Posts Tagged ‘winter’

Baby, it’s cold outside…

March 14, 2017

…and if I say that it’s because the low today is 40° and we’re in serious danger of some patchy frost, my sisters and family and all of my friends just might will most definitely chuck snowballs at me with enough force for them to make it.

Because it’s blizzarding back home, with about 20 inches forecast, so what – maybe three-foot drifts? I’m trying to remember. Enough that one sister (at least) joined the milk and bread (and wine) crazies, and bought a flotilla of apples – enough that her flotilla would be even when she lashed the apples together, making me worry that my other sister had hacked the first one’s account – one sister with OCD is all I can handle – and then reported back that she also got four bottles of wine (evidence again), two kinds of cheese (evidence for), and a frozen cake. DEFINITELY RHI, THEN! (Kim would have bought baking supplies.) So the Stisters are okay.

Meanwhile, I wore a sweater with a deep (and really cute) v-cut in the front and back necklines and I’m freezing. Because I forgot my scarf. The scarf that would cover that one teeny tiny patch and then I’d be nice and toasty warm. I did remember a coat, because my blood felt awfully thin when I opened the back door to let the dog out. It’s a good thing I know for a fact that my blood thickens right up again when I go home for visits, or there would be some sort of madcap immersion therapy going on right now.

You know – after I got over being cold because my neck is uncovered.

Good thing it’s going to warm up to 67° later!! (Here is where I tell you that I have three extra beds, a couch, and a lot of floor space for those who want to evacuate before the next Snowpocalypse.) Have fun storming the castle, everyone! Let me know, occasionally, that you haven’t gone all REDRUM!


#AMonthOfFaves: 5 Must Haves for Winter Survival!

December 20, 2016


Brrrr! Winter has finally shown in face in North Texas – and because I’m a weirdo from New England, I’m rather enjoying the frigid air because Christmastime is supposed to be cold!

Just in time for that cold air, today’s prompt from #AMonthOfFaves asks for everyone’s favorite tips for surviving winter. So let me share a few of my tricks. I’m trying to think of different answers, and keep the conversation lively,


Layers, layers, layers! Being cold is miserable, so my first counter-move against winter’s miserable temps is to bundle up! Simple, yes – but is anything more satisfying than pulling on a chunky knit sweater over feeling warmth, glorious warmth? Tank tops, long sleeve shirts, knee-high wool socks, leggings under jeans – I’ll take it all! And fancy sweaters just make my heart happy.




Re-reading favorite books! There’s something about those cold, winter nights, when it gets dark out early and you’re just bone-tired when you crawl into bed. I re-read favorite books any time of year, but having a story to fall back into can make winter nights so cozy! Pair it with the perfect flannel or jersey sheets, a super-soft (but perfectly firm) memory foam mattress, lighting that’s bright enough to keep you up, but dim enough to make you sleepy, and pajamas so comfy they’re almost worn out. Now that is the perfect way to spend a winter evening!

glovesCreature comforts in the office. It’s all about the little things, isn’t it? So I’m not above introducing a few silly little things to my work day to warm me up. (My office doesn’t believe in heat, you see.) Some Most Every morning I turn on my illegal space heater to warm up the air enough so my toes don’t fall off from frostbite. I have a mug of tea or hot apple cider to gather the mental energy to make it through the rest of the morning afternoon day. Some mornings I even need to put on a pair of fingerless gloves and a scarf to keep me from running, screaming, back to my cozy, cozy bed. And those gloves – they feel like a dream. They’re the softest things I’ve ever felt!

tobThe Tournament of Books ramp up and throw down. Just about the time I start feeling all my feelings about football (the season is too long, my team is too injured, the world is ending because we didn’t advance in the playoffs, etc., etc.), the good people of The Morning News release the longlist for the Tournament of Books and my nerdy book chums and I fall on it like whoa. I start highlighting and crafting lists and poaching books from the library like… well, a really uncivilized person who couldn’t give too hoots how uncouth they look. Discussing books and characters and voice and plot with my friends is always the best part of my day, but the TOB always falls during the perfect time of year – just when I need something to carry me through the darkest, coldest months. It’s just the spark I need to get me super-excited about reading again!

