Monday 6AM: It was a long night. I think we woke up every hour or so, listening for the generator, listening for the sump pump, and worrying about what the day would bring. Plus, it was quite cold outside of the covers. We still have to go to work because running a generator costs money. As she leaves for work, assuring me that there was plenty of gas in the generator, I try to get comfortable and catch an hour or so more of sleep before I get ready for work.
Monday 7:30ish: I finally roll reluctantly from bed, lumbering toward the back door to check the generator. As I go outside, I immediately notice how chilly it is and hope as the sun rises higher it starts to warm up. I look at the gauge on the generator and see that it is almost empty. I reach for the gas can, putting in about a gallon or so. I return the cap and go back inside to get ready for work. I check my phone app for the utility company and see that we are scheduled to get power back by mid-morning. FANTASTIC!!
Monday 8:30ish: I head out the door, late as usual, and begin my journey to my office (which is about 15 miles away). I decided that since the power was going to be switched back on, I would plug the fridge and the sump pump into their respective outlets so that when the power was turned on, they would begin their normal functioning of preventing my basement from flooding and providing me with cold beverages and nourishing food. I wrapped the extension cord up, put it back in the basement, and placed the generator back into the shed where it lives. Off I go.
Monday 11ish: It's a typical Monday at the office, getting caught up on stuff from the previous week and beginning new projects. I keep thinking about the fridge at home so I go on the utility company's page to check again. Our new estimated time of restoring power is...WEDNESDAY!!!??? What happened to mid-morning? My fridge isn't going to hold out all day, is it? The sump is going to flood the basement! I gotta get out of here. I head out of the office for lunch and decide to go back home to hook everything back up. When I get there, I check everything. Fridge still cold, freezer still frozen, sump...empty? Ok. Great. I head to the shed to retrieve the generator. 30 minutes later, I'm back on my way to the office again. That wasn't so bad, I guess.
Monday 4ish: The day is almost over. I know she will be heading home soon if not already so any issues should be addressed shortly. Things could be way worse and I think we are going to be able to pull this one out. Just as long as it doesn't get too cold outside. I check the weather on my phone. Tonights low, 33 degrees. 33!! I don't know about anyone else but that's about 40 degrees colder than I like it. The in house temperature is holding at 57 but that is certainly not going to last as the sun goes down.
Monday 7:30: I'm frantically trying to find ways I can hotwire my furnace to the generator. Oh, it can be done. But not by me, the most mechanically deficient person on earth. I call my dad who explains the general process of removing covers, stripping wires, destroying extension cords. I had enough of that noise. It's not going to happen. Let's break out the space heater. But wait...doesn't that thing frequently trip the breaker normally? Where's the owner's manual. Our generator can safely support about 2400-2500 amps. The fridge and sump each use about 800. So that leaves another 800-900 left. We have our cell phones plugged in too though. But those can't be that many, can they? Something is going to have to go.
It's not raining and the sump seems to be holding it's own without filling up. Lets pull that for now and plug in the heater. We will put it in the kids room and just put another blanket on our bed. Yeah, that's it. That's the ticket. After switching the heater from room to room for a few hours, it took it's position in the kids bedroom for the rest of the night.
Me: I'm hungry. Are you hungry?
Me: Well we have gas. We can cook something.
Her: How about a frozen pizza?
Her (after five minutes): But the oven isn't getting hot.
Me: Do you have an electric igniter?
Her: I don't know. How do I know...oh wait, yes. Yes I do.
Me: How did you come up with that?
Her: It's written on the stove by the clock (nice).
Me: Ok, we should be able to light the pilot. Open the oven door. Is there a hole or something where you can access the pilot.
Her: I don't know.
Me: Let me look.
I go to the stove. Peer inside. The bottom inside of the over covers the entire thing. I feel around and see that the bottom can be removed. But it's bolted in. Two in the front, two in the back. I can see the broiler through a few holes though. Maybe I can light it from there. I open the drawer, grab the Mag lite again and peer inside. I can see the long metal gas receptacles (you know the ones with all the little holes in them). What if I turn on the gas and hold a match? Will that work or blow my face off? I grab the phone, Google "How to light an electronic ignition oven when the power is out". 20 minutes later, after reading arguments on forums between people that believe it is safe and the others that warn of melting skin and loss of limbs, I consult the expert again. My dad answers and I say "Last question", further explaining the situation. He says "Sure...pull the bottom plate off the oven and you can light it in there." I explain it's bolted on. He says "Ok, do you have a broiler." Yes. "Good. Pull that out. Can you see the pilot?" I reply, "I don't know. Is that the mechanical looking thing in the back" (you see, I'm not mechanically inclined)? "Yes," he says "You have to hold a match to that, it will catch, warm up the coil and then the oven will ignite." "So you mean I have to stick my arm all the way in there with a lit match, turn on the gas, wait for it to catch, and hope I don't die?" "Unless you want to pull out the over, take the back off and light it that way, basically yes", he says.
I hang up. Grab a bag of Doritos off the counter and retreat to the couch where I belong.
Monday 10:15: Time to fill the gas tank on the generator. It's going to be another long night.
Stay tuned for part 3