January 12 started off like any other Saturday. I got out of bed before my sweet husband to take an undisturbed shower, got my one-year-old, Reila, changed when I heard her wake up, prepared breakfast and called my Nana.
“A light dusting,” local meteorologists predicted before the snow started falling the previous night. It was the first snow of the year and only the second of the season. But it was already up to my dogs’ ankles when they came back inside from taking care of their morning business.
And then, the power went out. It was 11:00 AM.
Reila was in the middle of a bath when the lights flickered and went off. With our guest bathroom is in the middle of our upstairs floorplan, it has no windows to bring in natural light.
“Hey, did the power just go out?” I hollered to Spennie, who was in the bedroom next door as I started jiggling the pesky light switch which has recently given us trouble.
“Yeah, I guess so,” he said, wiggling the charging cable in his phone as it had suddenly stopped charging.
Coincidentally, the bathroom light came back on with my incessant switch jiggling. Even though I had kept talking to her, Rei was pretty nervous so I quickly rinsed the shampoo from her hair and pulled her out of the tub. Before I could get her snugly wrapped in her hooded pink bunny towel, the lights went out again. This time, they didn’t come back on.
KEEP THE FIRE BURNING
I got the baby dressed in layers as fast as I could, then handed her to Spence to cuddle with under the comforter on our bed while I started a fire in the living room. We’ve been blessed to live in houses that came fully stocked with firewood. Here, a three-foot-high pile of logs lined our southern fence. Although we love using our living room fireplace, more than half of the logs are still there. We also started a twig pile in the spring for use as firestarters.
But why was an eight-month-pregnant lady like me carrying logs into the house, you might ask? As some of you know, Spennie broke his ankle a little over a month ago, meaning I’ve had to pick up his chores and responsibilities. Can’t complain, though. I think it’s forced me to grow closer to the productive homemaker I want to be in a short period of time. Not to mention taking care of him along with Reila is sort of good practice for what having two little ones in the house will be like once my second daughter arrives next month. We are so excited!
Spennie hopped downstairs and I carried Rei behind him to sit in front of the fire. Then, I pushed the couch to face our fireplace. Don’t worry, it has sliding feet which glide effortlessly across our laminate floors. Pulling up our mushroom stool – yes, an actual stool shaped like a mushroom – next to the hearth, Spence said he would tend to the fire and keep it burning if I kept him supplied with firewood. Rei sat down next to him to watch. She loves fire building as much as us. I am sure she’ll enjoy camping when she gets older.
We were lucky to move into this house with a huge stock of firewood along the southern fenceline. Each time I went out to get firewood, I carried four logs onto the screened-in porch, brushed snow off two of them at a time using my kitchen broom and brought them inside for the fireplace. This way, there would always be wood available to prevent the fire from extinguishing. Our city recycling box in the garage was filled with cardboard, so I carried that upstairs as well to cut up and fuel the flames. Even with the fire blazing, the house was getting cold fast.
Although it was getting darker by the minute, we had to keep our blackout curtains shut for insulation. At one point, I opened the living room’s bay window curtains to watch a group of cardinals at my neighbor’s birdfeeders. It couldn’t have been for more than five minutes but the inside temperature drastically dropped, as Spence grumpily pointed out. We were all cold, despite wearing long sleeves with sweaters and blankets.
I’ve never seen a 16-month-old so calm. Reila sat by the fire, staring at the flames while holding a purple toy pony. She didn’t make a peep, just stared. And when 1:00 PM rolled around, signalling her nap time, she went right down in her crib with no fuss.
But then, frustration crept in. People may discredit predictive astrology but this was a typical day under an Aries moon, as I wrote about in my Moony Musing: blunt, confrontational, dramatic, headstrong and fiery. Extra emphasis on the fiery part. All we could do as we waited for the power to come back on was keep the fire burning. We were quite literally powerless.
Although there’s no one I would rather be trapped in a house with, Spennie and I had a bit of a tiff after Rei fell asleep. I’ll take the blame because I’m hangry and not good at controlling my hanger. Not to mention at eight months pregnant, snacking just isn’t satisfying and I could not get my mind off food. There were so many yummy things hiding behind my fridge doors but without a way to cook them, they were as good as trash. All I could do is keep the doors shut to keep them cold and leave it alone. But that didn’t make the hunger disappear.
