Thursday, 18 December 2008

Harsh winter when it's automn still

Living in a tiny village - center of France thus center of world - has multiple advantages. But our electricity grid is certainly not one of those items to be proud of.

For last Sunday we had a meteorological red alert: stay at home good people. It started to snow in the early morning hours and continued right into the next night. That might be nothing worthwhile mentioning for those living in Norway or in Canada but here?

And what about global warming? Where are you, please?

In the evening we had three or four short power cuts and the fifth settled it for good. Light the Christmas candles, let's go to bed early, best thing to do.....

Next morning, Monday, everything was so peaceful. No car running, no street lighting, tepid water coming out of the boiler, house decidedly cold but peaceful, too.

So we stayed at home, admiring the white out. I did not dare to start the wood fire because it is equipped with little fans for more efficiency. They are not supposed to stay idle; ball bearing don't like to be heated up.

Here, have a look at the living room, fire ablaze. That is "normal procedure", electricity being supplied.

No more. Fortunately I bought eight years ago a little stand-by stove for an emergency like that, running without electricity. And the dear little thing made of sheet steel or so did the job. See here:

Suddenly, the place looks impoverished, a place for displaced people who make go with what is available. And so it was.

25 hours later - on a road cleaning job - I heard the church bells chime again: hosiannah, the juice was back. An hour later the phone went dead for another 20 hours. But who cares. And yesterday, the washing machine got a bout of Alzheimer's. The darling is quite willing to turn around but refuses to pump and seems to know only one program these days, anyway.

That's a slice of life at the beginning of the 21st century. Everything is available, but on a temporary basis only.


  1. The pump in my washing machine (AEG) had the same problem several times. There's a way described in the manual to access the pump. Each time, it was metal parts stuck in it (e.g. a paper clip, coin, etc). I was lucky, never has to call service for 18 years.

  2. hi dear Georg

    i am glad you & your wife survived warm enough the 1st winter storm. Here in San Diego we had our own problems, it never rains here and yesterday it was really pouring down, of course we had flash flooding all over the city and black-outs in some areas too, not at my home, also the Tijuana river which is in the border between Tijuana and San Diego overflown its borders and many horses and farm people were trapped, the result was 2 persons still missing and 4 horses drawn... and still in San Diego county (not the city of San Diego but the county) driving towards the mountains, just 1 hour from my home, we got 2 feet of snow!! as you said this might be nothing to some, but for Southern California is a lot

    the main problem we have here in the city of San Diego is that people do NOT know how to drive in the rain, in an regular every day the city gets about 50 to 70 crash crashes daily, yesterday in just 3 hours from 9am to noon, the county got 287 car crashes!!

    so as you can see we share some of the not-yet-Winter weather too

    i am really glad you had that lovely stove in case of emergency Georg

    as you know San Diego can get pretty chilly at nights and early mornings, we have a freezing advisory for tonight, yes! frost in San Diego, as we might reach the infamous 32 Fahrenheit degrees tonite, the 0 for your Celsius and a freezing point... so i rely in my 2 electric heathers at home and an electric heather in my fish bowl so he can survive too, and just this morning as i prepared my home to be self-sufficient with timers for the heathers etc. i realize how much i depend on electricity these days!! i thought, well what if we get a black out while i am gone... and yes Georg, once mother nature starts to attack you realize that many of our 'civilized' infrastructures are just holding together with very fine threats!! in San Diego we deal a lot with fires, but not many black outs, but when i was living in Mexico city, for a while we had 'scheduled' black outs in some not so fancy areas of the city, for a while it hit my home, and i lived on a 5th floor, so the mayor problem was how to get water to pump to a 5th floor with no electricity, well, i had to carry bucks of water just for the restroom and then ask my friends to shower at their home

    and yes, when you rely on technology too much and then it's taken away then you notice how much we depend on it, somehow scary too

    hope the winter goes smoothly for now on for you there Georg, lovely photo btw...

