At 5:24 pm last night, I looked outside, and it was completely dark. For most Americans, the onset of winter and Daylight Savings Time means that it gets dark outside in the early evening. For us, it means it gets dark outside and very dim inside in the early evening.
Daylight Savings Time sneaks up on me every year. Although I’m ready for more light in the morning, these LOOOONG winter nights take some getting used to. With the extra hour of darkness last night, I…
- read a lot of children’s books aloud
- did some sit ups
- listened to the radio
- ate too much chocolate and cheese because I couldn’t figure out when a proper meal time should be
- stoked the fire
- put the kids to bed early
- and caught up on some blog reading.
While this early sunset may be good for blog writing, there aren’t too many things of interest that I can photograph in the dark, so I’ll need to make a better effort to shoot when the light is good, as short a time as that may be.
Sure we have lights, but really, they’re just a small step up from candles and oil lamps. It’s also the time of year that we need to conserve our battery power (from the solar system and the time that we have to run our generator), so we can’t ever have more than two or three lights on at the same time or else we’ll run out of power completely for the night.
Several of our lights are 12v marine fixtures (i.e. photo above right) that we bought at Englund Marine in Newport, OR. (Englund Marine also has the best selection of waterproof and warm gloves, raingear, and anything boat-related. They’re really nice, too.)
The light above the kids’ bed (photo above left) came out of Henry’s stepbrother’s truck canopy. It’s fairly bright but not too classy.
The lights in the kitchen are car backup bulbs housed in jelly jars attached to ceiling beams. They’re kind of quaint, but not that bright. *sigh*
As I was working on this post last night, the battery ran out on our internet broadcasting device, so I had to quit and go to bed. I figured that was a sign to elaborate on how we get internet service out here in the boonies.
I bought our first computer in 2005, shortly after I moved out to the homestead. I knew we couldn’t get internet service through a land line or cable, but I was assuming that the local satellite internet company could hook us up. I was wrong. Apparently, the area around our house is too hilly to get satellite service. At that point, I was freaking out a little because I had bought a fancy new Macbook, and it seemed like we were going to have to drive to town and sit in a Starbucks to be able to use it. not cool.
Eventually we ended up at a Verizon store (our cell phone service), and got hooked up with functional but expensive internet broadcast through cell signals. We’ve upgraded a couple times since then, and now we have a Verizon MiFi card thingy in the house that makes our cabin into a little internet hotspot for up to five devices. For the most part, it works pretty well. It has a better battery life than the old MiFi, but I can’t charge it on my laptop and use the internet at the same time, which is pretty frustrating. During the winter, we mostly charge it up with our Honda gas generator when need extra AC power to run the water pump or the washing machine.
Getting internet through Verizon is an expensive service. (We learned the hard way that we needed the higher data limit for uploading photos and such.) I think we pay about $80 per month, but considering that our phone/internet bill is our only monthly utility bill and serves as our primary communication and entertainment outlet, we can justify it. I also get to write it off on my taxes as a legitimate business expense.
This coming winter, we will enjoy a juxtaposed combination of old fashioned activities (books, radio, crayons, baking) as well as new fangled, technological ventures (Facebook, blogging, Pandora, digital photo editing). I kinda like it that way.