Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Our time in darkness

Sooo, here's some pics of our week long ordeal of how we welcomed July in our area.  Sunday to Sunday.  I went from reading about what a derecho was when the mid Atlantic got hit with one to living through one.  I didn't say I wanted to experience one, thanks.  It also happened at an awesome time when literally every single non bed bug hotel was booked for the holiday.  So we had no choice but to stay at first.  But then it became something else.  It was sticking around and defending our home and proving to ourselves that we could do it.  

When you walk outside after a land hurricane and see all of the lines on your street tilted and some down and then you kind of become a media spectacle, you know the news ain't gonna be good. They didn't give us any  ETA for a while then the next day it was "2-10 days."  Are you serious?  Did you spin a wheel of vague answers to come up with that one?
The next day we knew we needed to save what fridge stuff we could.  Yes, I saved brussels sprouts.  What?  So we got 2-3 coolers together and saved most of the fridge stuff and kept the bread in the empty fridge instead of on the counter because don't you know on day 3 is when the ants decided they were going to come in for a house party.  Thank God for Terro liquid ant baits (affiliate link)  because those babies stopped us from a full on infestation.

I cleaned the fridge top to bottom.  I know it needed done but jeez, a more subtle hint would've been fine.

It was way too hot to sleep in the bedroom so we got our air mattresses out of the camping box in the garage that hadn't been cracked open for over 10 years and slept in the basement.  Some nights we were actually cold so we needed light blankets.  I had on a little LED flashlight because it was DARK down there and the 80's station on the transistor radio.  (Look it up kids)  If I never hear Journey, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and Alanis Morissette again, it'll be too soon but there really didn't need to be a power outage for me to feel like that.  Then when it was time to work out, we'd chuck the beds aside and workout for 30 minutes. It would feel like it was going to rain once we were done!

It topped 91 for quite a few days inside.  You kind of wanted storms to cool things down but then they would hold up progress so you weren't sure if you wanted to suffer or go out to the car for AC.  Did I mention our cell tower was down?

Some of our lifesavers were battery-operated fans (affiliate link)  we ordered from Amazon because all of the sporting goods stores were out, the radio I found, my camping clotheslines for day 7 when my shorts and tank tops were ready to be washed.

Our only source of entertainment and progress reports was driving up a few side streets to watch the workers do their job.  The Mr was home with me every day except Thursday and I don't know how I would've made it without him.  I wanted to make sure I kept the Mr's tummy happy and healthy so I made just about anything I made any day of the week on the grill from omelets...

...to chicken dogs and beans for the 4th of July.

Everyone on our street left so it was just us to defend the homesteads.  I guess the saying "know your neighbors so you can help each other during a natural disaster" didn't apply.  I'm sure they came home to some ecoli soup in the fridge.  So I would booby trap the window at night in case prowlers got any bright ideas and trust me, there were people we never saw in the neighborhood suddenly loitering around.  Mama bought a metal paddle for my stand up paddle training and I was going to beat the hell out of them if they tried to come in.

We battled many things.  Mother Nature and the worst heat wave of the season, ants, yellow jackets, stinky trash (thanks neighboring apartments who had an open dumpster!), a backed up dishwasher and ecoli stew from melted ice in our freezer on day 6.

There is this acclimation you go through when you're out that long.  The heat is bad, yes but you become so busy with chores you have to do to keep things running, ice from melting and checking on progress that you don't have time to do much else.  You also realize that as most people "suffered" for 2-3 days (which I'm not minimizing, I promise) that people forget about you.  The helicopters go away and people are setting off fire crackers and celebrating the holiday and you think "how dare you live your life while we're back here suffering!?"  It's the same thing we felt when my father in law died.  It was like "how can you laugh and go on with your vacation when we're losing someone we love?"  It won't make sense until you go through it and I hope no one has to.  You also realize you only have each other to get through it and you come out of it stronger and more loving than ever.  You exercise and eat right and feel like you can truly say we live a no excuses lifestyle where our health is concerned and that makes us proud.  You handle whatever is thrown at you together and conquer each thing with much less freak out than if you had power because it has to be done.  Period.  And when the lights finally do come back on as you're in the middle of watching Weird Science on the tablet, you are cautiously optimistic, high five and get to the work at hand of getting the fridge/freezer set, close the windows and run the fans then work the AC back into the mix because again, things need to be done.  This is something that had we not been campers, I don't think we would've been nearly as successful in getting through the ordeal.  I'm not talking cushy campers either.  I mean no electricity, washing dishes in the water fountain and going home reeking of campfire and sweat.  I am so grateful for that experience and never thought that it would help us get through a week long power outage 14 years after our last camping trip.  I thank God I didn't throw away that camping box like I was going to 2 weeks ago!  I just ask if we ever have to go through this again it's in the winter so I can use some snow as my freezer and cuddle up under blankies in front of the gas fireplace.  (Yep, the switch still works without electricity...we checked!)