  3. Bon Jour Georg! ; )

    Amazing to realize it's all in a "blink of an eye" isn't it? ; )

    We're getting colder and coming from SF where we got fog, rain or more sunny days, I don't mind a bit of staying in, although when everything goes out, brrrrrrr.

    We should have a wood burning stove for our place, but someone before us got rid of it ; (

    Cheers to you and yours!

  4. bonjour! we are cold here in upstate new york- due to get a whopper of a snow storm tomorrow (friday). we have had a wee bit of snow and ice but not a big storm in quite some time. we have a fire place too but no wood :) as we just moved in this past june. but i have plenty of warm blankets if the power goes out- and we can always go to my mom's house. next year- i will get a wood stock pile and be more prepared. but new yorkers are prepared for just such things :)

  5. Georg, the last paragraph is philosophical. And really well put..."Everything is available, but on a temporary basis only"

    I am familiar with that stove...we survived on a similar contraption many years back. Now, of course, such stoves that burn wood have mostly been replaced by those which use coal/kerosene, to reduce deforestation. None of these are to be found in Delhi or in the plains where it never gets too cold. But get to the mountains where it snows and they are still around.

  6. Hi Georg,

    Electricity blackouts, stoves the "First World"? This is more like where we come from! Infact the situation is so bad here, that most of us that can afford it ( with the grace of God )generate our own power! Otherwise it means 6-8 hr "powercuts", as they are called here, almost on a daily basis....

    And yes...I wonder about the Global Warming too...I wonder if u've read "State Of Fear" by Michael Crichton?

  7. Thanks to all of you for answering. Snow and cold that inspires all of us , not only politics:

    Tilman: Tach, mein Sohn. Leider haben wir unsere Waschmaschine von Whirlpool und nicht AEG und sie ist auch nur 7 Jahre alt. Es muss die elektr. Steuerplatte sein, nicht die Pumpe, denn 1 Programm läuft noch. Nachher kommt der Waschmaschienenfachmann.

    Berenice: that was really interesting. Especially the part of driving in the rain. Naturally, we are used to rain but when it happens, everybody is a bit clumsy. Ask Herr Thilo, he'll confirm.

    Hallo Coffee: there is a quotation from Mark Twain saying that he never experienced such a cold winter as the summer in SF. Still it is California. Must have been a joke.

    Betmo: you improve my English nearly every day = a whopper. Very good. New York is famous for its blizzards in Winter, saw it in some movies. And then they have terrible Summers in the city like in "Rear Window" from Hitchkock. Don't understand your remark about blankets. Do you mean you run around covered in a white blanket when it is cold?? Like a phantom??

    To Vinod: Yes, I am a great philosopher in my spare time.
    Coming back to practicalities, do you mean you are heating with coal/kerose when it gets cold in Delhi?

    I do hope you have a chimney because otherwise there is that danger of suffocation due to CO2. Here in Europe, as far as I know, there are dozens of casualties each Winter and it always happens at night, when people sleep.

    To Rati: If this is not an indiscreet question: where do you live??

    Some years ago, we considered the option to buy a generator, too. But long power cuts happen only once a year and those generators run only three to four hours with one tank fill. So we thought this to be too expensive and we bought the stove instead.

    Right now, here in "Massif Central" there are still some areas where they go without electricity for 5 days now. I suppose too many high voltage masts broke under the weight of the snow.

    I am great fan of MC and have all his books. But not this one. Good idea, I'll get it.

    Cheers to all of you

  8. Georg,

    Not indiscreet at all..! I live in Gurgaon, India. It is a town which traces its origins back thousands of years to the Mahabharata & Ramayana eras ( 5 thousand atleast! )

    Currently it has metamorphosed into a satellite township outside the capital New Delhi...scores of multinational companies have set up their offices here....More on the lines of a business district.

    Both worlds co-exist peacefully ...and we find a method in our madness!

