Friday, January 16, 2009

Under the Weather

So much has been happening, changing, and influencing our life these past few months. There is way too much to say. So that's why I'm going to talk about the weather.

* * *

I don't know exactly when the cold snap started, but I do remember the frigid evening of our 3rd anniversary, so I think it started around December 28th or so and lasted through last weekend. I do remember that my car wouldn't start on December 30, and I haven't driven it since. On December 31st, James brought home a beautiful red rose and the ingredients to the meal he made for me the night that he proposed: chicken fettuccine Alfredo. After dinner, we joined families at the church building to play games. The next day, we packed up our car, Titus, and food for three days and drove to Talkeetna (a little town just this side of Mt. McKinley) to stay at a friend's cabin for a few days.

Now, up until this point, our winter had been reasonable: no dramatic thaws or deep freezes, just the right temperatures for snow to accumulate and stick around and look beautiful for Christmas. But then the temperatures dropped down below zero, then WAY below zero. Out at the cabin, the thermometer read -30. When we arrived at the cabin, we discovered that the driveway had not been plowed, so we had to park on the road and scale the huge snow berm that had been shoveled from the street over the base of the driveway and make our way through the 2 feet of heavy snow accumulated on the driveway. Honestly, the 8-months-pregnant lady had to crawl over parts of it. In the house, we discovered heat and electricity (thankfully) but no running water. So we melted snow to wash dishes with and saved our dishwater to flush the toilet with, etc. It was actually kind of fun, roughing it, as long as we were warm and had food to eat. Unfortunately, about an hour before we planned to leave, the sewage pipes backed up. Then, while trying to run around and get that fixed, our car refused to start. After that, when we did what little we could to rescue the cabin and FINALLY our poor frozen car started, we had to drive straight to James' parent's house for Drake's first birthday party--unshowered, tired, and frustrated though we were. The Smiths were kind enough to let us use their showers. Hot, running water never felt so good!

Later that night, my ear started feeling odd. A few hours later, my ear started hurting, and by one AM I had a full fledged ear ache that had me groaning in agony with no way to find relief. I finally took a Tylenol that gave me enough peace to sleep for a few hours. When I awoke, the pain had abated and only pressure remained. I sent James to church without me. His plan was to spend the afternoon finding tools to get my car going again, since I had to start my last week of work the next morning. Too bad HIS car didn't start either when he left church! No amount of battery jumping or heating with his dad's airplane thawing equipment worked. So, his parents loaned him his mom's car for the week which left both James and me AND his parents carpooling with one barely working car in sub-zero temps.

Our week only got more complicated. I felt sicker and sicker each day that went by as I developed a head cold that prevented me from sleeping and settled in my ears, eyes, nose, throat, and chest, even though I felt obligated to continue to work my last week and finish all of the important tasks that I had been forced to put off until the end. Ugh. Then, James dropped me off (much earlier than he normally went to work), and I had to thumb rides home from my co-workers while carrying boxes of pictures and office supplies. Thankfully, their cars always worked, even though we had a few close calls. James and I decided that since my parents were out of town, we would take up their offer to move into their home for a few days and use the garage to prevent his mother's car from quitting on us too. Let's just say that house sitting has NEVER been a stress free option for us!

Finally, we got James' car towed to a shop where they fixed his alternator (huh?). I finished my week of work (yay!), we moved out and my parents came home (whew!), and my head cold gradually abated (Thank You, God!).

Meanwhile, all of Alaska was also suffering this cold. We went to the store to buy a car battery, but they were sold out. Mechanics shops were booked solid because so many cars were out of commission. Plumbers had non-stop work to do. Whole neighborhoods lost water due to frozen pipes. Several fires broke out because of people trying to keep their homes warm. A world wide Nordic Ski competition held in Anchorage was postponed due to dangerous temperatures. Yes, Alaska is used to cold, but not THIS cold, up north, people were suffering from even more extreme temperatures: -80! Everyone was grumbling about the stupidity of global warming! [Here's a neat slide show if you're interested]

Then THIS week hit! The icy cold that had gripped our state for so long, suddenly went away, and we woke up to warm weather (50 degrees!). THEN we had more serious trouble. The roads layered with ice and water became instantly slick and dangerous sending hundreds of cars careening out of control into the ditches. School was canceled because buses couldn't trust the much thicker and more dangerous ice of side roads. People fell down their ice covered driveways and seriously hurt themselves. The wind blew too and anything on an ice covered surface turned into an instant sail and skated out of control. One night James came home and told me to look out the window down our street as car after car had slid down our hill and into an icy ditch. Yikes! Then we had rain and then flooding (from all the rain and melting snow), more wind, and electricity outages. Now there is NO SNOW [Sorry for shouting, this is just too dramatic]! The sled dog races scheduled for this week have been canceled. The landscape just looks strange without the snow or the thick hoarfrost that had coated every twig during our hard freeze. Still, it's so nice to go out without a coat, start our cars without a fight, and smell the odd smell of spring on the air (don't worry, we don't expect it to last).

School was canceled for THREE DAYS due to the consequences of warm weather. There is such irony in this for me! I worked 3 years without experiencing a SINGLE snow day, until the week after I quit--Oh, except for the one MY FIRST DAY OF WORK, when no one knew to call me and let me know that I could stay home! It's hard not to feel slightly frustrated because, of course, I could have been paid for staying home those three days (and next Monday, MLK Jr. day), if only I had organized these things differently. And why oh why did my last week of work have to be so cold, miserable, and sick for me when the following week would have been a huge holiday for me? All I have to say is that God has a sense of humor, and I'm STILL glad to officially be a full time homemaker now.

So that is why Alaskans never find it boring to talk about the weather. It made headline news most days of this month! We're just praying for safe, livable weather for the rest of the winter and especially for when the baby decides to come! Just three weeks until the due date!

* Update: my little Subaru is driving (Thanks, Dad!). I'm no longer housebound, and I'm able to run "baby errands" now. : )


  1. Hey Andrea, this post is so hilarious only because it's so true. Glad your feeling better!

  2. Well, I knew things up there were rough. But WOW!!!!! I think it was worse than I thought.

  3. okay, this all sounds quite awful to me. . . being sick, freezing temps followed by flooding, dead cars. . . . i'm glad you were able to see some bright spots! and hooray, baby is on the way VERY SOON. . . . we can't wait to meet him/her :)


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