Blog Schedule

I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Random Thought

Yesterday morning, around quarter to five, the power went out.

I was getting ready to post a blog when...we were in total darkness. After a few minutes we realized it wasn't going to come back on right away. So we hauled out our lamps and candles and spent 2 and a half hours in the warm glow of fire light. We went outside and looked at the stars which were in great abundance due to the lack of light pollution. It was beautiful.

I was reminded of the years we lived without electricity on St. John. I was reminded of the long outages that still occur in the islands. A recent one my sister told me about lasted 36 hours. After hurricanes Hugo and Marilyn she and my mother survived for 3 months or more without electricity. They had to syphon water out of the cistern, they had to regularly get bags of ice to keep things cold in ice chests and only bought a few perishable things at time.

Like my sister I have gas stove, something I insisted on when Stan and I moved into our home. I even have a stove top coffee pot that makes very good coffee, just in case....

We take it so for granted...with a flick of a switch there is light, there is heat. How many of us know how to live without it? Yet it was not all that long ago that our grandparents and great-grandparents lived comfortably without it.

What would you do if the lights went out? How would you react? Would you be ready?


  1. Great post, Bish. This is a real concern for us because my husband has very severe sleep apnea. He can't sleep without a CPAP machine. He can't sleep for even 5 minutes without it or he stops breathing and wakes up with chest pains. When we moved to MT, we had to decide to buy either a woodburning stove or a generator. We chose the stove because we figured we'd use it more. Fortunately, since then we've been able to get Rick a battery-operated CPAP, which he can use when the power goes out. We've been without power here a few times. Not having a computer or being able to turn on a light is nothing compared to not being able to fall asleep without the fear of not being able to breathe.

  2. When I was little I loved the adventure of the electricity being out. Now I'm sure I'd manage to be resourceful for a few days...not sure how I'd hold up for more than that. We do take things for granted.

  3. It is something I think about, especially up here in the north when we can see really cold temperatures. I tend to keep a well-stocked cupboard and emergency supplies on hand--we even have an emergency backpack ready to go if something ever happened and we had to leave in a hurry. Great post!

  4. I had a different power outtage story yesterday. . .

    The power went out when I was driving yesterday. I hit a set of traffic lights soon after the power went out and there was no light to guide the traffic. So, obviously, there was no cops to direct us. We just had to take turns and hope no one was going to be stupid and cross the road w/o caution.

    I was on my way to the grocery store and the grocery store power had gone out too, but the back up generator kept the cash registers going. When I grabbed my first item a lady spoke over the loud speaker "Shoppers, you have only 5 minutes before our back up generator shuts completely down and our registers will no longer be in service. Please bring your items to the front at this time, or you will not be able to make your purchases."

    Yikes! I started speed shopping for my most needed items and headed for the registers.

    So, thankfully I wasn't plowed over at the recently snuffed out traffic light, and I was able to make it to the register on time.


  5. I can't help but think about gaza right now. So many people without electricity and access to water.

  6. I hate to admit it, but I would be totally lost without electricity. I remember growing up, we had frequent power outages and thought it was fun . . . but my kids are just as dependant on electricity as I am (maybe more).

    I think we need to figure out a way to be more self sufficient.

    Thanks for this post, Bish.

  7. Rena, Wood stoves are good back-ups. I'm glad your husband can breathe on batteries!

    Adrienne, I think people tend to rise to the occasion. As long as you keep your head about you, you'd probably do just fine.

    Blankets Angela! In the cold north, you need warm fuzzies!

    Christy, I got stuck in a Wal-Mart once (on an opening day no less!) when the power went out. Talk about confusion....

    Thanks for stopping by Jen. I feel much worse about the bombs and fighting than I do about a lack of electricity. I'm so tired of people fighting.

    Well Joan...we are all guilty of being dependant on electricity. I guess the object is to be aware of our dependancy and working towards being a little less so.

  8. Bish - I am amazed that your sister and mother could survive without electricity for three months! And perhaps even more amazed that you were awake and on your computer at 4:45 in the morning! I'm an early riser, but THAT's early.
    I would be okay if the power went out until dark. I'd probably be okay for an hour or two. I have candles and antique oil lamps, and we have a fireplace. But what does one DO when the lights go out? You can't read, can't blog, can't listen to NPR? That would drive me nuts!

  9. Meg, I spent many years without electricity as a kid. My grandmother ran a guest house (cooked 3 meals a day!) without electricity. We read and played games and put jigsaw puzzles together all by lantern light. It can be done. It's not that big a deal. As for being up early...I'm usually up between 4 and 5 AM everyday. It's my favorite time of day.

  10. Ah, yes! The St. John "training" came into play for you once again.

    Suggestion for your wonderful loyal readers: go camping! What we did on St. John as a basic way of life, by modern standards, was just one step above basic camping. If everyone made it a point to do occasional very simple camping - with no electircal devices of any kind (with the exception of a battery operated radio) - and remembering how each survived under these circumstances, power failures can become a "no biggie."

    The biggest problem for most people I know "up North" is really one of water and how a major power failure may affect water distribution. Since, by law in the VI, each indivual house must have a cistern, we do, with care, always have water - as long as we have normal rainfall. Likewise, each house must have its own septic system. In a real sense, each house in the VI is its own Public Works System.

    For these reasons, we're able to survive (with discomfort) without power, as we have to find ways, other than with the electric pump, to get water out of the cistern for our daily needs. Buckets become King and muscular re-devlopment in their carriers becomes an unwelcomed side effect!

    The biggest problem for us after those two major hurricanes, was refrigeration. As Bish very well described it, each day we bought ice (shipped in from Puerto Rico) and did exactly what everyone did in "the good old days" ... we went grocery shopping almost every day as the ability to keep perishables was limited by the amount of ice and the capacity of the ice chests.

    Always a good idea to keep a few candles, lanterns and lamp oil so you can play Canasta or Scrabble at night!

    With no regular electrical power, as kids, we also became more like the chickens...up and down with the sun - and it will probably always be that way with our biological clocks!


Your Random Thoughts are most welcome!