When The Lights Went Out

This same month 2 years ago I wrote, Out of the Ashes. And sadly, here we go again…

At 8:30 p.m., a week ago Saturday, our power was shut off for 48 hours. Unfortunately, we’re experiencing fires again in the hills of Northern California. People are evacuating while thousands of acres burn. High winds worsen matters, so Pacific Gas & Electric rotates the shutdown to various counties, some for hours, others for days.

KIncaid fire 3

Now don’t get me wrong; this is a delicate subject to blog about. I intend no disrespect to those suffering from the situation and my prayers are with them. But often with my blog, I attempt to write from a lighthearted perspective. So here’s what I experienced during this shutdown…

I have to say, not having power wasn’t what I imagined. Granted, I couldn’t use any of my electronics, which took some getting used to. But surprisingly, I ended up accomplishing much more than usual without them. But then it was only 48 hours, so I shouldn’t pretend I’d have the same opinion had it lasted weeks. No doubt I’d be whining profusely.Buttercup

Fortunately, we received notice about the shutdown schedule. Therefore, I retrieved my candles and flashlights, including my head-lamp, and bought battery-operated lanterns. I tell ya, my family room was lit like an operating room. My dog Callie worried a little because everything scares her. But the rest of my brood seemed unfazed.Lanterns

Callie worried again

Worry wart

Without the internet, TV, cell phones or even radio, it’s amazing what we find to do with our time: I wrote 2 blog posts (my Pages app doesn’t require internet); purged my clothes closet (something I meant to do last spring); scooped a ton of dog poop (the joys of owning 4 canines); did yard work; read a book and organized my garage and shed.

That's a lot

The morning after the shutdown, breakfast was a peanut butter sandwich, grapes and almonds. Dinner consisted of still slightly-cold homemade minestrone. But by 9:00 a.m. I was having caffeine withdrawals without my treasured latte, so I went to Starbucks. But everything in the county was closed so I headed to the Farmer’s Market. Sadly, so did every other putz in the county who craved their morning Joe.Red Whale

The line for the Red Whale coffee truck was 40 deep (yes, I actually counted).

Red Whale line

I promptly left, but remembered Red Whale has a cafe near my neighborhood. Lo and behold, they were open and with only 11 waiting before me! During my 25 minute wait, I chatted with others in line, meeting a woman who works for the town of Windsor. In Marin collecting food donations for their firefighters, she clutched an all-in-one solar, hand-cranked and battery operated radio. I ordered one the minute power was restored.

hand crank battery radio

My neighbors, Paul and Vicki, wisely bought a generator and insisted I place my perishables in their freezer. They also brought me coffee in the morning. I just love them.

paul and vicki 2

Interestingly, I noticed more families out biking, people walking their dogs and neighbors talking to neighbors. It’s fascinating what the lack of access to technology produces. I liked that part of it, but worried about friends I couldn’t reach. Thankfully they and their homes are safe. Sadly, not everyone fared so well.

I suppose these situations help us realize what’s most important in our lives — what we’d take with us in an emergency. For me it’s my animals, photo albums, phone, laptop and my mom’s wedding ring. That’s it. Yep, a total shutdown will undoubtedly happen again. And when it does, I’ll pray that the devastation is minimal. Then maybe I’ll sit down and start the book I never get around to writing. If only I had the time…Chapter 1

One thought on “When The Lights Went Out

  1. Wow, Janet. That was some story. We had all the evacuees here in Petaluma. Thankfully I didn’t lose my power this time. When there was no wind last time, I lost it for two days. I believe one day we had girl wins this last time and yet they kept our power on. Go figure.
    I was the hostess for my doctor, her husband, their three dogs and three cats. They had to evacuate from Sebastopol so I put them up in my granny. Hard to find a place for all those animals. Her husband really emphasized how grateful he was, and so did my doctor. Unfortunately she had bronchitis the whole time and was rather sick but able to rest up quite a bit since took the time off from work. It was actually like a little mini vacation for her.
    I was glad to be able to help them out. I had just sent her a text thanking if she had to evacuate, she was welcome to come here. Her husband was in San Diego but drove home that night with the other dog. Her daughter was vacationing in Paris. Lucky girl.
    So I think it was a really nice time for all of us. I had the place covered from stem to stern with blankets and sheets and what not so they could really enjoy themselves. She left the place pristine. I just finished my last load of laundry, though. It was worth it.
    Meanwhile, I kept myself pretty busy baking goodies for the fireman. That was rewarding in and of itself, although where I dropped them off at one of the fire stations in Petaluma he told me they hadn’t even been out to the fires. I guess they stick around to protect Petaluma. At least at that fire station they did.

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