Tag: winter

The day it finally froze over (our water service, that is)

The local news informs us we have now awakened to 50 below-zero mornings so far this season, as if it were something we were all hoping to accomplish. I, for one, have had enough of winter, especially given the swift kick in the shins it gave us last Friday.


Our water service froze. No, not the pipes we can thaw ourselves with a hair dryer and a little swearing – the pipe between the curb and the water main. It seems this is our responsibility, even though it is in the street.

I watched with a sense of dread Friday afternoon as my water went from a trickle, to a drip, to nothing, despite my herculean efforts with heating tape, a hair dryer (now cracked, alas, from an unfortunate contact with the garage floor), and a space heater.

My dread turned to outright anxiety when I tried to reach the city and found they all go home at 3:30. The contact at the emergency number, a police dispatcher, told us to call a plumber. Yes, but who? And to do what? The city inspector would tell us, it seemed, in the morning.

My first advice, should you find yourself in this situation, is to make sure you have 10 or 12 empty milk jugs sitting around so you can go door-to-door for water. Fortunately, this is not a problem at my house where most of the inhabitants sport a permanent milk-moustache. (An aside: Later, when the water was back on, my son asked if we had to return what we’d borrowed.)

My second advice is to keep your cool (ha, ha – like that pun?) A situation like this does not inspire the most rational behavior. My reaction ran along the lines of:

  • Leaping at anyone who took out a clean fork, or attempted to change their socks.
  • Cranking up the heat in the house like it would somehow magically melt a pipe that’s 80 feet away under 6 feet of soil and a snow bank.
  • Meting out what little water we had like we were on a life boat in the Pacific. You want a drink of water? No way! We need to save it for more important things like…well, I’m not sure but I know drinking it isn’t at the top of the list.

My husband reacted by purchasing a blueberry pie that he warmed up, forgot to eat, and later attempted to use to bribe the city inspector who couldn’t really help us anyway.

I spent Friday night in sleepless desperation but by dawn had decided to unleash my inner pioneer. I’ve always loved Little House on the Prairie, and what better way to reenact it but from a house with central heating?

Saturday found me boiling snow on the stove to wash dishes, hauling water to the toilets, and other roughing-it behavior, until the inspector showed up to confirm what we already knew – we were out of luck. He did, however, give us a list of plumbers. And an offer to shower at the city rec center. (I must have looked a little rough around the edges.)

We were extremely fortunate. Thanks to my instinctually calling the plumber that was geographically the closest, and doing a little groveling, we had water again in 24 hours. This helped me avoid the pioneer task I was most dreading. (OK, so maybe taking your delicates to a laundromat with wifi isn’t exactly roughing it, but I can only say that in hindsight.)

The only issue now is that we have to run our water non-stop until at least mid-April. Aaah, everyone loves the restful sound of water running somewhere in the house. I’m trying to get my husband to think of it as a zen water feature, only in the utility room.

Now that I know that the water flow in the street is our responsibility, in future winters I will be standing out there blocking the path of the city plow so we can maintain the snow cover on the asphalt. We know from past experience that he’s not too keen on plowing us out anyway, and since we are at the end of a cul de sac, it will only inconvenience one or two neighbors, and the mail delivery. And I don’t need most of that mail anyway. So I don’t see a problem.

What’s your worst end-of-winter story? Or is winter even over yet?

18 reasons I can’t work on a snow day

My summer office
My summer office

Or a cold day to be more exact – air temperatures hovering around -20 with windchill around -40. This is the fourth cold-weather school closing this month, and we’re preparing for a fifth tomorrow. This in a school district where we haven’t had a single snow day in the ten years I’ve had kids in school, even when we had to traverse knee-deep snow or two inches of solid ice to reach the bus stop.

School closures are hard on all parents, and it’s no exception when you work from home. The kids are here all summer but it’s different. We have some space. I frequently head to our screened porch where I can get some distance and some fresh air while I work. The beach has wireless access so I can work there. Ditto for the bowling alley. But I’m at a complete loss when we’re all cooped up in the house.
In case you’re struggling with this issue, I’m offering up some justification you can provide to your clients.

