No power? How could we stand it?

Farm Forum

Gandolf is the name gave to the storm that produced a dusting of snow in our area. Maybe spelled the storm “Gandolf,” instead of the more Tolkienish “Gandalf” because they knew it wouldn’t be wizard strength enough for everyone in its path. For us, it was more like Winter Storm Pippin.

But the forecasts were scary. Weather sites mentioned the possibility of a quarter inch of ice forming before snow, leading to deadly road conditions.

Formation of so much ice would likely lead to power outages, and in our tech-dependent days, a power outage in winter ranks right up there with plague and locusts.

How do you keep yourself warm when the power goes out? Some folks have whole-house generators. Others use wood stoves. We once lived in a house where you bought a tank of heating oil for the winter and you’d enjoy heat no matter what.

But now we live in a home heated with hot water that courses through pipes. Once the power goes, not only do we grow cold, but even the heat pipes can freeze and burst. This happened to neighbors while they were out of state one winter. Their pilot light went out and pipes froze. Later the basement flooded. The resulting damage was tremendous.

Losing heat, though, isn’t quite as bad as losing access to the Internet. Our digital landline depends on electricity, so when the power goes out, and the Internet goes with it, the phone is also gone.

We are so addicted to instant communication now that when power fails, we start to get withdrawal symptoms.

The power went out once this summer for nearly an hour, and I was getting the shakes.

What do you do when the power goes out? First, you try to see if the problem is a bad fuse or a neighborhoodwide problem. To do that, you see if anyone else has lost power.

But I can’t call my daughter on the digitized landline, and I don’t want to dig through my bottomless purse for the old Trac Phone that probably isn’t charged anyway.

I know! I’ll talk to her over Facebook. Wait. Can’t get on the Internet.

OK, I’ll listen for outage news on the radio. Oops. Can’t listen on the radio, so I’ll have to go outside and start asking random people walking down the street if they have electricity.

Through that method, I realize it’s at least a neighborhoodwide problem. I’ll just have to wait. In the meantime, what can I do?

Might as well get some cleaning done, but the dishwasher, the washing machine and the vacuum won’t work.

Maybe I can get some dinner prep done. I keep trying to consult the Internet. There was a great recipe on Pinterest for meatballs. Oh.

Do I have eggs? Oh wait. Can’t open the fridge. Who knows how long the contents will stay cold?

In earlier times, power went out and you could still type your paper on the manual typewriter, or play cards with your kids or wash dishes.

I can still wash dishes by hand, but do I really want to take sauce-encrusted dishes out of the dishwasher and start soaking them? When the power could return any minute? No.

A threatened power outage points out, in Pippin-like ways, just how powerless we really have become.