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By Vicki Sternfeld-Rossi
The Times 

Winter Whack, a mole

 

February 1, 2024

Lane Gwinn graphic

Last month's sub-zero weather was brutal, with little relief as temperatures reached a balmy 20 degrees. I was briefly ecstatic about our "not frozen" pipes. We enjoyed running water until we weren't. And, of course, that's not the least of it.

The floors were a mess, with salt, ice, footprints, and pawprints. I spent endless hours sweeping, cleaning, and protecting the wood floors. I've used Murphy's Oil, Bona cleaner, and Rejuvenate formulas with towels and rags. Now, when its fridgid, I do my 30-minute checks on the faucets and the floors. The piles of dirty laundry grew exponentially.

I dumped a whole load of laundry in the washing machine the other day, and lo and behold, no water. Most likely, the water line to the washing machine had frozen. Was there a way to "weep" water into the machine to avoid freezing? Doubtful, I'm sure. Also, why did it happen this year and not the past four winters?

It looked as if the dishwasher was also struggling from frozen pipe syndrome. Water went in but didn't drain out. An error code on the front panel said Drain Clogged. After pulling it apart to look, Daniel's educated opinion was that the drainpipe froze, and water couldn't drain out. Again, this was the first time this pipe had been a problem.

Sometimes, I think Mother Nature is on my side. Other times, she is out to get me or at least tease me into humility. I'm generally not paranoid, but this winter is testing my reserves. When I think I have solved the problem of frozen pipes, different pipes freeze. What's perplexing is that this year's frozen pipes are the ones that were insulated.

Mugsy would curl up on the bed, enjoying a fleeting ray of sunshine through the window. Before long, he would bug me to go outside and come to the instant realization that sunshine doesn't always mean warmth or melted snow. Frequently, he would walk to the front path, picking up one frozen paw at a time until demanding to be carried back to the house.

On the first real snow day of the season, I drove to Walla Walla for my tennis game. The roads were good for the first five minutes before becoming treacherous. By the time I reached Dixie, I had swerved and skidded three or four times, even with snow tires. That drive was too much for me to repeat and I had to park my car. It quickly resembled an ice sculpture that needed occasional engine starts.

Each year, I am reminded that Mustang convertibles were not designed for eastern Washington winters. When I look at options for a more "sensible" car, I take too long. Spring appears, and I put the top down and think, "Maybe next year.

 

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