Technology Pushes Back

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

February 26, 2019

Living in remote places I have experienced Internet difficulties, even piracy. But never before have I had devices fail, resulting in a communications blackout. As if I needed more evidence of impending apocalyptic doom, a winter blizzard of such ferocity hit the Keweenaw Peninsula it stunned even seasoned winter-hardy locals.

That bit of green? That’s all you can see of our garage in the photo. A sea of snow eight feet deep swells between us and neighbors. The wind howled through our street at 60 miles per hour, and at times we couldn’t see the house next door. Whiteout.

My story begins with the earlier blizzard, the one that blew in like streamers across the weather radar last Wednesday. The Hub had an appointment to evaluate his right hip, and we had to drive to Iron Mountain. The roads were choked with snow and the bad weather hit us after we left Keweenaw Bay.

The Hub said, “This is the longest stretch of 36 miles of anywhere.”

I understood what he meant. Each rise and fall of remote forested snowbound road looked like the last hill and it felt like we were stuck in some repeating time and distance loop. No houses. No towns. Just rise after snowy rise. For 36 miles.

By the time we got to Iron Mountain, the snow accumulated like suds overflowing a washer. We played 20 questions with the civilian doctor who ordered a new X-ray because the last one was over a year old. He asked, “Why aren’t you receiving treatment?” Don’t get me started.

Suffice to say, I’m on a letter writing campaign.

Driving to the hospital for X-rays delayed us and we returned to our car buried in three inches of snow suds. Everyone said it would be best if we stayed in town. The Hub disagreed and off we drove toward home. We stopped for a bite and the waitress reminded us we still had Keweenaw Bay and the Portage Waterway to navigate. Closer to Lake Superior, the snow thickens like Lady Lake’s velvet gown of white.

Once we left Chassel we could no longer see the road. If we veered toward the shoulder, headlights caught the wall of piled snow bern. Oncoming headlights gave fuller definition. But it was a total whiteout. We both felt relieved to see the lights of Houghton, cross the peninsula bridge and crawl up the deep snow ruts of Quincy Hill into Hancock.

We arrived only to get high centered and stuck in our driveway. Two hours later after shoveling, pushing, and getting the car out, we drove back down the hill to get gas for the snowblower. On the way we got slid into a snow bank. Rocking the car got us unstuck. Back home, we scooped and blew the drive and “trail of turds.” That’s the inglorious path to walk the dogs to do their business, which we bag.

Finally, I got to Carrot Ranch. VA days can be draining, but in a blizzard, it’s even more so. After my computer restarted three times, I closed down all my open tabs, programs and music to do a complete restart. It still continued to crash. Frustrated and tired, I went to bed, thinking I could better problem solve in the morning.

The next day, Radio Geek and Solar Man were home on a snow day because of the blizzard that was now just flurries. SM hopped on my computer to resolve the issue from the night before. All his fixed resulted in more crashing. I called the manufacturer and they walked me through other unsuccessful fixes. They advised a clean install of my operating system.

Pause a moment and ask, “When did I last save my writing?”

For me the answer was Monday. While working on my MFA application, I realized I hadn’t saved my novel folders since NaNoWriMo. I backup all my folders in one grand NOVELS file to DropBox. You can use iCloud, Google Drive, or an external hard drive. But do it!

Meanwhile the FedEx driver delivers our new phones. The Hub and I have limped along with a failing Motorola Android system for six months. An earlier system update depleted the battery. My phone became tethered. Even on our blizzard drive, it refused to charge in the car and at best I got intermittent use that day.

I was excited for the new iPhones but worried about the computer. I told the Hub we couldn’t go to the Verizon store until we got my operating system working. That meant more technology — I needed a 16GB USB and a different computer to download a new Windows 10.

Can I whine? Pretend I’m just wind moaning through eaves. But blast it I hate technology problems!

Thursday I posted a hopeful comment, giving enough time to reinstall Windows and return to Ranch duties. Friday before group with my warrior sisters, the install failed. A tech at Acer advised a different way but I had to go. The Hub had his group and afterward we went to his orthopedic because his knee swelled following a Synvix gel shot last week. By late afternoon we headed into Verizon.

Two hours later, the Verizon techs understood my utter frustration with the Motorola as it kept dying every time they tried to transfer files. They finally figured out how to manage it while keeping it plugged in. The Hub satin a cushioned bench and played with his new phone. I couldn’t figure out how to turn mine on. We knew a storm was coming over the weekend so we went grocery shopping.

