Though Mount Hood vanishes from view during the rainy months, now is when the mountain truly comes alive. And happily, the City of Portland sponsors classes in cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and snow shoeing. And they're cheap! Full moon snowshoe trips and backcountry cross-country ski lessons every weekend for only $29. There are even free evening introductory lessons to tell you about what to wear in the snowy outdoors, as well as provide insights about the best equipment to buy. Contact the City Parks & Rec (823-7529). Think of it as Vera Katz's stocking stuffer to you! (Oh wait, she's Jewish!)

Oh, so you already know how to ski. But you don't want to waste a gazillion gallons of gas getting your megaton four-wheel drive up the side of the mountain? Portland Meadows has a weekend ski bus ($50 for roundtrip and lift ticket). With several pick-up points around town, call for exact locations and times (287-5438).

If the mountain is too far to go, how about the Lloyd Center mall? Now you too can learn the finer points of the double-toe axle or, my favorite, the triple-chow lutz. Although adult classes have already started at Lloyd Center, the instructor said he has no problem if you join in anytime. The cost is $105 for ten lessons (they'll pro-rate for missed classes) and skates. Lloyd Center Mall, 288-6073, every Monday, 7 pm.