Posts Tagged ‘Snow’

This week, Nashville finally succumbed to a real winter snowfall – over SIX inches! That’s like getting two feet of snow in the Berkshires, only there are not as many plows in the South. Also… maybe, there’s not enough salt in the South? So everything shut down for two days. Bob was walking around the house muttering, “I f-ing HATE the winter.” While I busied myself doing the usual – laundry, cooking comfort food, and painting.

I know, I know, I’m not the painter in the family. The Flapper, Aunt Kay and the Bride are the artistic ones. In high school, my daughter’s AP Art class was the highlight of her day. I’d never picked up a paintbrush because, why even try? Besides, I told myself I was painting a picture with words each time I sat down to write. But lately I’ve been feeling creative, and trying something new is good for your brain.

On the second snow day, we brushed the snow off our car, and found the main roads were mostly clear. There was simply NO traffic. According to Gmail, our new/old cottage had received a package, and I wanted to make sure it wasn’t buried in the snow… or abducted by a porch pirate! Luckily our electrician was at the house and had brought the crystal chandelier inside. Tim is a man born and raised here, he loves the snow, and his Jeep. We discussed the placement of new canh lights and then headed straight to the Bride’s house.

The Groom was working from home, and my daughter was practicing yoga and baking bread! Where were the children? The house was eerily quiet. Turns out the Love Bug was sledding with friends, then suddenly the Pumpkin jumped into the room. We sat down for a heart to heart.

Me: Which do you like better, Zoom school or real school?

Pumpkin: Real school, of course.

Me: Is there anything you like about Zoom school?

Pumpkin: I can mute myself!

Ah yes, I bet we would all like to mute ourselves, or someone else from time to time. I’d like to mute my inner critic, the one who wants to know why I think I should be painting when the world is falling apart. The Ukraine is a powder keg, a cliff falls on tourists in boats in Brazil, and the Omicron variant has teamed up with Delta to create the DELTACRON in Cyprus. https://www.cnbc.com/2022/01/08/cyprus-reportedly-discovers-a-covid-variant-that-combines-omicron-and-delta.html

Today a petulant, unvaccinated tennis star is allowed to enter Australia.

Australia – the land where anyone who comes of age can vote; they don’t even have to register.… and if they choose NOT to vote, they must pay a fine.

But hey, the TN Titans are in the playoffs, and luckily the Grands’ school has resumed indoors for now. We should have sheetrock going up today, and thanks to a rainy weekend, the snow has disappeared. Anyone else counting their blessings today?

The Bride in the Berkshires

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Call this an essay on moving to the South and forgetting my Northern roots.

We built our not so big house on a mountain outside of Charlottesville, VA in 2005; but we actually moved there two years before that. All told, we’ve been transplanted Southerners for over 15 years! We laugh when school is cancelled for a “dusting” of snow; we remember piling into our four wheeler in the Berkshires and driving through a Nor’easter just to go to the movies. Two feet of snow never bothered me.

Today movies are on Netflix and we’re all experiencing pandemic cabin fever. It’s February, Mardi Gras time, and our local cupcake store is selling King Cakes. Since winter has settled in, there were no more dinners on the Bride’s big front porch, no more hikes in the local park. And today, my neighborhood is encased in ICE. The whole city has shut down, even the local grocery store is closed. There are layers of ice and snow on the roads, and no snow plows, no salt trucks. Just bright, thundering silence.

I refuse to drive on ice, always have and always will. So you might say I’m in self-imposed-super-freezing-semi-quarantine. What’s happened to that brave, young woman who would grab a chain saw to cut up a downed tree in her driveway? Last night and all day I’ve been throwing out pine nuts for the birds. Organic pine nuts from my porch like some deranged Disney princess – “I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.”

At least we didn’t lose power. In this city house there is no generator, no gas range, no wood stove or fireplace. We would be in a real pickle if we lost power. Pipes could freeze along with our spirits. My sweet husband had to point out the difference between “sleet” and “freezing rain,” do you know the difference?

Sleet is tiny ice pellets. In fact, last night while walking Ms Bean I could feel tiny icicles hitting my face. All night I could hear their patter on the bedroom window. Bob told me that sleet is good because it will bounce off power lines.

Freezing rain is rain that freezes when it hits something. As you might imagine, when freezing rain builds up on power lines they tend to fall. So we don’t want freezing rain, but in my opinion, I’d rather just have snow.

You can cross country ski on snow, and walk on it fine, you can shovel out tunnels for kids and dogs and driving on it is a piece of cake IF you have an all wheel drive vehicle. I actually love snow, but my long underwear and boots and skis are long gone. And the Grands can’t build snow/men/women or have snowball fights with ICE.

I’m afraid the South has softened me. The L’il Pumpkin asked me the other day if I could sit on the floor. I said, “What do you mean?” He said you know, “Can you get up once you sit on the floor?” Maybe it’s time for me to buy some snow shoes and lace micro spikes on them? Here is Bean in the Blue Ridge.

