Simple Pleasures or The Power Outage

In this busy world it is good to take a few moments and remember the little things that bring us pleasure. Having recently experienced Cafe Gratitude, I have been reflecting on my simple pleasures and the things I am grateful for.

…Simple pleasures like catching a few rays of sunshine between the waves fog during our San Francisco summers. It’s a bit like taking a shower in a city apartment building. I revel in the warm water only to shudder with a chill when someone somewhere flushes a toilet or uses their sink and the hot water disappears for a few moments. The sun warms me, then evaporates to damp chill air blowing down my neck. It is bracing!

…The pleasure of experiencing a night off from technology. I find this particularly moving and, at times, a bit unsettling. My parents, grandparents or great grandparents had such different lives than mine today. Evening hours were spent completely differently. They would listen to a special radio program, read the evening paper or a book or read to their kids, play music (and by this I mean perform on an instrument) and sing with each other. My great great grandmother would bake bread to feed her brood of 16 and a dozen or so farmhands for the following day, a total of 14 loaves every night. I wish I had her bread recipe… Mending of clothes, sewing or other hand work would be done while the kids penciled out their homework or played together. Time was spent together, interacting. Today we interact alone, via the Internet or via television or video games. Dining together is a scheduled thing, not necessarily a daily occurrance. “Unplugging” for a night is almost unheard of or viewed with a mild sense of outrage, as if we are abandoning our electronic friends. We are expected to be in touch all of the time. I have a different reason to be unplugged tonight though….

…I am enjoying the pleasure of reading a book by flashlight. The power cable to my apartment building fizzled out today. The PG&E guys have been on site working underground under the manhole cover in the middle of the street since 11 am, removing and now replacing the massive, ancient cable. I have been pretending I am camping out tonight, reading a light novel or three, and imagining the sound of traffic outside is really a river flowing by. But it’s making me crave s’mores!

…And I am craving a cup of warm sweet tea. Funny how much I long for something I cannot have. I would love a cup of rooibos or verbena tea, sweetened with a dollop of local honey. But with no power and an electric range a cup of tea is out of reach right now. I am contemplating breaking out the fondue pot and a can of sterno, but the power should be restored by morning, so I hope to start my day with a steaming beaker and watch the sun rise.

…A late night chatty phone call from a dear friend. While I still have a charge on my cell phone, I keep a friend company while she plans her packing list for a long weekend away. She recounts the miscellany moments of her day, and me mine, as we meander on about nothing in particular, punctuated by exclamations of “phone charger!” or “sunglasses!” and “party shoes!” for her weekend bag. If she was a close neighbor she would have made me a cup of tea while I perched on the edge of her bed, smoothing clothes into a bag, then I would have strolled across the darkened street through a dew laden yard to my own home a few doors down. However, she is miles away so we chat until my phone chirps the dying call of “low battery” and I return to my thoughts and observe the little things…

….Little things like watching the cat make biscuits on my grandma’s crocheted afghan. After muscling away, paws kneading, he collapses in pleasant exhaustion purring himself to sleep. The building is so quiet, there is no noise at all except a few occasional shrieks through the shared lightwell connecting many bathrooms from a neighbor who attempts to shower without hot water tonight. I can hear the cat purr across the room, the sound of my pencil scratching against paper, the “river” outside, and a few shouts from far away from the utilities crew. I can hear everything and yet nothing, so I focus instead on the funny shadows cast against the walls and ceiling from my one candle-power camping lantern perched on my table. Such tranquility!

It is quite late now although I feel disconnected from a sense of time. It’s back to my flashlight and book and to enjoy these last guilt-free hours of no technology or television or other modern distractions.

Perhaps I should unplug more often, and enjoy this tranquility more often. Do you unplug??

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2 responses to “Simple Pleasures or The Power Outage

  1. Mom in the Mountains

    Ah, Yes, One night here in the country when Boom, the lights and everything else went off. We decided that it must be a blown transformer. Standard routine is: find flashlights, put out candle holders, insert candles, (don’t forget the bobeches), light all candles and distribute light to all important rooms. Easily done. Small shock when about 5 AM lights back on! No worry about alarm clocks that morning. Lights out again in 45 minutes for further work of several hours. breakfast by fondue and crepe pan. Was so glad to get coffee from the Melita.

    • This reminded me I really need to restock my earthquake supplies, more batteries and something with which to charge the mobile.

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