Thursday, November 06, 2008

CG asks NG for advice

You remember the song don't you?
"The Northern Girls, with the way they kiss,
they keep their boyfriends warm at night..
I wish they all could be California girls...."

Even though I am a CG, I think I can manage to figure out how to kiss so as to keep my boyfriend/husband warm at night...but I do have another question to ask about this current gig of being a "Northern Girl."

What do you NGs know about life with snow that I don't know, but should?

Especially in terms of driving.

(I'm a bit freaked about driving in icy conditions...)

However, I am interested in anything else that you could share about living safely and wisely with snow.

I am serious.

Help out this new member of the NG sisterhood.

Former CG now Coloradan NG BGF Gail has given me her best tips gleaned during her two decades of life with snow.

They are as follows:

1. Always have a warm coat, sleeping bag, hat and gloves in the car at all times.

2. Leave your windshield wipers point up when you stop them to make it easier to de-snow/ice the windshield later.

3. Wear the slip-on anti slip things on your shoes when you go out.

4. Get your car washed and waxed to prepare for winter.

5. Wearing silk long underwear is better than heavy layers.

Bernie lived in Chicago for a year, and advises:

1. If it is snow slippery, take the foot off the gas and let the car inch along on its own.

2. Steer into a slide. (DON'T take hands off the first inclination...)

3. Jackets with zippers need to have something covering the zipper, preferably a flap with snaps and not Velcro.

My own advice to myself:

1.Wear a brimmed hat so the glasses don't get snow on them.

2. Don't drive if you don't have to if it is wet and icy out.

3. Remember to button up before going out the door.

4. Always have something ready to blot nose drippies.

5. Mittens really are warmer.

My co-worker suggested that on heavy snow/freezing rain days it is a good idea to put a tarp over your car in the parking lot when you get to work, and put a brick on the top of it to hold the tarp down. She says it is easier to whisk off the tarp later than try to scrap ice and snow in the dark.

While you are mulling over what you want to tell me, you can enjoy these pictures from yesterday.

The Catholic church is across the street from our school's parking lot.

It is just a gorgeous building, and photographers are photographing it all the time. I keep meaning to bring a tripod and get going on shooting all the interesting details of the structure. And I want to go inside too to see that massive round stained glass window from the inside.

White trees look so good in front of red brick buildings.
This snow storm happened on Wednesday; it was so hard to go to work when I wanted to do was to walk around and take pictures, or sit in front of a fire and stare out the window.

I guess there will be time for in the future...after all, I do actually live here now. This isn't a vacation, I get to stay for keeps!

Autumn was spectacular, and there still is plenty of color around.
I want to make sure I know all the insider tricks to making life in winter's snow as pleasant of an experience as well.
Got any tips for me?
Come on all you Northern Girls.
I know you learned how to keep yourselves safe and comfortable in the snow.
Share with me, OK?
It is getting colder at night.
Your "boyfriend" will be willing to wait for you...cuz he knows all about that signature NG Kiss!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Snakes On The Carpet

There is a bonus to house hunting right now.

I get to see the fall colors on display in the various neighborhoods.

Aren't these two trees just awesome?

So bright and colorful against the rainy clouds of Mt. Olympus.

I have a little story to tell about when I was growing up in a place where we rarely got much in the way of rain showers. A "shower" was always something that happened in a place where there were handles on the wall, and the water temperature could be adjusted at will.

Now where I grew up was next to the beach, and we spent a lot of time down at the beach swimming and playing in the sand. Such fun, but not so much fun when that same sand got tracked through the house on the way to the bathroom shower.

My dad, being a clever man, realized that it would be much better if we could shower off outside. So he built a small shower in our garage. Because it was just to shower off beach sand, he decided he would build it as cheaply as possible. The tiles were acquired for free if I remember right, tiles of every color of the rainbow, a mis-matched collection that we artlessly called the Mexican tiles.

(We lived near Mexico, and knew that in Mexico, interior design sensibilities bows to financial sensibilities. There it doesn't matter what it looks like, as long as it works.)

Sometimes we would have guests and they always thought our "Mexican" shower was a hoot. I think we were the only family on the block that had a shower that made people laugh.


Apparently we weren't the only family in the world with a Mexican Shower though.

