Baby, It’s Cold Outside (And There’s A Mouse In My House)Appreciating weather and four real seasons again after living in sunny California for so many years takes some getting use to. I’ve decided, in retrospect, that in California there are really no excuses for not getting work done, except “It’s sunny outside and I just had to go to the beach for a long walk.” My friends in California want to know what I’m doing with my time in Asheville. I’m dealing with weather. This is not something Ashevillians are use to, or so they tell me. Usual winters include a week or two — max — of below freezing weather. This current cold streak is apparently the coldest it has been in Asheville in 30 years and we haven’t seen the end of it. I can tell you one thing. Time does not fly when it’s cold. And then there’s the snow question. When I moved here this past summer, I was regularly informed from multiple (and confident) sources that snow in Asheville was not a big deal at all, and that typically it might snow an inch or two — three at the most — and that it was gone in a day. Apparently we moved here just in time to see a brand new COLDER AND WHITER Asheville, because our first snow was 17″. We live at the top of a steep hill, and were snowbound for a week. You should have seen our first trip DOWN the hill. Mr. Toad’s wild ride…. And then it was another week before we could get back UP the hill, so we would hike down to the car, go buy groceries, and hike back up the hill. Sure makes you think about what you’re buying…. It’s OK. I just didn’t expect that regular living would take quite so much work. (Including the work of having ongoing flashbacks to my wood-burning, wood-carrying, “staring-at-the-temperature-gage-from-the-bathroom-window-which-reads-twenty-below-zero” winters in Iowa where I grew up. But that’s another story.) I can only imagine the brave souls who endured the pioneer days and the daily grind of keeping warm and eating. And where did they get their warm clothes and footwear? Did it come by horse and buggy to their town? By train? What if they didn’t have the right size? Did they wait another month for the next delivery of warm coats? And did they knit their own socks by the fire during long dark evenings? Heck, I don’t know. But I can tell you I do have a new appreciation for boots and warm socks here! Speaking of socks, do you know what it means to “darn a sock?” When my father’s socks got holes in them, we didn’t buy new ones. We mended them. My mother taught me how to put a light bulb up inside the sock (it’s lightweight and the needle slides right over the smooth surface of the bulb), thread a very big needle with darning floss, and mend it. First you make rows across the hole, then you weave the thread the other way, and vwaaaa-la. You have a sock with no hole. But I digress. Even the outdoor creatures are cold. This morning a mouse found its way into the warm (relatively speaking). I don’t know if one of my cats brought him in or if he just saw the doggie door and went for it. My suspicions are in the direction of dear young Bella, the enthusiastic new feline hunter. Anyway, right along with making the fire and brewing up some coffee, I had to catch the little gray guy in a towel and send him back out to find the warmest place he could. I felt bad, even for a mouse, but I’m at least he’s used to this survival stuff. Here’s what’s going on at my house in Asheville. We’re renting, and just for our winter entertainment I’m sure, a little drama is going on with the family who owns this property. One of the landowners passed away, and now there is a mad scramble because the one in past control, is no longer in control. The power and say-so about the house and the land is now divided. In some kind of effort to punish her children, she emptied bank accounts, cancelled family cell phones, and ran off to another country with the money and a big attitude which, granted, was not developed over night. No, this drama has been building for years. The really silly part is she already nabbed a well-to-do husband there who provides everything she needs. The human race is an interesting species. This woman is like the obsessed squirrel who keeps gathering nuts, even though there are plenty, even for a long winter. Oh, and she stopped paying for certain things, including our utilities. Shall we say this makes my life more survival based than I had planned? Yes. My day today is about keeping warm. The children have stepped up to the plate, but even so, our propane delivery is days overdue, the tank is almost empty, and the delivery guys say they are coming, but meanwhile, I’m building fires in the wood stove to keep warm. Several days ago, I turned the heat down to 50 degress in one part of the house, and I don’t open the french doors to the land of the frozen — the kitchen — unless I have to make something hot to drink or see about food. Excuse me, I have to go put more wood in the stove. I’ll be right back. Ok, getting warmer now! Ahhhhh…. When there’s no family drama going on, there are other ways nature creates a little survival drama. First, there’s some kind of storm and the electricity goes out. Pretty often, actually. When that happens, there’s no heat because the furnace needs electricity to kick on, and no water because the pump is electric. Oh, the joys. Well, in any good crisis there’s always irony. Here’s one. My electric dryer is running. I’m watching wonderful, heavenly, moist, warm, steamy good heat going by my office window. I would give anything to have the strength and where-with-all to pull the dryer away from the wall (my hubby is on a business trip) and vent all that good moist heat INSIDE. If I could do that, I’d be enjoying indoor tropical weather right now… ‘Scuse me. I have to put my heavy clothes on, my wool socks, my boots and hat…well, you get the idea. And tromp out to the big tree with my new best friend, the red wheelbarrow, where the scrap wood is and bring some more in here because my inside pile is getting low. Hey, it’s good exercise. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it. Then I think I’ll have soup for breakfast. It’s WARM. And I’m going to eat it right out of the pan so it stays HOT.
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