owlProjects, projects, projects! Sometimes what I need is a new project to get me excited about everything again. When you’re engaged with the world, you don’t seem to mind that it’s 16° outside. Okay, yes, yes you still care that it’s winter and the cold will never end, but at least you have something to take your mind off it! I have a bunch of crafty type projects that I’ve been tackling (huzzah for Christmas crafts!), and there’s a certain writing project I’ve dusted off again. Having time to myself – entire weekends, in fact – is a glorious thing. And there is more than running the C25K program again that’s caught my eye. Rehabbing my spirits along with this body is definitely something I’m working on this winter. I’ve sulked long enough – now it’s time to roll up my sleeves and get to work!

Surviving winter is more than just lotioning up your dry skin and conditioning your hair – not that that’s unimportant! It’s just that I like to work on the bigger picture. All of you has to be happy. What about you – what do you guys do to survive? Pile on your tips and tricks so I can steal some of my favorites!


#AMonthOfFaves: What they said edition.

December 11, 2015


Good morning, everybody! Well, I don’t know about you, but I am sure in need of some joy this morning after that very long week. So thank you to our hosts: Andi at Estella’s Revenge, Tamara at Traveling with T., and Tanya at GirlXoXo! They are doing such a good job keeping us on task, and with a smile on our faces. It’s such a good time of year to remember all that we have and everything we’re really friggin’ good at! Am I right, you guys?!

And because sometimes it’s easier to recognize someone else’s awesomeness than it is to recognize our own, today’s prompt in #AMonthofFave is to List five posts from this week that really hit home and you think everyone else should check out. Um, I might be paraphrasing.

1. The incredible video Andi linked to this morning about all the bullshit women have to listen to in a lifetime because the world is filled with idiots. The video is incredibly powerful and if it doesn’t open your eyes, you might be part of the problem.

2. Amy’s list of new-to-her authors, over at Read a Latte. I’ve read every author she listed, which means I get to pour through her reviews and make a new book buddy! Book twinners are a really rare thing and I can’t wait to talk books with Amy!

3. I am definitely bookmarking Sarah’s list for me (er, well, ALL non-tech savvy bloggers) when she talked about blogging essentials over at Sarah’s Book Shelves.

4. Stacey over at A Novel Life? Her book bloggers’ planner might make it’s way into my stocking. Just sayin’.

5. And Kristen’s most memorable read of the year, The Suicide Shop, jumped right onto my To Be Read shelf. I can’t wait to dive in! It sounds so intriguing; I can’t wait to share my thoughts!

So there you go my pretties! Spread the love today and remember to be kind to someone. If their week has been anything like mine, they’ll need it!!

A poser, maybe.

November 11, 2014

It’s mornings like this one that make me laugh at myself and wonder, exactly, what in the world I’m doing. It’s a bit brisk this morning. A rather seasonal 41°, with a wind chill that brings our lovely temps down to 32°. As Gracie laughingly said (more than once, because ten), it’s freezing out – literally.

Okay, so not freezing and not literally. But almost.

Which is why I kept laughing at myself. In my head, of course, because it’s morning and I’m not caffeinated yet and let’s not get carried away. I mean, sure the first cold front of the season pushed through – the first one with any bite, anyway – but it’s going to warm up to fifty degrees, people! Let’s not get carried away!

Still, the near-festive atmosphere makes me wonder if I’ve lost my Yankee creds. 41° and I’m pulling out a sweater and wearing boots, picking out cords instead of dress pants and refusing to wear anything that requires pantyhose and dress shoes? Good grief! What am I going to do when I move back home and we call this weather Sepetember?! Or add rain and call it spring, for Pete’s sake!

But then I stopped the self-flagellation before it got out of hand. I wore a three-quarter sleeve shirt under my sweater for when it warms up this afternoon. I only pulled out lightweight jackets for the girls to wear (over their long sleeve shirts and sweaters), not their winter coats. I still plan on running after work, and in shorts no less! (50° is my cut-off for shorts and tshirts, I’ve discovered through many a trial-and-error.) So maybe I haven’t wimped out completely.

