Lessons Learned From a Power Outage

Our New Years Eve didn’t go as planned. It began at 9:30 a.m. Saturday with a power outage. We were told not to expect power again until 6 p.m. Sunday. Heavy winds, fallen trees, flooding and mud slides made for a good horror film. All roads leading out of our region were blocked, and many interior roads were unpassable. Here are a few things I learned:

Little Miss sitting on her new tricycle as she is pushed around the house. A stroller headlight illuminates a darkened hallway.

  1. When you decide to not open the refrigerator in hopes of keeping food its coldest, lots of toddler food is off limits. Yogurt. Milk. Cheese. Fruit. Meat. And our beloved chick nuggets.
  2. Everyone in town will flood grocery stores to buy bottled water even though every kitchen faucet in town still works. People will also buy gobs of thawing meat even though they don’t have a cold place to store it.
  3. Ring up your groceries at the store’s deli counter. Officially, do it because it has a much shorter line of customers. Unofficially, do it because the register doesn’t have a scale for weighing produce and a grandmotherly store clerk will give you your grapes for free after she asks your cute little girl, “Are these for you?”
  4. People will wait 30 minutes in line to gas up their cars even during a holiday and even when most businesses open on the holiday are closed because of a raging storm and even when there is no where to drive because major roads are closed.
  5. Owning corded telephones makes you popular among people who depend on cordless phones which stop working during a power outage or cell phones which require charging. We loaned two phones to friends.
  6. When you don’t know what’s going on during a storm, it’s time to open tomorrow’s Hannukah gift a day early. A friend’s family didn’t have a battery-powered radio, except one wrapped as a gift scheduled to be opened the next day by their 10-year-old boy. They waited.
  7. At some point you have to admit that the electricity isn’t coming back anytime soon, so it’s time to hold an egg and turkey bacon feast before the refrigerator becomes a food coffin. A camping stove will work; a gas kitchen stove and matches work better.
  8. In the dark, a toddler relies heavily on sight to know whether a favored food should be eaten. Last night’s dinner? Yummy. Leftovers from last night’s dinner by candlelight? Get that away from me!
  9. Aiming a flashlight on a toddler’s darkened plate helps make food look palatable.
  10. A jogging stroller light clip works great on the front of a tricycle to enable a house-wide night ride. Little Miss received a tricycle for Christmas, but we are waiting for a dry day to take it outside. Inside, we set up an obstacle course with chairs and tables and pushed her around in the dark.
  11. Our computer’s UPS battery has enough juice to run a Duracell 30 minute battery charger. We revived batteries to power our baby monitor receiver. Mom and I slept in the living room where a wood stove is located while Little Miss went to bed hours earlier in her own room. (She was bundled in fleece one-piece pajamas with a shirt and stockings underneath. This is California, so the temperature only dipped to 60 degrees indoors.)
  12. Toddlers love flashlights.
  13. Unrelated: I’ve had a cold for the past week with a hacking phlegmy cough. Little Miss has begun requesting Kleenex at the dinner table. Before, she did it to wipe her face and hands. Now she pretend-coughs before wiping. Not one cough. Four or five little ones.

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