Get a load of this!

This was the shower INSIDE the "Snakes On The Carpet" house.

I couldn't help but wonder if they had somehow heard about the shower in our garage!

Isn't it just GREAT?

So happy, so funny.

Lord knows that house needed a bright spot.

Take a look at the "family" room:


Mommy, I'm scared! There are SNAKES on the carpet! I don't wanna go down there to play.

Oh come on. Be brave.
Up close, don't you actually LOVE the fall colors that are found in this carpet? has orange in it.
And all of you know how much we like the color orange!
(You can see how this house looked on line. You can see that this room was actually the "Farmily Room Down." Makes sense to me. A room that is a cross between a farm room and a family room, and it is definitely down. )
Bernie LOVED this house. I HATED this house.
It did have killer good views. But the front door was over that crazy ugly carport! The downstairs was a separate rental unit, and B. is convinced that we could enclose the garage, redo the inside of the house and it would give us great views in two directions.
I say you would still have to hike up an awful lot of steps up to get to the house.
And so it goes.)

Monday, November 03, 2008

The rest of the Drivers License story....

The next thing that happened in my attempt to get a Utah Drivers License so I could vote in today's election:

I drove down on a Thursday two weeks ago, and arrived to find the line snaking out the door of the building.
I got into line, and after a few moments, just happened to look up at the ceiling, where I saw a sign saying I needed to fill out a form before getting into line.
I got out of line, and stood at the table area and filled it out.
Then got back at the end of the line.

Ahead of me were African ladies, Pacific Islanders, Girls with low slung pants and low slung tops...and a man and his teenage son.

The man and his son were talking to the authority person, but I couldn't hear what was being said.
But the body language was pretty clear: There definitely was p-r-o-b-l-e-m.

Moments later the man and his son headed over to a side table, where the man SLAMMED his fist on the table, and roared

Now he was a rather small sized man, but you could see the security guards watching him very closely.
The son was making phone calls to his mom...I tried not to stare at the drama unfolding before me.

By ones and by twos people would reach the authority figure where a short conversation would take place, various explanations were given, and then they too would walk away from the authority figure as well, clearly denied an opportunity to get a driver's license.

I got the feeling that they wished they had the courage to do what the son's dad did.

Then I was up to bat.

I smiled warmly walked up the official, and briskly whipped out my Texas drivers license and my car insurance, confident that I was completely prepared for my big moment of becoming an official State of Utah Driver.

The man glanced at my Texas Drivers license, and my insurance.
Then, like a robot, he asked to see two proofs of my mailing address AND my Social Security card.

We are told NEVER to carry our Social Security card!
And what does my social security have to do with getting a driver's license anyway?

You can't argue with this authority figure.
No mail, and no social security card=no license for me today.

But.....I never say die.
I refuse to give up.

I checked the time, and the time that the office would close.
I had about an hour and a half before the office would close.
If I hurried, I could race home and get back before then.

I raced for my car, drove like crazy, and ran to our apartment.

I knew I already had a file labeled "Two pieces of mail with address" since it seems like everyone here wants to see two pieces of mail with our address on it for some reason or another.
(Actually it is Jeff's address on our mail...we know better than to get mail sent to a temporary apartment.)

Then I dug out my spanking new Social Security card that I had to get to start work here.
I had left my original Social Security card in Houston, as I didn't think I would need it right away in Utah.
(Ha. What did I know?)

I had just weeks ago gotten the new card in the mail; it was SO spanking new that I had not even removed the card from the form in which it was embedded.

I glanced at form around the card and saw that it said this:

Note the line that says:

"Any government agency that asks for your number must tell you: whether giving it is voluntary, its authority for requesting the number and how the number is used."

Oh is pay back time!

Back at the Drivers License building the line was short; I walked up right up to the authority figure, who once again asked to see my Social Security card.

I retorted: "Certainly, once you provide me with the documentation proving to me that YOU are entitled to see it, and are in compliance with the law."

(Let's just say someone's eyebrows shot up....)

It took a bit, but yes, I refused to show them my SS card until they showed me where it said that legally I had to show it to them.

There were a few short meetings in the back room, some copying of materials, and then they got out the red ink, trying to determine exactly where it actually does say I have to show my card.

