Snow Day

I sit here at my desk in the room where I write…surrounded by white. White walls. White windows. And outside the windows…white crystals and flakes swirl past…settling on window sills and our tiny porch. The line of evergreen trees. The path to my woods.

Gone are the vibrant reds and warm yellows of autumn. The colorful peaks of nature’s splendor. My world’s palette is – once again – on its way toward a rustic simplicity of browns plus green.

Snowstorms trigger time travel…

Circa 1990s…lying in bed at 6am listening to WTSN – a local AM radio station…waiting for the long-time morning show host to drone through the alphabetic list of school closings. My kids were living at home then and had gone to bed praying for mountains of snow to fall overnight. As they got older, sometimes they heard the radio announcement before I did…MOM NO SCHOOL WOO HOO…drifted down the hall from their rooms to mine. The sweet sense of excitement and gift of a DAY OFF never failed to fill those days with a magic all their own. Why is that I wonder…how snow gave us permission to play. To not consider other alternatives. Admittedly we were able to switch gears fairly easily as I worked part-time with a flexible schedule. My husband, a teacher at a private school, never got snow days off when our kids were…well…kids.

I don’t recall all that many snow days when I was growing up. I’m not sure why, unless in the 60s we were expected to power through. Safety issues were not all that prevalent back then. Those were the days before mandatory seatbelts and bike helmets after all. In my memory, school was cancelled when the snow was Two Feet High. Whether that was actually true is not verifiable.

My kids built snowmen and slid on plastic discs down windswept or snow-shovel-swept piles of snow. Over and over. They climbed snow drifts as high as the mailbox atop a pole by the street. And made snow angels in the front yard.

My younger brother and I built snow forts – making snow bricks by (mittened) hand, one by one, carefully stacking them onto short walls until finger numbness began to set in. We would spend most of the day in the front yard, coming inside for lunch, hanging our wet wool coats and snow pants to dry in the hallway, the steam rising while we ate. Filling the kitchen with that distinctive wet wool smell. My mother never took photographs of our snow day exploits – just shooed us out the door after breakfast and then again after lunch. So I rely on memory. After the fort came snowball production & stacking – followed by one sided snowball “fights” with passers by…mostly my sister or the boy next door. We all got along, my siblings and I, during those times outside. Just us. There was something about all that snow and a shared sense of fun and purpose.

Maybe it’s why – when I saw children in this over 55 community the other day – I got a little choked up. Looking out the window I spotted 2 little kids down the path…trudging up a small hill of leftover snow and then repeatedly sliding down. An adult stood nearby. Grandchildren…with their grandpa. Just a guess, but I bet I was right. Lucky them.

The only time I can usually sleep past sunrise is during a snowstorm. Today was one of those days. The highway grows relatively silent as only a few of the bravest drivers hit the road that early.

More snow than we’ve gotten in 2 years announced the very excited meteorologist this morning on our local TV station. Meteorologists LOVE snow storms. They stand outside in the middle of this once-in-a-2-year-blizzard, shivering and freezing with hoods pulled up…announcing the obvious: It Is Snowing.

Every channel is about the snow. Interviews with “plow guy” (always a guy) abound. Reporters on street corners with coats wrapped tight shoving yardsticks into snowbanks, directing videographers toward the view behind them. Look it’s snowing! Look there’s a car off the road! Remember to drive slow!

The fascination with extreme weather – one more onslaught we can’t control – continued for hours.

But you know what? There was no mention of the latest ridiculous political maneuvering in Washington DC. No discussion of who lied to who. I don’t think anyone even mentioned the pandemic. And all the relentless pain and suffering. The increasing numbers of the sick and dying. Hospitals strained to capacity. All in this surreal world that doesn’t make sense anymore. All that explains why my husband and I have to spend Christmas alone for the first time in 45 years.

Mother Nature mercifully took over today and gave at least some of us a brief respite…from all that is so much worse than a simple historic few feet of snow.

It almost felt like a regular snow day.

~~~

photo a day challenge: Windows
photo a day challenge: Colors and letters – White
Ragtag Daily Prompt: Rustic Simplicity

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: November 27

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: November 27

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year. How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year?

~~~

This post was published on November 27, 2018 as an entry for the Ragtag Daily Prompt challenge.

I still say…a walk in the woods…always worth taking.

