Friday, June 06, 2014

The power outage

On Wednesday morning when I woke, D said to me to have a shower quickly because there was something wrong with the power.

The microwave and oven didn't work at all, some lights didn't work, others were very faint, the kettle boiled but very, very slowly.

Well, I jumped up and rushed to boil a full kettle. It did take sweet forever (10 minutes) and then I quickly filled the flask and both Nanny S and I had a mug of tea from water still in the kettle.

That was good because at 11, my laptop dulled and the power was solidly out.

No wifi, very quickly (before lunch) no iphone...

When the kids got home we all had cup a soup with the water in the flask (they share one) and some bread with cheese.

There was just enough water at the end of the day for about 3 cm of tea for each kid but that's it.

So we wiped their faces, put on their pjs, they helped me set out candles all around the house and we then went to the Spur.

I asked for a table with plug points and plugged in the iphone and ipad.

From totally dead batteries I got up to about 85% on the iphone while we were there, and about 35% on the ipad.

We had a "lovely" supper (I'm not a fan of their food, I only like the breakfasts but then again, I will find a breakfast I like anywhere) and I had a pot of tea to sustain me for the night.

They wanted to go home with D so I took a different way home to check out the suburb and the darkness extended as far as my eye could see.

We have a very big suburb. As I said to Mandy, we moved houses from the middle of the suburb to the middle of the suburb, and the two houses are 3.2 km apart.

Anyway, I got home, it was PITCH black. Quite frightening actually because no-one was about (I thought our local shopping centre would be teeming with people but no? Maybe others are hardier than we are and could make do with cold food. Not me!).

I lit candles and the others arrived. Since they were in their pjs and gowns (I always dreamed of taking kids out at night in their pjs and gowns - is that weird?), they went to the loo, and then D read them a story on the ipad, which was SUPER successful (Grey and the Good Attitude Cape). Matter of fact, D liked it so much he told his colleagues who have asked him to bring in the book.

It's a PDF so I said no (I know that 98% of people would have no shame in taking a copy and this is this woman's work which I paid for) but I did send a screenshot of the cover.

I'm getting distracted.

This adventure meant that our kids didn't want to fall asleep without the candle so they went to bed at about 9!!!

Same story the next day except nothing hot.

D went to the petrol station to buy a cup of coffee, claiming he couldn't wake up without it.

We got the kids to school and I went to gym, late because of carting all my electronics with me. I was planning to stop at the Spur on the way home, do some work, charge my stuff, etc.


that's how I save people's numbers. X - hairdresser, Y - dentist, etc. :)

As you can see, we know our priorities around here.
Lessons learnt
  1. Perspective. I was tremendously annoyed at first but then I realised we've lived in this suburb for 12 years and not once have we had a power failure of more than 2 hours. Except for those rolling blackouts that one year but that was everybody in Gauteng so it doesn't count.
  2. At least there was water. We've only had a burst water pipe on the main road ONCE and we were out of water for about two weekend days. This was pre-kids so we just went to the gym to shower and endured stinky toilets for two days. Still, I could do without power easier than no water. And there are people in this very country who have to walk distances to get water.
  3. Thank God we have money to "just go to the Spur" or similar.
  4. I am far too dependent (and I'm not that bad) on my iphone. There were lovely moments and I kept thinking, "ah, I can't take a pic".
  5. It was REALLY nice to be able to do nothing for a day (once the laptop died because until then I worked SOLID) and just read.
  6. I slept a TON.
  7. Yay for real cameras that need no electricity. I took a few photos with the real camera in the afternoon.
  8. Yay for ipads to read at night. I read and deleted about 6 Kindle samples. I was in the middle of real books and my Kindle is the old-fashioned kind, also like a real book.
  9. I am also really dependent on lovely wi-fi. Crikey.

How often do you have power outages?
Do you cope well?
Do you burn your "good" candles? (I use everything - in fact, it's my mission in life to use everything)


  1. Our power tends to only go out when something catastrophic happens, usually hurricanes. The trees take the lines down and it takes them roughly 3-7 days to fix everything. We get the occasional flicker but nothing else. I can tolerate life without power so long as the cell towers don't die, I can charge everything in the car. We have gas in our house so I still have hot water, the stove, and heat (in winter) when we lose power. What kills me is that every other house in our neighborhood has a generator and hearing them run day and night is enough to make you mad! That and the smell of gas everywhere. They'll spend hundreds of dollars in gas to save the food in the fridge and keep their homes cool, crazy!

