Winter Storm Watcher

Greetings from The Polar Ice Cap, otherwise known as New Jersey.  We have 15 new inches of snow today in my town.  We haven’t seen a patch of our  lawn since Christmas Day.  People are getting cranky.  Our local Home Depot is bringing in spare snow blowers from its Utah locations to keep up with demand.  It has been quite a winter, and it’s only January.

But I don’t mind all of this.  I’m a freak — I sort of love it.  Always have. 

There’s the beauty.

The quiet.

Kids in pajamas.  Hot chocolate.  Baking.  (Or, slicing pre-made cookie dough and placing it in the oven until gooey.  But whatever — it counts, right?)

{Are you kidding me?  What about the shoveling, the freezing cold, the cranky kids crawling up the walls, the grocery store madness and the treacherous driving?  What do you have to say about that?  HUH?}

Yeah, yeah, all that gets annoying.  I’m not toally zen, trust me.  But I just like a good snowy winter for the most part.

So here’s my real guilty pleasure in a snow storm.  Two words:  Storm Watch.  It’s true, I love to watch it unfold on the news — and it’s always in three distinct stages. 

The Before:  Watching the system, looking at the projected track, timing, etc.  The interviews with the sand truck guys.  The lame statements from transit companies and the local government.  The footage of people in the supermarket or at the hardware store, saying ridiculous things, buying obscene amounts of supplies for The End of Days. 

The During:  I love me some good shots of the road conditions, the sanders in action and the complaining jerks who still drive for non-essential purposes, despite all warnings (see Before).  And of course, the reporters assigned to the wretched “stand in the heart of the storm and report back live” assignment.  (Full apologies to my dear friend R, who has this very job at times.  But she rocks it.)  The storm timeline is honed and the anticipated total snowfall refined — complete with the scrolling ticker of local school closures.  Bring.  It.

[Side note:  As a kid in a very rural town, the most reliable way to find out if school was delayed or canceled was to listen for a series of sirens to sound from the local volunteer fire company.  No, I’m not kidding.  Yes, I’m 100 years old.  Perhaps smoke signals or carrier pigeons would have worked as well.]

Ooooh and the airport sleepers.  Love them.  That’s kind of heartless — sorry.  I’m sure my mom taught me better than to have my entertainment come at the expense of folks sleeping on a nasty chair at JFK.  Clearly, karma will come full circle on me one day.

The After:  The Man on the Street interviews complaints.  The government cleanup, or lack thereof.  The statistics — often accompanied by The Surprise Factor (“Folks, we sure didn’t anticipate this one to be quite so bad.”)  And then the big pièce de résistance — Oh, I do love a good, final, official, going-in-the record-books snow accumulation chart.   


And I secretly love to win, or at least place well, in the rankings. (“You guys got 5 inches?  Oh, really?  It must have turned to sleet earlier for you.  We got 9.77489 at the top of the last hour…I, uh, heard.”).

Just to be clear — because I don’t want anyone to misunderstand.  I don’t revel in anyone’s injury or peril.  I’m not pro-hypothermia and I don’t ever find car accidents amusing.  At all.  I totally respect the overtime and hard work that all kinds of professions put in during a snow storm to keep us safe.  And I don’t want anyone delivering a baby on the side of an icy highway.  So, remember, I’m talking about the rest of it — the fluff, the collective madness of a snow storm.  That is where my nerdy Storm Love resides.  

***End of ethical disclaimer***

So.  Everyone is already groaning about a few new inches that we’re expecing over the weekend.  Fine by me.  And then, there’s some vague reference from the meterologists along the lines of  “Let’s not even get into what’s possibly on the radar for Tuesday.”  Yes, they are now just about withholding information because the Metro NYC area’s collective psyche just can’t handle any more thoughts of snow. 

Except me — I’m tuned in and ready for The Before to begin.  Again.

{All TV shots courtesy WABC-TV NY}

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Irrational Fear: Crock Pots

I have several irrational fears, some more embarrassing than others.  One that I’m willing to publicly admit is my fear of a crock pot burning my house down. 

The whole premise of this appliance goes against basic logic:  Plug it in.  Let it get really hot.  Add liquids, spices, etc.  Then ignore, and even leave unattended — for hours. 


Didn’t you people ever attend Fire Safety Week assemblies in elementary school?  Next you’ll tell me you didn’t learn the Duck & Cover method with a healthy fear of Soviet nuclear weapons being aimed at your hometown.

