9.22.2010

CALAMITY

It always happens when you are feeling particularly proud about something. As I parked my car in my usual spot in front of my house the other day, I admired the way the ancient euyonomous, a fifty-five year old vine so thick that it had become a tree, snaked up the phone pole, hiding it completely, and giving my garden cover from the street. This fall, the vine was also swathed in autumn clematis, which swagged its way over to the privet, and draped itself into a nearby dogwood. The moist, warm evening air smelled like honey. What a pleasure to come home.

Pride goeth before a fall. The next morning, I was working in the back of the house, when my neighbor rapped on my door. "Have you seen what's happening out here?" I was oblivious. A truck carrying a high crane had snagged the overhead power lines, and brought down pole, trees, vines, deer fence--and electricity, Internet access, cable and phone.

Of course it took a couple of days to clear up the mess--and as these things go, we were all very lucky. No one was hurt; there was no fire. But I learned a few important things. First, I have become addicted to Internet access. I won't quite go so far as to say that it is a lifeline, but it is the way I stay connected to friends and family. Email is the best way to reach me; cell phone reception out here is unreliable. I am going to have to train myself to go without Internet from time to time, just to break the habit of constantly checking to see if I am needed, loved, or wanted. I put my computer to sleep so that it can be refreshed; I recharge my phone. I am going to have to unplug myself. Second, I learned that I love keeping this blog, and feel deprived if I can't get online and check comments, and add more thoughts. Readers of Slow Love Life have taken the place of colleagues in an office; I love the community we have created, and take strength and inspiration from it, just the way I did from my pals at House and Garden.

After a long day of phone calls to various agencies, and fretting about the six deadlines hanging over my head, I went to my sister's house to get online and see if there were any emergencies waiting in my email. I joined her, in her bedroom, at the large table she uses as a desk; she plugged me in to her power strip, and we sat companionably side by side, working. For about five minutes. Then Nicole began to show me her travel plans for the trip she is planning to Spain; then she began to scroll through digital albums to show me old photographs of the children--do you have this one? I'm sure you don't have that one!; then I noticed a dress I had been missing--right there! in the picture of Elodie, dancing! she's wearing it! where is it? what did she do with it? Then we had to spend an hour parsing through a scandal that erupted after a dinner party she recently threw, the sort of thing that happens in 18th century English novels about small, quiet towns beneath whose placid surfaces is a simmering (and highly entertaining) cauldron of envy, rudeness and petty cruelty.

Before we knew it, the sun was setting, and I had to get home to receive the National Grid people, who decided the job was too big for that night anyway. But as I thought about sitting with my sister, I had a vivid memory of being a six year old, in first grade, seriously, earnestly, parked at my "desk" after school, practicing my letters, with my little Nicole, not yet five, prancing about, trying to distract me and get me to play with her. That was the beginning of my "nose in a book" days--Nicole swears that she spent her entire childhood trying to distract me from whatever I was reading. That memory of our nascent habits startled me, and thrilled me too; how lovely that it was so close to hand. And how lucky am I to have a sister who still wants to play with me. Nicole is her own power source.

I got home to find myself the new owner of a very ugly phone pole. Turns out there is a new regulation height, ten feet taller than the old one. It is doubtful that any truck will snag these high lines. But should this pole ever come down in a strong gale, it will reach my house. Is this really safer? Go figure. But at least I'm up and running.

18 comments:

helen tilston said...

Dominique- Nothing like a mature vine and nature covering what is unpleasing to the eye. Will look forward to a future pic of the new pole, dressed in green.

Your post triggered memories of sisters, small town gossip and a quest for privacy.

Beautiful writing - thank you

Mrs. Blandings said...

It's funny, isn't it? Blogland? You don't know until you know. Glad you are back up and running -though the day with your sister sounds heavenly.

Madgew said...

Wonderful post. Two fb friends in one weeks-same issues. Glad you are okay. Your talk with your sister reminded me that the best communications are done face to face.

Kimberly Merritt said...

It's sad how much we rely on technology these days. A good old-fashioned face-to-face conversation cannot be replaced.

