Posted by: Kiersten | November 16, 2009

Power Down

The gale warnings we’ve been hearing for the past two days finally rolled into town yesterday with the promised high winds and buckets and buckets of rain.  I’ve read that the Pacific Rim gets a mind-boggling 10 FEET of rain every season. 

Yesterday, it felt like we got the whole 10 feet.  I opened the door to let the dogs out and they stopped short just before stepping outside, and they both looked up at me as though to say “Oh you have GOT to be kidding.”  Bonus in fact refused to pee outside at first, so I had to put his coat on just to send him outside for a couple of minutes. 

It was Sunday, we had enough groceries and enough work at home to keep us occupied, so we called it a rain day and stayed inside.  After the hail incident we didn’t feel like braving rough weather quite yet.  We watched several episodes of Star Trek, we cleaned, organized, napped, ordered pizza and I baked a fresh batch of cookies.  At about 9 pm the power went out.

I haven’t experienced an extended power outage since the big Blackout of 2003.  Since the Blackout, I’ve never quite been able to take electricity for granted.  I was fortunate on that day – I’d left work early and I was already at home when the power went out.  I wasn’t one of the thousands of people trapped in the subway or walking home for hours in the sweltering August heat.  I remember we couldn’t flush the toilet or take a shower for a couple of days because the water pump in our building was electric.  I remember climbing 16 flights of stairs hauling gallon jugs of water up to my friends who also didn’t have running water.  What I remember best was the stars – that night, the shimmering milky way sparkled over Toronto in all it’s glory, in a way that hasn’t been seen over the city for decades.  

Since that day, I’ve always kept four gallons of bottled water on hand, and a reserve of food that can be eaten cold from a can.  While looking at apartments in Ukee, I knew that places with only electric heat were especially vulnerable, but coming from Toronto we couldn’t be picky – we took the first place that we could find that allowed pets.

 Our apartment is beautiful – we’re already so spoiled by the en suite washer & drier and the DISHWASHER, that I’m afraid we’re in for a harsh adjustment when we have to leave in the spring.  The only thing our apartment lacks is a wood stove.  When we lost the power yesterday, we lost the heat.

Losing heat on the west coast in November isn’t as serious as losing heat in North Bay, Ontario, in November.  It isn’t even below freezing on the coast, we have plenty of wool blankets and four animals to huddle with… but the incident made my survivalist sense tingle.  We *should* have a backup heater.

I recently purchased Jenna Woginrich’s book “Made From Scratch”:

I think that Jenna and I have a lot of common sentiments, including our innate need to be self-sufficient.  In her book, she talks about all the small ways in which we’re dependant upon the system of centralized distribution, and the merits of weaning yourself off of it just a bit.  When the power went out in Toronto, there was no debit and no grocery stores.  If you were low on food, you had no way of accessing your money and nowhere to buy supplies – you were screwed.  (By the way, Jenna has a blog which I really enjoy: )

I was pleased at how prepared we were for our first power outage on the coast.  After just two weeks here we had plenty of tea lights, I knew exactly where the flashlights and matches were, we had enough food, blankets and water to keep us going for a few days if necessary.  We were bound to run out of hot water since the tank was electric, and we had no means of heating water without a wood stove or propane cartridges for our camp stove.  The battery for our radio was long dead, but all these things were pretty minor.  I’d say we passed the first test.

 This morning the rain had tapered off to a mild patter, so I took the dogs on an extended walk to Big Beach, where the surf was still rolling with all the power of last night’s storm:


The power the open Pacific is mesmerizing.  The crashing waves resonate with the sound of rolling thunder.  I was so preoccupied with the surf that I didn’t immediately notice Mocha rolling enthusiastically in the seaweed by the shore.  I could smell her find long before I saw it – a large hunk of white, bubbly flesh – a piece of rotting seal or whale blubber, ocean leftovers washed ashore for the crows and vultures to finish off.  Mocha was like a cat in a field of catnip – it took all of my strength to drag her from her prize.

The skies obligingly let loose again, and I welcomed nature’s rinse cycle which washed the worst of the smell off of my happy hound before we got home.  Whatever she rolled on, I have to admit it sure made her coat shiny.



  1. Just wanted to let you know that I love your blog! Very interesting and great pic’s too. How exciting that you have taken the chance to start a new life for yourselves, in such a beautiful area of the world. I look forward to future posts, good luck to you both!

    • Thank you carol!

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