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29 December 2015


Living in the country means needing to endure electrical power outages due to winter storms like no others. Having lived in cities and in suburbs, I can say this. The worst thing about a suburban home not getting electricity is not getting heat, because the pilot light on the oil heater is run on electricity. The worst thing about an urban apartment not getting electricity is having to listen to neighbors kvetch about how useless the City is (and remembering why, besides not being able to regulate the flame, getting a new electric stove & oven is not superior to the old tried and true one fueled by gas).

Being in the country is a little complicated when you must describe where you are using longitude and latitude.  This is not such a big deal for those who grew up around the area (nor, such a big deal anymore since GPS came into being -- but, hello, habitual dumb phone users here, remember?).  Exurban West Babylon girl like me knows all the neighborhood streets which are one block long and named after trees -- Woodbine, Maple, Spruce -- and ending at one direction onto South Railroad Avenue and at the other, Nill Street. Inexplicably, but not questioned, was why the main walkable street was named "Nill" and why the cross streets were not trees but wood -- Maplewood, Sprucewood, Cedarwood.  Woodbine escaped this fate perhaps because it is not a tree, but a bush.  Maybe the theme in the neighborhood was not "trees" but "wood."  This doesn't explain "Nill," which before I learned to read, I had thought was "Nail" from my mother's pronunciation, and then, thought must have been someone's name.  Curious to know now whether "Nill" had any other meaning than "nil," I naturally "looked it up."  Most dictionaries only had the definition of being an archaic form of "will not."  Can you imagine a tantrum-midst toddler screaming, "Nill! Nill! Nill!" instead of "No, I won't!"?  Wikidictionary came up with a second etymology.  "Nill" could come from the Gaelic "bright," to define the sparks off melted metal on a forge. If that is the origin of "Nill Street" amongst all this wood, a long-ago developer must have had a good laugh.

But, I digress. 

In fact, I don't believe Larry even knows the address of the place, but he does know the cross street (singular), and probably would say, we're on Twenty-six on the corner of McCoy Road, about five miles south of Thirty, just a mile north of the Green River. And, the operator at ComEd would have sighed and put him on hold in order to disconnect him inadvertently 15 minutes later if he had not already done so himself.

Now, if anyone is looking to rape and pillage our place while the power is out and we can see your flashlights waving around pretending to be ours, let me warn you that we have four (count them, FOUR) fierce guard cats, descended from lions to protect their (and incidentally our) domain.  They will lie in wait on the floor of all the main thoroughfares through the house, ready to trip you up.  And, you will trip on one, regardless of whether your light just shone on her or not.  Being less agile than she is, you will not be able to sidestep her as she will move in the exact altered direction as you do or even more diabolically, directly towards you. 

Last night, one of them (I dare not name her as she would sue me for lack of heroine anonymity or at least, privacy) was guarding a lit candle so closely that her fur caught afire.  No doubt if Larry had not acted hastily and put it out, she would have done a drop-n-roll before resuming her position and preventing a larger conflagration of the homestead.

(That's right; our home did not burn down last night, so her vigilance paid off.)

Fire is a hazard in all power outages involving candles, but moreso, when flowing water requires pumps which require electricity.  My long-time vote (even before I had a vote) had been to go geothermal like friends in Mount Carroll, but Larry was reluctant to dig up the front lawn (WTF?).  After the power outage due to tornado this summer, his idea was to see about installing a generator --  a really large, maybe gasoline- and battery-operated generator outside by the ComEd transformer feeding electricity through the same cables into the house (which is probably why utilities always say, our responsibility stops at the property line).  Not sure what all this would have entailed, but that idea got deep-sixed or at least put on ice (har! har! har!) in time for this bout.  And, although big supporters would say otherwise, either proposal wouldn't have been practical anywhere but out in the country.  So, that's looking on the bright side.

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