November 24, 2002
Welcome to Wyndspirit Dreams! I plugged in my heat tapes this past week. This is one of my least-favorite fall chores, because I have to slide on my back underneath my trailer, and I inevitably end up with sand bur stickers in my rear and cobwebs in my hair. It also means that from now on, I’ll have to run my cold water for five minutes to get it to run cold. But that’s a good thing. Every time I am standing at the sink, patiently waiting to get some cold water, I am thinking how fortunate I am to have good, working heat tapes, and I am reminded of one of the worst days of my life…
It was December of 1999. It was snowing beautifully and heavily. I had the day off. And I was mad. Furious. I live for a blizzard on my day off, but this day was ruined. My pipes were frozen when I came home from work that morning. Hoping the sun would thaw them during the day, I just went to bed. When I woke up that evening, they were still frozen. Solid. So, I gritted my teeth and set about hauling in snow to melt to flush the toilet. I unlocked the door and went outside to fill my pail with snow. When I tried to go back in, I could not open the latch on the screen door. I thought somehow I had bumped the little lever that locked it. I was locked out of my house in the middle of the night, in a blizzard, half-bundled up because I had only planned to scoop up a pail of snow.
I analyzed the situation a bit, then found a stake in my garage that I managed to use to lever out the screen by the deck. Then I managed to ease out the storm window, and climbed in, all the while trying to shoo away my very curious cat, who is not allowed outdoors. I got inside and put my window back together, quite pleased with myself. I examined the latch on the screen door and it was not locked—it was actually frozen! And I mean frozen solid. Nothing I could do about it then, so I carefully blocked the screen door open while I hauled in more snow to fill the tub.
Side note: I discovered that my tub drain did not seal tightly, so this entire process turned out to be an exercise in futility. I ended up with a tub full of mud.
Once I finally had everything under control, I decided it was time to enjoy the blizzard a bit. I decided to go for a little walk in the snow and take pictures of my neighbor’s gorgeous Christmas display. I threw on my coat, grabbed my camera, and headed out the door. And closed the screen door. Yep, I locked—or froze—myself out for the second time that miserable night. The moment the door slammed shut, I realized what I had done, but I figured I might as well go take my pictures anyway. When I got back, I broke in again while shooing away the cat, put the window back in again, and this time I stayed put. I was cold and damp and frustrated, but I couldn’t help but see the humor in it. And I laughed again once I got the pictures developed. The Christmas lights were shining frostily through a blur that was unmistakably snow on the camera lens. It had been snowing so heavily that the lens had apparently gotten coated before I even got my pictures snapped.
I was without water for several days until Dad and the trailer park manager came to my rescue. It turns out it was not my fault. The heat tapes had been plugged in, but didn’t work, plus, there was a gap under my skirting that had let in the raw, freezing north wind, and the water main in the ground had actually frozen, which was the trailer park’s property, not mine. A mobile home service came out and replaced one of my pipes that had burst—and put on good heat tapes. And I do mean good. When those tapes are plugged in, there is no mistaking it, because my cold water is almost hot. It’s a very small annoyance. I love it.
I suppose there is a
moral here somewhere. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. If the
lemonade freezes… Have a popsicle! And if you live in a mobile home in
North Dakota… Always, always make sure your heat tapes are plugged
in and working by November first!