The official blog of Susan Landis-Steward, writer of whatever she likes, and co-founder of Puddletown Publishing Group

Posts tagged ‘snow’

Ten Things on Tuesday: Weather Edition

  1. Right now, all Portland can talk about is the weather. We are expecting snow and freezing rain, and even if it’s just a small storm, it’s big news here.
  2. In Portland, we like to name our storms. I guess we feel left out because we don’t get hurricanes with pre-assigned names. So we have the Columbus Day Storm and the Arctic Blast (that one seems to get recycled, but I may be wrong) and the “Remember When the Only Thing on TV was that Mud Slide Wiping out that Truck” storm.
  3. People wonder why Portland is paralyzed by two inches of snow. I’ll tell you why:
  4. Hills. Portland is built, in large part, on hills. Those of you back east are thinking “hills?” But you think the Laurentians are mountains. Nope. Those are hills. I grew up in Portland on a hill higher than most of the Laurentians. You don’t know from hills. Out here, a mountain is a thing with glaciers and a timberline and snow cap all year round. We have plenty of those, too. A hill is a steep thing covered with houses and trees, and your ears pop when you go up one. Even if you’ve lived there most of your life. Trust me on this. I got many an earache on the way home from school as a child because my ears don’t pop very easily.
  5. Lack of real winter: We only get snow and ice a few days a year. Very few people know how to drive in it for reasons I will explain momentarily. Our seasons here are Rainy, Winter, Rainy, Spring, Rainy, Rose Festival (mandatory rain), Hotter-than-Hell, Drought, Indian Summer, Blustery, Stormy, Rainy, and January. January is usually clear, cold, and sunny, a season all to itself. Unless winter chooses to happen then.
  6. Snowplows and Gravel Trucks. Because we seldom need them, we don’t have them. Oh, we have a few. Maybe four. And if you’ve ever been to Portland, you know it’s a freaking huge place in terms of land mass. Much larger than, say, San Francisco, Seattle, Manhattan. Even I can walk across Manhattan easily. It would take days to walk across Portland. We spread out instead of up. So the four gravel trucks go out and put gravel on the snow on a few main streets. During the day, it melts. Then it freezes, trapping the gravel inside the ice. So much for the gravel. Until it all ends up at the side of the road and starts destroying your windshield.
  7. Compound snow and ice: Most places in this country get snow. Light, fluffy, packs-down-and-you-can-drive-on-it snow. We get wet crap that turns to ice. In the daytime, it melts. At night, it refreezes. So you get a layer of snow covered by ice. The next day, that becomes ice covered with snow covered with more ice. Repeat daily until it goes away, adding new layers of ice each day. Ice and hills are not a good mix.
  8. Chains. Nobody owns them. If we do own them, we can’t find them because we took them out of the car after the last storm and they are somewhere in the garage. Or they are in the other car. Which is not where you are. Once it starts snowing you can’t buy them because you can’t find any. If you do find some, the store wants $200 for a set.  And you must have chains. (See compound snow and ice.) Studded tires are a waste of time. They just make people think they can drive in the snow, but they are worthless on ice. In fact, I suspect they provide yet another surface to slip on, and that you’re better off with mud and snows instead of studs. Of course, being a lesbian, I have no use for studs anyway.
  9. Freezing rain. This is rain that falls from the sky and turns to solid ice. Also known as a silver thaw. Beautiful but deadly. If this happens, we don’t go anywhere. Well some of us do. Which leads to number 10.
  10. Most popular snow day pastime: Watching the news. The storm gets named, the news stations report on it day and night, with lots of clips of cars sliding down hills into other cars. Sort of America’s Funniest Home Videos on steroids. The MAX line can’t run because the electrical lines that power the thing get covered with ice. The buses can’t run because chains, which are put on at the first sign of snow, don’t work on ice. Airplanes freeze to the runway. Sometimes the freaking rivers freeze (and we have BIG rivers out here.) Numbnuts who think this is “normal” snow go for a drive. They end up in emergency rooms, on the news, or both.
  11. Other popular pastimes: Cardboard sleds, school snow days, digging the car out just so you can wreck it at the end of the driveway on the, duh, ice.

