  This is worse than how it looked during Irene."

Even with the 6 day power outage during the aftermath of hurricane Irene 2 months ago, my husband had been dragging his feet about buying a generator.  Our neighborhood loses power frequently, but most of the time it is restored within a few hours.  Of the 14 houses in our neighborhood, 4 had generators prior to Irene; 2 more hooked them up during the Irene power outage, and another purchased one to use for "next time." With seven generators in the neighborhood, my hubby figured we would be ok.

When we realized we were looking at another week without power, this time in cold weather and during my academic year when I had to commute, my husband decided we needed a generator.  NOW.  My friend and I called about 15 Lowe's in a 2 hour radius before we found one with generators in stock.  My hubby took a 4.5 hour trip to get all the supplies he needed, and he, the neighborhood gang, including the resident electrical engineer, got us running water, lights, and most importantly, heat.

As I woke this morning at 5:30 to get ready for work, the heat kicked on and the water streamed out of the shower.  Of course, the lights dimmed since these two things happened at the same time, but I was grateful to be getting ready for work in the warmth, in the light.  Since the train lines are still down, I had another hurdle to overcome getting here today, but I'm currently looking over Lincoln Center, the sun shining on the windows of the building across the way, in a heated office with a computer.  I owe my husband, friends, and neighbors a big thank you for getting me here today.

As for Halloween, the town has postponed the downtown trick-or-treating and parade, and we won't be home to enjoy it, and since most neighborhoods in our area don't have power, it would be difficult to trick-or-treat with the kids.  Besides, they brought home more candy than we could ever eat from the indoor treating on Saturday, where, ironically, they didn't wear the costumes we had planned for them.  So they won't trick-or-treat, and they probably won't wear their planned costumes.  It's a "mixed-up Halloween," as my daughter would say, and I'm sure it's one we will never forget.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sounds of Silence

The light in the hallway flicked on. I silently groaned, knowing my hubby was coming upstairs to turn on the TV in our bedroom. I was 3 pages from finishing my pre-bed chapter, hoping to turn out the light in just a few minutes.

After he checked on the kids, he opened our door, just as I was closing my book. "Do you have to get up early tomorrow," he asked?

"Yeah," I replied.

"Wow... You get home at 9 tonight and you have to get up at 5:30 tomorrow?"

"Actually 5:00. I need to get the earlier train."

"Why do you have to go to the city tomorrow?" His tone indicated that he truly didn't understand why I would need to come home so late and turn around the next morning to repeat the process. Thursday isn't a teaching day this semester, and it isn't a regular meeting day. I knew that explaining the work I had to do would take more effort than I had at that moment. I chose the answer that has universal understanding...

"Meetings."

He nodded, suddenly understanding why I had asked him to switch his morning kid duty from Wednesday to Thursday this week. I had juggled my schedule so that he didn't have to do both days, knowing he is going to be handling a lot when I am traveling later this month and then again next month.

I prepared myself to chastise him for having the TV on while I tried to sleep. It's an ongoing conversation we have. He uses the tube to relax and fall asleep. I lie awake, disturbed by the flickering light and high-pitched hum that only I and the neighbors' dogs can hear. On the nights when I rise before dawn the next day, I play the "you get an extra 1.5 hours to sleep tomorrow" card. I was ready to play that hand last night.

But he surprised me. He nodded, said goodnight, and turned back to the hall, closing the door behind him. I heard the TV downstairs as I drifted to sleep. I don't know what time he came to bed. I fell asleep immediately, lulled by the sounds of silence in my bedroom and the feeling of content that my hubby finally "got it."

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