Two things I now know - or at least have a bit of unscientific support for these two things I suspected.
Indulge me for a of couple minutes. This is silly I know, but true. And, who knows, may be of interest to include in a story. Not this, what I'm typing here, but the two things.
Which are really nothing.
First thing: Oceanside, Oregon may really have a blackout/energy reduction period every week. Saturday nights for 9 hours, starting around 1 a.m. until around 10 in the morning. I'm not kidding. I really don't *know* beyond a doubt this is true. But the last time I was over here for what turned out to be a personal writing retreat, the power went out at 1 a.m. - and it was amazing because it was the super full moon and the sky was clear. Awesome. Last night, again, the power went out. This time I was asleep, though. But I put away my manuscript and turned out the light about 1:20 a.m.; and when I woke up a couple hours later to do what one does in the middle of the night after drinking a large glass of water just before bed, the electric alarm clock wasn't glowing red numbers. I did check my Blackberry and it was about 3:45 a.m. I didn't test the electricity - I didn't want to wake up that much - so I did what I woke up to do and crawled back under the still warm bedsheets. I woke up later, right around 10 a.m. and I was cold and it was cloud cover dark and rainy outside. The place I'm staying at this weekend has these heavy duty motorized shades on the windows of the living room area and I wanted to open them to let in more natural light. No response from the switches. And it was really cold. I tried a couple of light switches - nothing. And my computer, which I'd left on overnight, yet plugged in, was down to 40% battery (there's a program in it which prevents sleep mode). So I went back to bed and under the covers with the book I'm reading, "The Chronology of Water" by Lidia Yuknavitch, and snuggled in until something happened. Around 11 a.m. both the wall heater in the living room area and the one in the bedroom came on and the alarm clock started flashing red numbers at me. Power!
So - have I proven that Oceanside cuts its electricity for about 9 or so hours on Saturday nights? No. But, again, there were no sirens or alarms. Just - no power. Both times I've been here. And I know this could be a total coincidence. Or not. [And I do think this also is the reason I have an internet connection right now - though we'll see how long it lasts: the router needed to be reset but the tenant wasn't home, and the power outage did just that. So I may - or may not - have a connection the rest of the day.]
The second very unscientific thing I know now is that it is the instant coffee itself which makes soy milk curdle. It is not just the mere fact of putting it into the microwave (that was an earlier guess), or the water was too cold or too hot. See, instant coffee is not something I drink regularly (like coming to Oceanside). Usually I put in some hot water and the coffee and the soy milk and put it in the microwave to heat up. And the soy milk comes out curdled - sometimes even with some solidish pieces the texture of fluffy scrambled eggs. I've tried just heating the instant coffee in the microwave and then adding soy milk - same result. Today I decided to run the water through the coffee maker so it would be nice and hot without the microwave. Then made instant coffee with that, so no microwave required. Then added the soy milk. The result? The soy milk curdled - though not as much as when it goes in the microwave, I will admit.
So - it seems that the instant coffee itself is actually the cause of chunking of the soy milk. As it sits in the cup on the table, the soy milk becomes granular. I stir and it smooths a bit, but always grainy. And I can see the bits of soy milk pulling inward, leaving a ring of unwhitened instant coffee along the cup's walls. What is it about instant coffee which changes the molecular structure of soy milk? Does it do this to regular milk? What does it do to me when I ingest it? I don't really want to know. Better than nothing - and note to self: try making a carafe of coffee ahead to bring along next time - although this time there is a coffee pot and a grinder. I didn't want to give up the hours it would take to dress presentable (no, I'm not driving into town in my sweats and Script Frenzy t-shirt), drive down the very narrow and steep hill from where I am into Oceanside and then over to the next town where there is a store just to buy coffee. It's not that important.
This whole post is not that important.
Just notes on a couple of observations at a time when I'm not in my routine.