Baby, It’s Cold Outside (And There’s A Mouse In My House)

Sunrise After Snow Storm

Appreciating weather and four real seasons again after living in sunny California for so many years takes some getting use to.   I’ve decided, in retrospect, that in California there are really no excuses for not getting work done, except “It’s sunny outside and I just had to go to the beach for a long walk.”

My friends in California want to know what I’m doing with my time in Asheville.

I’m dealing with weather.

Where I Sit When It's Warm Outside...

This is not something Ashevillians are use to, or so they tell me.  Usual winters include a week or two — max  — of below freezing weather. This current cold streak  is apparently the coldest it has been in Asheville  in 30 years and we haven’t seen the end of it.

I can tell you one thing. Time does not fly when it’s cold.

And then there’s the snow question.  When I moved here this past summer, I was regularly informed from multiple (and confident) sources that snow in Asheville was not a big deal at all, and that typically it might snow an inch or two — three at the most — and that it was gone in a day.

Apparently we moved here just in time to see a brand new COLDER AND WHITER Asheville, because our first snow was 17″.  We live at the top of a steep hill, and were snowbound for a week.  You should have seen our first trip DOWN the hill.  Mr. Toad’s wild ride….

And then it was another week before we could get back UP the hill, so we would hike down to the car, go buy groceries, and hike back up the hill.  Sure makes you think about what you’re buying….

It’s OK.  I just didn’t expect that regular living would take quite so much work.

(Including the work of having ongoing flashbacks to my wood-burning, wood-carrying, “staring-at-the-temperature-gage-from-the-bathroom-window-which-reads-twenty-below-zero” winters in Iowa where I grew up.  But that’s another story.)

I can only imagine the brave souls who endured the pioneer days and the daily grind of keeping warm and eating.  And where did they get their warm clothes and footwear?  Did it come by horse and buggy to their town?  By train? What if they didn’t have the right size?  Did they wait another month for the next delivery of warm coats? And did they knit their own socks by the fire during long dark evenings?  Heck, I don’t know.

But I can tell you I do have a new appreciation for boots and warm socks here!

Speaking of socks, do you know what it means to “darn a sock?” When my father’s socks got holes in them, we didn’t buy new ones.  We mended them. My mother taught me how to put a light bulb up inside the sock (it’s lightweight and the needle slides right over the smooth surface of the bulb), thread a very big needle with darning floss, and mend it.  First you make rows across the hole, then you weave the thread the other way, and vwaaaa-la.  You have a sock with no hole.

But I digress.

Even the outdoor creatures are cold.  This morning a mouse found its way into the warm (relatively speaking).  I don’t know if one of my cats brought him in or if he just saw the doggie door and went for it.  My suspicions are in the direction of dear young Bella, the enthusiastic new feline hunter.

Anyway, right along with making the fire and brewing up some coffee,  I had to catch the little gray guy in a towel and send him back out to find the warmest place he could.  I felt bad, even for a mouse, but I’m at least he’s used to this survival stuff.

Night Trees

Here’s what’s going on at my house in Asheville.  We’re renting, and just for our winter entertainment I’m sure, a little drama is going on with the family who owns this property.  One of the landowners passed away, and now there is a mad scramble because  the one in past control, is no longer in control.  The power and  say-so about the house and the land is now  divided.

In some kind of effort to punish her children, she emptied bank accounts,  cancelled family cell phones, and ran off to another country with the money and a big attitude which, granted, was not developed over night.

No, this drama has been building for years. The really silly part is she already nabbed a well-to-do husband there who provides everything she needs.  The human race is an interesting species.  This woman is like the obsessed squirrel who keeps gathering nuts, even though there are plenty, even for a long winter.

Oh, and she stopped paying for certain things, including our utilities.

Shall we say this makes my life more survival based than I had planned? Yes.  My day today is about keeping warm.   The children have stepped up to the plate, but even so, our propane delivery is days overdue, the tank is almost empty, and the delivery guys say they are coming, but meanwhile, I’m building fires in the wood stove to keep warm.  Several days ago, I turned the heat down to 50 degress in one part of the house, and I don’t open the french doors to the land of the frozen — the kitchen —  unless I have to make something hot to drink or see about food.

