CATEGORY: COL Columns (Journal)



Now I know what a TV dinner feels like before it’s thawed.

Like most of you, I’ve spent the last five or so days in a cultural exchange program with some frozen Nordic nation like Minnesota. But looking outside on Tuesday afternoon it appeared the glacier was receding and we should all be warm again by, say, August.

Maybe by then we’ll be able to look back on all this and laugh. Of course, many of us will be doing that from a prison cell, having bludgeoned to death our wife/husband/children/pets with the TV remote control when they whined for the 15 billionth time about being bored.

“Go sledding!” you yell at them.

“Where?” they whine.

“How about Crosstown or Alaska?”

Maybe we can also stop playing this silly game of water roulette. Do we have water or don’t we? Is it hot or is it cold? Why do we have water in the bathroom but not in the kitchen? What is that spewing sound beneath the floor? When was the last time you had a shower?

I was actually feeling kind of proud of myself for having secured a plumber late on Saturday afternoon after a geyser erupted underneath my house, threatening to create an ice skating rink for people under 3 feet tall.

The poor plumber, who said he had moved here from California, arrived alone after dark when the temperatures must have been hovering somewhere around the average winter temperature on the moon. Suddenly, earthquakes were looking pretty good to him.

But he accomplished his task, which was to crawl under the cold, dark house while I turned on the water at the meter and sprayed him real good so he would know where the leak was located and could fix it. By the time he crawled out, he looked a little like that guy who had been frozen in the Alps for 5,000 years.

But I had water. I could hold my head high as I walked into the newsroom where many of my colleagues still were without and announce with pride, “I may not be pretty but I’m clean!” to which my colleagues would reply, “What do you mean ‘may’?”

After the plumber left we just let the water run – not drip – from every faucet in the house. It sounded like you could have gone white-water rafting in there.

The problems, ours and I’m sure many of yours, weren’t over yet. Besides suffering from a case of cabin fever that can make you as unbalanced as a washing machine with one pair of jeans in it, I awoke Sunday morning to face the other cold weather target, my truck.

While many people suffered from dead batteries and ditches during the storm, I walked out in the brisk 13-degree air Sunday morning to discover my truck had a flat tire, probably punctured by one of those monster icicles that could double as harpoons. I now can say that I’ve had the pleasure of changing a tire in every extreme of weather with the possible exception of a dust storm.

So now comes the thaw. Time to go back to school and back to work so we can pay for the dead batteries, the tow trucks, the broken pipes and the broken bones caused by trying to skirt the laws of physics and walk on frictionless surfaces.

To celebrate the end of the ice age and the departure of the woolly mammoths in the back yard, I decided Tuesday to leave the office for a while and go home for lunch for the first time since Thursday. The Journal has been good enough to feed those of us who were able to get to work during the big freeze.

But my celebration was short-lived as I walked into the kitchen and heard that now familiar sound of water hitting the floor beneath my feet.

Time to call the plumber again … if he hasn’t already left for California by now.

Marty Russell is senior reporter for the Daily Journal.

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