Powerless in the age of power

So.  We’re watching “Margin Call” on TV Saturday night, starting to really feel the suspense, when suddenly everything goes black.  I’m not talking about just the TV.  The entire house is pitch black and eerily silent.

It was the Nor’easter that had hit us, not so much with snow as with ice on trees that, thanks to an abnormally warm fall, still had plenty of leaves.  Don’t get me going on global warming; suffice it to say that with ice on those leaves, limbs had dipped lower and lower, finally snapping and falling onto electrical wires all over town.

I won’t bore you with tales of groping for flashlights, hurricane lamps, the transister radio.  We’d been through the same when Hurricane Irene hit in September.  This time, as then, we were without lights for nearly two days. But there were a couple of differences.

First, in September the air was moderate, so we were comfy without heat or AC.  This time, it was cold.  When we woke up Monday morning after two nights without heat, our bedroom was 48º, our kitchen 54º, my office 44º.

Second, the days were longer in September – a full four hours more than now.  So here’s the question.  What do you do in the dark for that long without lights camera action?  The first night we went to bed.  Perfect.  But the second night?  I wanted to use my iPad, but with no power, there was no wifi, so I couldn’t connect to my sister for Scrabble.  I wanted to read but was afraid of totally draining the iPad charge.  I couldn’t knit – which was pretty painful, but the light from that hurricane lamp was poor.  And the next morning at five?  Forget the cold in my office; the backup battery on my computer had drained, so I couldn’t work.  Couldn’t do laundry.  Couldn’t blowdry my hair.  Couldn’t use the phone on the wall or even charge up the cell.

And no Keurig?  That was bad!  In fact, my Keurig never did come back.  One of those power surges destroyed it.

I wish I could tell you that I was a good sport about these days without light.  But I was really bitchy – bored, frustrated, thinking about the food that was rotting in the freezer and fridge at the same time that we were chilled to the bone.  And I was really pissed when the lights finally came on, the house warmed up, and I RESET ALL THE CLOCKS – only to lose power again, this time for another four hours, when someone apparently blew something big while reconnecting the wires down the street.

People lived without lights in the old days.  What’s wrong with us that we can’t?

It’s a humbling thought.

Actually, no.  It is not.  We live in the twenty-first century.  Power is a necessity for what we do.  I refuse to apologize for that.

I am grateful.  I know that there are many in this world who have never had the blessing of power, with the ease and communicability it brings.  We are very fortunate.

That said, losing power sucks.  Twice in two months?  And, since I do believe in global warming and the extreme weather it causes, I have a feeling this won’t be the last time.  So I’ve just ordered bigger hurricane lamps, more lamp oil, and a French press (for coffee), and once the Home Depot restocks, I’ll buy some sort of device to power up the cell phone without NStar.

For now, though, we’re warm, lighted, and connected again.  I’m happy.



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  1. Beatrice Flannagan on November 8, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Good beginning as it’s been real problem on East Coast. But West Coast should take heed as well. I’m going to buy some oil lamps and keep in storage just in case. But I still prefer reading and holding my hard copy books!

  2. Evie Martin on November 8, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Losing power is the pits, but there are things one can do. I remember one year while I was preparing to cook a large meal for Christmas Eve dinner, the power went out. I had company coming and, of course, had no idea how long we would be without power. Fortunately, we had a camper with a propane stove sitting in our driveway. I cooked the ham in the camper oven and all the side dishes on the burner tops. The food was done to perfection and my company helped me cart everything in from the camper to the dinning room table. I had planned an early dinner, so it was still light enough to see. After dinner, we were sitting around the tree when the power came back on with the Christmas tree lights twinkling brightly, just in time for us to open our Christmas gifts. It is one of my most memorable Christmas experiences.

  3. Carol J. Garvin on November 13, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    We’ve just returned from a two-week hunting trip at our tiny and *very* rustic wilderness cabin — no running water, no electricity, no cell phone or internet access. My hubby takes along our generator, so each evening when the men return from their slogging through the bush, they start it up and I can recharge my laptop battery so it’s ready for the next day’s writing. I don’t mind roughing it, but the generator really does make life there more convenient. With very early morning starts, however, we still went to bed by about 9 p.m.

  4. b on December 23, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Kindle with lighted cover-go for it…lasts for hours and hours.

  5. b on December 23, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    We can go to the moon, but we can’t keep the electric on…really

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