when the lights go out

There’s something so romantic about short little bursts of having to make do or go without.

At about 7:45 on Wednesday evening, the dark sky got darker, the wind started blowing like mad, and the rain started to fall. Then the lights started to flicker. And flicker some more. And some more.

And then poof. Gone.

It wasn’t completely dark outside yet, so I had light enough to walk downstairs, head to the kitchen cupboard where I keep the matches and start lighting all the cinnamon, cinnamon-apple, sweet cinnamon pumpkin, and cinnamon gingerbread allspice hallelujah candles I have scattered all over the house.

84 candles and not a single flashlight.

“Is there going to be a tornado?” the girls wanted to know. Nina especially was quite worried.

“Should we go to the basement?! We should go to the basement!”

I assured them that we’d be fine, that there was no tornado, just some wind. Then our deck chairs started flying across the deck.

Um, let’s meander on down to the Underground, said Ma.

We took candles and matches down to the basement and cuddled on the couch. The girls were scared. Oh, the unknown! But never fear! Captain Apple was here! Gabe pulled out his trusty, rusty, fully-charged iPhone and checked the weather. 70mph winds, lots of rain, possible hail.

“But no tornadoes,” he said.

“See? No tornadoes,” I said.

A millisecond later, a loud siren.

“The tornado siren!” they yelled.

Mmmm, yes. That would be correct.

So, we prayed and snuggled and talked about how blessed we were to have a basement. “Remember our friends in Texas?” I reminded them. “THEY DON’T HAVE BASEMENTS!!”

Gasps all around.

But this storm probably didn’t reach all the way to Texas, I reassured them. (Or did it?)

Daddy sat in his old, broken recliner that got relegated to the basement, and read us funny tweets. Then Livi and Nina joined him in the recliner, and Ava and I laid down on the couch (love seat). We all chatted about soccer and our summer plans and reminisced about Hurricane Ike that took down our favorite tree back in 2008.

“This is really nice, spending time together like this,” Gabe said.

Warm fuzzies.

Then it was over just like that. Gabe loves storms and hated being so far away from the action. The girls were none too happy when Photo-Happy Daddy left the safety of the Underworld to go up not one, but two, flights of stairs, OPENED OUR BEDROOM WINDOW, and then LEANED OUT OF IT WITH HIS METAL CAMERA. (or is it plastic?)

Finally, the siren stopped, the rain slowed, and the wind died down, and we crawled out of hiding. We lit more candles and the girls found books to read. More warm fuzzies.

I sat at the kitchen table with a candle, my pen, and a manuscript that needs much work. I felt like Louisa May Alcott.

Then they asked me to read to them, and I picked this book, the first one I saw, which ironically is a story about the man who invented electricity. (He did, right?) I held the iPhone (with the handy-dandy flashlight app) in one hand and the book in the other, and we read about life in another era.

Eventually, Nina fell asleep on me, we put the girls in bed, lit a candle so they weren’t scared of the pitch dark, blew the candle out when they fell asleep minutes later, and got ready for bed ourselves. Gabe used the iPhone flashlight to help me make sure I got my contacts in their case okay. Too bad he didn’t think to shine the phone on the bathroom mirror where I had a nice purple sticky note reminding me to take my last typhoid pill.

At about 10:45, while my family snored away and I was playing iPhone Scrabble, everything kicked back on with a bang–lights, printer, air conditioner. I got up, turned everything off, shut the windows, and got in bed.

And felt a little sad that the romance hadn’t lasted just a bit longer.

9 thoughts on “when the lights go out

  1. Elizabeth

    This is one of my favorite posts from you ever! Like Gretchen said, it’s like a sweet bedtime story. I can just picture your cute family all curled up together in your pajamas. And the cinnamon pumpkin candle just adds to the ambiance!

    We really should have basements here in OK. Instead we have safe rooms that take up half of our garage, are hideously ugly, and never get used. Don’t ask me how I know!

  2. Emily Kay

    Yup, we got that nasty storm too, about an hour before y’all. Only our power was out for 16 HOURS. Yuck, yuck, and double-yuck!!

    Oh, and tornadoes aren’t common in our parts, but a random one touched down south of Austin and wrapped my parent’s neighbor’s trampoline around a fence four houses down! It was the talk of the town. 🙂

  3. Mary

    look, do you have to rub it in that you pity us basement-less folks here in texas?? that’s a life goal of mine to wait out a storm in the underground!! just like dorothy (almost) did in the wizard of oz.

    and i love me some sweet cinnamon pumpkin candles – they are the best!! so is the soap 🙂

  4. meghan @ spicy magnolia

    There’s nothing like the absence of electricity at night to make you slow down and take a deep breath. I love the image of you by candlelight with your pen and paper. 🙂 Hope you have a good weekend!

  5. Betsy

    Thinking of memories of our three and me (plus the dog and cat) under a table in our basement with old comforters! Bad storm back then too, but no tornado.
    BTW…thought of you when I was in Tampa this week at the zoo. Took some good giraffe pics thinking, “I bet Marla saw these same giraffes!” Then couldn’t remember if you went there or not!

  6. gitz

    Yep. I think he invented electricity when he leaned out a window with an iPhone and got struck by lightening. Or was it a key on a kite? Oh, well. Details 😉

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