Still. I think I’ll keep an eye on myself to make sure I don’t slide down this slippery slope any further. Otherwise it’s going to be an awfully rude awakening in nine years when I go back to where the “real” cold lives!

Probably the fog of who-the-heck-am-I? didn’t help.

November 14, 2013

I love this time of year. Things are finally starting to feel like fall. The occasional tree has a burst of color on two or three leaves, there are a few piles of suddenly-dead-overnight leaves on the ground, the wind is starting to feel decidedly cool, and it’s only 70° once a week or so. In other words, Fall has arrived in North Texas.

This year, it’s not just your ordinary Fall, either. This year we’re dipping into decidedly cooler temps, much to my Christmasing delight. A few mornings this week, the temps have hovered around the 30° mark – that usually doesn’t happen until late December! But I’m not complaining. I’m not. Sure, it would great if the gap between shutting off the a/c and turning on the heater for the first time was a little longer, but just because I’m a cheapskate who doesn’t want to pay to heat (or cool) the house. Still, miserly qualities aside, I did turn the heat on this weekend just to burn the chill off of the air. The thermostat was hovering around the mid-60s and the forecast didn’t have a big warm-up planned. I figured I might as well turn on the heater for just a little while, make sure everything seemed to be okay, and that would be that.

And it was. The heater made it’s usual clanging noise the first time it charged to life, it shook off the dust from the year before, and everything seemed to hum right along. I didn’t even smell the usual burny smell that permeated the house the first time you turn it the heater on. (Guess what? That’s important.)

The cooler air stuck around this week, and night time temps have dipped down into the 30s almost every night. Tuesday night I crawled into bed, happy that the heater was working – because who doesn’t love crawling under a pile of covers and falling asleep with warm air gently blowing onto your bed? – and fell into a deep, deep sleep (thanks in part to a painkiller from my surgery that morning).

Of course, then I popped awake at 3:30 in the morning and wondered what in the world that smell was. It was kind of burny, but not the PANIC!-the-house-is-on-fire kind of burning smell. It’s was more like oh-good-grief-what’s-wrong-with-the-heater kind of smell. It seemed stronger than the usual burn-off of dust that happens every year, and besides, the heater had run at least twice without that smell, so what the heck?! What do I do? I get up and go from room to room, trying to decide if it’s worse in one room or another. (It wasn’t.) And then, because it’s what people do when it’s 3:30 in the morning and they’ve been dead asleep, and are possibly still fogged up with meds, I grabbed a flashlight and pulled down the attic stairs and crawled into the attic to make sure the heater unit wasn’t smoking or…I don’t know…doing something obviously wrong. (It wasn’t.) I had no idea what could be causing that smell. The blower (or motor? Or…something…else?) sounded like it was hiccuping every few minutes. Maybe something was burning out? Maybe it was about to quit altogether? Maybe some wires were faulting and we were going to burn to the ground? Eventually I convinced myself it was just the dust. Probably. And I figured that if something went wrong, the smoke alarms would go off, or Fen would bark and wake us up. Hey – I couldn’t find anything wrong. Everything seemed to be working. And 30 minutes later (yes, I was still awake) when the heat kicked on again, I couldn’t smell anything burning. So I finally fell back asleep and woke up to tell the tale the next morning.

One of these years I swear I am not going to panic when my heater makes the same dang smell when it burns off the dust from the next year. Just apparently not this year.

Shut up, Guilt – it’s a life lesson.

November 15, 2012

My daughters are pretty great people. Even if I do say so myself. But even with all their greatness, they are still eight and still six. They need a lot of parenting is my point. Sometimes that parenting takes the form of reminder after reminder after reminder. I don’t mind that so much. Because they’re eight and six and I love them and it’s sort of my job.

Sometimes parenting means teaching them the hard way.

Last night when I picked up the Bee-girl from daycare, I saw her hoodie hanging out of her backpack, but I didn’t see her jacket. (Don’t you LOVE when the day starts out at 32° and ends at 68°? ME TOO!! Snort:lie) Rather than assume or hope or whatever-you-wanna-call-it that her jacket was stuffed into her backpack, I asked if she had it. I got that blank look that only a six-year-old can deliver, and then Bee turned on her heels and walked into her classroom to get it. Rinse, lather, and repeat and you have just about every at pick-up time. Bee came back – with her jacket – and off we went to get her sister.