Anyway, that’s what I’m up to right now. Waiting for snow and ice. YIPPEE!

25 Random Things

  1. I have no idea how to put a Facebook link in a blog post and need Lisa to help me.
  2. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are the only dog allowed in the British Parliament by order of Cavalier King Charles who is dead but the rule lives on.
  3. My daughter is in Peru right now. So is her husband. He is Peruvian which sort of explains why they are in Peru.
  4. I am two degrees of separation from several presidents and three degrees away from Barack Obama. I am one degree of separation away from Sally Struthers which puts me two away from a whole bunch of movie stars. However, I am not impressed with myself. I just need to put 25 random things down and those came to mind.
  5. My uncle had mafia connections. As in the Rat Pack. Really. It’s true. Just ask my sisters. OH! That puts me two degrees away from Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr.!
  6. I write mysteries. The current one has the mafia in it. Also theology, sex, politics, lesbians, and guns. Did I mention sex?
  7. St. Paul was a feminist in his day. I know. Hard to believe. But true. Live with it.
  8. So was Mohammed. Really. And virgins may actually be olives…..
  9. Paraguay is a country in South America. I almost forgot that.
  10. Maize.  In elementary school social studies, the answer was almost always maize.
  11. That was before 42 was the answer.
  12. Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time was rejected several dozen times over close to a decade.
  13. Then it won the Newberry Medal.
  14. It snowed in Portland today. I drove anyway because it was just pretend snow. The kind that happens when it’s 40 degrees out.
  15. I used to be a real live hippy. I’m still real and still alive. But I had kids and sort of grew up. Sort of.
  16. My daughter calls me her pothead mom because I smoked pot recently to see if it helped with the pain. It did. But I forgot how to smoke and choked. Not a nice experience.
  17. If I would agree to live in the car with her,  Good Dog Gwynth thinks that would be a very good thing. She loves the car almost as much as she loves Jenny.
  18. I have no idea how to spell my dog’s name. The Good Dog part I’m okay with. It’s the last part that baffles me. One n? Two n? Another y?
  19. When I was a kid I learned the vowels were a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes w and y. They don’t teach w and y as vowels anymore. But I’m sure that the w and/or y in my dog’s name are vowels. At least I’m pretty sure. I may be missing something. No, they have to be. Because all the other things are definitely consonants. And there has to be a vowel. That’s another rule that lives on. Unless you are from another dimension or something. And actually, the dog’s name has two syllables which means there needs to be ANOTHER vowel and I don’t think wy counts as two vowels. Where does the other one go? This is going to keep me awake tonight.
  20. Cows can be tipped over and I’d like to try it. Despite what people think, I’m not particularly fond of cows. Just because I gave one talk on cow piety…….Strange the things you get standing ovations for…..
  21. This is the 21st random thing tonight. Four more to go.
  22. I learned a lot of new stuff today. I believe you should learn at least one new thing every day. I’m set until mid-May, 2010.
  23. My favorite podcast is Cast On. It’s about knitting. It’s funny. It’s in Wales. It’s by a lesbian. These are a few of my favorite things. (Although I still love all the straight women in my life, too!)
  24. It really is time to go to bed because a friend is coming over at 10 am to work on a service we’re doing this Sunday. It’s on Sabbath and about Sabbath. I’m preaching. Look out! Heresy alert!
  25. I just learned how to knit a moebius strip. Now I’ll have to learn how to quit knitting it. But there is no real stopping point so it may go on for awhile.

Why I Hate Lisa, or Has it Been 500 Years Already?

First, let me confess that I don’t really hate Lisa, but I do want to call her out on her bizarre behavior on New Year’s Day.  More on that later.

