While the general weather trend here in Oklahoma under the influence of La Niña means we expect a slightly warmer and drier winter than average, that doesn’t hinder the occasional cold snap. Along with everyone else in the US Heartland, we’ve had bitter cold, but very little precipitation. The past two nights were at or below 10°F (-12C). I had already taken some precautions over the past year living here to minimize air leaks for both hot and cold weather, so it wasn’t that bad in terms of energy use.
Shortly before it all hit, I was digging through my coat closet and found an old military parka that no longer fits. I mentioned it to our apartment maintenance guys and one jumped at the chance. This is one of those Gortex-lined parkas with all those exterior and interior pockets and the very functional wind and rain hood. I wore it a lot in Europe, but having kept up the fitness training over the years, I went from extra-large to 2X. No, it’s not my belly; the coat constricts my rib cage and shoulders. Being a little smaller fellow, he was so happy to get that.
And we thank God that our car has remained reliable. Once we got all the neglected maintenance done, this battered Volvo has performed admirably — better than anything we’ve ever owned. It seems everything on it can be fixed with the resources I have and the DIY community behind it is brilliant. So to make sure, I went out both of the coldest days and started it, letting it idle around 15 minutes to make sure it would start again when needed.
A few months back there was a high turnover in our apartment building. We now have lots of children here, and at least two apartments contain single mothers, one with four girls, the other with three. There are two trios of boys in other apartments, but their families are a little more reticent. I still try to interact positively with them on every encounter. However, both groups of girls have really taken an shine to me. I don’t see them often, but it’s a real delight. So we bought some Christmas cheer for the kiddos: some granola bars and fruit gummies. For the one trio I also threw in a box of sidewalk chalk. Both groups are prone to express their artistry on the concrete breezeway and stairs, but the quad has their own supply. I’ve gotten back a very warm response from the little ladies, of course.
I took advantage of the time huddling inside to investigate some of the stuff on the bike. I downloaded whatever user instruction sheets the manufacturers offered. I was able to get the disc brakes a little more accurately adjusted to the placement of things. The rear wheel was a particular problem. I finally had to pull them off the frame, make sure the wheel was mounted properly first, then take loose everything on the brake and mount it while carefully checking alignments and such. Now there’s no drag and it stops okay. I expect to get that second road tire any day now; stuff moves slowly near Christmas, of course.
The various weather services predict we won’t see any more cold weather once we climb back out of the freezer this week. Here in Oklahoma there is always a blessing from bitter cold: It reduces the biting insect population, of which we have an ample supply during warmer weather. Every hard freeze reduces their prevalence. A solid two weeks below freezing wipes them out for a few years, but every little bit helps. So with the current warming trend I should have a chance to give those new tires a proper test right away. Hmmm; Hefner Lake? Better give them a couple of shorter test runs first.
I hope you are all still praying about finding or building a local meat space community of faith. It doesn’t require a formal organization for gratifying fellowship. I’m trying to let people see me as the generous and friendly shepherd the Lord called me to be. Seeing someone who remains cheerful and serene in our current turmoil speaks very loudly.