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All you Northerners, feeling all self-rightious about a little Nor’easter, listen up. The South is used to a “dusting” every winter that usually melts by the next day. A few feet of snow is enough to freeze time, close schools and have everybody switch into total hibernation mode. In fact, a cheer went up on the Lawn when UVA cancelled today’s classes a few minutes ago!

Milk has been flying off store shelves, and bread will disappear altogether. For some odd reason, wine and beer are always available in grocery stores and gas stations! Seems we have our priorities straight down here.

As a former Yankee, I feel it’s my duty to list the things I love about snow…

  1.  Hey, it’s pure. So pure you can collect a little in a cup and pour some maple syrup over it to make a New Englandy snow cone!
  2.  It’s an instant slide. Even if you don’t have a sled, you can clean off a trash can lid and have instant fun. No makeshift lid, use a cardboard box. Find a hill.
  3.  Snow is an instant anger management tool, have a snowball fight and nobody gets hurt! Warning, if ice is present avoid this activity.
  4. Thanks to the movie Frozen, everybody can practice their inner Dr Frankenstein skills. Build a snowman, give him a carrot nose. I used to build snow women too!
  5. Now make that snowman a margarita, since we all know Olaf really loves the beach.
  6.  It muffles sound. Think about that, it’s like you’re in a padded room so that animal and bird sounds are amplified. It’s much easier to stay present in the snow.
  7.  People are just plain nicer. It’s like we’re all getting ready for this impending disaster (snow) so we may as well talk to perfect strangers. It’s that post 9/11 syndrome – but it’s pre #Snowmageddon2016
  8. Snow will kill all those nasty bugs: ticks, and fleas with West Nile and such. And believe me, we have BIG bugs in the South.
  9.  Speaking of fleas, if you have a furry friend, you will have endless giggles throwing a ball into the snow and watching them try to find it! This will not work with Corgis, it could injure them.
  10.  Snow is beautiful. In a Nordic, wintry, wonderful way that people who live in the Caribbean can only dream about. You can ski and snowboard! It makes us strong and sturdy; it makes us long for Spring. Having only one season would seem like a one dimensional life.

So I hope this helps you feel a little better about our upcoming storm. Back in the Berkshire Mountains, this was No. Big. Deal…we had a woodstove for cooking and warmth, the kids had thermals and snowsuits and mittens and hats and boots and built forts in the driveway while waiting for the school bus. Life goes on, only just a little slower in the South. Here is the Bride on her cross-country skis at about the Bug’s age in our old backyard, where two to three feet of snow was always eagerly anticipated. May everyone stay safe and may the power stay on, amen.  Snow Bunny 20160122

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Driveway before the rain

Driveway before the rain

Sometimes we get the juiciest bits of information as an aside. Most journalists know this, we get the agenda to the meeting, but it’s in the stuff we hear in the hallway where we will sometimes find the true story. Or at least, an alternate story. This is why I will always and forever love secretaries; (whoops, the Bride called here) insert – because they knew where the bodies were buried!

Take for instance the latest edition of “This American Life” with Ira Glass. The Bride and Groom happened to hear him speak at the Ryman over the weekend, and coincidentally I caught his latest show in the car. Normally  I’ll catch up with Ira on his older podcasts while driving to Nashville, rarely am I listening live stream. But there I was, left listening the other night in my driveway to “Except for That One Thing!” #518

I was hooked right away. A young couple buy their first home in New England – Check! Bob and I bought our first home in Windsor, MA. They were trying to furnish it by going to auctions, because of course there were no real furniture stores or malls – Check! She got carried away with raising her paddle and put them into debt. I used to go to estate sales and get so frustrated because dealers would outbid me and then try to sell to me afterwards, making a slight profit. What happens next, when she finds the perfect dining room table on eBay, will surprise and delight you. http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/518/except-for-that-one-thing

And this is what Glass does so well with radio. We are better able to identify with someone we cannot see.  Judgement is suspended. Their story becomes our story. He manages to find that edge, where reality and humor can border on tragedy, that middle place where we find ourselves most days.

The place between arcane and insane.

Yesterday, I was visiting with my Richmond cousins and was almost trapped in the mud luge also known as my 1,000+ ft driveway when I returned home at twilight. Tires were spinning and my CRV was churning a mighty brown spray. Just a few short days ago Bob and I had sprinkled salt and sand down our steepest hill after the plow had scooped up most of the gravel and snow. I had just heard about my MIL’s weekend travails, cousins and friends sliding off her snow and ice-packed driveway sideways into the woods. A comedy of errors. And as I sit in my aviary listening to the slow and steady drip of snow melting off the roof, I thought of a new episode for This American Life –  “Life is a Driveway.” https://soundcloud.com/tadpoles-shouldnt-drive/rascal-flatts-life-is-a-highway

This is how Ms Bean feels about winter

This is how Ms Bean feels about winter

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This post is early because chances are I’ll be buried in snow tomorrow, and our generator only powers the heat and the lights in the main part of the house. Which means my office will be down and wi-fi will be out.