Saturday spit snow, nothing major. Acer techs were unavailable and I couldn’t figure out my new phone. We cooked and watched a new show called The Umbrella Academy. Sunday the blizzard arrived and we continued to hunker down.

Mid afternoon I attempted to take out one of the dogs only to discover the front door snowed in. The back deck is a dog backup and that door opens inward and revealed two feet of snow. The winds howled and the dog shook her head. None of the dogs wanted to go out. The snow got so deep it consumed our car and filled up the piles between houses, covering garages and first story floors. It’s claustrophobic.

Today the kids and Hub dug out. The entire community dug out and neighbors and friends helped each other. I couldn’t get a live person at Acer and none of the tech shops in town were open. On a hopeful note, I figured out my phone, installed apps including this one for Word Press. I tried to get word out that I was okay, just having technology challenges instead of flash fiction ones.

After snow mountain moving, clearing roofs, and recovering vehicles, one of SM’s friends, an IT tech offered to look at my computer. He thinks it’s the hard drive not the operating system. He offered to rescue my documents and photos (because I save my novels, not the rest). He said he’d run a diagnostic on it too but he’s certain the computer is fried.

And I’m as wiped as it’s going to be.

What to do? I’m pecking this post on my phone. I don’t know how I collect stories on my phone. It would be time consuming.

For now, let’s play an intermittent game, after all, the challenges are about play and keeping creatively connected every week. This won’t be an official challenge so no compilation. But play along — write, read what you have time for and comment on what stirs you. Those are the three pillars of literary art.

Right now, I can’t shake that feeling of morbid curiosity — what would it be like to get buried in snow. The way that blizzard filled space was phenomenal. We have no way to stop such snow.

INTERMITTENT CHALLENGE: in 99 words, no more, no less, write a story about “buried in the snow.”

*Note that there will not be a compilation for this challenge while technology gets sorted. And forgive any typos I might have pecked out on my phone.

My sad and lonely desk without my laptop:

Grains of Snow (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Danni rolled a towel against the draft at the back door. North winds blew straight lines off the ridge, piling snow at her back door. Snow slid off the metal roof creating a wall. By morning her porch was tunneled in snow. Danni stood at the back door staring at a wall of white. Bubbie whimpered and pranced like a kid who had to pee, but G-Dog wasted no time in lifting a leg. Buried in snow, he’d add to it yellow streaks. Danni scowled and grabbed the grain shovel. It was her preferred weapon against winter burials.

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  1. cindy knoke

    I live in Southern California. Ice continues to shut down our wifi tower for days at a time. Unheard of here.

    • Charli Mills

      Ice? Cindy, I had no idea that was happening in Southern California! Oh, not good for crops or communication.

    • Susan Zutautas

      One year when I lived in Quartz Hill, California, we had a little snowstorm out on the desert, but nothing compared to what you’re experiencing now.

      • Charli Mills

        We can appreciate that our snowy places know how to deal with the snow. Other places where it’s unusual have no systems or equipment. How’s your side of the Great Lakes?

      • Susan Zutautas

        Too much snow for me. But as they say, you know you’re a Canadian because all you do is complain about the weather. 🙂

  2. Ritu

    Oh wow Charli!
    That us just crazy!

    • Charli Mills

      I’d rather deal with the snow!

      • Ritu

        I’ll bet!

  3. denmaniacs4

    I am gobsmacked. An inch of snow and I cringe up into a pathetic weeping ball of cowardice.

    • Susan Zutautas

      🙂 Sorry but I find that really funny.

    • Charli Mills

      Bill, this is the kind of snow that calls for community so I kind of like that aspect of it.

  4. calmkate

    gee Charli I can’t begin to imagine that much snow or how you both survived that tedious drive! Technology is great while it works but when it doesn’t … I feel your pain 🙁
    Buried in snow it is … maybe we could shuck a few devices in that pile of snow and see if they behave any better!

    • Charli Mills

      It’s nearing time to chuck some tech people into the snow, Kate! I’ve been told by several today that hard drives “just break” after a year.

      • calmkate

        yes they are making things more breakable in this throw away society so that they can’t be repaired, must be replaced … assures them of an income 🙁

      • Charli Mills

        Kinda depleted the income of others. Not a fair playing fields, is it?

      • calmkate

        so wasteful all round, no concern for us or the planet!

  5. Miriam Hurdle

    That pile of snow… Wow! Will read your post in the morning. Good night. Glad to see you back.

    • Charli Mills

      It’s a lot of snow! Thanks, Miriam.

      • Miriam Hurdle

        It surly looks like it, Charli. Are there any other serious damage?

