Yes, Bush, you read that right. Outage. Not outrage, as you might have expected from me. That's par for the course, as my late mother-in-law would say---on every possible occasion. No, it's outage. Electrical outage. We had this big storm yesterday, and it knocked out our electricity at around 9:30 in the morning. We expected maybe a couple of hours--this is, after all, a major metropolitan area in the most developed country in the world. Well, developed in some respects, anyway. But the lights were still out twelve hours later when we went to bed, in darkness, at arond 9:3O PM. Then, finally, some time after 2 in the morning--lights on everywhere, TVs blaring... We had rejoined the so-called civilized world.
In the meantime, though, no lights of course. But also no egress from the garage (electric door opener!) except by manual operation. I managed to crush two fingers in between the folds of the garage door, and still can't use them to type this morning. Also no refrigerator. No telephones: the landlines depend on an electrical source. Spoiled as we are in almost every way, we had a cell phone charged. No online access--the cable modem wasn't providing me a signal. Fortunately, I had posted our diary entry early in the day, so no problem there. No heat: our gas furnace is triggered by electricity. Thank God we live in a part of the world where the climate makes it livable--if not exactly comfortable, at this time of year--with no heat. Pity those poor souls in the Northeast, say, if they're hit with an electrical outage. It makes you think. It makes you pause for long enough to count your blessings.
So, after Christmas, after the New Year, it's back to chaos. The painter is here, finally, a couple of months later than promised. The fish pond is leaking so badly that it empties overnight, leaving only a couple of inches for those little creatures to survive. A lot of electrical work remains uncompleted: wires still hanging out of walls, lights going on and off on automatic timers when they're not supposed to... Much carpentry remaining to be done. Our contractor originally promised a mid-October completion date. I doubt we'll be done by the end of January.
All of which, Bush, makes me think about Iraq. The electricity, of course. Either the total lack of it or the unreliablity of the supply--even, I read, in urban areas. How many months now since the end of "major combat operations"? Like our contractor, you have made many promises, Bush. And how about water supply? Sewers? Transportation? If our (relatively) minor irritations are driving us to distraction here, surrounded by all the services we take for granted, what kind of anger much be generated over there? Our chaos is livable, after all. Theirs, it seems, is daily, on a grand--well, let's say catastrophic--scale. And it's not just a matter of absent or faulty services. It's bullets, and the threat of bullets everywhere. It's bombs exploding in the midst of civilian life--and some of them are ours.
I hear you speak so easily, Bush, of the return to civic order, to security, to the establishment of a democratic government. If I have difficulty believing you over here, on the basis of second- and third- and fourth-hand information, how much more must those (mostly) good people have over there, whose lives are not only ordinary chaos, like ours, but dangerous, life-threatening chaos. Just this little, harmless taste is enough to drive me crazy. No wonder patience is wearing thin in that bedeviled part of the world.
All in all a healthy lesson, Bush. A healthy reminder. We have power again this morning. The storm has passed. The sun is shining, with the promise of a high of sixty-five degrees. Not too shabby. We can live with that. I think of those Pakistanis, in their tents...