Monday, January 17, 2011

Writing Off the Grid

I live off the grid and I must confess that, until I started living off the grid, I had no idea what the term meant. I also had no idea what I was getting into.

Backtrack eighteen years to when my husband and I lived on the edge of town, with horses, kidlets, cats and dogs jammed onto one acre. The town was developing around us, so we decided to buy some acreage in a more rural area and give our kids and animals room to roam. This is easier said than done in Nevada, since approximately eighty percent of the state is federal land.  Eventually, though, we found a nice house on many acres, with a creek. It was thirty miles from my work and only eight miles from a small ranching town. It was, unfortunately, one hundred miles from my husband’s work, but such is life in Nevada.

There was one minor drawback to my dream house, however—no electrical service (thus the term “off the grid”). The house had a generator, as did the other two places up the canyon. My husband and I were anxious to get out of town, and the property was exactly what we wanted—in fact it was the only suitable property we’d found in almost a year of looking. We decided what the heck? If our neighbors could live on a generator, so could we. How hard could it be?

It wasn’t that hard. At first. Our generator, a 1964 Onan beauty with a zillion hours on it, lulled us into a sense of security. Starting on demand. Running smoothly during the six or seven hours a day we ran power. And then, one day, we heard, chugga…chugga…cough…chug…..chug….ack…chug…  silence. (And darkness. In the generator world, one invariably follows the other.) Silence is the worst sound a generator owner can hear, next to “That part will take two weeks to get here.”

We realized then that (a) we hadn’t seen this coming and (b) we had a problem on our hands, since neither my husband nor I were savvy mechanics. We had to find a generator repairman who was willing to drive seventy miles round trip to diagnose and fix the problem and then charge us an arm and a leg. In the meantime, we had no water to speak of because when the generator doesn’t run, the well doesn’t run. Welcome to life as the Swiss Family Robinson.

During our eighteen years of generator life, I have spent every major holiday without power at least once. I have learned to repair a propane generator in below zero weather. I have jump started my house with jumper cables and a pickup truck when it was too cold for the battery to work. I have done battle with snakes who’ve taken up residence in the generator house.  I’ve passed out flashlights to houseguests in the evening before we shut down the power for the night. My kids had to go to bed when we did or sit in the dark.

Why, you might ask, do we continue this madness?  Well, the view for one thing. And the incredible sense of peace I get whenever I walk outside my front door and see the valley below and mountains all around me. Also, my kids grew up playing in the creek and reading. They developed keen imaginations. I developed mechanical skills.

I have learned to budget my time between power-on and power-off. Power-on—watch TV, vacuum, do the laundry. Power-off—read a book, don’t vacuum and don’t do the laundry. I kind of like power-off mode—especially now that I have a laptop with a six-hour battery and can write whenever I like.

Since I like to write about what I know, in my February book, Maddie Inherits a Cowboy, the heroine is introduced to life off the grid while staying at an isolated ranch. I had a great time writing about her experiences, since many of them were inspired by my own. If you’d like to read about Maddie, I have the first chapter posted on my blog and I am giving away three copies of the book today. All you have to do is to tell me about being without power—be it on a camping trip or during a power outage.

I’m waiting to hear about your experiences off the grid—but if you don’t have one, just pop in and say hello. That counts, too.

Jeannie Watt


desere_steenberg said...

Hello Jeannie

The books sounds great I cant wait to read it ! Being without power is terrible I remember when my son was still a baby and there would be a rainstorm and the power went down , being part of the modern world it was quiet a struggle to get around to warming up milk without a mircowave and other things like if he wanted one of his disney dvd's on but at least now he is five and it is a lot easier !
All the best Desere

AJ Blythe said...

We've done the camping without power and loss of power during electrical storms, but your comment about the kids reading and using their imagination reminds me of our 'no box' time for the kids - no TV or computer for 2 months for that exact reason. Almost wished we didn't have the boxes at the end of the 2 months, but we let them have them over school holidays.

Kaelee said...

I can't really say that we have lived very long without power. We have camped and we have had power outages but never any long ones. Living in a city I guess we take it for granted that the power will be there or if it isn't it will be restored fairly quickly. We did build a big fire in our fireplace to keep warm during one long outage.