(There really was no line behind me...I wouldn't have been so cruel as to delay others if there had been a line waiting.)

Eventually they did find the legal passage.
I made them make a copy for me, then I handed over my card.

By then it was 20 minutes to closing. The authority (a nice widower who had a wedding ring that matched Bernie's wedding ring) handed me this book:

And suggested that I read it.
Then he pointed me over to the camera.
I didn't say a word, just sat down and got photographed.
Now get this:
Bernie had to take the test.
Everyone else in the room had to take the test.
No test.
Go figure.

Yes, it is true.
This California/Texas girl now a citizen of the state of Utah, and a proud owner of a Utah drivers license.

And the kicker?

After all this rigamorole, as soon as I got my picture taken , I learned I had missed the deadline to register to vote by one day.

I am SO sorry...
I tried....
I really did.

But I did managed to leave the building without once slamming a table and shouting THIS SUCKS!!!!
But only because my momma raised me to be a Fine Christian Woman, and Fine Christian Women just don't do that sort of thing.
(We just put the screws to them legally instead.)
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False alarm.

After much thought and prayerful consideration, we decided against getting either house.

One house we loved the view, the floor plan, size and the price, but there was more freeway sound outside than I could deal with. Freeway sound is usually part of any house that is set on the slope of a mountain, much to my dismay. In my mind I see us living in that house, but when I go to it and sit outside, I realize the sound would never go away.

For the record, that was the house with the deck, garden, fire place, red kitchen and yes, Bob Marley.

The other house, the one with the view to downtown: we loved everything except a very steep curving driveway up to the front deck. Way too scary steep to manage in snow or ice.

Then to reach the front door at the top of the driveway would have required climbing an additional 10 steps outside, or from inside the garage climbing the steps from the downstairs up to the kitchen and living area.

The downstairs was simple; a family room with a great fireplace and downtown view, but no bathroom. There are lots of reasons why someone might not be able to climb stairs for awhile; and just staying downstairs would not be an option. The price point on that house was our absolute limit; adding a downstairs powder room would not be an option for us.


Sunday was B.'s 55 birthday. He had a miserable head cold, but rallied enough for us to go see eight more houses in the late afternoon. It was raining cats and dogs at first but cleared up a bit later.

There is something quite funny about looking at lots of houses: You get them mixed up in your mind if you are not careful. To prevent this from happening, we tend to re-name each house according to something that would stick out in our mind later. For instance, the first house I wrote about above has been called "The Bob Marley House" since the first time we saw it. The second house is "The house with the steep driveway and great view"

Sunday we saw "The house with the green rocks on the busy corner" (NATURAL turqouise green actually,not paint...the whole front of the house)

"The foreclosure house", where they had done a ton of work on the front of the house and kitchen, and were sadly in foreclosure. Small child sized clothing and other junk was strewn about in odd places, we felt so bad for the family._

"The Sick Realtor House" so named because when we arrived, the key box was opened, and we could see a purse on the kitchen table of the empty house. We knocked and knocked, speculated on what might be going on in the other wise empty house, and finally a young woman answered the door, saying she was the real estate agent for the house and she had been unable to answer the door because she was being violently sick in the bathroom. She gave us details (ewww) and then curled up on the carpet, holding her stomach. I offered to give her a ride if she needed to go home or to the hospital, she decline and continued to be on the carpet while we explored the house.

"The Snakes on the Carpet House" was so named because of the crazy carpet pattern.

"The Brownie House" was where the nice old couple showed us every nook and cranny of their beautiful house and lovely garden, and then offered us freshly baked brownies.

There were others, "The House with No View", "Too much noise house"...and so it went.

I am cheered that two houses were actually home and garden tour perfect. One was 4,000 square feet (too big for us) and the other is great but for the fact that they have it so the first thing you see when you walk in is the kitchen sink across the way didn't do it for B.

Oddly, the house reminded us so much of our Houston house we were someone taken aback. We had mentally gotting into a bit more rugged style house!

For's the link to the Brownie house, sans cute couple serving brownies. The kitchen is photographed from the front door.

It is too early in the day to post pictures of the snakes on the carpet house. I'll wait to do that later, when I can face seeing that mess again.

I think that makes us at 34 viewed houses now. Plus a couple of hundred houses just viewed on line.