Since the disasters of Katrina and recently the tornadoes in Kansas added to the worries about pandemics or terrorists attacks on major population areas, I have gotten serious about stocking up supplies for an emergency. The Dumbplumber calls it my Armageddon pantry. Actually this is something I have been serious about for some time and it gives me a really good excuse for my hoarding behavior. I must have learned this when I was a child: this need to have not one, not two but a dozen cans of corn, soup etc.
Well, a while back, we got a small preview of what the effects of a "disaster" would be. Ok, a very, very small preview. Our house wasn't destroyed, my cat can still come in and whine for her "TREAT" (a tablespoon of canned food), we still had running water and the natural gas to the Wolf Range was still functional. What happened was that for some inexplicable reason the electricity went off on a Sunday afternoon about 1:00. I was in the middle of a load of laundry, in the middle of typing up recipes into my Master Cook program and whamo......power outage. Fortunately I have a power back up on the computer so I shut it down. The Dumbplumber was taking a nap. No need to disturb him. I had full confidence that the power would be back on shortly, after all it was a beautiful sunny afternoon. So, what to do now? Grab a beer, a bowl of potato chips and my latest paperback and go sit on the deck in the sun and read…. naturally.
As the day wore on, DP woke up and there seemed to be no progress from PG&E. I decided to get some of the supplies from the Armageddon Pantry. Out come the oil lamps....hmmm I only have one more bottle of oil, better make a note. Out come the candles and candle holders....better buy some more candles, all I have are two green decorative candles. I had already made most of dinner so that wasn't too bad. But after about 8 hours of no power, I am beginning to worry about the food in the fridge getting hot and my half done laundry getting moldy. Wow, I think I'd better get some old fashioned clothes pins for the future disaster room.
So, the evening wore on. We had roasted chicken, macaroni salad, green salad and rhubarb crisp. Fortunately I had purchased an antique (OK only 1950's) rotary egg beater, so I was able to make whipped cream without electricity. Whew! averted that disaster. No television! Actually that was the best part of the whole experience. Whipping out the matches, which didn't work because they were too old....hmmm more notes to self, and then getting the butane lighter from the bbq, we lit the oil lanterns. Feeling like Abe Lincoln, we read our books by oil lamps sipping on a glass of wine. I said, "No wonder women did so much needlework, they were bored." The Dumbplumber said, "No wonder people had such large families."...So we went to bed. Suddenly, twelve hours after the outage, everything comes back on with a vengeance. Lights, washer, stereo and all electronic devices begin beeping. Life is back to normal.
In all seriousness, our little inconvenience was’t much, but it has reinforced the need to be prepared. What if this was not just an annoying 12 hour event, but a situation that would last for days or weeks? We are in a somewhat remote rural area. If anything happened (earthquake, terrorist attack, bird flu epidemic) it is highly likely that we would be cut off from supplies of food and other necessities. I am determined to beef up the disaster pantry. Plus it is pretty convenient to grab that extra jar of mayonnaise from the pump house instead of trundling off to the store.