Thank you so much for the glimpse into your world. I think the view is worth the trouble. I think you can probably tell us about a lot more problems that arise but that you get used to.

You know I am a fan of yours and I look forward to every book you write. I will be getting your book so please don't put my name in the draw. Let someone else enjoy reading one of your wonderful stories.

Kaelee said...

PS Does anyone else see a resemblance between Maddie on the cover and Jeannie? wonderful cover by the way.

Ellen Hartman said...

Kaelee--I see the resemblance! Cool.

Jeannie--I'm such a fan of your books. I read the excerpt for this one on your blog and it sounds great. Ty is my kind of hero. (I love man pain.) ;-)

Your life off the grid stories are inspiring. I imagine the rhythm of the day with power on and power off times brings a kind of order that I'd enjoy. Before you had the laptop with the battery, did you time your writing for the power on intervals or did you use a typewriter or ???

Thanks for sharing!

Virginia C said...

Hello, Jeannie! Thank you for a very enjoyable post! I am already a great fan of yours, and I very much look forward to reading "Maddie Inherits a Cowboy" : ) I live in a small town in the mountains of VA, and power outages do occur. I have learned to be prepared with lots of candles, flashlights, manual can openers and other useful items that do not require electricity. My home has a gas floor furnace with a self-starting thermostat (non-electric), so we still have heat when there is no power. One funny story that happened a few years ago, and pushed me toward being more prepared, involved a Christmas gift from a friend. She gave me a beautiful, cut-glass hurricane candle lamp. We exchanged gifts at work and I told her how much I loved it, and it was a wonderful item to have on hand. Less than an hour after I got home from work that day, the power went out and was off almost until daylight the next day. I immediately put my new candle lamp to good use! The phones were out, and it was a silent, shadowy world. I settled in with a good book and my candle lamp and spent hours lost in another world.

My most unexpected romantic dinner moment occurred when a male friend of mine offered to stop by one evening and share a pizza and watch a few favorite movies. We were good friends, and this was a typical “date night” for us. Just as he came to the door, the lights went out. My section of town was in complete blackout. I grabbed some candles and a bottle of wine, and we sat on the floor eating pizza, drinking wine and being goofy. Somewhere along the way, in the candlelight, goofy became romantic. We shared a first kiss, and then a few more. We were both taken aback by the sudden change in the relationship. At that moment, the lights came back on, bringing the awkwardness into bright focus. We sort of drifted in and out of friendship/romance for a while, and then he moved away to take a new job. We have lost contact, and I miss my “romantic friend”.

Laney4 said...

I had a new refrigerator delivered one hot August day. I had to empty the old one so that the delivery guys would take my old fridge out to the garage to make room for setting up the new one. I JUST got the food into the new fridge when we had a massive power outage, expected to last at least a day. We drank a lot of milk that day and didn't lose much from the fridge. Our freezer was fine because we didn't open it, and the power was back on close to 24 hours later.

Other than the fridge problems, what I remember most was the comradery amongst the neighbours, as we barbecued and listened to portable radios for news updates.

And yes, I too got in lots of reading that night. Bliss....

Julie Hilton Steele said...

Ice storms do us in here in the Carolinas. We had one where all of my grandmother's quilts were piled upon our bed. I think seven was the magic number.

But I made the mistake of taking a shower because we had hot water, thinking that would warm me up, and then realized I didn't have power to run the blow dryer so shivered away!

Thank goodness for books and candles.

Kirsten said...

I can't remember if the power was ever out for a long time... but I do remember short lasting days of darness where we would read by candle light and eat loads of sanwiches instead of a warm meal. They were happy times for we were together as a family and talked, laughed remembered the good times.

C said...

We go camping with very little power. I say very little, because the shower house has electricity, and I confess to using the car battery to blow up our air mattress! I love how our kids' imaginations thrive without electricity. They act out grand sagas, they read books, they play in the lake and the mud and the dirt. Best of all, at the end of the night they are very TIRED.

We had a no TV week once and I'd had no idea how much and how often TV was on in our house. Very eye-opening!

Jeannie, your book sounds really interesting! I look forward to reading it!

Virginia C - that sounds like a romantic power outage! Our here have only been very cold or very hot!

liztalley said...

