Saturday, December 14, 2013

Blackout on a Snow Day

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Our snowman. A family effort.
Our area generally gets a little bit of snow every year or two. The snow often is at most a few inches, and melts within a day, maximum two. It's a "big deal" because its a once every year or two event, but in actuality, it's never really a big deal.
But this year, it was.
But since we rarely get anything significant, I take all snow warnings with a huge grain of salt, not believing anything until I see it.
I had an even harder time believing that it would snow because up until 2 weeks ago, my kids were wearing nearly summery clothing- long sleeve t-shirts and that's it....
So Thursday morning, hearing that it was supposed to snow, my husband woke up early and called his boss, where he was told that the school that he works at has school, and he needs to come to work. He took the bus into the city and got to the school, as did some of the students... and less than an hour later, it was snowing enough that the school was closed, and the bus lines to our community were shut down. A kindhearted individual gave him a ride home.... and he was home before 8:30 am, when I woke up.
A "snow day".
It was raining, and occasionally the rain looked more like snow... It snowed for maybe an hour or less, not sticking to the ground. Our house was cold, but other than that... This "snow day" was super lame... Not an inch of snow on the ground, and my boys were getting disappointed.
Just to be on the safe side, I trudged through the "snow" in a bunch of layers, to go get some provisions from the grocery store, and I wasn't even cold.
I was seeing people from neighboring cities posting pictures of their snow, but nada here. It actually was sunny much of the time, not even raining.
And then as night was coming, I started seeing actual snow falling from the sky, and eventually, it started sticking.
And then piling up.
Around midnight, Mike and I went to the front door to see how much snow actually fell... and the second I opened the front door, our electricity and all the electricity in the region went out. My husband joked that if I hadn't HAD to see the snow up close, we wouldn't have lost the electricity... :-D

Thursday night was cold without electricity, but since it was late at night, we decided to just cuddle up in bed- all 5 family members in our bed, with all the covers piled on. We slept comfortably....
And in the morning on Friday, we still had no electricity, and I was ever so glad that we had finally restocked our gas balloon which we use to cook with on our gas stove. (Until about 2 weeks ago we were using electric burners....)
We had no phones since our house phone is wireless and therefore needs electricity, and our mobile service was down as well after a short while.
The snow was probably 6-7 inches deep in the morning, and it continued to snow throughout the day....
Our heaters run on electricity, and no fireplace in our home. The only way we could warm up was via our gas stove, and wearing layers of clothes and blankets, and body heat...
We had hot cereal, hot cocoa, hot tea, hot soup, and whatever else got we could think of, and wore a million layers. My husband walked around the house in a snow suit, on top of a ton of layers of clothes, and my kids wore a few layers of clothes including a few of sweatshirts, etc... (Lee complained about not being able to move well because of this, but eventually saw the logic when he saw how warm and cozy it made him.)

To keep entertained, we went out to play in the snow.
My kids refused to wear winter coats, but fortunately with all the layers of sweatshirts and such on them (most wearing close to 5 layers or more), they weren't cold. (We didn't have winter boots for them, since, as I said, snow is a rarity here, and rarely is it deep... so to keep their feet dry, I wrapped their feet in plastic wrap before putting on their shoes, and it worked well to keep their feet dry and warm. Meanwhile, I, with snow boots, actually had water seep in through my boots, and I was the only one who ended up with wet feet!)

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We first tried to build a regular snowman, rolling up a big ball for the base, but then Mike, who had just taken out the garbage can, had an idea: pack the garbage can with snow, press it down, and dump it out, and use that to make our snowman.
It worked beautifully! We did that for the legs and body, added on more snow for shape, used fallen tree branches for arms, and then made a head again by packing the garbage can, just with less snow this time.
Decorations were slightly untraditional- hair out of leaves, mouth from a stick, nose from a rock, eyes from seeds, and eyebrows from mud.
I think it came out pretty cute!

