We were standing in front of my mom's gas fireplace, toasting our buns.
Our buns were cold because a few flakes had flurried.
My friend Giselle and I had gone into the city to have pedicures that afternoon.
My sister Louisa had spent the day watching snowmobile races on the lake.
My mother and her sisters had pieced together the frame of an unforgiving jigsaw puzzle of a psychedelic walrus.
And then we met at The Log Tavern.
"The roads are pretty slippery," said Louisa, who just walked in with her husband, Pierre.
My mother's gray-green eyes widened.
"We'll be fine," I said.
And then came her frown.
"What about the hill?" she says. "I think we should order our pizza to go."
And so, we did.
One for my mother's condo and one for Giselle to take to home.
Victoria and Susie Le Q, my aunts, and my mom traipsed through the snow, into Victoria's car.
Flakes continued to fall.
We finished our beers and waited for the pizzas.
"I wish I wasn't wearing sandals," I said.
"Me too," says Giselle.
A half an hour later we went out the door with mouthwatering cardboard boxes in hand.
"Shit, this snow is cold," I said.
"It sure is," says Giselle. "My toes are freezing." And she got in her car.
I got into the back seat of Pierre's car and started pulling my socks out of my overnight bag when my phone rang.
It was Susie Le Q.
"The roads are really bad. We can't get up the ...."
"What did she say?" says Pierre.
"She says the roads are really bad."
It rang again.
"We can't get up ..."
The call dropped again.
"They must be in a dead zone."
And then Pierre says, "I am taking you guys to our house. You can spend the night there."
"What? No!" yells Susie Le Q, who was back on the line. "We are stuck in the snow. We can't get up the ......"
I sent my sweet Sven a text, "In case you care, I am in a snowstorm wearing sandals."
I pulled my shoes and socks on while Pierre drove us to the condo, up the hill and into the driveway.
And then he went to save the sisters.
After several failed attempts of getting their car up the hill Pierre kicked those ladies out of Victoria's car, and he pulled it into a lot at the bottom of the hill to spend the night.
That is why my mom took an elbow of Louisa's and an elbow of mine and we baby-stepped our way up the slippery hill.
That is also why Victoria and Louisa helped Susie Le Q up that same hill.
And that is why Pierre showed up last, pushing my mother's walker through the snow.
Then he left and we dove into that pizza.
"It wasn't our fault," says Victoria, my red-haired aunt, the older of the two.
She stepped away from the fire and sat down on the couch next to my mom.
"We were just trying to be like our mother," says Susie Le Q.
Susie Le Q would be Victoria's skinny little sister.
But do not call her skinny.
"You were trying to be like Grandma Noe"?" says Louisa.
"Yeah," says Susie Le Q. "That's why we did it."
"What'd you guys do?" says my mom, the oldest of the three.
"We canned some carrots."
"What's wrong with that?"
"I was nine," says Vic.
"So, I would have been five," says Le Q.
"We emptied out our plastic finger painting containers," says Vic.
"Remember those?" says Susie.
"We washed and dried them."
"They were the perfect size," says Susie, showing us their size with her index finger and thumb.
"That looks pretty small," I said.
"Yeah. They were those little plastic finger paint containers."
"We went to the basement and got some carrots that mom had pulled from the garden."
"We rinsed them off and sliced them up."
"I still remember slicing those carrots up into little pieces," says Susie Le Q, with a gleam in her eye.
"Where was Grandma?" I said.
"We stuffed our chopped carrots into our little containers."
"Oh. And then we added a little water. Remember Vic?"
"We did that so they would look like Mom's jars. And then we put the lids on and stuck them on the shelf in the basement, behind Mom's canned stuff."
"And then we forgot all about them," says Susie Le Q.
"And then one day we remembered them," says Victoria.
"So we opened one up."
"Oh my God," says Susie.
"It was bad," says Vic.
"Made you gag."
"Perhaps they hadn't been properly sealed," I offered.
