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Ten days without power was no picnic, but I tried exude the opposite impression with the kids. I did my best Pollyanna and oozed an attitude of “isn’t this fun”…”something new”…. “what an adventure” as much as I could stand. Out came the camping equipment, “Yay, indoor camping!”. The Coleman propane stove was just the thing for hot water for coffee (oh, and food). 

We were very fortunate on many levels. The trees we lost did not hit the house, our wires did not require an electrician, and the outside weather remained in the 50’s. The kids missed seven days of school, but were able to be outside while we worked on the yard. Clark was able to go to work, but cut his days short to keep an eye on things at home. Teen boy works in nursing – he was required elsewhere and, even more than usual, was rarely home.

We did falter. Me, each morning, resisting the inevitable hop from the warm haven of my down comforter into an unheated house. And by the end of each day, Clark’s patience waned. I am sure there are not many souls on this earth with whom I could weather the storm as well as we did…although there was an uncomfortable conversation regarding what was to be the fate of the melting, sticky popsicles:

Clark: “Whaaaat was the thought process that possessed you to put them in the cooler given the temperature is NOT below freezing?”

MJ: “My crystal ball failed to inform me the power would be out for so long, and then I sorta forgot about them while huddled infront of the only warm spot in the house…”

We are both fluent in Sarcasm.

What made this difficult was that so much of the surrounding area was dark as well. When Irene hit, my favorite pizza joint had power, as did a few places for coffee and other creature comforts. This time, no. And it was too great a risk to drive off “in search of” as most gas stations were either closed or had impossibly long lines.

If I were back in school (shutter at the thought), I am most certain my ninth grade english teacher would have announced his plan to torture us with the essay assignment “What I learned while lounging in front of the fireplace”. The essence of my essay would read as such:

As a family, we earned at least a B+, possibly A-. It is beyond that warm, fuzzy, puppy feeling to know we can get through something like this together but I can’t help feeling hoodwinked. On any given day, the girls find themselves in at least one epic battle both are convinced leaves their eternal happiness hanging in the balance. We as adults under-estimate the power of using the pink handled scissors versus the green handle. Had Picasso not had access to his favorite brush, I’m sure his ensuing tantrum would have been equally as justified. I digress. Not a single “she’s looking at me” or “I had that first” was uttered for ten glorious days. Yes, the attitudes resumed promptly Wednesday morning just before returning to school. It is a possibility that they sensed bad timing in the midst of a natural disaster, and feared being dropped at the high school shelter. We go forth armed with the knowledge they are capable of being civil and it shall be a priority to use this information to our advantage. We played chess. We read. We wrote. We visited with family and reconnected with neighbors.

Day 5 I had an epiphany. How did great minds like Abe Lincoln reach such heights starting from meager log cabins with only candlelight to study? That’s all you need! I did not realize how often mundane, unimportant tasks pull pur focus. We were not interrupted by phone calls, laundry buzzers, the urge to check e-mail. It was amazing to complete task after task, book after book. We tackled the entire garage before lunch. Clark built an ice skating rink, awaiting our first freeze. I don’t remember the last time I was able to absorb a book, cover to cover, in the span of only a day or two. My problem may not be procrastination; but lack of focus, inability to resist silly interruptions.

I'm sure ours will be as grand once frozen; though no one wants to be the one to tell Nola we are not getting a Zamboni!

 I’m not sure why I gave up writing (literally) but I am so thankful to have rediscovered pen and paper. I dusted off my Aurora fountain pen from my days in an office…it’s something about the flow of your hand and the ink over the paper that flows seamlessly with the mind so much more than the taptaptap of a keyboard. Peta members – no quill was used, all local wildlife still have their feathers in tact. Ew, sorry, can’t say the same for the previously mentioned down blankets!

Please don’t report me! (Photo – msn.com)

A riddle before I sign off for today. What could be worse than being without power for ten days?

Being the only sibling out of a family of eight in the area that does have power! Yes, fate placed Clark’s youngest sister just outside the range of the blackout. Being the sweetheart that she is, she immediately put forth the call “Please come over any time, warm up, cook, take showers, whatever you need.” Of course the first day or two everyone was comfortable and surviving. But by day #4 her house turned into Grand Central Station. Siblings and their spouses hoping to recharge phones, cousins sprawled out everywhere desperate to check their Facebook pages, a few dogs running around that I didn’t recognize….

I felt a pang of guilt leaving her behind as we backed out of the driveway to return to our cozy fireplace.