Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Power Outage - Smart Moves & Stupid Ones

Parts of the Florida Panhandle have been in desperate need of rain. My poor pond decreases by inches every day and is down almost 10 feet, so I was thrilled when storm clouds began to gather...but a little concerned when the rain came with hail.
With the storm and dinner time approaching simultaneously, I had headed to the kitchen to fix the quickest meal I could think of. With pre-cooked rice and pre-cooked and cubed chicken in the freezer, stir-fry was only minutes away from the table. While the frozen packages got a quick thaw in the microwave, I began to cut some fresh onions, celery, carrots and broccoli. Then the lights flickered once and were gone.
Five minutes later, the storm passed on, leaving only an eighth inch of rain in the gauge, the thunder muffled by distance, the clouds lighting up, one after another, as if in conversation. With darkness due at any moment, I sat on the sofa watching the flicker of candles instead of television. My mind was still on dinner. I was so close. At the point of suggesting that we go out for dinner, I suddenly remembered the propane burner that is a part of our gas grill.
Problem solved. In five minutes we would eat. First the raw veggies got a quick stir in hot Sesame Oil.
Then the pre-cooked and thawed chicken went in.
Once the chicken was thoroughly hot, I added the rice and an egg to toss around.
A little Szechuan and Soy Sauce, a thorough stir, and I called it quits. Dinner in less than 5 minutes. Under other conditions, I might have added straw mushrooms and water chestnuts but the wind was again picking up and the thunder moving closer.
Darkness fell with a thud, that deep black that you cannot see into. The wind and light show settled in for the duration and, as hours passed, it became obvious that power would not be restored any time soon. So, I set about preparing the house for the night. Candles were extinguished. The little battery operated radio was set to our nearest, semi-local station, a flashlight was placed on the bedside table and I was about to turn in when I had one of those thoughts that makes one wonder...
I remembered seeing a DC adapter in the box with the radio and headphones and speakers. "Aha! If I use that, I can leave the radio on all night without worrying about running down the batteries." I got the adapter from it's storage place and plugged it into the radio and then into the wall - nothing. "Hum?! Maybe the plug won't work while the radio has batteries in it", I reasoned. Somewhat pleased with the quickness of my mind, I opened the battery compartment, and paused. My eyes fell sheepishly on the plug in the wall - the plug in the electrical outlet in the wall. "Duh!" I snickered out loud and went to tell my husband what a screwy thing I had done. He made me feel so much less stupid. As my story approached the point of considering whether or not the radio would work with both batteries AND the plug, I could see his mind switching into problem-solving mode. I just stood there watching his wheels turn. He looked at me curiously because I had stopped mid-sentence. "Plug, honey", I said, "electrical plug." The expression on his face was priceless and I felt so much better knowing that I was not alone in expecting power while knowing very well that there was none.
We take so much for granted.
A couple of ideas that work well for me: 1) I turned this chandelier into a candle-lier by moving the rod so that the globes face up instead of down. The globes hold votives in glass containers and give enough light over my work space to keep me going.
Solar powered path lights, can come inside to keep rooms from being completely dark and they make great night lights.

Unlike candles, they are safe and can be left unattended all night. Just remember to return them to the outdoors the following morning so that they will recharge.

1 comment:

Cindy said...

BRILLIANT! Brilliant stuff! Now if I can just remember it when the time comes!!! :-) Unfortunately, when the power goes down, so does your blog! Bummer! Love you and thanks for the ideas!