By STEVE EIGHINGER Herald-Whig Staff Writer
We're only hours away from the one-week anniversary of the great wind storm, and plenty of images and memories are still fresh in my mind:
º Above all else, I have to commend the hundreds of utility and other workers who have spent a week's worth of dawn-to-dusk days getting our city back in order. Look around, it's borderline amazing the miracle -- yes, I said miracle -- these men and women have performed.
Did you think there was even a chance on Monday morning that by mid-week all of the major intersections would be open and power would be restored? A handful of people are without electricity -- and, seriously, I feel for you -- but all things considered, Ameren and those assisting have done a remarkable job.
º Did we all learn how valuable electricity is in our daily lives, not to mention how we take it for granted?
Like many, our house was without power for a couple of days. I soon became extremely grateful I was born in the century that I was, instead of in the covered wagon era. No pioneer life for this guy. I need Internet, social media, satellite TV and ice.
The worst part of the powerless days came in the mornings. The only alarm clock we had was my wife's cell phone. I no longer had a cell phone since I forgot to take it out of my pocket before the pair of pants it had been in went through the wash. Ironically, it was the last load of laundry before the power went out.
For those who had to take showers and get dressed in the dark for a few days, you can probably sympathize with me. I had trouble figuring out if had my wife's "conditioner" or the "shampoo" in my hand. And of course, dropping the soap was a nightmare.
The first day I shaved in the dark I realized I had missed a few spots after I had gotten to work. That was bearable, though, because a few of my cohorts opted against trying to shave at all.
And then there was the getting dressed part. Do you know much black socks and blue socks look alike in the dark? For three consecutive days I discovered -- after getting to work -- I was wearing one of each.
º The member of our household who probably had it the worst was the family dog, Ashes.
When we're gone during a normal workday, Ashes rests comfortably in a rather large bathroom area, complete with an oversized stuffed pillow and all the amenities befitting a 9-year-old black lab mix, including a brightly lit area (when the house has electricity). Ashes normally loves her "apartment," and will go in automatically each morning the Little Woman and I leave for work.
After two days of darkness, however, Ashes wanted nothing to do with that apartment come Wednesday morning. I tried to coax her in, but no luck. Not even a bribe could get her in there. And I couldn't blame her. I wouldn't want to spend another day in the dark either.
"Well, where do you want to go?" I said.
She looked up at me, like I was supposed to be able to read her mind, then she walked down the hall to the mancave, made her way in and laid down by my desk.
"OK, I can live with that," I said to myself.
Windows in the mancave allow sunlight to come in. The mancave is as much Ashes' home inside the home as it is mine. She and I spend a lot of time together in there. We watch ballgames and races together, she lays beside me when I am working on the computer and I share quite a few snacks with her. She especially loves potato chips and pizza.
Like her owner, Ashes could never have survived in the covered wagon era. She won't even go outside if the wind is blowing or it is raining, so you can imagine how upset she was the night the big storm. I figured a day of rest and solitude in the mancave would do her good.
º In barely a week, life is pretty much back to normal, and that is truly amazing.
With each passing hour, the city looks more like it did "before" the storm as the "after" continues to disappear. Each time I turn on the TV or check my email, I remind myself never again to take electricity for granted.
And most importantly, Ashes is once again resting comfortably in her apartment.
Wow, what a week.