    Do visit us sometime!



  9. No, not in Delhi, Georg... I was referring to other parts where it snows and gets really cold

  10. To Rati: yes, if ever I come to India I would meet you and your family with pleasure. Same thing the other way round. Thrilling tourist area, heaven for grockels of any nation, here are better white elephants than Versailles, Tour Eiffel and Arc de Triomphe.

    To Vinod: You don't know how happy you are. No Winter, no snow tires, no sunless days. All that makes me think that Indians never went North to colonize Russia and Europe: who would be crazy enough to leave a hot warm spot for places like ours.

    In case I come to India, I would explain all this to you in detail.

    Cheers, both of you


  11. Georg, don't give up, do you...that is the strength of the Aryans of Germany!

  12. That's a harsh winter for sure. Don't get to see much of that here; the electricity cuts etc. The modern day contraptions are an absolute necessity here, infact most people would not be able to imagine a life without them. The only time they would confront something like that would be in the movies where they can vicariously experience discomfort. A sorry civilization we are to have distanced ourselves from the nerve center of our beings! We've lost the ability to enjoy the extremes of pain and the joy that follows when the pain is alleviated.

  13. Oh, I hope everything goes well for you. We had lots of snow last few days here in Toronto. I had to cancel a party, and kind of stuck at home all day...
    You are right , doesn't it suppose to be global warming? :)
    Happy Christmas by the way :)))

  14. de quoi de quoi? Môssieur fait passer mon beau pays pour un trou dans la campagne!!!!!
    Me dis pas que tu n'as pas aimé ce petit retour en arrière. pas de télé pendant quelques jours, c'est pas le bout du monde.
    Allez!!!! tout est revenu. Alléluia!!! tu vas pouvoir passer Noël au chaud.
    Passez de bonne fêtes de fin d'année tous les deux, en espérant vous rencontrer enfin un jour.

  15. Bonjour George,
    just stopped by to wish you a great Christmas and new year and here is a little irish blessing to you and your readers:

    The light of the Christmas star to you
    The warmth of home and hearth to you
    The cheer and good will of friends to you
    The hope of a childlike heart to you
    The joy of a thousand angels to you
    The love of the Son and God's peace to you.

  16. My answer to all those who commented the 19th or later: thank you all. That is the pleasure of blogging, really. Much better than to be a writer.

    we Germans are generally not strong but stubborn. With the head through the wall.

    To Id it is:
    First: what does your blogger name really mean? Hope you read this; otherwise I'll ak you directly.

    I was just reading in a blog called "Westminster Wisdom" about your subject. Did our civilization improve or not? Unfortunately, he didn't supply a clear answer.

    To Hiva:
    Thank for your wishes. Changing Persia for Canada needs a stout heart. You must feel homesick, from time to time, these days.

    Pour Vincent :
    Tu connais le dicton : Noël au balcon - Paques au tison. Et c'est précisément ce qu'il nous pend au nez. Ce 24, il fait 25°C au soleil!
    Je prends cela comme un acompte sur le prochain printemps.

    To Frieda:
    Thanks for passing and thanks, too, for this little poem. We all need this, most of it.


  17. Whether our civilization has progressed would make for a great post; one that I would definitely like to read and participate in.

    As for my blog name 'iditis' it is to be read as Id it is! where Id is the human ego. The writings I post are out of a belief that someone out there may be interested in my ramblings on subjects that are of interest to me and that in itself is quite a pompous presumption for which i hold the 'id' responsible. Consequently my blog identity is 'iditis'. However, around the time I started this blog in 2005 perhaps, one of the readers wondered why I wrote incognito, and as always the 'id' stepped in to write a whole new post to answer that one small question, and my 'id' steps in once again to send you that link presuming you are interested in knowing my reasons for writing incognito, hehe:

    Georg, please pardon me for this long comment, and disregard anything in it which might be the inconsequential or distasteful because that's 'iditis'.


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