Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Things You Take for Granted

Note: This is a long post really about nothing. Just thoughts I had while sitting without electric for almost 24 hours. Not whining, just observational thoughts. So read at your own discretion and if you have nothing better to do :)

Electricity, yup that's something we all take for granted. You walk in a room, turn on the light and don't even think about it. In the early AM hours of yesterday we had a wicked storm pass through. Probably the worst winds I have heard in I don't know how long. I kept waking up all night from just the wind. My husband and daughter had just gotten themselves off to work/school respectively, when our power went out. I, on the other hand, hadn't showered, had something in the crock-pot, a load of laundry in the washing machine and was prepared to Git 'Er Done with my project. Yup, just sit and work on it all day as soon as I showered. I had it all figured out.

I called the electric company to report the outage and got the recorded message that it would be back on by 10:00 AM, it wasn't. Called at 10:30 AM and recorded message said noon, this went on all day and then finally, I talked to a representative when the message said 5:30 PM on January 26th. Wait a minute, January 26th was tomorrow-not today. In the meantime, you have to remember, living in a rural community, we have well water and septic. You can't flush your toilet, you can't run water. Here I am, brushing my teeth and washing my face with bottled water. It was too dark from the storm to work on "the project" as it's dark yarn and I need my Ott light for my old eyes to see the stitches. I did what I could without power; emptied the dish drain, cleaned off the kitchen counters with Clorox wipes, glared at the crock pot with a huge corned beef in it, straightened up the book shelf, read by a window using a booklight, called the electric company every hour til my cell phone battery died. I have a regular cell phone, not one that can go online, do any tricks, play any games, just a cell phone. I also have cordless phones around the house, which don't work when the electric goes out. Now, I do have a land-line set up here for a phone, which works our alarm system, which has battery back-up, however I neglected to replace the regular corded phone when the cat knocked it over and broke the handset.

Meanwhile, Elena goes to an after-school educational program (ACE) every day and it had been canceled and they used a robo-call to call my house, which of course went to my answering machine which is connected through the phone company. I never thought to check the machine using my cell phone until the cell phone battery died. Whenever Elena doesn't have ACE program, she knows I pick her up from school instead of her riding the bus. So she headed to the office to wait for me, but I didn't know. My husband moved his office location recently and changed the number and I, forgot to change it with the school. Not that it would have mattered since he's an hour away and wasn't in the office. Elena left a message on my now dead cell phone and finally got a hold of my husband on his (there's a "dead zone" on his way home from work) an hour later. She was okay, but it just showed me how much we rely on things like electric and how used to things like cordless phones, answering machines, cell phones, computers, etc. They had a posting online about ACE being canceled on the ACE blog, but no electricity, no computer, so...

I was able to charge my phone using the car charger Mike had (note to self, buy another car charger), so at least I could make a call if I had to.

The whole community wasn't effected. Heck, my neighbor on one side of me is on a different circuit than we are and had electric back by 5:00 PM yesterday. When my other neighbor (the one without power) stopped by around 5:00 PM, I opened the door (looking like something the cat dragged in), my hair sticking up all over, wearing my husband's sweats because mine were all in the washer and wet and his were right there. I also had the hideous Snuggly my dd HAD to have because the infomercial had her so intrigued (I had to remind her; remember Blendie pens? Floam?). I was cold and it was there and it is the most awful thing they ever created, but I was warm as long as you didn't have to move wearing it. He looked at me, saw the dark kitchen behind me with candles burning and just said "Well, that answers my question". I am hoping it was because he saw the candles and darkness and not the fright of a woman whose bathroom she uses has no windows and I had to try and do the best I could with my hair under the circumstances and didn't take the advice of another friend to come use her shower because "the electric company said I'll have power soon". Her answer to me this AM was "Oh little grasshopper (from the Karate Kid), will you listen to your friend next time?". Yup, it had to be the candles and darkness.

Our electric finally came back on around 6:30 THIS MORNING. We kept the fridge running by using extension cords that ran 1 1/4 acres from the neighbor who had electric, but that was it. Another friend dropped off and set up a generator, but it only lasted about an hour. The other neighbor who didn't have electric either, his generator lasted about the same amount of time. No heat (thank goodness it wasn't frigid), no phones, no TV, some candles, battery operated candles and LED flashlights. It was odd, looking down the other end of the street to total, absolute darkness. Eerie in fact. Elena stayed at a friends house and Mike and I just ate take-out in the dark with flashlights and candles and kept checking the generator til it died and then spent an hour in the rain rearranging the extension cords to a splitter hoping to save the freezer, but too long a line and once it was set up, we knew we might blow the motor on one of them, so we chose the fridge.

