Nineteen

Degrees, that is. Not right now, it’s actually 27° at the moment, this was last night.

Here’s the story. Yesterday morning I left for work. I hadn’t even gotten to the stopsign at the end of my road when the low fuel light went on. Typically, the low fuel light comes on with 55 miles left on that tank. 55 miles is a lot…when you drive less than 10 miles round trip. Also, weirdly, the “service engine soon” light came on as well. This has never come on before in this car, so I thought it was weird. I wasn’t too worried because it all seemed fine, but it was worth noting.

Now the plan has become “get gas after work”. I’d like to take a moment to mention that I had no idea it was going to be so cold. Last week and into the weekend it was still hitting in the high 30s and low 40s during the day. But no, we’ve apparently hit a cold snap. Having no knowledge of that, I left the house in only a sweater. No coat, no hat, no gloves, not even a scarf.

When my workday ended, I treated myself to a movie, Thor: The Dark World, if you know me at all, you know my love of all things superhero, especially the Marvel World. I’ve been long waiting for this sequel. It opened this weekend but I had no free time. I decided Monday night after work was a great time, as it would likely be less crowded. The theater is on my way home from work, midway between my job and the gas station, actually.

So, movie, then gas, then home. That was the plan.

Her’s how it went down.

Movie: Great, I liked it a lot. It wasn’t quite as excellent as Thor 1, nor did it compete at all with Captain America, but I enjoyed it very much.

Left the movie, it’s about 8:40. It is freezing outside, actually well below, since it is only 19 degrees. I got in the car and started to drive, knowing it wouldn’t heat up before I hit the gas station. I hit the stop sign, turned left, and the gas station is about a quarter mile ahead.

BAM.

Car breaks down. AGAIN. 

It was just over two weeks ago that my car broke down, went through an intersection and it just stopped working. It was the fuel pump, which has been replaced. It did the exact same thing, again. I had no idea what to do. Last time I sat around waiting on others and ended up calling a tow truck. This time I wasn’t making that mistake. I was calling the tow truck right away. But I still needed someone to come get me…and soon, because it was cold as hell outside. First I googled the towing company. Then I figured I better call for a ride. My dad was asleep, so I called my mom. She didn’t answer. I called her again. No answer. I tried my younger brother who lives with them, no answer. Next up was my older brother. Before I could call him, my mom called me back. She said she’d wake my dad and ask his opinion and call me right back.

There I sat.

19 degrees.

photoM

See?

Mom called back and said dad wanted me to leave the car on the road and he’d come look at it in the morning. Hmm. But okay. If I don’t have to drop $150 on my way home, that’s a good night. So mom said she’d come get me. I said, “hurry, it is 19 degrees, I’ve already been sitting here for 10 minutes and I am not wearing a coat.”

Then I called Kelly. I was hoping she was around because her stories usually make me laugh and that might help heat me up. Plus, she likes it when I call her every couple weeks and tell her I’m stranded. She didn’t answer.

Rough night for me. My mom got there 15 minutes later, making it only about 25 minutes I sat, shivering. Seriously, so freaking cold. I was shaking with cold, I tucked myself as small as I could, hiding my hands and trying not to think about it. Thinking about it only made it worse.

I decided to entertain myself with a photo of myself sitting in the broken down car, in the dark.

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I really feel like I look COLD there. No doubt about it. What a great photo. It was too cold to smile, apparently.
Then, after looking at that photo, I apparently decided to express how I really felt about being broken down again.
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 Yep, super klassy. God, I was so aggravated. I might have possibly cussed, out loud, a few times. Dammit, it was cold and I am broke and I really didn’t need this again.
Okay, so eventually mom gets there,  and I had a plan to get my car of the road. I was, naturally, in the middle of the damn road again and if I was leaving it I wanted it out of the way. Mom pulled in front of me, facing me, so we were bumper to bumper. She pushed against Gus and I put it in neutral and let her push me off the road. My windows were fogged, it was dark and I had no lights, so this was an exercise in daredevilry. Eventually we got Gus squared away and mom drives me to Emmy’s house to get her car, and then I head home. I left a note on the car to please not tow it, and to call me if there was a problem. With my real cell number. No one called.
My dad went today and took a look. Guess what was wrong with it?
IT WAS OUT OF GAS.
Yep, out of gas. Turns, out, after talking to my dad today, that after he put the new fuel pump in, my sensors and gauges don’t really work now, because the pump they used is not factory standard. So, where the low fuel warning came on before…is not the same place it comes on now. How much gas I had before is not how much I have now. Essentially, things no longer line up and I can’t rely on the electronic gauges anymore.
Of course I shouldn’t be getting gas at the 11th hour every time, but it would have been nice to HAVE this information. Had I known, I certainly would not have waited to get gas, I would have gotten it this weekend in Anoka, where it was only $2.92. But I didn’t, I followed the habits born of three years of driving this car and being used to its idiosyncrasies. And that is how I ran out of gas and spent a half an hour conditioning myself for winter.
I wore a coat today. Just in case.

