Friday, November 04, 2011

Seven Days Of Darkness

I finally got my electricity back today, after being without it since last Saturday night. It still might be awhile before I resume regular posting, though, because I have enormous amounts of work to do here. My living room looks like a refugee camp (which is pretty much what it was, this past week), I need to do some serious grocery shopping since my refrigerator and freezer are entirely empty (I tossed out their contents last Monday, once I realized there was no chance the power would come back in time to save the food), I'm outrageously behind on various freelance assignments and, while I'm not the type who responds to every unpleasantry in life with cries of "There oughtta be a law!", I do think there oughtta be a law saying that if you have trees on your property, you cannot let their branches grow over or through aboveground utility wires. (It's one thing if your tree outright falls over; I'd consider it unreasonable to expect trees to be far enough away from neighborhood wires to cause no damage if they topple. But branches that fall straight down after being overburdened by wet, heavy snow should NOT bring power lines down with them, and entire neighborhoods should not suffer a week of cold darkness just because some homeowner -- or city landscaping department -- is too damned irresponsible to keep their trees properly trimmed.)

Between spoiled food, lost freelance work, and the expense of using candle oil as a primary heat source, I personally lost over a thousand dollars from this storm (and Zod knows I was never too rich to begin with). Discarding leftovers, or half-empty condiment bottles and jelly jars, didn't bother me too much, but throwing away entire unopened packages of chicken, bacon and beef, the unopened half-gallon of milk, the almost-full cartons of expensive ice cream and so forth, outraged every frugal bone in my body (which is to say, every bone in my body except maybe a couple of the smaller ones in my inner ear). If I'd known (or even suspected) that I'd suffer such a power loss, I would NOT have bought any freezer or refrigerator food when I went grocery shopping last week.

On the other hand, once I could see the bottom of my fridge and freezer for the first time since we moved in here seven+ years ago, I discovered it was kind of gross, so maybe it's just as well I had the chance to clean it up; when the power came back on today, the first thing I did was turn on the heat, and the second thing I did was scrub down the inside of the fridge and freezer with hot soapy water.

Housekeeping advice: you really should clean out your fridge and freezer at least once every eight years.

7 Comments:

Blogger Steamboat Lion said...

More to the point in the 21st century in a developed country power lines ought to be underground. Unfortunately power users don't want to pay extra to bury old lines...

6:25 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Abel said...

More to the point in the 21st century in a developed country

In a developed country, interstate bridges shouldn't collapse in broad daylight, either, unless a major earthquake causes it. But we've been regressing, this past decade and more.

6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most trees near the street belong to the city not the property owner and in many cities the property owner cannot trim or cut them.

The utilities could be put underground. I live in a community with no power/telephone poles. All the utilities are underground.

7:08 AM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

It's a shame you threw out all your food last Monday, but I'd guess you had no way to cook it without electricity; even a modern gas range requires electricity for ignition. You should invest in a portable charcoal or gas grill - even a Coleman camping stove.

You got hit by a blizzard - couldn't you have packed everything in snow and ice and/or set it outside? Even if you couldn't prevent it from thawing, as long as you could keep the temperature below about 45 degrees fahrenheit whole meats will keep at least a week. Cured bacon will keep even longer. And after the power came back on you could have cooked everything, if necessary, and refroze it. The ice cream, of course, would be ruined as soon as it melted - should have had an ice cream feast first. :-)

I don't know how they do things where you live, but here in my state (Texas) the utility companies own easements for their power lines and any trees growing in their right-of-way are the companies' responibility. In fact, a private home owner can not prevent them from trimming.

Glad they got your power back on and sorry it caused you so much loss.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Abel said...

You got hit by a blizzard - couldn't you have packed everything in snow and ice and/or set it outside? Even if you couldn't prevent it from thawing, as long as you could keep the temperature below about 45 degrees fahrenheit whole meats will keep at least a week.

AFTER the storm, I doubt there were more than three or four hours all week where temperatures were at or below freezing -- daytime temperatures generally got up into the mid-fifties. So the one advantage you'd expect from a blizzard, the ability to keep food fresh, wasn't there.

But I managed to get my living room/kitchen up to the mid-60s at night with candles and oil lamps, and I sold a story to the magazine I write for about how to use oil lamps and candles to heat your home in a power outage if you don't have a fireplace or wood-burning stove, so at least there's that.

10:01 PM  
Blogger Charles Pergiel said...

Tree trimming is a full time occupation out here. Crews were out on the main drag last week trimming trees along the power lines. I think the power company contracts to have it done. Some of the trees look really weird with big gaps cut into them to avoid the power lines.

A thousand dollar loss would almost make a generator a good investment. But then you have to take care of it, and they are noisy. And who knows when you might need it again?

10:17 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Abel said...

A generator isn't an option, since I live in an apartment and have no outdoor space to run it.

10:56 PM  

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