Monday, November 18
We made it through the windy night without incident.
We made it through the windy morning without incident.
Then, shortly after 10:00 a.m. the power shut down, with a bang.
Investigation of the immediate power lines and transformer revealed no problems.
Every hour a call was made to the hydro power outage report line, but it was completely unresponsive until after 2:30 p.m., when it was finally answered. I was informed that no one from this neighbourhood had reported a power outage. Absentee summer residents seldom do report these things, as they are not here, so that did not come as a surprise.
“Tens of thousands of people are without power, over a widespread area”, it said. Repair crews would be working in areas that affected the most people first, then work down the list until all hydro service was restored. We will be on the very bottom of that list, so who knows when power will be restored here!
I have some reserve power on this computer, so I can type this entry. Soon enough though, the battery power will run out.
I am spending my day puttering about with filing and putting away this and that. Mostly though, I am reading my book, and falling asleep in front of the warm and cozy fire in the masonry heater. The masonry heater was the best investment we ever made, without it the power outage would have meant no heat.
We have our candles and flashlights ready for a night without electric light.
As the progresses, the temperature is dropping and it is beginning to snow. It drifts down slowly and is occasionally whipped into a horizontal fury when the wind gusts.
Tuesday, November 19
After spending a quiet evening by candlelight, we retired to our dreams. The wind continued through the night.
The morning brought sunny skies, with only a slight breeze blowing to move the branches of the hemlock tree outside the dining room window.
But the power was still out. Another call to the power outage hotline revealed that power would be restored by four in the afternoon. Sure enough, around 2:00 p.m. the hydro boom truck arrived on the street, and a hydro pickup truck. The workers proceeded to remove a tree that had fallen across the lines, in front of our neighbours house. By four the hydro was on. What a relief!
I immediately began to cook the steak that Attila had taken out of the freezer early on Monday morning. It had been thawed when the power went out, then stored in the cooler downstairs.
There are several worries when the power fails here, luckily heat is not one of them. But the freezers and the refrigerator contents are of concern; we must be diligent about not opening those appliances when the power is out. The other, less serious, but more annoying, problem is that the water pump will not work without electricity. That means no water, no bathes, no toilet flushing, no dishes… well, I am sure you get the picture. Attila fills up jugs of water at the public water supply in town, which does not need electricity, and we cope. Not having running water is a game changer though!
And of course, there is no internet, and no computer available without electricity.
I spent a pleasant, powerless day. I read a book, and rearranged the furniture.
Tonight the temperature is dropping to -10C, which is colder than it has been for the last few weeks. Thank goodness the masonry heater is charged and ready to face the winter!
Offline today, temperature 4C at 3:00 p.m., snowing, wind gusting to probably as much as 90 km an hour.
Date: 9:00 PM EST Tuesday 19 November 2013
Pressure: 103.1 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Wind: N 4 km/h
Wind Chill: -10
“Every man must dree his own weird.”
Being without “power” is truly horrible. I try to imagine what it must have been like in colonial days before “power” was available or even invented. I can’t. I cannot imagine that life. People probably got a lot of reading done but only in summer months. It would be dark by suppertime in winter so they probably went to bed early and snuggled two-or-more-to-a-bed for warmth. When we visited England and went through old cottages that reflected life back then, some of them had one side set up for the animals (large animals) and the other side for the humans. No doors either because they wanted the warmth from the animals to help them keep warm. Also, beds were like cocoons with large heavy drapes pulled around all 4 sides, and sometimes a whole family of 4 would sleep in the one bed.
It’s nice to romanticize about living “back in the day” when things were simpler, but it would be quite difficult, knowing what we know now.
As I struggled through my days without power, I thought about that a lot Bex, what it would be like if there were no electricity, permanently.
I think I could adjust, if I had to. I think some people would once again build local social networks that valued cooperation, rather than competition, in order to survive.
As for the day to day without power or water; my present domestic infrastructure just isn’t up to the task of off-grid living!
We would need an outhouse, or compost toilet. We would need a hot water reservoir on our wood stove. We would need a hand pump for our well. We would need oil lamps, or led solar lamps, or some sort of modest lighting for evenings. Libraries and paper books would be of vital importance, at least at my house they would. Writing materials and the post office would take on importance as well.
The most difficult part about being suddenly without electricity in this day and age, is that humans have lost the centuries of coping skills that developed over time and were passed down from generation to generation during most of human history.
Our country house is better equipped for power failures than our city house, which is something we would have to address, if we get the chance to move to our little house in the city.
I would certainly miss my computer, my kitchen gadgets, night lighting, and running water though, if electricity were not available!
I’ve lived without modern conveniences for long periods, and it was just a matter of adjusting. Once you’re used to it, you’re perfectly comfortable. For instance, if you only have oil lamps for light at night, you go to bed earlier, but you also wake up earlier. Going outside to the outhouse is no big deal unless you are ill, and even then you figure out alternate solutions. I wouldn’t want to go back to those days of carrying water and so on, but it’s far from unimaginable for me. I do miss the quiet.
Kate, the quiet! The house feels different when there are no electrically inspired noises, doesn’t it! The only sound I heard for two days was the ticking of the clock. All those natural sounds that went unnoticed, creaking walls in the wind, a twig falling from a tree onto the roof, moved to the forefront. Very peaceful.
Actually, with all the affluent people around us running whole house generators when the power goes down, it is as noisy as a freeway around here! Those things are loud! But this last power outage was amazing, because all our neighbours were away on trips to southern climes, as they often are after the frenzy of seasonal business has passed for another year. So it was very, very quiet when we lost the power this week!
I’m glad you got through your days of no power safely. We all could probably learn to survive without power if we had to, but the adjustment period would be very difficult. (I’d miss the web and good PBS programming the most.) (Oh yes, and air conditioning in the summer…) Some of your neighbours might be here in Arizona!