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Thor and Grizelda's First Winter

Thor and Grizelda's First Winter

Home By Thor

Sci-Tech As some of you know, something came over us last spring and we broke camp at the beach and moved to
the mountains. It wasn’t a mid-life crisis, because we both had those some time ago (Remember Terry's
Medical red Corvette?), but whatever it was caused the sand to shift in our shoes and we went house hunting along
LA's exit routes and ended up moving last June to Pine Mountain, a splendid little secret in the middle of
Features Los Padres National Forest, 20 miles west of Frazier Park, off the I-5 on the Grapevine. The house sits on a
ledge at 5500 feet looking southeast across a watershead through the pinion pines, over the San Andreas
Profiles Fault, and up the northern shirtsleeve of 8831-ft Mt. Pinos.

Marriage Peril
Right now, on our first December on the mountain, everything is white. Then, suddenly, at 3 pm on the
19th, everything went black. The power went off, and with it the lights, the heater, and the hot water.
We're calling it Thor and Grizelda's first winter.

We ate dinner early, because, you know, there was no light once the sun went behind a frightening dark
cloud and it started snowing and sleeting like someone left a snow blower on in heaven. With faux cheer, a
determined Grizelda prepared a hearty meal of broccoli soup and BLT sandwiches - on non-toast, of course,
because, you know, the toaster wasn't working since there was no power.

We ate in silence and watched the snow accumulate on the bird feeder. At least six inches piled on the deck
rails by morning, not counting the part that was blown away by the rogue winds that howled up the bank
and drove the sleet against the rear windows so hard it sounded like the house was being sandblasted.

After dinner we lit all six tea lights and huddled around the fire place, waiting for the power to return. The
heat from the fireplace doesn’t warm much of the house but if you stand close enough its better than
sitting out in the yard without a jacket. Still, Grizelda kept hoping for the wall heater to ignite, yearning for
the drone of its obnoxious fan. But the wall heater just stood there, as mute and cold as the cement statue
of St. Francis on the back deck, because, you know, the heater is electric, and at 7 pm there is still no

There were flickers of encouragement. Through the driving snow we could see a few lights on up the valley
on Glacier Drive, directly across from us, where it seemed like all the homes were lit, some even with
Christmas lights aglow. It warmed us. The grid was coming back online and our street had to be next,

Wrong. It didn't occur to us that those homes are inhabited by intelligent people who own gas generators
that kick in the instant the power dips. Thor and Grizelda have no generator, of course. They're new to the
mountain, direct from 30 years in Redondo Beach. They have plenty of beach chairs, sandals, and sun
block, but not one power generator.

Still, for a second or two the soft lights across the way, flickering in the storm, made them feel grateful to
be alive, to share the cheer of the season with a loved one. The half-life of gratitude in a blizzard, however,
is measured in moments. When you realize you are standing three feet in front of the fire place, watching
your own breath crystalize in the living room air you are moved to think more in terms of survival than joy.

It was 28 degrees F on the back deck when Thor turned on Pine Mountain's emergency radio channel, only
to learn that, while the power company had been notified, it had no intention of sending crews out on a
night like this and the soonest they planned to respond was sometime the next day.

Thor and Grizelda shrugged, tossed three logs on the coals, and went upstairs to bed, without showering,
because, you guessed it, the water heater is electric.

So, by 7:30 pm Thor and Grizelda were installed in their bed, wrapped in every small lap blanket to be
found in the house because, you know, there are no quilts here. Grizelda makes wonderful quilts - alas, for
gifts not utility. Relatives in Redondo Beach, Torrance, El Segundo, Pasadena, San Diego, and Kona have
quilts. They have so many quilts they're stacked in unused piles on garage shelves, but there are no
quilts on the mountain, where they might conceivably be used to prevent death from freezing. (1 of 2)6/8/2009 10:12:36 PM

Thor and Grizelda's First Winter

So, with the wind shrieking through the walls and door seams and sleet pelting the windows, Thor and
Grizelda - in long underwear, socks, sweat clothes, watch caps and scarves - took to bed with flash-lamps,
pencils, and tablets - to update their wills...

Survival advice, blanket coupons, and/or prayers accepted. c/o Thor at (2 of 2)6/8/2009 10:12:36 PM

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