      • Charli Mills

        People are working hard to clear rooftops but some out buildings have collapsed and some rural roads are completely buried. Most folks have snow mobiles.

      • Miriam Hurdle

        Wow, it would take a while for people to get around again. Hope your home is somewhat okay with manageable setback.

      • Charli Mills

        We are good! Our road crews are amazing and have an arsenal of snow removal equipment. I watched the massive augers cut embankments last night to open up our street. Some people had their cars completely buried, but lots of folks make a living shoveling out others. It’s the lack of computer that is vexing me most but this too shall pass.

      • Miriam Hurdle

        I’m amazed of people like you make the best out of the massive snow. Hope your home is warm.

      • Charli Mills

        My home is so warm with radiant heat! I love to sit on the radiator in the front window and watch the snow.

  6. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Snow Job

    “Kid, sometimes they ain’t nuthin’ ta be done but hunker down. Tell stories. Like the one ‘bout the blizzard a ’19…

    How it snowed! Valleys turned inta hills an’ hills inta mountains. When folks finally commenced ta shovelin’ they realized there weren’t no more room with all thet snow ta put any more snow. So they trucked it out by whatever means available- dogsled, snow machines- Took their snow to Washington DC. And they didn’t jist dump it there. They packed it and stacked it and built a wall right around the capital. Shut ‘em in.”

    “Really? Who’ll pay, Pal?”

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! Kid’s got a good idea for all that snow! Blizzards are good times for gathering to tell stories by the fire.

    • robbiesinspiration

      You have a great sense of humour, Miss D

  7. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    Amazed you can write so much on your phone. We have the opposite freak weather here, with summer temperatures, although I’ve been reading about Siberia so can envisage that snow. Glad you’re safe, albeit understandably frustrated.

    • Charli Mills

      Unbelievable that the UK would be experiencing such an opposite extreme at the same time. Anne, I thought of your diction style of writing because my phone has a great program. But I’m not a great diction writer. You’ll have to give me some tips! Pecking is tedious.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        It does take some getting used to, and I can’t use it when someone else is in the room. Interestingly, I’ve been typing to protect my throat this past month (though not in great bursts) to no ill effect.

  8. jenanita01

    So glad you are ok, Charli. We were really worried as the time went by! Will pop back with our 99 words…

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for your concern!

      • jenanita01

        We knew something must have happened, for you always tell us of any delays…
        I love snow, but maybe not that much!

  9. Kay Kingsley, The Memory Cellar

    So glad you are back in the saddle, Charli. What an experience.

    Here is my take on your prompt this week:

    He was drowning in debt, working 60 hour weeks, micromanaged by his wife and under appreciated by his kids. After years of being worn down, his soul was thin enough to break so he planned to let it break in private, on his own terms, alone.

    So without a word, he packed a small bag, some food, a few bottles of alcohol and headed to their cabin deep in the woods. He settled in for the night and woke to find his cabin buried in snow.
    How ironic, he thought, as he smiled for the first time in years.

    • Charli Mills

      Kay, you intrigued me with wondering how he was going to break on his own terms and then he seemed to refresh once he gave up and found himself buried.

      • Kay Kingsley, The Memory Cellar

        I guess it’s like they say, wherever you go, there you are. I thought it would’ve a little twist for him to finally break away from being buried by life only to find himself buried in snow. Sometimes all you can do is chuckle at life’s irony.

      • Charli Mills

        Life is like that. Maybe we could get life to imitate the good it offers. Perhaps, the snowbound experience will provide him with the insight he needs.

    • robbiesinspiration

      Nice, Kay. Sometimes a bit of perspective in life helps.

  10. Jules

    Charli and any other snow bound folks…

    I only have experience a few blizzards. One, my children were able to make an igloo of sorts in the front lawn. The cold has been gripping us more that accumulation this winter. Keep warm and safe. And know that eventually Tech stuff will straighten out. And Charli – just knowing that your safe is wonderful news. Hugs!!

    A BoTS and there’s a weather map at my site for:

    Heaven Sent?

    Our week during the blizzard of 1996. Suburban neighborhoods are last on the county’s plow list. Hubby listened to his firefighter scanner; to calls he wouldn’t be able to make since the snow in the road was up to his chest.

    There was one call he could make, by walking. Up the street a Mama’s water broke. Two plows and an ambulance made there way into our neighborhood to a cleared driveway, by Hubby, our children, me and the neighbors.

    Baby arrived days later at the hospital. Thanks to Mama we could at least get to the main road.


