Some days just have stories with them, and today was one of them. Today I was up really early for a 5am webconference (my current work has me on a team with a few folks from Cape Town) and it was particularly frustrating because my internet connection was spotty, with audio dropping in and out and generally making an operational mess of “my” meeting.
What I didn’t know is that I should have been thankful that I was able to connect to the meeting at all, in the first place.
Afterward, I was able to get and hold a connection long enough to download a new firmware version for the router and bounce it, but with no detectable improvement…and then the brown-outs started. Well shit, now where’s that coming from?
It was after the call and some of this troubleshooting that I heard Sabre’s voice from downstairs, nearly yelling “Snow! Look, snow!” It still being pitch black at six-thirty or so in the morning, I had not actually looked outside, but on hearing Sabre, glanced up and did notice that there was some white on the tree just outside my south window. Ah, so we must have got a little dusting despite the forecast for little if anything, and it’s been all rain (yecch) for the last week. Made a note of it, and continued my futile efforts at fixing our connection. Gonna have to call the provider to find out what’s up.
Downstairs a little later, having just finished breakfast, I noticed just how much snow there was out there–closer to a foot than an inch, and looking really heavy and wet–and in talking with others it sounded like there was even more on the hill, and out East End Road up-Bay a bit. It was while we were on the phone with a friend of ours who was trying to talk us through the process of folding up our new KidCo Pea Pod, that the power went fully out, and stayed out.
Lovely. That means no lights, no water (electric pump), and since we’ve got the coal stove out of commission right now awaiting a gasket replacement, no heat (our other heat source is an electric kerosene stove). And now that the sun is actually up outside–it’s 9:30 or so–it seems obvious enough that the internet connection is probably down due to a power loss at the ISP in town.
I can work without the intertuebz; it’s just annoying. But without power I’ll be at a standstill in a couple of hours, and we’re not at all confident it’s going to come back on soon anyway…so, why not go to Soldotna for the day, and run errands? The travel forecast suggests that the roads that way are better than the roads into Homer, and we’ve got several things to do that are better done now than later.
Oh hell, why not? We shift gears, load the girls into the car, and head off. Dee had just got up from an early morning nap, having been up early in the first place, and cranky the whole time, so maybe some car time would work. Getting out of the driveway was easier than it could have been–no drifting in this snowfall–but extricating the car took a bit of time; there was certainly a good foot-plus on top surfaces. Timing-wise, with Cathy’s inclusion of in-car snacks, we should be able to roll in to Soldotna in time for a late lunch at Odie’s Deli, and then on to library, returns and a grocery run. With luck, we just might arrive back at the end of the day to find the power restored and the main road plowed. Or, not.
Adventure! Just out of Ninilchik, Dee had her very first vomiting episode, and whoo, she made it count. We were able to pull over immediately onto an access road and get her cleaned up and changed, and it was obvious she was not feeling too well; almost certainly the bumpy roads were not helping. And dang if the little critter didn’t handle what must be a pretty scary thing (at sixteen months) with all the grace that her sister did; she didn’t make a fuss at all but worked with both of us from start to finish and even smiled a little as we took off again.
Not so fast! Round #2 happened not too long thereafter, poor kid, and Cathy gets lots of points for managing to contain the ejecta in a blanket so that we didn’t lose Dee’s backup clothes. (By this time we’d already resolved to pick up a new change of clothes for Dee just in case, as part of our errands.) Again, the intrepid one tolerated the cleanup with a smile and seemed to feel better afterward. (At this point, Sabre is reminding her that when your body decides to get rid of its food like that, it’s much better to let it come out. She’s helpful that way.)
Well, we did indeed arrive at Odie’s for a late lunch, and both girls perked up considerably with soup and sandwich (Odie’s is good deli food.). Poor Dee kept slipping on the floor–her well-worn Robeez soft shoes are burnished to nearly mirror sheen on the bottoms, so it’s little wonder–but it was clear she was feeling much better because it hardly fazed her at all…and at the table, this girl ate. We figured that if she was that hungry, it must be a good sign.
Errands were mostly uneventful and businesslike, and we saddled back up to come home with two very tired girls, who didn’t quite make it out of Soldotna before falling asleep. As it got dark on the way back, our thoughts turned back to what was going on at home. With that much wet snow, we’d have to start early to snowblow the driveway and get stuff off the deck in preparation for our Saturday shindig (Christmas tree burning party). And of course there was no guarantee that the power would be back on…today having been full of the not-what-we-expected anyway…it didn’t help that we had one of those schizoid driver types behind us for a stretch, who seemed to want to proceed much faster than we did, but who managed to foil every attempt to make it easy for him to do that…and Dee ran out of patience, as is her wont, about 15m before we made it home. (She’s got a skill, at that.)
Now, have I mentioned before that one of the very best things about living in Alaska is that you get to live with Alaskans?
We note, turning off the highway, that the secondary road has had a basic plow applied, which is great. Turning on our street, we approach the driveway…and the whole thing has been carefully plowed for us. “Carefully” means that the plow took pains to push around the 4×4 driveway posts, and cleared us all the way back to Cathy’s Jeep.
This is the work of one of our neighbors. We don’t know which, but we have our guesses, and will be taking pains to find out and arrange a suitable thank you. This happened once last year too, also at such a precisely amazing moment when we appreciated it even more than we would have otherwise. It’s a substantial help; snowblowing that same area would probably take most of a couple of hours.
Gad, I do love Alaskans. This sort of thing is just not all that unusual here, and it can get infectious.
As it happens, the power was back up too, along with our meager but workable internet connection. Lights! Water! And heat! And so it goes. The Furies blew us in a little weather curveball that caught everyone by surprise, and Dee decided on this moment for her first upchuckery episode, but everyone adapted and, but for having lost some work time, we’re back at it again, little worse for the wear. And we’ve been reminded again that the generosity of others comes out at the darnedest times, which is always good to remember.
Not the day we expected, maybe, but it turned out to be the day we made…and that turned out pretty good.