Posted in Tiny Awesome Tuesday

I never mind a spring snowstorm

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.
–Hal Borland

Untitled

Bubba just got in from snow-blowing six inches. And it’s still snowing. I never mind a spring snowstorm. He might disagree.

A spring snowstorm reminds you of how much you want the spring. It imprisons you in your house for a day and heightens the anticipation of warm walks and buzzing bees. A spring snowstorm is old man winter boasting his strength, even under the lengthening days. Even in my weariness of cold and boots and shoveling I must admit it’s pretty. And I have to wonder if this is the last pristine white snowfall until next year. It’s like wishing a toddler would grow, and at the same time trying to appreciate each day.

Is this the last time you’ll help him with his boots?

Hopefully. Sorrowfully. Maybe.

Posted in Room and Board

The Behavioral Science of Snow Removal

Schneeschaufel snow shovel
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It occurs to me that those living closer to the equator may not have the luxury of appraising neighbors on methods of snow removal.  By closer I mean closer than one of the northern-most United States of America.  Mention you are from Minnesota, and people immediately conjure images of wolf-like dogs racing across an open tundra, a parka-clad rider mushing them on in search of the next meal of blubber.

Yeah, it’s something like that.  Only I’m in my Dodge Neon, the dog has positioned herself on the center console looking out over the dashboard, and I’m on my way to the supermarket.  Sure it’s cold, and there’s snow on the roads.  It’s Minnesota.  It’s winter.  Get over it.  The minute a flake falls from the sky, everyone wants to know what the roads are like.  My answer?  “Eh . . it’s winter.”

And with the season comes the practiced art of snow removal.  Minnesotans have been removing snow for centuries.  Technically, the snow is not removed.  You can’t remove snow unless you bring it inside, melt it and flush it down the drain.  No, we move it.  From here to there.  Sometimes, we have so much snow to move that we scoop it up in front loaders, empty it into dump trucks and haul it away.  I’m not sure where they go with it, but if it were me I’d haul it to California.

While snow in the city comes with parking bans, tow trucks and impound fees, in the suburbs it’s all about what your neighbor is doing.  Why should winter be different than any other season?  As soon as the lawn is covered, and they can no longer judge the green of your grass, they will begin to analyze the white of your driveway.

Technically speaking, if one does not remove the snow from one’s driveway, the snow will eventually remove itself.  However, if your intention is to leave the snow until it melts in the spring, after driving over it and the fluctuations in temperature, you’re going to end up axle-deep in frozen ruts going nowhere fast.  I think all Minnesotans can agree that some amount of snow movement is necessary.

You have several options, offering various stages of effort and cost.  You can buy a shovel or hire a kid to shovel you out.  You can buy a snowblower, or hope a neighbor brings one over.  Some people put a plow on the front of their truck and not only plow out their place, but make money plowing out others.  My dad used to take out his four-wheel drive with the plow on the front and drive around looking for little old ladies shoveling their own driveway or families stuck in the ditch.  His pay was the smile on their face.

Once suburbanites have chosen our option of snow removal, we are obligated to assess our neighbors’ methods and motivation.  It is safe to say that a homeowner can be accurately labeled by the driveway he keeps.

  • The Gambler:  This guy checks the forecast first.  He may leave up to three inches lay if he thinks it will melt by 2 p.m. tomorrow.  If the stuff is still falling, he gauges the weight per shovelful, duration of snowfall, and rate of accumulation before making his plan of attack.
  • The Sloth:  This one owns a snowblower, but will wait to see if it melts first.  He is often seen three days later carelessly snow-blowing ice chunks toward windows and small children.
  • The OCD:  He is out there with his shovel as soon as a dusting appears.  Unfortunately, as soon as he finishes the bottom of the driveway, the top is already accumulating snow again, and he can’t possibly go inside until the whole thing is clear.  You might want to bring over a cup of hot chocolate or a small meal.
  • The Over-Acheiver:  You can spot this star student by the way he not only shovels his sidewalk and driveway, but his effort extends to parts of the yard, and even into the street.  Where other houses’ curbs slope naturally to the street, his is cut at a 90-degree angle exactly at curb depth.
  • The Good Samaritan:  This guy can often be spotted down the street, snow-blowing out every plow drift along the way.  The plow drift, as Northerners know, is what the city plow deposits at the end of your driveway after you have meticulously cleared it out.  The Good Samaritan wears a frost-encrusted smile accompanied by a frozen-snot icicle mustache.
  • The Homeschooler:  You can spot this one by the number of shovels lined up in various sizes outside the door.  While the shovels are in use, please slow to 15 mph as children will be present.

Me?  I’m inside huddled next to the space heater.  The chimneys across the street are emitting a steady flow of horizontal steam, communicating a cold, steady wind against a sunny blue sky.  I can hear the rhythmic scrape of Bubba’s shovel, his black toque bobbing occasionally above the window sash.  He finally invested in a snowblower this year.  And as Murphy’s Law dictates, I think we can forecast a fairly light year for the stuff, rarely dropping enough to start it up.