    Note: The Blizzard of 1996 was a severe nor’easter that paralyzed the United States East Coast with up to 4 feet (1.2 m) of wind-driven snow from January 6 to January 8, 1996.

    Hubby and family have been (some still are) very active volunteer and compensated firefighters.

    • Charli Mills

      What an experience, Jules! I like the community action displayed by a volunteer firefighter’s family. And thanks for your concern! Okay, just technologically challenged and buried. It wouldn’t be so bad if I had my computer!

  11. Jules

    Just for fun fantasy fiction poem – and more info about the names at my post as well as an inspirational illustration:

    To Melt Injustice

    Trapped beneath the ice
    Shula felt her king’s distress.

    Boreas had been quick in his
    Judgement of an improbable offence.

    Boreas dumped a blizzard upon
    Everything within miles of the castle.

    Finding the true offender was not
    An impossible challenge for a mage

    Convincing a God to release her king,
    And save the Myrmidons would be.

    With enchantments in place to keep her
    Limbs from freezing, Shula marched on.

    King Aeacus must be saved and Boreas
    Had to be convinced of his innocence.

    Shula did not know of the Gods jealousies
    And that Hera was watching all too closely.


    Stay warm and on the good side of the Gods! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Classic, Jules! Great epic tone, too.

    • robbiesinspiration

      Another intriguing take, Jules. Well done.

  12. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Uh, Boss… look straight ahead, focus on that computing problem, do not look at the forecast… (Fact is stranger than fiction)
    That darn lake of yours is turning itself inside out. At least you have a phone now. And remember what Kid says- Macs aren’t just for cider. Sure hope they get the roads cleared before July. Kid also says, when life gives you snow, make bacon flavored snow cones. Keep stocked up and your shovel inside the door.

    • Charli Mills

      Ignoring forecasts while the town continues to dig out. Trying Kid’s recipe tonight.

  13. joanne the geek

    I wondered what had happened to you. Glad to know you’re alright. I will probably tackle this prompt in a couple of days. Keep warm and I hope your computer issues get sorted. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for your concern, Joanne. I’m keeping warm by the flames of my computer!

  14. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    I appreciate the challenge but am challenged for what to write
    Maybe a tale of snow that falls for forty days and forty nights.

    But I have a feeling that’s been done, and besides what is the arc?
    My brain is in a whiteout, snow dampens my creative spark.

    Maybe tell of a crazy leader who causes oobleck to replace the falling snow
    But that’s a tale by Seuss and in sooth perhaps scarier than we know.

    An intermittent challenge, a creative way to sing or shout
    I want to shape snow sculpture, but first must finish digging out.

    • Jules

      I only have remnants of snow… but it is still cold. Though trees are budding and Daffs are poking through. While I’m not missing insects… I am looking forward to April 20th the first (at least calendar) day of spring.

      Take breaks while you are shoveling and stay warm. Let the muse visit while you rest with some (spiked) hot chocolate? 🙂

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        No snow here, that there poem is further fiction, mere metaphor. Here a cold wind blows. Always, literally. I am trying to shovel with a pen (figuratively) but- Squirrels!!

      • Jules


      • Charli Mills

        Your squirrels are nuts! Keep shoveling.

      • Charli Mills

        Jules, I’m with you on the lack of insects though one of the basement wolf spiders showed upstairs and I had to explain to him boundaries. He flicked me a middle leg and scuttled off under a bookshelf.

      • Jules

        Just looked up your ‘leetle freend’ – yikes he’s a big ‘un. I guess as long as he stays under that bookshelf. Must be a tad cold in yer basement if even the crawlers are crawlin’ up!

    • Charli Mills

      D., your brain dug right in and piled 99 words like a snow sculpture. I’m thinking

    • Charli Mills

      Oops… wasn’t finished. My thumb fumbled. Ha! But I can’t see my comment either to know where I left off…argh!!! I’m going to move on. Just have Kid throw a snowball at me.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Heehee. You said “I’m thinking”
        then left us wondering. (Good to have ya back Shorty; Kid was gettin kinda scary- bit Pal! Things’ll be ok now. In just a little while.)
        Hope you get some good computer news.

      • Charli Mills

        I don’t know which disengaged first — my fingers or brain!

        Aw, Pal will be okay. Not like Kid is rabid.

        So where does one find a Mac?

  15. Nobbinmaug

    I’m relatively new to living in the snow. I hate driving in it. There is no way I would attempt to drive anywhere in what you describe. Technology’s great for some horror stories, too.

    • Charli Mills

      Both are fodder for dark tales! As for driving in the snow, find an open but snowy parking lot and spin brodies until you feel comfortable sliding!

