Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Cold Cuppa

At 4:00 Saturday morning (which, trust me, feels a lot more like night than morning), our power went out. We knew the power had gone out for two reasons, the first good, the second not so much so.

I knew when we moved here that power outages were going to be a fact of life, so when I saw some Canadian Red Cross Blackout Buddies at Costco I picked up a package. These things are brilliant. You plug them in and they function as an ordinary night light. But they also have two other features. They are rechargeable flashlights, meaning we no longer run into that age old problem of blindly rummaging through drawers in the midst of a blackout trying to find batteries. They also shine a bright light when the power goes out, illuminating things so you can find your way around.

This last feature proved helpful when it came to sorting out the second, not so good thing about the power going out. For some reason it set our smoke detectors off. Waking up to the high-pitched squelching of the smoke detectors was not a good start to the day. Fergus didn't think so either. The smoke alarms hurt his ears and always send him into a fit of whining and yipping. The dog/alarm combo was not a good one. I will say this was a moment when it was good to be short. I'm 5'4". Jay is 6'4". Guess who had to crawl out of bed and take down the smoke detectors?

Things finally settled down again, and I was just ready to fall back asleep when I was struck by a terrible thought. If the power was out, how was I going to make my morning cup of tea? Obviously my kettle wasn't going to work, and we have an electric hot water tank, so it wouldn't take long for the water in it to cool down. It was my turn to crawl out of bed. Guided by my handy dandy Blackout Buddy I made my way to the kitchen and filled my travel mug with hot water from the tap, wrapped the mug in towels, and crawled back into bed feeling proud of myself for having been so brilliant.

My early morning routine is to turn on my computer, and while it's starting I make my tea. There was no point in firing up the computer since our wireless was down due to the power outage. So I went straight to the tea making. I wasn't expecting a brilliant cuppa, but I figured it would be better than the alternative, which was to go without.

I was wrong. When I went to pour the water from my travel mug over the tea bag in my cup the water was only lukewarm! So much for that travel mug. But, being desperate, I persevered and ended up making the worst cup of tea I have ever had in my life. Did you know that tea doesn't even really steep when the water is only warm? My "tea" was basically a cup of warm water coloured the faintest shade of brown imaginable. It tasted like swamp water. It wasn't even sweet swamp water, because not only does the tea not steep, the honey doesn't melt.

The power came back on at 7:00 AM, and you can guess what the first thing I did was. And I know I shouldn't be whining about being without power for such a short amount of time, especially after the power outages so many people in Eastern Canada, like my blogging friend Anne, have faced over the past few weeks.

The wind that caused the power outage was unbelievable. We had branches down all over the cottage development, and it even blew over a stop sign. Maybe even worse than the cold cup of tea was our bird feeder. The wind had knocked it down during the night.



One of the feeders was broken.




Luckily the new squirrel proof feeder and the suet feeder were okay.




In the meantime, this guy thought he had struck the jackpot!




The excitement for today is the new, downgraded washer and dryer get delivered. Yes, it was supposed to happen on Monday but they didn't have the stacker pieces so it got delayed. It was interesting to read all your comments and realize we are not the only ones who have problems with appliances. I'm really hoping the appliance guys' arrival doesn't end up being material for another blog post!

34 comments:

  1. Our feeder pole gets toppled regularly - I think it is a racoon that sometimes visits! I love those Red Cross Blackout Buddies...I will get a couple to put in strategic places....just in case.

    Did I tell you about our power surge protector that we had installed on our hydro into the house - it is supposed to "absorb" any power surges so that it doesn't damage your appliances and electronics. It seems that power surges happen all the time...not enough to blow things....but enough to shorten the life of your appliances and electronics....so this thing controls that too.....worth the expense because we don't want to go through this again!

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    1. Racoons would definitely topple a feeder pole, but still, they are cute enough to make up for the damage. :-)

      The Blackout Buddies are great - I highly recommend them. I've never heard of a power surge protector that gets installed outside of the house. Do you have a link you could send me? Thanks Anne!

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  2. I am so glad that over all you guys are safe and sound . Prayer for ya going up. I love the family pictures of your family on the side bar. Just a beautiful family . And YAY on new appliances for the washroom .. HUGS and have a blessed new week

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    1. We're safe and sound, just a little short of sleep. :-)

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  3. I haven't seen the Blackout Buddies but they sound great! I should look into getting some. I totally understand about the tea, and I've even had a very similar experience. It just isn't the same without hot water. I like my tea really strong so if I can't get that to happen, it seems pointless. Plus it tastes terrible, like you say. That squirrel seems to be in heaven, how funny. I hope it wasn't too hard to fix. What a naughty little guy.

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    1. I had no idea that tea made with cold water would be so bad. I had never had a reason to try it out before. Like you, I like my cuppa to be strong, and also very hot. The feeder stand went back together easily enough, as did the new feeder. The wooden one went into the garbage though.

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  4. What a bad way to start the day hope things improved once you had your cup of tea! Have you had many power cuts since you moved? What did the dogs think of the squirrel?
    Sarah x

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    1. Things are always better after a nice cup of tea, so yes, the rest of that day was better, although I was tired due to lack of sleep. Jenny ignores the squirrels, but Fergus goes ballistic when they are on the back deck, which is quite often. :-)

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  5. I'm the same way about my morning coffee....it's the first thing I think about if our power goes out during the night. This is why I keep a can of sterno on hand and my fondue pot to boil water....which is another issue for us since we are on a well. I also keep gallon jugs of water on hand.

