It has been a frustrating morning. It rained here all night, and today our telephone connection is so crackly it almost drowns out the usual loud background hum on the line. For the last several years, we’ve been trapped in a direct cause-and-effect situation… it rains and we lose our telephone service. Several repairmen have told us that the fault is a long stretch of telephone lines “somewhere” with exposed connections. When the connections get wet, the lines short out. This problem has existed for probably six years now, and every time it rains or the weather is humid, our telephone becomes unusable. We keep reporting the problem, and the telephone company keeps acknowledging the problem and apologizing for the inconvenience, but they never make a permanent fix. Today the phone lines are about as bad as they have ever been. We could report the problem yet again, or we can just wait a few hours until the sun we are starting to see now dries out the connections. That seems to be all the repairmen do anyway… wait for a drier time… because even when they have supposedly “fixed” the problem, the same thing happens again the next time it rains.

Hosta in bloom

We have a cell phone, but that is no help here because there is no cell service in this area… and of course there is no broadband access either, so we are left with dial-up Internet access over these incredibly bad telephone lines. Contrary to the impression given by those television commercials where people are using wireless broadband in the desert, underwater, deep in the woods, or in otherwise generally inaccessible areas, and the voice-over says that no area is out of reach… this area IS. Although we CAN get satellite TV here, the satellite broadband companies available in our area tell us that the mountains and trees surrounding our house block the line of sight to their satellites. We have one last possibility… the telephone company has been promising a wireless broadband for our area for over two years now, but so far they haven’t delivered on those promises. We are still hoping that sometime they will… and that their broadband connection would be better than their telephone service.

Which brings me back to today. The Internet connection has disconnected five times while I have been writing this post and has just disconnected again. We have spent the last four hours trying to conduct our normal business and “work” with our current telephone reality, and it is frustrating. Sometimes there actually is a dial tone, and if we keep trying and trying and trying, we can occasionally make a short call or connect to the Internet (at a ridiculously SLOOOOOOW 2.4 Kbps) and try to get an e-mail message through before the connection cuts off again. The static on the line is still so loud, we can barely hear the person we’re trying to talk to… and they of course can barely hear us… making a necessary business call nearly impossible.

This… and our unreliable electrical service… are probably the biggest downsides to our life here… but that (the electrical service, I mean) is another story.