Monday, December 21, 2009

When the Power Goes Off

When the electric lines are coated with snow like this, it's a given that the electricity is going to go out. Which it did Saturday. Even more surprising, it came on after only a twelve hour outage.

What do you do when the electricity is off? We found plenty to keep us busy:

Lit the candles and the kerosene lamps, of course.

Larry cleaned and filled the eight or so kerosene lamps we keep in good working order.

I caught up on a bit of sewing. Every pair of pants and every jacket I buy has to be hemmed it seems, so Saturday was a good time to catch up on a few of them, plus mend the lace tablecloth I'd been meaning to get to.

Cooking is both simpler and more difficult. The woodstove in the living room does double or triple duty when the power is off--provides its usual comforting heat, plus cooks dinner, makes coffee, dries clothes and in this case melts snow to use to flush the toilet. We had ten gallons ready for other uses--cleaning, washing, etc. but used the snow for the toilet.

Larry cleaned widows on the inside and will get to the outside when the weather is better.

The little blue radio on the table kept us supplied with music and weather updates as we worked, and the candles and lamps gave a warm glow after dark.

Votives in the bedroom, placed in front of the mirror, gave double the light and were bright enough for us to see to get ready for bed.

In my office, I worked by lamp and candlelight to organize paperwork, finally catching up on a months-long backlog. I'm still not done but I made a good dent in the pile waiting to be sorted and filled a couple trash cans in the bargain. I am still amazed at how paper can literally swallow an open space in no time at all. Paperless society? When?

When all our work was done, We ate dinner in the log room by the fireplace and Larry got out his little battery powered DVD player so we could watch an old Christmas movie. We went to bed earlier than usual and had just drifted off when lights, radio, and all the other appliances buzzed back into life.

That's how we spent our day. The first day without electricity is usually fun; the second means a little more work--the food in the fridge would have needed to be packed into a cooler or two and put out on the porch to stay cold; we'd have had to melt a lot more snow, and dishes would begin to be more of a chore as we would have had to heat water on the stove to wash them. Hygiene becomes more work too. Three days means laundry might be piling up, more and more snow would need to be melted and cleaning becomes a lot more time-consuming. Heating bath water is a big job. Four days or more and it's serious hunker down and get the basics done and maybe a trip to someone's house to do some laundry and take a real shower. Unless of course, you still can't get out...then it's more grunt work.

We were very lucky this time. Many people are still without power and I feel for them. With the holidays looming, many people will be looking at a slightly different Christmas morning than what they had planned. I hope it will still be merry and bright, and filled with love and laughter, even if everything is not quite as perfect as they might want it to be.


Angela said...

Hey Granny Sue!

I'm glad to hear that you are no longer in the dark! Our electric went off at 4:20 a.m. early Saturday morning. Came back on Sunday around noon. We do have a generator that kicks on when the electric goes off which is just wonderful thing to have but we can't wash clothes. I always try to anticipate a power outage and I make sure to have all of the laundry caught up so we won't run out of towels and things. They were predicting that our electric wouldn't be back on until Christmas Day! Paper plates and plastic cups are plentiful at my house just for these special occassions! lol With 4 of us in the house I really hate to have to wash dishes by hand. Let's just say I love my dishwasher! There are enough things that I have to wash by hand just because that require hand washing that I don't want to have to wash anymore than I need too!

The funny thing is I'm already trying to get ready for the next power outage! How about you?

Merry Christmas!

Susan at Stony River said...

I'm glad your electricity came back on! Ours goes off too in high winds; snow is much rarer.

The picture of the trees is gorgeous!

You've nudged me to do two things that I've been meaning to do: One, keep one night of the week electric-free, to save a little money and a lot of gratitude LOL, and two, make a list of what to do and what to have on hand in these cases, for my daughter who's on her own for the first time. (oops! why didn't I think to do that for her?)

I hope your winter is hassle-free from here out; Mother Nature certainly did celebrate the solstice in style this year; she looked lovely ROFL.

Granny Sue said...

Angela, sounds like you know how to do it in style. We used to have a generator but it was such a hassle to use we gave it to our mechanically-inclined son--who hooked it up to run his house like you do.

I like the idea of an electricity-free evening once a week, Susan. It is interesting how it changes your perspective. No computer=a lot of free time :-) and a lot of things got done that I'd been putting off. I think we'll try that idea too.

Tonight is Solstice. I'd planned a little bonfire but with the snow and cold, that might not be a plan. So the fire will be in the fireplace and a candle in the window to welcome the winter and the Oak King in!

Janet, said...

We got lucky and only had little power hits, but I think it tore up one of our DVD player/recorders. But, our electricity stayed on.

Granny Sue said...

I think the on-off stuff messed up something on my computer, Janet. It says it has an "indexing" problem, whatever that is. I'm going to try the fixes Microsoft recommends and see if that fixes it. But first I think I'll back up my documents on my external hard drive, just in case...

Anonymous said...

Hey Sue, I know we had more snow than you did, but I think your snow was prettier! (If you can think snow is pretty, I have a lot of difficulty with that). Can I have Larry when you are through with him? A man who does windows is a treasure! Love you, tm

Jason Burns said...

I know what you mean by paper swallowing your space. I took only two courses the past semester, and for some reason every assignment, quiz, test, term paper, etc had piled up on my desk. I declared war, filled two trash cans, and now have a clean desk.

Outages suck - the longest one ever was back in 1985 (4th grade for me). We were without power from November 4 till almost the first of the year. Washing clothes on a washboard gets REAL old after a while.

Laura said...

Looks like you weathered the snow well. It pays to be prepared.
They are predicting some here the rest of the week--I don't think we'll get nearly as much as you, though...but, we can always hope.

Granny Sue said...

Theresa, he does them--maybe not well, but at least they're cleaner in most spots :-) I won't complain either. Our snow was a wet snow, so it stuck on all the trees and was absolutely beautiful. Most of it melted off the trees today, which I am sure is a blessing to those still without electricity--half of Joe's Run, in fact, is still down.

Granny Sue said...

I worked on more last night, Jason, and filled two more trash cans. I'm almost done, but of course more comes in the mail :-)

I think the longest outage around here was in 1976-77 (or maybe it was 77-78?). But we didn't have electricity then so it didn't matter to us and we got through the winter quite well. I believe it was off for a month or longer then.

Granny Sue said...

I will wish some white stuff your way, Laura!

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