Archive for the ‘cold weather’ Category

The Ice Prevails

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It snowed another 5 or 6 inches last week, and I dreaded going out to clean off my car. The fact that I waited until the day after to clean it promised that an icy mix would be glued to the car, almost impossible to get off. Leaving the house 10 minutes early, all bundled up in winter coat, boots and gloves and brandishing a broom, I made my way through the glistening snow still piled untouched on the front lawn. Taller than my boots, the snow crept in over the top, slid inside and coated my socks, causing instant panic in my feet. I hate to be cold!!

Daringly approaching the car, I pointed my broom expecting ice and frozen snow to be waiting. With one swish of my oversized weapon, the snow fell to the side like tiny cotton balls, sliding off the car with gleaming ease, taunting me with the juxtaposition. Who ever heard of fluffy, lightweight snow, especially the day after a storm? The car was cleaned in a record 4 minutes, including getting all of the snow off the top of the car. A full 6 minutes ahead of schedule, there was plenty of time to stop at Dunkin Donuts for a tea!

Later in the week, frozenness returned as though we were surely visited by Elsa (from the movie Frozen.) I walked taking tiny steps like a ballerina in training, careful not to hurry and slip. Holding my granddaughter’s hand to cross the street, she looked at the street and exclaimed, “Look, Mimi, the street is a big ice cube!” Although her laughter was catchy, I had to be careful not to let mine cause unbalance. Too late…laughing caused me to change my center of gravity and…boom…I plopped right down in the middle of the street. Not injured, I crawled on my hands and knees towards our front yard while worried Rosy repeatedly asked me if I was okay. Because the rule was she had to hold my hand when crossing the street, and she couldn’t due to my positioning, she dutifully placed a hand on my head, grabbing onto my hair like she was grabbing onto a horse’s mane. I was very glad to reach our front door, for several obvious reasons.

Living on a small pond, we have had a long winter of frozen ice. Hockey skaters regularly played their favorite game, and fisherman somehow enjoyed sitting in the cold catching fish. It seemed like a lot of work just to catch one and throw it back, but I am probably minimizing the joy of it.

One thing I learned in Science was that ice expands as it freezes. (The ice in my ice cube trays always used to overflow, causing more difficulty in finagling them out of the old metal ice cube trays.) The ice in the pond is no different. Very often at night, awakening me from a sound sleep would be a loud, guttural groan coming from the pond, unlike any other earthly noise.   Although intellectually I knew it was from the expanding ice, my rapidly awakened brain would immediately think it came from an underworld, (much like the one depicted in the Netflix show Stranger Things.) I would then stay awake, alert, listening for any additional noises that might be supernatural, until drifting back into a troubled sleep.

Looking out the window today, my granddaughter gasped that the ice in the pond was melting, represented by many areas of open water. Typical toddler, she thought it was hilarious. Myself, I was relieved…relieved that maybe the cold weather was abating and the eerie groans from the ice and the ice cube streets were history for 2018. That is, until I caught a glimpse of the weather forecast. Freezing temperature and more snow was yet to come.

 

 

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Snow and Soap Operas

 

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We have had some frigid weeks, colder than I ever remember. The recent storm buried my car in snow, and eventually a five-foot snow pile lurked behind it. I had learned about “displacement” in science, and usually related it to “if I jumped into a small pool, the water level would rise.” In this instance, each time the snowplow came by, the snow from its big shovel displaced to create a mountain behind my car. Bully snowplows!

Many a time after other snowstorms, I had put on my snow boots and been able to traverse my walkway even if it wasn’t shoveled. It had been a fun challenge, pulling each leg up, out and forward as though walking through fluffy cotton candy. No such luck after this storm! Opening the front door, I tried to step out into the snow, but the cold was debilitating, freezing me in place like Elsa froze her sister in the movie “Frozen”. Hurriedly getting back inside, I vowed to stay housebound until the spring.

