Opinion

Federal Way power outage brings bliss | Nandell Palmer

Don’t you just hate it when the Pacific Northwest is in the news globally for the wrong reasons? That’s the time relatives and friends that you’ve not heard from in eons call you up from every dale and homestead to check up on you. Or to mock in derision: “Oh, I didn’t know that it snows in Seattle!”

The preceding week in Federal Way will not be soon forgotten. The few days of snowfalls were quite reminiscent of winter 2006 in many ways.

While I didn’t mind the mound of snow and slipping and sliding, I was not prepared for the power outage. But alas, it came! As I write, there are still some families without power.

Indeed, it was quite inconvenient to be without electricity for that few days, knowing that it is connected to so many of our comforts: stoves, microwave, refrigerator, light, hot water.

In my book, “Blessings at Your Fingertips,” I have a chapter titled “Dare to be inconvenienced.” The winter of 2006 was part of the inspiration for that piece of writing.

Last week again, I was blessed with a mother lode of inspirations and goodwill from the storm/power outage. I will forever be grateful for periods of inconvenience. Battling the flu, friends brought me a steaming pot of chicken soup.

My neighbors decided to convert their home into the Federal Way Shangri-La, and would not take no as an answer for my family joining them. With the fireplace going full blast, we indulged in this winter getaway.

As we looked out into the distance, the acres of snow-covered grounds and icicle-bedecked branches were breathtaking. Who needed Lake Tahoe and Aspen?

In the dining room, the candlelit ambience complemented the succulent buffet of day-old leftovers heated by sternos under stainless steel chafing dishes. Meanwhile, nature’s ultimate freezer, a cooler stocked with tightly-packed snow, provided us with a ton of cold cuts, cheeses and other frozen delicacies.

We survived TV overload. That was fabulous. Not having the TV on afforded us the joys of spending quality time with family and friends. Electronics have a way of robbing us of that.

I especially applaud the children for not getting cranky throughout this period. In fact, the highlight for me was to watch the star of the evening: my neighbors’ 8-year-old daughter.

With no electronic gadgets to entertain her, she became quite innovative with whatever was at hand to pass the time.

Using a banana as a telephone, she dialed friends, business clients and people in high places, petitioning their help or consoling them in their winter woes. Even Bill Gates got a call from the banana phone, too, out there in Medina.

After the conversation, she reported to us that Bill was busy looking for firewood because the stores were all sold out.

To her dismay, she watched her dad gobble down the banana after a few hours. She warned him that eating her telephone could potentially be detrimental to his health as he ran the risk of being electrocuted.

Luckily, there were more bananas on hand, and the conversations became even more creative. Given a few more years, this child will definitely become an A-class novelist or screenwriter. Such raw talent!

I encouraged her parents to make her write down her creative thoughts in short stories.

The evening lent itself to much storytelling way into the wee hours of the morning, as the roaring fire lulled us to sleep. We all curled up on the living room floor with blankets, ever grateful for warmth and camaraderie.

The next day, friends in Northeast Tacoma invited us to their warm home, and I invited my neighbors to come along. There, we played dominoes, card games, ate comfort food, and again, regaled each other with stories of yesteryear. We are all richer for that experience.

I am somewhat grateful for the storm/blackout. I will not overlook the fact that despite our harshest inconvenience for that brief period, my quality of life was far more superior to millions of people globally who neither have the luxury of electricity nor running water.

Had the power not gone out last week, a father would not have discovered the hidden literary gems in his daughter. Shortly after the blackout, the girl has been composing stories on the family computer daily, her proud dad told me. A star is born! Now, I can’t wait to read her first book.

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