Snow Buddies

And then, perhaps because she could sense what I was writing, my mother just sent me a photo.

And if this doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what will.

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I can’t believe she can even LIFT that heavy wet snow. And I love their identical poses. Weight on the same leg, bent at the same angle, hands in the same position.

But I can’t help wonder why she isn’t wearing gloves? Or mittens? Don’t be fooled by the date on the calendar, it’s COLD outside!

A Thousand Miles

It’s April 23. Aside from the fact I’ve been a bit slackery here in blogland, let’s talk about the weather. I’m not a weather complainer. It just IS, you know? I can’ t do anything about it, so just shut up and deal. That’s pretty much my philosophy.

However, I’m drowning in thoughts of despair and irritability. It is April 23. We just got hit with another snow storm. SNOW storm. While it CAN snow in April, it is rare. By April, the skies are sunny and the temperatures start to climb. We get a lot of rain to wash away the last vestiges of snow and to make the air that sweet smelling air that can only be spring. Our average daily temperature is about 62°.

At this exact moment, it is 34°. Close to thirty degrees below average. It’s still cold. It still snows. Last night we got another four inches.

Driving home from work last night in a gray and dreary snowstorm, a good solid month or so past when we ought to be having snowstorms, this was my world.

Fat, heavy, wet, sloshy snowflakes. The kind that flop out of  the sky and hit your skin and stick.

Chunks of snow, almost.

I was so discouraged when I went to bed last night. And yet, I woke up to a most beautiful morning.

Good morning.

The air was still, a whisper through the sunbeams. It smelled of snow and cold and damp, but it was crisp and refreshing. It reminded me of how much I like it when it snows. I feel so ready for spring, I’ve forgotten how beautiful a snowfall can be, even in April.

Perhaps the worst part is that in between snowstorms, it melts and I begin again to feel hopeful.

I just read this poem the other day. April is National Poetry Month, don’t you know.

April Snow by Caroline Spencer

The green was creeping o’er the brown,

The skies dropt bluebirds yesterday;

Again today the snow is down,

And spring a thousand miles away.

 

The poem goes on from there, but that was the part that struck me. I’ve been feeling every inch of that thousand miles lately, but today, this morning, spring feels a little closer.

 

Massive Icicles

This weekend, I was marveling at my icicles. They have been impressive this year, but this past week…

They hang on my upper eaves, over the garage overhang. They now nearly touch the overhang below. I’m not sure of the exact height, but I know I can stand up there. So, they are taller than me.
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I tried to get the whole front of the house, but it was too sunny. Not a problem I complain about in the winter.

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The right edge of my house. The shorter ones are probably still two feet long.

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The left edge, and some of my neighbors’.

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Then, straight up at the center. It is a weird angle, but those are probably close to six feet, in the center.

Simon was visiting this weekend and he was showing me my mom’s icicles, which are probably 3-4 feet. I showed him these pictures and his eyes got huge. “Wow! Auntie Livi, those are AMAZING!” And then he ran around the whole house and showed everyone my amazing icicles.

I figure if they impressed him, they are worth recording. Also, I think they make my house look spooky.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Yesterday, I arrived home from work at the usual time. It was one of the coldest days of the year, with a high of only 16°. Accordingly, I was bundled up. Sweater, jacket, scarf, gloves. I parked my car in the garage and went to check my mail. Even that short walk chilled me, it was just cold.

I stepped inside my house, anticipating that rush of warm air that would blast me.

Nope.

Freezing air hit me in the face. My first thought, honestly, was “is there a window open?” Which is stupid because no one opens windows when it’s below freezing. Unless someone broke one from outside, that would have done it. But, before I could work up a concern about that, my brain jumped to, “oh God, what if my furnace went out?”

I darted up the stairs, still wearing all my winter gear and ran to the thermostat. No display.