"We had to get rid of the evidence," says Vic.
"Mom would have killed us for wasting her carrots," says Le Q.
"So, we did what anybody would do in that situation."
"We dumped them into the sump pump."
"And, we threw away the containers," says Vic.
"Well, of course you did," we said.
"And that night," says Susie Le Q.
"We were in the tub," says Victoria.
"Together?" says Louisa.
"Yes, together. And that's when we heard a terrible ruckus."
"It was real loud," says Le Q.
"A lot of commotion," says Vic.
"We couldn't imagine what was going on downstairs."
"And then we heard Dad coming up the steps."
"He was yelling," says Vic.
"He sounded real mad about something," says Susie.
"He was getting closer."
"And then, that bathroom door flew open."
"Oh, it flew open."
"And he yanked us both right out of that water," says Vic.
"Oh yeah. He yanked us outta there."
"And then. Next thing we knew. We were in the cellar."
"Fishing all those nasty carrots out of that sump pump."
I checked my cell phone.
No response from my sweet Sven.
I guess he wasn't worried about me wearing sandals, in a snowstorm.
"Remember those plaid pants of yours?" says Vic.
"Oh I sure do," says Susie.
She leans back, and begins.
"I got this really expensive pair of plaid pants from my God mother."
"Her Godmother was rich," says Vic.
"Yes she was."
"Those pants were beautiful," says Vic. "They were made of crushed-velvet-corduroy."
"They were lined too," says Susie.
"But, Mom wouldn't let her wear them anywhere. She was afraid Susie would ruin them."
"I could wear them to church. And to school. But they had to be under my dress."
"It was a crying shame," says Vic.
"A real shame," echoes her little sister.
"They were so nice."
"But, then there was that one afternoon."
"Oh, yeah, I remember," nods Susie.
"The day you wore those pants out the door and we went ice skating," says Vic.
"They were perfect. So nice. So warm."
"And then you went through the ice."
"I was in up to my knees."
"She gets out and pulls those pants off."
"They were all muddy," says Susie.
What were you wearing under them?" says Vic?"
"I had tights on. Don't you remember?"
"We started to panic," says Vic.
"I was going to be in so much trouble," says Le Q.
"We didn't know what to do."
"If I brought those pants home and threw them in the clothes hamper, Mom would know that I wore them outside."
"She was basically, dead."
"We decided that we had to get rid of the evidence."
"So, I put them in the hole that I'd made in the crick."
"You left them there?" says my mom.
"Didn't you think Grandma would miss them?" says Louisa.
"No. Out of sight out of mind," says Vic.
"Did Grandma ever notice they were gone?" I said.
"No. She never did," says Le Q.
And then Vic bursts out laughing.
"But, remember Susie? The next summer when we were down by that crick?"
"Hahahahaha. Hahahahahaha. Hahahahahaha."
"They were still there. Floating."
"Hahahahaha. Hahahahahaha. Hahahahahaha."
"They were still there," repeats Susie.
"Those plaid pants are probably still floating in that crick," says Vic.
"Hahahahahaha. Hahahahahahahah, Hahahahaha.
"But mom never missed them."
The next morning after Victoria and I retrieved her car, which included the use of a shovel and a lot of scraping and some bitching, because somebody had left the passenger window wide open. So there was a foot of snow inside.
Vic drove it up the hill with the window frozen open.
I declined her offer to ride shot gun on the snow bank of a seat.
I walked it.
I called my Sweet Sven to see when he could pick me up.
"Hi," he says.
"Why didn't you answer my text last night?"
"You didn't send me a text last night."
"Yes I did."
"Well, I never got one."
I checked my phone.
"Oh," I said. "Susie Le Q, I sent that text to you."
"I didn't get a text from you," she says.
"Oh," I said. "It says failure to send."
I hit send again.
"I got it!," says Susie Le Q.
Who needs ancestry.com?
Just spend a little time with your aunts.
IN A SNOW STORM.
That's all you need to know.