Friday, February 22, 2008

Winter Blues

Just a few days ago the Weatherman announced that this February was an official record breaker - we have seen the snowiest February EVER! I knew I wasn't getting crazier! We have had one heck-of-a-lot of snow around here. Storm after storm and it kept snowing, until today...

The latest storm just missed West Michigan, cruised across the midwest, hitting the states south, and is now pounding the eastern seaboard with ice and snow and rain. In the meantime, we're predicted to have delightfully sunny weather and temps in the upper 20s for the entire weekend.

I am beside myself. "Is it really safe to go out?" I wonder. Now I know how the groundhog must feel from year to year as he contemplates sticking his head out of his burrow. As I look out the window, it is delightfully sunny out there and looks like it will chalk up to be quite a day. But one can never be too careful...

And here I have been hatching plans on how to counteract the bad weather and it looks like it was all for nothing. Just like in the movies where the Native peoples use a shaman to call down the rain during a drought, I have been contemplating performing a ritualistic sacrifice to get the snow to stop falling... Does anyone out there know where I can find a goundhog? It seemed like a good idea - offer up the groundhog and Spring will be just around the corner - okay, I admit, it must have been the Cabin Fever talking...

Just two days ago, it was snowing so much that I had to keep shoveling the walks everytime I went out. I had a lot of errands to run and, after the third time, I finally gave up. As I went to grab the shovel handle for the fourth round of shoveling in a matter of a few hours, I felt the horrible pangs of mental anguish. I threw my hands up and cursed, something like, "I'll never go shoveling again!" (Well, this is only paraphrasing and sounds much more like what Scarlet O'Hara would say, but what I said was something close.) And I didn't shovel anymore that day. We just waded through the snow from the back door to the car doors and from the car doors to the back door, and, as far as I know, it's still there as I write this.

There's no escaping from the fluffy white stuff. It's no wonder I have the Winter Blues.

Like I said before, to combat them, I have been trying to clean the house. I'm not sure what's more fun, going utterly nutz or cleaning. You tell me. But I have been able to accomplish some strange things like clean under my bed and organize the gift wrap bin. Hmmm, perhaps a good old fashioned drinking game would be better suited to my needs? Up and Down the River, anyone? Forget it! I'm too old and too responsible for that now... Hence all the house cleaning.

Today I am debating. What to do? Stay inside and clean something? or Go down to the Y for a swim or go sledding at the park? But, it is a glorious day out there and the sunlight seems to beckon as it glistens across the snow... Decisions, decisions.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Cabin Fever

Once again we were hit by a storm. Saturday night a "clipper system" rolled into the Great Lakes, dumping several inches of snow. That wasn't the bad part. The system was followed by an Arctic cold front, which dropped the temperatures down into the single digits, and accompanied by 20 to 30 mph winds, which dropped the wind chills into the below zeros.

We had gone to our friends' house for dinner on Saturday night and the drive back to our home was nothing less than treacherous. The roads were slick with ice. Visibility was difficult in the white-out conditions. The traffic crawled along and there had been numerous slide-offs. Just beyond our exit on the highway was a multi-car accident, so, thankfully for us, we didn't have to negotiate around the pile-up through that dangerous spot. We made it safely.

Sunday morning, what ho? Snowed in again. Hundreds of churches had canceled Sunday service. Authorities recommended avoiding driving unless absolutely necessary. It kept snowing and the winds howled, rattling the windows and doors. Even though I turned up the thermostat, the house felt like a walk-in refrigerator. The kids were complaining for the cold and the dog refused to go outside. On the news was reported a 30 car crash on one of the major highways. No one had to tell me to stay home.

I have to admit that, even for a die-hard Michigander like myself, I am getting restless. There's lots of things one can do to stay busy - watch a movie, play games, work on a project, etc. Those are all grand suggestions on how to be entertained and pass the time, but what did I opt to do? I cleaned house.

As you may or may not know, I happen to be the Queen of Domestic Dilemmas and the Princess of Procrastination, so when I opt to "clean" anything you could pretty much chalk it up to the end of the world or an invasion of aliens (you pick). That's how cooped up I felt on Sunday. None of the traditional pasttimes appealed to me. Because of this, I came to the unfortunate conclusion that I am suffering from a mild case of Cabin Fever.

