Thursday, June 01, 2006

Fighting Boredom

We've been having big rain storms lately with lots of thunder and lightening (or frightening for my doggies who hide under the bed during the noisy part of storms). During the afternoon of Memorial Day the electricity went down for a little over 30 minutes. It's amazing how quickly one's life comes to a halt when the power is down.

We were fortunate to have power so quickly restored but in January 2002 our metropolitan area was hit by an incredible ice storm. Over half a million people lost power; the city was completely shut down. Schools closed, traffc couldn't maneuver the downed power lines, and every hotel / motel with a generator was booked to capacity.

Power came back slowly. Our home was without electricity for eleven long days. Fortunately the weather warmed up quickly and we were able to survive with only the small gas furnace in the downstairs recreation room heating the house. Our water heater is gas powered so we had hot water. We did not have refrigeration or the ability to cook, since we have an electric stove. The first couple of days were kind of fun, like we were on an extended urban camping trip. Quickly, though, the romance of the situation faded and we found ourselves scrambling for things to entertain us. It's amazing to realize just how much of our lives revolve around appliances and gadgets.

When the power initially went down we thought this would be the perfect chance to catch up on our reading. However, reading by candle light in the evening dark is very hard on middle-aged eyes. Here is a list of some things we did that didn't require much illumination.

-- We played cards but since we were only two in number we were limited in the number of exciting cards games we knew to play. We played Zion Check and Honeymoon Bridge until we were sick of both the cards and each other.

-- We played word games: Scrabble, Boggle, and a game where you toss dice with letters on them out of a cup to form three, four, five, etc. letter words.

-- We took drives: during the daylight, to see how the damage repair was proceeding; at night to determine which blocks had gotten electricity and how close the crews were to reaching us.

-- Then we'd lay bets as to how soon our electricity would be repaired.

-- We listened to the radio, especially the NPR station that broadcasts classical music during the day.

We invented "song" games with each other, thinking up songs about specific items and singing the first line of each; an example is "how many songs can you name that mention light?" (This Little Light of Mine; You Light Up My Life; Bright Lights, Big City; Star of Wonder, Star of Light; etc.).

-- Our hobbies pretty much revolve around electricity (for him power tools, for me the computer) but we do have tons of actual photographs from before we got a digital camera and we also have a lot of very old family photos just sitting around in shoeboxes. We went through the photos and tried to label and sort them.

Work closed for two days; schools were shut down longer. Hospitals were up and functioning within 24 hours. Grocery stores and restaurants, for the most part, were, too.

Getting dressed in the dark without my electric curelers wasn't fun. I managed to find a plastic bag of old curlers left over from the 1970's and would set my hair after my evening shampoo. How the heck I did I ever sleep on those things in my youth? I needed to bathe early in the evening so the hair would have time to dry before bedtime, and those dreaded curlers could be removed. Also it's pretty important to lay out your clothes for the next day while you can still see inside the dark hole that is a closet, unless you plan to be mismatched and the object of ridicule at work the next day.

We quickly discovered that we are not very adept at keeping ourselves entertained without our TV, stereo, eletric sanders and computers. We needed good light to read or do our favorite jigsaw puzzles. Our grooming got sloppier and we were beginning to worry about clean clothes toward the end. Certainly our diets took a nosedive as we ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches over and over because they didn't require refrigeration.

After a week of darkness, we found ourselves angry. During the second week we actually felt depressed and abandoned by the city (which made us doubly sensitive to the trials and tribulations of those affected by the awful hurricanes of 2005).

This May we were without power for less than an hour. We no longer feel the romance of the dark but we do have the resources to entertain ourselves for a limited amount of time. The minute power came back on, Hubby headed for the TV and I rebooted the computer and life was back to normal.

Sometimes I watch those PBS shows where folks re-enact living conditions of a pervious age. I don't want to try that. I need a thermostate to regulate my heat and air conditioning and the TV to entertain me during the quiet times. I want my electric powered steam curlers to make my thinning hair presentable. I want my computer for trading e-mails and placing my e-bay bids and for reading other blogs.

My world is better powered with electricity.


Bev Sykes said...

I, too, am very spoiled by electricity. I could use my laptop--for an hour, if I had remembered to charge it first. But I can't imagine 11 days without electricity. I suspect you learn a lot about yourself that you didn't want to learn!

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