“May you live in interesting times.”
— Chinese curse
We live in a very old and quiet neighborhood. Well, old by California standards. We bought this home in December of 1960, a few weeks before we were married. It was a few concrete slabs and foundations on a barren, empty lot at the time. It was nearly six months before it was completed and we moved in.
We have lived here ever since, raised our family, pursued careers, and eventually retired. Nothing much ever happened here on Agate Street. Just a quiet little backwater suburb.
A couple years ago, things started getting a little more ‘interesting.’ A water main blew out around the corner, flooding the street. Our water was shut off for a couple days. Then, right across the street from the water main blowout, the gas company arrived with a huge drilling rig and drilled a hole 500 feet down to provide some kind of grounding circuit for their gas main system. I’m not sure, but I think it is in response to the horrendous explosion that happened recently up near San Francisco when gas leaks developed. The street was partially blocked for almost a month and the noise from the drilling rig was constant during the day.
Then we had that thunderstorm. Now, I grew up in Michigan where summer thunderstorms are very common. I loved to sit and watch them. In the 50+ years that I have lived here in southern California, I think I have seen at most, a dozen thunderstorms, and most of them were just a few rumbles and distant lightning flashes. But a year ago, we had a real one. The power transformer up the street took a direct hit from a lightning bolt. The whole street was without power for most of a day.
And then there was the stupid SUV driver who lost control of his vehicle and took out a power pole and a big gray A T & T box up at the corner, a block away. We have U-Verse service from A T & T, which means our land-line phones, TV and Internet connection are all multiplexed onto a single wire that connects to…you guessed it, that gray box at the corner. If the guy had planned a terrorist attack on our neighborhood to inflict the most damage possible, he could not have done better. We were without power, phones, TV and Internet for a couple days.
What else can go wrong?
Let me tell you. Tomorrow, a very large crane will pull up in front of our house. The street will be blocked off in both directions. The crane will remove and replace the power/communications pole at the back corner of our lot. It has a transformer that supplies power to the houses around us, plus the phone and Internet lines for those houses. The pole is 50 years old and termite ridden.
Between the pole and the street is an ash tree that I planted in 1962. The base of the tree is about six feet in diameter. The spread is at least 50 feet, and it is about 70 feet tall. I asked the power company workers who were planning the job how they could get by that tree. The answer: Go over it. Our lot is quite deep for a city lot, about 200 feet from street to the back corner where that pole is. So visualize the problem: The crane has to lift a 40-foot pole that weighs around a ton over that tree and the boom must be long enough to reach more than 200 feet.
What kind of crane can do that?
So what’s next in our life full of interesting times?
Well, we have had some minor tremors, but a major earthquake would really top things off.