When Gracie separated herself from her afterschool friends and walked over to us, I noticed her backpack looked suspiciously flat. “Do you have your jacket?” I asked. She assured me she did. I ignored Bee, who was pulling on my arm and asking to use the bathroom, and asked Gracie, “Are you sure?” Annoyed, she shot back and emphatic YES! “Your sweatshirt and your jacket?” Because that backpack was f-l-a-t, yo. Booya – Gracie’s face fell. “Not my puffy jacket.” She had forgotten it in her classroom and her classroom had long since been locked. Of course.

Which brings me to my parenting dilemma: Gracie doesn’t have a second winter jacket. Neither of them do. So I told Gracie she was going to be cold this morning and let her go without. Even though it was 39° out when we left.

In my defense, there wasn’t a lot I could do. I’m not shelling out another $50 to have a back-up jacket sitting mostly unused in order to support my children’s forgetfulness. It would be lovely if I could afford beautiful woolen peacoats for the girls to wear to church and when they’re dressed up; they could serve as winter-wear when their “play” jackets were forgotten. But I don’t have that kind of money. And I’m not crazy about the message it sends to the girls, either: It doesn’t matter if you remember your coat or not, because there’s another one at home!

I hated sending Gracie into the cold this morning, but it was a short run from the street and into her dad’s house and it will be even shorter from his car into the school. Where she’ll find her best friend, Winter Jacket, waiting for her to wear to recess. (And hopefully home, too.) It’s not like she was walking to school. And maybe the cold air this morning will help jog her memory when she’s running around getting her things together from now on.

Then again, maybe not. She’s eight, after all.

Yes, I’m sentimental over a tree. Deal with it.

November 8, 2011

You know that teeny tiny snowstorm in New England? The one that happened a week and a half ago? The one that caused over 200,000 more customers to lose electricity than Hurricane Irene? That’s responsible for my sister’s electricity to still be out, 10 days later? It’s claimed its latest victims.

Most of the damage from Snowstorm Alfred (or whatever it is that the Altos have dubbed it) have occurred because the snow was the wet, heavy, break-yer-back-tryin’-to-shovel-it kinda snow. New Englanders hate that kinda snow. And for good reason. Your yard turns into a lake even before it starts to thaw. You can’t send your kids out to play in it because they come in a sopping mess. I’ve literally broken shovels trying to move it outta the way before. And then there’s the tree damage.

Branches come tumbling down, taking power lines with them. Whole trees are uprooted – the snow is that heavy. My mom lost one of the oak trees that grew from acorns my cousin and I planted when I was a wee lass. (Indeed, I was so little I don’t even remember doing it.) My sister and her friend used to climb those trees when they were kids. Good sturdy oaks, they were. And while I’m going to miss that tree, it’s not the one I’m heartbroken over. (Although I find I’m especially fond of that tree since it went out of its way to miss all the cars in the driveway.)

No, the trees I’m heartsick over are the giant weeping willows that lined my favorite view of Dorothy Pond. Look up at my header: see those beautiful willows? Those are the trees that died. My sister Rhi emailed me yesterday to say she had taken that road home from meeting her friend and saw that they had fallen into the pond. I nearly cried. Yes, nearly cried over a tree. (Well, two trees.) Go ahead – laugh at me. I don’t care. That stretch of Dorothy Pond stands for Millbury, my mom’s home town. I have framed pictures of it in my house. My dad took me fishing there one summer, just him, me, and my Snoopy fishing pole. Those trees are ones I smiled at every time I drove past, which I made a point to do every time I could.

And now they’re gone. Worse than gone, I feel like they’re haunting Dorothy Pond. Rhi emailed me again last night to comment on the way the willows were lying just below the shallow water there at the edge; their branches swirling around, barely visible. She said it was so hypnotic she drifted into the other lane. Good thing there wasn’t traffic or more pond on the other side of the road!

