Wednesday, December 31, 2008


When you see that word on a bumper sticker you can bet that someone with a relationship to that vehicle is (or has been) in a 12 step program. Not the case here, though you're free to suggest that if you like. Instead, I'm referring to the past 4 days with no electricity. It wasn't as bad as the Northeast Blackout of 2003, which the Wiki article says lasted for one day, but at our house lasted for 5 days, 2 of which we could not pump gas or purchase batteries anywhere. It was hot, and there was no water or functional potty here, not to mention no AC. And it came on the heels of returning home from my mother's funeral, putting down our cat of 14 years, and my son having surgery on both feet. Dressing changes are hard to do without power, which is needed for running water. But we're not going there right now. We'll just stick to the current blackout which lasted for four days and concluded at 6 PM this evening.....on my birthday. But trying circumstances tend to occur in batches at 'Casa Fiberewetopia', and this power outage was no exception.

The holiday vacation began on Dec. 19 on which we received 12" of snow the very day we were to leave for Pa. for a Christmas gathering with Dh's family. The trip began by sitting on an expressway entrance ramp 2.5 miles from home for 50 minutes while a tractor trailer was towed off the icy ramp. This was at the beginning of an 8 hour drive. Each subsequent ramp for the next 20 miles had a tractor trailer stuck at the top. A warning for sure.

Dec. 20: Found us arriving at my inlaw's home where it was evident that a situation of concern had indeed deteriorated further. That night we checked into our motel with a heating unit below the window that sounded like a jet engine taking off. So I turned off that heat, crawled into bed only to discover that the comforter barely made it to my edge of the bed and any move or turn created a blast of freezing cold up my back or other parts, depending on position. And my pillow seemed to be stuffed with tennis balls. Oh well.....

Dec. 21: Dh gets up first to use the bathroom and I edged over his side of the bed just to check comforter dimensions. There on the floor lay at least 3 feet of extra comforter and my missing 5 hours of sleep!

Later that day, at my inlaw's home for a Christmas family gathering the local paper is spread out on the table. We are all sitting around the table, catching up with small talk, and I gently poke fun at a front page story of the local authorities treating a case of geocaching as a bomb scare. My BIL, an educated man, became extremely agitated and insulted at my humor in front of the entire family and stomps out of the house for a few hours. Okay....happy holidays.

Dec. 22: A relatively quiet but arduous 8 hour drive back to Michigan after a morning with Dh's aging parents.

Dec. 23: Another snowstorm overnight forecast for 1-2" is well over 4". I went to pick up the held mail before heading to an Ann Arbor lunch date with friends. Roads are extremely icy and slippery on the 3/4 mile to the post office so the lunch date is canceled. Spent the remaining part of the day on icy roads trying to get groceries and pick up the cat from the cat sitter.

Dec. 24: Rain on top of 15" of snow equals extremely foggy and icy conditions. Attend 11 PM Christmas Eve service. The sermon: In the Bleak Midwinter. Uhm....tell me about it.

Dec. 25: Quiet Christmas at home with Dh, Ds, the cat...and some fibery gifts. A reprieve!

Dec. 26: We awake to freezing rain and the roads are completely glazed with ice. Ds discovers a slow leak in the front tire of his 6 month old vehicle and heads for the tire store. I slip-slide my way to the salon for my scheduled 9:30 AM haircut, wondering how Ds slip-slided to the tire store on an almost flat tire. We survived.

Dec. 27: Saturday, laundry day and the dirty laundry has accumulated since we were traveling the previous weekend. With sorted laundry scattered on the kitchen floor, I open the laundry room door. Phew!!!! What is that smell??!! Apparently a mouse has died somewhere in the laundry room. Much activity ensued to address the odor in the laundry room as winter storm warnings with high winds were posted for the night.

Dec. 28: 3:00 AM we woke to a loud cracking sound above the high winds and a strange orange light coming through the bedroom window. Three loud pops, a burst of flames, and a visit from a fire truck about 200 yards away and the electricity was officially out. We become keenly aware that there are only 8 hours of usable daylight in our part of the world at this time of year.

Dec. 29: Outside temperatures relatively warm, kerosene heaters rounded up, a trip to the store for water at $.29 per gallon, and a survey of the battery inventory complete, we hunker down for the power outage. Creative use of the library for quick email access and the gym membership for a shower make things bearable. The potty issue is something we have to work out event by event. The games cupboard yielded up Scrabble and a long forgotten game called "Worst Case Scenario" very fitting.

Dec. 30: Temperatures drop and overnight storm warnings are posted again (sigh). I urge Ds to use a little battery power on the weather radio at 4 PM. He responds with, "Mom, I'll give you the forecast:
  • It's dark and it's going to get darker.
  • It's cold and it's going to get colder.
  • And it's windy and it's going to get windier."
Such an optimist I've raised.

Dec. 31: Ds' forecast was right. Despite the kerosene heaters (which we turn off when we sleep) the temperature in the house is ~48 degrees in the warmest spot. It's my birthday...whoopee. I use the last drop of charge in my cell phone to check once again with DTE Energy and the recording now tells me that we should have power in 16 hours, about the time we should be saying Happy New Year. As darkness descended, we see the DTE trucks pulling into the area of the fire three nights before (a charred tree hanging from the power lines). At shortly after 6 PM, the lights flicker and we once again have power.

There's been a lot of time for reflection these past four days. I've thought a lot about people who have much less than we do. Of places in the world where they can only count on power a few hours a week. I've become aware of some areas we can cut back, use less water, less electricity, less energy in general. I'm thankful that most of the food in the freezer is spared, so that there is no waste there.

I've also thought about the saying that: "Our circumstances should be used to reprove or improve us."

In some ways I do feel reproved over the circumstances of these past 12 days of Christmas. And 2008, I hope you feel reproved a little too. Ds said it well when he said he couldn't wait to see the 'A$$" end of 2008.

In many ways, I also hope to improve from what I've learned these past 12 days. And 2009, it is my prayer that you too will be an improvement over the previous year.

If you've read this far, you know that today I am another year older and what feels like many years wiser. I wish you all, dear readers, a Happy New Year with health and prosperity in 2009.

And I promise nothing but fiber in the next post.


  1. Happy birthday Valerie. I'll bet the restoration of power felt like the best present you've ever had. Thanks for taking the time to share that whole post. That's an astounding sequence of events.

    I heard DS's sentiments all day at the library. We were insanely busy and everyone I helped offered that tonight was a count-down to the end of a horrible year. I'm looking forward to January 20th myself. Happy New Year Valerie - shoot, a happy tomorrow would be a leg up, wouldn't it. I hope your birthday ends on a sweet note.

  2. I couldn't stop reading with my jaw dropping over and over. What a "holiday"! I am glad the worst is behind you now, and you are powerful. Happy Birthday!

  3. "We become keenly aware that there are only 8 hours of usable daylight in our part of the world at this time of year."

    And all else follows, doesn't it?

    Happy Birthday!!

  4. Happy Birthday Valerie!

    You have a wonderful talent for making a series of aggravating events sound humorous and insightful! "Reproved and improved", that is a very positive way of summing things up, and I will have to remember that as I face some challenging circumstances.

    I enjoy and thank you for all of your posts--with or without fiber!

    Happy New Year! Yes!

  5. Happy New Year's and Happy Birthday Val... I look forward to next year's blogging and fibre explorations!


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