When we decided to build a house on Beaver Creek, we knew there was a possibility of flooding. Being smart women, we went first to the county and were told that the property we were looking at, although a full third of it IS Beaver Creek, was not in the 500 year flood plain. We were talking to the chief-guru-in-charge-of-such-matters, and he actually put his signature on some papers, so we thought we were okay. However, just wanting to make sure, I went back a few days later and talked to a sub-guru who said the same thing. Then, because I am, in reality, chopped liver in the not-believable section of life’s grocery store, our contractor went and asked. He got the same answer. So we built.

The county did request an extra 16 inches of foundation, on top of the already generous amount the contractor had planned for, so we ended up with almost five feet of foundation at the corner nearest the creek. We built, we moved in April, and enjoyed a long hot summer of leafy coolness at the side of the creek. Then it snowed.

Oregon gets snow. A few inches a year, lasting for a day or two, enough to foul the roads, close the schools, and give everyone a few days of midwinter rest. But this time it SNOWED. We had over 2.5′ of the stuff, topped with a couple inches of ice. Enough to drive me round the bend, especially since Jenny was home and relaxing but I’ve yet to find a publisher who will buy the excuse “My hall was too icy to get to work.” I worked all through the snow and ice, although it seems that the weather has prevented the publishers from actually paying me, but that’s another rant, er, story.

We were snowed in for a week, and the snow hung around for two weeks. Then, on my 57th birthday, it started to rain. Rain, of course, means the snow melts. The creek rose, came up into the yard, then receded. We heaved a sigh of relief and went out on New Year’s Eve to celebrate with a rousing game of SongBurst with the old gang. New Year’s Day we woke to a monsoon. Almost four inches of rain fell on Beavercreek, OR that day, breaking records and causing me to mutter about every single global-warming-denying Republican who ever lived.

And the creek rose. And rose. Instead of a quiet meandering float, it became a raging river, complete with rapids. The rapids were the access road to our place.  And WERE is the operative word. We no longer have an access road.

Now, I have a great deal of trust in the weatherman on channel 8. Don’t ask me why. My mother had faith in channel 8 and so do I. So I was listening to channel 8 and the guy was saying the rain would stop, the water would peak, and things would return to normal. He’d been spot on about everything to do with the “Arctic Blast” which gave us snow in the first place so I was sure he was right this time.

So. Jenny would go outside and measure the water depth and I would do the math. I figured that the water would not make it into the house so I was all “Hakuna Matata” and just wanting to chill. But Jenny was becoming more and more agitated and wanting to evacuate. Finally, at midnight, she decides she needs to talk to Lisa.

Lisa is maybe 27. Okay, maybe 42. Either way, she is young enough to be Jenny’s kid and behaves very much like me, which is to say mostly badly. But Jenny thinks Lisa is a wise woman. Besides, Lisa is one of the few people we know who is still up at midnight. The other is Mar, but we knew Mar was out of town.  So we call Lisa and Jenny tells her that the house is surrounded by water (which is true) and the creek has become a raging river (also true) and that the water is rising faster and faster (not the way I remember it, but then I’m chopped liver, remember?) And Lisa, hearing the freak in Jenny’s voice says something to the effect of “Well, if you’re surrounded by water, you should leave.” Great. I hate Lisa.

Jenny IMMEDIATELY packs a bag and puts on her coat. I’m dawdling because I REALLY don’t want to go and REALLY don’t believe the water is coming into the house. But I finally grab a few things and agree to go to a motel. We wade through about eight inches of water to the car, coax the dog to join us, and head out. Fortunately, someone had the foresight to build a back way out of our place. We have to drive through another raging stream, only to find the main back way is blocked by high water. We turn around, and take the other back way which is basically one long pothole full of water, with a washout at the end. Jenny just charges the Sienna across the washout and we are on Beavercreek Road. Which is blocked by, duh,  high water.  It takes us the next hour, most of it going in the wrong direction, to find a road that will get us out of Beavercreek and headed toward Oregon City. It is now 1 am and we are heading for a motel. We are also running out of gas and can’t find a gas station that is open. I want to go home.
I call Lisa again, just because when I’m annoyed I need to annoy others, and Lisa admits that she wouldn’t have left in the first place. I hate Lisa.