Excuse me, I have to go put more wood in the stove.  I’ll be right back.

Ok, getting warmer now!  Ahhhhh….

When there’s no family drama going on, there are other ways nature creates a little survival drama.  First, there’s some kind of storm and the electricity goes out.  Pretty often, actually.  When that happens, there’s no heat because the furnace needs electricity to kick on, and no water because the pump is electric.

Oh, the joys.

Well, in any good crisis there’s always irony.  Here’s one.  My electric dryer is running.  I’m watching wonderful, heavenly, moist, warm, steamy good heat going by my office window.  I would give anything to have the strength and where-with-all to pull the dryer away from the wall (my hubby is on a business trip) and vent all that good moist heat INSIDE.

If I could do that, I’d be enjoying indoor tropical weather right now…

My Wood-Carrying Helper

‘Scuse me.  I have to put my heavy clothes on, my wool socks, my boots and hat…well, you get the idea.  And tromp out to the big tree with my new best friend, the red wheelbarrow, where the scrap wood is and bring some more in here because my inside pile is getting low.

Hey, it’s good exercise.  That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.  Then I think I’ll have soup for breakfast.  It’s WARM.  And I’m going to eat it right out of the pan so it stays HOT.

Baby, It's Cold Outside -- And Beautiful!

Asheville, California, cold, cold weather, mice, mouse, snow, wheelbarrow, wood heat, wood stove

Comments (34)

    • You won’t hear an “I told you so” from me. Life is all about the journey and this is quite an experience. Make the most of your life in Asheville and I will live vicariously through your writing. I see a book in your future!

    • As you pointed out before and from the get go, NC was the energetic place for you and Eric to land, inspite of adversity, and including SNOW!!! ((<:

      I can verify that, though it's not snow exactly, we have adversity out here in California. It's not all about the snow or the cold weather. Your blog tells me that you'll rise above the "survival" of ANY situation; AND that you recognize the beauty inspite of it.

      I think you were a pioneer in a previous life who made it through all the travails of crossing this country. Jes, Terri, that's why Mac is such a free and independent spirit b/c of YOU!!!

      P.S. I LOVE your blog!!! Wish I was there sipping a hot cup of cocoa with you now.

      • Thank you so much, Deb!!!! I think I was pioneer for sure. No doubt about it. And as for California’s adversities, Huh??? Well they are so long gone I have no memory of them. :–) Oh, yes, those fires…. You know how it is — your own adversities, the current, “in your face adversities” always seem the most important! See what being cold does to the brain? Makes it smaller. Ahem. That’s my excuse. I’m cold. Anyway, wish you were here with me sipping something hot. That would make life pretty perfect. We’ll just pretend and then it’ll be perfect anyway!!! Love you!

    • Hey Terri,

      Many thanks for your news piece here.
      The photos are lovely and it sounds as you and Eric are having the time of your life ! :>)

      How’s Mac? There or back in California.

      More and more people inquiring about the community here ! Which is great. So many folks are being driven by economics into considering something “new”.

      Fascinating time.

      Love to you & Eric,


      • Eric,
        Thanks for writing! Mac is in California, and enjoying every warm minute while I sit here in my winter coat typing. She is such a light being. A happy girl. I think all you have to do with a child — truly — is not get in their way. Just encourage them. She is such an inspiration and she teaches me daily.

        Hope your community is building beautifully.

    • Hi Terri,

      Well as one of your new Asheville acquaintances, I would love to get to know you better and yes your writing is wonderful and fun! Remember, this too shall pass! It certainly creates a grateful heart for the simple things in life. In my 25+ years in Asheville, the only year to rival this one was 1993 and that was just the snow, we didn’t have the cold.

      Stay warm & keep writing!

      • Getting to know each other sounds like a very good idea. Thanks for your compliments on the writing, much appreciated. Tomorrow (Sunday, Jan 10) is the toning session at The Light Center. If I don’t see you there, call me up or I’ll call you. You’re right about the grateful heart. Mine is getting bigger for sure. Living in the country assures that…with every bloom and every snowflake.
        love, Terri

  • Oh gosh, just sounds terrible! 17 below here last night. If we get our way, we will be out on the frozen lake all weekend racing our iceboats at 60mph. Great pics and story Terri! The right clothes are important, snow tires w/studs, insulation, etc. We are used to it and prepared and completely LOVE winter.

