Feisty Women have weathered their fair share of emotional storms, with resilience of course. However, every now and then we have to survive actual storms. Mother Nature is a Feisty Woman, too! Living alone as a single woman can be hard enough, but living alone without power for days can test anyone’s resolve. The recent Nor'Easter was quite feisty, but I made it to the literal light at the end of the dark, multi-day power outage tunnel.
Day 1: “I can survive this.”
Just like 99,999 other people in my area, I lost power this past weekend. I came home from work Friday to a cold, dark house. I was so glad that I had taken the time at work to eat a hot lunch before I headed home because it would be my last hot meal for two days.
The first night was an adventure. Because I did not want any food to go to waste so I ate all of the coconut popsicles in my freezer. I was really cold but was sure that the power would be restored soon so I kept on eating. I ate waffles, pancakes, and cheese. I was stuffed but slept well with a comfortably, full stomach. I woke up in the middle of the night when I could have sworn that the heat came back on but it was only a dream. I checked the thermostat and it was 50 degrees in my house. I slept in my clothing, coat, and boots and simply added more covers and went back to sleep. The adventure would continue.
Never ever over eat before going to bed. (Your reflux is just waiting for the chance to “kick in” and boy did it ever kick in that night.)
Never ever assume that the heat will return anytime soon.
Dress warmly and stay warm right away before the long cold days really set in.
Always eat a warm meal when you can and be grateful that you could.
Day 2: “This isn’t so bad. I can manage this……,I think.”
The next morning the cold really began to bother me. I took a look at the thermostat and it was now 45 degrees. I lit every candle that I could find in my house and soon the temperature inside rose to a balmy 47 degrees in my living room.
I had spent four summer employments as a camp counselor so washing with cold water was no big deal. I took a brief bowl bath and nearly froze to death. (Guess that I was not as resilient to the cold as I used to be.) My hair was another story. Since it is wavy and curly, I just left it alone and hoped for the best. It looked passable and for that I was grateful. (Thanks Dana for the great haircut.)
I worked on various projects, including taxes (oh fun), wearing two shirts, a heavy fleece, a goose down coat, long underwear, long socks, and boots. I went outside to clean off the cars and swore that it was colder in my house than outside. My neighbors agreed with me. Fortunately, I had plans to see a concert in the city and left the igloo to venture into NY City. I drove slowly in my car to absorb the heat of the car and could finally feel my fingers and feet. The concert was in a toasty warm venue so I was comfortable for the time being.
When I came home that night, no food establishments were open so I had my third cheese sandwich of the day. I slept in my clothing and fleece jacket wearing two additional pairs of heavy socks. I pulled the six blankets over my head and tried to sleep. Every time the covers uncovered my face, I woke up because of the cold. I had a terrible night of sleep as the temperature dipped down to 40 in my house. It was toasty warm under the covers; everywhere else in my home seemed like Antarctica.
And yes, no heat returned at the end of day two.
Lesson learned: No more washing with cold water.
No more cheese sandwiches.
Never ever get rid of blankets because they will come in handy in an emergency just like this one.
Keep your head covered to conserve heat.
From now on, I will always be wearing a hat.
Drive around in your car as much as possible. It is an easy way to keep warm.
Day 3: “I hate the cold. I want heat.”
The next morning I was at the end of my rope, sick of being cold, and left my home for the entire day. I started at church, which was warm and toasty in many ways. Next I stopped at Starbucks for the first of many hot chocolates that day. My next venture was to Trader Joe’s for the required chips, cookies, and cheese curls, three necessary snacks for any power outage survival session. Kohl’s was next on my list. They had a bathroom and the necessary gifts for two upcoming birthdays. You can walk around as much as you like and as long as you like. Lunch at Wendy’s yielded me some power for my electronic devices and warm food. (No more cheese sandwiches.) Many other folks were there just like me. Food, warmth, and powering up the electric gadgets were their reasons for hanging out as well. I returned to Starbucks for round two, stayed for two more hours, and wearily set out for home.
All the folks that I met were hoping for the best, that the heat would return soon. We heard the reports for tomorrow at….midnight but chose to ignore them. We heard the low temperature reports for that night and chose to ignore that, too. It was 41 degrees in my house and that was the most awful night that I have ever spent in my house. Yes, even worse than the nights spent with Mr. Wonderful.
