I am thankful that last winter, DH finally bought a generator. It was something we looked at purchasing when we built the house at this little place here in 2002/2003, but, well, construction always runs over budget (especially when the institution giving you the construction loan comes back 30% of the way into the project and cuts your funding 10%. . . and again when you are half completed, and again. . .) and so a generator got shelved to the 'someday when we can afford it' list.
Anyway, we didn't buy a generator until this past winter, when the power went out during a below-zero spell and the electric company said it would be three days before they got to us. That was the straw that broke the camel's back, as it were, and DH went out and purchased a generator so that we could at least keep the heat on enough to prevent the plumbing from freezing.
Currently, we are running on generator power again. A big storm blew through on Sunday afternoon, and our electricity went out about 4:30 p.m. This time of year, when temperatures are a little more moderate than they were when DH bought the generator, we don't worry so much about the power going out because the pipes aren't going to freeze, and it is cool enough that our garage can be used as a giant refrigerator. The chest freezer is full enough that it will maintain itself for about two days as long as no one opens it. So we didn't fire up the generator right away; we lit the oil lamps, cooked dinner on the stove top (which is gas), and went to bed an hour or so earlier than we would have otherwise.
But the next morning, the electric company still did not have an estimated restoration time for our electricity. Knowing how big of a storm it was, and that there are 100s of thousands of people in the lower part of Michigan without power because of that storm, DH pulled the generator out, filled it with gas, and fired it up.
Now, when we run on our generator, we are still roughing it a bit. Because it is not one of those huge, expensive ones that can run a whole house like nothing is wrong at all. No, it is smaller, and so we pick and choose what is on while the generator is running. We can run the blower on the wood boiler (thus having heat in the house), the main fridge, and the chest freezer at one time. But no lights, and not the well pump for water. So, we cycle back and forth, getting the fridge and freezer cooled down to optimum temp again before cutting one or both of those, and turning the well pump on long enough to refill the pressure tank (from which we can get a limited supply of water without power). Or, we run one room of lights and outlets so cell phones and computers can be recharged for work and school the next day. Then, when we go to bed, the generator is again shut off, to save gas (and $$$), since while we are sleeping we won't be opening the fridge, or notice if the house cools off 10 degrees since there is also no heat. But we don't use the oven, or anything else that draws a lot of current, and we don't get to shower much. Last night DH shut off everything except the bathroom lights and the well pump and we each got to take a very quick shower--oh, that felt so good!
Now, nearly 65 hours after the power went out, and the electric company saying it might be Friday afternoon before it comes back on, I am really, really thankful that we have a generator.