Posts Tagged ‘winter’

About 6 years ago, my heater stopped working. My daughter’s boyfriend’s came over to see what was wrong and try to fix it. It turned out that the part that had worn away couldn’t be replaced because the unit was so old that they no longer make the parts for it.

Since then, I have been heating the house with two infrared room heaters. This year one didn’t fire up when I plugged it in. The other one did and was doing great since October. Somewhere around Thanksgiving, it stopped working. It turns on and it blows hot air but it’s just not doing the high setting that I need. It was okay at first. I layered my clothes and piled on the blankets. But then our temperatures dropped. Dropped way down. That meant I wasn’t going to be able to heat the house enough for me to be here.

Of course, heaters are expensive right now because of the cold weather all over. And of double course, I live off of one thousand dollars a month total. After rent and insurance and gas for the car, there’s not enough left to buy a heater or even save up for one.

The past two weeks have dipped into freezing temperatures with ice and snow on the ground. So I spent a week and a half at my daughter’s. But I can’t stay there forever. I came home yesterday. Temps were finally out of the freezing zone. Still in the lower 30s but at least above 32. At first I thought it would be okay but within a couple of hours, it got so cold in here that my head hurt. It felt like my head was going to crack open. Again, I put on multiple layers of clothes and blankets but it helped little. I covered my head completely. At one point I was afraid to go to sleep because I knew if I did, I wouldn’t wake up.

Today’s mission, whether I choose to accept it or not, is to go out into that cruel world, masked, and try to find a heater I can afford. I don’t think I can go through another night like last night.

Wish me luck. Hope and pray I can find one for less than $80. That’s all I can afford and even that will be stretching things. Peter will have to look the other way while Paul reaches for the money.

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The morning of my appointment the skies were clear and the snow was all but gone. I had made the appointment for 3 in the afternoon. The drive was supposed to be only about an hour. I’m the forever early type of person and figured I would allow myself time to drive there then sit and have something to eat and maybe stop in at a used bookstore I had read about. The plan was to get there and relax until my appointment time then head back down the hill to my Ashland motel and then head for home on Wednesday. That was the plan anyway.

In the motel, the last thing I did was finish watching a news report about a California family that was missing after leaving and heading south back to the bay area. It was believed they had taken a bad road and were now missing for more than a day. I left the motel and headed for the tire store to buy chains for the car. They sold me cables and I made sure there were instructions. The clerk even walked me through it. I didn’t need them but I was trying to be cautious because I didn’t know what the weather was like up the mountain. It was about 10 am or so. Off I went into the wild blue yonder! So I thought.

I only got about fifteen minutes away before it started to snow. And it came on heavily. About five miles later, it was obvious that I needed the cables on the tires. I found a chain up area with several other vehicles stopped. I tried to figure out how to put the cables on but I wasn’t able to do it so I went up to someone putting them on their truck and asked for help. The man came over and put them on for me. However, he did show me that there was a longish part that should be cut off with wire cutters but he didn’t have any so he had just wrapped it around part of the cable on the tire. I thanked him and off I went. The going was very slow. I didn’t mind it. It gave me time to enjoy the beauty of the mountain in the snow. The tall evergreens on either side of the road, covered in snow, were amazing. It was like driving through a snowy tree tunnel. For awhile I was right behind a snow plow. That wasn’t too bad as long as I kept far enough back so I didn’t get all of the snow blow back, or whatever you call that!

Then I came to a crossroad and wondered. That was the road I was supposed to take off on to cut twenty minutes off of my trip. Or so I thought. I debated a bit because everyone was going the other way. But the only directions I had were to take that road. So I did. Big mistake.

After only about a mile, the snow accumulation was such that the road was only wide enough for one car. Not one in each direction. Just one car. I could not even figure out how to turn around and go back. I would have had to put the car in reverse and go back. I was following the GPS and it showed there were a few side roads nearby and I thought maybe I could turn around there. I forged on. It was still beautiful yet I was  beginning to feel like there might be something unbeknownst up ahead. However, I really didn’t have a choice but to go on. As I passed the roads shown on the GPS, I couldn’t see any roads. All I saw was snow all around me.

