Details from slopville

Filed under: @ 2:00 pm

Anyone outside the PNW will have heard on the news about “SNOWPOCALYPSE” and “HEAVY WINTER STORMS” and all that sort of blather that the news media seem to love to put on winter storms around here.

It’s all just a symptom of the pussification of this area. Yeah, we don’t get a lot of hard weather around here in the winter, it’s one of the joys of living in the Pacific Northwest.
But when we do it’s started to become national news, the subject of the entire local news casts, and a big apocalyptic thing.

It bugs me.

I grew up here. I’ve lived here for 39 years (well, almost). And I don’t remember this sort of doomsday drama occupying the national and local attention as much as it has been in the past 10 or 15 years.
Now there is certainly the argument to be made that I paid very little attention to newscasts when I was a kid. That is, to a certain extent, true.
But I also know that people used to either stay at home and live with snow, or put chains on the car and just get on with it.

And there is certainly the argument to be made that the local population is far higher now than it was when I was growing up. Also true. An absolutely non-disputable point.
But with all the population growth you’d think that this area would have attracted immigrants from areas that are, well, USED to winter?! Instead we seem to have attracted every thin blooded Southern hothouse flower that wasn’t permanently affixed in a warmer climate.
An example:
When it first started to snow last Sunday it was pretty, but it wasn’t going to stick. The lawns and the landscaping were dusted in a frosting-sugar coat of white, but the roads were clear and wet. I went to the grocery store to pick up more cough medicine for Andrew and the dude in the car parked in front of mine HAD CHAINS ON ALL FOUR TIRES.
Allow me to repeat myself.
There was water on the roadway, it was 42 degrees and the only thing coming down out of the sky was raindrops.
And there were chains on all four of this dude’s tires.

Considerable sighing and eye rolling.

Consider it a symptom of my progressive curmudgeon-ness. I’ll be getting my whittlin’ stick and a rocking chair for the porch any day now.

A few additives to clear out the rest of the ranting that I’ve been doing in my head for the last three days (we had a snow day at work on Wednesday, the power was out at work yesterday so I didn’t go in, and today is my usual weekday off. I’m a little cabin feverish.)

1. We had about five inches of lovely light, fluffy, powdery snow come down Tuesday night and into Wednesday. I spent about an hour and a half clearing the driveway on the assumption that I’d be going to work Thursday. Then the snow turned to ice and by the time I got up Thursday morning there was a half inch glaze of ice on everything that I’d shoveled the day before.

2. I am eternally grateful for the wisdom of my careful and concerned parents that taught my sibs and I all how to drive on slick roads. I may not have appreciated the instruction at the time (I still have nightmares about starting our station wagon from a dead stop on an icy hill), but I as an adult I am willing to sing praises to the wise and cautious parents who thought it would be a good thing for a driving person to know.

3. While I am sick to death of picking up bits of the alder tree that is on the northeast corner of our property and hauling them out of the road, I am at least grateful that the pine tree that fell across a contractor’s truck in the house next door, was in THER yard, not mine. (Note that the house is empty, no one indoors was hurt or even inconvenienced, and there doesn’t seem to be any damage to the contractor’s truck.)
Also I’m pretty convinced that the folks across the street think I’m bats for wandering around in my snow gear and a bicycle helmet. I’m concerned enough about the traffic that I want to keep the (rather large and very numerous) bits of that alder tree out of the street, but I’m not crazy enough to approach that demon child without something hard covering my head. Those ice chunks HURT when they’re coming at you from a height of 50 feet or so.

4. Weirdly, your homeowner’s insurance, or, at least, our homeowner’s insurance, will only pay to remove a threatening tree if said tree has fallen on your house, not just because it might fall on your house.
Doesn’t that seem short-sighted? Allstate could pay $500 (and we’d pay the other $500) to have this tree removed, but instead they’re willing to bet that the damn thing won’t fall on the roof and crush the master bedroom and they won’t have to pay several tens of thousands of dollars to remove the tree and repair the house.
That having been said, part of the damnable thing did fall on the house yesterday morning scaring the both of us out of a sound sleep and outside into the cold which sent Andrew into a coughing fit from which he is only just recovering.
Don’t worry about the pox ridden tree. It didn’t damage the house at all (at least not that I’ve been able to see so far, I’m not crazy enough to get up on the roof to check the shingles when the roof is covered in ice). The hard freeze is over, no more bits of the tree are going to come down in any threatening way, and as soon as the ground firms up a bit again I’m going over to the neighbors’ house to tell them that they’re going to have a tree removal service in their yard hacking that big bugger out. At least I know where we’re getting next year’s firewood from.

5. We have been paying careful attention to keeping the bird feeders and the bird bath open for business. In addition to our usual seed and suet crowd, because we’ve been putting seed out on the ground, we’ve had a hoard of ground feeders as well. At one point on Wednesday there were thirteen different species of birds at our feeders. We’re having a plague of Varied Thrushes which I find quite charming.