********

Walk

This post inspired by Ragtag Daily Prompt: Walk

It was an adjustment, to say the least, when our youngest child left home for college. For him as well as for us.

He chose a college where it was warm…and far away from our New England town. I understood that, as I had also wanted to establish myself in a college town far from my home.

Colleges have an annual “Parents’ Weekend” in the fall. So parents can check in. And check out their kids. And kids can touch base with their parents. Our freshman son was on his own for the first time and we were grateful for the opportunity to visit.

Although not a big fan of endless parent questions…how are you?how are your classes?your roommate?is the food good?where is the library?…are you okay?, he was happy to show us around campus. He led the way. The grounds of his university were lush with greenery of all kinds. With a bridge. And a pond. In a very warm spot in Virginia. We attended these Parents’ Weekends every year, but the first one…well, that was extra special.

Conversation always flowed a bit more freely with a walk in the woods.

father and son 2006

Dream Big

Every time a woman runs, women win.

Geraldine Ferraro

~~~

Did you see the news? Kristi could be president someday!

The phone tucked under my chin, I had the long coiled cord stretched tight as I stood in the kitchen…as close as I could get to a 12″ television in the corner. I had the news on that July day in 1984 when Democratic Presidential nominee Walter Mondale announced his choice for running mate.

For the first time ever, the Vice Presidential candidate was female. It was blowing minds everywhere. Mine included. Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro of NY was joining former Vice President Walter Mondale on the Democratic ticket for the November election. My mother was the first to call me.

I did see the news! I can’t believe it…Yes she could!

I was as excited as Mom was, if not more so. My daughter Kristi, then just 2 years old and covered with remnants of lunch, was smiling and banging a spoon. A long way to go to the White House, but now it seemed possible. In my opinion, she showed great promise.

I’ll never forget that moment. It triggered my involvement in politics. Parenthood is a powerful motivator for action; but never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine a woman being elected President…or Vice President. Not that I ever doubted a woman was capable of doing the job and doing it well. That was never a question – in my mind at least. Perhaps I didn’t dream big enough – or didn’t know I could – but that day in 1984 opened the door of possibility in my mind. And in the minds of many others.

I worked on the Mondale/Ferraro campaign in NH and, when possible, on future campaigns for candidates I believed in…for my daughter and my son who came along 3 years later. For children everywhere. We all know how the 1984 election turned out, but ground had been broken.


I have a box of both local and national political tidbits and swag going back to 1984…

1984 Presidential election collectibles

And then yesterday…36 years later…it happened.

Breaking News…

Former Vice President Joe Biden will be our next President.

Senator Kamala Harris will be our next Vice President.

A highly qualified woman.

Finally.

But while I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last. Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities and to the children of our country regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message: Dream with ambition, lead with conviction and see yourselves in a way that others may not simply because they’ve never seen it before.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris
November 7, 2020

Peaceful groups of joyful citizens gathered throughout the USA yesterday. Mask wearing was evident in Portsmouth, but even so, I could tell everyone was smiling.


Ragtag Daily Prompt: Tidbit

The Last Day

Four years ago next month, my husband and I moved for the first time in 36 years. We emptied our beloved home of…well…everything. Lots of “stuff” as I generally referred to it all. It actually took many years to get to the point where we could pack up and move. Little by little, carload by carload. I unearthed boxes and bags of long held treasures that needed new homes – which in this case meant antique shops, Craig’s List, Goodwill, the Salvation Army and a few garage sales (not my favorite thing as everyone haggles over the smallest items which quickly becomes tiresome).

