Thursday, December 25, 2008

My Lyrical Christmas and a Runny-nosed Reindeer

On this white Christmas Day 2008 and in the drifting days leading up to it, I have heard lyrics.

No, not the shopping mall drone of “Angels We Have Heard on High” or “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer*.”

The lyrics sleighing through my mind this season come from the great Welsh bard Dylan Thomas in his “A Child’s Christmas in Wales.”

How will this whitest of all Portland Christmases be remembered by today’s children?

One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.

And what of the repeating snow showers that fill and refill my shoveled path?

Our snow was not only shaken from white wash buckets down the sky, it came shawling out of the ground and swam and drifted out of the arms and hands and bodies of the trees; snow grew overnight on the roofs of the houses like a pure and grandfather moss, minutely -ivied the walls and settled on the postman, opening the gate, like a dumb, numb thunder-storm of white, torn Christmas cards.

Treat yourself this Christmas Day by listening to Dylan Thomas conjuring up "A Child's Christmas in Wales."

*Footnote: In my family, my mother, who was of Welsh ancestry, was lovingly referred to as “Binkler.” Our name for her acknowledged her “twinklingly” exuberant personality that often raced ahead her thinking and resulted in mangled pronouncements that we called “Binkles.” Among our favorite “binkles” was her straight-faced holiday reference to “Rudolf the rain-nosed red deer,” who, we chimed in, “had a very runny nose.”

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Digging Christmas Eve

On this Christmas Eve, I spent two hours digging out our cars.

We live on the side of a wickedly steep hill. In the snow, the incline is impossible for cars, but great for sleds, plastic disks and cookie sheets. Did I mention kids?

In our standard clever strategic move in these situations, before last week’s storm we shifted the cars from the garage to the bottom of the hill.

For the past week my trusty old RAV4 has been tethered under a big fir whose bent branches are laden with ice.

Potential disaster. A block from the RAV's moorage an entire tree toppled onto a house.

So I hacked out a place with no threatening limbs and backed the RAV into it as far as the snow bank would allow.

Next I cut a path to the snow bank that had surrounded and buried the Accord, our vehicle of choice because of its studded snow tires.

Until my excavation, it was little more than a snow drift with rear-view mirrors.

I did most of my digging and hacking in the thaw. Shoveling snow was like hewing and hoisting concrete blocks. I worked chunk by sodden chunk with a small, short-shanked, big-handled, squared-off sod-cutter.

As I labored and sweated (I quickly went from four layers to two) the warming nibbled at the white of this oddly isolating and weirdest of Christmas Eves.

As I write in the darkening day, a dread freezing rain pocks the snow, but at least our cars have been liberated from their snowy tombs.

But now we have no place we want to go.

Here’s to staying home and warm, surrounded with joy and good cheer.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Jack-knifed trucks and wayward buses

Today's winter follies hung up traffic at the corner of Sunset and Capitol when a dairy truck jack-knifed on the icy snow.

In other local storm news, TriMet buses are now being diverted from Capitol Highway east of Bertha and Beaverton Hillsdale Highway. The downhill slope to Barbur is just too much for big rigs.

The #44 and #45 have been canceled altogether. Go to the TriMet web site for updates.

In short, it's nasty out there. Even, or perhaps especially, if you are walking, keep an eye out for drivers rolling the dice on the ice.

One of the storm's lessons about Capitol Highway is that it manages quite nicely as a two-lane street. Think of all the things we could do with those three we don't need. Median plantings. Wide bike lanes. On-street parking. Underground utilities.

Labels: , , , ,

A Marshmallow feast!

The patio table, once merely set with Nature’s finest white linen, now offers diners a Giant Marshmallow. Dig in!

Labels: , ,

Monday, December 22, 2008

Out and About

Call me crazy, but I worry about the end of this weather.

The worse thing that could happen is a sudden warm spell. If all this moisture on the ground turns to water real fast, we’ll really have something to worry about.

Oh well.

We walked into Hillsdale today and the place was booming. A group was actually opening presents at the Hillsdale Brew Pub. Yes, it’s going to be that kind of Christmas.

The Food Front Co-op was the busiest I’ve ever seen it. We stocked up on essentials: chocolate bars.

Out in front, two patrons decided to have a picnic on the veranda while another put on his snowshoes.

The Bank of America was also attracting a lot of attention, but for the wrong reason. A pipe had broken and not one but two fire engines had responded to hack through the snow and ice to find the water shut off valve in the sidewalk.

Anyone notice how dogs go a little “beach-crazy” in the snow?

And when deprived of owners and a romp, boy do they sulk.

Labels: , , ,