I may pride myself on being Nature Girl, but five days without power this October was a little too much even for me. And the toughest part wasn’t staying warm or even keeping a few lights on. It was trying not to go insane.
The simple solution, of course, should be to go for broke and buy a generator – the kind that lights up your whole darn house like a carnival the minute the power even wavers. Good luck with that. There’s a run on generators around here, and even if you manage to buy one, you can’t find anyone to install it.
So yes, I’ll stockpile gallon jugs of water and wood for the fireplace, break out the canned food and the sleeping bags and collect enough flashlights to illuminate the Armageddon. That’ll take care of the heat and light, more or less. But this time around, I’ll do better on the ‘not going insane’ part. I’ll have:
A good relationship with my bartender. I was heartbroken to learn our town’s ice cream parlor has a generator. No free scoops for the kids, or for me, if an August thunderstorm knocks out the power. But I have high hopes for the draft beer at our local pub. It’s not going to stay cold on its own, and my guess is that the pub owner knows which side his bread is buttered on. Plus, if I hang out there, maybe I’ll meet someone who owns a generator.
A full tank of gas and a power inverter. Time to start thinking of the car as an electrical outlet on wheels. For less than $20, you can buy a little gadget that will convert the cigarette lighter in your car to a regular outlet. (I don’t have a favorite; google “power inverter” and “cigarette lighter” and you’ll find a bunch). Then you can plug your computer and cell phone into your car and charge them, or maybe plug in the blender and start cranking out frozen margaritas. On a more survivalist note, you can also run a nebulizer this way.
Woollies. That’s very thin long underwear, made of a silk/wool blend that doesn’t itch. They’re especially good for kids who are too young to willingly wear a hat or sleep with a blanket on. You won’t find them any cheaper than here (No, I don’t get a cut. It’s just what worked for me).
A battery powered or hand-cranked radio. Both A Prairie Home Companion and What Do You Know are so much more enjoyable when the only other option is sitting in the car by yourself with the stereo cranked. Then again, the car has heat…
Manifold Destiny, The One! The Only! Guide to Cooking on Your Car Engine I’m not sure how serious I am about this. But after moving the contents of our freezer from a snowdrift during the day to the trunk of the car at night (so the raccoons wouldn’t get at it), I was ready to stop moving all that food and start eating it. This is probably not the best use of gasoline in an emergency, but if you can steam it, you can hypothetically cook it on your car engine. Wrap those frozen shrimp in a zillion layers of tin foil (throw in some butter and garlic if you’re feeling fancy, which you won’t be), wedge them next to the engine block, and start driving. An older car cooks faster, because the engine isn’t as well insulated. Your mileage may vary.
Port and chocolate. In our household, that means Jonesy port and Whole Foods truffles. It’s the old-fashioned way of warming up, and it works just fine. And no, I have no idea why that particular port is so cheap. Some questions you just don’t ask-no matter how cold it gets. —KW