Time goes by when juggling life and then add an electrical outage and it puts any computer work on hold. This is day 4 without power so I sit here at Panera Bread charging my phone and using the wi-fi. They just got up and running themselves. It's crazy and it's predicted another 4 or 5 days. I was fortunate enough that a friend that doesn't have power, does have a pilot light on their hot water heater so I was able to shower at their place. Yey. I am very grateful for the wood stove to keep us warm and have offered neighbors a visit to some warmth. I also have water, which is a blessing because I can heat water for tea, dishes, sponge baths and fill my neighbor's carafes so they have some, too. We are making the best of things and I am fortunate that the neighbors surrounding me are friendly and we've been doing the give and take.
The first evening of the storm (Saturday night) my neighbor on the driveway side, well, their white pine I've been wishing for them to take down because it makes a mess of my car and yard, finally lost enough branches. At 1:00 in the morning, I heard a big crack and then blue light was blaring...the transformer just down the street, blew up. A few minutes later, more branches fell and the blue light strobed again. Done. Unfortunately, it took down the wires to their house -- the branches and a wire went across my driveway. I thought I would be housebound but white pines are so weak that I could break the branches back in order to pass to the front of my driveway. It was OK to drive over the wire and then I finally moved it (with a shovel) which I know one is not supposed to do but I was told it's a telephone or cable wire and therefore, was pretty safe in doing so.
Yesterday a truck with ladders attached came by the house and the wires are low enough where a ladder caught one...and, of course, pulled it completely out of my neighbors house. So now the electric company is figuring out what to do with it. My neighbor saw it happen and I wish she had gotten his license plate number because now they will have to pay for the reattachment, unless, of course, because this is considered a major storm damage area, the electric company will just do it.
When a storm occurs I'm am generally not bothered in that I like to be housebound. I like being in my own little world getting some stuff done without feeling the pressures of work or people needing me for something. It is not the case when the power is out. I have been busier than ever and exhausted when I go to bed. I don't generally sleep well and I've been sleeping like a log. I've been hauling wood in for the stove, hauling wood over to my neighbor for his stove that he uses in emergencies. He has a generator so he's been charging my phone for me, which I am thankful for. My neighbor that watches my dogs have come over for warmth, I've gone over there with food and hot water. The chatting with neighbors is often and often about how long this will all last. The original prediction was 7-10 days. It is hard for some people that are not used to living without. Living this way is not a far stretch from how I normally live. I do miss being attached to the computer, but it's also nice that my addiction to it can not be fed as I can be available for another things.
R's mom is 75 and active, but has no water. She does have a wood stove so has been able to cook foods and heat water. She made use of the snow but with warmish temps the snow if vanishing. Fortunately, a neighbor of hers brings her coffee and toast in the morning and invites her over in the evening for visiting and some coffee or a bite to eat. He has a generator, it is very nice of him and helps her to have someone to talk with. The thing that bothers her most is not having the TV or radio for background noise. Checking on her radios in the house was a bit late as there weren't any batteries. When we went to the store, as we knew would probably be the case, they were all out of the larger size batteries. Her daughter from Wisconsin will be sending her some that she just happens to have a slew of because of helping to clean out the house of hoarder/pack rat. She said there were probably about $500 worth of batteries there. Whoa. To get his mom out of the house I invited her to travel with me an hour up to Massachusetts so that Harley could get his stitches out. I will go to lunch with her today. Keeping her busy is good. She had a hard time and got really off balance a couple months back when Hurricane Irene hit, so we are trying to not let that happen again.
I know, Harley has had his surgery and now stitches are removed. I'll post about that next.
I had made a bit of food prior to the outage, not expecting it to happen so quickly after the storm started. I actually had a meatloaf in the oven when it occurred so I ended up cooking it on the wood stove. Perfect. I've set my garage up to act as a refrigerator. It's been cold enough at night that I open the doors for the cold air to come in and then close it up in the morning. It's maintained about a 38 degree temperature in there, keeping cooked foods cold and produce chilled. My stand up freezer is in the garage and this has also helped it to keep foods frozen. Fortunately, it was stuffed full beforehand so that has helped. The freezer is my biggest worry. There's about 300 lbs. of food in there, mostly meats, that I do not want to lose. A 150 pounds of it is raw meat for the dogs. I've put them on a grain free kibble for the better part of this outage that I have on hand so that I do not have to open the freezer and then try to keep 5 lbs. of meat cold enough at a time as it comes in 5 lb. tubes. The less I open the freezer, the better chance of keeping it all solid or at least cold enough.
The local shops are starting to open, some of the smaller ones were running generators so people could still get eggs and milk and the like. Stop and Shop about 10 minutes from me is fully operational and the other one nearby was open but with minimal produce and low lighting. Thankfully, people were able to get some food even if they had to go out daily. But, going out means using gas and there were two gas stations within 20 miles that were open and the lines were long. Now, more are open but it's still scattered.
Listening to the chatter here at Panera, I'm overhearing stories of snowblowers not working, sump pumps not working, how people are making do without electricity. There are other stories that grow from there and a bit of laughter, people coming out and talking with friends, keeping their spirits about them.
I figure if you take it slow, be courteous to others, keep your head about you and practice patience, you can make it through. In times like these you find the gifts of giving from those who have, the appreciation of those who don't and the overall kindness of people when we are often at times in the world curious about humanity and the actions of people. Oh, believe me, in this financially comfortable neighborhood that I sit right now, there definitely are those that are selfish in believing that since they pay a boat load of taxes that they should be the first to regain power. Sorry, it doesn't work that way. The grid is the grid and how one is connected to it and how they fix it will determine when one gets power back.
If you are in a situation where the simple comforts of heat or water is not available, I hope that you have family, friends or neighbors that extend a hand or open their homes to you. I know of two people that have family with fully operational homes as they didn't lose power and they did not invite family to stay with them. What they did do is use their computer to find them a hotel an hour away as the local ones are full. I can't believe that. It would never occur to me to do that, even if you had to sleep on my floor. This happened by a daughter to her mom and dad. I should be writing that with exclamations because I am just baffled by it, and it's not like her mom and dad have throw away money to stay in a hotel for a week. Makes me crazy.