This has certainly been an interesting couple of weeks. I now know why bathing is a luxury despite what we think. U.S. citizens are really obsessed with whiter-than-white teeth and cleanliness. Not that I'm not. I brush my teeth after I eat, and I mean that. I carry a toothbrush with me. But my teeth are still the same off-white they've always been despite everything.
Anyway, this is not about teeth.
It all started with the local power company. They decided to change out our electricity meter to a new-fangled digital one without asking us if we like the idea. I would have told them, no. Digital is all fine and well, heck, I'm a computer geek (geek girl) but unlike most Technophils (those who love technology, as opposed to Technophobes who dislike technology) I believe all that is digital is not good. There are some very good analog devices, ones that are simplier, and that, in fact, work better because they are simplier. There is less to go wrong, and you can "play" with analog. Tune it and get marginal results which may be better than no results. I'm not a fan of the binary on-off quality of digital. I like the marginal, not-always-all-there zen of analog. But, I digress.
The power company changed our meter. By Friday, Jan 13th, we had no electricity. This, of course, is the start of a 3-day holiday weekend. They were unconcerned about this and blithely told us that the lack of electricity was NOT THEIR PROBLEM. Thank you. I wanted to point out to them that it seemed a little UNREASONABLE for them to have this attitude since:
a) We had electricity BEFORE they changed out the power meter.
b) It was the start of a 3-day holiday weekend. In January. And we have our own well, which interestingly enough, requires electricity to operate the pump. So not only were we without electricity for things such as lights, we also had no heat and no water. In January. I'm not even counting things like cooking with our all-electric range and our electric refrigerator, and our electric microwave. I don't think they even make a propane microwave, but I may be wrong.
c) They couldn't even recommend an electrician to help us out, and the power company indicated they would charge us $100 if we had them come out and turn off the power in the unlikely event that we found an electrician who might be willing to help us.
My husband, however, handled the communications with the electrical company, so they did not get the privilege of hearing my remarks. My husband has awe-inspiring self-control.
We did not get electricity back until January 19th.
However, we are nothing if not inventive. We have a pond so frequent trips with buckets allowed us to use the bathroom facilities when absolutely essential (we dumped pond water into the commodes to flush them for those who haven't a clue what I am talking about). It also rained, so I was able to take a natural shower outside. Of course, this was at night. In January. But we live on a 20-acre farmlet and our closest neighbor is 2 miles away, so being arrested for indecent exposure was the least of my worries.
Surprisingly, I did not catch my death of cold, so Myth Busters, you can add THAT to your list of busted myths. You do not catch cold or death by standing naked outside in January in pouring-down rain.
What is good about this is that it serves to remind me that even though I'm not crude enough to have characters in my historical mysteries that don't bathe, bathing really is a luxury. If you are hauling water and chopping up wood to heat that water, and you are given a choice between using that water to, say, cook dinner, or to, say, bathe or wash clothing, I think the priority item is going to be food. You're not going to waste water (it weighs 7 pounds per gallon, by the way) you've struggled to get into the house for something trivial like washing, because then you're going to have to haul MORE to cook, and you'll get all sweaty anyway, again, from lugging that water around, so the washing bit is rather pointless...
On the bright side, the last few years have blessed us with hurricanes and ice storms so we have a LOT of trees down in the woods, therefore gathering wood for the stoves (that we didn't yank out even though we talked about doing that) is not a huge chore, although you still have to chop it up. We also have a generator so we could keep the freezer going. And we have propane and propane accessories (hmmm, that sounds SO familiar) for cooking, in addition to the wood stove, and the cats and dogs are happy to curl up on us for warmth, so all-in-all it's not as tragic as it sounds. Once you get used to no television, no lights and no running water, you get to see the advantages. No vacuuming. No laundry (unless you drag it all to a laundromat). No television. No computer, no email. You can read books by candlelight (or the itty-bitty book light). Food cooked over a fire really does taste better. Spit bathes with ice cold water take less time than a shower. You finish faster and are more than ready to dress for the day.
After all is said-and-done, I don't mind no electricity so much. Television is completely unnecessary to me now--I have no idea what is even on anymore. I like that. I also like running water, though, particularly WARM running water, but heck, cold water builds character faster.
I must have a LOT of character.