When the lights went out in Bethesda

Last Sunday at 3:29 pm a violent storm passed through the DC area knocking over trees and bringing down branches. It also resulted in no power to around 300,000 homes and businesses in the DC Metro area.  We were among  that number.

The actual storm was kind of fun.  It didn’t last long, but was very strong. We saw huge branches fall from our Tulip poplar, and the torrential rain flew sideways for a while, drenching everything in our screened in porch. Stupidly we all stood at the front (cracked) picture window in the dining room while the storm raged. Had I been carrying my mobile phone with me I would have gotten the tornado “SEEK SHELTER IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS A DANGEROUS STORM!” warning text. But it was charging in my office.

Sometime before the end of the storm we heard the muffled pop of a transformer, and the lights went out. We suspected we were in for at least a day without power. During the blizzard last winter people were without power for several days (we were lucky and didn’t lose power — or at least not for long if we did). A number of years ago a hurricane took out our power for a week. That was not very much fun.

Anyway — Dean took Clare and Brandon (my nephew who was visiting from Illinois) to DC to a museum and Georgetown while I stayed home and cooked dinner — which was my plan before the storm but was going to be more of a challenge with no power. Luckily we have a gas stove and I could use the burners after lighting them with a match.

That night, after Dean, Clare and Brandon returned we ate dinner and talked about what to do that night. Brandon was the most concerned — he worried about sleeping without air conditioning. Also: no TV or Xbox. Andrew and Clare went out with friends. Dean and Brandon went to bed early but I stayed up and read by candle light.

The next morning Dean, Andrew and Brandon headed to Pennsylvania to camp for the night. Clare and I stayed home. Clare slept until noon, as usual, but I was up early. With not much else to do I tackeled the cupboards and drawers in my kitchen — something I’d  been meaning to do for months. I started on one side of the kitchen and ended up at the other side. No longer does one feel like they’re looking at a puzzle in an “Eye Spy” book when trying to find the measuring spoon in one kitchen drawer.

After Clare woke up we celebrated her 19th birthday by going to the mall and buying her a couple of items for her mobile phone. We also bought some more flashlights, since the boys took the good ones camping.

That night we lit several candles while I continued to clean the house. I remarked to Clare that this must be what I would be like had the Internet not been invented. I would clean all day. She thought that sounded sick.  After Clare left to hang out with friends, I read for a few hours by candle light, then went to sleep — exhausted after a day of hard work in nearly 90° temperatures.

On Tuesday I found more cleaning to do, and was just about to begin work on the basement when I heard a strange noise. The air conditioner fan! We had electricity again! Goodbye cleaning! Hello Internet…

8 thoughts on “When the lights went out in Bethesda

  1. I’m impressed.

    I cleaned all day yesterday. Or, at least, I did chores all day yesterday. Until I collapsed into a heap, exhausted.

    Nothing by candlelight.

    But isn’t it satisfying to have things organized, even for only an instant?


  2. I’m amazed. If this happened in NZ, there would be a huge outcry of disgust, of complaints that we were like a third world nation. Next time I can point out that it happens in DC (or near enough), and suggest that we clean instead.


  3. Wow, I’m so impressed. And I’m going to try your dishwashing technique. Who knew it could be such a romantic chore? Perhaps I’ll take it a step further and wear some lingerie as well…


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