Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Keeping the lights on

I often worry about the wrong things.  One of the things I worry about is losing power.  Worse--losing the Internet because I've lost power!  But wait, maybe after recent events, this isn't such a wrong thing to worry about.

No power During the time we've lived in this house, we've lost power--for days at a time--twice.  We've lost power for hours at a time five or six times.  In the summer . . . it's not so bad.  Although after a tremendous thunderstorm (microburst) we were without power for five days.  It was heartbreaking to see the streetlights on, but the every house in the neighborhood shrouded in darkness.  (And wouldn't you know we had just stocked our freezer a couple of days before the storm.)  At that time, I had a day job, so I could go to work and cool off and surf the net.  My self-employed husband could not.  And with no power, he couldn't work, either.  It was a long five days for him.  And we (and the neighbors) were furious to find that it was the turn of a wrench that powered up our neighborhood once again.  They just didn't have a crew available to come do it ... FOR FIVE DAYS.

When we lost power after an ice storm and the house went down to 44 degrees, it was a nightmare.  We couldn't get a hotel room because we had cats.  We weren't going to leave the cats, so we stayed at the house.  And FROZE.  That's when Mr. L channeled Scarlett O'Hara and said, "As God is my witness, I will never be cold again!"

Gas-generator We bought a gasoline-powered generator.  What a great piece of insurance.  After we bought it, we didn't lose power for several years.  But last winter we did--for more than three hours.  That was the first time we had to use the generator.  First, Mr. L had to crawl around in the snow and plug the generator into the circuit.  Not so easy when you have had two knee replacements.  Next, we had to endure not only the roar of the generator, but the fumes.  (And yes, it was stationed outside and well away from the house, but you could still smell it.)  I was convinced we'd die of asphyxiation. But the furnace did run.  We could use the microwave and toaster oven to make supper.  (But we couldn't run the computers.  Mr. Generator was good, but not that good.)

Generac Today (well, if we don't have a downpour), we're having a natural gas-powered generator installed.  Oddly enough, we'd made the decision before Hurricane Irene struck and left millions in the dark for days.  We've got a lot of problems in this country, and one of them is an aging infrastructure.  Why did so many people lose power during Hurricane Irene?  Because the power lines are above ground--running through trees, that break and fall during bad weather.  (Think about it, this is 19th Century technology we're talking about.)

Kinkade painting The next time the power goes out, I want my lights, heat (or AC) and I want my Internet.  Hopefully, new Mr. Generator will deliver it for me.  (Think of it this way:  a Thomas Kincade painting vs. Bob Cratchit trying to warm himself over a candle?)  And yeah, this is taking a BIG bit our of our savings, but it's also bringing us something equally important:  peace of mind.  You can't put a price on that.