Life in the Dark Ages

Hello!  J here, back from living in the dark ages.  So, you may know that I love to read time travel romance.  Some of those books (the ones that send an unsuspecting modern person back to the middle ages) are among my favorites.  Well, they were. 

You may have heard something about a freak October blizzard/nor’easter that poured snow on New England last week.  Well, my town was smack dab in the middle of it.  At the lofty elevation of 140 feet above sea level, we got more than 12 inches of wicked heavy snow.  That’s a big accumulation for us in January, let alone October.  Two weeks before the storm, it was 80 degrees out and we were running an air conditioner in my kids’ bedroom.  Obviously, not only were there still leaves on our trees, my maple leaves were still green! 

We spent a scary Saturday night in the dark, listening to a hundred ancient trees creak, moan and crash.  By Sunday morning, it was a toasty 59 degrees in my living room.  The power had been out for 12 hours.  It wasn’t too bad.  I cooked a ham on the gas grill and dumped everything from the ‘fridge but the condiments into a bunch of coolers and stuck them out in the snow.  

Thankfully, none of the trees fell on our house, but there were branches (big ones) all over the yard and on our cars.  A power line was draped like a crepe-paper decoration across the car roofs.  We shoveled (did I mention the snow was wicked heavy?!) and brought cupcakes to our neighbors.  My hubby got to use his chainsaw.  He and a couple of other fellas cut up a tree that had fallen across the road.  For dinner, we had scrambled eggs with ham.  Took a while to get the eggs to cook on the grill, but it worked.  By 5:30, it was getting dark in the house and we put the kids to bed.  The temp in the house was holding steady at 59, but now that we weren’t moving around, it felt cold.

Monday morning dawned (literally!) and the house was down to 53 degrees.  That’s a surprisingly important 6 degree difference.  It was cold.  But we got moving around and dressed in several layers.  By mid-afternoon, we were up to a luxurious 55 degrees.  The novelty of having no power had worn off for the kids.  It was tough to play out in the snow since being the end of October (!) we didn’t even have snow boots yet.  Last year’s hats and mittens were too small.  And I hadn’t bought any knee socks, yet.  It’s tough to rock snow boots in ankle socks!

Tuesday morning, it was down to 40 – 51 in the house, depending on which thermostat (thankfully battery operated digital ones) you were looking at.  We de-camped to stay with family who, surprisingly, still had power.  They live quite a bit higher up, around 1,000 feet above sea level, in an area that gets battered with storms and loses power regularly.  Nobody knows why they still had power, but we enjoyed it while we could.

They lost power a couple of hours after we arrived.  I had just filled the tub with some warm water to bathe my stinky kids when the power blinked out.  They have a well, so that was it for the water.  I bathed all three kids in the tub, then jumped in myself.  It had been days since I’d showered last and being 4th man into the same water didn’t seem as gross as it would normally.  It could have been worse.  Hubby was the 5th man in. 

And since the well situation didn’t allow for flushing, I got a whole new perspective on life in the dark ages.  We bucket flushed the toilet learning the important phrase, “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown call your husband to get a bucket of water from the stream out back.”

Today’s Secret: I spent four days living in the dark ages.  We ate whatever we had, strange things, like cupcakes for breakfast.  We slept three-in-the-bed, bundled up under down blankets.  Hubby even wore a knit cap to sleep.  I cooked over a fire (because I had to, not because I wanted to).  I heated wash water in pots over the fire and washed dishes, then dirty socks in the same dish pan.  I had no access to the internet, and tried to get information over a hand-crank-powered AM radio.  Once we got the car dug out, there really wasn’t anywhere to go, with power lines and trees down all over the roads.  So, after living in the dark ages for a couple of days, I’m pretty sure I’m no longer interested in time travel.  But don’t worry Lynn Kurland, I’m still game for your next book!

Today’s Questions: What’s your survival story?

 

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14 thoughts on “Life in the Dark Ages”

  1. J – are those trees on your street? Holy crap. I agree about time traveling to the past. I’ve never had the desire to live in primitive conditions (read too many history books) and this week just confirmed it! If we had lost water I would have probably gone mental. I’ll say it again – thank you Sumter Electrical workers for restoring the power to our street!

