by Diana Nelson Jones/Feb 22
The morning of Feb. 6 is now a mental souvenir that rivals any tangible one I could have brought home from my recent trip to Nicaragua.
To tweak your memory, that was the first morning of Stormapalooza. Just after the sun began its weak distillation, I opened the door and let my dog run into a street in which no cars were coming to play with four neighbor dogs who all sprang out at the same time. Most of my neighbors were out, reacting to the muffled world of white like kids in wonderland.
That afternoon, some men on my street got to work. Among them, Allan Slider and Andrew Wickesberg spent much of the day shoveling around cars and sawing downed limbs. They both said they just wanted to be busy. As I ventured onto other streets, I saw others at work keeping busy... helping their neighbors.
The power outage zapped us all back in time. Being without electronic stimulus was like coming off a drug. When I couldn't stand it anymore I went to Rite Aid for batteries for a little radio I almost forgot I had. I could only get KDKA, on which some bozo taking calls suggested people stay warm in their cars in an open garage. WHen I couldn't stand listening any longer to the Twits on Air, my housemate and I played word games by candlelight.
The next two weeks were hard on most of you, I know, but I didn't have it that easy. Nicaraguan mosquitos swarm to me as soon as I arrive there and it takes them more than a week to move on to newer arrivals, so I was scratching my ankles as followed the play-by-play of Stormapalooza as it progressed: You can't really get away from it all when you carry email in your phone.
Neighbors on the North Side chat site reported downed trees, posted cancellations, groused about how long it was taking the power to come back and soon began asking for recommendations of roofers and gutter repairmen. Among the icycle alerts and criticism of the city's failure to clear the streets came a few pearls of praise for neighbors who organized errands for elderly residents and cleared snow from in front of homes other than their own. I showed Nicaraguans the photos my neighbors sent me of the snow mountains along the curbs. Their mouths dropped open and they looked at me like I was from another planet. At times it is hard to believe Nicaragua and Pittsburgh are on the same planet, (and you will be reading more about Planet Nicaragua in travel stories and a Saturday Diary I plan to write for the P-G.)