When your electricity flickers and goes off in the woods about 8 or 9 a.m. here is what you can’t do:
1. You can’t work on your treasurer’s reports for Thursday’s annual township meeting, because all reporting material exists solely on the computer. You imagine power remaining out until Thursday. You imagine the worst-case scenario in which you will arrive, report-less, to the board meeting, hanging your head in shame, embarrassed for the first time in 28 years that you could not submit the budget report.
2. You cannot check your email or blog comments.
3. You cannot check blog hits as they excitingly scurry toward that Magic Number. You figure this is a good thing. There are more important things to Do in life.
4. You cannot vacuum, even though the vacuum cleaner sits ready looking very cheerful in its upright posture. Darn.
5. You cannot wash dishes, as your water is heated and pumped via electricity. They wait in disarray by the sink. They do not look as perky as the vacuum cleaner.
6. You cannot flush the toilet. We won’t explain woods bathroom politics again.
7. You cannot wash your hands, take a shower, lounge in the bathtub. See #5. No water when the power goes out.
8. You cannot open the refrigerator or freezer. OK, you can, but you must snatch your breakfast food quickly, in order not to lose precious cold. Do not forget this and later stare absently in the refrigerator, wondering what you should snack upon.
9. You cannot answer the main wireless telephone, should someone ring. It needs electricity to operate. You must answer the corded variety telephone and sit chained to its Highness like you did for the last hundred years before someone invented the mobile phone.
10. You cannot heat the wood stove fire too much. Because there is no power, the blower will not operate. You must stoke a tiny little fire and allow it to gently and easily follow the adage “heat rises”.
11. You may not heat any food unless you strike a match and light the gas burner, thus igniting the flame. When you heat your lunch in a pretty bright metal pan, do not pour water to soak up the remnants. Add the pan to the stack of dirty dishes. Turn away quickly so not to offend yourself.
12. You cannot take a walk outside and enjoy the brisk spring weather. It is far too windy and trees are crashing in the woods. Probably a tree fell upon a power line somewhere; thus, resulting in your current dilemma.
Now that we have covered the cannots, let us turn our attention to what you can do when the power goes out in the woods:
1. You can sit on the couch.
2. You can sit on the couch and meditate.
3. You can read a book (lucky you, it’s light outside! If it were nighttime when the power outage occurred, you would not be able to read except by gas lamp, and that hurts your eyes after more than ten minutes, if you can see the pages at all.)
4. You can heat water (with aforementioned match and some remaining water in the kettle) and make a cup of tea. Drink tea slowly while sitting on the couch. OK, move over to the kitchen table and drink tea slowly while surveying brown autumn leaves rushing across the lawn and spruce trees bending over in the wind’s assault.
5. You can walk downstairs in the basement and sit on the couch down there, thinking about life–or perhaps writing a blog in your head.
6. You can walk back upstairs, wondering how much time has passed. But you must find a clock with a battery in which to discern the time. Oh my, has a half hour passed already?
7. OK, now read a magazine.
8. How about dust the computer and shake the keyboard to dislodge crumbs? Yes, that is a positive constructive activity when the power goes out.
9. Call the electrical company to report the outage. (You should have done this #1. It might be a wide-spread outage, but it might just be in your neck of the woods. They need to know these practicalities.)
10. Ponder taking little Ms. Ellie, the laptop computer, into the coffee shop. Yes, now wouldn’t that be fun? You could write a blog. You could check email. You couldn’t do your township report, because all information exists on the desktop computer, but you could…
11. Decide to stay home. Lay on the floor. Do yoga stretching. Enjoy doing nothing. Hey, doing nothing is kinda fun. Why did we think this was boring? This is really kind of…relaxing…as long as it doesn’t last all day…
12. Smile in contentment when the power comes on, 3-4 hours later. Oh didn’t you have fun doing nothing? Wasn’t it a lovely break? Shouldn’t the electricity go out regularly—NO! It should not.
Excuse me all, readers, while I start working on that township report again. Typed furiously for the last 20 minutes to write this blog, but truly must start juggling numbers. The wind is still blowing mightily. You never know when the power will go out again and you will have utterly nothing to do, except read, drink tea, sit on the couch and remember how to let go of all technological and electrical conveniences. Just like a hundred years ago…