I decided the best way to combat my symptoms was to retreat to a part of the house which is particularly neglected - the second floor. There I dueled with dust bunnies, tackled the trash, and swabbed the decks. I conquered the clothes piles, tussled with toys, and battled the books. A few hours of my time later and things were shaping up nicely.

Next I went into the basement, empty baskets in hand. I had to finish some laundry and also thought I'd see what else I could accomplish. Of course, there were clothes in the drier waiting to be folded and stacks of clean clothes on top of the machine. I took care of both and started a load to wash. As I stood there, revved with adreniline, rocking on my heels, I spied it... Mount Ironing.

Now, I usually have good intentions, telling myself, "I'll do 15 minutes of ironing a day and will have it done in no time." Since I am a resident of the Land of Procrastination and Denial, what I really do upon seeing the pile is cringe, avert my eyes, and walk past as fast as I can. The truth is that I never make time to iron because I HATE IRONING! But yesterday, what did I do? I forced myself to start digging through the clean clothes until I uncovered the ironing board and plugged in the iron. The embarassing part of all of this was that I was finding summer clothes in the ironing pile and clothes that my children have actually grown out of!

Some people would have hated their flaws more and spiraled into deeper self-loathing, "I'm such a loser because I haven't ironed since last year!" but not me. I forgave myself for my flaws and faced them, "Who cares?" I said, and put in an hour's worth of ironing. I have to say I made quite a bit of progress. Don't worry, I didn't try to tackle Mount Ironing in one day. I worked for a while and then called it good. Outside the wind was howling still and the world was a blustery one as seen from my window. The kids were excited about the possiblity of NO SKOOL the next day. We had dinner and then watched two of my kids' favorite Sunday shows - America's Funniest Home Videos and Extreme Home Makeover - and then it was time for bed. I felt better for having accomplished some things that day, but inside I was secretly dreading the possibility of being imprisoned by the weather for a second day in a row... Chalk it up to Cabin Fever!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Snow Days

It's February, in case you hadn't noticed yet, and I'm already sick-and-tired of the main staple of Michigan in winter - the snow.

Oh sure, when December rolls around, I feel excited for the first snowfall - heck, I even used to record it on the calendar, "First Snow." Such an important event around these parts that it ranks right up with "First Robin." But, by the time February comes, I've had it.

How can I describe the drudgery of snow for someone who hasn't experienced it? When you look out the window all you see is the world covered by a blanket of white. The eaves and roofs are studded with icicles. The steps and sidewalks are snow-covered and icy. Each time it snows, you have to shovel a path. And, on top of it all, it's cold outside.

After year after year and winter after winter of this, I'm almost to the point where I don't know if I can stand it anymore. But, not everyone in my household feels the same way. My children love the snow, and especially snow days.

On Wednesday a giant storm swept up through the Great Lakes and we were under a winter storm warning, predicted to get 6 to 12 inches of the fluffy white stuff. Wednesday morning it was calm, so the schools were open, much to my children's chagrin. By noon it began to come down and fell steadily all afternoon and into the evening.

At six on Thursday morning, as I peered out one bleary eye at the TV to read all the closings and delays, I saw that my children's school was included in the listings. I gratefully reset the alarm and went back to sleep, an extra hour does wonders. The kids got up later, between eight and nine, and daughter and son were thrilled to find out they could stay home.

We spent a pleasant day together. They found things to amuse themselves with during the morning hours - watched a movie, played computer games, read books - and in the afternoon we worked on homework, school projects, and addressed Valentine cards for next week's party. We got everything caught up and done for school. It was a productive day.

It was as I prepared lunch, that I commented to my son how glad I was that it had stopped snowing. What did he say?

"Not me," he said, "I wish it would snow and snow and snow so that school would be closed forever!" He said this with entirely too much gusto for my taste, leaving me speechless. Just the thought of the quantity of snow his proposed scenario would require left me dumbstruck. When I recovered sufficiently, I could only think up a lame reply, "It could never snow that much!"

"Oh, man!" he exclaimed, "I don't want to go to school tomorrow!" While he may not have wanted to, Mommy wanted him to, and was glad to find that this morning no ticker was running across the bottom of the television screen.

As I blog this and look out the window, ruminating on my inner grumblings about the Michigan weather, there is only one thing that keeps me going and keeps me here in my home state - It's the thought that Spring is only weeks away.