Then I started to hear something that sounded like scraping on the car and I thought I might have caught a tree branch under the car. I stopped, put my four way flashers on (although I hadn’t seen a car for a long time) and got out to investigate. I saw that the extra wire from the tire cables had come unwound from the cable and was scraping on the inside of the front driver’s fender. I tried to wrap it back around the cable but I had no gloves and my frozen hands got cut. I got back in the car and went on. No choice but to do that. The scraping continued and unfortunately I didn’t think anything would happen so I went on. I really didn’t have a choice. I had a cell phone with me and thought maybe I could call auto club but there was no signal. The GPS showed nothing anywhere near me. I had to go on.

I went through, at about 15 mph, that road and finally got to the main road. Just as I merged onto the main highway, I felt and saw something fly by and hit the side of the car. I pulled over right away. I got out and found a huge hole in the side of the car. It was the fender that the wire had been scraping against. The scraping had caused it to wear away and the whole thing flew off. I saw the piece a way behind the car. I walked over and picked it up and put it in the trunk. I knew I was only about five miles from the doctor’s office so I went on, figuring I could find some help there. As I drove into the small town, VERY small town of Chiloquin, I realized everything was closed. I made it to the doctor’s office about thirty minutes before my appointment. The supposed-to-be-drive of one hour had taken over four and a half hours of time and about one hundred per cent of my nerves and stamina. From the waiting room, I was able to use the office phone to call Avis only to be told they could do nothing for me until “the day after tomorrow” and suggested I call my own auto club to see what they could do for me. I called auto club but they said they couldn’t help until the morning. They suggested I find a motel for the night and they would get to me first thing in the morning.

I saw the doctor. He took extra time with me because it had been so long since I had seen a doctor for anything. I agreed to wait while he saw other patients so he could spend that extra time for me. I had nowhere to go anyway so I waited. It was a good wait. They kept me entertained, bringing me magazines and a snack (I hadn’t had breakfast or lunch). When all was said and done, the doctor had stocked me up with about six months worth of sample packages of three of the prescriptions he wrote for me. He knew I had no insurance and one of the medications was not available in generic form and was over $150 for one month. We had a long, long talk. He asked about the kids and I was able to fill him in on the little kids who were now grown, two of them out of the house. I showed him pictures of them. He had his staff try to find me a motel nearby but everyone was completely full. They found the nearest to be in Klamath Falls, about twenty miles away. So off I went. By this time, it was about 6:30.  About seven or so miles later, remember I was only going about twenty or so miles per hour because of the road conditions, I heard and felt another loud noise and the car came to almost a complete stop on its own. I stopped it completely and wandered out to see what was going on. By then, it had been dark for several hours and it was quite a bit colder. Upon investigation, I found the problem. The tire cable on the front passenger side had snapped and wound itself around the axle. I wasn’t going any place. The car was just not going to go any place. I tried to call auto club but for about a half hour I couldn’t get a signal.

Finally, I was able to get a weak signal and I called auto club. The problem was then that I couldn’t tell them where I was because I didn’t know the area and the snow banks were so high that I could not see any signs. I could only tell them the road I was on and where I had come from and where I was headed, oh and that I had passed the casino. That gave them enough info to come try to find me, after the tow driver finished another job. By this time, the battery on the cell phone was almost dead but I wanted to talk to my kids. I had the feeling that I was going to end up lost like that family I had heard about just before I left my motel room in Ashland that morning, which seemed like days, not hours. I called one daughter and couldn’t reach her. My son didn’t answer either. I did manage to get in touch with my oldest daughter and, trying not to alarm her, gave her a short recap of what was going on. I hung up to preserve the phone battery in case I had to call auto club again. I still had not eaten all day and it was close to 8. I had a banana in the car and a can of Diet Coke. Both were frozen solid so that was no help.

Eventually, I got a call from auto club saying that the tow driver couldn’t find me. They patched the call through to the driver who was a local and I was able to repeat where I had been and where I was headed and the road. He thought he knew where I was. Yay! Finally, he found me! He ended up having to tow me into Klamath Falls and leave me and the car there. He had more cars to go rescue. He said he’d be back at 8 the next morning to take me and the car to Ashland.