Trying to keep the house warm enough was the real test, and our old boiler chugged along continuously to provide a temperature high enough for the pipes not to freeze, but low enough that a second mortgage on the house wouldn’t be necessary to pay the bill. I bundled up in regular clothes, throwing on a bathrobe and slippers for added warmth. The lower household temperature, however, froze the butter I leave on the kitchen counter so it will be soft enough to smooth on my raisin toast. The mornings after the storm found me ripping my toast as I tried to butter each piece, huge lumps of unhealthy butter just sitting there without any chance of smoothing out. Alas, it was the final snowstorm humiliation!

Normally, I like snow when the temperature is reasonable. As a child, I loved to sled and make snowballs. Last month when shopping at Ocean State Job Lot, I found the ultimate, much needed, snow accessory; a box like plastic container with the shape of 6 snowballs inside. Apparently, the eye hand coordination of children these days is so poor that a tool is needed to make snowballs. They no longer have to maneuver their hands to form the balls, but just need to shove snow into the container, shut it, and perfect snowballs would be the result. One would have to assume that such ammunition would far surpass the handmade balls that might fall apart in mid-air were they not so cleverly created.

A gift I received for Christmas has managed to maintain my sanity while housebound. Where I would normally sit and watch television while sipping on tea that gradually cools, (a real problem for me, who only likes tea at a certain temperature,) Hubby bought me a device that keeps the tea at whatever temperature I want. Really! So it was, with contentment, that I braved the cold, bundled up in a velour blanket on a Lazy Boy, sipping my hot cup of tea and watching the real life soap operas. No, not the Housewives of Atlanta or Sister Wives, but the news channels that continue to entertain me with the twists and turns in politics.

 

Made it Easy on Myself

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A secret was all mine until the news media this year touted it as a “thing”. Years ago, my teenage children would brave the cold and sit outside of Target or Best Buy at 2:00 am on the night of Thanksgiving, waiting for the stores to open early on “Black Friday”. Comradeship galore, they would toast with pumpkin spice Dunkin Donuts coffee, share cookies and sit snuggled under extra blankets in rickety, old, webbed camp chairs. It was an annual social occasion not to be missed. I distinctly remember my son joyously coming home with a television at a 75% discount from Best Buy. (No, it was not a present. He chose to keep it to himself, but the savings was still impressive!) He and his friends chose to shop on Black Friday to get the best price reductions, and no number of aggressive, pushy shoppers or hours long lines to the cash register were going to deter them. Personally, I knew that the same bargains were available on-line, even items that were limited in number in the stores. If a store had a super duper extra inexpensive price and only a few of the items available for purchase, the news would broadcast the pushes, shoves and trampling of shoppers to get to the few treasures available, until the stores wised up and started to pass out numbers outside to those waiting line. However, every Black Friday I could quietly and daintily order these same items all with the push of a button; “add to cart”. I would sit happily at my computer, sipping spiced tea, and gleefully order all of the preselected items, the best from the best at the cheapest of the cheapest, advertised in the Thanksgiving newspaper. This past Black Friday was no different, except for the fact I was no longer a clever pioneer, just part of the general public, ordering on-line, as highlighted by the news.

Christmas is always a hectic time of year, especially with children. We have a very large family of five children and four grandchildren. Each of hubby’s sister and brothers has children of his/her own, and, as we have aged, great- nieces and great-nephews have joined the fold. That is what makes Black Friday a big, fun economic puzzle, searching amidst the bargains for a present for each person. Shopping for Christmas used to be spread out over the entire month of December, and I would often purchase a gift forgetting something different had already been bought. By buying everything on the same day, it was easy to keep track, and even easier to guarantee each item was at its lowest price. Whoopee! Diet coke, popped corn, and Christmas Carols, soon replaced morning tea as my shopping continued in earnest. In the spirit of the holiday, good presents were ordered on that day instead of spending a month trying to find “the best”. (I learned a long time ago that my perception of the best might not necessarily be the best to the gift receiver, so I lightened up on myself.)

At the end of the day, my credit card was put away and my tired typing fingers rested. Pleased with my purchases, I smiled to myself with success. Wrapping paper and name tags sit by the front door so each gift can be wrapped as it arrives and placed in a spare room.

As I sit here, heart aglow with cheer for the coming holidays, my advice is simple; be kind to yourself, whatever holiday you practice. “Perfection” is a stressful state of mind. Good is good, and be confident in that. Relax. After all, holidays are meant to be enjoyed!

