The electricity was restored on Tuesday, just in time for another winter storm, so the kids and I stayed in our hotel, rather than attempting a possibly dangerous drive. Yesterday, the weather was completely opposite the ice-snow-wind that was being forecast, so we hurried home before it had a chance to get nasty again. After arriving at home, we saw just how cold it was in the house. That's frozen condensation on the inside of the windows.
Losing electricity was quite a learning experience, and although there are some things I like about life in the 19th century, the lack of electricity would not be one of those things. My favorite part of the whole ordeal was how we spent the evening after 24 hours without our modern appliances. Since we had no television or computer to keep us occupied after dinner, we played cards and Monopoly. We should do that more often. In fact, tonight, we're talking about playing dominoes after dinner.
Lesson #2: When my oldest (now 21) was six years old, I canceled cable television. After spending two days in a hotel with a television, I can still say that it was an excellent decision. It only took about three hours of viewing for me to ask, how do people spend hours every day watching this? We do own a television, and we have a Netflix subscription, and every Friday we have movie night with homemade pizza (using our homemade mozarella), so I don't completely eschew television, but I don't understand how people can blindly flip through channels looking for something to entertain them hour after hour, day after day.
Lesson #3: Plumbing was the greatest invention of modern society. If I had to choose between living without electricity and living without plumbing, I'd give up the electricity. Since our well pump is electric, we lose both when we lose electricity. As much as I missed lights, I really missed being able to wash my hands, shower, and flush the toilet. Mike, who wound up carrying buckets of water from the creek to the animals, really missed having a working well and faucets.
Lesson #4: Having a wood stove is a great supplemental source of heat. I'm glad Mike was so insistent about the in-floor heating when we built the house. Being in a hotel for two days with forced air has made me remember how much I dislike it and how unevenly it heats a room. The in-floor heating and the wood stove work very well together, along with our passive solar design. Having a wood stove as your sole source of heat is time-consuming, stressful and difficult. Someone had to add wood every hour and a half, even overnight. Of course, some stoves are made to last longer, so if your goal is total wood heat, you definitely need to buy a wood furnace, rather than a stove. A possible problem with that, however, is if you have an electric blower, you would lose it when you lose electricity.
Lesson #5: We still have a long way to go to be completely self-sufficient. We're doing great with food, but we have work to do in the energy department. We now own a generator, so we will be able to handle future power outages much better; however, it would be great if we were off the grid entirely. That's been a goal from the beginning, but when something like this happens, it makes you start working towards that goal a little more seriously and with more dedication.
And the final lesson . . . as Dorothy learned in The Wizard of Oz, "There's no place like home." As much as I enjoyed the whirlpool, the exercise room, the maid service, and not having to cook, I really missed home.