What Do You Do When The Lights Go Out?


With our dinner only half-cooked last night, the power suddenly went off and we had to make do. Having a gas range made it easy to finish cooking most of our meal, leaving the frozen garlic bread the only casualty.

For most people losing power is a blip, a minor inconvenience that is sorted almost as quickly as flipping a switch at some central location miles away. Last night our house  went dark for a little over eight hours. I know that’s nothing to people who can go without for days and weeks due to bad weather or for those in countries where electricity is a luxury not the norm, but I have to tell you, I was getting a bit twitchy after about four hours without an internet connection. Our home phone was out too and since we don’t have a need for cell phones that do more than make calls and text, I felt a little anxious being disconnected from the rest of the world.

At first we used flashlights to get around once the sun set completely and then I remembered the candles. Clearly we had not been using them enough because they were not the first thing I thought of as we settled in for our evening in the dark.

Kindle By Candlelight

In total, I spent a few hours reading my Kindle by candlelight and the rest of the time John and I spent talking in that old-fashioned way before computers and other linking devices, by actually looking at each other while speaking.

We found the evening so enjoyable that we talked about setting a date once a week to turn off the power and the distractions that go with it.


I’ve got a few ideas for what to do when we take our planned, ‘lights out’ night, but if you have any suggestions to share, feel free.

19 thoughts on “What Do You Do When The Lights Go Out?

  1. My husband gets so twitchy when our power goes off too .. he has no idea what to do with himself .. I just light all the candles and read if I can ..

  2. I actually enjoy it — unless it’s winter and then the heat goes off in our apartment as well. We’ve had so many power disruptions of late that our building spent $80,000 for a generator, so we’ll at least have some power and elevators.

    I love candle light and we eat dinner by candlelight almost every evening. It has a totally different feeling than anything else. (We also keep small portable flashlights in every room, because we’ve lost power so many times.)

    • Wow! $80,000 for a generator, I imagine that came from the pockets of the condo/apartment owners. Assessments are the bane of joint ownership.

      I like the idea of eating by candlelight. We might do that more in the winter when it gets dark earlier. We tend to eat before 7:00 unless we are having dinner out and it’s not alway dark enough to enjoy the full effect of candlelight.

  3. When electricity goes out in Manchester, Missouri it is usually due to a storm, fallen tree or explosion on one of the transformers and in the summer time. When the kids were young, we would play flashlight tag, now that they are older, panic sets in upon the realization that they’ve just lost all their internet and cable connections.
    Now, we usually sit on the porch swing in front and try to pick up listening to a baseball game on the old fashioned transitor radio. In the Philippines, we would sit around listening to radio soap operas and I would wonder how they created a lot of the sounds that made my mind picture the scenes as if I were watching TV. I miss those radio soaps, perhaps that is why I love books on tape so much. The convenience I miss the most during these power outages is airconditioning when summer temps hover around 100 degrees with high humidity. When you’ve taken off all your clothing just to cool down and you are still hot, there’s not much more you can do.

    • I love radio stories too, Armella. I use to listen to The Dr Demento radio show and Monty Python late at night on my dad’s old radio when I was a teenager and I used to love to listen to books on tape when I was on the road with my job.

  4. I think that´s a wonderful idea, I often feel uneasy about being so dependent on the grid. And I think “Kindle by candlelight” is a promising start of a great poem.

  5. Reminds me of living in New England where the power went out regularly for a few hours and sometimes days because of some storm. In the summer candles were not really an option because it was too hot and humid, so we usually just used the flashlights and my little battery operated emergency radio. I remember one miserable winter when it was freezing and no amount of duvets, clothing, candles and cuddling up close kept us from shivering through the night. It really made me think a lot about how grateful I am for electricity and all the modern conveniences it affords us. It’s funny what you say about not liking to feel so disconnected from the world, I felt that way, too. Yet, there you are, with the person who is most closely connected to you, and I love your idea of ‘powerfree’ date nights! 🙂

    • Living in Georgia for so long where it’s notorious for its heat and humidity, I can’t ever imagine New England as being too hot or humid for candles. I believe you of course, I just can’t see it. I do know what the cold you described feels like having spent a couple of winters in upstate New York right on Lake Ontario. I swore I would never live anyplace that cold again when I left in 1984 and I’ve kept that promise.

      I think the lack of internet connection was disturbing mostly because I’m a mom and even though my daughter and I are not always chatting, the knowledge that I can reach her or be reached by her is very important especially with the Atlantic between us. Sometimes, she feels so far away.

  6. So, I think turn off the power and have friends in. Play scrabble or dominoes or bridge or simply have a meal and eat.
    Sounds like a great idea to me. But then I haven’t owned a TV for over a quarter of a century … although I have to say I cheat – I have looked at iPlayer!!

  7. Hope all is well w/you and John, Elizabeth. I check your blog often and love your writing. I thought perhaps you had started a new blog and I missed mention of it? Lisa

    • Hello Lisa, I’m sorry I have temporarily dropped off the blogging circuit. We’re fine here, but there are things happening that I will be sharing soon. Thanks so much for checking in and for your continued interest. I’ll be back soon I promise, and I won’t go on to something new without an announcement of some kind.

  8. I love the way your room looks by candlelight — beautiful! When we have a power outage, we do the same. Sometimes I use it as an opportunity to catch up on lost sleep…

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