I enjoyed your book so much, I've just purchased another as a gift. I will give it to my friend when we finally have our face-to-face next week.

charlotte Elder said...

i love your writing and your pictures. glad you are up and running. really !! the pole men should know i am here waiting to enjoy your post and pictures. don't MAKE me come up there pole men.:)
your book is in the budget for october. char

Ronnie said...

Remember when unplugged meant something totally different? It's kind of scary to think that an Internet connection can be a lifeline. But, I’m in the same boat and when the connection sinks (as it does often in the woods where I live), I scramble to find a place to work and connect. Our online addiction with its highs and lows is a bit like a drug. Being cognizant of that is part of the “slowing up” process for me.

Gail, in northern California said...

Your story about the vine-covered utility pole reminded me of another similar event. We live three miles from town and to travel there it's a two-lane country road. Paved, but a country road, nevertheless. As I drove along one day, I thought to myself. "Isn't it pretty how the trees from side to side bow to each other?"
You guessed it. It wasn't even a week later that the County road crews arrived on scene with their chainsaws and began trimming every tree in sight, up and beyond the power lines. I guess it's a necessary evil but what used to be a lovely country lane now looks like a war zone.

R J Keefe said...

There is no going back on the connectivity addiction. For a good reason: you've parked a part of your mind on the Internet, where it is NOT a phantom limb.

casacara said...

I often drive down a country road dreaming of the day all technology is wireless and electric lines are buried underground. Then we'll free of those ugly, UGLY poles and wires, an affront to my delicate aesthetic senses! Meanwhile, your story about sitting side by side with Nicole, tapping away on computers, reminded me that I didn't have a single house guest this summer who didn't bring her own laptop - and I welcome that. Nothing is more annoying than a guest asking - frequently - mind if I check my email? Feels so invasive!

luise h. said...

I would be lost without my Laptop.Everything I want or need to know is instantly at my fingertips.And happy diversions like your blog are only a click away.Being face to face with people is wonderful but when it's not possible a quick hello via the Internet keeps me close to the people I care about.

quintessence said...

I am missing a phone line at the moment and I must admit it doesn't bother me nearly as much as when I lose the internet. So many of the calls I don't want to receive anyway - toll free calls, announcements for political campaigns (at the moment), solicitors. But the internet is a like an umbilical cord to the motherland - nutrition for the soul and mind - information, communication and as you say community. I eagerly look forward every day to see if I have perhaps made a new friend and what they have to say. And I hate to think how many messages there are to retrieve when my phone is finally fixed.

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

Boy, do I identify. I just got an I-pad and CAN CHECK MY BLOG!!! so very easily. That succker (justified by work, of course) goes with me everywhere. C

c said...

This is life ... isn't it? The funny (ironic) thing is that while we want to "unplug", being plugged in is such a big part of our lives.

Yes, we rebel against it, we try, oh! how we try, but I persoanlly fail so often ...

I love the idea of a younger sibling forcing the exact thing we are after ...

love this post!!!

(btw, I'm sure you do not need me pointing any of this out, you are much too aware)

Anonymous said...

I'd be lost without my laptop now. It was in the shop for two weeks and I felt so disconnected, but I sure got a lot of things done. But I missed it so much. Love to read the newspapers on it in the morning with coffee. Fun to read the British ones too, Daily Mail, Telegraph, and the Guardian. And then there are the excellent blogs like yours!! Just love yours! Hugs, Joyce

the sweet life with olives said...

it's such a pleasure reading your blog. i find it all at once compelling, inspiring and comforting. the same feeling i looked forward to feeling each month reading your letter from the editor at house and garden. i'm glad you found your way to the blog world and that i found my way to your blog! fingers crossed you never have to give the giant phone poll hitting your house scenario another thought!

Tricia Rose said...

It is internet dependency, isn't it? Don't realise it til we are cut off. Aren't you fortunate to be so close to your sister.

I imagine you will be out there training the vines right back onto the pole! I hope they grow up better than ever after their pruning.

austere said...

How lovely to live so close to your sister. I completely envy that.

And the phone pole looks ungainly, gauche, maybe you could look upon it as Qutub Minar, circa 2010.

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