Got no heat, got no Internet, got minimal cell phone coverage.
But two artifacts from antiquity have helped us stay in touch with reality since the lights went out Monday evening:
The familiar blue wrapper containing The New York Times in the driveway and the stolid landline telephone in our kitchen.
I have been able to read the paper – even without that technological marvel called the Internet that is suddenly not available.
I marvel at the work my friends at the home office in New York and the College Point plant and the drivers and deliverers did to produce this miracle at our house.
They gave up the reassurances of being with family to do their jobs the way “newspaper people” (like my father and my mother and my three children) have been doing for a long time.
Note I said “newspaper people.” It’s still a paper -- the best in the world, as far as I can see – produced by some very smart and dedicated people.
Yes, I love the emerging on-line form – the future, I am sure. I flick through the web package to seek the latest electoral percentages from Nate Silver and am a junkie for breaking news as it hits the web. But for this elder, there is nothing like “the paper.” In my driveway. Thank you, all.
The same goes for the landline phone. We have invested in cordless phones (that wear down much too quickly) but have resisted all those offers to link our phones to our cable package. We kept the landline, sensing that in a time of troubles it might enable us to get calls from the office and family and friends, plus robocalls from local officials who say LIPA may get to us by Thanksgiving or maybe New Year’s.
Our house is intact while some homes took direct hits from trees. My wife has made great meals on our gas stove and we have gas-heated water and the other day our neighbors let us run a cord to their generator, giving us a bit of electricity for a few chores. We are blessed.
Plus, those relics, the paper in the driveway and the landline phone, keep us in touch with the world.
(sent from the local stop-and-shop)
"Among the things that have long fascinated people about Jesus and explain his enduring appeal is his method of dialogue and teaching. "He asked a lot of questions and told a lot of stories in the form of parables. In fact, parables form about a third of Jesus’ recorded teachings. The Gospels were written decades after he died, so his questions and parables clearly left a deep impression on those who bore testimony to him....
"Some of Jesus’ questions were rhetorical; others were meant to challenge or even provoke. In some cases, Jesus used questions to parry attacks by religious authorities who set traps for him. In others, he used questions to enter more fully into the lives of others and to help people look at the state of their hearts. He asked people about their fears and their faith. Jesus used questions to free a woman caught in adultery from condemnation and to inquire whether people considered him to be the Messiah. He probed deeply into questions not many had asked before him, like “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
---(Peter Wehner, long-time White House consultant and writer, in the NYT last week about Jesus Christ’s method of teaching by asking questions.)
"Would that I could mention all the illuminating details in this biography, for example, why Wells praised Black Americans so highly, saying, 'I took a mighty liking to these gentle, human, dark-skinned people,' and 'Whatever America has to show in heroic living today, I doubt if she can show anything finer than the quality of the resolve, the steadfast efforts hundreds of black and colored men are making today to live blamelessly, honorably and patiently, getting by themselves what scraps of refinement, beauty and learning they may, keeping their hold on a civilization they are grudged and denied.''
-- "How H.G. Wells Predicted the 20th Century," Charles Johnson, NYT Book Review, Nov. 19, 2021. ***".
...the monsters arrive."
"They come in a deafening, surging swarm, blasting from lawn to lawn and filling the air with the stench of gasoline and death. I would call them mechanical locusts, descending upon every patch of gold in the neighborhood the way the grasshoppers of old would arrive, in numbers so great they darkened the sky, to lay bare a cornfield in minutes. But that comparison is unfair to locusts.
"Grasshoppers belong here. Gasoline-powered leaf blowers are invaders, the most maddening of all the maddening, environment-destroying tools of the American lawn-care industry."
---The great Margaret Renkl, from Nashville, one of my favorite NYT bylines, Oct. 26, 2021.
(She describes our Long Island enclave to every decibel, every stink.)