I was at work in my shoffice and, situated as it is on the north side of our home, I did not notice the impending storm building and rolling in from the South. It was my wife’s frantic knocking that drew me out. As I wandered into the front yard, my annoyance by the intrusion into the work I was doing disappeared in the shadow of the roiling cloud of dirt and debris that seemed a tidal wave of power about to slam into our midst. I suppose we all experienced the storm in our own unique ways – one friend was trapped in a tractor whose windows were shattered. I read the story in our local paper of a seven year old girl, stopped in their car on the side of highway 44, who was sucked out of the door she had accidentally opened, blown across the highway and into a tree – it was a miracle that she survived. Our kids were at track practice and just as the storm was about to hit and our daughter came sprinting down the road from school. Her brother had not yet returned from his 40 minute run when she’d left and so we headed to our basement in the helpless state of wondering if he was hiding in some ditch in the country or if he’d found his way into the basement of a stranger along his route. We beat back the worst case scenarios swirling in our minds with our prayers for his safety. In those desperate moments of waiting we called out to God and when the phone rang and he informed us he’d sprinted the last four blocks to the school as someones rolling trash can flew past him in the air, the great knot of fear we’d been bound in was released.
The derecho of May 12th, 2022 is not a storm we will soon forget. The reminders of its power lie in the ruins of grain bins littering the state and in the blue plastic tarped roofs and the 50 foot pine tree lying on its side in our neighbors back yard. We are thankful it was not worse – our prayers for safety are transformed into prayers of gratitude.
I suppose that makes me a bad father but when I found her cleaning out the garden shed beside our garage a few years ago – her plan was a clubhouse – I immediately saw the potential for my own home office, a quiet repose from the upstairs echoes of our basement. Because it was a shed and is now an office I’ve taken to calling it the shoffice. I suppose a more exotic name may be in order but it is a quiet place to work and write and read. I had once dreamed of building a strawbale office, but this was less costly and more expedient.
It has been a step by step journey toward completion. Each successive year I’ve done a bit more to make it an efficient and comfortable space. At just over five feet wide and nine feet long, it is not an overly spacious office, but as someone who generally works from home four days a week it has been increasingly the right office.
I plug the shoffice into the house electricity with an extension cord. This adequately runs the lights, my computer and a space heater in winter. I installed a small window air conditioner this past summer making year round work a reality. I’m still working to finish out the ceiling, the trim work and a standing desk. Next summer I hope to refurbish the exterior as well and add a small portico over the front door to prevent rain from running down the front door, between the crack and onto the floor. I’d like to add a window or skylight in order to let in more natural light as well but we’ll see.
The shoffice is the place I go to work. My family is far too fun to work inside anymore. With two high schoolers studying at home, the distracting temptation to join in the conversations is just too much and so I escape out to my little shoffice beside the garage for much of the day. It’s my place to get things done.