Are you a camper?  Would you prefer a summer or winter power outage?  
(Edit:  You can't pick spring or fall you wimps!  :-)  It has to be one extreme or the other since WE didn't have the choice.)

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  1. One thing I've learned about myself over the past five years is that I can do pretty much anything I put my mind to doing. I may whine about it the entire time, but I can do it. :)

    If I *have* to go through an extended power outage, I'd prefer winter. I've got a wood-burning fireplace and a dozen Memaw-quilts, so I'd be nice and toasty!

  2. My friends in Columbus said basically the same thing: if they hadn't been campers, they wouldn't have known how to cope. (They were ONLY without power for 4 days.)

    Winter or summer outage? Can't say for sure. I've never been through an extended summer outage but I do know I get really nervous during the winter ones as the temps inside drop and I start worrying about pipes freezing.

    It's so good that everything's moving back to normal for you! This is definitely a significant chapter in your life story!

  3. WOW!!! I love camping, but when you go camping, you know what to expect. You guys had to deal with a little more than throwing some dogs on the fire and keeping the mosquitos away. Living that way for 10 days takes a lot and you should be SO proud that you were able to get through it. I'm glad things are back up and running.

  4. I'd much prefer a summer power outage. The daylight hours are longer which is a plus and I'd rather be too hot than freezing cold. I had my furnace die during the winter and had to spend two days without heat. Going to bed in full outdoor wear (including big wooly hat and mittens) is NO fun.

    Good to hear you survived.

  5. I am a camper and we are prepared for short emergencies. I like to think that because we are used to camping we could survive, but haven't had to yet (knock on wood). Considering I live in Southern California I'd much prefer a winter outage. It doesn't get that cold even during the coldest storms. Today will be over 100 so this would be a TERRIBLE time to have the power go out. Glad you made the best of life and kept the homefires buning (so to speak). You guys deserve an award.

  6. If I could have chosen the time of year for this I would have said October. That would normally be fine in terms of temps and all that but regardless I am just glad the ordeal is behind us and we came out stronger than when we started and proved to ourselves that we can handle it. So glad we didn't use it as an excuse not to work out too. That is a testament to how comitted we are to our healthy lifestyles.

  7. I don't think summer or winter. The thing about summer is that I cannot stand the extreme heat. I am in southern GA, and it's hot and humid. I suffered through an outage in the winter while in South Carolina, and it was no fun at night. It was just too cold. Summer/winter, it's just from one extreme to the next. I would prefer none, but maybe I might be able to survive an outage in the fall.

  8. We used to camp a lot, but haven't been in years. Our stuff is not boxed up neatly in one labeled place though. Much of it has gotten scattered into everyday use.

    We don't have a fireplace or wood burning stove so we'd have no heat in winter. In addition to being miserable and cold, our pipes would freeze and be an added expense. Being able to use the great outdoors as a refrigerator would be a benefit though. In the summer we often get to well over 100 degrees and even with fans and a swamp cooler I can't keep the house below 80. Without those things, we could easily be 100 inside as well as out. I think a fall or spring shortage would be easier to cope with, but "easier" is relative.

    I'm just glad you guys got through in the best shape possible. I hope that you're recovery efforts are going smoothly. I was really glad to hear that you're back in the modern world.

  9. Congratulations on coming through your ordeal with flying colors! It sounds as if you two were a great team. So glad the Mr. could be home, too.

    We have a well, which means that with a power outage we're two toilet flushes away from no water. We have a generator so that we can continue to live at home during power outages. I'm assuming that your water was still on, and that hopefully you have a gas water heater?

    Impressive use of your grill to do some real cooking!

  10. You are brave! I camp like you. I usually go with people with big old campers though so I kinda cheat that way :)

    Glad you survived!

  11. when i was a kid i lived in Michigan we would get snowed in and lose power every year for at least a week. those were some of my fun-est family memories.
    our water came from a well that had an electric pump so we had no water either. we would melt snow to flush the toilets. use Poppas snowmobile to go to the "corner store" and make popcorn in the fireplace. i honestly dont recall how meals were made. Mom Magic i guess!
    glad you guys are back in civilization and got to test your resolve. its a good feeling, huh!

  12. Survival of the fittest? I think not...above and beyond! You did Darwin proud. :)

    We are primitive campers too. Those skills certainly come in handy! Good for you guys!!

  13. Ummmm... I think I would prefer a fall or springtime camping adventure than dead of winter or heat of summer. But that's just me...

  14. Awesome team work, Mr & Mrs! You are completely right about the relationship aspect and feeling a tad bit upset when others are celebrating when you're coping with an emergency or tragedy.

    You are definitely a role model for anyone that uses life's burps as an excuse to derail and sabotage themselves.

