I love a rainy night

I don’t really love a rainy night except that if it is going to rain (and so far this summer promises to be a rainy one) it might as well rain at night rather than during the day. I don’t mind the straight down downpours that are kind of like a tropical rainy season drenching – quick to start and quick to finish – although a long slow drizzle is probably more appreciated by the tomato plants. But when it starts getting really dark on the horizon and thunder is rumbling around the lake things can never end well. That’s because all it seems to take is the hint of a thunderstorm to whack out the power.

Take last night for example. The sky was as clear as could be. The sunset was in ‘sailor’s delight’ mode. The Devil Wears Prada was cued up in the DVD player. And the power went out. All I can figure is that somewhere in the continent or hemisphere or planet there was thunder and lightning. It was out last Sunday too, with nary a hint of anything that could be considered inclement weather.

All of this to say that power outages for no discernable reason are the norm and likely to stay that way so there is no choice but to adapt. You would think the ultimate adaptation is a generator. You would be partly right. We do have a generator of sorts but the most you can really do is plug in the fridge to forestall freezer meltdown. And if you have ever heard a generator (indeed, the first inkling of an outage is the rising Greek chorus of sputtering hum in the air) or smelled a generator you will understand why it isn’t a good solution unless you go whole hog with the super-duper failover model that costs about ten times as much as the annual electricity bill.

A more practical adaptation is the side burner on the propane barbeque. Granted, in a pinch you could put a pot or pan on the barbeque grill itself but do not attempt this with cookware that doesn’t have oven-proof handles. Or if you do, you’ll only do it once, unless you are me and need a few remedial lessons for a concept to fully sink in. At least the side burner is designed for a stovetop function. The danger zone is the fact the barbeque (especially the big honking ones like mine) is geared to a certain minimum level of BTUs. Unless you turn the burner down to a bare whisper of flame you will incinerate the bottom of your pan and its contents. So make sure to heat things low and slow. And when you transfer the contents to a plate or bowl for civilized presentation at the table and it cools down while you wrangle the rest of the meal on the BBQ proper, don’t wonder why the microwave isn’t working when you try to reheat it.

The power will usually come on eventually, at which point it is time to run around and reset the appliance clocks and the clock clocks. Thanks to the 21st century, there is now an adaptation for this too. My new bedside clock is a wonder of modern science. It projects the time on the ceiling or wall so you know what time it is when you wake up in the middle of the night, which seems like a good idea except the brightness of the disembodied numbers does a good job of keeping you awake until the middle of the night. Fortunately, this is only a problem when the power is on. The more useful feature is the clock’s ability to automatically reset the time when power clicks back in. I am not sure I really want to know what extraterrestrial capabilities it contains that allow it to communicate to some subatomic clock that is probably located on a satellite somewhere. What I do want to know is why the time in outer (or maybe it’s inner) space is five minutes faster than the time here on earth (at least according to the official time signal, which I kind of thought was – you know – the official time). On second thought, let’s just leave this one in the realm of life’s mysteries for now. I don’t have time to figure it out. I’m too busy resetting clocks.

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