Wednesday, February 9, 2011


WHEN IT RAINS IT POURS! is what I thought. But I'll just tell you the story, Dear Reader, and let you come up with some other old cliched expression if you want:

Last night, as we were eating dinner, the yard man and I began to notice some strange antics performed by the light bulbs inside their fixtures in our kitchen. If the refrigerator got busy cooling, the lights would dim. Same thing happened if the little electrical heater that I often use to warm myself (or the whole room) kicked on. Turning on a stove burner, or the oven, produced the same dramatic effect. Sometimes the lights would dim and then burst forth with eye-popping energy--like the sun at high noon. "I haven't seen the kitchen this bright for a long time. This is sort of freaking me out!" I said to the yard man. And when he said, "Me, too," I had the sneaking suspicion that this was going to be Calamity du Jour at some point.

By the time we had finished dinner, all of our appliances seemed to be joining in the shenanigans. When I turned on the dishwasher, the little heater began to buzz. As I wiped the kitchen counters, a weird sound came from some other region of the house. Following the noise to the living room, I found the TV whining and quickly pulled the plug to shut it up.

When the yard man and I retired for the night, I glanced more than a little nervously at the smoke detector missing its battery, and hoped that we wouldn't wake up with wings before the night was over (effectively promoting our 'Calamity of the Day' to a calamity ending all our days!)

With simple reasoning, Dear Reader, you've no doubt deduced we didn't die in our sleep. And it's true--we woke as usual this morning. But that doesn't mean electrical hijinks were over. In fact, things had gotten even more out of hand! The yard man discovered the computer in his office had folded its arms and refused to work; I plugged in the iron and lights popped and buzzed; everything, everything was attempting to give us a message, and it wasn't a funny one: Help, help! Save Our Souls! The yard man went to the basement, turned off the main electrical breaker, and came back upstairs to report, "How strange! When I threw the switch, the little TV in the basement suddenly came on. And then smoke started pouring from it!"

I said (uh, yes, a bit adamantly) "Call an electrician!" I ran around the house yanking on cords, unplugging every electric-sucking device in sight, no matter they'd already been rendered impotent by the "off" switch. Meanwhile, the yard man got on the phone, exacted a promise from the power company. Sure, they said, they'd mosey on over, see if the problem was ours or theirs.

"Meanwhile," I huffed, "what do we do? What if the problem is OURS?!"

But that's where I drop the story for a while--as I dash away to take care of three particular rental-unit appliances--a washer and two dryers--all feeding calmly at the power source, yet sick in some way. The tricky question here was: surgery or euthanasia?


Late afternoon I'm back at the house, and it's cold in here! The thermostat says 51 degrees and the furnace won't start. But the yard man shows up and tells me the fabulous news--the power company came around a few hours ago and confessed that the problem was THEIRS! They might even dig into their very own pockets to fix whatever they broke with their frayed wire and their big power surges and all of that weird misbehavior.

So we're making a list, and we're checking it twice. We're going to find out if they're naughty or nice--will they really shell out for a busted computer, TV and routing device?*

*You'll have to believe me, Dear Reader, the rhyming was a total surprise. With that said, here's one more line: Happily for us, the freezer still makes ice!
(And we got the furnace going, too!)

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