It's usually a lot noisier in here, isn't it?

Tenzing was the first to throw caution to the wind and creep in.

I followed behind him a moment or two later, flashlight clenched firmly in hand, and then I started howling with laughter. “Jeff! Come see! Tenzing’s scoping out the computer room, and you should see the bottle-brush tail he’s got!”It took Jeff a few moments to make his way to the computer room, where I shone the flashlight on Tenzing’s still-puffy tail. He was crouched down, still wary, still suspicious, but his curiosity had once again gotten the better of him.

Gently, softly, I smoothed the ruffled fur on his back, and he began to relax. “It’s okay, sweetie. It’s just a power outage. It’s usually a lot noisier in here, isn’t it?” Jeff went back to the living room to get batteries for our little TV/radio, and Tenzing slowly crept closer to Jeff’s computer, sniffing balefully all the while.

The power had gone out with a pow! a few minutes earlier. I had been chatting with Gareth, trying to coax a recalcitrant search script into proper behavior. Jeff was readying tonight’s dinner—a pizza—for the oven. As is the nature of all accidents and unexpected things, I got caught in mid-song and mid-file.

It was dark. Not the usual twilight dark that comes in suburban neighborhoods neatly laced with streetlights: the “can’t see your hand in front of your face” dark that means you’re going to step on the nearest cat the moment you leave your chair, or stumble on the small step down into the living room.

(Both of which, I might add, that I did.)

Jeff’s computer generates a lot of heat, and a lot of noise (from the fans used to disperse the heat). The computer room is always the warmest room in the house, and has the highest level of ambient noise. Tenzing had crept in because he was disturbed by the silence.

I went to the master bedroom and called Sean. “Y’all got power?”

Nope. You know what that means—shopping spree at Wal-Mart!” We laughed, and hung up.

As I placed the phone back in the cradle, I cocked my head and said to Jeff, “Are those sirens?” He said yes, and went to the front door.

I kept the cats away while Jeff stood outside and listened. “That’s a … fire truck!” he said, disbelievingly. He stood outside for a few moments longer, watching the lights. “Looks like they’re driving around the subdivision, looking for something—and they’ve got three cars following behind them!” We shook our heads at the oddity and came back inside to light candles and listen to the radio.

I guessed a substation had blown or gone offline, because this power outage was sudden enough and widespread enough to remind me of the last time a similar event had happened. Sure enough, a few minutes later, a local DJ announced that something had gone a bit wrong with one of the local substations, and that power would be restored “soon.”

It came back on eventually. Jeff made dinner, and I still couldn’t get the script to work. I turned to him, chuckling, and said, “We’d make lousy pioneers, wouldn’t we?”

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