My crock pot fire fear may also stem from this recurring conversation in my teens, always after getting in the car with my mother.

  • Mom:  Did you turn off the curling iron?
  • Me:  Uh.  I think so.  Can I get the new Duran Duran cassette?
  • Mom:  Is the curling iron on or off?
  • Me:  Uh.  I might have left it on, right next to that can of Aqua Net. 
  • Mom:  Turn the car around.  You’re going to burn the house down.
  • Me:  But I’m going to be late to the roller skating party…

{Yes, I used a curling iron *and* Aqua Net.  It was the 80s.  In New Jersey.  Snooki had nothing on us.}

Anyway.  Back to the crock pot.  I just can’t get my head around it.

But people swear by it, and I’m completely in favor of something that simultaneously makes my life easier and cooks good meals.  So let’s just say, for argument’s sake, that I tried crock potting.  If I were to do this on a day when I can remain at home, within extinguishable reach of the countertop, what should I make?  If you crock and it makes dinnertime less stressful, I’m all ears.  Please share.

Or, if you’ve had a crock-related fire mishap, tell me about that too.  Remember, I was the girl who may or may not have left the hot curling iron next to the Aqua Net (I think the spiral perm chemicals went to my brain).  I need all the safety tips I can get.

I have to go upstairs and check on the iron now.

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One Track Mind

I would love to know what causes a song to get stuck in your head.  We’ve all had it happen and sometimes it’s a couple of hours, maybe a day or two.

Well, I’m now going on five days since I watched the last episode of Glee, and in that time, Gwyneth Paltrow has basically moved in with me.

I didn’t even know the damn song (though it appears I’m the last one on Earth to have heard it), but I liked it right away.  The sort of old school R&B sound — some hybrid between maybe Al Green and a tamer Sly Stone — sucked me in, though it was pulled off by an Oscar-winning blonde, who, apparently,  has zero flaws.  (By the way, am I the only one who wanted Gwyneth not to be a great singer, to make the rest of us feel just a little better?  If she sucks at something, just one thing, that would be great.)

So there was the catchy song, over and over in my head, but not knowing the words was making it worse — or so I thought. I downloaded it and figured if I played it a few times I’d get it out of my system.  If I could sing along, instead of mumbling like a lunatic, maybe I’d be able to purge it from my memory.

Epic fail.  Now I know all of the words and it’s like an eternal repeat loop in my head.  My kids were dancing to it yesterday at breakfast.  P likes it too.  We need a family intervention for someone to come and take Gwynnie away.

I had some time alone in the car yesterday and blasted the radio in the hopes of deleting Gwyneth & Co from my head.  No.  I even resorted to Christmas songs.  Ugh, no.  I watched Thomas the Tank Engine with my son and figured I’d at least get the annoying Sodor tunes to take over for a while inside my mind.  No.  Nothing is working.  And I like the song (somehow, still) but please — somebody, make it stop. 

I may have to be hit in the head, hard.

In the meantime, I figure maybe I shouldn’t suffer alone.  So, here — welcome to my personal hell.  Enjoy. 

YouTube Preview Image

Who’s on Glee next week?  I should prepare myself now.

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Fear of Flying

I don’t know that I’ll ever be comfortable flying.  On the “dislike scale,” I range from hesitant to terrified pretty unevenly.  Today, I am somewhere closer to really, really nervous.

I know the odds are always in my favor.  It still rattles me, especially when flying alone and far like I’m doing tonight.  I don’t know how the road warriors of the business world do it — all that travel, all those planes.  Not for me.  Perhaps I’ll just conjure up images of George Clooney from “Up in the Air” to calm my nerves.  That could work.

Or maybe seeing an image of a nice, peaceful-looking flight will help.

Now that I’m looking at it again, it sort of reminds me of the opening sequence of “Lost.”  Perhaps not the best calming tactic.  I would be terrible going up against the smoke monster and drinking Dharma beer in a hatch.

Or maybe I’ll just have to rely on wine and in-flight enterainment to be my travel friends.  And fun awaits me when I land, so here’s to a calm head prevailing.

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Tales From a Garage Sale Virgin

I’m a huge nerd for being so happy about the success of our garage sale this weekend.  I hate clutter, so the purger in me was thrilled by the cleansing aspect of the whole thing.  Plus it’s just fabulous people watching, right in your own driveway.  I didn’t have the nerve to take photos of people as they were shopping (and risk losing the sale), but let me tell you, there are images distinctly embossed in my mind, for better or worse.  Hello, cross-section of America — welcome to the side of my house.

