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Frightful weather

January 11, 2014
By Cindy Votruba , Marshall Independent

In the last couple of years, people have given out names for winter storms or frigid weather conditions. Why haven't we used these before? What is so special about the weather nowadays that we have to slap a moniker on them. "Watch out for Winter storm Ion" or this week's "polar vortex." I remember using the term vortex to describe working at Montgomery Ward - the Wards vortex; it just sucks you in.

I didn't know really what to anticipate with the cold that was predicted for this past Monday. Do I break out the face mask from my paper carrier days? And how many layers should I don before even stepping outside? Will I feel the sting of the blustery air as it hits me?

Luckily my Jeep has started for most of these below-zero conditions, which have been numerous this past winter. There have been a couple of exceptions though. The first time was in early December when there was a lot of wind blowing the snow on the road, the roads were icy, and I really just didn't want to drive. When I decided to head out for lunch, I got into my Jeep, tried to turn the key and a horrible noise emitted from the vehicle. It just plain wouldn't start. And of course it had to be one of those terribly cold days. I wasn't sure if it was the alternator or what, so it sat in the parking lot at the Independent overnight until I had it towed to Graham. It turned out to be a bad battery.

The next time was just this last week. I go to turn the engine over; the lights, fan and radio come on, but it didn't fire. So I'm calling Lockwood the next day to get the Jeep going. Last Friday was a little warmer, but I wasn't sure what was causing the Jeep's peril this time A couple of guys from Lockwood came to pick me up from the paper to go to the Jeep, which was in front of my house. We're prepared to possibly give the Jeep a jumpstart. I hand one of them the keys, and, of all things, the thing started up on the first go. I guess all it needed was to have the temperatures warm up a bit. Feeling sheepish, I let the Jeep warm up a little more before driving to get lunch and pay my rent.

As far as Sunday and Monday were concerned, I didn't know how the Jeep would fare. I pulled on the cold-weather essentials - long underwear, a scarf, heavier gloves - and just went to work. The Jeep started Sunday morning, so I had hope for the next day. On Monday, I went a little further with the layering process, and I did put on the face mask. I looked like I was ready to knock over a liquor store. I may have overdone it because I was plenty warm and felt like the little brother from "A Christmas Story." But I was able to put my arms down. The Jeep fired up, and I was ready to go. It's Minnesota, you just get used to the weather. I chat online with a fellow adult CHDer who lives in the desert area in California. She said the 105 to 110 degree weather there doesn't bother her as much, so I guess we just get acclimated to where we live.

And for some reason this winter has dried out my hands. There are patches that feel like sandpaper. And there have been times when the skin is red and hurts, while other times my skin will look relatively OK. I haven't had this much trouble with my skin (with the exception of unknown itchy flareups around my neck several years ago), and I'm looking forward to spring for hopefully some relief.



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