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PRIME TIME: Blessed by a power outage

Among other interesting happenings March 26, I had Easter dinner at the home of two favorite ordained Lutherans, Mark and Linnea Papke-Larsen. Ham, multiple veggies, salad, potatoes, cake and ice cream. The cake was a good, dense cake, but bunny-shaped and frosted. As the oldest person there, I had the honor (?) of cutting the cake. Linnea was over dishing ice cream when I beheaded the bunny and set the piece on her plate. She was appalled at how big it was.

As usual, they sent me home with leftovers. There was enough salad, mash, other veggies, and dessert for two suppers, but enough ham for four. What to do with the extra ham? Obviously, add to a split pea soup mix. Couldn't find any, but got creative, using a long outdated can of refried beans as a base. Fortunately, it was fat-free, so contained no fat to get rancid. Added an onion, some steamed veggies, a can of organic veggie soup, and made four not-quite-full pint containers.  Froze three for future reference.

Fast forward to Saturday, May 6. Nuked one of the remaining three, broke the partially defrosted mass up, then put it on Reheat Casserole. At about 6:45 pm, with only a few seconds left to reheat, the power went out. Still plenty of daylight to eat by, and had already poured a pale ale (or maybe that was a skim milk evening; don't remember). Despite the dated refried beans, it was scrumptious. Dessert could wait 'til later.

Laptop batteries are good for a while, so off to my office to log on. Well, I could word-process, but could neither access new emails nor go online. Deduction ("elementary my dear Watson"): this outage is not just this house and a few others, it's extensive enough to knock out our server at Paul Bunyan Communications, many blocks northwest of here. Assumed that much of northwest Bemidji was powerless, and found out later I was right.

While at the laptop, I noticed out my window that a neighbor drove home from somewhere, got out of his car and went in his front door, but obviously found his power out. He came back out, stayed in his SUV for a while, but later drove off. As the light faded, it became obvious that Evan was not the best touch typist that passed Ms. Casserly's typing class at JHS 3 in the ’40s, but I could still edit as I typed. Couldn't stand Ms. C., but shouldn't belittle the class; may have meant the only income for some of my ’40s peers.

Could be much worse. It was warm enough, 60 degrees, that the pipes wouldn't freeze, and cool enough that food would be good in the fridge and freezers for many hours. Also, music on MPR on the Prius radio suggests that it was not because WW III had started. Since, however, one never knows, I enjoyed a humongous cup of Dean's Extreme Moose Tracks.

Also, Saturday evenings, usually shortly after 8 p.m., MPR plays their weekly "Euroclassic," a piece recorded live in some foreign country, and played "once and once only" for us classics nerds. Dvořák's "Dumky" trio would be on in five minutes. Quick pit stop, back to the car radio in the garage, to listen to Dvořák as daylight faded. Left the door into the laundry and kitchen open.

The Dumky Trio is so named because it is based on an Eastern European dance form, the "dumka", and consists of six such sections, and also to assert that it is specifically not following standard sonata form. That is, Dvořák was plowing new ground.

New car radios are high quality, and there was nothing to distract me from the music. So often, I turn on MPR but then do other things, only to realize later that I'd missed a good part, or even particular relished parts, of the music. This time I had no choice, and listened closer to the Dumky than I ever had. Other pieces would have done as well: Schubert's "Trout" Quintet, Beethoven's "Archduke" Trio or String Quartet Op. 18 No.5, Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition," but Dvořák was just fine: a performance recorded at a festival in Schleswig-Holstein, former Danish territories we learned about in H.S. history class, which Prussians "took back" when they got strong enough to get away with it.  So I was grateful for the outage.

This all happened too late to get into the Sunday Pioneer and there's no Monday paper. A Wednesday article said the outage was caused by a juvenile driving a van into a power pole, and that power was restored to "the affected area by about 11:30 p.m."  Apparently that is an incremental process, because my lights came on at 8:23 p.m. However, I wisely shut my eyes and stayed put, immersed in Antonín Dvořák, and decided I had a topic for the June "Threescore and Ten."

Evan Hazard is a retired BSU biology professor.

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