Category Archives: From the Snow Drift

Frozen Dead Guy Days

DV9A9031-Edit-350x438Take one dead Norwegian grandfather, a few too many long winters, and a repurposed Tuff® shed then add in a quirky community located in the first state to legalize the use of marijuana and you almost have to expect some kind of strange party. That party is “Frozen Dead Guy Days” in Nederland, Colorado. How did I not already have this on my bucket list?

A rather unremarkable Bredo Morstoel, a retired parks and rec director, died in 1989 in Norway where he was born and raised. But rather than bury him, his family packed him in dry ice, shipped him to a cryonics facility in California, and let him languish in liquid nitrogen for almost four years. Maybe he got lonely or there was a personality conflict with a neighbor, I don’t know, but he was moved to Colorado in 1993 to stay with his daughter Aud Morstoel and his grandson Trygve Bauge.

It’s always nice to live near your kids, except Grandpa was in a shed. Shed of the Dead? Then Grandson Trygve got deported because his visa expired, and Daughter Aud was tossed soon after, leaving an uncertain future for the favorite frozen family member. Enter the “Ice Man.”

In 1995, Bo Shaffer answered a want ad and for the past 23 years has worked with a team of volunteers to deliver 1,600 pounds of dry ice every month to pack Grandpa Bredo in his Tuff® shed sarcophagus, surrounded by foam padding, a tarp, and blankets so he stays at a steady -60 degrees Fahrenheit. Okay, that’s just weird.

But Nederland, Colorado – population about 1500 – digs weird. So Frozen Dead Guy Days became the hottest thing to hit town ever. Coffin racing, polar plunging, icy turkey bowling, frozen salmon tossing, live music, lots of beer, food, more beer, they live for this stuff. While you’re there, don’t miss a showing of the documentary “Grandpa’s in the Tuff Shed” or a performance of “Call Me Ned,” a musical (no, really. A musical!) that looks at what would happen if the Frozen Dead Guy wasn’t frozen anymore.

With festival-goers pouring in from all over, including international journalist, cryonicists, film-makers, investigators, and the occasional odd psychic, the festival has taken on a life of its own over the past 17 years. So much for that whole “Rest in Peace” idea, Grandpa! I highly recommend you mark your calendars for next March, pack your thermals and plan to be the life of the party at Frozen Dead Guy Days!

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A Texan in Winter

ColdThe power went out at my house last night for four hours. While this may not seem like a major catastrophe as it was the middle of the night and I was sleeping, except for the fact that when the power went out, so did the heat. And it was cold last night. Really cold. The kind of cold that completely explains why Michigan is shaped like a mitten. The kind of cold that makes a Texas girl wonder, What the Heck am I Doing Here?! And then it started snowing. Again.

It is only the first of dadgum December! In the last month alone, I have collectively experienced more winter than I have in my entire lifetime combined. But get this: Winter doesn’t even officially start for another couple of weeks. What really makes that remarkable is that last winter only wrapped up a couple of weeks ago. I’m almost positive that there are winters here that just overlap right onto each other. You never know if one winter has stopped before the next one starts.

While I am a great advocate for clean oceans, preservation of endangered species and conservation, I am also now a great proponent of global warming. As temperatures hover in the teens and 20’s, I’ve put my wool sock covered, insulated booted foot down that I will refuse to leave my house until the temperature is at least my age. And for the first time in my life, I’m happy to be as old as I am. Bring on the birthdays and the heat!
For that matter, at my age, where the heck are the hot flashes that are supposed to be showing up? What does a girl have to do to get a decent hot flash around here? Thankfully, I have friends my age and I will bask in the heat of their hormonal misfortune. Let’s face it, I am a silver-lining kind of girl like that.

As we push towards that longest night and the official start of winter, I’m increasingly concerned about the fact that there’s now only about 20 minutes between sun up and sun set. I have tan lines from the sun light simulator lamp on my desk and monitor my cravings for salted whale meat as a sure sign that I may be transforming into a polar bear.

Oh, and it’s snowing again.

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Road Rumble: Deer v Infiniti

BambiDeer Season everywhere pretty much starts the middle of November. There are strict dates on when you can hunt deer with a bow, firearms, muzzle loaders, light sabers, the power of your mind. But when is sports car season for deers? I found nothing on the guidelines for taking out a deer with an Infiniti G37. Fortunately, since I failed to bag my fawn-faced hood ornament, there is, at least, no fear of a poaching fine. An insurance claim, however, is another story.

Honestly, I’m not sure if I hit Bambi or if Bambi ran into me. I was making a run to the local, small airport at the freezing cold butt crack of dawn and driving along a dark rural road, not even doing the speed limit which is nearly unheard of for me. When out of the corn field alongside the road jumps Bambi and his mother! Geez, can we not get reflectors tagged on these animals?!

I stood on the brakes. Bambi stood on the hooves. Momma deer leaped on across to safety and Bambi hit reverse. But my fender hit his fender and he took off my passenger side mirror. He ran off; I drove off. I pooped my pants; he pooped in the woods. We’ll both likely be fine. The car can be fixed.

So like a good neighbor, State Farm is there. Again. I think my long-suffering agent cringes every time my number comes up on the caller ID at his office. As long as the deer doesn’t file a claim against my policy, my deductible isn’t too bad. Not that Bambi would have much trouble finding me since my license plate is probably imprinted on his butt. And if he pursues it, I’ll happily pay his vet bills and he can pay for the overpriced body shop that works only on specialty imports.

Meanwhile, I’ll put the car in the shop, cruise around in a conservative, rental sedan with added safety features, and stock up on those worthless whistle things that are supposed to scare animals away from your car (I already know the research says they don’t work). Hopefully, though, this is will be the last time the local wildlife and I go antler to engine. Otherwise, I’ll have to see if there’s an after-market cattle guard for my little hot rod.

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Transplanting this Texan

hellHeed my words: Do not pray for patience as God will provide the opportunities for you to learn it. Never ask, “What else can possibly go wrong?” Trust me, nothing tempts the Universe to yell, “Hold my beer!” more than that. And never ever, don’t ever say never. I actually said once I’d never live in the Middle East which landed me in Saudi Arabia for three years. As Harvey threatened Texas, I said, “My house will never flood.” It flooded. And then I said, “I’m never moving again.” Fill out the change of address card because I’m moving. TO MICHIGAN!

Imma gunna freeze!

Michigan, where cold fronts are six foot deep! You don’t understand, people; my blood is so thin, it’s invisible! I fully expect by the end of my first winter to be found encased in ice like a Yeti on the backside of Everest, a look of miserable shock forever captured on my face. Ice belongs in tea or cream, not spread in deadly sheets across the road with the sole purpose of sending your car careening into a ditch so no one finds you until the “spring thaw” in July.

We’ve already bought a house there from a very nice couple who are gleefully laughing with giddy joy as they hippy-hop off to retirement in Florida. I think I may hate them. Despite that, they were so very kind as to agree to leave the outdoor patio heater and the snow blower for us. Snow blower? Are there YouTube videos for how to operate that? I mean, do you run out as soon as it starts snowing and blow the offending fluffy ice masses back into the sky? Do they have plow attachments for the mower? And in the name of all things holy, how do I get a pizza delivered in January?!

I’m trying hard to see the positives. I’ll have seasons and Hurricane won’t be one of them. I can look forward to summer – all 26 days of it. White Christmas will be more than just a song. I suppose, too, if I can survive three plus years in Saudi Arabia, I can probably survive Siberia. Wish me luck. Imma gunna need it!

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