Wired  (2011)  by Mary

We visited the farm in early January before Allison went back to college. Allison and Erin spent most of the time in the family room knitting up a storm. I still find it unbelievable how they can knit intricate patterns into their projects. They were also teaching their mom how to knit, and so it was one big knitfest. I brought mine, but struggled trying to learn to change from knit to purl in the same row, and decided, instead, to read their new book, 'The Dirty Life' about farming. You would love it.  

Todd was anxious to show us all that he was doing, which was electrical work. He had made new holes here and there, putting in a floor outlet, two-way switches, and changing switches to the right height. All this was not easy in an old house. We followed him to the basement where he had torn crappy old wiring out of the ceiling and was installing new with shiny junction boxes. I thought I was interested in everything going on at the farm, but this is where it stopped. No longer a good cheerleader, I quietly disappeared up the basement steps while the guys continued talking electricity nonstop.

I once read a story about a missionary who worked with a tribe for years. He became friends with the chief, and one year he took the chief with him on furlough to the states. When it was time to go back to his village, the chief wanted to take home some of those light switches. I'm quite sure I'm one of his descendants. All I know is that Larry wouldn't let me take any when we went tenting. To me, electricity is a mystery. Magical. 

I read about electricity in school, but I don't remember anything other than AC and DC. We have toured power plants, but I don't remember anything except they provide us electricity. Imagine my surprise a few years ago to discover that we get our power from burning coal instead of it coming all the way from Niagara Falls. I also know that outlets are 110 or 220, and a few words such as 'conduit' and 'Romex'. I know that to be self-sustainable, you need to be 'off the grid', and someone keeps mentioning we should switch to solar power. That's about it. I guess you could say I'm not 'well grounded'!

A few years ago, I told Todd about my lack of electrical understanding. He was sure it was the fault of those old text books, and proceeded to teach me in layman terms. I don't know how that ended. He probably stopped when he saw my eyes glaze over. 

I do understand about the lack of switches and outlets in old houses, though. I have two memories of getting electricity when I was a young child. I remember a man working to install it, and the wonder of it all when someone turned the light on at suppertime. I thought the plain fixture in the middle of the ceiling was absolutely beautiful. Anyway, the people of that era were so thankful to have electricity, they didn't realize they should have switches and outlets all over the place. All the gadgets requiring electricity hadn't been invented as yet. Imagine their faces if they could see the tangled mess of wires behind a computer desk. (Since electricity is magic to me, wireless is no big deal.)  

Well, only floor boards separated us females in the family room from the work going on directly below in the basement. Happy voices came up through them in-between the noise of hammers and drills, and we were content knowing our men enjoyed working together. Every now and then they appeared for food and to tell us all they had accomplished. We pretended to be interested. 

The old wiring was hanging down everywhere. Now we would have new wiring, neatly strung and attached to the rafters in preparation for the next phase.

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