The meat and potatoes of life: We’ve learned to embrace ‘expected’ power outages

| February 19, 2015 | 0 Comments


Lisa Smith Molinari
Contributing Writer
“Do you think you bought enough?” I asked, sarcastically, as my husband dropped multiple Stop & Shop bags on the kitchen floor.

Winter Storm Juno was on its way, and Francis was determined to be prepared.

I had casually mentioned that we might need a gallon of milk and maybe a loaf of bread. Two hours later, he returned to the house with enough supplies for our entire base neighborhood: bags of food, packages of batteries, five cases of water, two lighters and 27 candles.

But, of course, like a true military man, my husband’s first stop was the base Package Store where he bought beer, wine, red Solo cups and enough rum, limes and ginger beer to make “Dark & Stormy” drinks from now until summer vacation. I wasn’t sure whether he was preparing for the storm or opening a tavern.

After unloading the bags, Francis marched out to our garage to retrieve our shovels, road salt and sleds for “when the power goes out and the garage door opener is disabled.” Then, he drove each car to the gas station to fill up for “when the power goes out and the stations are closed.”

Then he drove to the ATM machine on base and withdrew half our life savings in cash, for “when the power goes out and ATMs shut down.”
And even though we don’t have a usable fireplace, he brought home seven starter logs for “when the power goes out and we don’t have heat.”

“Don’t you think you’re going a bit overboard, Hon? I mean, we don’t even know if we’re going to lose power at all,” I said.

His head, topped by a Navy watch cap sprinkled with fresh flurries, snapped toward me.

Buying out a convenience store may come in handy “when the power goes out.”

Buying out a convenience store may come in handy “when the power goes out.”

“It’s not a matter of if we lose power; it’s a matter of when we lose power, and I, for one, will be prepared,” he responded.

He stomped off to crank the thermostat up to an uncomfortable 74 degrees for “when the power goes out.”

There was no reasoning with him. Much like our teenage girls who were excited about two snow days of sledding and lounging around in pajama pants, Francis was looking forward to playing hero, and he wasn’t going to let common sense get in the way.

Still ensconced in his watch cap and an ill-fitting sweater, he removed his wet boots, poured himself a cold beer and nestled in to await the impending doom from the comfort of his Barcalounger while binge-watching DVR episodes of “House Hunters.”

Secretly, I rolled my eyes at Francis’ predictions of “Snowpocolypse,” but the wind howled so loud that night, I wondered if my husband had been right all along.

Surely, the unrelenting gusts will snap a power line, I thought. By the time the chill wakes us, it’ll be too late. In the darkness, we’ll fumble for candles, wrap ourselves in blankets, and huddle together until the house succumbs to the bitter cold. Then, shivering, we’ll hunch over a smoldering starter log in our patio fire pit. Our shallow breaths of survival barely visible in the dim light.

But instead, our radiators pumped out heat nonstop while we ate like kings, took long hot showers, watched way too much TV, drank cocktails in the afternoon, put together a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle and slept with our mouths open.

On the third morning, the skies cleared.

Hawaii expected power outages don’t look like this, but they still happen in the islands. (File photo)

Hawaii expected power outages don’t look like this, but they still happen in the islands. (File photo)

“I guess we won’t be needing these,” Francis said, and then moped around the house before heading to work, lighting one of the seven cinnamon-scented jar candles he had purchased for “when the power goes out.”
Sensing his disappointment, I mustered my best damsel in distress.

“You know, Hon, thank goodness you were so prepared, because the power definitely, um, really did, uh, almost go out. I shudder to think of what almost happened to our family. I mean, you pretty much saved our lives,” I said.

Francis threw me a suspicious glance, then made the split decision to accept the compliment shamelessly. With his watch cap to protect him from the bitter winds, he paused on his way out the door to announce, “Another storm’s coming in a couple days, but don’t worry. I’ll stop by the store on the way home.”

My hero.
(Note: A 20-year military spouse and mother of three, Molinari has plenty of humor to share in her column, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life,” which appears in military and civilian newspapers and at

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