Roughing it

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life14 Comments


Editor's Note: Rip-roaring storms tore through the Twin Cities last Saturday night, taking out power to half a million good Minnesotan folk, myself included. I wrote this while passing the time away in my neighborhood coffee shop with power, but no internet. In other words, I wrote this while roughing it.

It's amazing how much I rely on modern technology and how often I take it for granted. 

I'm writing this in Hour 13 of no power. It went out at 8:30 last night and I found myself waking every few hours to see if the ceiling fan in my room had finally started humming along. No such luck. 

In the almost 20 years that I've lived in this house, the longest the power has ever been out was right around 16 hours. Once. Last year. We're closing in on a record here. 

Most of the time, it's off for an annoying three or four hours, but not usually long enough to warrant a trip to my local coffee shop for hot coffee and working outlets. 

Which is where I am right now and wouldn't you know it? They have working lights and hot coffee, but the wifi is on the fritz. So now what?

I should add that Dan and the kids are away for a few days, dropping Aidan off at a conference in Chicago where she will remain for two weeks. So to add insult to injury, I'm dealing with this situation all by myself. (Imagine that!) But with how plugged in kids are, maybe it's a blessing in disguise. 

There's no judgment in that last sentence. I am as plugged in as anyone. The computer is as ubiquitous to my day as air. When I look at it factually, there are so many positives, really. I make my living with it. It has allowed me to earn an income and also be able to see my kids off every morning and greet them (or more likely pick them up in my car from school) every day. That fact alone makes it hard for me to ever condemn my plugged-in life. That alone makes me deeply grateful for what technology has allowed me to do.

I have made some of the truest friends I have ever known thanks to online message boards. I'm talking hide-a-body type of friends. 

I have seen things online that have rocked my soul to its core. Things that have inspired me to ridiculous heights. Things that have made me laugh until I could not breathe. 

So as I sit here at The Coffee Grounds, waiting for my iPhone to charge in full, I realize just how thankful I am to live in this plugged in world. I could be deluded but mostly I see how it has enhanced my life and for that I'm grateful. 

I also can't remember the last time I sat down to write anything while not plugged in with images at the ready, while staring at a blank blog editor screen. 

I guess roughing it with an iPad at 50% power is not so bad after all. 



Being without power for 24 hours is nothing. I know this, but I cannot help but think of what disaster victims must go through. And by 'cannot help but think,' I really mean I cannot truly imagine. In this spirit, people are still putting their lives back together in so many places in our country, and in the world at large, and today, if you have the means and the motivation, I encourage you to make a donation to help. I also encourage you to share any relief links in your comments today. We can all spread the gratitude around, together.

The American Red Cross

Cathy ZielskeRoughing it

14 Comments on “Roughing it”

  1. #1

    As I read this post, I realized that you are one hour behind me – it’s 8:45 am, EST where I am…and I also paused to assess how dependent we are on electrical power! The A/C just turned on, thankfully, ’cause we’re in a 90+ degrees -a-day heat wave. Ripe conditions for a power disrupt.

    I have no other resources to add to the list but thank you for reminding us that there are people in our country who need relief today from storms, fires, hunger…I will do my part to help provide them some relief and *power* to get on with their lives.


  2. #2

    Ahhh, The Coffee Grounds, I love them. Yes, we are really dependent so things like this help us get a perspective. I love my PC as much as the next person, but there are those who have lost a lot more. A lot more. And we know eventually the power will be back, at least until the next storm 🙂

  3. #3

    I feel your pain. Our longest stint without electricity was TEN long and painful days when the northeast suffered through a late October snow storm. It was like camping in your own home. Thankfully, we’re now equipped with a generator. Hope your power comes back on soon!

  4. #4

    Saw on Facebook that my mom’s cousin (in/near the Cities) was without power for 70 hours and had pondered how long it ordinarily takes to thaw a turkey anyways… thinking that they’ll have one thawed by the time the power returned. I can’t imagine…. especially with the heat that we’ve all endured in the Midwest this past week. I don’t have a smartphone, an iPod or iPad, or anything fancy like that, but I can’t imagine entertaining my 2 and 4 year old for that long of a stretch without the use of the DVR’d PBS shows. We DO have lots of batteries, a flashlight and books though and had to go into the basement for “a picnic” twice last Wednesday as the tornado warnings were blaring. Glad to hear that you’re still doing OK; was thinking about you when I heard how badly conditions were in/near the Cities.

  5. #5

    Had been “off line” all weekend and just heard this from cousins in the cities. One w/out until Sun night and one until this a.m. around 5:45! That’s a long time for this spoiled generation to go without. . .

  6. #7

    We were a part of the big ice storms of 2009 here in Iowa. Had no power for 6 days. The first night we spent in front of the fire place for heat and candles for light. It was too stormy and icy to go anywhere. The next 5 days were spent in the local motel. It sucked. Could have been worse though, like you say. Have to look at the positive. Enjoy this time with no electronics. Use it to connect with yourself and find other activities to keep you busy.

  7. #8
    juli in St. Paul

    Our power went out down in Highland Park on Friday night at 7:39….I could tell by length of a movie that was in the midst of recording on the DVR. We were out of town all weekend. Only to come home to trees down in the yard and the power still out. It finally came on last night around 8pm. Just in time to fire up the air conditioning for the expected 97 degrees this afternoon!
    I think I want to just go back to the cabin for the remainder of the week!

  8. #10

    The power blinked this morning and my first thought was “I have so much work to do today. But what would I do if the power went out?” And I realized that a) I could still be productive without the power and b) it might just be a good time to let go of being productive and just be. Those things that seem SO important in the moment are really not so important in the grander scheme of things. 🙂

  9. #11

    We don’t really get power outs here, so I can’t really understand what it’s like. The closest we’ve had to one was when lightning stuck the ariel on our apartment, and it blew up the garage doors which are electric (so no one could get cars out for 2 days) and it blew up our modem, but since my partner works in IT, he could get a spare one the same day. We’re pretty lucky though, because we don’t have TV’s and don’t have computers plugged in during the day except for a security system… Most of the other apartments lost heaps more. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have no power for that long… I, too, live on my computer and I’m always connected!

  10. #12

    Don’t know if you have power or not yet. With no post today, wondering if your iPad ran out of juice. And you’re all alone too! Hope you have neighbors you can huddle with. Be safe! If things get really desperate, give a shout out, us Chicagoans can drive over and rescue you!!!!

  11. #13

    You are my scrappy guru… And you love kiwi music! AND now i see you’ve been without power with a spot of bad weather. I think that makes you a honorary kiwi !! 🙂 take a look at some of the pictures of our wild storm last week… So thankful our place was ok. A lot in our neighbourhood lost trees, trampling or power. And it’s COLD! Emergency crews have done amazing things to clean up in just a few days. Even the trains are running into Wellington again as of this morning.

    Come visit in our summer…. You’ll love it 🙂 …and we’ll find some new kiwi sounds to take home 🙂

  12. #14

    Wow. Thats crazy! And did you know I have been to Wellington in Winter? Its true. Back in 2006 I was there for a scrapbooking conference. Trip of a lifetime, I tell ya!

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