For years, we hardly had our lights flicker because of a winter storm, let alone go out. This year, we've had two outages that made life challenging and a bit chilly.
Last week, the weather forecast was for rain, turning to sleet, and then quickly turning to snow. Since it was April, I thought the broadcast was making a mountain our of a mole hill - Bob says that sometimes they're trying to make news out of the weather.
Well they got it right this time, except for the quickly changing from sleet to snow. The sleet stayed and along with it came wind.
When I let our dog Sunny out for a quick run that evening, I could hear the accumulation of ice on the trees groaning as the wind whipped the branches. Sunny hurried with his business and soon was back inside.
By this time, Bob had already settled in his power lounge chair. He had a blanket over his body and he even wore a cap on his head. The house wasn't that cold, but he said the sound of the wind made him feel cold.
My husband wasn't at his best that night. A stiff neck had drained him of all his pep - after turning on the TV, I bundled up in my chair, and settled down, too.
At about 8:30 p.m., the power faded once, and then went out. We sat quietly in the dark and waited for its quick return. When that didn't happen, I had to rescue Bob.
After writing about the possibility of getting trapped in a power chair, we learned from readers that there's a battery pack in most chairs. Ours takes two 9-Volt batteries. I had bought them, but Bob said that putting them in would be a waste. "The electric probably won't go out again for years."
He was wrong.
Getting to the kitchen in the dark wasn't too much of a problem for me. I had my computer tablet with me. With it switched on, there was enough of a glow to find a flashlight. I rummaged in a drawer for the 9-V batteries and soon returned to Bob.
Though it should have been easy, snapping in the batteries, I struggled with them. Bob tried to help, but with his sore neck, all he could do was hold the flashlight. When the batteries were in place, Bob could finally move his chair. It let his feet down very slowly, but that was enough to get free.
Afterwards, we tried to see if others on our street were out, so we looked for signs of yard lights. None were visible. It was time to call the electric company and report the problem. Cell phones worked for that.
Candles and Bob's Dewalt lantern were brought out. For a little while, Bob and I sat at the kitchen table. The house was quiet. There was nothing for us to do but go to bed and hope we would be back to normal by morning.
An hour after going to bed we heard a terrible noise. Sunny had gone downstairs for a drink of water and had fallen on the dark stairs. Poor guy was banged up, but walking okay - he came upstairs again, though he wouldn't go downstairs in the dark again after his fall. He waited for daylight.
All during the night, I'd open my eyes to see if it was still dark. If the electricity came on, a nightlight in the hallway would beam and our clock would start blinking. Nothing changed. Morning came and we were still without electricity.
We dressed as fast as we could. Luckily it wasn't below zero outside, only around thirty, but the house did feel cold. Breakfast was a bit of bread with cold butter - boy did I miss my morning cup of hot tea.
Three power trucks were on our road early that morning. We waited for them to do their magic and return the electricity. They first went south on our street. About an hour later, all three went north, but nothing changed for us.
Hours passed. Bob called the power company again. "When can we expect to have power again?" he asked. The person at the power company thought our problem had been fixed. One repair truck came back to our farm and checked out our situation.
"Nope, you don't have power," he said the obvious after checking our meter. The line man used his lift to get to the transformer and reset it. Yay! We were back on the grid - but - Enough with winter already!
Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; Sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net; http://www.facebook.com/susan.manzke.