      • Nobbinmaug

        Sliding is terrifying. I am so lucky I haven’t hit anybody. I’ve slid past a few people.

  16. Annette Rochelle Aben

    Snow? Just some Michigan love…. After all, the State is shaped like a pair of MITTENS! (I was going to say gloves, for the rhyme, however…) Gee whiz, one of the may reasons, I have only visited the Keewanaw in August (their only other season it seems) <3

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! Annette, even the Yoopers are saying they never had this much loving! Whenever you show up, it could snow. But August is safe.

  17. Susan Zutautas

    I was so happy to see you on Facebook last night as I too was a bit worried about you. Winters are usually not that much fun for me living up here in the “Great White North” but this year the snow load is totally insane. Kudos to you for writing this entire post on the WP app. I don’t think I’d be able to do it. 🙂
    Hang in there and hopefully, you’ll have your laptop up and working shortly.

      • Susan Zutautas

        I’ll post it here too.

        Snow What Snow

        Snow, snow, go away
        Never come back
        JUST GO AWAY!

        We were hoping for a break this year
        But oh no you had to bury us here

        The drifts and banks are five feet tall
        To top it off, dozens of squalls

        Blizzards and whiteouts, you give freely
        Give us a break, what’s the big dealy

        I hear you’re planning to stay around
        My only wish is that you just leave town

        Overcast skies without any sun
        Makes us unhappy, all we do is bum

        The days are so cold
        I’m getting old
        It seems I’ve lost all control

        ©Susan Zutautas 2019

      • Charli Mills

        All control, buried deep in the snow!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        More snow inspired poetry! Attack that snow with a writeout storm!

      • Charli Mills

        Minne-snow-tans love der snow, ya.

      • Charli Mills

        Kate did a good deed, Susan! I love your new home for your writing!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Susan. These winters of the Great White North are intense! You’re right — snow load this year is insane. My eyes are starting to twitch from too much dazzling white and adjusting to a small screen. I hope for a bigger screen soon.

  18. Liz H

    Sounds like a blizzard of multiple sources! Here in MN, highway 35E made National news for its blizzards and snowdrift in the southern part of the state–looks more like a flood! And we have 3 more snowfalls predicted for this week. Luckily, our area (the Twin Cities) was more lightly hit–only 8 inches in my part of town… Lol.

    Keep the faith! Spring is on her way, skirts lifted just enough up her bare legs to NOT brush the snow–and Punxsutawney Phil has never steered us wrong before, yah? 😉

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Glad you’re reporting in too, Liz. Was wondering if you were also snowed in.

      • Liz H

        We’re ok where I am–Friday is supposed to be another dumping. Grateful to not live on the U.P.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Shhh! That’s CRLC World Headquarters!

      • Charli Mills

        Buried CRLC World Headquarters!

      • Charli Mills

        Come visit, Liz! You could ski the whole way!

      • Liz H

        yeah…let me just dig my way outta here, first! 😀

      • Charli Mills

        Ski over the top or take that 35 snow tunnel to Duluth, and hitch up the dogs and head east.

      • Liz H


      • Liz H

        A FB friend is from Marquette and has been posting pics and video –I remind myself how lucky I am to be in the TC, as I roll out my own man-sized snowblower to push the snow over and to the side.
        Move along, folks. Nothing to see here…

      • Charli Mills

        We had a massive snow auger cut back our banks last night, and its spout is 8 feet high! Marquette gets less snow and yes, Yoooers are measuring daily! We are at 176 inches in Hancock and 20 miles away along Lake Superior and outside Calumet, Tamarack has already exceeded 300 inches. Marquette has topped 100 inches and is 90 miles away. So you can see how ”exciting” snow measures can be. It’s a UP sport!

      • Liz H


    • Charli Mills

      Those prairie winds blow snow across 35 and the drifts are terrifying. This last system was much like a flood. Once it hit the Keweenaw it dumped like a stalled thunderhead. The TC has had a rough year. Tonight I watched the snow auger cut back our street embankments and I appreciate the equipment. Seed catalogs are marked up and ready for spring!

      • Jules

        We didn’t get your snow, but the other day we had 50 mile an hour winds…. Little more ‘n we mighta ended up landing in OZ!

  19. faithanncolburn

    Con’t know if you can get comments, but if so, I get it though I haven’t experienced a blizzard of the proportions you describe for many years and didn’t even have a computer then.

