Justin Powell 1 p.m., Dec. 13
Today’s menu special was served up by SDG&E. It is a taste of the future. A taste of SHUT OFF. Originally this was called “de-energization” but everyone stumbled over the pronunciation, including that fool who coined the phrase. So now the anyone can simply holler “Shut Off” in the back county and we will all know what’s coming down the road -- fire prevention by shut-off.
Today’s special was an eight hour shut down of the electric power. Yes, we all had advanced warning with a letter in the mail last week, ostensibly the reason given: to repair their equipment.
Yikes! Almost the hottest day of the year, and it certainly is dry, dry eyes, dry vegetation, and hot. The only criteria missing is the wind. It will come. There’s already been spot fires at Guejito, Palomar Mountain’s east grade, and Ramona. But none caused by SDG&E’s downed powerlines. I can hardly wait, a taste of the future! We packed the car with some bottled water and left about 10:30 am, after the power had been off for a couple of hours.. There were five SDG&E trucks across the road, and the repair in question appears to be replacing a wooden utility pole with, wait, could it be? Yes, another wooden utility pole. It has burned here several times before, and the blacked oak trunks and utility poles stand in mute testimony. This new wooden utility pole after endless monologues and presentations this spring by SDG&E at the PUC (Public Utility Commission) hearings that they were doing better vegetation management and replacing those wooden utility poles with concrete or metal poles cleverly colored to resemble wood. Question of the week: do those concrete poles meet any earthquake standards, or are they simply burn proof? Cal Trans had to go back and reinforce all their concrete pylons to meet earthquake standards, as if those earthquakes had standards.
I drive down the road, with Iz on the cd player. My son is happy; to him it is just another outing. I contemplate this morning without electricity. We have propane stove, water heater, and clothes dryer, so I could cook breakfast, or at least make tea. Toast was not possible (but there wasn’t any bread anyway), and we settled for fruit, tea, and last night’s corn chips, that crunch food factor taken from the dark side of the food pyramid. We could take showers. The computer’s battery ran down looking at the morning newspapers. I contemplated the silence, marred only by the sound of my neighbor’s generator. They’ve got an electric stove, microwave, tv, and lots of fans.
Which electrical thing did I miss this morning? High on the list is the refrigerator, which stayed closed, and hopefully, cold until this afternoon. Much more than today and we’d loose everything. The garbage disposal, that electric pig, wasn’t fed, and the tea leaves went into the trash. No great loss there. We’d compost, but it would only encourage the rodents.
Music was scarce, provided only by the birds, who were somewhat miffed that the fountain was shut off. No baths for them. Those lesser goldfinches are really overjoyed at running water. Even the mountain bluebird shows up. So do those pesky yellowjackets. The landlord is not whistling and the frogs are quiet. The eagles aren’t screaming and the coyotes are sleeping off the night’s excesses.
But hands down, barring the refrigerator, my favorite appliance is the washing machine. That is a real blessing. I will show gratitude for the washer. It saves me tremendous amounts of work. No driving to the laundromat, but no clothes washing today. Thanks, SDG&E. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said his favorite appliance was the dishwasher. Makes you wonder who does the laundry in that family.
My friend the attorney took us out for Thai food, and we fooled around at the Nijiya Japanese Market on Convoy Street in San Diego. They’re air conditioned, and have lots of lovely produce and foods. Then to Mitsuwa to look at the rice cookers and imagine meals served on their exotic tableware. A shared cup of powdered green tea, the traditional kind, with the shopkeeper, and we’re off up the I-15. I have immense gratitude for my friend who saved my son from heat stroke.
We returned home at 4 pm, and it was 104 degrees on the front porch, in the shade no less. There is power. The fountain is turned back on, the birds are bathing and singing. The ceiling fan is working overtime. The cat is sprawled on the tile floor. The Be Good Tanyas dance right out of the cd player and fill the room with music: keep it “Light Enough to Travel,” please don’t let it all unravel. Light enough. Light enough. What SDG&E proposes to serve up with their SHUT OFF plan is perhaps a couple of days like this. What a thing to look forward to. The attorney isn’t going to feed us that many meals. A portable generator is on the top of my wish list. Being off the grid would be better, but one can only hope for so much.
Coming home in the dark, when its thermometer is breaking a hundred, and stepping on a rattlesnake in the dark is not my idea of a good time. The nearest cool zone, the library, closes at 5 pm, and that’s that. We are not fans of what SDG&E is dishing up.