Wednesday, 29 February 2012

leap day blackout and dream homes

I remember the thrill of the power going off in my childhood home. We lived on a farm in the country. Blackouts occurred during thunder or winter storms. I liked them best when they happened in the evening. Then the whole house fell silent, and Mom and Dad would get out the kerosene lanterns and candle sticks, and I would start imagining I was Laura in Little House on the Prairie. Going to bed by candlelight was especially thrilling.

So when the power went out today from 2:15pm until 6:15pm today, I knew my kids would love it. Zoe raced out of school, thrilled that the lights had been out for the last hour of school. I took the long way home to avoid the traffic lights, which were out too. The girls giggled all the way, planning the fun things they were going to do now that the power was out.

Why is there this thrill about having the power out?

It seems to make life, or our choices, more simple. It certainly limits them. Shegofa compared it to Afghanistan, where they have electricity in only the rich areas of the city. In other areas, they have power one day, then none the next.

But we depend on it for our food. Sure, for today we could eat sandwiches and things from our powered-off fridge, but heating things up? There's no appliance in our house that could do that - well, maybe the barbeque. And heat? Our gas fireplace in the basement would still work, but that's it.

The winter stew I had planned for supper would have to wait for another evening. Tonight it would be take-out from a grocery store across town that still had power. The table was set with candles and an oil lantern. But just minutes before we sat down, the power came back on, and with it, the buzz of the fridge and the hum of the furnace and the warm air filling the room, and a feeling of warmth. We would not have to shiver under covers tonight.

But in how many homes in our world do they shiver every night? I'm so conscious of this right now. We're in the midst of house-hunting. This time feels much different than when we bought our first house 6 years ago. For this one, it feels like we're playing for keeps. Which puts the pressure on in a different way too. We've had two disappointments - one just this past Monday - where we've put in offers and they've fallen through. Because we're competitive, when someone ELSE gets the house, it seems even better than what we had initially thought. Then we REALLY want it. But I keep thinking of Shegofa's family in Afghanistan - where they have no heat at night, and their winter has been much worse than ours. Where they don't have electricity. Where they haven't ever shopped for their dream home, but just a home. So then I feel selfish for wanting a nicer home.

What does your dream home look like? Mine has a hearth, of course. And space to host others (which our present home seriously lacks). And some older elements. And some natural elements. And a maid.

And you?


  1. Thanks for your reflections, Rebecca. I'm also always struck by how dependent we are on electricity. I actually hadn't caught on right aways that the power was off until I heard a beeping noise and realized my computer's back up battery was alerting me that it was coming to the end of it's back up protection. I was sitting in my "sun room" doing some writing and that's one room in our house that has a good amount of natural light and I guess I was engrossed enough in what I was doing that I didn't notice the stillness.

    My parents never owned a house so we moved 4 times while I was growing up. Now I've lived in my own home for 36 years which is an old heritage home that we totally gutted and recreated. Our girls grew up here and we shared the house with the Brubacher family. I love it and have put down deep roots here. The place is filled with rich memories and when the time comes it will be hard to leave. 18 years ago we put an addition on and added a fireplace which we always wanted.
    What else would I look for in a home? More natural light and a slightly larger area for hosting people. And a place where we can see the sunset. That was especially Bob's dream.

  2. That's what I want too- a place filled with rich memories. And natural light. I love what you wrote about the sunset too. Thanks Sue.

  3. Personally, I'd consider neighbourhood community ahead of the house itself. A house can be renovated (well, within a budget or with help from handy friends). But moving into a vital existing neighbourhood is what will make a bigger difference in your lives.

    When we were house-hunting we also had several disappointments before finding the home we've now lived in for nearly nine years. Each losses were crushing in the moment, but turned out to be for the best in the long run. So that's how I looked at it -- sometimes things that don't work out really weren't meant to work out.

    Good luck as you continue to search! May your dream home find you.

    1. Thank you, Carrie. I love your last line there. And the experiences you shared.

  4. I thought you were going to say...

    "so we turned OFF the lights (again) and ate supper by oil lantern and candles."

    Dream house feature? An automated filing system for paperwork!
    ...and a finished basement for 'hanging out' when hosting larger groups.

    HHH (happy house hunting) ~ Mush :-)

    1. Mush: that would have been a better ending to my power outage story. :) Love your idea of an automated filing system.

  5. Ohhhh - we are in the beginning stages of house hunting ourselves. Altogether a mixed bag of emotions - excitement, anticipation, a little concerned about how we would get this place ready for selling (not so much in terms of fixing up as in stashing the toys and making sure it all stays clean while we are showing it!!!). Wrestling with wanting a bit more space when this would be sufficient. Already noting the feeling of loss over moving out of a fabulous neighborhood.
    If it all works out, I hope to have a nice island in the kitchen. A fireplace would be lovely. An unfinished basement (for now) where the kids could go and burn off steam :). Jon would love a slightly larger garage :).

    And Carrie - I like your comment - "May your dream home find you." :) Each time we look at something and wonder, "could this be it?" I will think of that.

    1. Good luck! I'll be thinking of you guys as you continue to hunt. Yes, may your dream home find you. :)