    • Dale,
      Thanks for writing, what a great thing to hear from you!! I guess it’s going to require a little time for me to put love and winter in the same sentence, but I’ll get there!!! I need to improve my equipment!!!!

      Hope your art is going well! Would love to hear about that any time you want to send info my way.

      Take care,

  • Thought for 2010

    Man’s Obligation:

    Man’s obligation is to co-operate with the Laws which operate the Universe. Because man has a unique place, the obligation goes with that.

    The awareness of your place is not a gift of Nature. You must
    find it by conscious effort, not by hope. Man has a potentiality he knows nothing about. This forms the Science of ancient times. We have lost all idea of these potentialities!’

    G.I Gurdjieff.

    Hope you are enjoying the fresh air … conscious breathing fresh air removes the active force it possesses and coats ‘something new’ in your being.

    ‘Great Knowledge Changes Destiny, terrestrial knowledge only
    your lifestyle’ Ancient Chineese Saying.

    Joseph Mc Keaney ( London )

  • I agree with Toni about your gift at writing. Your blog is easy and enlivening to read. Thank you!

    This last storm to move east missed us here in NM, though it got really cold and overcast for a day. Today is still cold, but gorgeous with bright blue cloudless skies. I give thanks regularly for my natural gas heater, radiant floor heat, and budget billing, all of which I highly recommend! May the propane guy show up real soon!

    Love, Devaya

    • Yes, let’s get that propane guy here. No sign of him yet. Thanks for your thumbs up for the writing. Much appreciated. It has been REALLY fun to hear what everybody says and hear the news and weather from everywhere, including NM!

  • Enchanting, Terri ! Besides gifted, you are so up-beat, while making me shiver with cold, reminded of growing up in Montana, college in Nebraska, clearing the windshields, slipping, sliding, praying.
    Ashville ! That’s where we all travelled to buy furniture wholesale when living in Virginia. Being from the plains of Eastern Montana, not the mountains, I thought NC the most beautiful of all states.
    As for pioneering, yes you qualify. My sister and I are currently binge reading Montana and Northwest pioneer stories. Nary a mention of darning the socks, but, yes, I also learned to darn socks.
    Wear it out, use it up, give it away? Not exactly. Came from a depression mentality family — third generation hoarder !

  • Terri,
    Great pics and article.
    I know how the winter feels as I grew up in North Dakota.
    We had blizzards and sometimes the windchill factor was 70 degrees below zero.

    Love you.

    • Wow, I didn’t know you were my neighbor growing up!!! We used to hear about Bismarck and the silly temps they had there. Thanks for your kudos, and enjoy sunny California!
      love, Terri

  • Hi Terri,
    What beutiful photos, thank you for the update.
    It is cool at night, I’m wearing double clothes and socks but nothing compared to the chilly weather that you are describing.
    We are enlightened by this eye opening account of how many are spending their winter throughout the nation.
    Blessed are those who live in sunny So-Cal, the sunset was beautiful by the way.
    Miss you T,

    • hi Loren my dear one!
      I can see you in your layers of clothing, with your fairy body and light touch. I miss you, too and maybe you’ll stop by on one of your east coast adventures.

  • You hot, hot, hot woman you! I’m sending memories of all the times you were hot in OC. Too hot to walk outside, steaming hot from that kick butt workout at the gym, melting hot in your tiny kitchen in Tustin. (Any body parts thawing out yet?)

    Love your humor in all of this, especially the episode with the mouse! Bundle up my friend.

    Here is the warmest hug you can imagine.

    • Oh, to be hot again. I’m going on the fifth day of being cold and it’s getting to my brain. I kind of went over the edge tonight, just snapped in two, got crabby about the cold. Then I talked to Eric, and in one sentence he did “daddy, friend and the best husband and protector in the world” and then I was OK again. I just sobbed and he reached over the phone wires and made it all better. In one darn sentence…. I don’t know how he does that, but I’m so grateful from the bottom of my heart. He made me all warm again, and I can remember my happy heart.

      And then your comments are the icing on the cake. Yes, the mouse — can you see me with this little squealing squeaking frightened creature wrapped in the blue towel? I rationalized that putting him out in the cold was an act of kindness compared to the fate with two cats….

