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Fi News – Power is back

Ave Maria!

The power is finally back at our friary here in Griswold. Deo Gratias! Our prayers go out to all who have not gotten their power back or have suffered more tragic losses. Even with our small problems here we now have a much greater appreciation for the wonders of electricity which we normally take for granted.

It was mighty hurricane Irene, one of the biggest hurricanes (if you count size alone) which knocked out our power.

But it was a little tiny mouse which prevented our standby generator from coming on. After working feverishly to get the engine of the generator working properly before the storm hit we didn’t have time do a real test of putting the friary on generator power alone. But we figured it had worked fine a few months ago so we should be all set. Well, as we were praying early Sunday morning with the howling winds of Irene (a tropical storm by then) shaking the chapel, we were not too surprised when the power went out. We confidently waited for the generator to come on and, indeed, we heard the engine fire up automatically just as expected. We looked around the darkened chapel anticipating the lights to surge back on in a flood of lumens, but after a moment’s pause, and after a Hail Mary, we were quite sure the power was not to be restored so easily.

Upon investigation we found that small, fury creatures like the one pictured above had made a nest in the control box of the generator and in the generator itself. For such cute little critters they are actually quite destructive and rendered the generator inoperable, and …. rather smelly.

Fra Augustine made a special trip back form Mt St Francis Hermitage where he was working on the radio station and he and Fra John worked almost continuously for the next four days trying to get it working. Using the internet to get manuals and read the tech blogs, (via a cellular modem on a laptop powered by an inverter plugged into a car) they learned more about Onan generators than they ever cared to. They actually tested every component and even after replacing the few failed components the generator still never worked. The local electrical shops could not help because they where swamped with over seventy other generators that people needed to get working.  I guess the mice were very busy, indeed!

Eventually the many work crews who where cutting up fallen trees and replacing the downed wires along our Connecticut roadways got the main power on for us, beating our intrepid tech friars to the punch. As they say, the best laid plans mice and men often come to naught. Our generator back-up plans were dashed and the mice lost their nest which they had planned to be their permanent home.

The power came on at half voltage last night.  We did manage to get the homily up this morning even with the blinking, half-dimmed lights and the laptop switching back and forth between outlet and battery. Then full power came on at about noontime.

So we survived the biggest storm to hit New England in twenty years and even survived the tiny mice. We found out that we were in the worst hit areas in regard to wind damage and power outages in New England, as we are about ten miles away from North Stonington, which was the very worst hit.

We are now considering what to do with our generator. We definitely need to get it running so we don’t have to break out the candles, inverters and buckets again, especially with hurricane Katia threatening already. We are also trying to figure out what to do with Slink and Barb, our derelict cats, who let the mice play right under their noses! (To be fair they had no way of getting into the shed, but they have definitely lost their hero-hunter status here at the friary)

Thank you for all your prayers and kind words and for lending a helping hand in keeping the friary and the friars going during this difficult time. We are grateful. Stay tuned for more homilies and videos.

Ave Maria!