The power in my building went out late this morning while I was eating my breakfast cereal and idly browsing the internets. The inventory of affected appliances and utilities is different than the list of things affected by a power outage when I was a kid.

The new laptop switched to battery power as soon as the lights and the radio flickered out; and because the phone line is unaffected, I still have internet access. (Six months ago, my desktop computer would’ve gone down when the power went out. But it probably would’ve crashed even if the power was on.) I say that the phone line is unaffected (as it would have been when I was little) but the cordless phone doesn’t work because its base relies on house power. The cell phone would be a backup, but it doesn’t get service inside the apartment, and besides, it’s battery hasn’t been holding a charge for the last few days. The heat is still on — my building is heated by a gas furnace. The electric heating system would’ve gone out when I was a kid. The water heater is also gas powered, so I was able to shower. Back in Eastern Washington, that would have been a cold shower. When I was little and the power went out for more than a few hours, the water pressure would have eventually slowed to a trickle because the pump on the community well would have lost power. (Am I remembering that right, Mom? I may be thinking of when the pipes froze.)

The kicker is, that I have an electric stove and I can’t boil water for tea. As with the phone, I would have been less affected by this in Grandview. We had the same dependency on electricity for the stove, but I didn’t have the dependency on caffeine.

Update: I went over to Vivace for tea, and when I came home a few hours later, the lights were on and so was the stove. I guess I had put the kettle on. The kettle was bone dry and the cap had melted and sealed over the spout. Hurray for not starting fires!


Snakehead fish?

I plan. I work on getting big projects and simple projects to a starting point, but I just haven’t taken the last steps to get any of them started. I’ve been pretty busy, particularly for someone who hasn’t been getting anything done. It’s hard to fail when you never start.

Cellar Door

The blinds on the window in front of me are drawn down to eye level. I pull them up and watch four planes drift in four directions across the gray-blue sky. An orange sunset fades into a dim brown horizon. The planes cross each others’ paths and slip away behind buildings. The street light across from me is swaying. The movement decreases steadily into a slight vibration, and just when the lamp post becomes still, its light switches itself on.

Saying Hello

A baby has been left alone in a shopping cart near the store’s entrance for a little too long. He’s moaning sadly to himself, not yet crying. I give him a little encouraging smile, and he quickly reassembles his composure. He looks back at me with a business-like expression on his face and waves hello. His waving gesture is oddly practiced and deliberate. He resumes moaning and begins rocking forward and back after I walk past him.


We were going back to Samantha’s apartment to sweep the glass screen door off of the carpet, but we stopped for donuts first. I recognized the two old men at the little table in the front of the donut shop. I’d seen them there before. That makes them regulars, and if I can recognize a regular, it’s possible that I’m a regular too. I ordered an apple fritter and Samantha chose two small donuts — one with chocolate frosting. The woman behind the counter assembled our order and the men at the table talked about meteors.

The more talkative man was telling the quiet man, “Scientists have samples of meteorites that fell through the atmosphere. They were red hot while they were falling, but they cooled down after they landed. You know there are two kinds of meteorites. There’s the rocky kind, of course.” A motorcycle with a loud vibrating engine went by and the old man was distracted. “I hate them motorcycles — always weaving in and out of traffic on the highway.” He didn’t get around to describing the second variety of meteorite.

Maybe someone didn’t throw a rock through Samantha’s screen door last night at three in the morning. Maybe the perfectly spherical rock-ball fell from the sky from an unlikely angle.

We took a taxi back to my apartment last night — after we were jolted out of bed by the crashing sound, after hesitating at the bedroom door because we didn’t know what or who was on the other side, after the police completed their two minute investigation, and after the neighbor’s friend told us his tires had been slashed. I looked at Samantha in the backseat of the cab and she was completely calm. I told her, “You’re such a rock, under pressure.” I didn’t even recognize the pun.


[orange cone installation]

There are several of these on Broadway, between Pine and Thomas. The cone is attached to a scrap of recycled street sign and the sign is bolted into the sidewalk. At first I took them for art installations made from pilfered street signs. But it seems more likely that the recycled signs are covering holes that were cut in the sidewalk to make room for new parking pay stations.

[Spray paint markings on sidewalk]

Things are much simpler — more obviously explained — than I usually allow them to be.

[Blue panel covering street sign]

A few parking restriction signs in the same couple of blocks have been covered over with blue panels.


I was only four years old, so I don’t remember this, but I’ve heard the family story. We had gone out to Breakwood Restaurant after church. My grandparents were with us. They usually skipped mass, but they had joined us on that Sunday. Mt. St. Helens erupted at some point during the course of the meal and we didn’t know it. Dark churning clouds came rolling in from the west. The sky went dark and my grandpa said, “It looks like we chose the right day to go back to church.”