Honestly, not having the answering machine, phone, computer or TV wasn't a big deal, but I would have liked lights, some heat and a cup of coffee. It made me think back to when I was a kid and we never had answering machines, no caller ID, a handful of television channels. It was kinda nice, if you were out, you were out. No one could leave a message, no one tracked you down on your cell phone. Of course, having my cell phone means when I am out, if there is a problem with my daughter at school being sick, they can call me. Pro's and cons to it all, I guess.

Almost 24 hours without electricity has humbled me. My hot shower was heavenly; my coffee this AM, the best ever. Going online at 8:00 AM and finding 48 emails waiting, 18 of which were somewhat important and had to be answered, not so great, but it showed me how much we rely on email now for communication, both locally and from those across the country. It is what it is, the corned beef has been trashed, the laundry rewashed and drying, the project not touched since today I had promised to volunteer at the school this AM (thank goodness for my battery back up clock), but my emails are all answered, phone calls returned, phones charged up, but I am so grateful to have my electric back and that there wasn't any major damage to anyone's home in the community due to trees down and wires down.

This isn't a whine, compared to those poor souls in Haiti, it's nothing, just an observation I made while sitting in the dark and thinking, really just thinking.

Off to make a cup of coffee, check the dryer, check the mail, start to prep for dinner and then perhaps GIT 'ER DONE!

6 comments:

Run, Bike, Knit said...

Oh no! Losing electricity stinks!! I hope you don't mind me giving you some ideas so you'll be ready for next time.

I've being thinking about how to get through being without power for a while now. I consider it side effects from living in earthquake country (California) when I was younger. :)

I got a hand-crank cell-phone charger from these guys (I got the $11.95 one.) Note: You'll still need your car charger for it. I've also taken to trying to keep my phone always charged up (I'm still working on that though. I often forget). Just an FYI, they also have stoves for alternative cooking.

As for your corned beef in the crockpot, look into "haybox cooking", so you'll be ready for next time. Here's some links:
http://thermalcooker.wordpress.com/category/thermal-cookers/haybox/

http://www.ssrsi.org/Onsite/PDFbin/Haybox_flyer.pdf

http://www.instructables.com/id/hay-box-cooker/

Also, you might want to invest in a cast-iron dutch oven and practice outdoor cooking. I've baked in my outdoor firepit and practicing that worked out nice when my oven died last year.

These ladies have some good ideas about staying warm in an emergency. Also, back in September (09) they did a 7-day challenge where they challenged people to a mock emergency and that was to help people be prepared. They have LOTS of great ideas on their site and it's well worth checking out.

Deneen said...

Great links and thanks, I'll check them out more thoroughly. thanks

kelly said...

i'm with you. i understand completely. been there; will be there again.
remember the show 'green acres'? they lived in a house where they had to decide which appliances to use based on a usage chart so they didn't blow fuses. well...MY house is a lot like that. PLUS i live in an area where trees just seem to fall down daily so we lose power a few times a year.
i TRY to make sure i have tealights available ALL the time. they burn 3-4 hours. i use various holders (a saucer or bowl will work. LOL) my favorites though are clear glass mugs i got for a buck a few years ago. they can be carried from room to room and the candle is less likely to go out on the way.
7 day (devotional/graveyard candles are great as well.

naomi said...

Wow, that's a looong time without electricity ! Mine has never been out quite that long (knock on wood).
Glad you made it :)

Daisy said...

I feel for you -- had a long power outage here in September 08 due to a windstorm. I was only home for a couple days of it, and I was doing the candlelight hair fixing thing and all. The worst part was after dark--I normally don't go to bed till after midnight, and there was just nothing to do except read by flashlight (which I tried not to do too much of so as not to blow through too many batteries) and sleep. I didn't have to worry about heat at least, and the water heater uses gas so no cold showers. Still, I was so grateful when the power finally came back on!

noricum said...

Ouch! (Yep, I'm catching up again!)

I noticed on the sidebar that you got the bag figured out. :)

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