When my husband woke me at in the middle of the night, I looked at my digital clock, and it was dark. “It’s 3:00 a.m.,” he said. “The electricity’s out, and it’s cold in the house.” He added a comforter to the bed and we snuggled under the covers until morning.
Of course, when I called to report the outage, they asked for my address, and said it would be fixed as soon as possible. Seeing the whole neighborhood without lights, I figured it would be a while. Since our house was all electric, including the stovetop, we decided to go out for breakfast. Nothing was open, not even the restaurant in a nearby Holiday Inn. Luckily, the nearby Kroger was, so I stocked up.
Back home, I had a rubber hot water bottle and our water heater delivered hot water. It wasn’t enough to make coffee, but sitting in a chair with my bathrobe on, a shawl around my shoulders and an afghan over my legs, I got my feet warm on the hot water bottle until my feet felt damp. Oops, even though I had screwed the cap on tightly, the thing was leaking.
Next, our wonderful neighbor, Joanie and her husband knocked on the door. If we had an electric heater, they would lend us a generator. After they set it up, we attached an extension cord and threaded it under a window. Then we sat together on the couch, holding our feet out toward the tiny heater we’d set on a board. We even connected the generator (lower right side) to the microwave to make coffee.
We talked to our daughter in Fort Worth and found out she had electricity. A friend from Hurst, was already staying with her. Apparently, our whole town was without electricity. We thanked the neighbor for the use of the generator and set out for my daughter’s house with three pounds of ground beef. She had tomato sauce and spaghetti noodles, so I fixed spaghetti and homemade biscuits for us. I had brought along some of my mint frosted brownies, which we ate.
Her roommate, David, was also staying there. The next morning he cooked scrambled eggs with home fries, and we split leftover biscuits and broiled them. We made good use of Diane’s Keurig for coffee, hot chocolate and tea. I called our neighbor behind us, who reported three hours electricity, then nothing. The weather forecast was 3 degrees, almost unheard of for Texas, and it was still snowing, so we decided to stay with Diane another night. When we lived in Michigan, we’d endured cold before, but never went without electricity or heat in the house. Up north, they know how to deal with the cold.
So what did we do away from home. Others watched old movies, including “The Gods Must Be Crazy” and “Man of the House,” about a bachelor guarding five witnesses, typical teenage coeds, who almost drove him crazy. I worked on my laptop, writing on my next book, Searching for Justice. I also read First Family by David Baldacci.
As we headed home on Wednesday, snow still covered much of the roads, and there was ice underneath in places, but the freeways were not bad. Of course, I drove slowly, realizing many Texans were not used to driving in these conditions, but we got home, and there was heat. During a trip to the dentist to get molds made for false teeth for my husband, the most dangerous spot was slippery ice underfoot in the parking lot .
The ice cream in the freezer seemed affected with tinges of frost. I remembered when my mother made ice cream, she had to beat it often, I used the cake mixer and beat our ice cream without thawing it too much. I returned it to the freezer, and later it tasted much better.
Of course, leaving whole areas without power in order to avoid complete power grid failure caused lots of discussion on the news and in the paper. I believe a person on my neighborhood email newsletter figured out the cause. When estimating the electricity need for this winter, the electricity providers took an average of previous years, without including 2011 when there was extreme weather while the Super Bowl was in the DFW area. Since there seemed to be extra capacity this year, they sold power to other states. Wind vanes and generators failed because companies didn’t want to spend extra for wintering precautions. And even a nuclear power generator froze. To add insult to injury, after buying extra power from other states at high prices, the electric providers jacked up people’s electric bills. Seems like more state regulation for electric providers is needed.
And unbelievably, today all I needed to go outside was a sweater. That’s Texas for you.