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SPOTLIGHT WEB EXCLUSIVE: Living in the Ice World

Driving out, we saw a couple of homes with generators, the windows flickering with blue shadows from their television sets, and we congratulated ourselves for being heartier, real Northeastern people able to take whatever Mother Nature served up.

"I love living out of our car," said Ryan, hidden in the sea of blankets.

In Clifton Park, we ate more, figuring if the power didn't return, we'd have enough body fat to keep warm. We took over every couch and most of the living room floor and slept about 45 minutes.

Tuesday, with school cancelled, we heard our power might not be restored until late Thursday evening. More celebration ensued among the kids, until they realized power had been restored to their schools. The boys went outside briefly, and I yelled at Ryan to stay off the icy spots on the lawn.

We ate all the candy bars at my father-in-law's house, then moved base camp once again. We stuffed our blankets and pillows into the car to go stay at a friend's in Ballston Spa, so the kids would be closer to school. As we were pulling away, we realized we'd forgotten the guinea pig.

"I love living out of our car," said Ryan. Apparently, the gypsy life appealed to us; we all felt a little giddy.

We made a trip home to check the pipes. It was surreal getting off Exit 12 of the Northway; life seemed to be halted entirely. Traffic lights were out, and downed trees littered the streets and lawns -- heavy, decades-old trees that will take weeks to clean up. Discarded Christmas trees were frozen into the curbs, a small barn had collapsed beneath a fallen branch, and there was no sign of life in our small neighborhood.

Inside, our house was tomb-like and 48 degrees. But already strange smells were seeping from our fridge and freezer, where we discovered packs of chicken and hamburger, wisely purchased on sale, now unthawed and unsafe.

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