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Cheryl Hughes: Unplugged

Listen. Do you hear that? It is one of the most beautiful sounds in the world. It is the sound of my dishwasher cleaning my dirty dishes.

When you lose electricity, like most of us experienced last week, due to the extreme windy conditions, everything becomes eerily quiet. In the evenings, everything becomes eerily dark, as well.

We had every oil lamp, candle and flashlight at the ready when we listened to the warnings, earlier in the day, and by dark, we needed them.

Garey picked our granddaughter, Sabria, up from her mom’s Friday morning—school had been called off—so they could practice for her archery shoot, scheduled for Saturday afternoon. Sabria is one of those people who will find something for you to do, regardless of the circumstances, whether you want to do it or not.

The three of us were holed up in the living room, near the fireplace, with my grandmother’s oil lantern and several flash lights. Sabria loves to play with fire, so she used the opportunity to line up several tea light candles on a ceramic plate on the coffee table. She lit them all, explaining we would need a lot more light for the activities she had lined up.

First off was a crossword puzzle. We went from there to a multiplication board game that has rows of numbers across the top and sides. There are slots down and across the board with the correct answers to multiplication problems on cards that are flipped over one at a time. The goal is to get your playing piece into the right slot before your opponent does. Next on the agenda was the UNO card game.

“I’m really lucky at this game,” Sabria announced.

She was down to only two cards, when I played my “skip your turn” card, followed by my “you have to draw 4 cards” card, and finished with my “wildcard—change the color” card.

“Gee!” she said, “I can’t believe you put down all of your MEAN cards together!”

“I came to play,” I said, as I tossed my last card on the table, winning the game.

Sabria looked over at Garey, who was scrolling on his phone. “Papa, do you want to play a game of UNO with me?” she asked. (She probably thought he would be easy pickens.)

Garey was reading the news. “Let me get to the end of this,” he said. The irony of the

grandfather scrolling on his phone, while the granddaughter was asking him to get off his phone and play with her was not lost on Sabria. “Papa, you do know this is Global Unplug from Technology Day, don’t you?” (March 3 rd was actually Global Unplug day.) Garey put down his phone and took my place on the couch.

Sabria put the flashlight beam directly on the cards as she explained how the game works and what the special cards mean. Sometime during her explanation, the flashlight beam shifted from the card to Garey’s eyes. “I can see my eyeballs,” he said. “Shine that light on the cards.” Sabria took the

opportunity to taunt Garey with the flashlight at random times throughout the night. She would shine the light directly onto his face, then ask, “Can you see your eyeballs yet?”

Sabria found another game on our shelf of games, called FIVE SECOND RULE. The game uses cards you read to the opposing player or players, who then have to name the three things in that category before the timer (5 seconds) runs out. For example: Three Beatles Songs. Three Pasta Dishes.

Three Fruit Trees. The highlight of the game was when I asked Sabria to name Three Julia Roberts movies, to which she replied, “Who’s Julia Roberts?” Nobody can make you feel as old as a grandchild can.


Garey slept on the couch Friday night. Sabria slept with me. We talked late into the night before, sometime in the darkness, we fell asleep.  Sometimes, no electricity can be a beautiful thing. But I really did miss the sound of that dishwasher.


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