Thursday, January 15, 2009


Power outages can be the standard where I live in southern Arizona, and now seem to have followed me to Oahu.

At home, we are attached quite literally to any electrical power by a single strand of wire. High atop old utility poles by the highway which, unfortunately, have been blown, shot and knocked down - and then off the highway the wires are buried inside cheap plastic tubing that leaks. The telephone routinely goes out whenever it rains (which, for better or worse, does not happen often). Our water comes from a well with an electrical pump - so no electricity, no water.

Our wiring has persisted through eight years of gnawing by local residents. Now, this nibbling is done not by ungainly & ugly city rodents - but bright-eyed little field mice (vegans) who move inside only during the cold months to share hot chocolate, watch "Law & Order" marathons and help me with Sudoku puzzles. They have a completely legal agreement with the cat - he can pretend to scare them, and the mice won't openly flaunt their complete power over him.

But it does mean we only have one working telephone line, and lights that flicker even when the utility company has everything in the field working.

I don't mind power outages at home, even when "The Office" is on. It forces me to read by candlelight (which sounds oh so romantic, but is pretty tough on 50+ year-old eyes), walk outside by the moon and starlight, and (most often) going to bed incredibly early.

It is a wonderful excuse to be late for anything ("my alarm didn't go off!"), to add dash of the apprehensive disaster mode ("but all our power is off!") and the best reason possible to go ahead and eat all the ice cream in the freezer ("otherwise it's just gonna melt!").

But here in Hawaii it comes with at a bigger price - not just lights and phones, but sacrifices that must be made BY THE TOURISTS. Honolulu exists solely because of the military and the visitors to the islands - and if they can't count on artificial climate control, frozen foods straight from the mainland then made into colorful local dishes, ice to cool their drinks and cold air pouring of into their hotel rooms... well, who would come then?

Turns out during the last island-wide power failure in December, President-elect Obama and family were here on the island. Talk about bad publicity - can you imagine if the Secret Service didn't have enough Duracell batteries - did their little ear-wigs work - back-up generators for Air Force One?

I also discovered that both of my grandkids have MAJOR problems with the dark. I knew each one had a night light, but figure that was mainly for mommy's convenience when she comes in to check on them at night. Not so! Apparently creepy monsters and huge hairy bugs just wait for the dark so they can jump out and do their damage.

Wanna bet this coming week we'll have another power outage when it's just grandma and the kids?

So - I'll stock up on the ice cream this week!