As I was walking into the house after the 10 pm Midnight mass (it’s a small town, we cope), the wind caught the door to the back porch. The hinge screws were pulled out of the door, and part of the door separated, making it impossible to close. It was raining buckets, so we sent the kids on inside to put themselves to bed as we struggled with the door, trying to get it to close enough for us to go to bed. After a half hour of Pete standing in the rain, not complaining that I should have been more careful, we finally called it a night. We tied the door shut as best we could and went on into the house.
Where we discovered that our electrical system had had some kind of stroke. The back porch lights worked, but kitchen lights wouldn’t come on. I trudged back and forth far too many times, trying to figure out which combination of light switch positions was needed, before realizing that the dining room and bathroom lights weren’t working either. The kitchen appliances were working, and everything in the computer room, but something was definitely wrong. No boiler, and no lights in most of the house. It was like a treasure hunt trying to figure out what we could use. For example, the hot water heater was working, but it was moot because the well was not. We checked the circuit breaker (the lights in the scary basement did work), and even though none were tripped, we still dutifully flipped them all off and on. It didn’t help.
I thought briefly about calling my brother, but it seemed mean to yank him out of bed and into the horrible weather just to fix something that I’d probably screwed up. Plus we were really really tired. So, we headed off to bed, hoping that Santa might fix things while dropping off presents. I did wake up at one point in the middle of the night to hear the radiators clinking, and the house got pretty toasty. Well toasty for us, where 60 seems balmy. But when we woke up, we were back to half-power. Sort of.
Demonstrating that I know absolutely nothing about electricity, I could not figure out how half the house could work if none of the circuit breakers were tripped. Or how everything could come back on, and then go back to just half of things working again. Even after sleeping on it, I was still baffled. I finally called my brother around 8 the next morning, and he immediately identified the problem. The wires going into the electric meter had stretched from expansion and contraction over the year and half since they’d been redone and were too loose to hold a connection. Twenty minutes with my brother and Dad in the freezing cold and one nasty shock later, not only were the wires tightened, restoring all our power, but the back door was also fixed. I don’t think my brother owes me Christmas presents for the next five years.