Monday, July 11, 2016

The Night Without Lights

Friday afternoon, around 5:10 or so, the power went out.

Before that, it blinked a few times. I looked outside and realized a big storm was upon us, and I was racing around trying to turn off computers and TVs when the electricity gave up the ghost.

A glance out the bedroom window told me we were having a major weather event. It was raining so hard and furiously that I could not see the fence, which is about 30 yards away. The wind was sending leaves and tree branches in my general direction.

I decided the best thing I could do was sit in the car until the weather calmed. At least if lightning struck, the tires were rubber.

Fortunately, our damage was minimal;  a few trees down in the little forest in front of the house and others on the farm, but nothing across the fences. The generator for the water pump for the cattle watering troughs kicked on and worked as it should, so I didn't have to worry about the cows. 

Without electricity, though, I had to find something to do besides keep my eyeballs on this silly screen at my computer.

I opted to read in the natural light, sitting close to a window. My house, as it turns out, is rather dark. We could have used a few more windows but didn't realize that until after we built. Oh well.

Any way, I finished up my book club book. The power did not return. I had the windows up - a rarity for me because of my asthma and allergies. My husband had mowed the night before and I wasn't sure I was going to be able to stand the grass smell. Ultimately, I could not, so I closed the windows in the bedroom and opened a few others in the far side of the house.

It grew dark around 8:30, and I went to bed. I didn't want to read by flashlight.

Fortunately, it was not a hot night. I slept fitfully, waking about every two hours. I know I dreamed and talked in my sleep; not an unusual occurrence for me. I rose at 6 a.m., long before the Man of the House came in from work. He brought me a very greasy ham biscuit from BoJangles for breakfast (something I requested he not do again). Then he fired up a generator, giving me lights, water, and a fan, but we'd already lost the contents of the refrigerator, most of which I had purchased on Thursday.

We had no phones except our cell phones, which do not work well in the house anyway, and I couldn't do laundry. I took a medium hot shower (there was still hot water in the hot water heater, fortunately), and then sat in the car and recharged my phone while I listened to a book on tape.

After that, I washed all the dishes by hand by heating water with my electric tea kettle and pouring it into a big pan. I folded whatever clothing I hadn't finished up the day before. Then I settled in to a chore I had long put off - tearing articles out of newspapers.

Tearing up a newspaper is a bit like ripping a little shred from my heart, but I have piles of paper. When you write for a newspaper and you keep the stories with your byline, you end up with a lot of newspaper piles. And if you keep all the stories on a local subject that you've been following with interest, even if you didn't write the articles, then you have even more paper. 

I made a significant impact on the pile, and then the phone rang. That was a surprise. After thanking the salesperson for letting me know I had a phone, I hung up on them, and then promptly plugged in my internet connection to see if I could get online with my tablet. I could, and then I couldn't. It was sporadic, but I was able to get my fix. Yes, I am addicted to the Internet. I am addicted to blogs, and reading blogs, and to reading the news, and to Facebook, and to receiving email from friends. Even so, I have thus far refused a smartphone simply because I know I will remain glued to the thing from sun up to sun down, and I don't want that.

I want to keep some autonomy, after all. And I rather like it when I go for a drive and no one can get me because only a select few have my cell number. But I didn't like it when I couldn't access things when I wanted.

The lights came back on around 1:30 p.m., and that was the end of that. I stripped the bed, washed the linens, made the bed back up, and put the dishes I had hand-washed in the dishwasher just because. I fretted over the food in the freezer and the refrigerator. I looked online for guidelines as to how long food would be safe without power. The freezer food was probably okay. The refrigerator stuff - no way. Out it went.

Sunday I rose early to head to the supermarket. Halfway through my shopping trip, I realized I had forgotten my wallet. I put everything back, came back home, and went back after it. This is no small feat given that the shopping around here is a 15 minute drive away (10 if you go fast). What should have taken me an hour and 15 minutes took two hours or better, and I arrived home in time to give my husband a ham sandwich for lunch.

So that was our eventful weekend.

And I learned something I already knew but had refused to deal with - the Internet sucks up a lot of my time. I think it is time I place some limits on it, even if it is my major method of socialization these days. That means less Facebook and video games, mostly. Anything to do with writing doesn't count - to me, that's still what I do, write. Even if I'm not doing it professionally at the moment.

2 comments:

  1. We lost power one day last week, about quarter after midnight. Thankfully, it was only out four hours -- some in our area were without for more than a day. Still, as I had JUST bought milk and ice cream the day before, I would have been as unhappy as you about having to throw stuff out.

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  2. Oh, and thank heavens for lighted ereaders, because it gave me something to read in the dark before I was finally able to fall sleep. Musst remember to keep those charged! :-\

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