    As far as the question - it wouldn't be truly fair of me to pick summer as I live about 5 miles from a beach. The winter would be definitely harder to navigate, but when you live in So Cal, and we realize we're spoiled and lucky.

    Have a good day!

  15. "You handle whatever is thrown at you together and conquer each thing with much less freak out... because it has to be done. Period."

    YOU and the MR. are the best examples of character, grit, and perspective I could ever think of. The above quote says it ALL!

    I grew up a camper and a farm girl, so living like you did for a week is not that big a deal in terms of getting it done (we even have kerosene lamps for when we need them). We had much the same experience as you when the whole city flooded two summers ago (power was out, the sewer system couldn't be used, there were suppply shortages, and the vultures/scavengers were ever present), and during our longer power outages. Everyone around us was freaking out... we just got it done.. and having someone you love to keep step right beside you means everything (we both feel we can do anything as long as it's the two of us... and it's funny... Miss O is becoming the same... much less inclined to freak out than most kids... she immediately goes into 'figure it out' mode). We have a tendency to go into 'pioneeer adventure' mode... we take the challenge personally, LOL!

    If it's an extensive outage, from a personal comfort level, I'd rather a spring/summer/fall outage... from a property perspective, a winter outage lasting more than 48 hours becomes a problem for pipes bursting... and as hot as it can get, it's also really hard to sleep when you've been cold for too long.

    I'm so glad your ordeal is over... I'm not at all surprised you made it through with flying colours!!!!

  16. This is a terrible thing to say, but I am so spoiled, I cannot even imagine living a week IN THE SUMMER without electricity. That has to be so much worse than being without power in the winter. Like you say, the whole outside can be your refrigerator, and you can always cover up to keep warm. But how do you ever get cool when it's 91 INSIDE??? You guys did great though. I know you are proud of how you managed and you deserve to be. Now I'm sure you have a new appreciation of all the conveniences that electricity provides. We do have one drawback at our house. We have a well, living on an acreage just outside of town, and our pump is electric. So when we lose electricity, we also lose water. You get one toilet flush--that's it!

  17. You two really are troopers for how you handled that long an outage! I'd definitely pick winter over summer as a time to lose power (which we do every few years thanks to snow and ice storms). You can pile on tons of clothes and blankets to get warm, build a fire in the fireplace (or turn on the gas fireplace if you're lucky enough to have one) to warm up by and cook on. There's a limit to how much you can take off to get cool in the summer, though. And yes, being campers helps enormously in being able to handle a lengthy power outage--you know how to improvise and get by with a lot less.

  18. You two rock....that is all... :)

  19. Ya'll are ultimate survivors!! Good job!!

    No question - as a So Cal girl a WINTER power outage. I've lived through a one-day summer one and it wasn't pretty! Couldn't begin to imagine a whole week.

    Yes, we are campers so I know that all our equipment would definitely come out during a prolonged outage. :-)

  20. We had a 5 day winter ice storm in 1996. That was NOT fun! My kids were almost 2 years old and 5 months old. No sleep because we were worrying about them. It was freezing and our house was colder inside than outside. We stuck it out for one night and didn't feel safe with the kids (caps on their heads and the fear of them slipping over their faces was too much). No hotels in the area - everyone else booked before we thought about it. Thankfully, we have the best friends who lived about an hour away and we stayed at their parent's home while they were out of town - they had power. Daily made the trip back to check on things.

    I don't wish a power outage on anyone at any time. Huge kudos to you both for sticking it out!

  21. Love your blog....you guys are true survivors! Good for you!

  22. It never ceases to anger me how people prowl around and take advantage of natural disasters. So much for a sense of commuity!

    Good thing you had your camping gear on hand :)

  23. Good for you for looking on the bright side of things! You are an amazing inspiration!

  24. First of all...WOW. You are a survival GODDESS! I'm totally blown away by your resourcefulness and resolve in the face of adversity.

    Second, I couldn't help but be struck by how cool it is that you and the Mr. got closer by going through this together. Trust, me, this is rare. Many couples would have turned on each other and been at each other's throats after just a few hours of what y'all endured. The fact that you worked as a team and got through it together is beautiful.

  25. I'm still in awe. We were without power last night for exactly 8 hours and I was not a happy little un-camper. Of course all week I kept telling dh that we should be better prepared for these things since "the Mrs. has been without power for days and they are still exercising!" But did we make sure the batteries were charged for the lanterns? No. We did,however, have plenty of candles and the night sky was incredible. (Our entire town was black). As for summer or winter....Summer. Yes, it was hot in our house and thank goodness yours cooled off...but we have no alternative heat source and frozen pipes and blown water lines would suck. At least we could still flush last night!
    You are amazing, we're all glad you're back.

  26. You blow me away continually. ANYTHING is better in winter in southeast Louisiana. lol


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