Thursday, December 11, 2008

Losing the lights

Last night I’d no sooner gotten home from work and briefly run the dogs when my electricity went out. I don’t think I’d even gotten my coat off. I’m used to dealing with frequent power outages. I don’t understand why I have them so frequently, but I’m used to them.

I keep the lanterns, the hurricane lamps and candles handy. They are a permanent part of my cabin décor. I reported the outage to the power company who told me it would be fixed in about 90 minutes. That didn’t sound too bad, so I decided to wait to prepare dinner. I keep food handy that doesn’t need to be heated or refrigerated, but it’s not very exciting stuff. I know my refrigerator will keep the food in it for at least 48 hours if I don’t open the door, so I wasn’t about to start opening the refrigerator door. I have my backpacking stove and assorted freeze-dried and emergency food, but I don’t like to use that for short-term events, preferring to save it for more serious or long-term outages.

My neighbor down the mountain started his generator. My neighbor up the mountain called out for pizza. Ninety minutes came and went, and I had no sign of returning power. I called the power company again. Oh, they said. You’ll have power by 8:30 (another 90 minutes).

So, I gathered an apple, an energy bar, some crackers and peanut butter and had dinner. The cabin is tight, and the weather outside was still in the mid-40’s, so I was perfectly comfortable. The inside temperature only dropped a single degree. I settled down with that book I haven’t found the time to read much lately.

Eventually, I looked at the clock. It said 8:30 and I still didn’t have power. So I called the power company for an update. Oh, they said. You’ll have power by 10 p.m. (yet another 90 minutes). Are you starting to notice a trend here? So was I. I went back to reading my book by candlelight.
I finally finished my book and then it was 10 p.m. Can you guess what happened next? Right. I still didn’t have power. And the power company reported—you guessed it—that I would have power by 11:30 p.m.

So now it was time to think about getting ready for bed. I used a bit of my stored water to wash and give the dogs fresh water. Then it was time to open the cabin door, let out some of the precious warmth and run the dogs for the last time. I put on my headlamp. I gave both dogs stern warnings. Tonight, there would be no tom-foolery. We were to exit the door quickly and calmly and then they were to wait nicely while I closed the door behind me. Re-entry was to follow a similar pattern. They wagged their tails politely. Amazingly, I had compliance.

Back inside I got ready for bed. I set my wind-up alarm clock for morning. I put on my pajamas, sat on the bed, removed my flip flops and was leaning back into the bed when---the power came back on. Well, at least I won’t need that extra blanket I laid out in case the cabin cooled over night. And, I finally finished that book. I’ve said it before, but it’s still true. There’s never a dull moment.


Dana and Daisy said...

Last winter we had one of the worst ice storms ever in our community. There were hundreds of thousands across our state without power for average of a week. Many people went two weeks or more. Luckily, after the storm, the temps raised back above freezing so most people tolerated it. But it was BAD!

Hoping we don't get that kind of storm again for a long time.

I suppose you have above ground electric lines and all the trees weigh down with snow or ice and the lines give. A small generator might at least operate a stove and a refrigerator. I have no clue how to hook it up, but I bet your neighbor could.

Carolyn H said...

Dana: I had two big ice storms last winter--was out of power in one for 4 days, the other for about 2 days. The outside tempt was down in the teens.

No, my eletricity is underground from the lane to the cabin. The problem, I think, is that trees fall on the line on its way from the public road, up the mountain and to my lane, which is about a mile or a bit more through the woods.

Carolyn H.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Well Carolyn---Sounds like you had an interesting evening. We seldom lose our electricity --but a couple of days ago, it went out THREE times in one day. We had high winds so I assume that was the problem.

We also have candles and of course, our warm fireplace--which we use all winter.

If I were you, I'd invest in a small generator--since you have quite a bit of problems like this.

Hope today is BETTER.