    • Charli Mills

      I’m getting comments on my phone, Faith though my eyes and neck are not adjusting well. Ah, these modern “conveniences”! Prairie blizzards are terrifying because there’s nothing to break the wind. You

    • Charli Mills

      My fingers are fumbling! I was trying to say that you could write a flash about the blizzards you remember.

      • faithanncolburn

        Did Charlie. I’ll post soon.

      • Charli Mills

        Great! I look forward to reading it!

  20. johnrieber

    Snow Day

    It never snowed here. NEVER. So, when it started , everyone laughed it off, like a rainbow that brightened the sky for a moment, then left just as quickly. So would the snow. But, when it continued to fall, and slowly piled up higher than the rooftops, people started to take notice. Since they had never seen snow before, they didn’t know what to do. So they invited it in. They were neighborly that way. After it finally melted, everyone agreed that it was a unique time. But now they had this new lake to deal with.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Shh. Let’s not mention the other end of this, spring melt. Two issues at a time.
      Nice flash. Everyone everywhere (I think) enjoys first snowfall. At first. Then…

      • johnrieber

        Yes, beautiful soft snow – then it keeps falling and falling, and then it MELTS!

      • Charli Mills

        Let’s hope for a slow spring thaw.

    • Charli Mills

      John, your story reads like modern mythology. I especially like the friendliness of folks inviting the snow in.

      • johnrieber

        Thank you for the comment!

    • Jules

      I just saw some news photos of snow on cactus (or cacti).
      Somebody built a little snow man on the top of one.

    • robbiesinspiration

      Awesome piece, John. We never have snow here in Africa (twice in my life and those days were basically holiday snow fun days)

      • johnrieber

        Robbie, I get up in Seattle – maybe 2 days of snow a year, so when I hear about a week of the stuff piled ten feet high, I stop complaining that Los Angeles dipped under 50 degrees last night!

      • Charli Mills

        Wow! I didn’t realize Seattle got that much last week!

      • johnrieber

        Yes they got swamped!

    • Charli Mills

      I enjoyed your sci-fi twist, Nobbinmaug!

      • Nobbinmaug

        Thank you.

  21. tnkerr

    Years ago my sister had a fire at her house. She found out what she’d grab to save when there’s a fire.
    No photos, no clothes, there were no pets or babies so those didn’t enter into the equation, but she grabbed nothing. She crawled out the bedroom window in her pajamas and watched it burn.
    My story is about something that might be important if you find yourself snowed in. Least it was important for my protagonist.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Have we ever appreciated the ranch more? (Absence, etc.) Some of us have an eye on the beer count, but we are all enjoying the snow day, the hunkering down by the fire, sharing stories. Did you hear my Ha! as I read yours?

      • tnkerr

        I do believe I may have heard that. I like it when that happens.

    • Charli Mills

      That must have been terrifying. I think in that moment, life is most precious. Then again…. there’s your flash.

  22. jenanita01

    Hi Charli, good on you for trying to continue, no matter what! We do hope life will return to normal ASAP! Here is the link to our blog post… I didn’t know where to put the copy of our contribution, so sent it as an attachment… Much love coming too! Anita & Jaye

  23. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Dusted by the unremitting snowflakes, the explorers carefully made their way across the glacier.
    “They say each snowflake is unique. No two alike.”
    “Are they still saying that? That makes this landscape even more diabolical, a conspiracy of snowflakes of astronomical proportions.”
    They stopped to take a GPS reading. “Here we are. This is downtown. Welcome to Hancock, Michigan.”

    “Careful of that edge.”
    They took another reading by the crevasse and checked their notes.
    “Down in there, that’s where the CFC used to be! Is.”
    “Listen! Hear that?”
    “Yes. This means…”
    “The Continental Firehouse Company is open! Let’s go!”

    I found a flash! Charli, I’m sure you’ll notice that the first part came as 59 words. Then I managed 40 more. Should it say Houghton?

  24. H.R.R. Gorman

    This update kept me on my toes – goodness, Charli, what technical conundrums! I hope everything gets better soon (without being too expensive) so you can at least continue Miracle of Ducks!

    Also, yes. Google Drive and Dropbox are amazing.