I wonder if anyone in Millbury remembers the beginning of those trees. I wonder how long they’ve lived and whether anyone else will miss them. I wonder if anyone will fish them out of the water, or whether their current incarnation will become part of the landscape. And I wonder if whoever lives in the house next door will let me plant some new ones next time I’m in town.

The start of another season.

November 4, 2011

Whereas New England has already been whomped with its first big snowstorm of the season (and, yes, Kim was traveling) and my sisters have yet to get their electricity back a week later, fall and winter are just beginning to show their faces around here.

It’s been dipping into the 40s at night this past week, but it’s been warm enough that  t-shirt and yoga pants are usually enough to keep us warm inside our houses. But last night, oh last night it made it down to 37 glorious degrees. The weather people were talking freeze warnings, and I tried esplaining to them that water doesn’t freeze until it hits 32°, but something about the TVs sound only working one way or whatever. It wouldn’t have mattered – I’ve learned since moving to hell Tejas that there are two kinds of freeze warnings: your average Freeze Warning, which we northerners would call a frost warning, and then a Hard Freeze Warning, which means to cover yer dang pipes, for those who live where it is 110° six months of the year do not know about wintering homes.

Ahem. But I was saying that we’ve had our week of Fall and now winter is starting to peek in the windows. Last night the heat turned on for the first time and I had to worry all morning about whether that was a “normal” burning smell, or whether my attic and heating unit were going up in flames. I had to pull out the afghans Grandma made the girls from where they had been wedged between Bee’s bed and the wall and scrunched at the bottom of Gracie’s upper bunk. I even had to dig out the girls’ fleece winter pajamas because 37° is a wee nippy when it was 65° the night before. That’s when I realized that Gracie had indeed grown several inches (and an entire size) over the course of the year. All of her fleecy pajamas were three-sizes too small….wait, nope. My bad. That’s the Grinch. Check that – one-and-a-half sizes too small. So I guess we’re stopping at Target tonight so my baby’s shins and ankles can be warm tonight in something other than fleece floods.

What is it with the start of this  season that just hits me in the gut? The pajamas hit me hardest – mah baybee is growing so quickly and for some reason buying jeans the next size up, and dresses in a size large for the length because MY GOD her legs go all the way up to her chin, and the fact that she is now wearing sizes they carry in the tween-helldom that is Justice – none of that affects me like having to buy new pajamas. Why is that, moms? Maybe because during the day I see glimmers of the obnoxious tweendom that is around the corner, but at night Gracie is still my baby, willing to snuggle and listen to me read out loud to her and her sister, still innocent and in need of her mama to tuck her in.

The Christmas shopping is getting harder for that one, too. Thank god for my Barbies and baby-doll lovin’ Bee-girl, because Gracie is asking for spy gear and chapter books and Legos and skateboards, really – it’s all fun, but so much more grown-uppish than Polly Pockets and doll furniture.

Don’t worry – I’m not moping. It’s impossible to mope when you get to wear your scarf for the first time (I’m thinking of starting a fire for warmth here in ThePlaceWeShan’tDiscuss) and you listen to Andrea Bocelli sing Christmas carols to you on the way to work. I’ll think about what kind of pies to bake for Thanksgiving and how I can build fires in the fireplace for lazy Sundays at home without worrying about little ones getting too close. And I bet they’re big enough for a nice, friendly, cut-your-own snowflake making contest.

Really, this winter will be filled with magic. And lots of new pajamas.

Then stay home.

January 9, 2011

There is a reason we yankees feel all superior to certain Southern yahoos. Case in point: North Texas is supposed to get a little snow tomorrow and tonight we have freezing rain while the temps drop to single digits. Because this is so way out of the realm of the usual, there is special coverage on TV and all manner of excitement. Because the weather is seasonable. Snort.

Cue my drive home tonight after a spectacularly horrible playoff game. (Really, Colts? I team up with you for one lousy game and you kill our alliance that quickly?) My plan originally was to stay out and head home in the morning, but what with all the freezing temps and the murky snow/ice line, I thought it was probably a better idea to be safe instead of stuck. So I drove home.

