SENSE AND NONSENSE: There's nothing more wonderful than electrical power, especially there's none

By Lynda Hollenbeck

It's probably too soon to write about Christmas 2012, which, in large part, for our family hasn't happened yet.
This, in short, is due to what I'm referring to as The Winter of Our Discontent.
It seems an appropriate choice since discontented is a mild adjective for the mood of just about everyone I know.
Because of the ice age we've been living in for the past few days, my bunch canceled the Christmas Day gathering and rescheduled it for later. Whether it happens on that day remains to be seen.
In the grand scheme of things, this probably sounds pretty petty, but family gathering are important for most of us, and we are disappointed when they don't come off as planned.
At this juncture, I'm still hoping.
Of course, if we're big-minded — and, yes, we ought to be, but it ain't easy when you're sitting in a cold, dark house —we should acknowledge that there always are people who are worse off. That's a given.
But then you have to factor in the the human trait. It's just not fun when you're the victim of an ice storm that literally stops life as we know it.
My frequent complaint is, "It's too hot in here. We need more air (or less heat)."
No one has heard me say anything close to that in days.
As I write this, I'm coming from a house where the temperature dipped to an all-time low of 49, and that's chilly even for someone who walks hand in hand with hot flashes and a near-boiling point personal thermostat of really, really hot.
Kudos, however, to all those brave men and women who have been working to restore power to places all over the state. Theirs is a daunting task, and one for which they rarely are praised. Most people have no contact with them unless there's a problem, and then rarely can they correct it soon enough to suit us. But, again, I say thanks to those who do this work. They're out there in the worst of the stuff while the rest of us run the other way. But until I get power at my house again, I still have to be a crybaby of sorts. One of the hardest parts of no electrical power for me is the silence.
Many years ago when I directed a youth group, the kids enjoyed singing "The Sound of Silence." O course, they were anything but that. But when you're sitting alone in a cold, dark house that normally is full of sounds, particularly TV or radio programming, the silence is deafening.
I said "alone" perhaps out of turn. There are dogs and cats there, but they, too, have noticed the difference this week from their normal environment.
Bobby, an aged rat terrier, is particularly averse to this kind of scenario. He's become a "pacer" when he hasn't been able to understand the change, and it indeed has been different.
This is probably too much to tell about myself, but after this many years of telling readers more than I probably should, why stop now? Anyway, I routinely sleep surrounded by noise, as in TV noise in particular. My TV plays all night long as my ceiling fan lulls me into slumber. When it's absent, as it has been this week, it's a big miss for me.
The result is, I don't sleep and I become stir-crazy. I was so restless the second and third nights that I read a Mary Higgins Clark novel with a flashlight for illumination. Two cats that had taken up residence atop me helped turn pages.
The felines, as a whole, have fared better than the canines in our primitive surroundings. They will "ball up" and turn into little heaters of sorts.
The dogs are another story. They apparently have taken their sleep cues from me, particularly Bobby. They're accustomed to sleeping with sounds, and we have had none.
That is, until friend Gail came through with the loan of an old-fashioned transistor radio. I didn't know you could still get them, but apparently you can. Being able to list to my favorite station, KVRE out of Hot Springs Village, was a welcome gift on the third powerless night when I was at the near screeching point.
This past week's experience with ice-covered roadways, falling trees limbs and utility lines, and erratic power or none at all presented proof positive that I never would have been named to the Pioneer Women Hall of Fame.
I'm not at all sorry I didn't live in the little house on the prairie. I enjoy my creature comforts. I don't require luxuries, mind you, but I do want the basics — things like a little heat (just not too much), unlimited electricity to energize anything and everything I desire, and, of course, running water.
At least we have had water available, and I have had hot water thanks to a gas hot water heater.
I remember a nightmarish experience during the 1960s when I was living in Cotton Plant and an ice storm struck. Not only did we not have electricity for several days, there also was no water for a time.
I don't remember what happened. The water plant had some sort of problem that resulted in all the taps and drains being stilled. Surely I don't have to draw any pictures to explain what a very, very bad scenario that was.
Yes, we could find other stuff to drink. As long as there's Dr Pepper or Pepsi-Cola juice and tea, I can live without running water for an hour or so.
However, there are certain facilities that cease to function when there's no water and I have grown accustomed to their place in my life. Living any other way does not enhance my charm.
I'm not a person who likes to rough it even for alleged "fun," as in camping. My kind of camping is checking into the best motel, calling room service, sleeping late, etc.
Without the things we take for granted, as in electrical power and optimum temperature settings, I basically become, shall we say, "charm-free."
I'm praying that by the time this appears in print, I will once again have a warm, well-lighted home that bustles with electrical sounds. I promise to be charming to everyone, especially the Benton Utilities people and others associated with similar services.
They truly are unsung heroes.

Lynda Hollenbeck is senior editor of The Saline Courier.