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.