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Smell the Coffee: Winter leaves me cold

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- My desire to take a shower increases exponentially with my inability to take one.

I want a shower. I need to take a shower. It's been longer than I care to admit. Over the weekend, I was down with a fairly minor respiratory bug. Even though I knew a good scrubbing would make me feel better, I couldn't quite make myself take that step.

It was like the grunge took on this weight that held me down, pinned under a stack of heavy blankets and cats. Considering it was paired with the company of a teenage enabler and Amazon streaming, I was helpless to struggle.

And then came the crazy low temperatures and school cancellations, and me still suffering the consequences of my short but passionate love affair with Nyquil.

My daughter already knew she wasn't going to have school the next day, so she crawled into my bed to make sure I didn't get a good night's sleep, which I suspect she believes to be her life's purpose. But ah! There was just enough Nyquil left to effectively deaden my senses to the sounds of her "Law & Order" marathon.

I was already feeling the effects of the medication when I remembered to turn on the water. Was perhaps a bit unreasonably proud of myself for such a minor accomplishment. Might've even celebrated the task with a second small slug of the 'Quil.

And then I lapsed into this wonderful, coughless sleep, the first in several nights.

So, basically, while I remembered to turn on the water so it could run and not freeze, I didn't remember to make certain it was the cold water that I turned on.

Apparently, the cold part is kind of important.

When my alarm sounded the next morning, I spent several minutes arguing with myself over whether to get up or call in again. My cold was essentially gone, but, during the night, it seemed as if someone had sewn me to the mattress. (No one actually did that -- it just felt that way -- but considering the history of my mischievous daughter, it seemed a clarification might be warranted.)

Still, there was a cat on her and a cat on me, and it seemed cruel to dump mine while hers was allowed to stay prone, but as my self-debate continued, the snooze alarm sounded and my cat jumped down, and thus the deciding factor was set.

To work I would go.

I shoved back the covers and left my snoozing kid and stumbled to the bathroom. I turned on the shower and proceeded to strip all the way down before realizing no water was coming out of the faucet.

I wrapped myself in a towel and went to check the other bath, where I'd left water running. Hot water ran fine, but the best I could get from the cold was a trickle about the size of a string of yarn.

Even though I'd left faucets running all over the house, I'd left them on hot, so the cold had frozen.

I'd never had this problem before, so I went online and read. Sites advised to hold a hairdryer on the pipe, but which pipe? There were lots of pipes. I could tell where the water line came in the house. I warmed that one. Nothing. I could see where it headed upstairs. So I stood warming it too. No effect.

I tried a space heater. Hair dryer. Fans.

Nothing.

Just a trickle too hot to bathe under, but that filled a tub so slow it got cold before enough accumulated to wash in.

My boyfriend had been out of town on business not quite 48 hours and I'd already broken his house.

I realize that in the big scheme of things, this is small. A blip. An irritant. A flash in the pan.

And I realize too that there's one thing I really love about winter.

When it's over.

Reach Karin Fuller via email at karinfuller@gmail.com.


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