Marin was in a complete blackout. Preventive. Further north, people were required to evacuate. Fires burned. Houses burned. The smell of smoke filled the air.
We were told not to expect any blackouts or fires near our house but Sunday heard a boom and out it went. It was still morning. To investigate what happened, we headed over to Washington Avenue where down the hill we could see a broken power line or two whipping the street. No branches or trees had fallen but the wind was so powerful that it just disconnected some of the wires. Live wires.
We ran into a woman with three large dogs – salukis she told us.
“The dogs of Pharoahs,” I said. Wondered where that came from. I didn’t think I’d ever seen one before.
“Yes, these are rescues.”
“The mascot of Southern Illinois,” said Mary Anne.
The woman ripped open her hoodie like she was Super Man and proudly showed off her SI t-shirt. She told us she didn’t actually attend the school but that a friend gave her the shirt.
“I’m down from up north,” she said.
She had been ready to stick it out at home, owned a generator for years. But she got a call and was told she had a half hour to go and pick up her 97 year old mother from assisted living near Santa Rosa. This presented a bit of a problem as it would take her longer than a half hour if she left immediately but she said yes and figured they’d wait for her. They did.
Where would she go? Luckily she had a friend with a place in Point Richmond who was out of town but invited her to stay there.
“Do you have anything with you?”
“I brought some cereal and I just picked up some milk down at that little corner store. I have plenty of bread,” she said.
“Can you cook? Is there a grill or a gas stove?” asked Mary Anne.
We did have a grill, two actually, and the gas stove in our kitchen still worked.
When the power goes out unexpectedly, best not to open the refrigerator or freezer so things stay cold as long as possible. My family has lived in Florida for decades now and I knew from them we might need water if the power went out, so even though we had been told there would be no power blackouts in our neighborhood, just to be safe, I’d filled the bathtub with water and several pitchers with filtered water for drinking so we were all set. EBMUD had told people to minimize water use. My bad. No grief please.
Our new friend told us she had to get going because she’d left her mother alone and she was someone who shouldn’t be alone. We exchanged cell phone numbers.
Back at our house, we looked around for items to give to someone who couldn’t cook and wanted to limit any opening of the refrigerator.
We grabbed: a jar of almond butter (unopened), a box of Rustic Bakery sourdough rosemary crackers (unopened), one perfectly ripe mango, two avocados, two cans of V-8 juice, one pack of frozen Aidell’s chicken apple sausage – in case power came on in time for her to cook those – and a can of S & W black beans. I don’t know why S & W was in the house as I keep saying I only want Bush’s. Bush’s are the best – not that those Presidents were my favorites. If she hadn’t told us that she didn’t drink, we’d have also have grabbed a bottle of wine.
We walked a block or two to the house to drop everything off. Outside the house a Chevy Blazer was parked. Those are huge creatures. She’d told us that was what she drove when we were talking back on the hill. I thought how the hell did she get her 97 year old mother in and out of that passenger seat? At the assisted living facility, someone must have helped but here in Point Richmond she must have taken her mom for a piggy back ride into the house. There was no way mom could have climbed down. And not like the daughter of a 97 year old is some young spry thing.
We rang the doorbell and were invited inside. Nice house. Nice view.
“A mango? Mom will love that.”
On the kitchen counter was a huge bag of dog food.
She led us into the living room and introduced us to her mother who sat in a recliner in front of the TV. Very hard of hearing but she seemed very kind.
“I guess she’s an optimist – believes the TV might come back on at any moment,” I said.
“I’m not sure if she notices that it’s not on but she’s okay with that. She’s not clear on exactly what is going on.”
The power came back on at 7:30pm when we were back in our house trying to figure out how to spend our evening hours. I pictured our new friend having a dinner of sausage, black beans, and sliced avocado.
Just another October day in Northern California.