I started my laundry one ordinary April morning. The power went out. It was odd, but I decided to sit and wait it out. It wasn't that much of a nuisance, since it was the middle of the day and we had the sun to brighten our home. After three hours without power, I hailed my neighbor to ask after her current electrical situation. She had power. I called the electric company, and it was then that I learned a valuable lesson that I have repeated dozens of times over the past three weeks: switch off the individual breakers, switch off the main breaker, wait 15 seconds, pick dirt from under your fingernail, open the breaker box again, turn on main breaker, turn on individual breakers, rinse, wash, repeat (that last part's a joke, don't rinse off your breaker box. You'll electrocute yourself).
Over the past couple of weeks, this little adventure has happened more and more frequently. Always when I run my dryer. Mr. Electrician finally mosied out today to look at it. He informed us that our entire breaker box may need to be replaced, and definitely our main breaker switch at the very least. He said he'd have to order special parts for it, which may take a week or two. In the meantime, he warned us, we should use as little electricity as possible. No dryer. No dishwasher. No microwave. For. two. whole. weeks. (Dun. Dun, DUN!)
A Tale of the Broken Breaker Box OR My Awakening
Chapter 1: Last night, using the microwave for dinner prep was insane. The power went out four times in 10 minutes. Ugh! The kids were rifling through the movies, trying to pick one to go with our TV dinners. That clearly wasn't going to happen.
"Hey guys, let's go build a campfire (in our newly weeded fire pit), eat dinner outside, and then have some s'mores!" I said, to disperse the groans as the power went out again.
Movies were forgotten as we all grabbed our plastic tray dinners and sat around the campfire eating and laughing and talking. S'mores were had by all, except Bogey who set one ginger finger on the roasted 'mallow before declaring it "yucky." Dev and Calvin both said that they wanted to make a fire and eat dinner outside every night. It was an incredibly pleasant evening. The kids played on the swing set, we watched the sunset, we added logs to the fire. It was beautiful.
Chapter 2: Since Memorial Day weekend, and all the company I had at my house, and the broken breaker problems, my laundry has gotten completely out of control. Arms are growing out the sides of the basket, and I'm afraid it's going to start scooting itself around the house looking for an easy meal. I woke up this morning knowing I had to do something. So, we went to the store and became the proud owners of some clothespins. Calvin was insatiably curious about what I was doing when I started tying rope around the trees. Dev informed him emphatically, "This is how they used to dry clothes, in the old days, long time before breakers broke and ruined dryers." Indeed. I am pleased and happy to report that a clothesline dries every bit as good now as it did 100 years ago. More than this, I actually enjoyed my time out there hanging up the clothes--the quiet, the lifting and bending, the feel of the cool, wet clothes on my fingertips, the breeze, the grip of the clothespins, and, interestingly, the intense feeling of accomplishment that I had done something on my own that didn't cost anything (except $3.98 for the clothespins--money well spent, I say) AND I am pretty sure it didn't take the clothes nearly as long to dry as the ol' dryer takes. It felt like I whipped through the laundry ultra fast. Didn't quite get it done, but that is because I was behind. I found myself wishing that I could dry my clothes like this all the time. Why not? When Husband came home and saw what I was up to, he only shook his head and laughed ("So like you" I believe were his exact words). When I told him I might not need the stinkin' breaker trippin' dryer, he only shrugged and said, "It'll save us on our electric bill."
Is it possible--slightly possible-- that our modern day conveniences are a tiny bit of a nuisance? I mean, power at my house has been sketchy for three weeks, and will probably remain as such for another two, yet I find myself spending more time with the kids (when wii and dvd player don't work, we are forced to play together), and I find myself spending more time outside (watching the clothes flap in the wind, weeding the plants, shoving the hose down the gopher holes, puttering... and I mean that in the best sense of the word.) Is it possible that our modern "conveniences" actually *gasp* hinder us in some ways?! (Let it not be so!) I submit that they do, and that our ancestors lived a much, much, much less stressful life (at least not stressful in the way we are stressful.) Maybe I'm not ready to carry in my water from the well everyday, but I have learned that sometimes electricity doesn't = easier.