Suddenly I realize that we have a dog with us. And we have no idea where we will find a motel that will take dogs at 1 am on New Year’s Day in the rain. We need a plan. So the plan is this: We stop at Shari’s because it is open all night and will let us sit there forever as long as we eat something. After a couple hours of listening to the tunes on the video poker machines, someone says it’s snowing. THE RAIN HAS STOPPED! The snow is falling in big wet globs, putting a couple of inches of wet snow all over everything. But we still don’t have gas and the last thing we want is to drive around looking for clear roads back to Beavercreek and run out of gas. This is the country, man, and there are no people out except us, my cell phone battery is mostly dead, Jenny’s cell phone is mostly at home, and I’m getting really annoyed.

We head down toward the freeway and find this: no open gas stations. Then we call AAA and they tell us there is a 24 hr gas station right next to us. And there is. But we’ve already been there and they won’t take credit cards, we have no cash, and pay day isn’t until the next morning. I’m sure you’ve been there. Finally, after a short eternity, we find an open gas station and get gas. I propose three possible solutions: motel, go to the church and sleep on the couches in the basement, or go home. I really want to go home, and I really hate Lisa for getting me into this, but I feel that, as the rational one in this situation, I have to offer several options.

Now that we have gas, Jenny is suddenly feeling really butch. She decides that we will go home. So we do. And the water is gone, we are now just a peninsula, no longer an island entire of itself, although we would have been just fine as an island if Lisa hadn’t told Jenny to evacuate. I hate Lisa. Do you understand why?

And, while I fully expected that at some point we would face hell AND high water, I didn’t expect it during our first year, our honeymoon year, in our new house. So until Wednesday when I see her again, I’m going to hate Lisa for making me leave my warm house, wade through ice water up to my shins, and drive around all night in Oregon City. When she would have stayed home. After all, that’s what good friends are for, right?


Today, for the first time in about a zillion years, I actually made something other than tacos. And I did it all day. First thing in the morning, the Divine Miss M asked for pancakes. Last night she fell asleep in the recliner watching TV with me and she looked so young…like maybe three…so this morning I made her pancakes. I am terrible at pancakes. Something in them fights me every step of the way. But, for the DMM, I made them.

Immediately after the pancakes, I made Almond Crescent dough and Pecan Tassie dough. These are two cookies my mother used to make and I have to make them too. Funny how those traditions work. She’s been dead for eight years but the cookies go on.

Then the DMM (aka Meg….who was Meg until she was five and decided she wanted to be Maggie and now has decided that Meg is a better name for a college student) cleaned the kitchen again (i’d already cleaned it once) and we made Almond Roca. Just because we could.  She also made the dough for Cream Wafers, my traditional Christmas cookie. (Caitlin, the mid kid, called yesterday to get the recipe…..another old family tradition….losing recipes.)

I tried to work while Meg made Almond Crescents and then I started to make grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup (at Meg’s request) until I got distracted by the weather channel and the possibility that Meg was going to drive my car 30 miles in the snow. Meg finished making lunch. I finished worrying (after having Jenny debrief me about why I am so worried about Meg when Caitlin drove in the snow all the time…of course, Caitlin went to college 240 miles away so I didn’t know.

I made Meg leave before dark, and I made her call me when she got there, and then I made mole. Which is Reeses Peanut Butter cups with jalapeno peppers and turkey. I am actually wearing the mole because it never comes out of the jar cleanly. I don’t know what that is about but it is true.

Anyway, I’m all cooked out and Letterman is on.

Tomorrow I may wax philosophical.

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