  25. Norah

    Hi Charli,
    I was concerned when the Carrot Ranch schedule was interrupted, then relieved (too soon) when I saw this post in my inbox. Sadly, I didn’t have time to read it and didn’t realise fully your situation. Any of the situations you mention would be enough to freeze (pun intended) a lesser person: the drive to Iron Mountain, the blizzard, being buried (alive) in snow and tech hassles – phone and computer – on top of that. ‘just having technology challenges instead of flash fiction ones’ you say. In my opinion there is no ‘just’ in technology hassles. We may love technology, but only when it works. It’s so frustrating when it doesn’t.
    I hope you haven’t lost your work. I work constantly in DropBox so I am hoping that my work is always backed up. Fingers crossed. That’s the intention. I hope my belief is not false.
    I cannot imagine snow as you describe it. How can anyone live with those conditions? How is travel anywhere possible? Your trip to Iron Mountain had me on edge. I can’t imagine driving it. Although I knew you were writing after the fact, it just didn’t seem possible to survive.
    What happens when the snow melts? Does it pack down to ice? Does it melt slowly and trickle away? Does it melt all at once and create a flood? How do buildings, vehicles etc hold the weight? How do animals survive? So many questions. It’s just so different from anything I have experienced or can imagine.
    I just hope you stay safe, Charli and that you all come out of this, still smiling, at the end.
    I wish I could help somehow.
    Take care, all.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Norah! Technology is storming frustrating when it misbehaves. I’m more frozen from the computer issues than the weather.

      Good, good, good! We all need to be backing up our work. Dropbox is an excellent choice. Be assured your work is there.

      Good questions! I love your curiosity! Houses are built tall with steeply pitched roofs here meant to rise above the snow and to fluff it off. People pay others to shovel what accumulates on the rooftops, though. Buildings do collapse from the weight. The road crews have all kinds of big equipment similar to earth moving equipment. I love reading historical accounts of how snow was dealt with here before modern times.

      The depth is incredible. Most places on the Keweenaw have over 200 inches of snow and Calumet has had over 300. It settles into compact strata. We have 8 to 10 feet dense packs of snow. You can live in a snow cave quite comfortably. But that sense of being buried in snow feels claustrophobic! It reminds me of a children’s book I read about a boy who survived burial in an avalanche.

      • Norah

        If you are still writing on your phone, Charli, well done. I wouldn’t have persevered to write as much as you have. Thank you for doing it for me. I appreciate it.
        Thank you also for your answers to my questions. I wasn’t really expecting explanations, just putting my wonderings out there, so your explanations are fantastic, though I still find it difficult to imagine – nothing to compare it with.
        That is a lot of snow. To be buried in it without technology would be very frustrating, to say the least. I hope the services are good. You wouldn’t want to be without power.
        I’m sure the history of how the snow was managed in times past would be interesting. I wonder have ‘they’ had to deal with as much since the Ice Age. (Hehe). Were these falls average or record-breaking? Lots of records were broken over here this summer.
        Cleaning snow from roofs sounds like dangerous work. It looks like there’s not much place else for the snow to go in your picture.
        I hope things are back to normal soon.
        Take care.

      • Charli Mills

        Writing on my phone is not as difficult as reading! Alas, I need to push my glasses down on my nose. It was fun to answer your questions, and believe it or not — that wasn’t a record-breaking blizzard! The record was one storm from 1979 and for the year, they got 390 inches of snow. Some people think we can still break the record this year (I swear, some of these Yoopers treat snowfall records like it were a championship hockey game). The mountains of California, Colorado, and Alaska hold records for most snow from a single storm which was double the amount we got. I grew up in the Sierras and remember riding my horse through snow drifts on high elevation trails in the summer. There were old glaciers that never melted until the climate changed. Now they are gone. An ice-age sounds terrifying to me, yet record heat and unpredictable weather events are disconcerting, too. Did we ever control the weather or did we simply convince ourselves that we could? I don’t question climate change. That’s happening. But have we also forgotten how to adapt the way our ancestors once did, believing our technologies could replace adaptation? I don’t believe in normal, ha, ha! But I hope to soon regain some semblance of pretending normalcy in my life soon.

      • Norah

        Wow! That’s a lot of snow you mention, Charli. But I feel almost certain that it’s not a ‘snow job’. 🙂
        I don’t think humans have ever controlled the weather, and sometimes, while I know we have contributed to this change (that’s without question) sometimes it bothers me that ‘we’ tend to think of everything as ‘anthropogenic’, as if it wouldn’t happen without us, though it might be true in this case.
        Here’s to a pretence of normalcy, whatever that might be! 🙂
        Stay warm. 🙂

  26. Norah

    Reblogged this on Norah Colvin and commented:
    There’s been a glitch or three at the Carrot Ranch this week, and the usual Flash Fiction schedule has been interrupted. I haven’t yet written a response to Charli’s challenge, but pop over to read about Charli’s challenges and pen a response yourself.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Norah!

      • Norah

        My pleasure, Charli. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Ruchira, I think that’s where the phrase ”brave the cold” comes from! I’m staying warm and bundling up when I go out. Thanks for the warm fuzzy energy!