    1. Not my street, but still! Yeah, bucket flushing wasn’t pleasant, but at least they had a wood stove and a gas stove top in the kitchen…

  2. Wow J. So tough with three little ones. They will remember this for the rest of thier lives.

    Living in the boonies as we do, we are prepared for just about anything. We have a generator, always have an extra tank of gas, and since we keep our house at about 55-60 degrees most of the winter, a chilly few days would do us no harm. I’m an avid camper so I’ve learned some tricks about survival and comfort that I pull out of my hat when necessary. After fifteen years as a boyscout leader, I can cook just about anything on an open fire.

    My brother built a house on sixteen acres on the side of a mountain and went without indoor plumbing for three years. Whenever I stayed with him, we had to lug water from a stream to heat on the gas stove for showers, dish washing and such. He had a shower bag rigged up and we would have to pour water to flush the toilet. There are many tricks to being comfortable in such conditions, but I drew the line and told him I wouldn’t come back until he put a door on his bathroom. The curtain just wasn’t enough:-(

    I often think I was born in the wrong time since the modern conveniences are just that–conveniences and not necessities for me–but I will admit that as I’ve gotten older, I get cranky without a hot shower and a warm bed. Glad you’ve come out of the dark ages:-)

    1. yeah, I think if it was going to be a long term thing (2012 anyone?) them we’d get creative and make do…but man. It was a tough week on the kids. They really are just too little to understand.

  3. Hi J,
    My power went out on Saturday evening. Thankfully, I have a fireplace. For the next 3-4 days I lived beside the fireplace. I do not have a well (thank God) so the toilets still flushed. Fortunately for me, when my son was in boy scouts, I had to take a wilderness survival course to become an assistant leader, so I had no problem. I cooked in the fireplace. At night, slept with the dogs under the blankets (One night it got so cold even the cat snuck under there). Gave me a whole new respect for the folks who lived back in the day. So much work, just to keep warm and to cook. Thankfully it was not the dead of winter when the temps struggle to reach 20 degrees during he day. I had no phone, no cell service, no internet, no TV. Finally found enough batteries in the garage to get my radio operational. I played solitaire, with real cards. Tried to read, but it was hard with only candles. Wrote a bit, in a spiral pad. I saved the flashlight for extreme use only (like taking the dogs outside at night). Went to bed early and got up early. Lost every stitch of food in the fridge and freezer. Then late on Tuesday, the power came on. The next day, I go to the store and get milk, eggs, etc. Nice. Then, on Thursday zap …. the power went out again! Thankfully, it came back up around 9 at night so I didn’t lose any of the newly purchased food items in the fridge. We survived. Thankfully, no trees fell on my condo or car (which was in the garage). Other than needing a shower, I was none the worse for it. Still waiting for power to come up for family (who are camped here with their dogs) and friends.

    1. What a nightmare! One night my cat snuggled up with the dog to get warm. I tried to read by candle-light; couldn’t do it. I was much more successful writing by candle-light. Took my Jo March-writer-ness to a whole new level.

  4. I hate to admit it.. but I am a little bit of a GLAMAZON. I went to my parents house day two but even there I was lacking all my things. My special face soap my, curling iron, my rollers, my eyeliner. I couldn’t live in the dark ages. I am spoiled.

    1. Yeah…I’m pretty low maintenance, but still – even I needed more than 4-person-dirty tepid water and sleeping on the floor!

  5. Glad to hear you found a way to eat, drink and be merry. For us here in Fairfield, we never lost anything, although having been a girl scout, we were prepared with oil lanterns, a wood stove and coolers with ice for food were in wait as well.

  6. Thanks for sharing your week in the dark ages. I’ll admit I giggled quite a few times, but if I was the one taking the 4th bath in the same water or not flushing (and we have a well, too) I’d have been doing more swearing than usual and not even one giggle would have slipped out of me. I was at the RIRW Mini-conference yesterday and at lunch we discussed the lack of maintenance and support from the power companies. They need to get on the ball and get these trees trimmed back from the lines so this stops happening. We need heat! Take car, J! At least you have a whole brood to cuddle up with at night. :)

    1. Ain’t that the truth! At least my boys put out a lot of heat, even if it is sometime accompanied by a bit of au ‘d urine. Not a good time to be potty training!

  7. The posts coming out of this storm are marvelous. Irene was hard and I spent four days in the dark, but it could never be as hard as with winter weather. I salute all of my brave New Englander friends!

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