The Stove Clock

It’s been a week. On Friday and Saturday we had two warm and lovely afternoons for roaming. I was a little surprised that the group was bigger on Friday than on Saturday, but maybe the idea of looping the whole Presidio put a few people off. 

On Sunday morning I was determined to get out on my bike for a short time, but it was a wet and miserable ninety minutes, and then I got wet again walking down to the Tendwell Fair. The event itself was lovely; I enjoyed teaching and spending time with folks from the community. 

On Monday, I did my taxes. It had been hanging over me, and I figured that it would be less stressful to plough through it rather than still have it to do. It was not good news though; one of my jobs had gone from a W-2 job with tax withheld to a 1099 with no deductions, so I was on the hook for that. And then I got whacked with a healthcare tax credit clawback, from having underestimated my earnings a year ago. About half my savings will be heading off to the government…

I went to sit with a sinking feeling. It was dry enough to sit outside, but any pleasure I had had in the day pretty much ended when I got a flat – my second in a week – on the way back to BART from teaching in South San Francisco (I am amazed I haven’t had to do that fortnightly trip in the rain yet), and I was too late to make it home in time for the Dogen study group.

Tuesday’s commute was another soaking wet one, just like last week, and cold to boot. I thought I would be overdressed, but it didn’t feel like it at all. The rain and wind picked up through the day until we lost power in Oakland. Charlie has battery back-up power supplies, so I was able to continue doing most things. Trying to get home, the wind was raging, the rain lashing horizontal. It was enough of  a challenge just doing the quarter mile or so to BART that I stuck to the sidewalks. On the way back to the city, I was wondering how the infamous wind tunnels along Market Street would be, but discovered that it was dry in San Francisco, and the winds manageable.

But trees had come down, and I found there was no power at my place. I did my student group in the last of the evening light, and then had candles and little LED lights to read by. I could cook and shower, at least, though I had no heating.  Houses only a few doors away around the corner that I could see through my kitchen window still had lights; it seemed very arbitrary. Then again, I have avoided all the previous cuts that have happened around the place this winter.

I awoke very early on Wednesday and, feeling stressed that the power was still out, couldn’t get back to sleep. I didn’t use my laptop in the early hours so I would have enough battery power to be able to lead a morning meditation; I read by flickering candle light once my powerful bike light had run down. In the end, the hotspot from my phone was not reliable enough, and we had to scratch the session. I went down to Kim’s house to get everything charged up while I ran some errands, feeling completely exhausted from everything.

I managed to conduct my other Wednesday sessions from my phone, though the connection was a bit spotty. PG&E sent a message with an updated time when the power would come on – from 3:00pm originally to midnight. I figured I would manage – when we were kids we got used to power cuts, and sitting around by candlelight without the television. Since the outage also included the traffic lights on Oak St, I figured it would be one of the priority areas.

I got to notice the habitual gestures that I still made, even though I knew they would be in vain: to turn on the gas rings and expect the electronic spark to light, to turn on the lights. Looking to the stove clock to see what time it is, which I do many times a day, and which was my overnight indicator that the power had not come back on.

Mainly, apart from the stress of not being able to do my sessions, I am worried because I am going up Wilbur on Friday morning, and am house sitting out of town next week, so I had a lot of things I wanted to get done, not least my laundry; though I couldn’t bring myself to take it to the laundromat down the street. I trust that I will have enough clothes to see me through the week, even with all the combinations I will need.

Reading lights
A map of outages twenty four hours after the worst of the storm.

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