So, I parked Sophia on the street and came in through the front door for a change. That morning I had put chicken breasts in the Crockpot to make Cookies’s personalized dog food and she was barking her readiness for a meal. The Crockpot was cold and the chicken uncooked. My Inner Critic loudly said, "Dumbo." Hmmm.
Next I flipped the on button to the kitchen TV and nothing happened. Then I looked around the room and saw that none of the clocks were on and the refrigerator was off. So was the stove. Now and then switches will pop off on the electrical panel, but everything looked OK. I did a general trip and reset just in case. Nada.
I tried to phone my neighbor to see if it was just me, but the phone didn’t work. I rang her doorbell and it didn’t ring. I banged on it. When she came to the door, she reminded me that the electric company had sent a warning that the power would be off until 4. There were trucks working in the next block and Cookie and I trotted up and asked the guys what was up. The old transformer they were replacing ended up being problematic and we were in for the long haul. 1200 customers were affected and they hoped to have it on by 11 p.m.
That’s when I remembered that I was going to update the earthquake kit after our latest shaker and other than buying the water, I hadn’t done anything. Next I thought about New Orleans during Katrina and the big New York/Northeast power blackouts in 1965 and 2003. Our two decades of camping came to mind when we used a campfire and a Coleman lantern for light.
I have a flashlight in every room of the house, so that’s where I started knowing dusk would be coming before long. I could only locate two. I found the stash of batteries but couldn’t find the portable radio. I love candlelight so I rounded up a dozen candles to light the bedroom when dark came and got out my B&N booklight and “Loving Frank,” the current book I’m reading. I got my journal and pens out—and then it was dark. I walked Cookie and there were no streetlights, but the power company had generators going at the traffic signals. It was eerily quiet except for the guys next door listening to a ball game on their car radio. I could have gotten out my MacBook and run the computer on battery, but I decided to really experience the solitude.
So, now I’m ready to get serious about the earthquake kit. I need to replenish all the flashlights, get a new battery for the Coleman lantern, make sure the Coleman stove has propane, and get the battery-operated radio up and running.
I fell asleep reading by candlelight, and jerked awake when the power came on at 10:30 p.m. I walked the house and was happy I wasn’t going to have to dump the stuff in the freezer, but I didn’t turn on the TV or computer. At a time when I have been observing my personal behavior, it was a real wake-up call to see how much I depend on the power grid—how much we all do.