The car is by far the warmest place to stay when you are without heat.
Use the bathroom when you are out and about.
Starbucks, Wendy’s, Trader Joe’s and Kohl’s will now be at the top of my shopping list for anything that I need electrical and otherwise.
I am getting too old for this.
Day 4: “I have to get out of here. Now!”
I had to get out of the cold. No neighbors were around. It was like a ghost town. No warm shower for three days. It was now 39 degrees in my house. No amount of candles could bring up the temperature to what it needed to be.
Turns out that the basement was the warmest place in my house. Sleeping on a reclining lawn chair was not easy. I wrapped up in blankets and almost immediately, like Ralphie’s little brother in the movie, The Christmas Story, I had to go to the bathroom. I had spent time trying to sleep but could not roll around, as was my customary sleeping practice. Reluctantly, I returned to the upstairs and slept in my bed with layers of everything under six blankets. I was toasty warm under the blankets but no on can spend an entire day like that especially in the cold.
Fortunately, friends reached out and I farmed myself out for the day. I took a long, hot shower and had tea at one friend’s house, lunch with another friend, and would sleep at another’s house. What a busy day. As I mentioned earlier, the car was the warmest place to stay and driving around from friend to friend at least kept me warm.
Keep a big stash of blankets.
Keep a list of friends with spare beds. (“Sleeping around”, in this situation, is totally acceptable and gives new meaning to this term.)
Put your electric company on your speed dial.
Use your LLBean gifts cards to purchase camping equipment for emergencies such as this one.
Day 5: “ Back to work…yes! ”
Seems that getting back to work is another way to stay warm. You are so busy catching up with missed work that you barely have the time to think about being cold. It does not hurt, either, that my work environment is always toasting warm, actually sometimes too warm. Today I was very glad for that extra heat.
I was also glad to be at work, dressed in only one layer, and not wearing my boots, hat, and coat. I felt normal again and did not even think about leaving work until very late. I had meetings to keep me in a warm environment, too. All was going well and then I learned about the next storm, Quinn.
Another nor’easter was on the way. 14-16+ more inches of snow was coming my way. No heat yet either. I kept checking the power company website but it only said…”assessing”. All of the other homes in the area had power but my development did not. I guess that the “assessing” would take a bit longer than I ever imagined. They want my payment for my services” due on receipt” but where is my power?
By the way, I am still on the “assessing” list and I will be calling hourly from now on.
By the way, power is due back on at 11:45 PM, which has unfortunately not been the case.
I still love going to work and not just for the heat.
Always have backup plans with friends who could take me in for heat emergencies.
The word assessing now has new meaning for me; I will use it whenever I can from now on.
Day 6 - "...Still no power?!"
Here comes the next storm.
The next storm, Quinn, a nor’easter with expected lower winds gusts, fortunately, than the last storm, started slowly but brought the expected punch of snow that we all expected. It poured snow like I have never ever seen. The snow got heavier and heavier as the day went on. I could hardly even see the 100 feet to my car. It was made even more difficult to find my car because I bought a white car. It blended in perfectly with the mounds of snow now all around it.
Just when I nearly gave up any hope of gaining any power back and being stuck in my home once again during another storm and after hourly check-ins with the outage list, the power miraculously came back on. Guess that they were done “assessing”. All of our homes had their power returned at the same time, like a switch was turned on for all of us at once. Thank goodness.
The storm dropped 17 inches of snow in my development. I somehow did not mind the snow so much because I could watch the entire storm…from the warmth of my house. I crossed my fingers, held my breath, and stayed wrapped in a blanket, just in case, the power went out once again. To date, it is still on even though my friends in the area have now lost their power.
I have opened up my home to anyone who needs it. I had many offers to shelter me during the last storm so I extended the same offers to those folks; my guests will be arriving shortly.
Patience is an important virtue especially when concerning the power company.
The snow eventually does stop and will melt even though it seems like it never will.
Return the hospitality given to you by friends.
Never buy a white car ever again.
Never complain about the lack of snow.
Hope that this was the last storm of the season.