Power Outage Forces Out the Pioneer in Us

You’ve probably read or heard about the big storms that started in California and came our way on Friday. Yep! The 40 mph winds started pounding us during the day and got stronger as night fell. We went out to dinner with the daughter and her family and when we got to the entrance of our neighborhood on the way home, we noticed there was an eerie silence. Something felt wrong. Then we noticed. No lights in most if not the whole neighborhood.

That means, it’s a darn good thing we took our front door key with us when we left, because otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to get into our house with the electric garage door opener. (Sometimes, usually when we’re taking a walk down to our daughter’s home, we actually don’t take a key but get the garage door opener out of one of the cars and tuck it in a pocket to let us back in.)

The whole time we’re driving up the dark streets, my mind is racing. Where did I store the candles? Do I have enough matches in the kitchen junk drawer? Luckily, I’m used to walking around in the dark at night so it was easy to feel my way up the stairs from the garage, and there was sufficient moonlight reflecting off the snowbound yard so yup! the matches were there. But I couldn’t feel any candles anywhere. I could have told you exactly what shelf to look in our Las Vegas house when we were there, but here I couldn’t remember, but in the basement I think and it was really dark down there. I decided to use the decorative candles in the wall sconce, and relight the New Year’s Day dinner candles that were burned down close to the nub. In moments the living side of the house was aglow in the warmth of candlelight.

Then we set about to find out what had happened, and how long it might be before everything was working again. Our telephone service is provided through the cable, which wasn’t working, so we were cut off from everyone else literally. The wind was whipping at speeds probably up to 70 mph by that time. Had Hubby not been able to unlock the front door and feel his way into the garage and undo the electric doohinkey so he could lift the door manually, I really believe our little Honda, Fenry, would have blown across our neighbor’s yard.

We couldn’t phone anyone, not even the electric company. Then Hubby remembered a tiny little battery operated mini-tv that he won years ago, so he found that with his flashlight and turned it to the local stations. Of course, out there in the real world, people were busy with their lives as if nothing weather related were happening. TV programs were the normal Friday night offerings, plus lots of Spanish speaking stations. But no CNN and no weather station.

We suddenly remembered we had re-joined the modern age just a week or two back and bought a mobile phone for emergencies. We had lost our cable service for a day, and I couldn’t call anybody to notify them, so I figured it was time. Luckily he agreed with the better safe than sorry scenario. We never dreamed it would come in handy so soon. 

He was able to call the electric company and listen to the recording that advised him a fallen tree had been reported around 7 that evening, that crews were already out and working hard, and power was expected to be restored by 2 a.m. So we sat around for awhile, enjoying the quiet that settled around us between the bursts of wind that blew the balcony furniture over.

It was a little too dim to read, and after we discussed the situation and reassured ourselves that our daughter and family were going to fine, just as we were, I went to bed. It was 8:30 p.m. It was toasty warm under the goosedown cover, but I kept waking up at various times, wondering what time it was, and going back to sleep every time, sure that 2 a.m. had come and gone and there was still no power.

In the morning, Hubby brewed some milky Indian tea in a pot on top of the gas stove in place of our usual coffee (our coffee bean grinder is electric). Then I read the paper Hubby had unburied from the snow pileup in the driveway when he shoveled it off–which he did many times through the morning. Then I looked through some magazines, made a pot of cream of wheat and stove-grilled buttered toast for breakfast. Worried a little.

With nothing else to do, we eyed our office and computers wistfully, and went back into the family room where Hubby put new batteries in the tiny TV and found there was nothing but Saturday morning cartoons to choose from. But Lord, TV addict that he is, he sure tried, but decided he had seen I LOVE LUCY enough already. Then he went outside and shoveled the driveway some more. After that the snow tapered off, so we  dressed up warmly and walked down to daughter’s to see how they were faring.

On the way there we talked to others walking about with nothing to do and learned that 6500 people across Utah were without power as well. And we found one of our nearby neighbors has their own generator and you didn’t see hide nor hair of them. After a nice long, visit with daughter #1, who had chosen the worst day of winter so far to get sick on, we came back home, and I made lunch. I didn’t mind cooking at all for a change, because nothing seemed real. I was in emergency mode. It was okay to use a little more butter. We needed that fat to stay warm, didn’t we?

After cleaning everything up, I went back to my easy chair and sat down to read some more, since I couldn’t go down to my sewing room to complete the sewing project I’d begun the day before with the electric sewing machine! Hubby put in another call to the electric company info line and found that about 3500 homes had power restored, but we were one of the “others” still out. I was happy some people’s ordeals were over, but a little envious too. How do you suppose they choose who gets their power first? I thought of all those people in southern California who’d endure fires not long ago, how they many of them had to leave their homes and sleep in shelters, and some of them would go back to nothing at all, and decided I had no room to complain.

What kind of pioneer would I have made? I decided I was not so bad at just getting by. The house temperature fell to about 56, which is about 10 degrees less than where we normally set it anyhow, so I just put on long johns and an extra long sleeve shirt liner, and did just fine with a light fleece blanket over my legs while sitting. And there was the gas firelog we could switch on from time to time to keep from getting too cold. But what would I do if it lasted a week or more, as I’ve known to happen in other parts of the country?

My soninlaw had said that he didn’t think we should expect to have our power back that day at all, so I decided to settle down and just enjoy the excuse not to be doing anything else–like blogging or wasting time playing around working on the computer–and just read until it got too dark, then heat up the chilli I’d retrieved from the freezer (who needs fresh veggies in an emergency?), eat dinner and go to bed early again. Like Scarlett O’hara, I thought. Tomorrow was another day after all. 

All of a sudden it was 3 o’clock, and I looked up from my magazine. Something seemed different. Then I saw the little red and green lights on the laptop blinking, and heard the heater switch on. Electricity! YEAAAAAAAAAAAA! It’s back! I was elated. Now I could check my emails. I could go online and read my blogosphere friends new posts. But then I started feeling a little sad. No more retreat. Now that I knew it was over, I’d have to go back to doing my regular chores like everyone else not in emergency mode. 

Some pioneer I would have made!

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4 thoughts on “Power Outage Forces Out the Pioneer in Us

  1. Welcome back. 🙂
    Once, long ago, we decided to keep our landline and keep it plugged into the telephone company instead of bundling services. We both have cell phones, Thanks to your reminders, I know where my candles are, but I need to go check where my battery operated radio and lantern are. You bet I will want to read if we are cut off from electricity.
    See, you poked my survial bone. Like you, I could get by, but don’t think I would be a very good pioneer.

  2. Sounds like you did ok as a pioneer lady for a day! Our experiences with no power also include no water as we have a well with – – – an electric pump. We keep water in large containers in the garage so that we would be able to flush as necessary during a power outage. So far this winter (knock on wood), we haven’t had to deal with that.

  3. I coped with a couple of outages in New Jersey, where I lived on the eleventh floor. It was more exercise than I really wanted; otherwise I was prepared. I’m not sure I would do as well here. I think I’d better check it out.

  4. And all that time were were down in here in good ole Southern Utah running around outside with just sweaters. You wouldn’t think we were in the same state some of the time! I’m glad you survived your powerless adventure. It is amazing how much we depend on electricity. It would be hard to go without it for very long.

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