What an awesome view. And, you know, power off sound nice. I live with kids who have every electronic gadget possible. Sometimes I want to throw those phones, DS, playstations, etc. out the darn window and make them go play....with nothing but their imaginations.

Just last night my husband and I were talking about the need to get away. All I could think about was visiting a place with no phone, no TV, but I absolutely need hot water. So nothing too rustic. But peace and quiet would be nice right about now.

The books sounds fun. Guess I have another to add to my TBR pile!

EllenToo said...

Living without power or "off the grid" is my least favorite thing to do. And I have quite a few times in my life since I live in hurricane country. And if you know about hurricanes they only strike in the hottest part of the year ~ or so it seems ~ and they affect a large area so getting the power back on sometimes takes a while.

PS. Since I have your book don't enter me in the drawing.

Anonymous said...

Hello Jeannie,

I have always lived on the grid, but my travels to Mexico were off the grid! We would camp on the beach and there were no bathrooms!

I love your new cover and your book sounds great

Jeannie Watt said...

Good morning everyone--I was so tickled to check in and see so many great comments. Thank you for stopping by.

Desere--Unexpected outages are the worst and anything involving small children and babies is a
challenge. I love your comment about being part of the modern world, because we get so used to normal conveniences that when they’re not available, it’s like, Ack! What now?

Anita Joy—No box time! What a great concept. Your kids may not appreciate it while it’s happening, but what a gift.

Kaelee—Great to see you! Oh, yes. I’ve become used to many things that I wasn’t accustomed to before moving out here. One thing I was used to, though, was living without water. I grew up in north Idaho in granite terrain—poor wells were the norm. Our well pumped a gallon a minute, which is a dribble, and it often went dry, so I am a water conservation expert.

Oh, and I wish were the cover gal—I wouldn’t mind leaning on a hunky cowboy with a serene look on my face, you know?

Ellen—the rhythm of the day is very comforting in a way. When we turn the power off for the afternoon—around 10:00-11:00 a.m., we mentally shift gears. It’s like stepping back in time and we adjust accordingly. I love the washing machine and vacuum being inoperable. Unfortunately, brooms and dust clothes still work.

Before I got my laptop—the month after my first sale—I had a desktop computer and since I could only write when the power was on, I was very disciplined. When the power came on in the late afternoon, I parked my behind at the computer and wrote. Since I’d been ruminating for several silent hours, I usually had a lot to put down on paper. And, I did write long hand, but I can’t write as fast as I think.

Virginia C— Oh, I love the pizza-wine-friend black out story and the new candle-book story! It sounds as if your area has more than its fair share of outages and that you are well prepared. I am officially jealous of your gas floor furnace that works without power. I could use on of those. And thanks for being a fan-I appreciate it.

Laney4—Refrigerators and freezers! I’d forgotten about that part, it’s been so long since I’ve had an electric fridge. Mine is propane, like one you find in an RV. Barbecuing with neighbors sounds like a fantastic way to deal with a prolonged power outage.

Julie—“Seven quilts” sounds like it should be the title of a book. Love it. And yes, lack of blow drying is also one of my power-outage bugaboos. I hate not being able to dry my hair because it does…shall we say…strange things when it’s not tamed by heat.

Kirsten—What a warm memory. The neat thing about the unexpected is how it can bring people together.
Carin—Is there anything better than a tired, happy kid? I must admit that when I go camping, I like to have a shower house and I used the car battery for everything possible. I even bought a little blow dryer that worked on the car battery. It wasn’t very good, but it could be used to defrost the windows, lol.

Liz—My kids also had all the electrical gadgets, but…heh, heh, heh…very limited play time. Getting away from it all can be very refreshing and you really appreciate the amenities when you get back to them. The good news is that hot water heaters are often gas powered, so you can have hot water—as long as you have a water tank to provide the water. I’m looking forward to reading your book, too!

Ellen, Too—I know that you’ve been in some rotten power situations. I remember reading about them on the Supers thread. I hope you are out of the hurricane path this year!

Hey Tammy—Camping on the beach sounds absolutely lovely—even without facilities. Traveling and camping in Mexico sounds very romantic.

Marcie said...