Finally safe, I fell apart in my room. I put the thermostat on full blast and although the room warmed right up, I could not warm up. I was freezing from the inside out. It had been -3 degrees out there and my hoodie and cheapo boots couldn’t cut it. I called room service and had them bring me food and coffee. They were no longer doing room service and wanted me to come to the restaurant but I just didn’t have the energy to calm myself, stop shaking, and go to get my food. So they made an exception and brought me my food and a whole, big, pot of coffee.

All along, while I was out in the elements, I found it ironic that I had finally gotten myself out of my depression and made moves to improve my health and here I could die out there. It had been a long day of trying not to think of the worst but still having it just at the back of my mind. And at times, I was sure I was going to die. I also found out that the road I had taken off of the main highway was a seasonal road. It is only used in the summer months. That’s why I never met up with another car the whole time I was out there.

I was so shaken up that instead of driving back to Santa Rosa the next day, I wasn’t able to shake the feeling and I ended up staying until Saturday morning, four days later than I had planned. I didn’t leave my motel room in all that time, in fact, I didn’t get out of bed except to take warming showers several times a day.The woman who owned the hotel had become sort of a friend because I had stayed there a number of times. She kept checking on me and brought me food and warm beverages. In fact, they charged me a very reduced rate for those extra days.

That was my first exposure to driving in the snow. I think that probably tells you why, when it snows, I don’t even think of leaving the house.

We’re still very icy here. Wednesday’s snow has not melted because we haven’t gotten any higer than 31 degrees. In fact, we are supposed to break a record in the overnight hours (I’m writing this at almost 1 in the morning on Saturday)…to about 17 degrees. Saturday afternoon, more snow! I’m not going out in it. Not a chance.

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Snow Day


Well, the predicted storm was not a bust. It was right on time. Weather Guy said snow would arrive between 11 am and 1 pm and right at 11:10, it started. Slow, steady. Now, less than three hours later, in my yard we have a little over an inch. It’s still snowing. The wind is blowing. The temp is steady at 31 to 32 degrees.  I checked in with my daughter and she’s at home, no work today, so I’m relieved about that. I can relax a bit.

I chose to stay at my house so it’s nice and quiet. I’m debating if I want to bake some cookies or just veg out.

For those that get a lot of snow, this seems like nothing but here, where we don’t often get more than a dusting of snow, we just aren’t prepared. The city of Portland owns very few snow plows and they just can’t keep up with the snow if we get more than a half inch. They also don’t own de-icing trucks. And then there is the fact that people see that it’s pretty out there so they go out in it and end up crashing their car, getting stuck in the elements, freezing, or otherwise causing problems for themselves and others. So this is a big deal, especially because they expect it to turn to a thick layer of ice (an inch or more) this evening, with little change in the temperature to do anything to melt it.


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The worst part about listening to the weather reports and the National Weather Service’s winter weather watches and warnings is the waiting. At least for me it is. I don’t think it will be a major event, or at least not for my area. And it’s supposed to be a relatively short storm. The worst of it for the area is supposed to be from about 11 AM to about 8 PM with the latter half of that being freezing rain. So if that’s right, I’m fine. I have food and water and lots of blankets and layers if the power goes out.

But it’s the waiting. I can’t concentrate on anything but the storm and how my daughter, Susie, who is new to Portland, will do in the storm. She has to drive about 30 minutes to and from work…of course in this kind of weather it will be anyone’s guess how long it will take her to drive to and from. And she goes over a bridge and several overpasses which are the first to get icy. So this worrying mama is worrying. Of course, she’s in a lower elevation than we are here and she’s closer to downtown than we are. Her work is across the river in North Portland.  We’ll see.

Anyway, tomorrow I will either post that the storm was a bust or I will post some snow/ice pictures. Either or.

It’s the waiting for it to begin that I can’t stand. Too calm. Too quiet. Too unknown.

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If we were having coffee, I would have cleaned up the front porch so we could sit out there. It’s a little chilly (about 57 right now) with some 12 mph wind gusts but oh that sun! We haven’t seen Mr. Sunshine for some time and he has come to visit us! So let’s take our coffee out to the porch and I’ll grab a couple of light cover blankets so we’ll be more comfy.