I have written about the downsizing process when I started this blog. It was a slog, but I remained fixed on the goal: Simplify our lives and reduce stress. Unforeseen “things” had been happening for a number of years. Health issues mostly. I knew that our priorities had to shift…requiring change. Major change. Not one to wait for a crisis, I went into planning mode. It evolved into a long term plan which took place over about five years.

We finally found a new place to live that we could afford. A condominium where we would have less work to do. All on one level to reduce the risk of falling as we got older. Near my husband’s job. It is a beautiful place – certainly not perfect – with its own challenges as we discovered, but the right decision in the long run.

So, packing up in 2016, we prepared for the future…again. To make life easier for our “golden years.” An empty nest would bring new and hopefully exciting opportunities for our next chapter.

But nothing really prepared me for the very last day. That day in October 2016 when the house was finally…completely…unoccupied.

Empty of all that was us. Our family.

I was alone that last day. It was a sunny breezy fall afternoon as I made the last rounds – the final check to make sure all the closets and cabinets were empty. The holes in the walls patched and painted…erasing all evidence of the photographs that had hung there for years. Marking holidays and birthdays and sports and graduations proudly displayed down halls and around corners. We were a well documented family. Mostly because of my obsession with freezing time with a 35mm Canon.

So of course that’s what I did that last day – I took pictures with my (digital) Canon – of all the rooms in our (still ours until the following day) home. Which had grown from 4 rooms and 1 bathroom in 1980 to 7 rooms and 2 bathrooms in 2016.

I had a moment though as I stood in the original living room space that last day. Remembering through tears the very first time we had occupied it…filled with packing boxes and hand-me-down odd pieces of furniture one cloudy April day in 1980.

It was just my husband and me – so young still – in our twenties.

The first thing we did was hook up the turntable and speakers, snaking the wires between all the unpacked stuff. We found Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young in a box of records and dropped the needle on “Our House.”

We sang and celebrated the beginning of what would be a grand adventure.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Unoccupied

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #111: stuff happens

An All Too Brief Pandemic Pause

 

on the road

What a sight it was a week ago Friday.

Six hours of driving (almost) nonstop. Highways to city streets to country roads. Following the GPS lady’s directions – every minute bringing us closer to our CovidCation. The weather was beautiful – almost too good to be true.

Faster and faster we drove (well I did…my husband’s foot is not as leaden as mine).

We were out-running a virus after all.

Get my lunch out of the backseat please! The car was packed with 2 coolers, 2 suitcases and laundry baskets full of necessities. My gluten free toaster in one of them. As we learned bringing our kids to college, laundry baskets work out well for car trips…as they can nest when they’re empty for the trip home.

It occurred to me that travel by car meant I could bring Full Size Bottles of whatever I wanted. So I did.

My laptop and our cameras…carefully packed. We remembered the tripod for a group photo. Paw Patrol bubbles (but of course). Decks of cards. Guitar.

We arrived at the lake house in the Pocono Mountains around 6:30 pm.

Within a minute a short blonde 4 year old came running out…Grandma! And somehow he was up in my arms with his arms wrapped around my neck, legs encircling my waist. I don’t know how I picked him up but I must have. The first full on leap into my arms hug since February. Far too long.

After that, my daughter and I shared a good long hug. Face to face for the first time in 6 months. Then hugs for my son-in-law, my son and his girlfriend. We had tested and quarantined and stayed safe. Carefully planned and orchestrated.

All those hugs felt so good.

Of course we were joined by the two family dogs: Lutra and Taco (who have been featured in this blog before). They enjoyed themselves immensely as well.

We were in our own little bubble.

bubbles

A four day pause from virus fears.

firepit

What a sight to see.

No masks.

No social distancing…except from the family swimming across the lake.
(Grandma which one is the dada and which one is the mama? Grandma I think the bigger one is the dada….)

ducks

It was glorious.

