I commented to her that losing power happens with enough frequency up here that we are pretty well prepared for when it does, and she asked that I share more about our experience. I did have a post, dated December 15, 2008, the day our power came back on, but when I archived and deleted my blog in March 2009, that post went to the archive.
In response to Chile's great experiment, I'm bringing it back.
So, here it is. From 4:00 am on December 12 to 1:00 pm on December 15, we had no electricity in my house, and here's what happened:
Ice, Ice, Baby
Yes, we were one of the over 400,000 people in the northeast to be without power following the ice storm on Thursday, December 11.
The electricity went out around 4:00 am on Friday and came back on about 1:00 pm today (Monday, December 15, 2008).
After spending two days without power, a relative, who knew that we had stayed at home, asked me what we did all day without any electricity, and I had to think about it.
So, what did I do?
I baked bread.
I did laundry.
I finished reading The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan (highly recommended!), worked on one of the handmade gifts that didn't require the sewing machine, did dishes, swept the floors, tended the fire, cleaned out the refrigerator and defrosted the freezer.
The girls worked in their workbooks by oil lamplight in the early evening (the camera flash makes it look much brighter in the room than it actually is).
Or wrestled with Deus Ex Machina, who had a very much-needed break from work on Friday.
My answer to "what do you do without electricity?" was "Basically the same things we do with it."
I often cook on the woodstove. While I don't, typically, hand wash the laundry, I do always air dry (on the wooden drying rack set out by the fire) or outside on the line.
I often read in the evening, or we listen to the audiobook of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series (which we did, using what power was left in the UPS to supply juice to the transmitter, which sent the audio from the iPod into our solar powered radio - living with an electrical engineer definitely has its perks ... and Jordan's epic story is a really fantastic tale, by the way ;).
I've been spending quite a lot of time making gifts this season.
A few months ago, over at Seeking Simplicity, Sasha talked about voluntarily going without electricity for a few days or a week - it was a kind of "participate if you want" challenge. I so wanted to participate, but I knew that Deus Ex Machina would scowl at me at the very suggestion.
What's cool about this past storm is that I got my trial without the scowl, and the result was exactly what I figured it would be: we survived ... we more than survived, we lived our lives with barely a change to our normal, everyday activities.
Not much about our lives changed.
Except that Precious discovered her favorite way to take a bath:
It's water heated on the woodstove and poured into the wash tub, but the water is always too hot, and so we add cold water from the shower head.
She calls it the "shower-bath-thingy", because it's a bath, but it's in the shower.
I call it the "Farm Girl" bath.
And it's how I bathed for the three days with no power.
We had heat. We had water. We had food. We had fun ... and we stayed clean.
What else is there?
Oh, the Internet ...
I missed that :).
Chile's experiment is very useful. It's important for us to know where we have significant holes in our preparedness, and there isn't really a better way to know unless one does without.
Personally, I'd rather do it voluntarily, as practice, because in a pinch isn't a good time to find out that you should have more batteries, or that you don't have enough lamp oil, or that your lamp wicks need to be replenished. Try finding those things when the rest of your community wants them, too. Most of the time, those who don't have those preparedness items before the emergency, don't have them during the emergency, either.
Preparedness isn't about getting ready for TEOTWAWKI (... well, it is, but ... ;). It's really about being prepared for life's little surprises - like an involuntary four-day vacation from the grid.
So, if you woke up tomorrow and the power was out, what would you do? Would you go on with a slightly modified version of your everyday life, or would it feel like the end of the world as you knew it?
Big Little Sister tells me that she'd snuggle in bed and read her book ...
... oh, wait, that's what she did today.