Four Days without Electricity_The Story

"Autumn Leaves"
“Autumn Leaves”

I had a list of things to accomplish this week, and it turned out much differently than I anticipated. On Tuesday morning November 16 the National Weather Service issued high wind warnings for the area and by 3 p.m. businesses and educational institutions were closing. I left my office at Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox in Spokane WA at about 3 p.m. I walked several  blocks to Spokane Transit as I commute by bus. The wind was so strong it was hard to walk in a straight line. The bus was full of commuters who, like me, left work early. Some people were standing in the aisles. I was so happy to leave the driving to someone else on this windy day. The traffic was horrible as many vehicles made the mass exodus out of the downtown core. Once I reached my van in Liberty Lake, I drove the few miles to my house. The wind gusts felt like the van was going to be picked up and tossed. Luckily that did not happen. I was grateful to reach my house, and pulled into the garage. At about 5 p.m. it was dark outside, the wind was howling, and suddenly  the lights went out. I knew exactly where our candles were, the propane lighter, and quickly started lighting candles. We found our lanterns we keep in our camping gear, batteries, and felt somewhat secure. We warmed up left over lasagna on our Coleman stove we set inside the garage with doors propped open a bit.  Instead of working on the pictures I had intended to process, I helped Gayle pull out a Thomas Kinkade puzzle that was gathering dust on two pieces of wood under the couch and love seat in our living room. We set up the card table and worked on the puzzle for quite awhile. It was nice to just sit and do this together by candlelight.

Wednesday morning the wind was calm. We discovered one bush was severely pruned with half of it laying on the ground. In the front yard the cedar fence that separates our yard from the Perrys next door had sections on the ground as well as some of the boards in the backyard. The lattice behind our pole rose was trashed. Dirt seemed to be everywhere – on the van, our windows and all over our house. That was the extent of our damage and we felt so blessed. In the news we heard of people who had trees that had fallen on their vehicles and homes.  I went to work at The Fox. It was warm and comfortable. The question of the day was, “Do you have power?” The media reported that 187,000 businesses/homes had lost power. Gayle went to The Family History Center as he volunteers there. They had power. When he came home he picked up  branches in the yard. That night we ate out at a Mexican Restaurant a couple of miles from our home after we pulled the refrigerator items out and put them into ice chests and moved them outside to the deck. Afterward I cut a mat and foamcore for my grandson Rhett’s second birthday and made his card while Gayle watched a John Wayne movie on his laptop. We went to bed with blankets piled on our bed and stayed warm.

Thursday we were SURE the power would come back on. It didn’t. Went to work and everyone asked the same question: “Did your power come on?” Someone discovered that the elevator didn’t work. A repairman examined it and ordered a part that would be overnighted. At home Gayle set up a cooking station on the deck with our Coleman stove and another grill. He made Hamburger Goulash for dinner. Cory had gotten his generator out of the storage unit and had it set up by the deck where Gayle had plugged in the outdoor party lights. It is amazing how good the goulash tasted! I went Visiting Teaching and Gayle went Home Teaching. Some had power, some didn’t. Afterward we went to our friends’ home, Roberta and Dave Osborn, to take showers. i had called Roberta earlier in the day and they enthusiastically said “Yes! Come over.” Wow how good that shower felt! We haven’t seen our friends for months, and it was good to chat with them.

Friday morning it was cold in our house! The temperature, according to my smart phone was 30 degrees outside. The predicted was 21 degrees so it didn’t get as low as expected and I was relieved. It was a beautiful sunny day. Went to work. We were busy with sales for La Boheme which was on Friday and Saturday night and luckily the elevator was able to be fixed. This morning we learned that Paul Roberts from Church created a Facebook event called “Stone Soup” and invited all to come eat at the Church and visit or bring games, etc. We found that to be a deal we could not pass up. Gayle heated up the leftover goulash and I picked up some french bread and fresh mandarin oranges to go with it. At the Church about 50 people came and all brought food. We ate very heartily and were the last ones to leave.

Saturday morning we were going to do some yard work but since showers were not easy to come by, decided to just work inside the house. I cleaned the bathroom super_nice, we took all our dishes out of the dishwasher since we still did not have electricity and washed, dried, and put them all away, I got ready for work as best I could and by By 3 p.m.  reported for work. The time went by quickly. The opera started at 8 p.m. and there were many who came to purchase tickets. The Spokane Symphony made an awesome offer: Anyone who was out of power could attend the concert for only $1!! There they could enjoy the opera in a beautiful warm theater for 3 hours. So many expressed their appreciation and the $1 tickets sold very well. When I finished my work I went in and watched the opera and enjoyed it very much. Afterward I had not been in my car but just a minute when Gayle called me and said our power had just come on at 10:45 Saturday night!! Oh Happy Day!!

As I write this now, I’d like to share a few tips that made this circumstance bearable for us: 1. We had all our candles in one place where they were easy to get to when the lights went out. 2. We were well equipped with our camping supplies and that helped us to keep the “camping” mindset. It truly was like camping, the only difference was that we were at home. 3. Be proactive with your food in the refrigerator. We bought ice and packed ice chests full of food. (One person I know let all her food spoil and she threw it all away. That would be quite a finanal loss.) Luckily our food in the freezers never thawed out. We didn’t open the deep freezers but just a couple of times to check the food. Though we were fine, we did not have access to a generator until Thursday night. We definitely will be purchasing a generator sometime in the future! 4. Even though our circumstances were hard, we  found ways to keep a positive disposition, were grateful for blessings, and tried to help others. No matter what your circumstances are, look around and see that there is always someone else who is suffering more that you are. Doing something nice for someone else will always elevate your spirit and help you feel better.

Today is Thanksgiving and my heart is very grateful for blessings in my life. The simple things, like electricity, hot running water, and not having to worry about where my next meal is coming from… I have a family and we all love one another… These are prized possessions and my heart is full. As I was reflecting on all this some words entered my mind that are worth pondering and I share them with you: “He who is not grateful for the little things will not be satisfied with the abundance of kings.” 

Have you experienced a disaster? How did it impact you and your family? What lessons did you learn? Leave a comment below as I’d love to read about it.  Thank you for allowing me to share with you. May we all have vision to see the blessings that come to us and a heart filled with gratitude.

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