Wednesday, November 2, 2011


So, I would post pics to go with this post, but since we didn't have power, my dead battery camera had to spend the time on the shelf instead of recording our adventure.

Our weekend started as planned, we spent the morning cleaning the kids' rooms to try to make sense of the disaster up there. We stopped mid-way because we were planning to go to an anniversary party which ended up getting cancelled due to the surprise snow :) As disappointed as we were that the party wasn't going to happen, we were admittedly relieved to have the rest of the day to finish the gargantuan task before us. And we did. By dinnertime, the dressers had switched rooms, been emptied, sorted, and reorganized. So were the closets and all of the kid clothes we have in storage. The bins were sorted, thinned out, labeled, and organized in the crawl space and the beds were made with newly cleaned linens. A very productive day and B.J. and I were looking forward to getting the kids in bed and then addressing the disaster that the upstairs cleaning had managed to produce on the remainder of our living space.

B.J. was up putting the girls to bed and I was catching up on some email when sputter, sputter, flicker, pop. Power was gone. Dead. Nothing. "Not a problem" was my thought. We usually lose power for several hours at a time (someone hiccups under the transformer and we're out - as my neighbor puts it) so I figured we would have power back later that night. Nope. Fortunately, my ever-prepared husband knew right where the lanterns were and then I started lighting every candle we had. We called Peco and were informed that the "worst October snowstorm in PECO history" had caused our power outage. Way to set the bar high. I think it is the only snowstorm in October since PECO has been around. The worst part was the fact that we were informed that we should get power back on Sunday night. Deep breath. Okay, only one day. We can do this. Fortunately, B.J. had insisted we turn the heat on (though it was only October) that day so the house was warm and comfortable. We figured we could take advantage of the forced slower pace and relax. I was excited that my current project does not require electricity (I can knit by candle-light) and we settled in for a quiet evening. Very peaceful. We added extra blankets and went to bed. Sunday morning was cold but the house had only gone down to 60 degrees, so we headed off to church with our chargers in hand to power up our laptop and cell phone. At some point Sunday morning, we called PECO for an update - hoping to hear that their restoration date/time had moved closer. It hadn't. Instead, it was going the other way. We were informed that our service was estimated to be restored by 5pm on Monday. This camping out thing was losing its appeal.

Mom and Dad gave us their kerosene heater to use and while B.J. was out picking that up, I heated up the bathroom by giving the kiddos a nice hot bath since we all smelled like smoke from an afternoon birthday party for Joel in the park (such a Stevens' style birthday party :) Once we had the stove going, the chill quickly left the house and off to bed we all bundled once again.

Monday morning we awoke to a 55 degree house (very chilly by the way) and lit the kerosene heater again. It quickly brought the house back up in the 60s and now we just got to wait. I called PECO again to get a status update and was informed that it was now scheduled for noon on Tuesday. ENOUGH! I just about lost it. I enjoy camping out and the slower pace forced by no electricity, but the work was piling up. I had a dishwasher that had been full of dishes on Saturday with no way to clean it. I was getting concerned about the contents of my fridge and freezer (which survived thanks to being located in the unheated garage), and I knew that my work emails and such were piling up. I wanted to be able to reconnect with the outside world. I called B.J. at work to vent my frustration and then I called PECO again. And again. And again. B.J. called them multiple times as did our neighbors on either side. We were done. When a repair truck came up our block we stared him down like starving animals. Please, give us our power back!!! Nope, he was off to work on the apartments up the road who also didn't have power. That is one of the difficulties of being on a grid with only 16 people. We are always LAST.

We called and called and called until PECO finally heard us and restored our power on Monday afternoon - around 1. WOOHOO!! Power!! I hurried to start the heat, dishwasher, and laundry. B.J. came home for dinner and the girls were excited to let him know that we had power again (what a novelty it was now :).

Then B.J. asked if the lights looked dim. I looked and agreed that they did. He went to the garage and said that something was wrong. All of our electricity using items were spazzing. Blink, blink, blink, sputter, sputter, sputter. POP! Again. The collective groan issued from our block was audible. Again, we were on the phone with PECO to report the outage. When we called back for an estimate, we were told noon on Tuesday. I almost cried. As it turns out, the drain on the energy caused by 16 houses coming back online was too much for the top-of-the-line equipment PECO has used on our section and it caused a transformer to explode and spill oil everywhere. Which of course required an environmental impact team to have to come to clean up said mess before any restoration of power could begin. On went the kerosene heater again and we bundled up for another cold night. Around 5:30 in the morning, I was awakened by a glow of lights in our house. We were finally back online.

Power is still a novelty 2 days later. I am very appreciative of the electricity that runs my house. It has caused us to rethink our plans for the new heater/hot water heater combo because if the power went out with that formulation, that would mean that we would have had no hot water either. It was a memorable adventure, and for the most part, we enjoyed it. There were moments where we got frustrated. Especially with PECO, but for the most part, we handled it well. It just made me realize how fortunate I am to live in a place where power is taken for granted. In many parts of the world, no power or intermittent power is a way of life - even in the freezing cold. I am richly blessed.

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