I’m sorry, I can’t work right now because:

  1. I can’t hear over the three people in the next room arguing over the remote control.
  2. I’m still doing the breakfast dishes and it’s nearly time for the lunch dishes.
  3. I’m playing a 14th game of double Solitaire and we haven’t won one yet.
  4. I’m fruitlessly encouraging home study.
  5. I’m explaining for the 100th time that it’s too cold to drive anyone to the coffee shop/mall/bowling alley.
  6. I’m explaining for the 200th time why we won’t be inviting any friends over.
  7. My office is freezing cold and all the afghans are being used for the fort in the sunroom.
  8. There are so many people on the wireless we’ve brought it to its knees.
  9. I’m trying to sell fun family activities to an indifferent crowd.
  10. We’re drawing lots to see who goes down to the curb for the newspaper.
  11. I’m exercising my power by requiring everyone to clean out their closet.
  12. I’m confiscating all electronic devices – again.
  13. I’m trying to create dinner out of our remaining food – a can of tuna, a beer, half an acorn squash, and a lemon.
  14. I can’t get past the 4000 Legos in the hallway.
  15. We’re chipping the frost off the inside of the windows.
  16. I’m busy updating my calendar to reflect cancelled school-related events.
  17. I’m drawing up a list of possible activities with dreaded certainty that they will call off school again tomorrow.
  18. And finally..there isn’t enough coffee in the world to keep me going on a day like this.

I can’t help but think of the hardy souls who first populated this harsh country, huddling all day around a smoky fire, fingers stiff with cold, conserving their meager rations to keep the family fed through the winter. Makes us seem pretty wimpy when we’re arguing about what to watch on Netflix. But I’ll be more sympathetic to that line of thinking once I get all these people out of my office.

How can I keep them busy today – and tomorrow? Any ideas?

Good-bye 2013 – a tribute to the passing of the seasons

One of my favorite blogging goddesses suggested a 2013 retrospective. “What a good idea!” I thought. “Then I don’t have to come up with any original material today!” Anyway, here is my tribute to the passing of the seasons as we head into the new year.

One sad-looking inventory – a late-winter’s lament – in which I describe the horrendous state of my children’s outerwear and really offer no useful advice at all.

The work-at-home personnel manual – A few guidelines for the parent who works at home and is blessed with the presence of their children. All. Summer. Long.

Are you really in the weeds? An ode to my favorite season, Weeding. Is that a season?

…and the changing of the seasons – How do you measure change? I measure it by what is in my car.

And finally, a salute to the current season, and I’ll guess you can figure out just what I’m saluting with. 9 things to hate about winter

Happy New Year to all – and a sincere thanks to all who read and comment. You are truly a blessing to me. It keeps my cynicism (just barely) at bay.

9 things to hate about winter

Our first snowstorm is on the way and I have to say, I am dreading it. Yeah, I know, snow is beautiful. And winter sports are fun. And by April none of that matters to me anymore as I crawl out of my cave, exposing my pale limbs to the first rays of spring sun. Winter is just long here, and full of inconveniences, although I have to admit, some of those inconveniences are of my own making:

  1. IMG_0503I’m cold, a result of my insisting on topping out the thermostat at a balmy 65 degrees. Easy fix here, but the “put on a sweater” philosophy with which I was raised makes this a hard one.
  2. I have to leave earlier for appointments. I’m not usually late but I’m never early either. If I have an appointment at 9:00 I will be walking in the door at 8:59:59. Leaving earlier means I must forego my “I have just enough time to take care of one more thing” habit.
  3. I have to walk through a foot of snow to the compost heap. I could fix this if I weren’t so nuts about composting, or if I moved the compost heap in the winter so it’s closer to the door – but this would require my actually turning the compost.
  4. Our snowblower was bought for a man – namely, my husband who is considerably larger than I am. But he isn’t always here. My attempts to operate it typically end in tears, foul language or both. My hands aren’t even large enough to engage the darn controls, and to make matters worse…
  5. Our driveway is about 300 feet long and solid ice about 4 months of the year. And it slopes. Not unusual to end up on your backside as you head out for the mail (or are dragged down it by a large, runaway snowblower) and to make it even worse…
  6. It curves so you can’t easily drive down it either. It is really embarrassing to end up stuck in a snowbank off your own driveway. I have visions of myself in my later years confined to the house for months on end unable to reach civilization, like some homesteader on the prairie.
  7. Winter clothes are unflattering.  There is no proper way to sport a bulky sweater or parka. Yet, even among us who are meticulous about appearances (a percent that falls steadily throughout the winter months) have given it up by mid-February when the answer to “Have I already worn this sweater this week?”  becomes “Who cares, keep your eyes to yourself.”
  8. Snowpants. And wet mittens. And stinky boots. Can’t someone make a kids’ boot that doesn’t smell like a hamster cage after a few weeks of regular wear?
  9. It’s dark all the time. There’s been much talk in recent years about Seasonal Affective Disorder. Here in the northland there’s another name for it. It’s called the public mindset.

Of course, when you live in this part of the world you must accept that you do not control the weather, despite whatever wishful thinking or rituals you might perform. Sigh. Better go dust off that snowblower.

Love winter or hate it? Or are you somewhere in between?