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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Night The Lights Went Out....

Yesterday the air temperature was close to 50°. However, the wind was blowing at around the same speed....Well, in the 25+ mph range anyway, with higher gusts.

It was not a nice day to be outside.

I had a large cardboard box on the back porch with several large turnips inside. About noon, I noticed that the box was gone. The turnips were still on the porch, though. I haven't seen hide nor hair of the box. It's probably in Kansas by now.

I got a new computer the other day - my six year old machine was failing fast - so I was trying to get some info retrieved from it, and put it on my new one. I had the CD copied, and had just put it into the CD slot on my new computer. I pushed the CD drawer back in, and as the compartment door was snapping shut, I hear an alarm go off and see lights flash.

For an instant, I feared the worst. My new computer's life passed before my eyes. Since it was 3:15 in the afternoon, I didn't have the light on in my office. It took me a few seconds to realize what had happened.

The power had gone off in the house, and the beeping alarm I was hearing was my fancy new "Battery Backup" we bought with the computer. It's the same as the one Deb has, but hers doesn't beep, it just shuts her computer down on it's own (my computer needs an adapter wire to do this....). Deb had also just turned on her steamer to start some rice going for supper.

No power, no rice. This was affecting my tummy, so something HAD to be done!

We checked things out in the house to make sure it wasn't on our end, then called the power company (Omaha Public Power District - OPPD). They told me that their board showed that the power went off, then came right back on.

I told them "That's not what it shows, here....."

While we were talking, he said that several other phone calls were coming in for the same area, and they'd "send someone right out". After a few minutes (we have a local OPPD office), we could see crews going up and down the road, stopping at different transformers (not the toy kind....).

We called the neighbors up the road to see if they were without power, too. They said that they were dark, also. He said that "it looks like peanut butter sandwiches for supper..."

I wouldn't wish peanut butter on my worst enemy - although my wife loves it - so we decided to invite them down for supper. They have an all electric kitchen, and we have the gas range and the wood stove. We figured that fish would be the easiest thing to cook - except that it was frozen.

We were just getting a good start on cooking, when the lights flickered on at 5:15. We could now use the microwave to thaw the fish and cook the peas. The potatoes that Deb had started to steam on the stove were coming along nicely.

Deb had thought of getting 3 of our oil lamps down and ready to go, shortly after we started supper. I had gone outside and brought in a gallon of Kerosene and filled them up. It was a good thing, too. Just as the neighbors parked in front of our house, the lights went out again. This time it was dark. I met them at the door with a flashlight and led them into the dining room as Deb made sure the computers were shut down again. Looking out the windows, we could see (or NOT see, as it were...), that the outage affected several farms, once again.

We put two oil lamps on the table and one in the kitchen, and ate by lamp-light. Frank (neighbor) made the comment that the oil lamps were "darker" then he remembered as a kid. We also lit the wood cook stove so it would start to warm things up, in case the electricity was off all night.

After supper, we sat and talked for awhile. It was almost that "sit around the campfire and tell ghost stories" feel to it.

When our guests left, Deb and I moved a couple of chairs into the kitchen and cosied up to the wood stove. Rascal, of course, wanted up on my lap - and under a blanket - so he could get warm, too (Autumn had long since retired to her bed...).

Deb - warming her toes by the woodstove:

The flash from the camera made it look pretty light in there! Actually, the only light we had was from the lamp on the counter.

I had just started the teapot on the wood stove, when the lights came back on at 8:45.

All-in-all, it was an enjoyable evening.

It's nice to have all the electric stuff, but it's also nice to know that we could do without, too.

Then again, how DO those Amish run their computers?

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