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Friday, April 8, 2016

And the wind blew and the rains came...

High wind alerts for a storm last night were not in vain. While we sustained no damage, thank the Gods, many trees went down and power was off to quite a few folks. It went down for us, here, while we were eating supper and watching an old TV show on Netflix.

Electricity, alone, is not that big a deal for me when it goes down. My many years of living off grid, in what most folks would call a very primitive style, even after we got some solar power capabilities, not only left me with good skills for power outages, but a deep appreciation for the quiet and (at night) dark times like last night. We have had a 2-day outage, once, in the winter, but even that was not especially a big deal.

Yeah, it would be nice to have a solar array and batteries that could power such things as our well pump and Tractor Guy's CPAP machine (and I suppose, for his sanity, the router and computer, IF Time Warner was still working!) but it's not that big a deal for me to cope sans running electrons. Even the water -- for short duration, or in the case of that winter outage, with a decent snow cover -- only rates minimal hassle. We store water in the master bathroom, filling any heavy duty large juice jug and bleach jug with water once it's empty. In the snow season, melted snow serves for flushing and watering beasts, saving the home bottled stuff for washing up drinking and cooking.

But our range runs on propane and the burners can be lit with matches (which we mostly do; it's second hand and the electronic igniters have never worked right) though when the power is down, so is the oven. In the case of the most recent outage, I had competed baking two cakes in the afternoon! We do not have a central heating system. Instead we rely on a wall mounted propane space heater to keep the main living area above freezing at night and light portable kerosene heaters for warmth during the day. When there is power, the propane unit has a fan, but when the fan will not run, the heat still turns on, as needed.

As for light, after living off grid -- for several years without even solar panels -- I have amassed a decent collection of working kerosene lights. I keep them filled year round, and during times of use I automatically roll into the once a week chimney cleaning, wick trimming and reservoir filling routine that I established long ago. I detest that the only way to affordably buy bulk kerosene these days is dyed red, though! The dye gunks up the works and shortens the life of any device in which it is used. Though I cannot afford it for the heaters (instead, we change wicks at least yearly -- even using the additive cannot prolong their life much more than that) and splurge on the clear stuff, by the gallon, at the big box hardware stores.

So last night, when the winds took out the power and TG took his scanner (a former volunteer fire fighters, it's his go-to in times of outages) and hit the sack. Without his CPAP machine, he knew sleep would be hard to find and not terribly restful.

Me... well I grabbed a few lamps, cozied up to the spinning wheel, grabbed my carders and a hand full of Icelandic sheep wool and went to work! It was quite nice, listening to the wind and the rain and the quiet. The lack of electrons was palpable. The weather had warmed enough that I did not feel any need for a fire, though the feeling of the night evoked a sense of many nights gone by -- before my memory -- of women sitting at the wheel, by the light of lamp and fire, and spinning future warmth for their families.

Eventually, sleep caught me and I trundled off to bed, to lay by TG and listen to the wind, the rain (muted some by fewer windows in the bedroom) and the eventual purring of the cats as I petted them.

It was a good night.