Tag Archives: Winter

Dispatch from the Barren North

Actual photo of my front yard. Photo, public domain.

OK, the picture above isn’t really from my place. But it expresses my personal truth.

I actually took a picture of my front yard for you, but then I thought, “Why give my enemies another clue about where to find me?”

In fact, the big snowstorm wasn’t that big. Six inches or so of heavy, wet snow. But on top of all the rest, it amounts to a lot of meringue.

I’d decided not to worry about ice dams this year – those little walls of ice that build up over the gutters, which freeze at night and often force ice up under your shingles – because my attic isn’t heated. But I talked to my neighbor the other day, and he pointed to the actual, existing ice dams on my house. He suggested I might want to do something about them. I should have gone to work with my roof rake that day, but I had a bad cold, and wanted to postpone it.

This morning I still had the cold, but decided I’d better get on it. My efforts proved ineffectual – the whole, thick layer of snow on top of my roof is hard as a glacier now, and I was only able to rake off the layer that fell over the weekend.

But I had further advice from my neighbor. “Those salt pucks work,” he said.

Salt pucks are pieces of salt you can toss onto your roof. They melt in place, and reduce the pressure overall (I guess).

I set out in search of salt pucks this morning. I thought, “I’ll bet everybody’s sold out.”

I was correct. (For a change.) But the local hardware store says they’re getting some tomorrow.

I tossed some sidewalk salt on the roof, and am hoping for the best.

Today was a nice day to be out and about, though. The temperature was still below freezing, but the sun is strong at last – like the mighty eagles at the climax of The Lord of the Rings – and thawing is going on wherever it shines.

Tomorrow will be warm, and the day after will be cold again.

It is not the end. But it is the beginning of the end.

A grumble and a review

I was AWOL last night again. I am keenly cognizant of this sin. But the sin isn’t mine. I blame winter. It was winter’s fault, really.

Stopped at Arby’s after work. When I’d finished and came out, a woman, who had parked next to me, said, “Your tire is flat.” I looked, and behold it was even as she had said.

So I went back inside and called AAA. If there’s a lousy time to call for road assistance, it’s the first cold night of a cold snap. I sat on hold for about 45 minutes, and then waited about an hour and a half before a young guy came around to help me. Apparently he was the special auto club Flat Tire Squad. He’d been running around changing tires for hours, and had hours to go. I pitied him, and tipped him when he left.

Today I took the car to the shop, and had to get a ride to work (and back). I’d shredded my tire. Needed to buy two new ones. But I endured. I survived. I met the Challenge of the North.

I need to get a malamute, and name him King.

Here’s a short book review:

Nailed It!

One of our readers sent me a devotional book. I’m not a great booster of devotional books, but this reader – for reasons entirely inscrutable to me – thought I might appreciate a book of sarcastic devotions. So I agreed to examine Nailed It! 365 Devotions for Angry or Worn-Out People, by Anne Kennedy.

I haven’t read it all the way through yet, but I like it. This is very much in my line. If Osteen has lost you, if Peale appalls you, if you find Schuller shallow, you’ll likely find Nailed It! a relief. The book abounds in gritty, realistic wisdom and great lines: “Anyway, don’t be so worried about offending your friends and neighbors with the good news of Jesus Christ. What’s the worst that could happen? Someone could throw a rock at your head? You’re going to die sometime anyway.” Or: “It’s the best kind of praying, this praying without enough faith.”

Anyway, I like this devotional better than any I’ve ever encountered, I think. I’m going to make it my daily devotional in 2017. Recommended. A great gift, if you have friends who are anything like me, heaven help you.

It’s a harsh, yellow world in the winter

It’s as if the director had called out, “Cue the snow!” And suddenly winter got dumped on us. I have a vague idea the scenario was much the same last year. A long fall, with relatively mild temperatures. It snowed a couple times, but Mother Nature, in a mellow mood, perhaps from a couple Margaritas too many, forgot about it and let it all melt away. And then, last Saturday, she suddenly remembered she’d dropped behind on her quota. So she dumped several inches all at once. The temperatures dropped like… like my car keys from my insensate fingers on a morning when it’s 20 below. And suddenly it was the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (if you’re Andy Williams. Who is dead. Which is the only thing that would make winter bearable, in my opinion).