    As for candles I have very few. We have flashlights and lanterns.

  2. I grew up in Lagos! A good day in many areas is if you have power for any length of time on any given day. We've gone days and weeks without power. So virtually everyone who can afford it has a generator. You can imagine the noise and the fume!

    We hardly ever have power outages. Though we had a bad one that lasted for almost 10 hours a few months ago! Even during the peak in 2008 maybe twice when we were home. My house is not equipped for no power, I'm not even sure we have flashlights aside from the ones on the phones. And hardly any candles in my house. Open fire scares me too much!

    Ps: Y and I save numbers like that too. Y has a number saved on his phone as xyz locksmith expensive :)

  3. No we don't have frequent outages...but if there is a storm the whole of Theescombe, where Wynand lives is out...every single time. I remember the power shedding and I coped well with it because they were scheduled and you knew when everything would go out.

  4. I used to hate power outages... but we get power and water outages fairly often, and never with any warning. About twice a month we will have "water free" days and about the same for power... I have learned to welcome the peace: it is amazing how much work you can get done around the house when you aren't doing laundry or going near your computer... As soon as the water or power goes off I declare a grand sorting day or a gardening day and we can put our heads down and work without the usual distractions... We do keep a huge water bottle filled with fresh water on hand. And we have a gas plate and two or three oil lamps, so that we can at least see to cook dinner... it is livable and doesn't take too much planning and intention. Of course it usually happens on a day when a deadline looms or dinner guests are planned - have to just take a breathe and relax, I can't be worrying about things that I can't control...

  5. I don't have "good candles", but I do have an emergency LED lantern that can go 24 hours on a single charge. :-)
    I cope okay...but Nicola gets fairly hysterical.

    1. I really want to see your cool lantern!

  6. It doesn't happen too often around here except for that one year. I honestly didn't mind it. I still don't. We burn ALL our good candles and we also have a little lamp. We get a takeaway, That year when it was happening a lot I used to take our clothing to the laundry across the road at my work (if necessary) and I also used to take the flasks and hot water bottles to work and fill them all up before I leave the office. I now have a car charger so I am in the habit of charging devices while driving. When it happens on a weekend we all just read. Or go for a walk. Honestly? I do find it freeing in a way. When it happens at work I clean and organise my desk and file ALL THE THINGS.

  7. We have now and again - somehow we are in an area that get more than others. Luckily have never been without water in 13 years. I will burn any candle but we have a nice two bar big fluorescent light that burns a good 6 hours is charged so we keep it charged. And I see that each kid have a little flashlight

    BTW I am no fan of the Spur too but we went to a new one just around the corner on Saturday night and somehow things were way better - food, service etc and a fantastic play area

  8. Last year I bought some lamps that are solar powered. Thank goodness I did cos when Gemma was about 6 weeks old Cliff went out for dinner with a mate and I was alone with the kids and the power went out. NO candles in the house and a toddler in the bath freaking out cos he was in the bath in the DARK with a baby in a bouncing chair while I bathed him. I can handle no power but am also of the I can't handle the no water thing - altho I probably would have used pool water to flush loo's and always have loads of water in the fridge and culd have boiled some on the gas braai.., Amazing how you can make a plan when needs be!


  9. This reminds me of living in Chimoio and Maputo! The power would go out regularly and we'd do a mad dash around the house to pull anything important from the wall sockets so a potential surge wouldn't short out our devices when the power eventually returned. Also no water was a constant theme... Relying on the maid to fetch water in a giant oil container on her head so we could manually flush the toilet and boil some for a bucket shower. Going for a few days with no shower. Buying lots of bottled water for drinking and wondering what we'd do if that ever ran out. It was all very humbling, very grounding. Makes me grateful still every time I have a hot shower on demand or wifi every single place I go.

  10. My worst part of Byron being away is when the lights go off! Since October last year, we've had 3 power outtages ( I know because each one freaked me out in the worst way!).. I don't like the dark, and faking your fear so as not to freak your children out is even MORE difficult! BUT about a month we had a scheduled water outtage and I missed the notice and was not prepared. By the time I had rushed down to my local Spar, they had sold out! So I managed to get a litre at the garage and it was so hard! Especially when your dog kicks over his water bowl (with expensive filtered water!!!) and there's only ONE kettle full left!! So I do think no water is worse than no lights. I do have a gas stove, so cooking isn't impossible ..and I use the good candles.. the house does smell so lovely when the candles have been burning :)


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