Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cooked In The City

On Friday it was 104 degrees in Philadelphia, and at 9:00 pm my electricity went out.  I fully admit:  I did not handle this experience suavely.  First, I panicked because I thought I had one match and one stumpy candle.  I did have one stumpy candle (and no flashlight!), but it turned out I had another box of matches stashed in my cabinet.  Even with said stumpy candle lit, however, it was Very Dark in my apartment -- so dark, that Dorothy slunk into the bedroom and nestled down on the bed between the pillows, all heebie-jeebied out.  The cats, on the other hand, took the opportunity to show off their superior night vision by running hither and yon and acting like they couldn’t understand what my and Dorothy’s fuss was about.

At 9:20 I took Dorothy outside and saw that the electricity outage was a result of an underground fire on my block.  The block was closed off, and firemen were dropping one-by-one down the manhole at the end of the street, all suited up and yelling commands.  The message on the PECO call-in line informed me that my electricity would be back by 11:00 pm, but after seeing the firemen, I had my doubts; and soon they changed the message to say that a 7:00 am return was more likely, so at 9:45 I went to bed.  Since it was 97 degrees outside still, I couldn’t open windows to cool things down, and I expected a long hot night ahead.

Now, I fully know that there are worst things in this world than having no electricity, even than having no electricity surrounded by pavement on a 104-degree night and day.  But for some reason, an electricity outage tends to be the mallet to the gong of my neuroses—after a few “hits” I am bellowing like an idiot.  And calling PECO every ten minutes to get a new update.  I’ll ruin the ending of this story by revealing now that the electricity came back on at 1:35 pm the next day.  And if, at 9:00 pm on Friday, someone would have informed me that I’d be losing my electricity for about 16 hours on the hottest day of the year, I would have grumbled but would have been fine with it.  It is the Not Knowing that drives me insane.  And specifically it is the Not Knowing What To Do In Regard To The Pets that is the worst, which is why I am writing about the outage in this particular blog.

My boyfriend generously offered to pick me and the pets up on Saturday and drive us to his air-conditioned abode.  And had the electricity appeared to be on the brink for 2-5 days (which happened my first April in Philadelphia, a 5-day electricity outage!) I would have gladly taken him up on his offer.  But the proposed favor would have entailed driving 25 minutes with one vomiting bulldogge, one motion-sickness-induced drooling cat, and one motion-sickness-induced vomiting and pooping cat.  Not to mention all the accompanying paraphernalia like litter boxes and kibble and baggies, etc.  So you can understand why I didn’t want to make the trip unless the trip was very necessary.  And I couldn’t tell if it was going to be necessary or not, because when I woke up on Saturday and there was indeed no electricity still by 7:00 am, the PECO message changed to a vague promise of how they were busy “estimating” the return time of the electricity, my only comfort being that there were 880 households effected, an amount that seemed to me to guarantee that they would at least be taking the outage seriously.

By noon, the estimate had solidified to 4:00 pm, and at 1:35 I walked into the living room to get something and was startled to notice that all my lights were blazing and my central air was a-churning.  Hallelu!

Things aren’t completely back to normal yet.  There’s been a mack-truck-sized generator parked at the end of my block to which I think all the nearby households are hooked up.  And I had a message on my voicemail today from friendly PECO telling me that my electricity would be down from 12:00 – 3:00.  [Update: it is now to be off from 7 to 10 pm, grrr.]  But I have since learned from my boss the cat expert that cats are actually very good at regulating their body temperatures, especially when it comes to heat.  They have more problems in the cold.  And by the end of my “roughing it”, when my apartment was 81 degrees (not too bad) but 78% humidity (isn’t that a rain forest?), my cats were both acting cool as cucumbers.  Plum was curled up in Posy’s tiny cat carrier, and Posy was curled up on my down comforter on the bed.  Dorothy, who did seem to change her sleeping habits a bit during the outage, by lying stretched out instead of in a wee bulldogge circlet, was not too bothered by it all, as you can attest by the following photos.  At one point Dorothy noticed Posy on the coverlet and decided to join her in a hot furry cuddle:

Dorothy and Posy lying butt-a-butt:

And it wasn't until after the electricity and air conditioning was back on that Plum positioned himself like this:

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