October 15, 2009


10:41 TUESDAY MORNING: TV was on. Laptop was on. Nearly every light in the house was on even though we were all in the living room. Wasteful! Shame on us! Well, Mother Nature sure taught us a lesson. "Enjoy your precious electricity, do you?" she whistled through a blustery wind. "Well, let's just see how you like this!" she trilled as the lights cut abruptly out (and the rain went horizontal for over-the-top dramatic effect).

So there we were, the Erickson Girls: Unplugged ~ transported to the pre-electric light age in which our old Victorian home was built. Would we rise to the occasion, or had technology completely rotted our brains for good?
Well, we started out by lighting a fire ~ cozy. I took out my stack of magazines that had been piling up for months. As I clipped recipes, craft ideas, and useful articles, the girls cut out pictures and made Halloween collages. It's surprising how many macabre and unintentionally creepy things you can find in magazine ads! I reduced fifteen magazines to a 1" stack of clippings, and the girls made several cards, envelopes (courtesy of an Angry Chicken tutorial I had watched earlier in the week) and collages in just a few hours. All the while we talked, we laughed and didn't notice the lack of electricity at all.
Next up I busted out the ol' button collection. I adore buttons, especially vintage ones. But they're not really doing anyone any good tucked away in box in the office closet. My friends Stephanie and Shannon are always wearing the most incredible necklaces made from vintage buttons. So, the girls and I poured out the buttons in a shallow pan and began threading them on elastic cord. The results were delightful.

Madeleine is, to put it mildly, obsessed with stuffed animals. So it was only a matter of time till the focus of the day's activities took a turn for the PLUSH. Earlier in the week we had gone through our bins of Halloween decor and liberally sprinkled Halloween whimsy throughout the house. In the course of the merrymaking and pumpkin populating I discovered some old gauze fabric from a previous year's table setting. I'm thinking, "The Egyptians didn't need electricity to have fun. Let's mummify!" So Max's "Secret Squirrel" and Maddie's "Snow Bear" became our unwitting subjects as the girls carefully wrapped them in "bandages" I made by cutting the gauze into long strips. Simple, I know, but fun? You bet!

This project was a quick one, and we were all left with a feeling that there was more costuming to be done. I grabbed the black felt, the fabric shears and some black elastic and fashioned black masks for the Buddy Lees (1, 2 and 3), the cast-iron birds, the rocking horse, and a few stuffed animals (of course). The house was warm, festive, and our spirits were high.
Before darkness fell, I made sure all the flashlights were working, set out the candles, and was feeling pretty good about my "survival" skills, when suddenly it struck me: What about the morning coffee? No juice = no joe! The horror! As soon as my husband returned home from work we were out the door again...to buy a French Press. Then, all was right with the world again.
That night we all cuddled up in "the big bed", made shadow puppets, giggled, and got a pretty darn good nights' sleep.
DAY 2: No rain, no wind, and still no electricity, and the girls wanted toast! "Well," I pondered," what is toast, but a cheeseless Grilled Cheese Sandwich?" I put this logic to work and grilled Max some toast, and Maddie a bagel. Mission accomplished.

Max was invited to go to the Aquarium with her friend (also named Max). So while the Maxes were mingling with fish and invertebrates, Maddie and I went about the task of transforming an old green desk I found at a salvage yard into a nice little desk for her room. (Note to self: 8-year olds are still not quite ready to grasp the concept of how close is too close to spraypaint, and will continue to spray even when distracted by something in the opposite direction).

That afternoon, our across-the-street neighbor, Matt drove up with two generators. Bless his soul! He used one to run his refrigerator and that of his next-door-neighbor Steve. The other he brought over for us to share with our neighbors Dave and Barbara. Steve ran over and loaned us a really long extension cord. It was a neighborhood carefest! It was wonderful! There were no TVs buzzing in the background; no click-clack of keyboard keys; no digitized melodies from the DS. Instead there was candlelight, conversation, and good old-fashioned neighborliness!
As Maddie was outside, drifting dreamily on the swing hanging from the Cypress in the yard, our friend Geri pulled up with her kids Roberto and Isabella. We invited them in. The kids played while Geri and I enjoyed a glass of wine. When the husbands were through with work we headed out for a lovely dinner. It was an unusually balmy night, just perfect for a nice stroll around the grounds of the resort where we dined. The dads found a ping-pong table and enjoyed a few rounds. The kids came up with their own version of chess on a life-size chess board. It felt like a mini-vacation!
We returned home -- lights out. Street behind us: lights on. Street on the opposite side: lights on. Ugh. Met the new neighbor behind us, ran extension cord, mooched power to illuminate the bedroom and keep the fridge running. Bonus ~ new friends!
DAY 3: Light! Real toast! Back to the 21st century. Kinda relieved, but sort of sad too. Unplugged wasn't so bad. In fact, it was pretty nice. Okay, so my refrigerator and coffee maker are still must-haves, and I'd be dishonest if I didn't admit that I was going through blog withdrawal (just a little bit), but I'm hoping that my family comes away from this experience with the realization that life goes on when the TV goes off, that there's always fun to be had and memories to be made, and when life gives you gauze, make mummies*...
*No stuffed animals were harmed in the making of this blog post.


  1. I was wondering where you've been.

    You are correct. We are all much too addicted to our electronic gadgetry. Your post made me long for simpler times. But only briefly as I have a blog to write and blogs to read!

    Great post as always.

  2. It sounds like you handled the power outage wonderfully! Our last extended outage was during the big blackout of August 2003. It was the hottest, most humid few days of the summer. No fans, no AC, just sit and sweat! I can't say that we found nearly as many fun things to do as you and your neighbors.

    I'm glad you're back!

  3. I'm glad you guys made the best of things when your power was out. We lost power last winter (ice storm) and I wasn't so creative. It sounds like you have great neighbors, too.

  4. When our power went out with the Hurricane last year I had bought those battery powered DVD players. So, we could watch movies. My kids are not troopers without electricity!

  5. We didn't lose power but the school did so Wednesday I had all the kiddos at home all day. It was fun in a Chinese water torture kinda way :P Looks like you handled it all much better than I.

  6. Really enjoyed your story of life more-or-less unplugged. You have such personal ENERGY!! Wow. The projects you completed blew me away. And how nice to have such clever neighbors.

    Thanks for visiting the other day on my blog. I used to live in P.G. on Lottie. Then in various other spots around the peninsula so I guess we really are "neighbors".

  7. In a big stinkin hurry today, heading out of town to chaperone our church middle school weekend camp. Can you believe they'd let me do that?! Anyhoo, on Sunday I plan to post awards. You might want to come by to see what I'm givin ya. Holly at lifelaughlatte.blogspot.com

  8. I have an award for! Come see!!




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