Wasn't without power, but back in the 70's as a kid we lived in a farmhouse and the pipes froze!! My dad brought in snow and filled the bathtub and mom would melt it and heat it up so we could take sponge baths.
I find living the way you do fascinating, but I would live that way too to have the view you talk about. People can adapt to anything life throws at them - may it living without power and water or melting snow to take a bath.


avoriana said...

A few months ago my internet went out and my cell phone quit working on the same night. I don't have a landline phone so I felt really cut off and actually scared.

Samantha Hunter said...

Hey Jeannie. No living off the grid for me, but I can understand why you'd enjoy it. Sometimes there are just as many hassles living on the grid, and without the peaceful view (though I can't complain about that -- I don't have mountains, but I do love walking out in my yard in the summer...). I will say we willingly go "off the grid" now and then on vacations, just in the sense of not being online or on the phone, etc and it's always a relief. Even though I love my television shows, I don't miss them when we are somewhere else doing something fun or interesting. I'm not sure what that says about every day life here! LOL


Stella MacLean said...

Hi Jennie,
Checking in to read your blog and found it to be really enlightening. Your story about living off the grid was so interesting.
I've often wondered what it would be like.
All the best,

Kay Stockham said...

Jeannie, I'm not an off the grid girl. Surprised? ;) Ice storms are our biggest issue. The worst ice storm we've had was when my kids were younger. No power for a week. I wrote a newsletter article for my local RWA chapter about being snowbound with a five and three year old that had people in stitches because I talked about the bad, whiny behavior, the tantrums-and then owned up to them as my own. LOL

Love your view. I can definitely see why you love it. But snakes??? You almost had me until you mentioned the snakes


Lauri Airman said...

Hi, Jeannie! I don't think I could live off the grid, but love the adventure you approach it with! The closest I've been is my recent two weeks overseas vacation where we stayed with family the entire time and never watched tv once-just conversation into the very late hours-what an amazing and wonderful change from our lifestyle in the US!! I'm wondering, do you ever feel out of touch and how do you find new inspirations for your stories?

jcp said...

I coundn't off the grid either but reading about is great!

the other deb said...

okay, i have an off the grid story...I was visiting my son and wife over Thanksgiving and was shocked by how "off the grid" this younger generation lives. No phone. No TV. No music. No CLOCKS to tell the time. Everything was on their ipod or computer of which i had no access. Needless to say, I got alot of work done at their house for lack of anything else to do! lol.

Tacy Ray said...

I admire your hardiness! I couldn't do it. The closest I've come to being "off the grid" is living through a natural disaster that took away our water for a week-and-a-half and our electrical service for two weeks. Thank goodness I had emergency stores of water and canned goods or I would have been lost!

Rogenna Brewer said...

Jeannie, Great view. And worth the extra effort, I'm sure. Can't wait to read the story.

Jeannie Watt said...

Marcie—That is one cool story about melting snow for baths…may have to try that sometime. And you’re right, when given a challenge, people come up with ways to deal with it.

Kelly—It is scary being cut off from communication. I feel a little traumatized when I forget my phone when going to town for groceries and I have to remind myself that I lived for many years going to town without a phone. But being alone at home without a phone--not my cup of tea. I would worry.

Hey Sam—A short vacation from phones and internet is refreshing however…the minute the power comes on here, I’m on the internet, just in case I missed something, lol. When we first moved out here, it really decreased our TV watching and like you, I began to realize I didn’t miss it as much as I thought I would. I read more, though.

Hi Stella—Thanks for stopping by!

Oh, Kay—Lol at your story about the power outage and the whining and tantrum story. I had suspected that you weren’t an off the grid person :)

Lauri—I teach junior high in a town forty miles away from my house, so I don’t feel cut off during the school year—in fact, I can’t wait to get home. And having the internet has really helped alleviate the cut off feeling. Sometimes after reading the news I want to be cut off, if you know what I mean. We have a really neat community here, with a lot of community events and the rural school brings everyone together. I often get my inspirations from things that happen in the community and thinking, what if? I twist and tweak and end up with a story. Movies are another inspiration.

jcp—Thanks for stopping by. Life off the grid is a bit of an adventure. Everyday without a mechanical breakdown is a good day, lol.