Like a Breath of Fresh Air

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I’ve always dreaded the long winter months with all that cold and ice, but noticed recently that if I am dressed in a warm jacket with scarf, hat and gloves, the cold doesn’t seem to be as horribly frigid as remembered.  In fact, as I walked out our front door this morning with a temperature 23 degrees, a healthy dose of brisk air filled my lungs. It was a pleasant surprise.  The frigidity that swelled in my lungs really felt like the proverbial “breath of fresh air.”  It awakened me and I became acutely aware of my in and out breathing, (a technique for stress reduction that had previously eluded my abilities.) With the awareness of the winter chilliness inflating my innards, somehow the weight from the pre-holiday stressors leaked out.

Deep chilly breath in and out…my Thanksgiving turkey may have been dry, but hubby’s awesome smashed potatoes, squash and apple casserole, and pumpkin pie more than made up for it.  Why had I cared about the turkey?  With enough gravy, it was edible!

Deep icy breath in and out…the stress around the Thanksgiving table, with warring factions of children, became a thing of the past. As stressful as it was, there was nothing I could do about it. They are grown children who no longer reflect my beliefs but maintain their own truths and temperaments.  In one way, it is a relief to have them on their own, no longer my responsibility.

Deep arctic breath in and out…driving on Route 2 pre-New Year was an experience in hurry up and wait, and wait, and wait.  (Same experience trying to drive through Apponaug.) In retrospect, I did get to listen to beautiful Christmas music that I wouldn’t have had the time to do otherwise, plus traffic is now back to normal.

Deep frozen breath in and out…digging in the basement for the Christmas tree and decorations hidden under a pile of summer clothes, as well as putting the tree up with a minimal, scattered ornaments with no help from the children was a disappointment, but any reminders of such is now back in the basement, carefully put away to be easy to find next year. Out of sight, out of mind.

Deep bitterly cold breath in and out…buying the perfect gift for each was a concern, but the exhaling of cool, clean air convinced me I had the best of intentions and, in reality, there WAS no “perfect” gift, not one that I could afford anyway!

Deep frosty breath in and out…keeping the house clean through New Year’s Day while my son, his wife and daughter visited from California was a very hard challenge for me, making me anxious with every dropped tissue, spilled milk or spider spotted sitting up near the ceiling.  Pure stress, but throughout it I was still able to appreciate their company and enjoy their visit. Next time we will be going to THEIR house.

As enjoyable as the holidays were, the individual stressors had slowly added up inside me, preventing perfect New Year joy and relaxation. Perhaps I had finally accomplished the ability to use deep breathing as a relaxation technique. This was the first time I appreciated breathing in the frozen wintry weather, but it won’t be the last. On this cold, brisk day of January, that all changed.  It was like a breath of fresh air!

 

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Please consider purchasing my book, The Apple Tree:  Raising 5 Kids with Disabilities and Remaining Sane.  Thanks!!!!

Broken Heater, Broken Gloves

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I was fortunate to purchase a very warm, name brand coat from an expensive store eons ago.  When the weather seemed to turn wintry last week, I donned this comfy, warm coat, which would have kept me warm even if a trip to the Arctic was in my future. Pulling on my gloves, I made my way to the car to head to work.

Providing reassurance for the winter ahead, the car boldly turned right over, no fluttering or stalling in the cold.  However, even when the temperature gauge showed it was hot enough for heat, no heat flowed to warm my feet.  What a horrible time for the heater to break!  In addition to frozen toes, my fingers had also frozen and a pain set in that rivaled none other. Where did I buy those gloves, at the Dollar Store?  They obviously were broken because my hands weren’t warmed at all.

Cursing my bad luck, it took me a few minutes to come to my senses.  The bold thermometer that hung on our maple tree signaled that the temperature outside was 12 degrees! With the heater blowing its best train imitation: “I think I can…I think I can”, the car was suitably livable within 10 minutes and my hands had begun to unfreeze. In this kind of weather, I need to buy gloves that would also keep me warm in the Arctic in the future.

 

To read more about Linda’s cold and warm adventures, read her book The Apple Tree:  Raising 5 Kids with Disabilities and Remaining Sane, available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

 

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