As you all know from my last post, Michigan was hit with a major ice storm last weekend. Reports say almost 500,000 homes and businesses lost power because of it. In fact, I have at least one relative who still hasn’t gotten it back after a week.
I can’t even imagine. Roughly seventy-two hours over four days was more than enough for me. And I learned – and relearned – a few things during that long, cold, miserable experience.
1. I am a wimp. I do not like ‘roughing it.’ Never have, never will.
2. If push comes to shove, I can rough it. I might hate every second of it it, but I can do it. Instead of being stuck with cold sandwiches and chips for three days, I found I could cook fairly well on the top of a kerosene heater. Nothing elaborate, but we had a hot meal every day. I even made four small gluten-free dumplings to take to my family’s Christmas Eve party. I thought I’d just make a mess, but surprise! It worked.
3. After one day with no power, my usually calm and positive disposition begins deteriorate. By the middle of the second day, mostly due to the negativity of others, I have to fight against turning into the Wicked Witch of the West. Everyone around me needs to paste a smile on their face – no matter how much it pains them . If they can’t find anything pleasant to say, they need keep their mouths shut – unless they want to hear a few unpleasant things back. No, I’m not proud of this, but I figure if I can suck it up and try to make the best of a bad situation, so can they. And if they’re not going to try… Well, you reap what you sow.
4. I will never again say I was born a hundred years too late. I was born at exactly the right time. A hundred years ago indoor plumbing, electricity, radios, furnaces (or in my case, baseboard heating), and computers were either not common – or completely unheard of. All things I love and need in my life. I’m also freakishly fond of things that go flush in the night…without first having to pour three gallons of bottled water in the tank.
5. Reading by flashlight, no matter how bright that flashlight might be, sucks. Yes, it’s better than nothing, but I’d almost rather not read than to have to fuss with trying to prop or hold the light so I can see the words.
6. In order to sleep, my brain apparently needs to hear things like the refrigerator, freezer, water softener, and heating units in my house running. It is really quiet in the country during a power outage. Really quiet.
7. While it didn’t do what I thought it would when I bought it, which was to emit a loud, high pitched squeal in case of a tornado warning, I’m really glad I bought my solar powered weather radio a couple of years ago. Not only could I listen to weather updates on the weather frequency, there is also an FM option so I got to listen to the radio station that was playing Christmas music 24/7. So not every ‘mistake’ turns out to be a mistake.
Okay, so I suppose I learned one more thing, which would really make it eight things. This one is probably the most important thing of all, too.
When it comes right down to it, it is the simple things in life that make me the happiest.
Family. Lights that turn on when I flip the switch. The ability to cook a meal when I want – and do the dishes afterward. Being able to sit down at my computer…and not just stare at a blank screen. And being warm. I definitely appreciate being warm on a cold winter’s day.
I’ve also been reminded how much some people give up in order to help others. Sure, all of the utility workers are being well compensated in order to get the lights back on for the hundreds of thousands of people who lost it during the storm. But a nice paycheck doesn’t make up for the fact that they are working long hours, missing out on the holidays with their families, getting too little sleep, and having to endure awful weather, most of it bitterly cold.
So I just have one thing to say to all of these men and women…