houseguests with no power
Saturday, September 3 2011
Using just the technology of our gas stove (which can be lit with a match), Gretchen managed to prepare a range of foods (including a mole chili and a pasta salad) in anticipation of the arrival of our houseguests. Meanwhile I took my first proper bath since the hurricane, running the generator the whole time so as to maintain water pressure, solar hot water collection, and refrigeration temperatures. I'm finding that one has to run the generator a lot more than two hours per day to keep food from going bad in the refrigerator.
At about four Dina, Gilaud, and their two little kids arrived, completing transforming the tranquil ambiance of our electricity-free house, overwhelming the chattering katydids with the shrieks and chortles of happy, inherently attention-demanding children. One might have thought the kids (particularly the four year old) would be irritated by the absence of modern conveniences, but for them, power outages are nothing but opportunities for adventure. They love doing things by candlelight and being assigned their own flashlights.
The four year old is going through a phase where she likes to share secrets whispered into the ear of a confidant. The secret she entrusted me with was a plan to add Sriracha (aka "Rooster Sauce") to Gretchen's coconut-milk icecream. So then I shared a secret with Gretchen: that she act like her icecream tasted like someone had added hot sauce to it. It all added up to some entertaining times, especially if one happened to be four years old.
We ate out on the deck until the mosquitoes and dwindling light drove us indoors. I'd moved the generator around to the north end of the house to make it so I could run it without excessively disturbing the bucolic calm, which was almost stunning in its arrival once the kids had been put to bed. For some reason we're always a little amnesic about just how distracting kids of a certain age continually are (at least when they're not sleeping).
Dina and Gilaud told us about their new place in Cambridge (Massachusetts), where she will be a Nieman Journalism Fellow at Harvard and he will study urban transportation planning at MIT. They're still waiting for their stuff to arrive by cargo ship from Tel Aviv. It's a cube measuring ten feet on a side (1000 cubic feet) and cost about $5000 to ship ($5/cubic foot), which seemed like a good price to us.
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