Friday, December 21, 2012

Six Things I Learned During the Blackout

Thursday night, about six-o'clock, the power goes out.  This coincides nicely with our first taste of winter.  Despite the hyperbole proffered, whenever the weather changes, by the local STORM TRACKER TEAM!!!!!, it wasn't that bad.  We had maybe two inches of snow, winds in excess of 35 miles per hour (which moved our STORM TRACKER TEAM into conniption-level blizzard warnings), and the temperature dropped from the mid-forties to the mid-teens in a 24-hour period.  But hey, it's December.  It's going to snow.

Ok, where was I?  It snowed, it got dark, and the power went out, all at once.  In the back of my mind was something about a Mayan end of the world.  And one more thing, the kidlets had just finished finals and this was their first evening of Christmas break.  Emotions were already high.  I had planned on some Cordon blue, twice-bakes with bacon and blue-cheese, and probably a simple salad.  Such was not to be.
After about two minutes, candles were sputtering and cries came out to go to grandma's house.  Being the horse's rear end that I am, I managed to pull off a 30-minute wait to see if said power might return. It did not.  During this time they noticed how slowly the hands on the clock turned.  I told the girls that if this were the 1820s it would be about bedtime anyway and that they should go play with string or make a quilt or something.  That's when we went to grandma's and had pizza.

After the pizza and some zany-whacky cable television, I opted to return home.  The doggies would be scared and cold and someone needed to watch the house. Alternate motive:  I wanted to go home.  After much worrisome banter I bid my farewells and braved the storm!
Long story short, the power was off for eighteen hours and some change.  I survived.  Here are six things I learned:

Lesson #1:  Social anthropologist could write a good paper on how a society spends its technology on what it values.  In our case one might list transportation, communication, and making coffee.  My grandparents used to have a phrase about how they were going to, 'put on a pot of coffee'.  It was quaint, but what did it mean?  My grandmother grew up in a house with a wood stove.  Let's think about that.  What would it take to make a pot of coffee on a wood stove?  All I can say to this is that at 5:30am, when I woke in the pitch-black cold house (had somewhere to be at 7:30), it was a triumph of fortitude to find the camping percolator, fill it with water and coffee, and get it to boil on a single-burner portable unit.  And it took forever.  And it was delicious.  But by 6am I had already expended more calories on that pot of coffee than I usually spend by noon on a regular techno-day. 
Lesson #2:  A messy house is not conducive towards emergency situations.  For example, where can I set the hurricane lantern in a house with no clear counters?  Hmmmm…. Good question - not only is it a fire hazard but it also adds to the level of aggravation.  Really, only the kitchen was messy and my bedside table always has books and crap on it.  But still.

Lesson #3:  Speaking of aggravation - I have a good number of things to use for when the power goes out, or whatever.  But I store them out of the way.  It makes sense until you need them.  Then, finding them and remembering where they are adds to the aggravation level.  So, after locating the sleeping bag, the camp stove, the lanterns, and etc… and after walking the dogs in the greatest blizzard known to mankind, I was ready to have some serious night-nights.  The best news was that I always have a flashlight handy and they are loaded with crisp batteries.  That helped.
Lesson #5:  I have a freakin' awesome sleeping bag.  During the night, the temperature in the house dropped from 64 to 41 Fahrenheit.  That made me happy about the insulation in the home because by morning it was fifteen degrees outside.  But during the evening I got hot inside the bag.  I had to unzip it part way and stick my arms out to help cool down.  It's a High-Peak with Hi-Fiber Technology.  Hubba hubba.

Lesson #6:  Speaking of freakin' awesome things, hurricane lanterns loaded with kerosene are gold.  They are bright and fun to carry.  I felt like somebody in a cool Dungeon's and Dragon's adventure walking around the house with the lantern swinging in my chilly little hand.  Those shadows put forth the righteous scare and, I dunno, it just felt right.  I read myself to sleep and like an old timey guy, blew it out right before my blistering heat-wave sleeping bag took me to la-la land.
Lesson #6:  Another little aggravation is remembering how things work.  It makes sense.  I do not use the emergency one-burner stove that often.  So yea, take a minute or two to remember how it operates.  But in the dark, when you really just want to push a button and get your George-Jetson cup of coffee?  Again, more aggravation.

Just call me the survivor...

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