On Saturday morning, I finished up my latest pair of socks.
I'm extremely satisfied. The pattern is from Kristin Spurkland's excellent The Knitting Man(ual) and worked perfectly as written. A handsome pair–interesting without being fussy.
While I photographed them, Dolores plopped down at the computer to work on her latest article for Ovine Activist Monthly. Harry and the guys were watching Stage Door for the four hundredth time on DVD and taking rowdy swigs of Ovaltine every time Katharine Hepburn said "calla lilies" or Adolphe Menjou tugged his moustache.
Suddenly the lights went out, Dolores screamed something filthy and the sock yarn let out a collective wail.
"It wasn't my hair dryer this time!" yelled a ball of angora blend.
"I know," I said. "Ice must have snapped a power line or something like that."
"Well, I'm pissed," said Dolores. "I was this close to a rousing climax."
"I thought you canceled her account on that Web site," Harry said to me.
"I meant in the speech, you little dung tag," hissed Dolores. "And now my concentration is broken and my muse has fled."
"She's probably stuck in the elevator," said Harry.
Dolores picked up my Meg Swansen paperweight with clear intent but dropped it when Stan, who was perched on the windowsill, let out a squeal.
"I don't think this is good," he said, indicating the line of fire trucks and cop cars that were streaming up the road in front of the building. The first of the trucks screeched to halt in front of the water mains by the curb and one of the crew began to drag hoses toward the spigots.
I sniffed and recognized a familiar, acrid scent from my childhood. Burning electrical insulation.
"Okay," I said. "Out. Everybody out. Now. Stay calm. Dolores, grab your coat and pile the guys into the laundry cart. I'm going to get Mrs Teitelbaum and Tinkles. I'll see you on the corner across the street."
Our neighbor at first failed to grasp the gravity of the situation. She insisted the smell was either the kid across the hall playing with a his new chemistry set or another failed batch of challah in 1510. "Pearl just can't cook," she said. "Her first husband died when she hit him over the head with a homemade kreplach."
But I insisted she pack up Tinkles and come with me. There was some disagreement over what to put him in; she wanted to use Tupperware. By the time we got into the emergency stairwell there was smoke pouring in at the fifth floor and below and people were getting panicky.
Our little band gathered on the corner away from the commotion of trucks and flashing lights, watching smoke billow from the vent in front of the building as firemen ran hither and thither and our neighbors traded stories of what they'd seen and guesses as to what might be going on.
I'd grabbed my camera bag and lenses, but thought of my books, my yarn and my drawings for the book. Still, I tried to keep up a brave face for Harry, who was concerned for the safety of his teddy bear and his autographed photo of Nancy Bush. Dolores was divided between worry over her wardrobe and mortification that she'd had to rush past fifty firemen with her hair in curlers.
The temperature was plummeting–Chicago is in the midst of a hideous deep-freeze with temperatures well below freezing–and I realized with some satisfaction that I was still wearing my newly-completed wool socks and my feet were warm.
I called Tom, who arrived in minutes and reassured us all that no matter what, we all had a place to stay for the night or however long it might take.
It proved to be a long wait for news and a certain amount of relief. We left the building around noon. It was six hours, most of them spent sitting on a "warming bus" provided by the public transit authority, before we were informed that a ComEd transformer in the sub-basement had exploded. There was no fire, but (as we'd seen) acres and acres of smoke, and the building was completely without power, heat or water. At almost seven o'clock I was allowed to make my way upstairs to spend 15 minutes rummaging in the dark for overnight provisions; I grabbed some clothes, my laptop, and two knitting projects I'd left lying on the coffee table. Whatever might happen next, I intended to knit through it.
Mrs Teitelbaum is staying with her niece in Highland Park and still insisting Pearl's challah is ultimately responsible for the mess. We're in residence at Tom's for now, hoping the building will re-open for occupancy tomorrow as has been promised. In the meanwhile, I'm enjoying the sight of Tom's mastiff/boxer mix, Augie, flirting shamelessly with Dolores.
Until I'm back at home, communication will be spotty and work slower than usual. But everything seems to have turned out well, and all of us are safe. Except for Tom, that is. Dolores keeps trying to bust in on him in the shower.