The Icy Tale of the Wandering Designer

Last Thursday, northern central Massachusetts got slammed by an unexpectedly severe ice storm. Power went out in our neck of the woods around midnight Thursday. All night long all you heard was groaning, followed by cracking that sounded like gunfire, then “tree”mendous roars as the 60-foot tall pine trees and hardwoods in this area and their branches fell. By Friday morning, this is what it looked like outside our door. And it still wasn’t over…every 30 seconds or so you’d hear the ominous crack of a tree or branch as you ran for cover. In fact, I received a glancing blow on my shoulder while I was taking these pics when a large branch fell off a tree right overhead. (OK, I know I should have been more mindful of my surroundings…)

My biggest challenge (besides keeping our house warm and food from defrosting) was how to be able to continue to work. I was very busy and deadlines loomed!

First, the moral of this story is to back up…Back Up…BACK UP!! files to an external hard drive which, of couse, I’d been negligent in doing. So I take apart my desktop system, load it all (so I thought) into the back seat of my car and, as soon as our road was cleared of large debris and barely passable, head off in search of power and an opportunity to move files from my desktop to my external drive, then to my laptop. Down the road, around the downed trees and under hanging wires I drove until I see…lights!! In the church in the center of town! (A parable for the holiday season…? You be the judge!)

After getting permission to set up, I realize I need an extension cord to be able to reach an outlet; back into my car, up the hill, around the fallen trees, under the wires, to get the cord. Reverse the course. Hook everything up the way I think I it was before I disassembled it, and- eureka!- we have lift off! I am thrilled and more than a little smug that I will be able to pull this off after all. When the login window appears, I go to enter my password, but…I forgot to bring my keyboard. Back into my car, up the hill, around the fallen trees, under the wires, to get the keyboard. Stopped by electrician who has come to reattach stuff of an electrical nature to our house, then a neighbor who wants to vent about the weather. Reverse the course. Enter my password…finally! Go to choose all the files I need…no mouse. Now you may be able to do it with just a keyboard, but I am clueless. I sit on the floor and seriously consider buying land in Florida- now. Today. After a long while on the floor, I get back into my car, up the hill, around the fallen trees, under the wires, to get the mouse. Reverse the course.

At long last, mission accomplished. I disassemble my computer, load it all back into my car and head off to that bastion of good coffee and free wireless, a Panera Bread a few towns away. And there is everyone else from, it seems, the entire area who is also without power and self-employed attempting to do the same thing I am. There isn’t a square inch of table space or an empty electrical socket or, it seemed, enough bandwidth to accommodate all of us. *Sigh.* Back into my car, up the hill, around the fallen trees, under the wires, to call it a day. I work by candlelight on my laptop until the battery runs out. As soon as I can get on-line I am seriously looking up Florida real estate. Maybe that’s not far enough south. Maybe Costa Rica…

The next day I am still on my quest to get on-line. Back into my car, down the hill, around the fallen trees, under the wires, I find friends who live an hour away who are happy to let me use their computer to get on-line. Oh yes, and power up my laptop. I am thrilled except I once I get there I can’t remember my password to access my email remotely. Many, many tries. Friends’ ten-year-old is offering suggestions. I finally gain access by typing in the names of every pet I’ve ever had, only to find…mostly spam and, ironically, an opportunity to buy land in Costa Rica. Nothing of substance. I curse all the trouble I’ve gone through to read spam. I save the Costa Rican land deal email.

Back into my car, down the street, up the hill, around the fallen trees, under the wires back home. If the power does not come back on soon I think my head will explode. I work by candlelight on my laptop until the battery runs out.

Day three, back into my car, down the hill, around the fallen trees, under the wires where I pass a small cafe in my town that- miracles of miracles- has power! Lousy food, but power AND fast internet access. I am at peace with the world and Mother Nature (OK, not so much Mother Nature) once again as I spend my afternoon happily catching up on work and email and web browsing and……

We got our power back early Tuesday morning. Others around us have not been so lucky and may be without power until next week; some estimates say even until after Christmas. My husband hasn’t had work since the school he works in is still being used as a shelter. Tomorrow we are supposed to be getting a 6-12″ snowfall, followed by more snow on Sunday along with sleet and freezing rain.

I still have that Costa Rican land deal email at the ready.

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