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    1. A can of sterno and a fondue pot is a brilliant idea! Anything to get our morning fix! :-)

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  6. Ruth in Ontario, CanadaJanuary 15, 2014 at 12:23 PM

    Kristie, you REALLY need an Aga. It doesn't have any electrical connection so it works regardless of power failures...just saying :). (Of course, we also have a back-up generator since we need electricity to power the well and septic pumps.) And speaking of appliances, we had 5 years of frustration with a gas range that didn't work properly most of the time and was actually what inspired us to look at the Aga in the first place.

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    1. I had almost gotten over my Aga fixation...now you've got me started on it again. :-)

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  7. I love the squirrel - your loss, his gain I guess!!

    The first thing I do when I wake up in the mronignis put the kettle on. I can't function without at least tow cups of tea. And I agree - lukewarm tea is an absolute shocker.

    Leanne xx

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    1. Yes, it's two cups of tea for me as well. I consider it as necessary as the blood running through my veins. :-)

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  8. Eek! That was a rough morning. I imagine a cold cup offers cold comfort. We've been pretty lucky (knock on wood) since last year's durecho. That took power out for 10 days--but not while it was cold out. Our Border Collie used to bark like a maniac whenever he heard people or vehicle noises outside--and when we vacuumed. But when after one of us went to bed, he didn't bark much at all (even when loud cars went by). That was his best trait (to me).

    I have a few extra cans of Sterno...I'd be happy to share to help you avoid that swamp water tea! Although I haven't heard much about the fire bug issues you've mentioned. maybe I better keep the Sterno! :)

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    1. Ten days is a long time to lose your power for. The worst part about that would be having everything in your freezer spoil. Most of the fire bugs have moved out. With only one left in the house it's easier to keep track of what happens with the matches around here. :-)

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  9. argh, power cuts are such a pain! and yes I did know tea doesn't seep if the water wasn't hot, I've been known to try and make tea without boiling the kettle first.... Hope the washer/drier is perfection

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    1. Ha! I've done that with the kettle too, thinking I've boiled it when I haven't. But I have always thrown that tea out and started again without trying to drink it. Now I know why! :-)

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  10. I have never heard of Blackout Buddies, but they sound very useful. I wonder if they are found in Australia? I did know tea needs boiling water to steep, and that is my first thought too when the power goes off. First thing every morning for me is a pot of tea ie several cups. We have been known to drive to the shops, just for a cuppa when power is out. Enjoy your new washer/dryer as only we women can!

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    1. I bet you have something similar to Blackout Buddies where you live. I wish I would have bought these ages ago!

      Yes, we must have our morning tea, and if we can't get it at home driving to a shop to get it is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. :-)

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  11. Those blackout buddies sound great...we get power cuts without warning, which is O.K. in daylight hours...but not at night as my husband cannot walk if he cannot see.
    When we first moved to France power cuts were frequent, which is why they sold stove tops which had two gas rings and two electric rings. I have a gas hob here - as I did in France - on Butane, so, thank goodness, morning tea is always available.

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    1. These were very impressive, Helen. The amount of light they put out made walking 100% safe. I highly recommend them! Lucky you to be able to make tea even when the power goes out. But then again, unlucky you that your power goes out so often.

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  12. I was so thankful that we didn't go without power over the holidays and believe me, my first thought was "we still have hot coffee". I so understand!!!

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    1. A power outage over the holidays is the worst kind to have. One year our power went out at Christmas, but thankfully we had eaten our big dinner on Christmas Eve, so it didn't matter to us. Neighbours were scrambling to get their turkeys cooked though, and one of them borrowed our BQ to try to cook theirs on.

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  13. nothing worse than not starting the day with a hot cup of tea, I'm just not nice to be near! Maybe you should fill a flask with boiling water each night before you go to bed!

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    1. I'm thinking the same thing, Sue. I need to buy a proper Thermos though since mine didn't keep the water hot. Then when it is stormy out I can fill it with hot water and know that no matter what else the next day might bring at least I'll have a hot cup of tea in the morning!

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  14. Oh it is so hard when the power is out, and if you are like me you keep turning things on because you forget you have no power.
    Sorry about the damage from the storm. Hugs to you,
    Meredith

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    1. Exactly Meredith! I always think, "oh, I'll just go do that" then remember doing that thing involves electricity. :-)

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  15. You have my complete sympathy. There really is nothing worse than household malfunctions, blackouts and faulty appliances. Drives me nuts and we have many here. We had the dishwasher, vacuum and iron all break in one week once and at the moment the oven needs to be closed with a forceful kick and one of the hot plates sometimes causes a short and trips the power, which is just fabulous around 6pm with 5 hungry kids at my feet...argh!!! Hope the appliances were installed without a hitch :-) Mel xxx

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    1. So many of my readers have had the same bad luck with their appliances. I'm sorry you have been added to that growing list. Five hungry kids and a non-functioning stove sounds rather ominous!

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  16. Maybe your blackout buddy needs a small camping stove buddy for tea emergencies. I make a big pot first thing, too.

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    1. A camping stove is a great idea. Maybe I'll look into getting one of those small ones backpackers use. My only problem is I have always been afraid to light them. However, I'm usually desperate enough for my tea that I think I could overcome the fear. Isn't that early morning pot of tea the best thing ever? :-)

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  17. Get thee to a store that sells higher end stuff and buy a hot pot that plugs into a vehicle cigarette lighter, slick, hot water even while stopping at rest areas on trips.

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  18. NOT fun, Kristie. I simply can't get going in the morning without my pot of tea. I second Lynne's suggestion. We have a travel kettle which plugs into the car cigarette lighter and though slow, it does the trick. :-) Sorry to see the damage to your bird feeder, but it made me smile to see the opportunistic squirrel having a feast.

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