The other deb—Interesting observation about life on ipods and computer. No clocks would drive me crazy. I have three different battery clocks in just one room. I like to see the time at a glance. I’d never thought about the no TV or music, but if a person plugs into the computer or ipod with headphones, then it's all there. Since a lot of people live like this, I wonder what the ramifications are for future generations? It sounds very isolated.

TiceB—You call me hardy? Oh my gosh—a week and a half without water? Two weeks with no power? Now that’s survival living. I always feel for the people hit by disasters that wipe out the power for many days at a time because so many people are not prepared. Good for you having the emergency supplies.

Rogenna—Hi! Glad you stopped by!

Babs said...

I grew up in Colorado and remember the space and the quiet before all the suburbs appeared!

Now I'm a Foreign Service Spouse so power outages can be a way a life...depending on where we are posted. Uruguay was awful for it being out but I've never actually had to live off a friends in Lagos have (I'm hoping we don't have to go there!)

Kimberly Van Meter said...

Oh my gosh, Jeannie! Living off the grid is wild! I don't think I could handle it. I like my conveniences. When I was a kid I grew up in the Sierra Nevada foothills and we got quite a lot of snow at times. Once, we were snowed in for five days and had to bury all the food on the front porch. Finding the milk was fun. But that's about as "off the grid" as I get! Great story though!

Summer said...

Your new book sounds great. Just last week we had a twenty-four hour power outage, which was kind of frustrating yet at the same time lovely with all the quiet and reading time.

Anonymous said...

Book sounds great. I grew up in the Appalachian area of southeastern Ohio and remember being without power a lot in the winter, once for two weeks. Mom and I used the treadle sewing machine to get caught up on sewing and quilts. We have a coal mine under our farm and would burn coal, take all the items from the refrigerator to the cellar house to keep cool, and never missed the electric. We had a well for water, which my mom who is 88, still uses. Of course,back then we had a TV antenna and received chanel 3 and it it rained, 8 or 13. We read more than anything as TV was not important, although I did have a transistor radio and like to listen to WOWO radio out of Ft. Wayne, Indiana until they sold out. I can't wait yo buy the book! Betty from the boards!

Snookie said...

Jeannie, your place sounds lovely. Living off the grid takes work and scheduling, but is very doable. we have to catch our water off our roof as there is no county/city water where we live. WE are on the grid except for water, but there are a lots of folks here that are totally off the grid. I have a friend who built his own solar panels to run his lights and other electrical appliances, has a methane digestor where he digests his table scraps and horse manure to generate methane to run his stove and refrigerator. We have lanterns (battery operated and propane operated) and a gas heater, stove and dryer all at the ready since we use to have a lot of planned and unplanned power outages. The system has been upgraded now so that there aren't so many problems. We also go camping off the grid for 3 or 4 days during the summers.

Joan Kilby said...

Hi Jeannie! Wow, you are a modern-day pioneer lady. :) Your book sounds wonderful. I'm in awe of people who 'live off the grid' on a regular basis. I enjoy camping but only because I know I can come back to civilization.

beck nicholas said...

Off the grid has an appeal to it. As a stay at home mother of three littlies i sometimes feel too attached to the grid. Not for them so much but me - as link to the grown up world through my computer.
We're planning a camping trip to the mountains and you're story has inspired me to press hubby for a date.

Debra Salonen said...

Country living at its finest, Jeannie. I admire you immensely.

I live in the country, too, but not off the grid--as inviting as that sounds when the electric bill rolls in. We used to have power outages all the time. It was an issue when we had to rely on electric heat. Now, I'm sitting beside a gas fireplace, typing on my lap top and enjoying the relative peace of living in the country. I don't envy you your drive, though. I made a 30-mile commute every day when my kids were young. Don't miss that at all.


Jeannie Watt said...

Barbara—You must see some fascinating things in your travels. I hope you don’t have to go to Lagos. I spent some time in Colorado back in the 1980s. Beautiful state.

Kim—That is a great story! Five days is a long time to be snowed in. How did your parents handle being trapped with children for that long. Oh, I didn’t mean trapped…I meant enclosed in a small space. Yes. That’s it. :)

Summer—Quiet reading time is the best thing about no power. There are lots of inconvenient things, but the quiet is excellent. Quiet with a book is even better.