Maybe that makes me the smart homeowner.

Peace . . .

Posted in Room and Board

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Interview

In January I job-shadowed a co-worker in another department.  It was mostly an informational journey, finding out more about what they do in that corner of the organization.  I hadn’t meant to fall in love.  As those who stray are often overheard saying, it just happened.

When the job opening posted, I submitted my résumé, with a carefully crafted cover letter, to the HR department.  Then I waited.

The first two interviews were lined up over three weeks later.  A Friday.  They would be held early, before the workday surrendered to the weekend.  At the time the appointment was set, no one expected a snow storm.

DSCN1158Thursday the flakes fell all day.  By lunch the back roads were risky.  The HR department called.  No one who didn’t have to was coming in the next day, much less early.  My first appointment was rescheduled for the afternoon.  Soon I was messaged by the hiring manager.  Could I reschedule?  Yes, of course . . . doesn’t my résumé say that one of my strengths is flexibility?  Given the choice, I chose Friday afternoon over Monday.  Weekends are meant to relax, not fibrillate.

It was all worked out.  I would dress for the interview in the morning, wearing snow boots and carrying my dress shoes in a bag.  Returning home on my break as usual, I’d eat a light and healthy lunch, freshen up, and arrive back at work looking crisp and eager.

That evening, I gunned it up the drive to keep from lodging halfway.  Bubba met me at the back door.  He had gunned his car too, but his power steering pump whined.  Something gave and he lost the ease of his wheel.  He made it in, but the car was crippled.  He would have to take mine in the morning.

Okay!  So just another change of plans, right?  Deep breath and forge ahead.

Brush
Brush (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Friday morning I dressed in my professional best.  My makeup and hair in place, nails groomed, brows plucked, Bubba warmed the car.  A trip home to freshen up midday would be impossible.   It was important I felt confident and unruffled before I left in the morning.

The last thing I did before I went out the back door was to grab my purse in the front room.  Looking out the window, I saw the young woman across the street spinning her wheels.  The plows that cleared the streets overnight left a dense berm of snow at the bottom of each driveway.  My young neighbor made the poor choice to try and run her vehicle over the drift.

Now, it occurred to me that if we backed out just right, we could keep our car in reverse and back down the hill until we found a clear area to turn around.  However, it would require us to drive, albeit backwards, right by her while she was stuck in the snow.

“Shoot!” I exclaimed.  Okay, I didn’t say shoot, but you get the idea.  I was starting to lose my cool.

I watched her tires spin a few more times without any encouragement from the car.  There was nothing to do except the right thing.  I marched past Bubba in my boots, well-coiffed hair, and lipstick.  I trod through the snow to the garage.  Plucking the lightest shovel off the wall, I strutted past the woman now on her phone in the street.  I began to excavate the incapacitated car at a feverish rate.

English: Cleaning up after a snow storm in Bor...

Before long, Bubba and a passing motorist had joined my endeavor.  The car was soon dislodged, many thanks were exchanged and we headed back to our own warm automobile.

Sweaty, wet, rumpled, my meltdown arrived violently.  Deep breaths turned into hyperventilation as I tried to keep tears from rinsing away my mascara.

By the time Bubba dropped me off at work, I had regained some small amount of composure.  The place was a ghost town.  The desks of my two office mates sat empty for the next hour.  The only callers were canceling orders.  The call from HR shouldn’t have surprised me.

Neither interview would take place that day.  A small voice in my head mocked my meltdown from earlier.  Next week would be a better time for interviews.  Surely everything that could go wrong already had.

Peace . . .

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Posted in Great Outdoors, Weekly Photo Challenge

Weekly Photo Challenge: Juxtaposition

I  wish this was a better photo, but the subject fit the theme so well, I couldn’t resist using it.  While taking a picture of the sun lighting up the pretty little seeds hanging on this tree, I looked up and saw this  birds nest, long since abandoned for a warmer climate.

Summer Home

“Creativity is that marvelous capacity to grasp mutually distinct realities and draw a spark from their juxtaposition.”
― Max Ernst

Be part of The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post.
Be part of The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post.

  . . . and check out all these other contrasting affects:

Motorcycle Parking . . .
Photo Challenge: Family | pinay e-motion

Water is often is a state of juxtaposition . . .
Weekly Photo Challenge: Juxtaposition II | Hamburg und Mee(h)r

Here is a fun comparison . . .
Weekly Photo Challenge: Juxtaposition | Life a New Beginning

Juxtaposition often makes us laugh . . .
Weekly Photo Challenge – Juxtaposition; Bastet’s Pixelventures – Surprise | Travels and Trifles

Is the photographer really focused on the main event?
Juxtaposition – The Photographer | Sunday Views

Try to figure this one out before you read the text.  Very moving . . .
Weekly photo challenge: Juxtaposition | fotojen10

I love the name of this blog.  Wish I had thought of it first, but then my name isn’t Rae.  I love the photo, and her words.  Yes, I did click “follow” . . .
Who’s that kitty in the window? – Weekly Photo Challenge : Juxtaposition | Calamity Rae

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Posted in Seasonal Sunday

The Days are Short, the Winter Long

DSCN1074The rooftops look like marshmallows, puffs of steam trail off in the bitter cold, the January sky is icy-blue.  The days are short, the winter long.

