Monday, July 09, 2012

Thoughts on a power outage

Everyone should have one power outage a year. It makes you humble and renews your gratitude. The one at my house was not nearly as long or in such hot weather as folks in the D.C. area suffered through, and I felt like a wimp for whining.
Apparently our electric distributor, Oncor, had to deal with multiple outages after a brief but severe wind storm blew through Saturday afternoon. I had been napping and missed it, but when I went out around five to give the dogs fresh water (they were still napping inside) and fill the bird feeder, I noticed it was pretty windy and there were clumps of leaves scattered over the yard. When I went back inside, I wondered why the kitchen was so dark--the fluorescent soffit lights that I leave on day and night were out. Then I heard it--that stillness that only happens in a house without power. Not alarmed because I was sure it would be brief, I called the power company and was told it would be repaired by eight that night. Longer than I expected, but still okay.
I had company coming for supper, but a cold summer meal was already prepared and in the fridge. Serving it meant that we opened the fridge a lot more than I liked. And they didn't get the hot pita/feta bread I planned on making. We ate on the porch and all was well. But eight came and went. After they left, I stumbled around with a candle and/or flashlight, getting the dogs fed and inside for the night, getting my nightly toilette accomplished, and finally reading on my iPad which was mercifully charged. Not exactly happy but not miserable. I found myself conserving water (always a good thing) and then telling myself, "No, it's power, not water."
At 2 a.m. I sat up in bed and announced to the dogs, "I am officially miserable." At 7 a.m. I decided they would be cooler outside. I did the clean-up I'd ignored in the dark and packed a bag. As soon as it was a decent hour I called my daughter and asked if I could come shower and have breakfast. They were off to a swimming lesson for Jacob, but I let myself in. Thirty minutes later, when they returned, I was a new and clean person happily reading email. I stayed there until noon, playing Legos with Jacob and working on stuff on the iPad. I charged it, the phone, and, just in case, the Kindle. The power company said two o'clock.
Big thanks to Jordan, Jacob, and Christian for making me welcome, feeding me a huge brunch, and, to Jordan, for packing an ice-chest lunch for me. Things I learned: you cannot click on "Like" by an Amazon title on the iPad, nor can you share Facebook images. The iPad doesn't get Facebook or new email in a house with no power--therer is no internet connection. The phone did those things just fine.
At two o'clock, Oncor told my neighbor five o'clock and added the wounding comment, "There are only twenty-two of you." Did that make us less a priority? One square city block?
The power came on about four, and I reluctantly threw out chicken salad, curry sauce, ice cream and a few other things.My losses were not anywhere near as great as those of residents and businesses in the East. But it was still a miserable experience, and I was exhausted--from not sleeping well, from worrying about the food in the fridge and freezer, and from the tension of expecting the lights to pop on at any minute. I wandered around the house enjoying the sound of the a/c, eating a snack dinner of mostly veggies, and reading. Too tired to do any constructive work. The dogs and I slept well, and today I am grateful for a cool house with all my electronic gear working. And a bit humbled.


Unknown said...

We were without power for 11 days after Hurricane Ike. That was enough humbling for me. I went out and bought a natural gas generator that powers our whole house if there's an outage.

judyalter said...

Bill, my Houston son bought a generator after Ike too. The longest outage I remember in Fort Worth was four days and even that would tempt me to buy a generator. As I said, I was lucky and shouldn't whine.