Whidbey Island was flooded this morning with the hummmmmmmmmmm of generators. Our power went out last night during one of the nastiest wind storms we've experienced. What was so odd about this one is that we didn't have advance warning. There we were, last night, midway through a Midsomer Murder episode. I had noticed the wind and lightening earlier in the evening, and had just checked the view of Holmes Harbor from our living room, and dangnabbit, everyone's power was out. I then heard a pop, and so was ours.
This isn't an unusual happening in our neck of the universe. Whidbey Island is both an island AND a suburb. We are close enough to Seattle that if you have the time and inclination, you can ferry to work You just need the time and commitment. Something most of us don't have.
On the south end of the island, where we live, there is no big industry except Nichols Brothers, our local ship builder. And the population is sparse in the winter, as many of the residents here are part-timers, living in Seattle and using their second home on the island for vacations or as a rental for others to use.
Not us. We are full time islanders, and as such, we have a generator. Living here year-round commands generator ownership. Not only do we lose power frequently, but power restoration is slow. If you are the local utility, Seattle Power, and you have to choose between sending a crew to reinstate power to 100,000 homes, or sending a crew on an hour long commute to restore power to 600 homes, most of them shut down for the winter, amazingly, you choose the 100,000 first, thank you very much.
So, I'm using a generator and I'm looking around the house to prioritize my power usage. I can't (and frankly don't want to) power the entire circus during a power outage. So I have to decide what to energize, what to shut down, and what to completely ignore.
First went the hair dryer. Second went the computer. Third went all other forms of electronic entertainment and so on. In the end, what remained on full time was the heat, the coffee pot and the refrigerator. With mega-bucks of interferon to keep chilled, but not frozen, and our Thanksgiving turkey to keep frozen, not chilled, I was focused on keeping the house warm and the turkey and drugs cold.
And us caffeinated.
It wasn't that simple when we had kidlets. Once you confirm that the schools are closed - and they should be with all the power lines askew and limbs dangling from trees, you have to amuse your kids someway. And with no TV, no kitchen power, no nothing (or so it seems), it takes a woman with super-powers to keep the circus running.
We had an amazing amount of barbecues during power outages when my kids were small, and an amazing amount of book-fests as well. We played board games - anybody for the Life game, or monopoly (said "monotony" in our house).
We opened the fridge rarely, and I lifted the ban on raiding the cookie jar. We planned menus around melting ice cream and steak (don't wanna waste good meat!). In those days, we didn't have a generator, so when there was no power, there was no power. We ate well and slept long, especially if the days were short.
And we had flashlights and batteries.
In the end, we managed to survive power outages without too much trauma. But I do remember the cheering when the TV popped back on and lights in the windowless bathrooms illuminated all the little miss-shots made by people who refused to pee sitting down.
As you might have guessed, our power was restored a little while ago, as well as out cable TV. No harm done, no trees downed. I may even finish that dvd!
There's nothing like a little power to restore a home, and there's nothing like a little power to make us appreciate what we didn't lose. The toilets still flushed, books were still good, and with a little work, our senses of humor stayed illuminated.
Addendum: Weather alert update. Wednesday, November 17th, Whidbey Island. Winds resume their gusts, and lower temperatures threaten snow in the mountains (Cascades and Olympics). Cold to drop to sea level, possibility of snow on Sunday.
Gotta figure out where I'm cooking the turkey next Thursday. Think I'll just get the kitchen all lit up and let the rest of the house coast.