  27. Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life.

    I hope things are improved Charli and you are back on your computer, nothing more frustrating when nature and technology gang up… the main thing is that you are safe, survived the drive and have great neighbours.. will do my best with ‘buried in the snow’… hugsxx

    • Charli Mills

      Sally, it seems like a plot twist to an action-adventure entitled, The Day Technology Joined Forces with Bad Weather. Hoping to get unburied or released from the plot twist soon! <3

  28. Jacqui Murray

    I was glued to my screen reading all your tech problems. I hate those! You might consider a Chromebook. They’re cheap enough to toss if the hard drive or OS fails. Sigh.

  29. faithanncolburn

    Snow Puddles by Faith A. Colburn

    The winter of ’88 started late with an ice storm that took out tens of miles of power lines, snapping the poles at the ground. Later, snow filled the windbreak between the corral with its water lines and the horses. My husband and sons dug a tunnel through the windbreak, but bits of the drift persisted into the spring. I was working the garden when the baby wandered off. I followed his cries and found him sitting in a puddle of snow melt. Ben didn’t like his bath. It was the first time he really liked a warm bath.

    • Charli Mills

      Faith, I enjoyed your recollection and the way you tell the story reminds me that your prairie roots are strong. You have a voice like Laura Ingalls Wilder. Ha! That would be an unpleasant surprise for a baby to sit down in cold snow melt!

  30. faithanncolburn

    Unpleasant indeed. I heard him crying clear across the farmstead.

  31. faithanncolburn

    I also heard my other son yelling from the water level of the cistern.

  32. Jennie

    What a story! Wow!!

    • Charli Mills

      A story bursting to write and I almost had to resort to chisel and ice.

      • Jennie


  33. Pete

    The Lunar-like landscape sits outside my window.

    A silent clash of snowflakes, building upon the layers working to cover the blemishes. The flakes bury the mud, the beige, the errant trash and climbing rust. It insulates the cracked flower pots, swallowing up the brittle, skeletal stalks.

    Summer remains a mystery. The blooms and bees buzzing under a hot summer sun. The steam of wet asphalt, rumbling clouds, fireflies and honeysuckle. The lazy towels drying on the railing. Katydids. All fables. Dreams beneath the surface.

    The wind howls within the chill. Summer. Please. Dragons, gnomes and mermaids are more likely.

    • Charli Mills

      Fantastic descriptions, Pete, covering up the blemishes and making fables of summer. May it return without too hot of a bite.

  34. denmaniacs4

    Wrote this right away after the pained prompt but then I got snowed under with a huge bout of indolence…

    S’now Way. I’m Not Doing It

    “Look! I’m not going out. Not interested. Christ, it’s piled higher than Kong.”

    “Kong? Who the hell is Kong?”

    “The monkey. Okay, the Ape. King Kong.”

    “What are you going on about? How do you put together a Snowcyclopian Inundation of Epic…E P I C proportions and some big movie monkey?”

    “Ah…I don’t know. Metaphorical licence? It just came to me?”

    “Really. I don’t think there’s any damn snow in the movie…”

    “Which one?”

    “Does it matter? Any of them. No Snow. Nada. To be a righteous metaphor, there’s gotta be some context.”

    “Tell that to the big monkey.”

  35. Judith Barrow

    We rarely have snow here in Pembrokeshire West Wales UK When I saw the photo I thought of my childhood spent in a small village on the moors in the North of England. It snowed every winter. Heavily with gales. One year my father dug a tunnel from the house to the lane where the farmer’s tractor had cleared a path – my father literary dug a tunnel with ten foot of snow above us. It took him almost two days and was around forty feet (over ten metres or so,?) I remember the eeriness and silence of walking through that tunnel – as a child I could walk upright in it. Seemed to last a long time. I do know the school was closed so my grandmother stayed with me when my parents went to work each day. Odd, the memories just one photograph will throw up. Loved reading all the comments!

  36. Sherri Matthews

    Oh Charli, do you realize, this happened to you literally the same day a year later after mine and hubby’s snow and ice journey across the wilds of Dorset and Somerset? We didn’t have 8 foot drifts in Somerset, but I do remember them one year in Suffolk, pushing our front door open with the sheer weight of it. But to have your computer and phones go out too…yikes, that’s one heck of a snowstorm. So glad you guys are all okay…hopefully soon your desk will be up and running with your laptop 🙂

  37. J.S - WEW

    Nice Post. I liked the way you have shared your experience, J.S


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