It's a White-Out Christmas

Pauline Nevins  January 8, 2022 - The Auburn Journal

I’ve aged 10 years in a week. I blame the weather.

Like residents east and west of the Sierra mountains, we’ve suffered a deluge of rain and snow, mostly snow. Trees stressed by droughts and now top-heavy with snow felled PG&E lines, leaving thousands without power.

Following last year’s power outages, we deprived our kids of their inheritance to purchase a mega-standby generator. It fires up the second the power goes out. The generator worked perfectly, except at night.

It was LOUD!

“We should be able to turn it off, “I whined to my husband, who apparently didn’t hear me above the football game, cranked to maximum decibels. I dug out the generator’s operation manual. Under the heading, “Shutting Generator Down While Under Load or During a Utility Outage” was a triangle with an exclamation mark and the word DANGER. I felt a twinge under my left eye. A companion bag was forming.

The manual directions cautioned “avoid equipment damage … follow steps below.” I read the list, flipped to the pages that identified the generator’s internal organs. Where was the “Main utility disconnect?” – the first step in shutting down the generator? I was at the kitchen table when I felt another twinge – this time under my right eye. Jim was in the living room cheering an interception. I gave up on the manual.

Bedtime. The generator was louder with the TV off. I’d plug my ears. ENT specialists have told me I have narrow tubes that require getting my ears sand-blasted every six months. This anomaly prevents insertion of standard ear plugs. Decades ago, I purchased custom-made ear plugs. They worked beautifully. I found them. The once-pliable plugs were as hard as granite.

I jammed two small cotton balls into each ear and placed a pillow over my head. I could still hear the generator. Maybe music would muffle the sound. I clicked on the bedside lamp and blew dust off the top of the clock radio. The plastic switch offered four choices: on, off, alarm and music. I slid the control back and forth. An ear-splitting rendition of “Silent Night” blasted into the room.