Monday, May 18, 2009

Electrifying Moments

A few years ago when I was a little girl, there was a lot of hoopla over the space program. I remember how excited my parents were when they learned that men would eventually walk on the moon. My father, who was always eager to learn about new technology, was fascinated by the space age. He did quite a bit to encourage us to appreciate the era in which we lived. We gathered as a family, enthralled as rockets were launched into space.

This excitement made a huge impact on my overactive imagination. My mother has shared that I was always able to entertain myself, and my siblings as we grew up. I invented games for us to play, etc. The year I was almost five, I nearly met an early demise because of this vivid imagination, and the space program.

Back in days of yore, ice cream came in gallon-size cardboard containers that resembled small drums. My mother saved them to give to us to play with. Mine held toys, and variety of treasures. Then one day, soon after we had moved into a brand new brick home, I dumped everything out of one of those cardboard containers. I hauled it into the hallway onto my mother's prized and polished hardwood floor. Tipping it upside down, I pretended it was my launching pad. I stood on top of the former ice cream container and began a countdown.

My mother was busy fixing dinner in the kitchen and she said later that she heard my countdown, but wasn't sure what I was up to. Then she heard a disturbing noise and the lights in the house flashed. Rushing into the hall, she saw that I had jammed one of my metal barrettes into an outlet. Since our house wasn't grounded yet, I was receiving quite a bit of voltage up my arm. Fire shot out around me and effectively burned a half circle on the new hardwood floor.

Panicking, my mother raced into the kitchen, grabbed a wooden broom, and knocked me away from the outlet, saving my life. I tried to explain later on that my barrette was the key to my rocket ship, but no one seemed very amused by what I had imagined that day. All I can say is that my guardian angel was definitely on active duty that afternoon. I spent 2-3 days in bed, sick from the electrical burns I had received up that arm. But I recovered fully and I was much wiser with regard to things electrical.

Now lest you should think ill of my parents, I should stress that I was cautioned repeatedly about not sticking anything into the electrical outlets. (This was before outlet covers existed.) And I was usually an obedient child, but that day, my creative flare and excitement over the space program combined in an unruly fashion. I've never forgotten what I learned that day, and I've had a healthy respect for electricity ever since.

A few weeks ago, we endured quite an adventure compliments of a nearby power pole. My oldest son, Kris, and I had just returned from a trip to town and we had only been home about 5 minutes when the power went out. Since it was storming in a most impressive fashion, we figured it was responsible for the power outage. Then Kris walked into our living room and glanced out the bay window. That's when we learned that the power lines that cross our front yard were beginning to sag. We raced outside and saw the following catastrophe near our home:

If you study these two pictures closely, you'll note that the top of the power pole had collapsed on top of the transformer, causing it to arc, sending flames into the air, and effectively ruining what was left of the top of that pole. We were later told that because of the moisture this storm had furnished, the rotting wood of this old pole caved in on top of itself. Good times.

This particular power pole is located in the corner of our neighbor's front yard, right beside our pasture. Because of what took place, the power lines were hanging extremely low, causing yet another danger. Unaware that he could have easily been zapped in a violent fashion, Kris darted across our yard to "rescue" his car. He parked it a short, safe distance away, then risked his life again as he crossed underneath those sagging live wires to approach our home.

We had already called for help. I had contacted the power company and my son had dialed 911 because of the fire danger. It only took both organizations about 10 minutes to respond and we were told to keep our distance while they attempted to get things under control.

A bright orange cautionary cone was placed in our driveway, underneath the sagging power lines. Then the race was on as the weather raged, the fire burned, and the power lines were rendered harmless. One power truck had responded to the initial emergency call. As time marched on, four more trucks would show up to help. Evidently this was a serious situation. I don't think I've ever seen that many power trucks arriving to fix the same problem before.

Kris and I obediently stayed inside the safety of the house, taking pictures from the windows in the living room and garage as these courageous men toiled to contain the fire, remove the damaged pole, and insert a new one.

Eventually, Kris had to leave to go to work, but since the power had been cut to the lines, he was okay to leave. Not long after that, my husband returned home from his job and he was given permission to walk across the power lines that were lying in our driveway by then.

Four hours later, the new pole was in place and all was well. My husband walked out to thank these men for their valiant efforts. They had worked in extremely cold conditions, but had stayed with it until the job was done. They are to be commended for all they did that day.

After the power came back on, things returned to normal, aside from a little glitch with a local internet tower. The power outage had fried some of the delicate parts of this tower and so we were without the internet for a little over 24 hours.

This entire adventure has made me realize how much I sometimes take for granted. When you ponder all that electricity makes possible, it becomes a new miracle all over again. Lights, heat, music, TV, computers, not to mention little things like the ability to keep food cold, or curling irons hot are all a direct result of electricity. Combine that with the ability to communicate instantaneously with people throughout the nation or world, and as my father emphasized years ago, we do indeed live during a marvelous time. There may be a lot of negative things taking place in this world, but when you truly consider all that we have been blessed with, it rather gives you an entire new slant to life during this current age. I know I for one, would not enjoy going back to the days of fire and kerosene. What think the rest of you?


Cindy Beck said...

Wow, that was quite the adventure! And thank goodness for linemen, who go out in bad weather to fix the problems.

Thanks for sharing the story.

Doug Johnston said...

That is scary stuff. I hate to be around power. Great story!

Cheri J. Crane said...

Hi Cindy. Yep, it was quite the adventure. I'm just grateful no one was hurt. ;)

And Doug, you're right, this can be scary stuff. Thanks for stopping by.