I’ll stop ranting now. 😯


My Family: Weird But Fun

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:32 am

I happen to be blessed with a truly award-winning array of nieces and nephews. There’s Ben, the intimidatingly intelligent civil servant with a heart of gold; Sam, the intimidatingly massive yet easygoing Marine veteran with a heart of gold; Caitlin, the headstrong artisan with a heart of gold; and Lucy, the quirky ingenue with a heart of gold. Between them they gots enough gold in their hearts to make even a Glenn Beck program underwriter green with envy.

I sometimes think back on the time I spent with my nephews during their early years. Ben and Sam are a good deal older than their cousins, and they did a lot of their growing up when I was still living in Hawaii, before and during my college years in Washington State. I’m afraid I wasn’t much of an uncle back then: broke, angry, clinically depressed and self-medicating with sacks and sacks of pot. Not often a huge amount of fun to be around unless you were a bit closer to my age and a bakehead. By comparison, my nieces have it pretty sweet with Andrew 2.0: (relatively) happy, (far more) mentally healthy, upper-middle-class and addicted to nothing but coffee. Ben, Sam, if you’re reading this, I apologize if I ever left either of you with the impression that I didn’t care about you. I love you and am heart-burstingly proud of you both. About the only thing I can make up for this late in the game is the change in my income, so if we’re ever in the same place at the same time, lunch is on me. 😉

As for the girls, I really enjoy being Fun Uncle to them. We get to see them about once every year or two and it’s always a hoot. Lucy is a truly sweet kid. Kind of off in her own world, but she checks in with us mundanes fairly regularly to let us know we haven’t lost her entirely. And her citizenship in that singular municipality has provided her with a truly awesome sense of humor and comic timing. She’s a gem.

Caitlin, however….Caitlin’s my buddy. I don’t know what I did to warrant such high regard from a bright, funny, socially adept nearly-sixteen-year-old, but whenever Margaret and I visit the islands she’s stuck to us like she’s held on with C-clamps and gypsum screws. I fully expected her to kind of lose interest in hanging out with me as she got into her teens—I may be lots of things, but “cool” by whatever the standards Da Youf adhere to ain’t one of them—but if anything she seems more enamored than ever. Which is fine by us. Something about her brings my inner goofball into stark relief; things just get a little nuttier when the two of us are in the same room. Throw my brother David into the mix and it’s a 24/7 fun-filled, hijinks-soaked caper-a-minute laff riot, complete with overturned cars and burning dumpsters. It helps that Caitlin is, like all of us Lenzers, intelligent and articulate (and modest, let’s not forget modest), so she’s more than capable of elevating the discourse when it’s warranted. She hopes to join Margaret in walking the Susan G. Komen 3 Day in Seattle this September, and we’re working to make that happen.

Caitlin also has a helluva creative streak….more like an avenue than a streak….coupled with a rather wiseassy sense of humor. She was the source of this amusing depiction of the relationship between myself, my wife and my laptop a few years back. This year, after we got back from vacation, both she and Lucy sent us thank-you cards for the (admittedly lavish) gifts we gave them for Xmas. Lucy’s note was sweet and funny, and I really need to write her back and let her know how much we liked it. But Caitlin’s….well, see for yourself.

Smart-aleck little punk….I do love her so. 😆


Am I really going to do this again?

Filed under: @ 8:10 pm

Ten years ago when I did my first three day, I thought only to make it a personal challenge. I was in my early thirties, I’d never been athletic, never really had any interest in finding out the limits of my physical abilities.

Ten years and thousands of miles later I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s either a crazed obsession, or it’s a personal passion.

This year, facing my fifth three day, I have family at risk for breast cancer that I am walking for. I have friends that I love who are at risk. And I have a semi-cousin who died, far before her time, and her kids facing growing up without their mother.

I think it was Cheryl that really got to me this year. I haven’t been in that much contact with that section of my family over the last several years, but Cheryl was my best friend’s big sister when I was coming up in the Unitarian church. About the same difference age-wise between those two as between my sister and I. When Cheryl diagnosed with breast cancer about a year ago I thought “Oh! Well, it’s breast cancer. Cheryl is in for a fight, but she’ll do just fine!”
And she fought.
And she lost.
Cheryl wasn’t that much older than I am. People my age are NOT supposed to die. Sure, stupid stuff happens, people get hit by cars and blown up in wars and shit like that….
But people my age aren’t supposed to die of cancer.
Especially if they’ve got a family to miss them. Parents, and sisters, and a husband, and children, and cousins, and aunties and uncles to mourn them.
It’s…. Well, it’s stupid.

And so, as a memorial to my cousin who died before she should, and a memorial to my own grandmother who wasn’t a breast cancer survivor but who died while I was finishing my first 3 Day 10 years ago, I’m doing it again.
My feet aren’t the sharpest weapons, but they’re the best that I’ve got.

If you can, make a donation to support me here

This year it’s personal.

All portions of this site are © Andrew Lenzer, all rights reserved, unless otherwise noted.