January brought us the worst cold snap that our part of the country has seen in more than twenty years. In fact, the snap was audible for two or three days as fingers, toes, and other extremities froze solid and snapped off like peanut brittle. It was nothing a little duct tape and superglue couldn’t fix, but it did make getting in and out of the car an adventure.
More worrisome was the damage the cold did to our plumbing. Contrary to the stereotype, the life-challenged do need water for bathing and cleaning. Keeping the smell of decaying flesh to a minimum makes it easier to sneak up on dinner, and I usually wash whatever the kids bring home from their adventures in the neighborhood. I’m not sure what’s worse: pet owners who don’t take care of their animals and let them get covered in fleas, or people who do take care of them and coat them with foul-tasting chemical yick.
So the pipes froze solid, which pretty much set the tone for the next few days. Cooking and cleaning became a major hassle, so we had to order food in for lunch. Unfortunately word must have gotten around about us, because our food arrived at the door covered in body armor and carrying a machete. He threw down a couple of boxes and ran for it, and my poor daughter shattered her tail bone trying to chase him down the icy driveway. I think he might have had cleats in his shoes, as well. So we were stuck eating pizza for the rest of the day.
The kids were grouchy and out of sorts after their substandard meal, so I decided to make things more fun for them by filling the bath tub with snow. I added a few bath toys, took out the bath mats so they’d stay dry, and let them go nuts. The little shamblers had a blast. They threw snow at each other, hid each other’s thumbs and noses in the snow, and they even used a couple of hands and feet to re-create my middle child’s favorite bedtime story about the Donner Party. I didn’t have to pry anyone off anyone else’s neck for almost an hour.
But it all went sour that evening, which I turned on the hot water to try to melt the snow away. The snow melted into the cold pipes and re-froze, blocking the drain completely. So now we had frozen pipes in the bathroom and the kitchen. I wanted to rip my own scalp off. Thank goodness for that superglue.
Thankfully a couple of days of pouring hot salt water down the drain combined with two or three days of temperatures in the positive solved our water woes. Recently I’ve been told that the frozen icy hell that engulfed our home for the two longest days of my unlife was caused by something called a polar vortex. I prefer to think that Mother Nature got tired of listening to people whine and moan every time a snowflake fell out of the sky, and she finally cashed in that age-old promise to give us something to cry about.