Let me first say that we never made any progress on the prep front.  I mean, none.  My neighbor Donna was in her garage and basement for a couple of nights leading up to the big event, sorting through her stuff and getting it all ready.  She made all the signs to hang up around town (which were fabulous).  My meager contribution was a posting on Craigslist.

P and I vowed Friday night, right in line with our last-minute ways, to get into that basement and at least mentally sort through what was staying vs going.  Didn’t happen — I fell asleep on the couch at 9:00.  We rolled ourselves outside at 6:45 Saturday morning (for a 9am start time, now advertised all over town) and found Donna had practically set up a retail establishment in her driveway.  Apparently, while we foolishly slept, she had been outside until midnight and back out there at 5am getting ready.  She had so much stuff, all organized and merchandized.  Racks of clothing hanging up.  Rows of shoes.  Major furniture.  And a bunch of items in between.  She had a nice little home base table with a calculator and a fanny pack full of small bills and change.  Donna was a garage sale rock star.

We were humbled novices.

We were dragging our stuff up from the basement and realizing that this garage sale was forcing life decisions.

“Aren’t we putting all the baby stuff out for sale?”

“I don’t know, are we?  What if we need it again?”

Family planning conversations in the driveway at sunrise before coffee — yes, we were sorely underprepared.

But I will tell you that it all went unbelievably well.  Donna’s signs brought us tons of foot traffic, despite the early birds (What is with these people?   You have to show up for first dibs 30 minutes before start time?).  And we had a perfect weather day.  I’m sort of convinced Donna arranged that as well. 

For me and my Type A-ness, I really just wanted the stuff gone.  Yes, I was happy to get money for it but the value of purging it far outweighed its retail value in my mind. 

And because we have a little history of keep vs purge debates in our marriage, there were a few items that we each were keeping a watchful eye on during the sale. 

Item #1:  P’s rollerblades.  I have known him since 1999 and have never witnessed him on rollerblades, though he insists on moving them from home to home with us over the years.  (Sold!)

Item #2:  Rolling dice glassware set.  This is a very kitschy set that was gifted to us.  P wanted to get rid of it.  I don’t love it but it has some sentimental value to me.  (Not sold — though plenty of folks considered it, or maybe just pointed at it.)

Item #3:  Bucket of noisy children’s books.  I’m all for cute kids’ books, but you know that feeling of wishing for a particularly noise-making book to break?  I was done with some of the key offenders in this category and felt other families may not be annoyed as easily by them.  Many noisy books sold, except for the one I hate most — because I was dumb enough to keep it in plain sight where my son could notice and promptly reclaim it.  (Epic fail.)

Overall, I’d say we sold 90% of what we put out there — and managed to make some good money too.  So it was ok to be underprepared.  I think my sales associates were also helpful and quite charming.

My daughter handled the rug and pillows department.

And my son was the general greeter/sales manager.

So why is there still so much stuff in my basement?  We may have to do this again, come springtime.

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Operation Basement Purge

Six months in, I still don’t know my neighbors very well.  They are all very nice people, but the reality is that I’m not home much during the week and we just haven’t made it much beyond quick hellos in passing. 

But in one of these passing conversations in our adjancent driveways over the summer, my neighbor Donna and I got to talking somehow about junk in our houses and how it multiplies over time, etc.  She suggested a joint garage sale and, at the time, I thought it was great.  Yes, we said, let’s do that in the fall before it gets too cold out.

So Donna called me yesterday and, apparently, the time is now.  As in, next weekend.  I admire her ambition because, I think — at least from what she described — she is as ill-prepared as I am to get this together in a week.  But it’s now or never (well, now or springtime) and next weekend is the only time we could get our schedules to align in October. 

This seems like a bit more than I can deal with right now.  If you saw my basement, you might cry for me.  But I hate, HATE the clutter and we are hoping to refinish the basement before Christmas, so this seems to be the best motivating force we could have.  Go Donna.

Donna and I agreed to see how much respective progress we could make this weekend in getting our stuff organized enough to hit the Go button.  It’s going to be an interesting weekend. 

I’ll fill you in after the Official Assessment of Plausibility.  And with that, I’m fairly confident I’ll have an opportunity to cover one of the core yin and yang debates in my marriage:  Keep vs Toss.  More to come.

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