Saturday, February 07, 2009

Powerful Lessons

As the new year began, I had convinced myself I'd blog more. Then I blinked. Then I was changing my calendar to February and I was falling way behind on that goal. It's not like one of those vague "In insert year here I will eat better and get in shape" type resolutions. It's simple. Plant myself in front of the computer, and put some words on the screen. For someone who works at the aforementioned computer all day long, you'd think it would be easy. It's proven to be a bit more challenging than I thought.

My only legitimate reason was a power outage and that lasted a mere three days. It did however lead to some interesting food experiences, so that alone is worth noting. Mother Nature delivered to our area a blanket of freezing rain, which of course created an icy landscape complete with large treetops dipping down for a close-up view of the earth. That same thick layer of ice that made things look beautiful found its way onto to power lines, cable lines, power poles and most anything and everything exposed to the outdoor air and wind. So about ten minutes into watching a tv show everything went dark and stayed that way until about three days later. I forget just how much relies on power, it's those basic little things like the refrigerator, freezer, microwave, tv, computers. If you're married to a techno-nut like me, all phones require power too.

So where did that leave me? Sitting at home with no power and below freezing temperatures. In the Southern US, we are most definitely not prepared to deal with this sort of thing. The mere mention of possible snow flurries sends hordes of panic-stricken shoppers to the grocery store buying up enough milk and bread to last them through the impending blizzard. However we southern folks are hardy enough to improvise and make the best of a situation. We'll just skip over those infamous "Hey y'all watch this!" moments that make their way to YouTube showcasing southern ingenuity at its not-so finest.
So I didn't have power, but I did have two things going for me: a gas fireplace and a gas water heater. Most would take that as I had a way to stay warm and hot water. That's just the beginning of what was to come. With the fireplace, I had a way to cook scrambled eggs for breakfast. (I have to admit I was only being a copycat on that one, my neighbor did that first. He's full of good ideas.) The grill outside at the same ingenious neighbor's house allowed us to heat up some chili and soup for lunch. My own grill became my freezer. Since it was already below cold enough outside, and my somewhat temporarily underpowered freezer was starting to show signs it would no longer keep its contents at a chilly four degrees, I bagged everything up that would fit and put it on the grill. The cold temperatures outside kept everything frozen and the lid to the grill would keep out any nosy hungry critters. Coolers with the remaining ice from the freezer kept the refrigerated contents chilled. As power gradually came back to restaurants around town, it provided those of us without such luxury a chance to escape the candlelit house for a hour or two to return to civilization. It also meant meeting up with family and friends, all of us taking our time and just enjoying the meal and socializing. It reminded me how it's easy to forget in all our daily hustle that sometimes it's nice to just relax and linger over a meal with good company. There wasn't any pressure to get back home, as none of us wanted to leave and go back to staring at the walls, waiting and hoping we were next in line for power to return.

There were some lessons to be learned, such as having a spare no-power-needed phone can be handy. It's useful know where to find a flashlight with working batteries. Using dry ice to keep the contents of the fridge or freezer cold is fine, just don't use the dry ice in the actual refrigerator. It will likely require repairs when the power returns. Also carbonated sodas will explode when stored with dry ice, causing your refrigerator to look like it's been shot. Thankfully, that lesson didn't occur in my kitchen, but lesson heeded either way.

That explains three days in January, and of course a few more after the storm passed as I then had three days of work to catch up, so we're up to six days. What about the other twenty-five? I did manage to make one trip to Mountain Home, Arkansas. That's a whole other story and another post.

I can only imagine the problems for those still waiting on power to return. It's been almost two weeks since the storm hit and there's quite a few out there with no power. I hope that it is restored soon and wish the best to those out there working long hours to make it happen.


Dark Matter said...

It was interesting.

Dark Matter said...

And that was one of the best pictures.