Sunday, 23 February 2014


Suddenly, without warning on Saturday night about 9:45, our electricity went out. I was in bed and Spiderman was washing up the last of the dishes before packing his gear for his early start to his volunteer job at the zoo when it happened.

On my end it looked as if Spiderman turned off the hall light to come to bed and then remembered something left undone and flicked it back on again only to decide, “Sod it! I‘ll do it in the morning!” and flicked it off again. On his end he says the kitchen light strained itself to brightness before fading out and dying as if that last burst of energy was all it could muster.


It was dark. Very dark. We called out to each other and once assured we were both alright began the task of finding light.


We have a torch, but no batteries. My father, ever ready with a working flashlight, would have been rolling over in his grave at our carelessness. Some discussion in the inky darkness led to remembering there was a fat candle and some matches left over from Christmas in a drawer. But which one? Eventually the candle was found and lit and a ghostly spectre glided down the hallway. Spiderman found the stool and stood upon it, lifted the Bayberry candle as it wafted out its faint perfume, and checked the fuse box.


No switch was flipped. He took a clue from the IT Crowd and tried turning it off and on again, but to no avail.   We did not know what to do and even one candle could not light the darkness enough to make a decision. The best decision was to sleep on it and hope it would right itself in the night.


This is not an unheard of plan, recently we discovered  that we must have had a power outage as the timer on the boiler was off. Our heat is set to come on in cycles throughout the day and night. Only when we noticed that the heat was coming on at strange times did we check the boiler and notice the evidence of a power outage. That righted itself, surely this would as well?


I slept fitfully in the night, waking up at intervals cold and in complete darkness--the warm, friendly glowing face of our bedroom clock was invisible. In the morning, it was clear that the power had not righted itself and we were still in the dark.


And the cold. Our heat and hot water and all appliances all run on electrics. So no heat mats for the spiders, no hot bath for me. No kettle boiled for Spiderman’s tea. Nothing.


In the early morning light--which was shockingly dim, we re-lit the Christmas candle and tried to figure out who to phone. Back in Louisiana we used to just phone CLECO. But we never had to report it here. Our energy provider is not local, they are a great energy company that provides 100% renewable green energy and no nuclear, but they ain’t from around these here parts. (As they say in one of the many Spaghetti Westerns I watched with my dad when I was growing up).

Eventually Spiderman got through and we were assured someone would be here within the next twenty hours. TWENTY HOURS! It sounded like an eternity.

I decided to try to wash my hair using only cold water which had me gasping and swearing at its briskness, but my hair turned out rather lovely and shiny--but this is not an experience I wish to repeat any time soon. However, Spiderman’s impression of me saying AHHYEEEEE! (it’s freezing!) followed by OOOooooOOOO (don’t I look purdy?)  had me in stitches.


In more ways than one. We were without power and I felt powerless to do anything. What else could we do but wait it out?  Patience is not my middle name, for a very good reason.

I had to go to Meeting for Worship as I have responsibilities there. Someone had to stay home and wait for the help to arrive. I was in a foul mood, full of anxiety and a million worries. I felt cold inside and out. I had planned to go late and just do my bit at the end and then come home. We were having a special lunch discussion today and I had longed to go to it, but the sense of powerlessness had frozen my heart and I could find no joy in it.

Go, Spiderman said. Go and stay if you want. Go and have fun. Go and feel better. Go and come home to me when you are ready.

So I did.

For the first 45 minutes of Meeting for Worship I felt as thought there was an icy hand squeezing my heart. This is what a panic attack feels like for me. I could not shake the feeling.
What if the spiders die because it is too cold?

What if all the food in the fridge and freezer go bad?

What if the repairman doesn’t come? (that has happened before after hours of waiting)

What if he does come at 4am? (they warned us he might)

  What if he needs to get in to read the meter in the middle of the night? (our meter is in a locked cupboard downstairs to which we do not have the key)


Every thought kept whizzing around in my head. I managed to analyse each one and think of how I would cope with it. Slowly, my heart stop hurting and the fear was leaving me. I did not feel powerful, but I no longer felt powerless. 


The feeling finally left in its entirety when I was able to stop obsessing about myself and started thinking of all those people in the UK who have suffered flood damage. They’ve got no power just like we don‘t and theirs has been out a lot longer than ours. . But the real difference is, at the end of it, they don’t have a home to go to anymore. And we do.


This is just an annoying issue to deal with, not a life or death situation. Not even for the spiders. It’s just not that cold and we can wrap their tanks with blankets if we are concerned. Suddenly I felt very powerful. I knew I could not be in control of the situation, but I could control how I dealt with it.  

I ended up staying for the lunch discussion and came away feeling warm and spiritually rejuvenated. I had many offers of help from the practical (take home this thermos full of hot water) to the unbelievably kind (you can board your tarantulas in our spare room if you are worried) but in the end, it wasn’t needed.

When I got home at 1:30, the house was warm and full of light. The repairman had come, fixed things and left. A second repairman had even come and left. The spiders were fine. Everything in the freezer was still frozen solid so that gives me hope. I only felt a few things needed to be gotten rid of the fridge (I just couldn’t be sure about the yoghurt) but the rest was fine.

While my heart was un-knotting itself, help was here and the problem was being solved. I was no longer powerless in every sense of the word.

We had light and heat and power.

I gained a better understanding of how to deal with difficult situations.


1 comment:

  1. You had a plan to deal with it, so the next time it happens you will be ready! Now get some batteries for the torches! Glad you all made it through the dark!