Anon—What a great description of your life as a kid. It sounds a lot like my family’s life, except we were in north Idaho and had no coal. Wood. Lots of wood. Also, when I was a kid, we only got channel 4. My cousins got three channels. I was so jealous.

Snookie—Thanks for stopping by and sharing. You collect your own water? Fascinating. There are so many people in this world who do not live with the conveniences so many of use take for granted. Your friend with the methane converter sounds like a guy I’d like to have for a neighbor! Handy fellow. Again, thanks for telling me about your area.

Joan—I love visiting relatives just for the 24 hour a day power. Also, I try to spend at least one weekend a month in Reno, to visit my son, shop at Whole Foods and enjoy some civilization. By the time we leave, though, the traffic makes us happy to be heading out to our little piece of nowhere.

Beck—I hope you enjoy your campout! I have wireless internet through my phone company, so as long as the computer battery holds up, I have a link to the outside world. It helps. I wonder sometimes about people who lived on the prairie during the pioneer days and didn’t see neighbors or friends for weeks at a time. Had to be so lonely.

Deb—I have come to like the commute to town. It settles my mind and if my husband drives, I write. However…the drive home is not the same. I have stuff to do and I want to be there immediately. Like you, I enjoy country life and gas powered everything makes country life a lot better. Fuel is an issue for me, though. The generator burns 1/3 gallon an hour. When the fuel prices go up we get hit twice—once for the car and once for the house. Ouch.

Estella said...

Love the cover of your book.
I don't have any power outage stories.

Elaine Grant said...

Hi Jeannie,
Long time,huh?

Love your cowboy and the book sounds great. I remember first time I met your daughter and hearing about the "lights out" curfew of the generator. I thought amazing kids to put up with that

The worst we had was during/after Hurricane Gustav. We had 6 of our son's college buddies staying with us to weather the storm and where we normally get very short power outages during hurricanes, we were out 8 days on that one. Fortunately 3 of them were gourmet cooks and grilled delicious meals with the food thawing in our freezer. We had a generator and when we'd power it up, the kids made a mad rush to plug in the laptops, iPhones, and Ipods to recharge Priorities, you know!

Nas said...


During hurricanes we also go through power outtages. So it's candle light dinners. Only the stuff in the fridge/freezer perish which is a downside.

Rula Sinara said...

Hi Jeannie! The picture of your view is gorgeous. I can't blame you for loving the peace country life offers. I'm in the country, though not as rural as you are, and I could never go back to city life. We're on well water as well, and we get quite a few power outages. One lasted for almost 3 days once. I actually don't mind too much, as long as I have plenty of baby wipes and hand disinfectant on hand (especially with 3 boys).

Growing up, we traveled a lot and once lived in a bungalow where my mom had to boil water and fill a tub in order to give us baths.

My coolest 'off-the-grid' experience was when I spent 10 days with a group of volunteers on a tiny islet off the San Blas islands of Panama. We stayed with a Kuna indian tribe and I did a day trek in the Darien jungle. We're talking no modern amenities save for a toilet that had to be filled with a coconut shell in order to flush it. It was as close to a 'National Geographic' type experience as I'll ever have...oh...except for maybe the time I camped in a bedoin tent in the sahara desert as a kid.

Personally, I think there are so many advantages to living where you are and raising kids in that environment. That's one of the biggest reasons why we moved further out.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I dream of living off the grid. This is amazing. Good for you.

Serenity said...

Hi Jeannie, your book sounds great!

We were without power when we had a cyclone in the Northland of NZ. We ended up watching episodes of Dr Who on my son's PSP until the battery ran out. (It's about eight inches long and four inches high and there were five of us sitting around it!)

Loves 2 Read Romance - Laura said...

What a neat blog entry. I use to live in Ohio and remember the Blackout of 2003. Some kind of grid blew and the blackout stretched from parts of Canada to New York and the states in between including Ohio. Since there was no TV we went walking a family and enjoyed seeing everyone outside. I now live in Texas and have had a few more power outages. I wasn't here for Hurricane Rita but my Aunt and Grandma were. Since we live in a small town the power was out for 3 to 4 weeks. They had a generator and went everyday to get water, ice and food from the Red Cross and Army that had set up a base in town to help. I really hope not to experience that long of an outage. I don't mind if the power is out as long as I have light and some books I'm fine.