No display?

I pried that sucker apart and checked, it takes 2 AA batteries. Luckily, I pretty much always have batteries in house, so I grabbed two, replaced them and popped it back on the wall. Immediately, I could hear the whoosh as my furnace roared to life. I rechecked the display.

48°

It was FORTY EIGHT DEGREES inside my house. Yes, fine, that is still more than 30° warmer than outside, but that’s cold! I was shivering in my house, trying to calculate how long it would take to get back up to a more reasonable temperature. Eventually I settled for, a long sleeved t-shirt, a sweatshirt, leggings and yoga pants, and fuzzy winter socks over the socks I was already wearing.

Layers, baby!

I started making dinner, spending a lot of time in front of the sink, where the vent is in the kitchen, just to feel that hot air blowing across my feet and legs. Cooking helped, the “hot stove” effect, but it was still very cold in my house. When my dinner was finished, 45 minutes later, it was up to 55°.

That’s still very cold for indoors.

I sat in the living room, under a blanket and I was still cold. It was 7:30 and I actually considered driving over to my mom’s house for a couple hours just to be warm. But then I remembered it’s never really warm at mom’s house, so I stayed put.

Finally I remembered that I have a space heater in my garage. Genius. I grabbed that, plugged it in, and aimed it right at my spot on the couch. Aaah, blissful warmth.

For just a second, I thought to myself, “this is like living in pioneer times” until I realized that pioneers didn’t have electric space heaters, electric lights, laptop computers, or, in fact, electricity. Good for me.

My house was up to its usual temp by the time I went to bed, and I slept like a baby. But I have to say that today it is going to be 34° for the high. The damn thing couldn’t have waited ONE DAY for those batteries to fail?

American Steel

Yesterday, it snowed. Not “snowed” but SNOWED. Major snowfall.

The news is saying 10.5″ in my area, I’ll buy that. It snowed all day long, just lazy, blowy, blustery snow, on a fairly warm winter day. I love it when it snows, the world softens, the sounds are muffled and there’s a gentle hush over the world. So it seems to me. I stood at the windows and watched it snow for a while; then I went outside and felt it snow for a while. It’s simply beautiful.

Now, I, like everyone else, does not like what comes with a beautiful snowfall; bitter colds, crappy roads, terrible drivers, shoveling, snowblowing, messy entrances, squeaky shoes, giant snowbanks filling parking lots and street corners, making it harder to see, but heck, we live in Minnesota, time to just deal.

What’s interesting for me is that Gus has new tires. Gus was in need of tires when he first came to me, in August of 2010. More than two years passed with me driving on smooth, bald as a newborn baby, tires. It was actually a little dangerous. If not for last years incredibly bland and mild winter, I wouldn’t have made it this long. My dad finally made me promise that I’d have new tires before this winter. Just last month, I fulfilled my end of the bargain. This was the truly first time I got to see if there was  difference. I ran one errand, yesterday morning, just to get out of the house and test out those new tires.

Gus tore up the streets, slinging snow in every direction. He churned through slush and grit and sludge, daring to create his own path. It was fun and kind of awesome.

This morning, instead of worrying about getting to work, I knew, after the plows had come through, we’d be fine. We charged through the morning traffic and cautious drivers with free-spirited joy, knowing nothing could stop us. Just before we got new tires, there was a dusting of weather that turned to ice on the streets. There’s a minuscule hill that I simply could not summit, not with those smooth and shiny old tires. Today, this morning, Gus and I crested that hill as though it were a dry, parched, hot-July pavement and not loose with the dustings of almost a foot of snowfall.

While driving up that hill and bigger ones beyond, I thought to myself tires make a huge difference, and now I know I’d have never survived without the two tons of American steel I’m driving, but the combination is heady and liberating. Heady and liberating, a strong, heavy, powerful car and tires that do their job? Driving is fun again.

Then, turning onto the last street before work, my mind went, “American steel?”

Something buzzed the recesses of my brain. When I had a spare moment, I went to my search box (love having a search box on my blog) and typed in “American steel” sure enough, I used that phrase once before when describing the last time Gus and I drove together in the snow. February 22, 2011 was the last time we had any major snowfall. That’s darn close to two years ago, how incredible and completely unlike Minnesota.

While I know this is kind of an offbeat post, it stems from the fact that I’m in a good mood, my car went through snow like a hot knife through butter and, Mom, I was more than safe driving to work today.

“And it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go.”