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January 2, 2019: Knowledge is Power

Rice Pudding
Remember when I hated squash
and you hated licorice
and the night the fuse blew out?
We made rice pudding by candlelight
But it burned.
You ate the licorice
I ate the squash
and we fed the rice pudding
to the dog.

This poem was the first one I ever had published, in a high school literary magazine, The Myriad. It came back to mind shortly after my Fairbanks friend Fran emailed me about her holiday, and specifically, about being in Anchorage when the power went out. Being resourceful and improvising, that is what my poem and her email message are about. Two combined emails of Fran’s follow. She writes:

Alys on Tinni
Alys on Tinni

We had a great time with Tom's (Fran’s husband) family in Anchorage. There was a big power outage on Sunday because of strong winds knocking trees onto the power lines. The neighborhood we were staying in, up at the top of Campbell Airstrip Road, was the last to get power back, It was off from 11:00 in the morning until 11:00 at night, so a 12 hour outage. We had lots of candles and camping lanterns, and a propane stovetop to cook on, so we were able to produce a really nice meal on Sunday night anyhow. My sister-in-law was pretty freaked out by the lack of electricity, but they had jugs of water that they had set aside for emergencies, and a wood stove to heat the house, and I told her it would be no big deal and it wasn't. They don't often have outages at their house, and the rare ones they have are only short ones. Even after the earthquake, they never lost power in their neighborhood, while the rest of Anchorage was blacked-out, so she had no idea of how to cope with cooking a meal without her electric oven and microwave.

Those of us from Fairbanks are used to long outages and are used to coping without power, so that they are not such a big deal for us. And I lived for years in cabins without electricity, so I know how to do things without it. It doesn't do to get so dependent on modern technology that you panic when you lose it for a few hours. Actually, I thought it was nicer not to have the TV going in the background with football on it, and the candlelight dining was cozy. It will be a Christmas get together that we will all remember, that's for sure.

Robert gave his two little grandkids each a headlamp to wear and they had fun running screaming through the dark parts of the house. It was better than an amusement park fun house. With help, my poor sister-in-law ended up doing OK with an extended outage with 11 people in the house when she was planning a big fancy dinner. It will be Christmas get-together she will always remember, with possibly some degree of fondness. But I don't think she ever wants to do it again. Robert is an outdoors guy, so he was fine with the outage, but she is an indoors oriented gal who likes her amenities, and at first she was pretty overwhelmed by the thought of cooking dinner for 11 without power. She was so relieved and overjoyed when the power finally came on at 11:00 that night.

We just got back from our trip to Anchorage tonight. We decided to try to leave early this morning, because we knew that with the warm temperatures and the snow we might run into some bad driving conditions on the way home, and we did. The roads were good, wet, but bare until about Talkeetna, but from that point on up to Cantwell, the lighting was bad and it was snowing and blowing heavily, so we did that whole stretch at 30 to 35 mph. And then just on the other side of Cantwell, there was a semi that overturned and was blocking both lanes right beside Panorama Mountain. We had to wait almost 2 hours before they got the trailer pushed over onto one lane so they could start letting traffic through one direction at a time.

I'm just glad we hit that stretch well after the accident happened. I didn't want to be in the vicinity of that mess while it was happening. The roads were pretty good from Denali Park on up to Fairbanks, snow free and dry for the most part, but it still took more than 3 hours longer than normal to make the trip from Anchorage . . . we did see one dead moose along the road and live ones close to the road. And we were sure glad to get through Broad Pass in the daylight. In that blizzard, we would have been driving at 10 mph in the dark.

Next: 3. 1/3/19: Having Fun Yet?

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