Taking Life As It Comes

In a group text conversation, several women I know mentioned how they could hardly wait for spring, and it struck me as odd. The sentiment, of course, isn’t odd; in fact, it’s understandable, considering the heavy snows and arctic temperatures we’ve been served this winter. What is odd is that I am so out of the habit of longing for things to be different that I had forgotten other people were still in the habit.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m glad the weather is clearing, even temporarily (more snow on the way!), and I am glad that we’re returning to more normal temperatures for this time and place, but it never occurred to me to want something different. This is what I have, so this is what I have to deal with. Admittedly, these arctic times are worrying; I have an old car, a battery that’s past its prime (though technically, it still has a couple years of use left), and an old house. I won’t know if there’s any problems with the car until I try starting it when it warms up a bit more, but a frozen water pipe was my only problem with the house, and even that wasn’t a problem. It was defrosted quickly, and it gave the workers a chance to insulate the pipe and to see a crack in the foundation that needs to be fixed. (The crack would have been fixed if the weather had cooperated; they’d bought the necessary supplies right before the snows came.)

What also is odd about my reaction to that conversation is that I hadn’t realized how much I really do live for the day. I make plans, of course, and worry way too much (though I am trying not to), but longing for things — even something as minor as weather — to be different died somewhere during my decade of deaths. (During a ten-year span, not only did Jeff die, but so did both my parents and the two brothers closest to me in age — one a year older, one a year younger.)

No amount of longing, wishing, hoping, changed one iota of those deaths or my grief. Nor did it change any of their lives. My parents lived long and happy lives, but Jeff and my brothers all died relatively young, and at least one of them had a miserable life. And I could not go back and change a single thing about any of it.

So a long, hard winter? Child’s play compared to all that. Besides, as I have learned, things change. Spring will come, bringing its own problems (wind!!), and then summer, and before we know it, we’ll be back in the midst of winter. There’s no real point in wishing my life away, in longing for something that’s either laid to rest in the past or is yet to be unearthed in the future.

Of course, this is today. By tomorrow, I might be longing for spring as much as everyone else, but for now, for today, I’m taking life — and the weather — as it comes.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Freeze!

The temperature last night was twenty-three degrees below zero (Farenheit). Is that even a real temperature? Adding in the wind chill factor brought the temperature down to thirty-five below.

I’ve been warm. Although part of the county lost power last night, this area didn’t. What I did lose was the cold water in my kitchen. It was amazing how quickly the pipe froze. I made myself a cup of tea, using the cold water from the faucet, and then, an hour later, I decided to leave the spigot open slightly to keep the pipe from freezing, and there was no cold water. Almost an instant freeze!

I knew from the previous owner that the cold-water pipe in the kitchen had a tendency to freeze, but an insulation cap on the outside faucet was supposed to take care of the problem. And I thought the had solved the problem because the pipe hadn’t been an issue until last night. I just figured it was the immensely cold temperatures (more than forty degrees below average for this area). I put a space heater down in the basement near that particular pipe, but it didn’t help.

So I called my contractor. That’s not the sort of job they normally do, but he’d invited me to call him whenever there is a problem with the house. A little later he showed up with a couple of his workers. One shoveled the sidewalk from the house to the garage (a lovely surprise!) while the other located the frozen water pipe. No wonder the space heater didn’t solve the problem — it was a different pipe than I thought it was, so the insulation cap was doing its job. The frozen pipe ran along the inside wall by one of the cracks in the foundation (cracks that were being fixed before all the storms hit). So, the men unfroze the pipe and insulated it.

No damage was done, which sort of surprised me because the pipes, although not more than a decade old, are brittle and need to be replaced. That job is on the contractor’s to-do list, but it hasn’t been a priority, and I didn’t want to make it a priority until some of the started jobs are finished. So, whew! I don’t have to worry about replacing the pipes for now.

The town has been talking about trying to get more retirees to the area, thinking it’s an ideal location for older people since houses are relatively cheap (though the prices are going up a bit), and it’s touted as a mild four-season climate. I wonder how these temperatures will affect those plans? Not that I care except as a matter of curiosity.

What I do care about is staying warm and keeping my pipes from freezing. Luckily, we’re in a heat wave — it’s up to zero degrees right now, and the low tonight will be only minus four.

I know one thing — until it warms up to a decent temperature and all danger of pipes freezing is past, I’m just going to let the kitchen faucet drip.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

Adventuring

Although I might not be having adventures of the traveling kind, I am certainly having an adventure of the weather kind — we’re experiencing an arctic cold front that has brought the temperature forty degrees below normal for the area. I can’t say it’s a fun adventure, but it is an adventure, this trying to stay warm in the chill temperatures. Luckily, I don’t have many reasons to go out and brave the cold, though today I did have one of those reasons.

I was invited to lunch at a friend’s house, and that was an adventure of a different kind — a culinary adventure spanning the gamut of Asian countries. First we had an appetizer of vegetable rolls — various vegetables wrapped in edible rice paper and dipped in a wasabi sauce.

Next we had a deliciously spicy clam-in-the-shell stir fry. After that was grilled eel on a bed of rice topped with a special eel sauce. An interesting taste experience, that’s for sure! I can’t say eel will ever be one of my favorite foods, but I did enjoy it this once, mainly, I think, because it was so different from anything I’ve ever eaten. It wasn’t slimy, as you might expect, but it wasn’t flaky like fish, either, though it did have a mild fish flavor.

To drink, I had Thai cream soda, which is nothing like American cream soda. I don’t know what flavor it is, actually, perhaps similar to an Asian fruit, like rambutan or lychee. Which, incidentally, were served for dessert.

That’s plenty of adventuring for me for now. Tonight, we’re supposed to get snow and even colder temperatures. Tomorrow’s high will be zero. Or maybe 1 degree above zero if we’re lucky. I will have to go out to clear the snow from the ramp and the sidewalk in front of the house, but that will be it for me. The rest of the day I will snuggle under a comforter to read and drink hot tea and be grateful for the warmth inside my cozy little house.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God