Sunday, February 22, 2009


After an evening of unseasonably warm rain, storm squalls and high winds, the skies quieted around midnight, the morning of February 12. At 3:50 A.M., I was at my computer and online when the power went out. I fumbled around for about a minute, lit a candle and located a flashlight. Flo came in, and we checked out front – some lights were on, but the street light was out, as well as a row of homes to the south. I looked out back: the power line to our house was still intact, and the security lights were on at the school. I went to the phone to call in our outage – DOA. Since the phone company generates its own electricity, it seemed reasonable that a downed pole took out both power and communications, somewhere near where underground phone lines become airborne.

Six hours later, power company trucks and cherry pickers circled our block, and the power came back on. Still no phone – might have to call that one in. This being the sixth phone outage since last June, I knew the drill, and I took a phone and a screwdriver out back to our terminal box. When I plugged the phone in, I got a nice clear dial tone – so the only possibility – the wiring between the box and our house decided to fail at the precise time that the power went out. It only took about ten minutes to rig a temporary line, but the odds of the simultaneous failures struck me as yet another anomaly to add to my ever growing list.

Here we are, now, on Oscar night, Feb. 22. Watching the last few minutes before William Holden gets shot and stumbles into the pool in “Sunset Boulevard,” when we hear a strange scraping sound, almost as if somebody is shoveling snow right outside our front door. No, the sound is wafting its way up from the basement. The paper shredder has turned itself on, lurching and gagging on nothing. It has never misbehaved before, and it has been a month or so since I last used it. I’m back up stairs in time to see Holden get plugged.

Once again, electrical anomalies appear to be the Motif du Mois.