Just as I was about to make a suggestion to Spence about what we could make for lunch and dinner, I watched him crumple up a coupon mailer for Popeye’s and toss it in the fire. Of course, we were snowed in and wouldn’t be driving to Popeye’s anytime soon. But thinking about the $2 savings on fried chicken, Cajun mashed potatoes and jambalaya seriously triggered me. So, of course, I made some smarmy comment about how I was looking forward to using those coupons and he fired right back.
Instead of escalating, I took my flashlight into the garage to look for more batteries and cardboard. Aries moon always rewards physical activity. Until we calmed down, the only thing we could do to keep ourselves from appearing on an episode of Dateline was to stay busy doing other things. I took about 10 minutes to literally cool off in the garage and rearrange some things, then went back upstairs.
LOVE IS PATIENT, LOVE IS KIND
It shouldn’t be surprising that Spence and I were able to laugh the whole situation off when I sat back down by the fire with him. I mean, there was plenty of material to work with just between fat jokes and fried chicken. Laughter is my favorite part of our marriage and one of our daily rituals. Even during the grimmest parts of life, like finding out my last pregnancy was ectopic or getting the phone call that Spence had been in a rollover accident, we’re quick to make a joke as soon as the anger or grief passes. Life is too short to be serious all the time.
DELICIOUS, STRESS-FREE CAMPING FOOD
Obviously, Spence was hungry too and Reila would be when she woke up, so I took the kitchen with a meal plan. We tried boiling water over the fire using a pan because we didn’t have a teapot but without an appropriate lid, soot got in which made it uninviting. Reila woke up around 4:00 PM (she loves naptime) so Spence shared a can of ravioli with her along with Cheez-Its and cookies. But obviously, that wasn’t a meal.
I very quickly opened the fridge to pull out hot dogs, which we put on grilling skewers to lean against the iron burning rack that held the logs Then, I scrub cleaned and double wrapped three potatoes in aluminium foil while Spence poked around a bed of coals to place them on.
With the sun starting to set, the living room was losing light fast and starting to feel more like a cave. Scurrying around, we grabbed three tall pillar candles to light. Good thing I always have a stupid amount of candles on hand. To pass the time as our food cooked, Spence and I decided to play cribbage. Reila was once again in a super mellow mood, zoned out by the fire although she did play with a few of her musical light-up toys this time around. The flashing rainbow lights looked pretty magical in the dark and kept her entertained.
Now, I’ve got to say, these were the most delectable baked potatoes I’ve ever enjoyed – and I’m not just saying that because I was hungry as a bear! The flame-licked, slow cooked, super soft potatoes were unlike any I’ve had before and it goes without saying that flame-broiled hot dogs beat the pants off of boiled dogs. Throw Cribbage or another
A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
Reila started to fall asleep before her 8:00 PM bedtime rolled around. Listening to people find all the ways to count to 15 in Cribbage can’t be that entertaining when you’re still working on the number one. In fact, the combination of dark cold and the magic of the fire had her so tired she slept through me changing her diaper and getting her into pajamas! Wrapped in a fire-warmed afghan knitted by her great-great Nana for her when she was born, I carried Reila up to her crib and laid her down fuss-free.
I used the last of my phone battery to write, schedule and design the January 13 Moony Musing post while our pajamas warmed by the fire. With a porch stocked full of firewood, a handsome man and plush couch to share, I wasn’t too worried about falling asleep. Spence and I both had our own blankets – microfiber for him while I stuck with an afghan – plus a comforter, which I carried downstairs from our bed.
When we first bought this house, we spent several nights on the couch waiting for our mattress and bed set to be delivered. And we’re never embarrassed to offer it up to friends and family who spend the night.
I’d nominate our couch for the most comfortable couch award in a heartbeat. It was the only
TO BE CONTINUED. . .
P.S: Check out my post on winter outage preparation for tips and tricks to survive these trying times!