Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Feeling Powerless

My heart goes out to people who are still without power because of Hurricane Irene. Days have gone by and many people are trying to function without air conditioning, refrigerators, light, and many other basic necessities. It’s hard to imagine the wide-scale suffering.

Our own power has gone out three times in the last week, so I have experienced the discomfort on a much, much, smaller scale. The reason for power outages in our tiny town is usually more mundane than earthquakes or hurricanes. As soon as we see gray clouds starting to roll in over the valley, we’re on alert; with the first roll of thunder we start shutting down computers.

At times it seems as if anything can trigger a power outage—a bird momentarily obscures the sun, the sun shines, or a city employee sneezes. We never know what causes these power interruptions. We have learned to deal with it.

Last night the power went out for the third time in a week. I was in the middle of making dinner, and poof! All went quiet. No swamp cooler blowing, no computers humming, no stove, microwave, or DVD player to tell me what time it was.  

I paused for a moment, hoping that it was a momentary outage, but no such luck. Hunting through the refrigerator and cupboards, I could find very little that didn’t need to be cooked. I told Weston that we could have tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots for dinner or he could wait for the power to come back on and I would finish the spaghetti. Since we had already had tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots for lunch, he was less than thrilled to have them again for dinner.

We did have options. I could have fired up the wood-burning stove to boil the water for spaghetti but it was hot enough already in the house without the swamp cooler blowing. We have a fire pit in the back yard but I discovered we are lacking a flat grill iron to place over the pit—something on which to rest our pans. So we “vegged.”

After a few minutes of no computer, no Wii, no television, no food, Weston observed, “Boy, the Pilgrims must have had really boring lives with nothing to do all day.”

Do you feel a teaching moment coming on?  

I explained that the Pilgrims had plenty to do. They couldn’t go rent a house—they had to build it. They couldn’t go to the lumber store to buy some wood—they had to chop it. If they wanted flour to make a cake, they had to grow the wheat first. Realizing that my son needed “something to do” I pushed him out the door. Here are some things we did to occupy our time.

We went to the garden to see if we needed to harvest any veggies and found our neighbor there, helping himself to a little produce. Apparently his stove wasn't working either.  
Weston found that peacocks can run really fast.

I made a snack to tide us over. Mmm...graham crackers, peanut butter and chocolate chips!

I checked our apple tree to see if the fruit was ready to pick and found TWINS!  
They were stuck together.

Weston hopped around all the wood we have waiting to be cut. I know what you're thinking--yeah, I should have put him to work chopping it!

Enjoyed a beautiful sunset

Do you ever realize how silly you are when the power goes out? You try to think of alternative things to do, but then realize that too, involves power?  

Like, the stove doesn't work, but hey! I'll just use the microwave! Oh yeah...
Or I can't finish vacuuming so, I know--I'll go start some laundry! Oh yeah...
Our computers aren't working, so let's have a family night and watch a movie! Oh yeah...
We can't cook, so let's go to the drive-in restaurant and get some fries! Oh yeah...they don't have power either...

After we had run out of powerless things to do last night, I told Weston to go in the house and get his Percy Jackson book and we would sit on the swing and read. He yelled out the door, "Mom! The power's on!"

It had been two hours and as usual, we never did find out what caused the outage. Our level of discomfort was virtually non-existent. I thought again about those people still without power because of the hurricane and was sympathetic toward what must be a growing level of  frustration. 

My thoughts are with them today, hoping that soon they will be fully functioning and able to go on with their lives.


  1. Love the photos, the sunset, the wood pile. This reminds me of a conversation I had with Grace about "want" and "need." She'd evidentially had a lesson in this at home. I said that money was a need and she said it wasn't. I said we need money for food. She said we can grow our own. I said we need money for a house. She said we can build our own. I said we need money for clothing. She said we can make our own. And so it went.

  2. Beautiful photos. I am with you on the hurricane peeps still without power and home damage. They will get through it though, and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Your snack, is my all time fav...except I take dark chocolate and but a square. the other night I ran out of graham crackers, so I used mini rice cakes!

  3. Auntie M: I don't think I would ever want to contend with Ms. Grace in a debate. She's a smarty, that one. She'd be a good one to have on your team if you ever were on "Survivor," right? What a gem. Kids like Grace give you hope that the wold is going to be okay.

    Debbie: You've been on my mind too--were you close to any of the damage from the hurricane? Ooh...I never thought of making that snack with rice cakes! That sounds really good too. It's like having a crunchy Reese's peanut butter cup. :)

  4. Grace is a negotiator. One of my favorite examples is from when she was about three. She loved to prolong bedtime (still does). She picked a very thick book for her bedtime story. I told her this was way too long, and she said, "How about half of it?"

  5. Auntie M: I'll bet Granddad is proud that she has the makings of a good lawyer! So did she win you over on half the book? :)


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