Forecasters are predicting another “historic” snowstorm for VA. Like the kind we had the year after we moved into this mountain abode.

But this time Bob is home; he hasn’t camped out at the hospital and left me alone for days on end. When we lived in the Berkshires and the kids were little he did shift work, so he was home a lot. Which was good since we had to feed our woodstove all the time, especially when a Nor’easter hit and dumped 2 feet of snow in one fell swoop. I remember when the VA contractor asked us if we wanted wood burning or gas fireplaces in this little house, and we looked at each other and said “Gas” simultaneously. Bob is sure he wrecked his shoulders cutting and stacking many piles of wood on Windsor mountain back in the day.

I’ve heard there’s a shortage of snow boots in the North East. If I didn’t get the kids their boots and snow suits and mittens and hats in August, I was out of luck. We couldn’t order online in the 80’s, all we could do was go down to the main street in Pittsfield, MA and search by hand. We used to have ice skating Valentine’s parties on our pond, it was expected, this snow and ice. New Englanders are always prepared. Kids built snow forts while they waited for the school bus. We were a hardier crew. Or is it just my memory? Am I starting to sound like that old timer who walked 20 miles to school, through rain and snow and ice?

The snow has just started and I’ve got to finish some laundry and get dinner under way. Hope all of you stay warm and safe over the next few days.

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Schools are closing early today because snow is in the air. Things are getting back to normal, it’s winter so bring it. The fire is on and I’ve got all-wheel drive, and even though I don’t have little ones coming home early for lunch, still, I couldn’t help thinking of Newtown.

Yesterday I was nearly crying at the gym, thereby ignoring one of the first rules I set down for the kids – Never Cry in Public! But I was on the bike without earphones, reading The New Yorker US magazine, when I became aware that something was happening on the big screen over the treadmill. Putting aside my need to know why Bethenny was divorcing her cute and rather normal hubby, I looked up and there was the VP about to introduce the President on CNN. Lucky for me, it had its closed captioning switch turned on, so unlike the other day when all I could do was listen to Mr Obama on NPR, I could now watch him and read what he was saying…about guns.

Thank you Mr President. Thanks for starting off the conversation about research, and how knowledge is good and go right ahead CDC. I’m telling you to study gun violence. I’m glad he puts the public’s health ahead of a lobbyist’s agenda. Thank you for signing 23 unilateral orders,  of which research is #14 Oh, and thanks for revisiting and clarifying the Affordable Care Act such that doctors ARE allowed to ask about guns in the home #16. http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2013/01/obama-executive-actions-gun-list/61075/. Closing loopholes like gun shows and requiring law enforcement to run full background checks “… on an individual before returning a seized gun” just seem like no-brainers.

But along with telling our doctors what to say, and trying to stop all research into gun violence, did you know that gun manufacturers and dealers cannot be sued? It’s like they hold some huge, unspoken grip on our legislators, that grip that tightened when the clause to give the Assault Weapon Ban an expiration date was introduced back in 1994. OK we know that ‘Arms used in the theatre of war must not be used in movie theaters’ – one of my favorite lines btw – but somebody thought that maybe they just might want to kill about 60 ducks in one minute? Like the .223-caliber Smith & Wesson AR-15 assault-style rifle with a drum clip that could hold up to 100 rounds and was used in Colorado?

Back to lawyers, there’s a little known clause in the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act that says that the people who manufacture these guns and their dealers are immune to prosecution for negligence and product liability. Should I say this again? No lawsuits allowed! Which means even if you are a ‘law-abiding’ gun owner and your gun misfires due to no fault of your own and blows off your face say, or your hand, you cannot sue. Am I alone in thinking this is nutso? This week, Rep. Adam Schiff, (D-Calif) will introduce legislation to roll back legal immunity for gun manufacturers and dealers. Thank you Rep Schiff http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/14/adam-schiff-gun-bill_n_2471863.html

Here’s a thought. Maybe if we can keep the right side of Congress busy trying to figure out how to dodge and weave around gun control legislation, they will be too tired to introduce personhood bills? It’s funny how the GOP is so intent on being known as the Pro-Life Party, while it condones our 2nd Amendment Right to kill as many people as fast as we like. Oh wait, that’s not what the founders meant, was it?

I got choked up in the middle of Obama’s speech, then the Bride called me with fun news. So I stopped watching CNN and listened to her plan to get the Love Bug an exercise saucer. When we were done, happiness mixed with sadness, trying to read the last part of his speech through my tears. Grace McDonnell. A little girl who deserved to live.  A gorgeous little girl with a bright future, “…I think about how, when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable among us, we must act now — for Grace. For the 25 other innocent children and devoted educators who had so much left to give.” Thank you President Obama.


7 year old Grace McDonnell

In every vote that is cast to curb gun violence, please make them a roll call vote. I want to know who’s thinking about our children’s safety. And who isn’t.

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