This is the weekend, and my large south-facing picture window invites the sun in.  During the week, I work in a small windowless office.  Daylight is down 18 stairs, across a warehouse, and through the doors.  It is dark when I wake and barely light when I leave the house.  The sun is low on the horizon for my drive home.

I don’t go to bed any earlier in the winter.  I don’t rise any later.  Yet there are fewer hours in my day.  Maybe it’s the damn Sims game my daughter suggested I download to my phone.  My reality is now based on Life Points and making Woo-Hoo.  I know I need to quit.  But my tiny people would starve and pee all over their little houses.  I just can’t bear the thought.  Or maybe I’ve just lost my mojo.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is something I’ve often thought I might have.  I try to disregard things I think I might have as opposed to those things I know I have.   However, for the last five years that I’ve worked in this fluorescent box I call an office, the winter months are insufferable.  And last November when we turned the clocks back it was like someone flipped a switch.  I’m moody.  I’m overwhelmed.  I’m hungry.  My thoughts are disjointed.  I feel socially awkward.  There might be something to this S.A.D. thing after all.

8611015067_3b448750eeA simple trip to the grocery store is suddenly a major event.  It is unlikely I know how much is in my debit account and even less likely I have a list.  With no plan in place, I buy a few of the usual items from the usual departments.  Vegetables.  Eggs.  Meat.  Yogurt.  Toilet Paper.  I hope against hope I find the ingredients for a meal when I get home.  Thankfully Bubba, engrossed in his everyday rituals, is fairly unaffected.  Fairly.

Bubba:  (At the deli counter)  I’ll take a half pound of turkey breast.
Me:  There’s a coupon.
Deli Man:  You want a pound of turkey breast?
Bubba:  Oh, the coupon is for a pound.  No, just give me a half pound.
Me:  I should get some ham.
Bubba:  (Realizing the guy is measuring out the whole pound anyway)  Hey, just take a handful off the top of that, and it will be fine.
Me:  I don’t want him to measure out whole pound of ham though.
Bubba:  (Thinking he heard me say I didn’t want a half pound)  Just get a quarter.
Me:  Are you telling me or asking me?
Bubba:  Huh?
Me:  Why are you telling me what to do?
Bubba:  Should we just go back outside and start over?

“Poor guy,” you’re thinking.  It’s a good thing we can keep a sense of humor.

And there is anxiety.  Looming bills, stubborn weight-gain,  errors at work, unwritten letters and cards, forgotten birthdays, dusty shelves; all encroach like a tidal wave gaining size and momentum at sea.  Unwritten lists build hour by hour, day by day, filling my murky brain.  Yes, I have been too overwhelmed to write my damned lists!

This is the time that one must go back to one’s best practices.  Shed the heavy winter coats of burden, and pry off the snow-caked boots of guilt.  Go naked against the day.  Figuratively, please . . . hey now, this is a family blog!

  • Drink water:  Flushing toxins, rehydrating the skin, muscles and brain, drinking water is one of the gentlest things you can do to begin healing from anything.
  • Eat mindfully:  Paying attention to what goes into your body is important.  This doesn’t stop with purchasing and preparing your meal.  Really slow down and enjoy your meal purposefully.
  • Be present:  Include activities that bring yourself closer to now.  Cuddle your children.  Pet the dog.  Tend a plant.  Meditate.
  • Dance:  Let your music move you.  If you are so inclined, SING!  (A big thank you to izzwizz for that suggestion!)
  • Go on outdoor walks:  Bundle up, if necessary — we are 5 degrees at 1:00 p.m. today — it’s necessary!  Let the weather hit you in the face; rain, wind, sun and snow.  Trust me, you will feel more alive for it.
  • Make an intention every day:  Some days we need to aim low.  Today my intention is to write this post.  Another day it might be to move a mountain.  But that is another day, and another day will come.
  • Be your own best friend:  I am lucky enough to have wonderful friends and family who care for me.  None compare to the friend I have found in myself.  I always know what is best for me at any given moment.  The trick is to allow myself to give and receive graciously.
English: A 30 kHz bright light therapy lamp (I...
A light therapy lamp (Innosol Rondo) used to treat seasonal affective disorder. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These are the tools I have chosen to shovel myself out this winter.  I have a couple other tricks up my sleeve, like vitamin supplements and a small therapy light, both suggested by my doctor last year.  While it is normal to feel down some days, if you feel down for days and cannot seem to get motivated to do the things you usually enjoy, please see your doctor.  This is especially important if you have changes in your sleep patterns or your appetite changes or you feel hopeless, suicidal, or are turning to alcohol for comfort.

Never take depression lightly.

Peace . . .

 

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