      Oh, Liz. You have to come see me this spring sometime when everything is in bloom and you’re running around in the world. Just come over this way for a little while…
      love, Terri

  • Terri,
    God makes snow beautiful so we will tolerate the cold that comes along with it. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    What wonderful photos and honest writing. Someone said they would love to be there sipping cocoa. Naaa. I wish you were here sipping Chardonay.

    All is well here. Kids are great and thriving. I am sitting at the ballet studio listening to the pianist play classical. Life is hard.

    Love to you,
    Joann Lehmer

    • I SO love hearing from you! I think about you and wonder about you and remember sitting in your kitchen eating something you made (all I remember was that it was really good) and designing your closets and talking about your children and you and your life and…so do you think I have enough “and’s” in this sentence??? Oh, I would love to see you, and yes, I’ll take you up on that glass of chardonnay. With maybe some goat cheese and grapes…etc.
      love you, too.

  • Hi there:Just got up from a long nap and it is 75 degrees in Santa Monica!

    Hare to believe, and that I am so happy and getting married in March!

    Miss and love you,

  • Terri dearheart!
    Didn’t realise you were facing even more extreme conditions than we’ve been tolerating for the entire past month in London and most of the UK … where in God’s name is that blessed propane man?? (does he have a mobile phone and is he contactable / trackable?). Think HOT!!!

    Your blog is indeed everything we are all saying, Terri … easy, honest, fun, warm-hearted and heart-warming (now there’s a good one for you!), inspiring and simply perfect in its everyday wonderment … mixing the mundane with equal measures of magic like one of your sublime apple pies (and just as edible). And what superb winter wonderland photos you’ve shared with all of us who adore you …

    I just wish I could astral project myself over the Great Atlantic Puddle right this minute to give you a great warm bear hug and share warmth, joy and laughter with you over a cup of something unequivocally hot and comforting (like maybe an Irish coffee or two or three??).

    Please take care and STAY WARM! You’re doing great … and spring is just around the corner (not to mention that elusive propane man who’s gone walkabout in the snow instead of delivering your gas!).

    Oh well! Love, blankets, wood fires, candles and (hopefully very soon) propane to you, dear friend!

    Rania XO

    • At last I have propane AND a big pile of wood AND long fireplace matches. This was truly a lesson about being prepared, even though it didn’t look like it was needed at first. Ah, yes, have a back up plan….

      I drove to their office on Monday morning instead of calling. Calling the gas company here doesn’t work at all. I did not leave their (nice warm) office until a man with a truck full of propane followed me up the hill to my house. I didn’t yell at anybody, I wasn’t mad. I was just very done with being cold, and they knew it.

      I think making sure people have heat in the winter could possibly be my new cause…. it is clear to me that no one can think when the environment is freezing and there is no let up, no break, no relief. You can’t be creative when your brain is frozen. All you can do is pile on more clothes and go into survival mode. Quite a wake up call for me.

      Thanks for your comments, compliments and love across the Atlantic!!!

  • Bbbbbbbrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!!! Terri, I’m cold just thinking about it. Has the propane guy shown up yet? Please tell me he has, and that you’re this moment warm and cozy, and that the kitchen is no longer the land of the frozen, and that you’re back in there toasty warm and whipping up your endless culinary delights, and that your husband is home giving a few people some drama about the frozenness that you endured. That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it!

    That said, I SO enjoyed this blog and the lovely photos. Thanks for turning your tribulations into inspirations 🙂

    Love, Kimberly

    • Hi dear one,
      Yes, he finally came, but only because I WENT AND GOT HIM MYSELF. I drove to their office and led Rusty and his big truck full of happy fuel up the hill to my house. Dave, the manager of the gas company, knew I would move into his office and sleep on his furniture if I didn’t get gas right then.

      So now I gave fuel AND a big pile of wood, which was delivered yesterday morning. Ahhhhhh….

      Life is good, and yes, I’m back in the toasty kitchen wielding whisks and ladles and spoons for stirring big hot pots of homemade soup. I’m alll better now.

      Thanks for your comments and I’m glad you enjoyed the writing and the photos! Makes me happy as a cat curled up in the sun for a nap.
      love, Terri

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