Monday, October 31, 2011

How do I work this?

My sympathies to those in Middletown who are still without power....

Electricity came back to our part of downtown at 7:15 pm tonight, ending our 43 hours of blackout. The traffic signals are (thankfully) working again, bringing some sanity back to Washington Street. (I heard the Mayor call Rt. 66 a "demolition derby" on NPR - we could see multiple accidents from our front door.)

But moments after the lights came back on and the cheering subsided in my own household, I heard each of my kids wishing the blackout wasn't over yet. Sure, it would be tough to live like that all the time, but we've had a lot of fun in the past two days.

We spent the daylight hours playing cards and planning our evenings, hoarding our remaining laptop power for a family movie. We checked in on neighbors and our businesses. On Monday, Mark and the girls woke up early and walked to the top of Foss Hill to watch the sunrise. At night, we hosted a group of a dozen Wesleyan students looking to take a break from the dark, cold campus.

Creative Storeowners
Just a few Main Street restaurants managed to open during the past few days. At Empire Pizza, they didn't need any advertisement, as people just took their cue from the streams of people leaving Main Street carrying pizza boxes. At Anoho Noodle Shop, they actually ran their power off their car batteries parked on Main Street.

Survival Skills
Taking a tip from our neighbor, Ed McKeon, we dug out the old rotary phone and plugged it in. It was really cool helping my kids figure out this foreign technology - it's usually the other way around. Here's a photo of a teenager calling all her friends after she figured out how to work it.

And we were really proud of ourselves when we figured out (after about 20 hours of blackout) that we could keep the fridge cold by packing snow around our milk and tofu.

Pilgrim Re-enactment
Maybe it's because our house was built in 1751, but we got a big kick out of cooking dinner by candlelight. Usually, there are dozens of restaurants open within a few blocks of our house - which leads to "takeout together" dinners. But for the past two days we've been cooking, and eating, together. My 14-year-old said, "did you notice how everyone is helping without being asked?" Yes, I did - it's been so nice!

Favorite quotes:

Maggie: "Now I get Baroque like I never got Baroque" as the last rays of sunlight came through the kitchen window.

Jen: "I can't figure out why they didn't invent modern architecture until after they had electricity?!" on noticing that our house got darker about an hour before the sky - wonder what it would have been like with big windows!

Karma: "I've got two twitter threads going: "Getting out of bed to light the candle - #eighteethcenturygirlproblems" and "Putting Uggs on in the dark - #twentyfirstcenturygirlproblems"

Kobi: "I think I hear the rodeo phone ringing". Maybe it was the long spiral cord that made him think cowboy?

Thornton Wilder: "Have you milked the mammoth?" Ok, so Thornton Wilder wasn't here, but we did quote from "Skin of Our Teeth".

When the lights came back on, we were gathered around the candlelit dining room table, finishing off a bottle of Martinelli's Sparkling Apple Cider, cooled by snow. Now we've got every light in the house on, with multiple laptops and the radio going - hardly feels like progress!


Steadyjohn said...

Here on Washington Street we were very fortunate. Electricity came on in the West End at around 8:PM after 44 hours in the cold/dark.

Newpawta said...

Thoroughly enjoyed your piece. We're waiting it out at Mom and Dad's in RI, trying to stay abreast of developments!

Tree Fanatic said...

Just a note for next time -- it doesn't need to be an old rotary phone. All you need is a non-digital, non-electronic phone. You can even use one of those cute "Princess" phones, as long as it doesn't need additional power to light up any lights.