I love the sound of your next book!!

Rogenna Brewer said...

Jeannie, I'm enjoying the comments as much as the post. You really have everyone talking .

All, just a reminder, Jeannie is giving away three copies of Maddie Inherits a Cowboy. The book with her look-a-like on the cover

Jackie S. said...

Would love to win and read your book! We were without power several yrs. ago for 18hrs., and that was too long as I was worried that my elderly parents (who lived with us) would get too cold and get sick! We put on extra clothing and quilts!!

Rula Sinara said...

Oh, I forgot to mention that you don't have to enter me in the drawing. I already have all your books, and I've already ordered Maddie's story. You know you're an auto-buy author for me, Jeannie ;)

Bri said...

Lots of credit to you - dont think i could live off the grid for the better part of my life. I've been lucky most times i've been through power outages - they have been short lived. The worst I remember was when I was 16, in one of the worst winters we had in NJ. The power was out for over 24 hours, but not consecutively. It came back on in time for the overnight so we at least had heat while we were asleep. but it was also kinda cool, b/c there was daylight to read by and dinner by candlelight with the family. but it was COLD!!!

Jeannie Watt said...

Hi Estella—Long time since we’ve communicated. Good to see you here!

Elaine—It has been a while. Too long. Speaking of long—eight days without power? Oy. Love the image of the kids heading for plug-ins when the generator fired up. By the way, speaking of the kids, my daughter read the blog today and said she loved it because it reminded her of being home. Guess those early curfews weren't all bad, lol.

Nas Dean—I don’t know how you hurricane path people do it. Candlelight dinners is a good way to look at it.

Rula—Wow—you’ve had some cool adventures. I’d like to discuss the Sahara and tent as well as Darien Jungle next time we meet. I had no idea. Oh—and thank you for the auto-buy comment. Yay!

Tina—Living off the grid is an adventure. I appreciate stuff I never appreciated before I moved out here and I’ve learned to do a lot of things the old fashioned way.

Serenity—What a great mental picture-a group of people huddled around the tiny screen. And somehow Dr. Who seems like a very appropriate program for the circumstances. (I wish my husband was more of a fan, so I could watch it more often.)

Laura—Again, another great post. Hurricane Rita’s aftermath sounds like no fun at all. Three to four weeks? I think a couple days is as long as I want to be without power. It’s the lack of water that really gets to a person. I really love how you and your family handled the 2003 outage. Neat how negative circumstances can be turned into a positive memory.

Rogenna—I’m having a ball. This has been my favorite blog post ever!

Jackie S.—Glad you were able to bundle your parents up. It’s scary when you don’t have heat when you need it.

Bri—I never planned on doing this for so long. We figured we’d get power eventually—until we found out what the local power company wanted to bring power in…more than we paid for the house and acreage. Uh, wasn’t going to happen. And I bet your house in NJ was cold during a northeast winter with no heat for 24 hours. Yowza.

I can't tell you guys how much I've enjoyed reading your comments--more than I've probably been able to express to each of you. Thanks so much for stopping by!

emmad said...

Couldn't comment earlier as blocked from my work website :)
A friend of mine moved to the South Island of New Zealand a few years back. In her first winter while her man was away they had record snow dumps cutting all power. The lovely brand spanking new generator sat in the garage as the wiring to allow it to run the house had not been done. Needless to say this is now done and she has had to use it several times since. When waking up on a dead quiet snowed in morning she reckons there is nothing like the sound of the generator starting up.

Kaetrin said...

I don't think I could do off the grid. Our family are huge power suckers - because we worked out that it's just not possible to cut back to affordable, we've just invested in solar power - our panels go up later this week - the power we don't use (and there will be at least some!) will go back into the grid and we'll get credit for it at nearly 3 times the rate that we pay when we get it out of the grid - so, by the time we have 2 summer bills, we should have enough in our "bank" to cover winter bills and not have to pay for electricity anymore. Plus, it's clean and green and we don't have to feel guilty about using so many electronics anymore! WIN!

Susan said...

This sounds like a smart way to live -- it makes you much more aware of not only your energy usage but how you spend your time. I like it!

