We were just minding our own business here in Texas, enjoying our typical mild winter, when Alaska’s weather decided to meander down here all drunkenly for an early Spring break. We were not amused.
It was chilly, but not yet ridiculous, so we spent the weekend doing some usual Valentine’s Day stuff like playing games and steak and lobster on the grill. Normally, there would be a movie outing or a fun bike adventure. This year with Covid, not so much on the movie. This year with the weather, not so much with the bike adventure. So we snuggled up for the duration, and were warned that we may experience some rolling blackouts on Monday for a few hours max.
Imagine our surprise when we lost power at 3am on Monday morning and didn’t have it back when we woke up to a legitimate winter wonderland. The power continued to be conspicuously absent through the day. Our food went into coolers and bags in the snow. The gas fireplace earned it’s keep heating the living room. Since it was a long weekend, and the snow was new and novel, we tromped around the neighborhood and I annoyed Joel by stopping to take pictures every two minutes but… it’s not like we get this every year!
Later, he cooked up a bunch of chicken on the grill and I still made ravioli with italian sausage, caesar salad, and garlic bread as planned for second Valentine’s Day (thank you, gas stove, and thank you Joel for insisting we get a gas stove!). At dusk, we went on another walk to get cool pictures of lights in the snow and check out the ghost town of barely anyone out and about at 7pm on a Monday.
When it got dark, it got REALLY DARK in the house without even the normal visual hum of the power lights all the electronics in house. It was just us, the fireplace, and a lantern or headlamp to find our way around outside of the glow of the living room. In contrast, the thick coating of white snow made it super BRIGHT outside, almost as if night never really fell.
Tuesday should have been a workday, but we still found ourselves without power, and so did the office. A few things were running on the backup generator but the situation wasn’t conducive to any sort of productivity, so we set out to officially close the “office”. Once that was settled, we got gas for the Xterra and then spent three hours sitting in it, enjoying the heat, and using every capacity it possessed to turn said gasoline into charged electronics.
What do you do in the dark? Read. A lot. I powered through most of a 3 book series whilst we lived in the pioneer times because there wasn’t much else to do. Joel said he missed sounds and music so I broke out my acoustic guitar throughout the week to serenade him. I also started leaning a new song from the book I got for my birthday last year and summarily ignored because looking up whatever I fancy on the intertubes had been easier. I need to practice but I think I have Free Fallin’ in the bag.
Wednesday, we went through the same song and dance. Officially closed the office. Schleped ourselves out to the Xterra, ready for another three hour tour to charge up the electronics… and then an hour into the process, we saw our garage lights come on! We had power! Rejoice! I didn’t trust it would stick around, since we’d heard about other people getting it back for short stint and then losing it again, so we plugged in every device that needed charging and kept waiting for the blackout… and it never came!
Thursday, I woke up to the ceiling fan still twirling. Even so, we were being asked to conserve power and act as if we didn’t have it as much as possible. So, besides doing one round of dishes on economy mode (they’d been in there since Sunday and were… ripe), and one small load of absolutely needed wash (hung by the fireplace to dry), we did just that. I grabbed a few things off my work machine and then worked offline on my teeny laptop all day. We kept the heat off and lights off and kept almost everything in the house unplugged. Thankfully, we didn’t have to charge things in the car but otherwise it was the same ol’ same ol’.
We were asked to conserve water as well and all of Austin and surrounding areas were handed a boil notice. I had spent the last few days not washing my hair because it was cold. Now, I had to not wash my hair because the water was gross. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t a major hardship, I just felt… yucky. I was very thankful that we splurged and did dishes and laundry in the small window while we could.
Friday was more of the same, but work finally had power and brought up all of our systems so we could actually work, so it was the first “unofficial” workday of the week. That is, if people had power, internet, and could do so without any hardship. Most of our folks, thankfully, were in situations where they could and most agreed that was nice to be back at it, and for life to feel a bit more normal again.
On Friday morning, it had been below freezing for over 120 hours. On Saturday, we went for a walk in t-shirts and shorts in the sunny, 70 degree weather. Oh Texas winter, you so crazy. Finally, Monday at 2:30pm the city finally lifted the boil notice and I immediately left my desk and took the most welcome and wondrous shower ever.
Our personal fallout was minor and fleeting. No burst pipes, we didn’t lose much food, no major issues. All that happened was that life was weird for a week and the house was a disaster area for about a week and a half. I’m very happy to be back to (pandemic) normal and live in slightly less interesting times.
However, this one still thinks she’s a garage kitty and wants in all the time, no matter the temperature. We don’t mind too much. 🙂
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