Sunday, April 25, 2010

Loving electricty

Warning: long post!

We experienced a big time storm Friday night, just after midnight (guess that is Saturday morning, isn't it?). By Friday afternoon, the house had warmed up with an extra warm day, and we debated turning on the a/c. We decided instead to open some windows and get a breeze through the house. It was a beautifully clear night, so we went to bed with the windows open. About 1215, I woke to distant thunder. I saw a flash of lightening, counted and realized it was about 5 miles off, so we had time. I laid there another minute, thinking if we should close windows. Finally, I shook hubby awake and said, "you close the office window, and I'll get the dining room window." Off we each went, closed the windows, and met back in the bedroom. "Do think it will rain?" hubby asked. "Well, it was raining gently when I closed the dining room window. Maybe I should close the bedroom windows also." Not seconds after I closed the second of 2 bedroom windows, the wind began to howl and the rain beat down. We went out to the dining room to watch the rain for few minutes, and as we returned to the bedroom, I felt dizzy as the lightning flashed so constantly; it felt like a strob light running in our house! We reached the bed, as we climbed in, all lights, save the lightning, darkened. "I think the electricity just went out" we said to each other. Great, another outage.

When we bought the house, we asked about outages. The previous owners, which we trust, said they hadn't had any problems with outages in the 5 years they had lived there. We, on the other hand, had at least 3 outages last fall, 2 of which were 6+ hours. We are laid back folks (except for internet) and can survive 6 to 8 hours without electricity. We avoid opening the fridge or freezer, and we end up eating out more than normal. At 1230 am Saturday morning, we called the number for Oncore, the electricity provider, to report our outage. "We estimate your electricity should be back on by 2 am" the recording said. Whatever! It was still pouring rain and blowing like a hurricane (though I've never been in a hurricane, so I have no real reference). At about 8 am, when we woke up, we noticed that there still wasn't any electricity. So, we called the Oncore number again, and this time, no estimated time of restored electricity was given. This is suspicious, we thought.

We decided to go to IHOP for breakfast (the whole house is electric, stove and all), and began to see the damage from the storm as we drove. We saw trees broken in half, blown over, pulled up by roots and all, deposited all over yards, in the street, and on one house. Wow, we said, this storm was pretty bad. After breakfast, I dropped Hubby at school, so he could work on papers, and I took a little friend out for hot chocolate and crocheting. We got home again about 1 pm.... and still no electricity. Hmmmm.... so, should we prepare for the worst? Perhaps days without electricity? By this point, the Oncore number was telling us, "there are a large number of outages in the Waco (and other places) area, and crews have been dispatched... " but still no estimated time of getting power back. How concerned should we be?

We pondered and pouted, and pouted and pondered. Finally we had some cold sandwiches, and headed off to acquire camp stove fuel, some dry ice for the freezers and lamp oil for the two lamps we have. We felt a bit more secure about the situation, knowing we can keep the frozen foods frozen and boil water for noodles and coffee. I had a school event so, I took off about 7 pm, but Hubby stayed home and worked by candle light and laptop battery on a paper. When I got home at 1045 pm, still no electricity.

Now, we've been this long with electricity before. But we were camping, we expected to start smelling funny after a day or two, and we had non-electricity-needing activities planned. Here in our own home, it was getting stressful. We have a septic system that uses electricity, and we didn't want to flood it. And by now, the water in the water heater would have cooled off. Hubby took a quick shower Saturday evening, and had only "warm" water. We are computer-internet loving individuals. I love to knit, but can only do so much at once. We love hot meals!

So, Sunday morning, I sponged off with cool water, and reapplied deodorant. We pulled some "tree-weeds" (a non-electricity-needing activity! see note at end for explanation of "tree-weeds") and off to church we headed. There, a good friend invited us to their place for lunch and a chance to do laundry. We did some errands on our way home, and when we got home, YEAH!!!!, the electricity was on!!!

We learned a few things. First, we love electricity. Philosopher Hubby pondered out loud "Aristotle didn't have electricity. Nor did Aquinas. How did they do it?" This afternoon, we have wandered around marveling at the joy of electricity. Second, we are better prepared for next time (assuming there is a next time). Third, we are peeved with Oncore. I'm sure they knew by Saturday morning where all the outages were (or most of them), and they could of have said, in their recording, something like "please plan to not have electricity for 1 (or 2) days. We were at 32 hours when the electricity finally came on. We put off some things we could have done Saturday morning, thinking it wouldn't be that long till we got electricity back. Perhaps it is me expecting too much from a massive bureaucracy.

Alas, now that I have my electricity, and thus my fridge, my stove, my lappy, I'm not so inclined to write a nasty letter to Oncore.

Other thoughts have been spawned. Can we adjust our life style to better accommodate the occassional outage? Or are outages rare enough that its not worth it. We are pretty conservative about our usage of electricity. We only heat the house to 62' in the winter (I demand that kind of warmth, Hubby would be happy at 58', I think). We only cool to 80' in summer (78' at night for better sleeping). I wash only full loads, and will hang stuff to dry when I can. We open windows when its nice out to both warm and cool the house. But we are academics and we love our computers. And hot meals. And the ability to boil water. The camp stove with fuel will solve many of those issues. But the pondering continues....

Hubby did get grilled steak out of it. That is certainly a good thing.

Note: "tree-weeds" are weeds that grow straight up and look like tiny little Christmas trees spaced through out the yard. The clover stays low to the ground, which doesn't look too bad. But the tree-weeds show off our non-grass yard more than we like.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, just found your blog through Down to Earth. We live in Axtell so although we didn't lose power, it was the "take cover in your bathroom" kind of storm. = ) Like your blog by the way.


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