The following blog was written the old fashioned way, by longhand, during the snowicane of 2010. As I sat in front of the fire and my head was spinning with what I would write about this adventure it dawned on me to use a writing implement and paper much like mankind had done for thousands of years before the advent of the computer. It was truly a revelation, one of several that would occur over these few days. So here is my musing about the events of the last four days, written as they occurred, in real time.
By now I am sure that the entire United States has heard about the storm that engulfed the Northeast The weather people in their infinite wisdom even created a new weather condition to describe our situation-snowicane; a snowstorm with hurricane force winds. It really sounds much more exciting than it turned out to be. I would actually have to say this has been one of those adventures that you tell your grandchildren about. Of course by the time they hear it its two weeks not four days, without power. You ended up hunting for food – ala Sarah Palin- instead of bringing in McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts. Plus you gathered around the fireplace and braved the heartless cold without mentioning the propane powered camping grill, camping coffeemaker and astronaut inspired heat retaining sleeping bags. But that is a story for the future.
The really interesting and exciting thing is just how well everyone coped. Now you know by everyone I mean the boys. Collegeman was a trooper. He took the camping lantern and continued to do his work. Regaling himself with the adventures of Napoleon, the confluence of lines and colors (yes he completed his art project) the vagaries of criminal legal definitions and the historical analysis of the advent of nationalism on an emerging Europe. He helped stoke the fire, organize the supplies and made sure that his office was tidy (we emphasized to him that in the cold it was important to be as clean as possible to avoid getting ill).
Highschoolboy also handled it rather well. He did however decide to sleep until the internet returned, of course this really only worked will for the first day. He ensconced himself in my bed under layers of blankets and pretended to sleep. Why he didn’t come downstairs to the fire he wouldn’t explain. I think the truth is much simpler than anyone may think. To acknowledge that warmth only came from the fireplace would have meant to have to deal with the fact that he had no internet. This is not a reality that he readily bought into. Finally however, on that first day we made him leave the bed for dinner. He very reluctantly came downstairs. While hubby, collegeman and I slept in the living room by the fireplace, HSB insisted on sleeping in his bed under several blankets. We made him put on long underwear and we checked him periodically throughout the night to make sure he was not getting cold. Oh by the way, have I mentioned before the HSB is incredibly stubborn.
Now hubby being the resourceful man that he is, had charged a lot of the handhelds, laptops and iphones in his car. He has all kinds of manifestations of electrical gadgets that attach to a myriad of plugs in his car in order the charge any number of electrical items that we in the 21st century deem important. So we had the use of the laptops for a few hours to watch dvds, play some handhelds and for me, the use of my iphone for that all important and obsessive need to tweet. (OK, OK I admit I am a twitter addict. In fact I proudly announce my affliction to the world).
Everything went fairly routine the next day, which meant that on top of us dealing with the outage, the electric company kept telling us the power would be in soon. Finally they had to admit it probably would not be until sometime Tuesday night. We steeled ourselves for the longhaul. (Luckily the power came on Sunday evening)
Meanwhile, hubby on top of helping out with the family is the head of our town’s volunteer emergency services unit and was coordinating the shelter in town and fielding calls from worried far-flung adult children about their elderly parents. Of course this was also on top of the phone calls from the office that did not stop. (When anyone asks about an example of multitasking they just need to find a way to channel hubby over the last few days to see what it really is all about)
So collegeman is doing well. I congratulated him on his handling of the situation. He actually said that since he was in college he knew he had to man-up. YEAH collegeman! HSB in fact did not have a meltdown until yesterday afternoon. In truth it really wasn’t that bad. He needed his internet. It is his lifeblood, entertainment and attachment to the world beyond the walls of this house. Of course, I handled it in a very motherly and understanding manner. I basically told him to cut it out, that there were millions of persons in Chile without homes at the moment and he needed to be more grateful for what he did have and not harp on what he didn’t have. And in typical HSB fashion he completely challenged my thought process.
“Oh, is that supposed to help me that others have problems?” he asked.
“No,” I answered,” It’s meant for you to keep things in perspective. The electric will come back on and until then you will survive just fine.”
Luckily, at that exact moment, hubby returned from checking on the shelter with his charged broadband connected laptop. We stuck HSB in the car to play on the internet and all became right with the world once again.
As I write this, we are still sitting around the fireplace keeping warm. I am knitting and the boys are studying. (Yes HSB had finally condescended to join us downstairs) Collegeman is preparing for Monday at school and HSB is studying for a chemistry test. We didn’t know at this time whether there would be school or not, so the boys were doing their work. We then received a phone call that there would be no school for HSB, so he immediately put down the chemistry and picked up the handheld. There is school and there are priorities. The three dogs, by the way, had been sleeping at our feet.
It’s funny really because it reminded me of a scene out of the pioneer days (OK excluding the handheld and the battery operated lights). But it was the idea of the family together in one warm place quietly in each other company. This is time that we generally don’t get anymore, with everyone at their own computers or rooms studying, working and doing chores. Actually it was kind of nice, a sense of comfort at a time when the world outside was cold and dark.
Now I think that we all had out moments over the last few days. I wondered aloud if it would be bad to turn on the dishwasher even though the water would be cold because there was no heat, but there would still be detergent. Hubby did have to remind me that the dishwasher was electric. So, I did start to laugh and put on a pot to heat water so I could wash some dishes. It is just amazing the comforts that revolve around our electric grid.
The reality is that I think the reason the last few days went well is because we were prepared for emergency situations. We have old fashioned phones that don’t need electric, battery operated lights, food supplies (even though fast food did become somewhat of a staple), safety and emergency preparedness kits for cold weather replete with heat retaining sleeping bags, hand warmers and if all else failed appropriate toiletries.
It is times like these that make you grateful I suppose. Grateful for modern conveniences. Grateful for modern resources. Grateful for modern communication systems. But mostly grateful for the time together before the electric returns and we return to our regular ways. I also know why in the millenniums before the invention of electric heating systems families were so close, stayed together and interacted in one main room. In the winter its really freaking cold and they needed the body heat.
Until next time,
From a 68 degree home, replete with hot water, charged electrical gadgets (including my laptop) and a working dishwasher,