in Odds and Ends, Portland

Ice King

Beware the Ides of December!

Is it just me, or has this been a cold winter already? When I rolled out of bed this morning, I checked the local weather. According to the web site, the temperature was “-4, but feels like -8. (That’s “25, but feels like 18” to those of you who do not speak centigrade.) Very cold. It has been like this for days.

As always during anomalous weather, I’ve checked the National Weather Service for recent data. I made a lovely table of the temperatures for the past week, but for some reason I cannot get it to format properly in the weblog. I’ve posted it here, on a separate page. Go look at it. Isn’t it fun?

The average temperature for the past week is about 34.6. Last year in December, the average monthly temperature was 45.2. (And the average for all Decembers is 42.8.) This past week has been, on average, ten degrees colder than last December. It feels like twenty.Last year, it didn’t drop below 32 once in December. Our low in January was 27. That was also our low during February. (You’ll remember that we had very strange weather for an entire month starting on Valentine’s Day: not a single drop of rain fell.)

I’ve been cautious on my drive to work this week. The roads haven’t been that icy, but slick patches lurk here and there. The real danger comes at midday: I expect the roads to have cleared, and then something surprises me. On Tuesday I drove to Salem in a heavy fog, some of which had frozen to the road. Yesterday afternoon the sky was sunny and clear during my drive to Hillsboro. I was on a winding country road that dipped into a shaded gully to cross a creek. Just as I approached the bridge, I noticed it was icy. “Crap!” I thought as the car slid from my control. Fortunately, the tires found traction in time for me to recover without incident, but I was much more alert for the rest of the afternoon.

Most winters I can handle the cold. In fact, I like it. Most winters I complain that Kris and her friends keep their homes too warm. I call them Ice Queens. This winter, however, despite weighing more than I ever have before, I am cold. Very cold. Cold all the time. I am colder than Kris, and vociferous about my coldness. I’ve been spending a lot of time in my car, delivering Christmas baskets to customers. This would be fine if the damn heater worked. I hate Fords.

The cold weather isn’t all bad. At times it’s rather beautiful. The days are clear and bright; the nights are filled with stars. As I was leaving Mac’s house last Friday afternoon, we marveled at beautiful sunset: thin fingers of clouds glowed red as they stretched toward the horizon.

Mitch called last night. “Dude, go outside and look at the moon,” he said. “It’s awesome. There’s a ring around it, sort of like a halo, and all sorts of clouds. You should take a picture.”

“I’m in the bath,” I said. “I’m trying to warm my inner core.”

I never did see the moon last night, but I saw it this morning. It still had something of a halo about it, and it looked almost spooky through the trees. Because I was carrying my camera, I stopped to take some photos. I was too cold to set up a tripod, though, so I intentionally took shaky handheld shots, hoping for some sort of cool effect. I’m not wholly displeased with the results.

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  1. One upside to the cold weather are the clear & beautiful nights and early mornings. At about 5:30 pm, the moon will be full tonight and I’ll be able to see it– as opposed to the usual cloud cover. Last month, I actually got to see Mars [that little red dot beneath the moon at sunset]. If it stays clear any longer I might add “astronomy” to my growing list of hobbies/obsessions.

  2. It really was -8C when I pulled into work this morning. But then, as one of the Boise drivers once noted, we work in a “frosty little neighborhood” out here at the box factory.

    Stephanie and I call this ‘Alberta weather’ because it is clear and cold… except in northern Alberta it is actually a lot colder and drier than it is here… Grande Prairie Weather

    In Alberta, they don’t even use the word ‘minus’ when they give the temperature… they just know that it is going to be below 0 degrees Celcius… so ‘minus fifteen’ is just ‘fifteen’… and ‘minus forty’ is just ‘forty’… and just plain cold!

  3. The moon photo is lovely–definitely a keeper. Isn’t it interesting how some of the best photos are to some extent accidents? Funny angle, shaky hands, unexpected shutter release…

    As for the cold, I hadn’t exactly noticed but your chart is very convincing. Fords aren’t the only cars with poor heaters. I grew up in an aging VW microbus, and we travelled with hot water bottles during the later years of its existence. The difference is that we liked it anyway.

  4. J.D., have you looked into what it would take to get your car’s heater fixed? Or would it cost more than the car is worth? Still, I hate to think of you out driving around in this weather without a heater. That’s a good way to get sick. (Do I sound like a mom or what?)

  5. It’s even COLDER this morning. The weather site says “23, feels like 14”. I’ll say. To make matters worse, sometime yesterday I misplaced my gloves. I’ve turned into an old woman for winter driving: I must have my driving gloves. They’re probably in the car, buried under Christmas baskets and comic books.

  6. brrrrr….It’s even colder here…Our furnace exhaust fan broke last night so we can’t use our heater…my thermometer says 21 degrees (F).

  7. does Kris’s car’s heater work? Maybe you could swap cars for a while? Maybe there is a way for the business to pay for this repair since you are using the car to deliver ‘business’ gifts. How about the mileage reimbursement from the business goes toward the repair. At 48.5 cents per mile, that adds up quickly.