In the Dark

Sunny southern California…Usually darkness isn’t what comes to mind. But, on Saturday evening, around 6:00 p.m., just as we were getting ready for dinner, a transformer in our community blew, and the power went out. We decided to escape the darkness, and the heat, for a little while. We dropped Hannah off with my parents, and used the outage as a great excuse to get away for a little date. But, when we returned home around 9:30, the power was still out, and we were in the dark! The house was warm, but it was cool outside, so we opened a few windows, and prayed that the situation would be corrected quickly. Hannah went to be easily, and didn’t seem affected by the heat. Around 10:30, the power (and air conditioner) kicked back on, and we went to bed assuming that the problem was taken care of. 


Apparently, it wasn’t. When we left for church on Sunday morning, everything was working. But, somewhere between 8:45 a.m., and around 2:00 that afternoon, something went wrong. We arrived home to once again find that the power was out. Because it had been fixed so quickly the night before, we figured it wouldn’t last too long. The house was warm, but we went about our normal afternoon routine, expecting to hear everything start back up any minute. Hannah went down for her nap (in a onsie and a diaper, and still woke up sweating!), and Jason and I spent some time reading. We opened all the windows in an attempt to get some air flowing through, and it worked…a little. (We are so thankful that Jason and his dad were able to fix the screen on the sliding glass door just last weekend!)

Around 3:00, a couple from our Sunday school class called and invited us to their house for dinner. They, of course, didn’t know anything of our power situation, but, we definitely appreciated the chance to get out of the heat for a little while. We had a great evening with them – good food, and great entertainment as Sheri tried to prepare the fish without looking it in the eye (rather unsuccessfully, I might add!!), and Hannah had fun playing with their daughter. And, amazingly Kate (their almost-3-year-old) seemed to have no problem interpreting Hannah’s 1-year-old language!

When we got home (again around 9:00), we fully expected to see the lights back on…Unfortunately, they weren’t. But, unlike the night before, there wasn’t anyone working on it either! We got into the house and it had only gotten warmer! So, we once again imposed on the hospitality of my parents and sister. My dear sister gave up her room, and moved into the guest room, so that Hannah and I could stay together. (Jason was feeling a bit protective of the house in the dark and, at the last minute, decided to stay home with the kitties.)

This was Hannah’s first time away from home since she was 4 months old! It was a great trial run to see how she would do sleeping somewhere other than her own bed. It was long past her bedtime when we put her in the pack-and-play, so I thought she would crash immediately. Not quite…she screamed for a good 40 minutes – something she rarely does. (This was not encouraging, as we are leaving for Texas in about a week and a half, and she will have to sleep in a hotel room. And, believe me, she will have to sleep!) So, I gave in (something I rarely do), and I got her up. I held her while my sister and I talked, and she was asleep within minutes. (We must be pretty boring!) Thankfully, she stayed asleep when I laid her down the second time…and slept soundly until about 4:00 a.m. I’m not sure what woke her up, but apparently everyone else in the house was awake then too! She was fairly vocal about the fact that she no longer wanted to be in the pack-and-play, so she got in bed with me…Needless to say, that was the end of my sleep for the night. But, thankfully she slept for another 3 hours! It was extremely nice to come downstairs to a homemade cappucino (my dad’s specialty!).

My dad had the day off, and Auntie Jo didn’t have to be at work until the afternoon, so we spent a nice morning with them…playing in Auntie Jo’s room, going outside to look at flowers and watch the birds dive-bomb Sullivan (the cat), and watching Winnie the Pooh cartoons. Jason went by our house on his lunch break, to check on our kitties and find out what was going on. He arrived to find a large crowd of our neighbors, the local newspaper, and city officials watching an electric company doing repair work. So, we again assumed that this meant that the power would be back relatively soon – although no one knew exactly when. Back at my parents’ house, we laid Hannah down for her afternoon nap – yet another trial run for our vacation. This one went much better. I think she was just so exhausted that after only a minute of complaining, she was sound asleep – and stayed that way for 3 hours!!

When Jason got off work at 4:00, we still didn’t have power. By this time a TV news crew was covering the story! (It must have been a slow news day!) He joined us at my parents’ house, where we were watching the news report, trying to figure out just how much longer it would be until power was restored. The reporter said that things should be up and running around 6:00 that evening. I called home at 6:00 to see if our answering machine would pick up…still nothing. Power was finally restored around 6:30…after 36 hours!

We came home and began the task of cleaning out the refrigerator and freezer. We had a freezer-full of meat in the garage, and thanks to a few triple coupon days recently, a fairly well-stocked fridge to contend with. For the most part everything in the freezer was still cold, and some was still partially frozen. Some of it was questionable, so it went directly into the garbage. Everything that still looked safe, we hauled into the house (in a large cooler) to be cooked up so it could be re-frozen. Then, it was time to set about emptying the refrigerator….After that long without power, and temperatures in the triple digits, most everything in the fridge was warm, and there was a rather strange smell emanating from within… We didn’t want to take chances, so almost everything in there got tossed. (Never having been through something like this before, I looked up some food safety guidelines on the internet, in order to help figure out what could stay, and what had to go, as well as how long things could stay fresh without power. Check it out! Living here in “Earthquake Country” – or anywhere, really – it is good information to have on hand!)

We’ve been told that we will probably be reimbursed for the losses at some point (although no one seems to know exactly how, or when). So, I am now spending the afternoon organizing lists, as well as looking up each item’s approximate cost (I love Excel!). I really am not looking forward to seeing the total! It was difficult enough to throw out barely used, or unopened items!! But, on the bright side, it does allow me to give my refrigerator a much needed cleaning. And, as I write, I have 2 crock pots full of chicken cooking away. I suppose that ultimately, it may be more convenient to have all of that meat already cooked up, and ready to use in various dishes, or even a few main dishes prepared and frozen. This is something I’ve tried to do in the past, but without much success. Funny…it was just a few days ago that I was commenting to a friend that it would be nice to have several things on hand for those days when life got busy, or a friend needed dinner… Be careful what you wish for, huh? I just meant that I wanted to be a little more organized and efficient in my meal planning! I certainly had no intention of cooking up the entire contents of a freezer in less than 48 hours!!

I’m off to do some more cooking… I have about 10 pounds of ground beef and ground turkey calling my name…Any suggestions?!