Along with all of the idiots in the known world.

(They were probably Jets fans, too.)

Can I just say to that beat-up, multi-colored Explorer: THERE ARE TWO LANES. If you’re going to go 50 on the highway because ooooh, it’s starting to rain, then pull back over to the right lane so that the rest of us can go 65 mph as God and the DOT intended! Oh, wait, he couldn’t because there was another idiot in the next lane who was going only slightly slower than the Explorer guy I affectionately call “my” idiot. We won’t even get into how everyone tapped stepped on their brakes right before crossing a bridge. You know, because it’s been above freezing here for weeks, but there still might! be! ice!

Tell ya what: you might not hit the (non-existent) ice, but you’re still going to have to call your State Farm guy when I plow into the back of you because you’re an idiot who doesn’t know how to drive and you think suddenly slamming on your brakes is The Safe Thing To Do.

Tell ya what: it might not be much of a storm, but I am staying home, baking potato soup, and letting everyone out there annihilate themselves. It will make for a much smoother – and quieter – commute on Monday morning.

A day without Sars.

February 13, 2010

So, Sars isn’t here. Her day on Thursday went exactly as we imagined it would, unfortunately. Fort Worth received just over a foot of snow throughout the day. Albany received two inches of snow. Cincinnati – where she was connecting – well, I’m not sure how much (if any) snow was on the ground, but that city wasn’t much of anything other than a holding pen for the destruction of our plans. Sars had called Delta and begged them to let her switch her flight. They weren’t having it. She explained that she would get stuck in Cincinnati when they went ahead and canceled the flight. Delta’s agents’ hearts were made of stone. So Sars made it to Cincinnati just in time for her DFW flight to get canceled. Since the earliest she could re-book would get her in to DFW less than 24 hours before she had to turn around and leave, she opted to go back to Albany (and she even had to wait an entire day for that flight).

Every one was pretty much heartbroken.

So yesterday, absent any entertainment for the girls or for me, my day went pretty much something like this:

  • Girls wake up at 6:30 a.m., 6:40 a.m., 6:55 a.m. and at 7:03 a.m. I finally give in and let them get up.
  • Explain why Sars wasn’t there.
  • The girls ask to play outside. I make them eat their breakfast instead. I’m mean like that.
  • I explain for the 843rd time that Sars isn’t coming because her plane doesn’t work in the snow.
  • I finally give in and bundle them up to play in the snow. They play on their own for half a minute before begging me to come make a snowman. I give in because how often can you make a snowman in Texas?
  • The girls wish out loud that Sars was there. I curse Delta and explain why they can’t use those words out loud.
  • I come inside and let the girls play on their own. Amazingly, they play outside long enough for me to finish Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. I think to myself that baking with Sars would be much more fun than reading about death.
  • The girls come inside and I throw load #6 of snow-induced laundry (in two days) into the washer.
  • I cook comfort foods for lunch since Sars isn’t here. Grilled cheese and fritos for me, raviolios for Gracie, leftover mac & cheese for Bee. We still miss Sars, but at least our tummies are happy for a few minutes.
  • I make a break for it and head to Target. (It was either that or re-read The Shining to remind myself of what NOT to do.) We pick up new jeans for Bee, wander up and down every aisle to kill some time, and pick up a few things to make a care package for Sars.
  • We count the fallen tree limbs on the way home and dodge a couple ourselves. I got stuck just twice – both times while trying to back over the snow and slush in the driveway and into the garage.
  • I finished the baking all by myself (Stupid weather. Stupid Delta!) and convinced the girls to pick up the house in case Auntie Kim’s flight actually made it the next day (let’s not jinx ourselves, right?).
  • A quick dinner of leftovers, Gracie’s finished her first chapter book, earned her dollar bookmark and walked on air the rest of the night, and the IO came over to finish up Season 1 of Lost. (He only has 4 more to go before he’s caught up.)

We made it through the day, but it just felt flat. The good news is that the roads are clear and Kim is supposed to be here by 3 p.m. The bad news is that she already texted me to say that her first flight is delayed by 25 minutes.

Cross. your. fingers.