Lights Out

Sitting in darkness on a morning like this, it is the little things that I miss most. Lights. Heat. Refrigeration. Yes, I am truly back in Humboldt. I know because we are ten hours into a power outage and I am being reminded of the one thing North Idaho did better: Keep the lights on. In Kootenai County, we had the Kootenai Electric Cooperative, providing clean hydroelectric power and great service at affordable rates. And by affordable, I mean half the cost of electricity from PG&E. Kootenai Electric is an energy cooperative, focused on providing service to their customers. PG&E, in contrast, is a for-profit corporation, focused on providing profit to their shareholders. Both supply energy, but they have very different goals. If you are an investor, I suppose PG&E is the company to root for. If you are a consumer, I would think that the company focused on service and maintenance would be the first choice. To be fair, Kootenai Electric does not have to deal with a redwood forest, but they do have trees, ice storms, lightning strikes, sudden freezes, dramatic temperature extremes and plenty of drunk yahoos to contend with. Oh joy, now we have lost cell phone service. Perhaps having cell and voip service only was not such a great choice. At least we still have hot water, thanks to the propane water heater.

It is a day off from school for the boy-child, which must irk the girl-child to no end. Since our stovetop is electric (not making THAT mistake in the new house . . . ), it was crêpes at Renata’s for breakfast. He had the Hungry Farmer and hot chocolate, and I the Bacon Avocado Tomato and double mocha. My crêpe was drizzled with Crème Fraiche, and Aaron’s had a dollop of sour cream. I could probably coast through the rest of the week without another meal and still have consumed more than my share of calories.

The challenge to hot drinks at Renata’s is finishing them. The are not served in cups, but instead in a bowl. A goldfish would have found my mocha bowl roomy, if a bit warm and caffeinated. This means a large surface area at the top, insulated by freshly-whipped cream. Definitely a drink for two. Unlike most mochas, the focus is more on the coffee and chocolate and less on the sugar. Starbucks mochas run away and cry in shame when confronted by a Renata’s mocha.

The initial excitement of no school and a Renata’s breakfast has worn off, and the realization that there is no Wii, no Netflix, no Hulu and no video games of any sort is starting to set in. The boy-child has decided to take a bath to kill time, as he also has no book to read and does not want to clean the house (my suggestion to pass the time). Maybe I will challenge him to a game of Cribbage or Scrabble when he gets out.

I can live without the lights a bit longer, although it would be nice to be able to fire up the pellet stove and dehumidifier. A night of four humans, three gerbils and six dogs exhaling, not to mention the dishwater someone (cough!–boy-child–cough!) forgot to dump last night has left the house both very humid and horribly stale. It does not help that at least two of the three large dogs are highly gassy . . . What I really do not like, though, is that one of my dear, sweet children did not close the freezer last night. So the menu for the week will likely include a massive Mahi Mahi fry, four or so whole chickens, several pounds of various chicken bits (thighs, breasts, drumsticks), Tilapia madness and a mound of lamb chops. I do not know that we will have time or room to fit vegetables into this flesh-fest. Gentlemen (and women), start your stomachs! And once again, it all comes down to food . . .

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