I was on my way across town to have the fluids checked on my laptop when I saw the first fluttering flakes of snow stick to the ground, making it official that winter white was right around the corner.

I should have paid attention. I was on my way across town to have the fluids checked on my laptop when I saw the first fluttering flakes of snow stick to the ground, making it official that winter white was right around the corner. I did what I could not to panic, as some final acts of weatherizing still needed attention as the sun dropped like a blacksmith's hammer behind the mountain and, lo, many errands needed to be run before the subdued light of the sun faded completely.

I skated across the parking lot and delivered my laptop to the proprietor, who noticeably cringed upon hearing the symptoms of the computer. Being an expert in hard drives, he scratched his chin and nodded gravely, pronouncing that the drive had seen its last fecund moment on this earth and was suitable for either bathtub games or rough duty as a doorstop. I breathed as shallow as life permitted while my world spun around, modulated by a deep roar as anxiety threatened to level me on the spot.

The fact remained that I had an article to write and had to find out a way to type and email it in, all in under two hours. I clutched the recalcitrant device and sped back home, all while devising a plan of recovery that might allow me to seize the day long enough to get my work tamed, hobbled, lassoed and loaded onto the Internet, with a copy saved on the thumb-drive that I wear around my neck like a bobble from the future. No worries.

It was upon arriving home that I discovered that the hot water had pulled itself back in the faucets like a timid turtle, refusing to be coaxed back into the sink despite any number of attempts to cajole or otherwise wheedle it toward the basin. But first I had to focus on the article, holding open the word processor with the old Ctl-Alt-Shift-F2 keys while I thrashed and lashed away at things with my right hand at a blurring pace and, within fifteen minutes, had completed my assignment. One last gasp and it was emailed, subject only to telephone confirmation.

The sun was now a done deal, so I grabbed my flashlight and a propane torch and headed outside to see if I could un-thaw the now penguin pipes that kept the hot water pipes at bay. After only an hour I heard the ice begin to move and would have jumped for joy were it not for the blast of water from a burst cold water pipe that picked me up and pinned me against the house. I squeegeed myself towards the parking strip and shut off all the water to the property, trying to buy time until the plumber, now driving a Mercedes and sporting a pendent the size of a dinner plate, deigned to show up and take charge of the melee. It was then that he mentioned the freeze of 1987 and how crowds had surrounded his truck, all screaming that they were next, which, roughly translated meant that I was not.

The frozen climes kept on chilling as we spent the night without water, regardless of its temperature. In desperation I reverted to Plan "B" which required that I access the Internet and get the name of a product that adheres to copper tubing, temporarily mending a ruptured pipe.

Laptops come in many flavors and mine, of course, was armored and came with a crank in order to spin up the hard-drive as if it were a Model T Ford. I had changed into some practical blue jeans and leaned into the task, forgetting that from behind I much resembled a plumber with no sense of modesty.

Just then my wife, Annette, entered the house like a cuckoo-bird, announcing in a clear voice:

"I see that you are up to nothing but trouble, judging by the color of your cheeks."

I was about to stutter, but thought better of it. I simply replied: "I was born to do these things, it's in my jeans"¦"

Lance@journalist.com was last seen defrosting ice cubes with a torch. Send him something warm by email.