There isn’t a lot to report this week, other than the fact that we got more rain and wind during the week than we got during that so-called storm that never materialized last weekend! We’re kicking in the rainy season all at once. One day it was sunny and warm and the next day it was very wet and cold! And this week the National Weather Service modified their winter projections for the Pacific Northwest. It now seems we will be colder and wetter than normal which equals snow. We’ll see how we fare. My daughter ordered a small generator than we can use if the power goes out. We’ll see how it works if we need it. In fact, I’m thinking that if I can get some money together, I might get one, too. I think she only paid about $140 on amazon warehouse deals. If we get anything like we got in 2008, I would not even be able to get to her house from mine and it is about a 1/4 mile. We got so much snow that year that it was up above my knees (I’m 5 feet short) and I couldn’t take even one step! So if that happens and the power goes out, I would be stuck here with no power, all alone.

I’m still trying to get some money to pay rent past December. I actually have a check that will take care of it but I have no bank account and the closest branch of the bank the check is drawn on is in the San Francisco bay area…a day’s drive from here (about 12 to 14 hours). So if I can get them on the phone and make sure they will cash it for me, I will be making the drive to the bay area next week. Not looking forward to it but if that’s what I have to do, then I’ll do it.

And in the hearing department, I found the lost hearing aid. It had fallen inside of a shoe that I would not be wearing again until spring! Good thing I got down on hands and knees and pulled everything out! It was just in time, too because the one hearing aide I had been wearing is no longer working. I’ve tried changing the batteries and the tubing. It’s dead. So for the meantime, I will be praying that the one that is working will keep working! I hadn’t realized how bad my hearing is until now. It’s so bad that I don’t hear the phone sitting 8 inches from me even on full volume ringtone! And I don’t hear what the boys are saying which frustrates us all when they have to repeat things ten times before I can figure out what they are saying or they give up. Not good. Crossing fingers here.

This weekend, my kids, all three of them, are at a family wedding in the SF bay area. Family. Their father’s family. It has made me think again how devastating my divorce was for my kids (and the rest of us). Not that I wanted to be there but we are family so perhaps I should have been invited. It makes me a little sad that they are all together as a family and I’m not there. There will be other times like this, too. This is the first of the cousins from that side of the family that marries. So it will happen again. I’ll get used to it.

Well, time is getting away from me. I have a lot to do this weekend. I need to clean up and reorganize the corner where Anderson and I work. He is doing a great job with reading. He can read Green Eggs And Ham and The Foot Book all by himself now. He is starting to use phonics to sound out words on his own. And although he is only starting first grade, he is doing math from the second semester of second grade and it’s too easy. I think we will be ordering the third grade math by the first of the year. I don’t want to hold him back if he can do it.

What has your week been like? Plans for the coming week? Books? Movies? Do tell!

#WeekendCoffeeShare is a weekly blog linkup hosted by Diana at Part Time Monster Blog. Come have a chat with us! Everyone is welcome!

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We’re in the middle of what I call “the lull”…the time between Thanksgiving being over and the Christmas season getting a hold of me.  Usually it’s only a day or two.  This year, I’m not in the holiday spirit yet.  I haven’t bought any gifts yet.  Usually I’m all done by now.  I’m more absorbed by the getting there (we’ll all be going up to Seattle for the holiday) and getting everyone situated and happy.  I tend to fret over not causing too much work or trouble for others and not letting any of the “kids” make waves for anyone.  I want people to be happy and to have the time go by so smoothly that we all say “let’s do it again soon” when it’s all over.

The only problem with this lull is that if I don’t get moving and get into the spirit, I run the risk of becoming depressed and I don’t want to go there.  That won’t be fun for anyone.  So I wait.  I’ve tried putting on some Christmas carols and plugging in the Christmas Santa lights in the window and letting my grandson plug in the tiny twinkling lights in the dining room (although he likes to have them on all the time, not just Christmas, I don’t usually let him do it too often).  So far no luck.  I guess I’ll give myself a couple of days to focus on the holidays and then get a move on!

Hopefully the lull will be over in just a few more posts.