~~~

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #109: What a Sight
Ragtag Daily Prompt: Pause
SixWordSaturday

Macro Monday: Salty Pop

 

macro pop

My husband and I have popcorn making down to a science of deliciousness, using an electric popper that stirs the kernels as they pop in extra light olive oil. We have tried sesame oil as well. Either oil does the trick for flavor and eliminates the need for butter. As it sits steaming in its clear plastic bowl, I add the salt.

Popcorn has been my snack of choice for decades. Last week a fresh batch caught the setting sun streaming into the kitchen…resulting in an impromptu photo session.

We were preparing for an evening of entertainment…stay-at-home pandemic style. One of many such evenings since March. First on the list was catching up on movies we had meant to see before the Academy Awards broadcast in February. Movies such as Bombshell and Richard Jewell, which feature nominated actresses. Both films were excellent.

We also discovered an amazing documentary from 2015: The Wrecking Crew. And checked out a movie released right before movie theaters closed…The Way Back.

Who knows when we will be able to enter a movie theater again the “old way.” Without worrying about our health and safety. Local theaters are opening this week but with new rules and procedures. I’m not sure when I will feel comfortable trusting that those sitting nearby will follow those rules. In the meantime, we have our own homestyle theater which works just fine. Along with the best popcorn around.

 

Ragtag Daily Prompt: SALTY

Fandango’s Friday Flashback – December 27

This post inspired by Fandango’s Friday Flashback – December 27

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember?..Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year?

~~~

This post is from December 27, 2018 in response to the Ragtag Daily Prompt.

******

This post inspired by Ragtag Daily Prompt: Corpulent

Corpulent

Corpulent

“My doctor says I’m too heavy.”

“I feel so huge.”

“I just hate this roll of fat on my hips.”

“I’ve always been on the big side.”

“I’m just a little overweight.”

“When I was a kid, I was considered chunky.”

I was a registered dietitian for many years, providing one-to-one diet counseling at hospitals and clinics. Doctors referred patients for weight loss diets…for a variety of reasons. Blood lipids too high. Blood pressure too high. Blood sugar too high. Joints wearing away.

Or…”to be more healthy.”
As if it was that simple…

I met with a young woman who cried with the shame of being criticized by her mother growing up. Because she was overweight.

A man whose parents belittled him at the dinner table when he served himself a second helping of potatoes.

A teenage boy who needed to be weighed on the hospital wheelchair scale. Bullied at school. Dropped out. Working on his GED.

A young man whose wife would put a box of chocolates in his bureau drawer to tempt him. She was chubby too.

Countless women – of all ages – were embarrassed to be sitting across from me, as if they had committed a sin.

To be fat. Corpulent. Obese. Chunky. Chubby. Portly. Overweight. Whatever you name it…is to be branded less than. Ostracized in our first world society.

Often facing an exhausting lifetime battle with food.
How much. When. Where. Why.
Most doctors don’t realize that food is just one piece of this puzzle.

You don’t have to do this, I’d say when calling to set up an appointment…if I sensed reluctance.

But the doctor said I have to.

It is your decision no matter what the doctor says.

There would be a pause in the conversation.

Really?

Yes. It’s up to you. If you aren’t ready, we can wait.

Most of the time, the appointment was made.
The patient showed up. Often wary.
And we’d talk. About goals. Typical meals.
Eating history. Likes. Dislikes.

Sometimes there was crying. Or almost crying.
Stories of shunning. Lost opportunities. Self-hatred.

So much emotional pain.
Because a body is large…
Soothed for years
With foods that comfort.

Only to face doctor’s orders
to take those foods away.

I often asked myself…
Is it worth it?

******

 

Pupil

Inspiration: Ragtag Daily Prompt: Pupil

 

5th grade
Public School Fifth Grade
New Jersey
1964

I rarely hear the term pupil anymore. At least as it applies to schoolchildren.

However, back in the olden days – the 1960s – I was a pupil. One of many pupils in my 5th grade class. A large class by today’s standards…after all we were the babyboomers.  Schools would be scrambling to accommodate us for years to come.

Bizarre at it sounds, I still recognize those classmates – and can name almost all of them. Perhaps not always for the best reasons.

Fifth grade – when I turned 11 – remains sharp in my memory.  There is Andy, twin brother of Ellen, who I had a mad crush on. Probably because he complimented me on my kickball skills at recess. Debby…whose house I visited to play games and sleep over. Patti Ann, Judy and Dianne…the mean girl trio who took turns making my life miserable. Except when they didn’t and I thought we were friends. Kathy…the girl who was taller than me…a rare occurrence. Johnny…whose science experiment once blew up. Meredith…bullied because she was overweight. Eric…the boy who I think had a crush on me…although I was as clueless as they came. So who knows.

The only dress code of sorts applied to girls. We had to wear dresses or skirts. Except on once-a-week gym days. My favorite day of the week…pants!…sneakers!

Boys could wear whatever they wanted. Neckties only came out on school picture day.

In addition to Math, Science, Reading, etc., we were also graded on Penmanship, Behavior and Effort. Girls had gym and health class separate from the boys. Often a pupil…like me…stood in front of her class and gave the Spelling tests. And missed Social Studies to correct them for the teacher.

I wonder what happened to those kids. Now in their 60’s. The mean girls do not look as mean as I remember. I see no angry faces…or narrowed eyes…or…evidence of what happened. I also look happier than I was. It’s an odd perspective.

My family moved to another town when I started sixth grade.

I never saw those kids again.