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Took some pics posing with the snowman.

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So hot he started taking off one sweatshirt.

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Then we came inside to warm up! A elderly neighbor, who had only an electric hotplate, cooked some food on our gas stove top...  I was so happy to be able to help her out. And then before it got dark, we lit a bunch of candles and set them out around the house. (Our cell phone batteries and flashlights had died by this point.)

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Dinner was candle lit, and with lots of warming, delicious food- steamy hot soup and fried rice and lots of hot tea. We had a really early night, going to bed at around 8 pm, all piled into one bed like the night before.

At 4:30 am, when the electricity came back on, Anneliese woke up... and was up for the day from then... And then the electricity went back out again later, and only came back towards evening. Lunch was hot stew and more fried rice...
And lots and lots and lots of tea.
For the record, it kept on snowing all day Friday and much of Saturday too.... I've never seen it snow this many days in a row in this country...

Fortunately, we now have our electricity back on and the heater running full force to warm the place up.

This going without electricity certainly made me think about how it was in the olden days, how people's body's cycles were more in tune with nature- even with all the candles in the world, there's only so long you feel like staying awake with nothing but candle light... So they went to bed at decent hours and woke up with the sun...

I understand now why so many people did crocheting and quilting and knitting- it's good entertainment for days when you can't leave the house and needs no electricity...

My kids, despite being cooped up inside, and with no electricity for 2 days in a row, actually behaved beautifully, entertaining themselves, thinking up activities to do. I read books to myself and to Mike, and I read my boys many chapters of "The Wizard of Oz".
This is how life is supposed to be- no phone calls distracting, no movies, no internet... just living life, spending time with each other as company...
I really gained appreciation for how life was in the past. There was something really special about this low technology, electricity free living, bonding with the family. The kids behave better, not sure if that's surprising or not at all....
Though if we actually had a fireplace, and the means to heat our home without electricity, that would be a little more like how they lived in the past..

I have to say that this was my first experience that I remember having a blackout in freezing weather and no heating. (I'm sure we had blackouts when snowy out growing up, but we had a gas furnace to heat our house, so lack of electricity didn't mean no heating....) The no heating part certainly wasn't fun. But we managed. Necessity is the mother of invention and all that. :-D

One thing for certain- my electric bills will certainly be lower because of that. ;)

For now- lots of snow still on the ground, not leaving the house much, if at all... All the roads out of my town are closed- no one going in our out. So we'll be having more days like the past few ones, at least for another day, perhaps longer....

Have you ever had blackouts on snow days that affected your ability to heat your home? What's the weather like where you live at the moment?


  1. So glad you guys were able to manage!

  2. I have seen a snow man with legs! I'm not sure if I liked the eyebrows or the hair best.
    One early spring in a rental house, the furnace died at the beginning of a long weekend. It was a big, old, drafty house and very cold inside. It was warmer outside during the day.
    In my current home, an ice storm took out the electricity for several days. The problem was localized - the houses across the street still had power. I ate a lot of cold or room temperature meals and got take out from restaurants for something hot.

  3. I find your positive outlook so inspiring. Loved reading this!

  4. I noticed the stone and red tile roof in the background. This last weekend I also had no electricity for two and a half days because of the same storm you wrote about here. Thankfully, we do not use electricity on Saturday so we didn't miss it that much. I also had no heat for my home but I never do, except for a blow heater in the bathroom for changing clothes.

    I have a frugal tip that saves me thousands in heating bills every year. I use fleece blankets as drapes on my windows to keep out evening drafts. This keeps the daytime temperature in my house lasting into the evening and it stays tolerable as long as we wear a sweater or double layer our clothes. I live on a very windy mountaintop so keeping the wind out is a must. The blankets are re-usable (I attach them to the curtains with clothes pins in winter) and cost very little.

    I came across your site a few months ago and come back to it regularly. Thank you for sharing. Stay warm.


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