Now and then I ask myself, why do I live someplace where I hate the weather at least a third of the year? The obvious answer is that I’m masochistic and self-destructive. Other reasons are that I tried living in the south, and it didn’t work for me. No spring (I love spring). Too many bugs. Too much distance from Norwegian-American culture. No Viking reenactment groups.

The ideal thing would be to be one of those old farts who migrates south during the winter months. Stick it out here till Christmas, then toboggan south to Florida or Arizona, where I can doze in the sun wearing one of those Cuban shirts and Bermuda shorts, maybe with socks and sandals to complete the ensemble. That plan, however, calls for a) retirement, and/or b) lots of money.

Not a good plan, really. We all know that guys who retire die of coronaries within a few months (unless they’re cops who, according to the TV shows, always get shot the week before retirement). Too much comfort and ease will kill you faster than anything. If you live in the subarctic and work until you drop, you can expect to live to 90 or 100. The Siberian Health plan, much admired by Democrats.

You won’t enjoy it, of course. But you’ll be alive. Because if there’s one thing nature abhors, it’s human comfort.

As every Minnesotan knows.

Cold comfort


Minneapolis in January. Artist’s conception.

Thoughts thought while closing my garage door:

My back yard seems like an entirely different place in winter. Places where I could walk easily in summer are hard going — or dangerous — in winter. The contours are different. The colors are different. That muddy place I try to avoid in summer doesn’t even exist (conceptually) now.

It’s like I’ve moved.

I’ve lived in the north and I’ve lived in the south. As I’ve said many times, I hate winter with a hot hate that I only wish would warm me up.

But winter does give us the opportunity to travel, so to speak. My yard in Florida was pretty much the same all the time. My yard in winter is a foreign country.

Not a very nice foreign country, I’ll grant. But it’s a change. A poor man’s holiday. In Siberia.

Crossing Ann

As I set about my morning ablutions, I looked at the bathroom shelf and wondered, “Where did that fluffy blue wash cloth come from, the one that’s draping the deodorant and the extra bar of soap?”

On closer examination, I discovered it to be not a cloth, but a blanket of foam. My economy size can of shaving gel had spontaneously discharged, popping its cap and cascading blue froth all over the shelf.

I’ve been trying to decide all day whether this was a big deal. It was a large can, and I’d hoped to make it last a year or two. I use shaving cream very slowly, since I wear a beard and only scrape my neck and upper cheeks. So this can represented a lot of mileage lost.

On the other hand I bought it at Sam’s with two other cans of equal size, and I’ve got the other two left. I’ve occasionally wondered whether these might be the last of their kind I ever need to get. So I’ve still got a lot of the stuff remaining.

I’ll let you know what I decide in twenty years or so.

I got this link from Earthlink (link defunct). It’s a Google Map utility that lets you find out the answer to that eternal question, “If I dug a hole from here straight through the earth, where would I come out on the other side?” Sadly, it’s not China, as I was always told, in my case. I come up in the Indian Ocean, somewhere west of Australia.

There was a bit of a flap today about the TV program “Crossing Jordan” dissing Ann Coulter last night. I happened to watch that episode, since “Crossing Jordan” is one of the small number of shows I haven’t turned off forever yet, due to left-wing political content (though I’m pretty sure it won’t be long now). In the scene under discussion, two characters, a man and a woman, were stranded inside a store (I think it was a store) during a riot in Boston. The woman, a new character, has already established herself as hostile and prickly. The man said to her, “Are you suffering from A.C.S.? Ann Coulter Syndrome, where the person draws power from their enemies’ rage?”

I saw (and heard) a blogger and a talk show host complain today that this was an inappropriate personal attack.

Although I’m crazy about Ann Coulter, I couldn’t get very upset about it. It’s perfectly in line with Ann’s preferred tone of discourse, and I suspect she’s rather pleased about the plug.

In fact, I’m sure she’s drawing power from it right now.

By the way, Ann, if you’re reading this—give me a call. Can’t find your number on my Rolodex.

The episode of “Crossing Jordan,” by the way, was an exercise in Hollywood predictability. A black child was killed by police, and the medical examiners testified that it appeared that the boy had fired at the cops first. Rioting broke out all over the city, and it fell to Jordan, the feisty, beautiful M.E., to discover the Truth that we all knew was coming—that the child was innocent, and the police had falsified evidence. There was a great opportunity here to actually do something original and avoid a cliché, but I expected conventional wisdom and I wasn’t disappointed.