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I’m sitting here listening to the sound of my windchimes singing to me and to the neighborhood on this very, very windy day, and I’m thinking of what I should write for today’s blog post.  Nothing.  Well, I can’t do that so I’ll just fake it.  Here goes:

I’m glad I can hear the sound of the chimes and the leaves.  I’m very deaf.  Last year I got myself a pair of hearing aids.  I didn’t get the fancy ones that cost thousands of dollars but I got some you can get online.  They are amazingly good.  Now I can hear my grandson cry when he wakes and I can hear the windchimes and the leaves outside.  It’s amazing the difference that it makes.  I no longer have to ask people to repeat themselves or ask them to speak louder.  I can just turn the volume up if I need to.  Of course, if I don’t want to hear something, I can turn the volume down or shut them off altogether!  A bonus!

I’m waiting.  The National Weather Service is saying that we are getting “winter precipitation” by daylight tomorrow.  It’s very early for such weather in Oregon but we’ll see.  They have been issuing warnings since the weekend and today’s warning says all of the valley area (Portland) will most likely get freezing rain and those of us east of I-205 will get snow.  That’s a more certain forecast than on previous days when they were saying there was just a possibility but confidence in it was low.  So now I wait.  I’ve gotten groceries so I don’t have to go out and drive in whatever mess we end up with.  I’ve stocked up on batteries and have my flashlights ready.  And blankets.  If we lose power, it will be awfully cold so I’ll need the blankets.  In fact, it has already been quite cold. Last night we dipped to 32 and with the wind chill factored in, we were at 24.  Very cold.

So now I wait.  I’m trying to keep the cell phone charged and the laptop charged and the tablet charged so that if power goes, I will still be able to function, somewhat.

And I wait.

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Just as I decided I needed to turn on the heat so I could get the feeling back in my fingers and toes, I ran into a problem. I can’t turn it on! Well it’s on but not.

The digital thermostat was programmed by the previous owner so that it has “events” which determine when the heat goes on and when it doesn’t go on. It’s not by temperature but by the time of the day and the day of the week. It is set so that when no one was home, the heat would never go on. It can only go on in the early morning hours when the previous owner was home before work and in the evening hours when they were home. It also works on Saturday and Sunday. However, try as I might, I can’t cancel the events or modify them so that the heat can be turned on when I’m home. I’m home all day and all night so I need to have it go on when I determine that it is too cold inside the house.

I’ve looked all over for directions but there aren’t any. There is no battery to take out to reset the thing. I am afraid that I’m doomed to continue wearing thermal underwear and socks and gloves and a hat inside the house. It’s quite limiting. I can’t really move around the house much because the air is so cold. I don’t know. Maybe I should go out and invest in room heaters and forget the fancy heating system. Too bad because it appears to be quite new.

Okay, gotta stop typing. The tips of my fingers are beginning to freeze.

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I’m trying to limit my use of the heater this winter.  In fact, I’m determined not to turn it on until the end of November, if at all possible.  At least I won’t turn it on if I’m the only one in the house.

The other night, the temperature dropped outdoors and when I went to look at the thermostat, it was only 48 degrees inside the house and the heater was off.  So I lowered the thermostat to 54 and turned it on for about a half hour then turned it off again.  It worked.  I didn’t freeze.  I put on sock then my warm slippers and an extra layer of clothing and moved around.  I got some housework done and kept warm.  However, it became clear to me that I am not going to make it if I don’t do something about keeping warm in the evenings.  My blankets, warm pjs, and coats are still in storage in California and I don’t think I’ll be making another trip down there for a few months.  I decided to make a trip to Ikea for one of their warm quilts and quilt covers then on the way back I stopped at  Target for some flannel sheets.  Today I’m hitting the stores for themal underwear and warm socks and hopefully some flannel pjs.  I think I’ll start with thrift shops because the stores don’t seem to have them in stock yet.  I suppose I should keep an eye out for a warm coat.  I have been wearing only my sweat shirts but it’s pretty clear that they won’t keep me warm or dry for long.

What a difference the flannel sheets made and the small quilt I got did the trick for me.  It doesn’t have to cover the entire bed, just me!  So if all else fails, I can stay in bed to keep warm!  Good excuse, huh?!

In any case, I think I will survive my first winter up here after all!

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