Friday, January 22, 2016

Enjoying the Winter Storms?

     Talk about the ultimate back to basics scenario!  I am living in the middle of an ice storm.  And as I watch the freezing rain, I wait to see if my power will be knocked out.  It's all a question of how much ice accumulates on the power lines and trees.  According to the winter storm warning that is in effect for my area, this is a very real possibility.  Hopefully with a bit of preparedness planning and a smidge of common sense, we will weather this storm without any major problems.

     My first concern will be keeping the family warm.  Because I have a fireplace, this is an extremely manageable proposition.  Throughout the year, I always save up my newspapers as they arrive.  Recycle all of the high gloss ads and such, but keep the basic newspaper.  It piles up in a corner by the fireplace so that I will have plenty of easy fire starter supplies when winter comes.  Next is the basic firewood.  If you do a little bit of shopping around, you can purchase firewood pretty cheap.  I get mine from a local woodyard for $.05 per pound.  The reason it's so cheap is because I have to haul it all myself, but quite worthwhile when trying to live on a budget.  And finally, kindling is the all-important item to get that wood burning well.  I generally fill up a few plastic tubs with kindling when I pick up my firewood, but there never quite seems to be enough lying around when it's time for a big ice storm.  Yesterday I went around the neighborhood picking up dead branches that had fallen and spent an hour or so cutting them down to manageable pieces with my pruning shears.  So, with all of my fireplace supplies moved into the house and ready to go, the next concern will be keeping my family fed. 

     The nice difference between an ice storm and the hurricanes I used to deal with in Florida, is that I'm not worried about all the the food in my refrigerator and freezers going bad in the event of an extended power outage.  Unfortunately, while cold cereal and peanut butter and jelly are fine during an August hurricane, I imagine we will want something hot to eat during the next couple of cold winter days.  As long as the power stays on, this won't be a problem.  But how can we have a hot meal with no electricity and without standing outside by a BBQ grill?  We will have to make use of the fireplace.  That's why I bought some heavy duty aluminum foil.  In the event of a power outage, I can cut up some chicken, potatoes, and other vegetables.  Sprinkle them with a little bit of olive oil and some seasonings, and then wrap them tightly in a couple layers of aluminum foil.  My fire should be going good by the time I am ready to cook and there should be plenty of coals in the bottom of the fireplace.  So, I can tuck our little dinner packets into the coals and allow them to cook for a half hour or so.  Any easy, nutritious dinner, even under adverse circumstances.

     I have piles of crocheted and knitted blankets in the linen closet and we can move the sofas close to the fireplace so everyone can sit together and keep warm.  There might even be some marshmallows in the pantry for roasting.  There are lots of candles around the house which can provide additional light and heat, but flashlights are a safe bet for when I have to wander away from our warm little family nest.

     You know...  the Lord has provided me with a roof over my head, food in the pantry, plenty of wood and blankets for warmth.  As much as we hate for these storms to come through and no one wants to see anyone suffer hardships and difficulties, I am finding a bit of a blessing in this situation right now.  Long ago, families sitting together around a fire was a normal evening activity.  Today, it's difficult to shut down the computers, video games, and televisions long enough to enjoy this experience.  Perhaps God is actually giving us all a moment to pause together and appreciate the small things in life that most of us take for granted - shelter, food, warmth, and love.  I say we should take advantage of the opportunity and make the most of this time waiting out the storms.

     Add to the comments any ideas you have to get through times when you are waiting out a storm or getting by without electricity.  I'm sure we could all use a few more suggestions.

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