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a view! I grew up in a rural area in Australia, we were connected for power, but not water, and the power that we had was pretty basic. As a kid, it was a great adventure, but I imagine Mum and Dad worked hard to keep things running! Water had to be heated in a tank over a fire for baths, for example.

Since then my only off the grid experiences have been camping and occasional power outages.

I ahve lived in houses heated by wood, cutting and splitting all that wood was good exercise!

I still have a dream of trying total off the grid living some day, but I'm having trouble convincing my husband. He grew up in London and is used to flicking a switch to get what he wants. He gets twitchy during power failures, I just light the candles and get out the little gas camping stove.

I'm very grateful for laptops and mobile broadband though. Could not live without computer access, especially as more and more I'm buying my books as ebooks not paper copies!

The book looks marvelous, Jeannie! I wish Harlequin had an ebook subscription service for Supers so all of them every month could be on autobuy!

Chelle Sandell said...

Mr. Chelle and I have both joked that we were born 100 yrs too late and would love to live in a remote area. We even looked at land in Montana awhile back. But the kiddos are another story...I took the little man up to Arkansas to stay in the 5th wheel trailer with Mr. Chelle while he was on a jobsite. An icestorm crippled the area and we were stuck in a mountainous area for a week without power. I always carry an adapter for the laptop to run in the truck while traveling so little man can watch his movies and be occupied on long trips. So we would fight our way through the snow and ice and sit in the truck to warm up and watch movies. I'm sure they would adapt eventually if we moved and lived off the grid. I've always loved your stories whenever you've talked about them on the eHQ Supers thread. I actually would love it! Great post, Jeannie!!

Linda Warren said...

Wonderful post. I don't think I'm an "off the grid" person. I grew up off-the-beaten path in rural Texas and we didn't have a lot of the conveniences that city folks had. I now like those conveniences. But, wow, that view is something.

Love your cover!


Maureen said...

I never thought about the fact that some people don't have electric service. We have occasionally lost power and one time during a storm we were woken up with a tree branch creating smoke and flames in the wire to our house which caused half our house to lose electricity. Luckily, power was always restored within a day.

Jan @ Notes from a Readerholic said...

I loved hearing about your life in Nevada. I grew up in Central Oregon and have many ranching relatives in Eastern Oregon so I can relate to your life. Their lives aren't quite so remote as yours these days, but it's still a different lifestyle and pretty much off the grid!

desere_steenberg said...

Thank you Jeannie !

ClaudiaGC said...

It doesn't happen very often that we have no power. But one of the few times it has happened we had no power because our whole area was flooded and completely cut off from the remaining area. That was a bit freaky but we got through it!
Your book sounds lovely! Good luck with it!

Jeannie Watt said...

Emmad—The sound of a generator starting is indeed a lovely thing. Hold breath, crank engine, rejoice!

Kaetrin—I am jealous of your solar plans, lol. We want to switch over to solar, but are still saving. Being able to sell back to the power company would be awesome. Good luck on your power venture!

Thank you, Susan. And you’re right—this way of life does make one aware of many things once taken for granted.

Waiting for the Call—Great post. Thank you for sharing. When I first started reading Harlequins, I snapped up all the Australian ones. Loved both the city settings and the outback. Your post brought that all back.

Hi Chelle!—Oh my gosh—trekking out to the truck to watch movies. Love it! My mom lives in Montana. I keep thinking we’ll retire there to be closer to her, but those winters…brrrr. She does have power though…

Linda—Great to see you. I grew up rural, too, and I do appreciate a good convenience. I miss some things—like lights when I get up in the middle of the night, but after this many years, I can practically see in the dark.

Maureen—I never thought much about people not having electricity either. I stayed in some places in Alaska with generator power, but that was Alaska. I never thought about it in the lower 48, but here I am. Queen of the generator.

Jan—I love eastern Oregon. Buckaroo county. Where I live it’s part of the ION (Idaho Oregon Nevada), so we have lots of friends with family in Oregon. I used to go to the Jordan Valley Big Loop every year to sell handmade cowboy gear.

Claudia GC—Floods scare me—maybe because I live in a desert. I hope you have a floodless spring this year.

Emma said...

Maddie Inherits a Cowboy sound wonderful.Can't wait to read the book.

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