Monday, October 28, 2019

Snow Day Blues and Bliss

It snowed last week here in Boulder: a full six inches a full week before Halloween.

But pre-Halloween snow is not unusual in Colorado, and it gave me another reason to be grateful that my furnace was repaired before the first flakes fell. Besides, it was 70 degrees the next day, and every speck of snow melted. All the beauty of snow, with none of the inconvenience.

But then it snowed again yesterday, and it's supposed to snow again today, and tomorrow, and the day after that. This snow is less pretty, and there are heaps of it, and right now it's 18 degrees out there.

This is not what my father liked to call "October's bright blue weather."

Yesterday I was supposed to give a talk at an SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) gathering in Colorado Springs, 90 miles south of here. I had been looking forward to this for months, but I bailed on it that morning, too wimpy to risk driving that far in dubious road conditions. I totaled a car two years ago on a sunny but slushy road, and it has disinclined me to repeat that experience.

But it broke my heart to cancel this commitment, and then the snow wasn't even coming down THAT hard during the day. Could I have made the drive if I weren't such a pitiful, pathetic wimp at snow driving?

In the evening I had a ticket for a church outing to the Boulder Dinner Theater to see Mamma Mia; I had spent the previous week happily humming "Waterloo" and "Dancing Queen." Shamed by my earlier timidity, I decided to try to undertake the merely five-mile local drive. But after losing control of my car (traveling a mere ten miles an hour) and careening into the curb, I turned back. The Dancing Queen would have to dance without me. 


But now for the bliss of snow days.

Back home again, I put on my warm nightgown, robe, and fuzzy slippers, heated up a can of Progresso tomato-basil soup, and fixed myself an English muffin with melted Swiss cheese on top (just like Heidi). I curled up to re-read the funny, clever, touching novel Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher, a novel written entirely in recommendation letters penned by a curmudgeonly creative writing professor. It was a lovely evening.

Now I've decided that I'm going nowhere for the next three days unless my stalwart son Christopher, who is a professional driver with a sturdy four-wheel-drive vehicle, is willing to serve as my chauffeur. I'm going to make this a three-day writing retreat, planning to make stunning progress on the first draft of Boogie Bass, Sign Language Star, as well as an overdue book review and other pleasant writing tasks. I'm well stocked with soup, English muffins, Swiss cheese, and MANY MANY jars of jam. 

Snow days are a gift from the gods, so I'm not going to squander mine on my vices of Sudoku and mindless scrolling through social media sites. I'm going to savor every sip of hot chocolate and every page of scribbled book progress.

Let it snow!

Monday, October 21, 2019

The Good of An Extremely Irritating Inconvenience

My furnace stopped working on Friday morning.

The good news: The repair guy did come that morning - hooray, hooray - and diagnosed the problem as a failed  motor - a mere $800 repair instead of the cost of a full furnace replacement.

The bad news: The motor has to be ordered from Somewhere Else. It may arrive this week. Or next. It all depends on Someone Else. And then when it does come, the dispatcher will have to put me on the Schedule. Other people may be ahead of me on the Schedule. But it should all be done in seven-to-ten business days - or is it that the new motor should arrive in seven-to-ten business days? To be honest, I was too crabby to process all these details. But just to be clear, ten business days means a possible full TWO WEEKS WITHOUT HEAT.

Right now it's 53 degrees in my house.

And it's supposed to snow on Wednesday, with a high of 38. And snow again on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.


In the scheme of things, this is merely an inconvenience.

An extremely irritating inconvenience.

But  here is the good of an extremely irritating inconvenience.

When my heat comes back on again, I will be so happy! However grave my real problems are - and they are grave indeed - I'd much rather have my real problems PLUS nice warm cozy heat in my house than have my real problems with NO heat and predicted snow.

Wouldn't it be lovely to be typing this whiny complaint with fingers that weren't stiff from cold? Oh, it would, it would! And this problem, unlike my real problems, can actually be solved - and will actually be solved, even if it takes seven-to-ten (freezing) business days to solve it.

In the meantime, I can huddle under heaps of blankets with a faithful (and warm!) little dog curled up beside me. Last night I re-read The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder, glad that I'm not experiencing endless blizzards on the bleak Dakota Territory prairie for seven months with temps of 40 below zero and having to heat my house by burning sticks of twisted hay.

It could be so much worse.

And in seven-to-ten business days it will be so much better.

And I can worry about my real problems in comfort once again.

A mere hour after I posted this, the repair place called and said the part was indeed on its way, and that if it arrived on time, I could get on the schedule for TODAY! And it did, and I did, and I have heat again! I think they tell you the seven-to-ten business day thing just to be on the safe side. And to help you exercise your gratitude muscles when your heat is restored after a mere four regular days.

So here are a few further lessons I've gleaned from my four days in a cold house:

1) Sometimes things do turn out to be less terrible than you think. Not always! But sometimes.

2) It pays to be pleasantly persistent. I did keep on calling the repair place, verging on being annoying but managing to express appreciation for every glimmer of hope offered to me. Usually I have only two modes in life: complete doormat docility or raging inferno. Calm assertiveness served me better this time.

3) It's really not the repair place's fault if a part has to be ordered from somewhere else. It's really not the job of the universe to keep everything I will ever need in stock for my convenience.

4) Small blessings are lovely! That comforting sound of the furnace fan coming on, and the waves of warmth radiating from the vents! Hooray for small blessings!