Sunday, December 14, 2008

Donner- Party of 4- Your Table Is Ready

This is the view off our balcony. That is a little 8000 sq ft Cabin being built on the lake.

It is cold. No really I mean really, really, really, really, really, really cold. How cold is it? It is -5 degrees right now. We had a little bit of a snow come through night before last. It blew in and dumped about six inches of snow, not much in the grand scheme of things.

I’m a southern girl. I am not used to the extreme temperatures. It is supposed to be this cold and colder for the next week. It is even cold here in the house. I would get up and go get wood but it’s too cold to go outside and get wood to make it warmer inside. It’s a vicious circle I tell you. My feet are cold, my hands are cold, my rump roast is cold and I’m bundled up.
This too is a scene from my balcony. Remember, it's -5 degrees I'm not going very far from the warmth of our cosy condo.
I can now understand the Donner Party. Remember them? The wagon train that got stuck in Alder Creek in the Sierra Nevada Mountains back in winter 1846 and resorted to cannibalism.

This is a picture of the Donner Pass circa 1870's from Wikipedia

I mean they were all just sitting around trying to keep warm, the wind was howling, the snow was falling the temperatures were below zero. It was too cold to leave their shelter to go out and forage for any type of food. They all started looking at each other and began thinking you know Fred has a pretty big butt roast and Sam well he has some good looking ham hocks. I guess we could go forage for some food but then we would have to go outside and it’s cold out there and there is a fire in here. “Hey Fred, come here a second.” Yeah see how easy it would be? No?

Kahuna though came to my rescue. He trudged through the snow and the cold and brought in the firewood. He split the logs and chopped up kindling. He started the fire and has been tending it all morning. I think that is a guy thing, tending the fire. My daddy used to build a big roaring fire in the fireplace of my childhood home. We would load up in his old Dodge Pick-up and drive out to the country. He would fire up his chainsaw and spend a couple of hours cutting up whatever fallen trees were on his friend’s ranches. I would carry and stack as much as my eight year old self could stack. Then we would get back in the pick-up and head back to town. I loved this because I got to sit in my Daddy’s lap and drive the truck down the country roads until we met the main highway.

Unfortunately this is NOT a picture of my Daddy's Pick-up just one like it.

We would arrive home and my job was to help my daddy unload the wood on the patio. Then we would carry in as much of the smaller logs and set them in the fireplace. Then Daddy would go into the garage and get out the jug marked Varsol (a chemical with a very low flashpoint. It used to be used in dry cleaning.) He would liberally douse the wood with this highly flammable liquid and then he would yell, “FIRE IN THE HOLE”. He would strike the match and toss it into the pile of soaked wood. Whooosh, Pop, Snap the fire would explode in the fire box. Flames would be shooting high in the chimney stack. I swear you could go outside and there would be flames instead of smoke coming out of the top of the stack. The only problem was when the fire started to die down there would be popping coals that if the fire screen wasn’t placed just right would pop and jump out on the carpet, dog or kid that happened to be close enough.

One chilly Sunday afternoon we all gathered in the family room to watch the Dallas Cowboys play football. This was back in the glory days of the Cowboys. You remember back when Tom Landry was the coach and Roger Staubach was the quarterback, yeah the good old days. We were all in our respective places. My daddy was in his favorite chair and my mom in hers. My brother and sister had taken up residence on the sofa and I was lying on the floor in front of the fireplace. All of sudden there was a loud pop. I smelled something kind of sweet cooking. My sister yelped and I turned to look at her. She had the look of horror on her face. My daddy sprang up out of his chair and started hitting the top of my head. My brother jumped into action and grabbed a dishtowel and joined in the beating. I didn’t know what was going on. I couldn’t understand why my daddy and my brother were beating the heck out of me. All the while I’m screaming and howling and scratching and slapping their hands away. My mom was hovering over me. When my dad and brother stepped away she began picking at my head like a mother monkey picks for fleas. Finally she told me that a huge burning ember had jumped over the fireplace screen and had landed directly on the top of my head. It then started smoldering and smoking and melting the hair on the top of my head. My daddy and brother had finally gotten the ember out of my hair. It was too late it had already singed the hair on the top of my head so that I had the Friar Tuck effect. Now I really was a vision of loveliness. There I was with my big frizzy hair all around except for the top of my head.

I believe that incident as well as several similar ones was the reason that my mother commanded the chimney stack be capped off and ordered no fires in the fireplace. She was afraid my daddy would end up blowing up the house with his over application of Varsol and other assorted fire producing chemicals. Luckily Kahuna with his fire building skills didn’t need any Varsol. I do enjoy a good fire even though to this day I do not sit in front of the fireplace. As far as the Donner party goes, we will be dinning on moose rump roast and not Fred rump roast.


Girly Stuff said...

Your pictures make me cold! I hate the cold. I just like looking at snow on TV. It is 70 here! Jealous much?

Sorry about your sounds like you looked like a few of my Barbie dolls. Their hair was always falling out mysteriously!

Anonymous said...


Funny now, but probably not so funny then. Did it leave a scar?

Gladys said...

MTAE, yes it did leave a scar but not as big a one as the baseball bat that hit me between the eyes did. That's a story for another day though.:)

Cynthia said...

My daughter Lucy melted some of the hair off of her head at a Thanksgiving dinner. They held it in the firehall up on the mountain and the only heat was one little wall heater. She was standidng with her back to it when we noticed a smell. Her hair was singed and curling off. It wasn't really that bad, but could have been.

Of course she was none too happy about it!

babbler said...

Last year I saw someone ignite from the use of a propane heater in an office. I pointed it out to the woman just before the back of her jacket flamed up - I yelled at her to take off her jacket and stomp on it, I am glad she did what I told her! Her hair was singed pretty badly, it was scary!

Anonymous said...

It's really looking cold there, but I guess at that elevation it would be. The snow can really pile up there.