Feeling Powerless While Settling for Camping-Inspired Coffee

Trying to find humor in the face of adversity is, at times, a realistic solution to unpredictable conditions.

The recent power outages are inconvenient, no question, but watching neighbors yelling at liberated dogs roaming free with no fear of electric fences is enough to lighten the burden, at least temporarily. 

The challenge of creating the strong cup of coffee with no grinder or coffee pot was not funny, more like cruel joke. We all know the importance of that first cup of steaming energy. We can temporarily manage no power, no Internet, limited cooking ability and tree limbs the size of mid-size automobiles in the yard. But no Mr. Coffee? That’s unacceptable!  

Each morning, I boiled water outside on a single gas burner on the patio grill. The $2 French press purchased at a tag sale on Hill Street in Suffield became my closest confidant. Watching water boil feels like an eternity and so I'd stand there looking like a grungy Seattle bag lady. UGG boots, flannel sweats, a mangled old sweater and my daughter’s wool hat have become the daily fashion of choice.

In the beginning, managing with no power was like a badge of honor, bragging rights to ones less capable of handling such undesirable conditions. There were nights of candlelight dinners with neighbors, varieties of food sizzling on the grill from freezers and refrigerators slumbering with defrosting food. 

The following mornings didn’t appear as romantic and exciting as the previous evenings. When sunlight appeared, our house resembled the aftermath of a raging frat party. Bullets of wax stuck to floors from long burning candles. Sticky counters, crusty food, empty beer and wine bottles littered the house. The inside temperature was cold, smelling of fireplace ash and taco seasoning. Although the cleanup required a bit of creativity, the time spent with friends was worth the inconvenience, at least for a little while. 

Our generator proved to be as temperamental as my AT&T cell service, unreliable and unsympathetic in a pinch. Adding insult to injury was the constant humming of a distant generator. It was a constant reminder their Italian roast was brewed indoors while mine was brewed outdoors in warm boots and a fuzzy hat. 

Showering was like the never-ending game of hopscotch. We bounced around from the emergency shelter at Suffield High School to friends with restored power. My husband managed to successfully convince our teenage boys it’s “cool to go Euro” by going days with no shower. 

With each passing day, what we normally consider inappropriate doesn’t necessarily seem so. Permission was subliminally granted for a beer in the afternoon or consuming white wine at room temperature. The dog was allowed to sleep on the couch and beds remained unmade. Mail sat unread and dead flower arrangements stood in murky water. 

Keeping up appearances as a bag lady, focusing on her French press coffee maker, was a bigger priority.  

Frank M. Carlozzi November 07, 2011 at 10:25 PM
Thirty plus years ago, my wife & I purchased our 1st home and it was required we have a dishwasher. This past week with no power the kitchen sink started to look like my son's apartment (with 3 guys) dirty dishes everywhere. I watched my wife washes dishes by hand and I dried them and put thme all away. Reminder buy disposable Paper Plates/Cups/utensils.
Ronni Newton November 08, 2011 at 02:36 AM
This is great, Cami, and I think we can all relate. My power was finally restored today – day 10. I have never been so happy to cook dinner, clean up, run the garbage disposal, and do laundry. I don't even mind that I have a houseful of teenagers right now. (Payback for all the nights my kids slept at the homes of empowered or generator-equipped friends.) As for coffee – I tried to brew it in my car the first morning without power, using the power converter. I learned that sadly, the coffeemaker is too powerful for the converter. For days I was regretting that I sold the French press at a tag sale a few years ago.
Jennifer Hunter November 08, 2011 at 03:49 PM
Cami, You Are A Trooper!...The Whole Family pulled through this huge ordeal......Thank God You had the French Press!.....You and your Coffee are very Strong.....Hope you can recover as a chic bag lady:-) Jenny Hunter
Gary Larkum November 10, 2011 at 01:44 AM
Thought for Today. Okay, Stop whining the power is on. Just want to say it was nice having a fire in the fireplace, playing dominos, having a conversation, no cable tv , no internet. Then came sunday, plowed snow moved limbs from roof tops brought people water and stated generators. Most people even grasped the concept of the four way stop at intersections. I spent 200.00 dollars on gas for my generator. We had lights, heat, hot water ,showers, stove and refrigeration. However we could not sit in the hot tub and bake brownies at the same time. We even had TV. Hooked up my small Vizio and made a antenna out of coax and some old UHF wire. Channel 3, 30, 24,and 61 perfect. We enjoyed the football game on sunday. So for all the people who pissed and moaned , two words BE PREPARED this is new england. And I did this all without a smart phone because there are no apps for common sense
Susi November 14, 2011 at 01:07 PM
Cami, that was so fun to read and spot-on for what it was like. The frat house part nearly laughed me off my chair and I could actually smell the ash and taco seasoning. Nicely done, and nicely survived.


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