Friday, September 29, 2017

Powering down: home on the range is warm, toasty when lights go out

Snow covered apples are a pretty sight, amidst the season's first snow as the melt begins.


Spiced apples, homemade chili, cocoa and biscuits next up as dough rises.

WHEN THE power goes off in the northern Rockies, and winter is at hand, one needs to have a back-up.  What to do?  No lights, no heat, and the refrigerator is quickly losing its cold.
Not to worry.
Through the years, we've developed a game plan for staying safe, snug and satisfied when the power goes off.  Once it was out for nearly four days.  Other times, it's only a few hours.
From nearly a quarter-century of living part of the year in a beautiful but remote place, we know to keep candles at the ready, jugs of water under the sink, easy-to-prepare meals, sleeping bags nearby and buckets to fill from the artesian well, for flushing the toilet.
WE KEEP dry firewood in a  protected  rack, and we know exactly where the snow shovel is. We always have a cooler nearby, with travel ice packs frozen, to minimize opening the refrigerator and freezer.
Nick and Nora are safe under the writing table, happy to be well fed
and loved, and safe with their owners to wait out the storm in comfort.

BIRD LIFE out the window is extraordinary. I don waterproof boots to fill the feeders. We watch dozens of junkos, sparrows and chickadees feast.
A hike up Woodbine Falls, two days after
the storm, showed little trace of snow.

Our Yorkies, Nick and Nora,sport fetching new winter coats, and are snug under the table as I write, happy to be with us and content with their Greenie treats and full tummies.
I take a break from writing to play the piano, choosing a medley of country songs Keller requests  -- "Home on the Range," "Red River Valley," and "Don't Fence Me In."
WE KNOW that the power company will do its best to restore power, and that the snow plow will eventually arrive to clear the roads.  Besides the candles we keep near, we ready my brother Rick's beautiful porcelain kerosene lamps.
The futon from the log room makes a comfy bed next to the fire, and we close off all but the kitchen and living room to maximize heat from the stove.
We  have two glorious heat sources, apart from electrical heat which goes off with the lights.
A wood burning fireplace and stove in the parlor allows us to heat water for tea, coffee and cocoa, and to cook simple meals.  Our trusty cast-iron skillet and granddad's pancake griddle allow a quick egg dish and heat-up of food from the freezer or frig.
Two days after the storm that crippled the valley, things are mostly back to normal.
  The leaves are not yet turning color (heavy branches downed many power lines). Snow is visible in the mountains. 

A Beartooth Electric worker splices power lines above the berm at
High Chaparral after the snows came -- about 10 inches.
With leaves not yet fallen, wet snow broke many branches.
The day of the power outage, we dined on omelettes about 11 a.m., chili at 3:30 p.m., and dinner at 8:30 p.m., a delightful curry we collaborated on with chutney from our snow laden apple tree.
If the outage lasts several days, we also crank up the original 1881 fireplace in the log room and it throws plenty of heat throughout the entire house.
THE DOWN sleeping bags were laid out on the futon when the power was restored in less than a day this time. Darn.
Our time in paradise, sans power, was a reminder of how simple and glorious life can be. Let's do this again soon.

Cookie loves to play piano, particularly if the instrument is a baby grand.
Here she is at the Welk Resort in southern California. She's played since
she was three years old, and hopes to never stop sharing tunes.

NEXT UP:  Cookie's back at the piano.  A gig at the Petroleum Club in Billings, Montana, high atop the city's Double Tree Hotel and the 22nd story, reminds her of what she loves about music and playing requests of others. Join us for an homage to the wonder of sharing tunes with friends, as music becomes a conduit for connections, memory and friendship. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live, and catch us Fridays when we post for each weekend, a variety of pieces on travel, art, nature and whatever comes to mind.


  1. This epitomizes making lemonade from lemons. Love it.

  2. This chatty, informative style reminds me of John Steinbeck's "Travels with Charley," which has long been a favorite of ours. When the lights go off, your "lights" go on! Well done. Loved the Yorkie photo, too.