Archive for January 12th, 2010


Growling Dog

I’ve been knocked out of the box since July, when a tremendous storm fried not one but two computers.

I remember that storm well, standing in the center of my little house, listening to the wind all around as it sounded like a great growling dog trying to lift off the roof. I looked outside the window and saw the rain moving horizontally.

I still flush with embarrassment when I think of the smugness with which I weathered that storm. I remember thinking how excellent it was that all the windows were holding, and that the inverter was turned off and the computers were physically disconnected from the power circuits. Thunder and lightning can do what they will; we’re safe and sound. Nah-na-na-na-nah-na.

That smug satisfaction was my big mistake, a moral failing like hubris before the fall. Nature had the last say that day.

Both computers were unsalvageably ruined. It took me a long time to figure out that I’d left the DSL cable plugged in; lightning had found its way into our hard drives and motherboards by way of the phone line. The same strike knocked out our neighbor’s phone. The telephone repair guys came out a couple times before it was fixed.

A month of Diary entries was lost, and with them, my enthusiasm for overcoming the barriers that had so suddenly been thrown in my way. I was working with a borrowed computer that was missing software tools I needed. My sails were luffing.

“Take a vacation—a hiatus,” I said to myself, and I did.

Friends began to scold me, asking when they’d receive Diary entries again. I was flattered they cared enough to ask, and I said I’d do my best. But I didn’t.

As a result, you missed some dramatic moments involving striking rattlesnakes, pursuing sheriff’s deputies, and other threatening characters—plus a lot of sunsets and other beautiful things, too. And many good, generous friends.

I hope you’ll please forgive my lapse of reportage. Maybe I’ll fill you in sometime if there’s a dull moment when things stop happening and I run out of things to write about.

Right now we’re focused on keeping warm as Big Bend has been experiencing a long stretch of unusually cold weather—as low as the mid teens and wind chills around zero. The surface of our pond has been frozen solid for several days, and I watch the frustration of the birds and dogs whose usual watering hole has been thus transformed. High winds blast our windows and cold radiates off the glass. Water pipes and valves have been bursting and requiring emergency repair. The house is drafty. I’m alarmed by the money that’s being burned up in propane to heat the house. We’ve been huddling all day near the glowing space heaters, fighting the dogs for position. There have been times when you could see your breath indoors.

I’ve been streaming Minnesota Public Radio so I might be buoyed by their below-zero weather reports. It makes me mindful that things could be a lot worse than we have it. Henry tells me Florida television is showing oranges with icicles on them. I just can’t help but wonder, though, if this means Al Gore will have to give back his Academy Award?

This morning the cold is beginning to moderate somewhat—a sign of things to come. When this cold stretch ends and our days warm into the seventies again, I must put the brakes on smugness.

Otherwise the growling dog will likely bite again.