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Joe, Snow and Phô

So we had this snowstorm, right? You might have heard. Friday evening the storm knocked out our power. What we didn’t realize was that our electricity somehow controls our house heat, which made for stupidly cold floors and an even colder day. But I didn’t know any of this, really, when I heard Justin making some strangely familiar sounds in the kitchen, but for what reason?

It sounded like he was crushing and chopping almonds. But we were out of almonds: What could he be doing? I braved the cold floor to find him grinding coffee beans with a mortar and pestle.  Nothing gets between us and our coffee, right?

So I reached up to get the old-fashioned grinder and he stopped me. “Look at it,” he said. It was covered in a thick layer of greasy dust from where it sat – kind of near the stove – for the last year and a half. “Can’t we just wash it out?” He explained he’d have to take the whole thing apart, so he thought he’d just grind the beans by hand in the mortar.

So we brewed the mortar & pestle beans. And the coffee was okay; certainly, it was acceptable for a day without power, but it really, the brew was on the weak side. After all, we could get about the same coffee-to-water ratio from the local gas station (if they had power to brew it).  So we agreed that he would take the old fashioned grinder apart, clean it, and use it. Are we ever glad we did! Look at these grounds!


This brewed an exceptional pot of coffee.

After coffee, we had to deal with the snow. I didn’t see it (I was busy trying to get my boots on), but Justin said that the entire stairway was leveled, ending with what you can see here on the sidewalk: about three feet (hip-high) of wet, heavy snow. We dug out to the street.


The good news is that we didn’t lose any of our summer-stored, frozen food and nothing in the refrigerator spoiled. We bundled up in multiple layers and tried to keep our bodies moving to stay warm.  Justin made candles and wrote in his journal. I hooped inside & out.


The electricity came back on just after sundown and it wasn’t until Sunday morning that our apartment had reached our comfort zone of 60°.

It’s clear that we could easily live without electricity, assuming we had a heat source (wood stove or fireplace). Electricity, I think, is a bit overrated. Ideally, a wood stove would cover all our needs for heat & cooking in our future earthship. But for Saturday, we still had hot water and could use the stove.  So we did.  We made Phô, or what we lovingly call, “magic soup.” It cures almost everything, but especially the blues.

We get vegetarian Phô base from Asiana, a local Asian market, and then fill the soup with rice noodles, shredded carrots, baby corn, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, garlic, shallots, onion, garlic scapes, peas – whatever we have on hand – and then top it with thai basil, fresh jalapeños, green onions and bean sprouts.

All in all: it could have been worse.



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