Thursday, December 25, 2008

Home for Christmas!

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.


SkippyMom said...

There really is no place like home. Glad you added number 5, as it ties it all together.

I hope you had a Merry Christmas!

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I hear you on appreciating indoor plumbing most. Power outages are not uncommon here, so I get reminders every so often on just how much I hate losing it -- like you, not so much the electricity but the lack of running water. Even if all I ever had was COLD running water, I could live with that.

Glad you got home for Christmas!

MaskedMan said...

Glad your power is back, nothing burst, and the animals remained well cared-for.

I turn the TV off on the kids. My youngest child wails in protest, but he very quickly takes up alternate play, engaging his little brain and forgetting about the electronic noise maker rapidly enough. TV is entirely unneccessary.

Card games, board games, and the like are wonderful entertainment, as are books, and story-telling. And none of them require anything more than a couple candles to play or enjoy. While you're at it, you may want to investigate getting a few beehives, and see about candle-making. Plus, fresh honey beats the heck out of the story-bought stuff. Just read up on it before you get started.

Merry Christmas!

Tammy said...

Glad you made it home! I agree, the two things I missed most when our electricity was out for almost two weeks, were the running water and the refrigerator. The rest was easier to handle. It sure was nice to get a hot, running shower when it was all over. Thankful, thankful thankful! I also added a couple of things to the 'emergency' stash--a battery operated lantern, and a little clip on led light for reading, to supplment the kersosine lamps. I did several posts about the supllies that I keep on hand right after that. :-) My only source of heat is wood, and I agree it can be time consuming. (and messy). I have a very good wood stove that will keep a fire going for about 5 hours if I damp it down. I only get up and put wood in the stove at nights on single digit or subzero nights. Normally it only gets down to 50 in there at nights. It's so much cheaper to heat with the wood and the heat is so 'warm'. I would eventually like to buy some sort of 'back up' to my wood heat though.
Take care,
Tammy (where it's suppose to get up in the 70s today, which will usher in severe storms....)

Sharrie said...

Happy to read that you are home again. I can understand all the things you learned. That was a difficult lesson.

Deborah said...

Thanks for all the merry Christmas wishes! Hope all of you had a lovely holiday also.

We have been lucky lately with power outages. We used to have them more often, and just about the time we were ready to buy a generator, they became more infrequent. Well, now we have a generator! We're also talking about keeping a large tank full of water for the livestock in case of emergencies.

Masked Man -- I would love to have my own bees. Actually we do have a hive of bees; it's just not ours. Two years in a row now, we've seen them swarming in our front yard. They live in a big oak tree. I'm trying to talk my husband into having a couple hives, since bees really like me. I've been stung three times. I guess the good news is that I'm not allergic. Maybe I'll eventually get brave and just do it myself. We do have some maple trees, and I've considered tapping them also.

Tammy -- for us, heating with wood is completely free since we have 32 acres of almost all woods. A couple times a year, we have a storm, a tree comes down, providing us with more free wood. We should have done more research on the wood stove, rather than just buying the one they had at the local home improvement store. Live and learn! Sounds like you have a good one!

Uglemor said...

For heating you could consider this:


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