Lights out: CERT trained

Last night was a picnic–literally. The oven was preheating, parmesan-encrusted tilapia was on the menu <mouth watering> the wind had been blowing, the day outside was nasty, and the power went out. Oven off. Lights off. Well off. Water off. Planned menu out of the question.

My husband promptly suggested we go out to dinner. It was in the low thirties, dark–not that the sun had been out all day, and did I mention the wind? High winds. Can’t even imagine what the wind chill was, and how would we know which direction to find a restaurant with power? It’s not like we leave the driveway and we’re in Retail Land. We’re both CERT trained, stocked up on food, water, dry goods, and prepared to spend a few days on our own when needed. We called the electric company, reported lights out, and learned that the repairs should be made by 10:45 the next morning.

While we were making that call, a fire truck arrives out front and stops. Did you know they have a really bright search light on those things? Makes sense, but I’d never noticed. So they’re out front on our curvy, hilly, two-lane road, inching westward, backing eastward, shining, shining, shining. Eventually they stop and stay in one spot. A vehicle arrives, light bar strobing the area with red and blue. I’m assuming it was a patrol car; it was low enough that I couldn’t see it on the other side of the rise. The fire truck left. The patrol vehicle remained, lights flashing, for hours. Hoooouuuuurrrrssss. I would have gone out to see what was going on, but it was too damn cold. I would have gone out and offered the officer (or whomever) some hot coffee, but without power, I couldn’t make any.

To conserve heat, we put down window shades and closed doors to insulate a few rooms. Dinner was peanut butter and crackers, washed down liberally with wine and topped off with friend Char’s pumpkin bread. Entertainment was a few hours of gin rummy, at which I suck. Fortunately I can enjoy myself anyway, and we had a lot of laughs. We finished with me two hundred points behind. I blame the sucky candlelight making it extremely difficult to tell red suits from black. It’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

An electric company truck arrived. It was too dark to see what they were doing, but they eventually left. Lights still out.

As bed time approached, we started monitoring the indoor temperature. The room we thought would be warm enough to sleep in turned out to be the coldest. Long story short, the basement was warmest, couch cushions made a bed, the sleeping bag a cover. Pillows in place, flashlights handy, we were just covering up when the lights came on as suddenly as they’d gone off. Lights on. Furnace on. Water on. We walked around the house turning off whatever had been on when the power had gone out, flushed the toilets, climbed into our temporary bed (didn’t want the work to go to waste), and went to sleep, still laughing about the fun we’d had without computers, TV, and heat. Of course, it was easy to “suffer” the inconvenience knowing it would be over in another twelve hours. We did this one winter a few years back when no end was predicted, and lasted three days until we caved and went to a hotel. But I digress.

If you’re not CERT trained, look for a program in your area. It’s free training, and invaluable. Start here. Training is done through local police and fire departments. Call them up or check their websites.

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