Tag Archives: winter

A Polar Vortex Photo-Op

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It’s cold outside.  I know this, not from a tremendous amount of personal experience because I am pretty sure no living creature in his/her right mind, and without fur, should test the limits of survival.  However, as I have already established (Live from the Polar Vortex), my cat is the only one who truly knows how to stay warm during these pv conditions. So, I trust her as my gauge and watch her intently for clues. That being said, even with all her fur (and, if you must know, fat) she only attempts outside jaunts long enough to “do her business”.  As I can “do my business” inside the warm house (although my boys don’t seem hampered by the same restrictions), I see no other purpose to leave it. And also, my trusty weather gauge, tells me to not make any sudden movements that would require leaving the house unless absolutely necessary,  like to get food or engage in the annoying activity called work.

Did I mention, it's cold?

Did I mention, it’s cold?

However, against my better judgment and self-preservation, I allowed my husband to talk me into a wilderness hike into our woods nearby.  Something about his words “to see the beauty”, “virgin snow” and “you are going to want to bring your camera” had me putting on as many layers as I could still stand up in, grabbing my camera and hoping to make it back home with fingers and toes still intact.

But, he was right.  It was beautiful and probably worth the risk of a little frost bite.

Winter Woods1

Winter Woods2

Winter Woods 3

Winter Woods 4

Winter Woods 5

Winter Woods 6

Winter Woods 7

Winter Woods 8

Winter Woods 9

Unfortunately, our woodland adventure ended when my husband had a disagreement with a hill as to whether his SUV could make it up its icy, snow covered surface in 4 wheel drive or not.  The answer was “not”,  with the end result being a backward slide into a tree that was kind enough to stop our decent, abruptly…

Unfortunate time of year for creative ventilation.

Unfortunate time of year for creative ventilation.

(Truthfully, his vehicles have looked worse)

The hike back out of the woods to get a ride home until his car could be towed out was somehow not quite as quaint,

Did it all of a sudden get colder?

Did it all of a sudden get colder?

But, we lived to tell about it, and then some.

The cat was the only one who stayed home…

Live From the Polar Vortex

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polar vortex

Yesterday, I went to the bank.  Exciting, I know.  But, I made a crucial discovery in the process.  You see, as I dumped into the teller’s space my unfinished deposit items, I expressed apologies for my inability to perform the simplest of math required to complete the deposit slip.  “That’s ok” she generously replied, “It’s too cold to think”.  In the words of Pre-Teen, who immortalized the phrase in our family after discovering a London street we had inadvertently walked down late one night was the “gay party street”…

”That explains a lot!!!”.

Too cold to think!  Of course! Suddenly all was explainable.  It explained why I can’t seem to write a blog to save my life (which aside from my recent run-in with a barbed wire fence hasn’t really been necessary), why I have been driving in circles on country roads in the quest to deliver my sons to sporting events (because how else to explain that after 12 years, I still have not mastered country-style direction following), and why I can’t seem to put two words together or remember anyone’s name (cause, like, in no way could that be age or anything).

Honestly, the whole Polar Vortex thing is getting on my nerves.  Aside from the “too cold to think” phenomenon (which, seriously, is the last thing I need as my thinking abilities are challenged under the warmest of conditions), and the fact that I can’t leave the house without cursing at the wind like a crazy lady, and those weather-chicken school officials who keep making my kids stay home with me, stuck in the house being bored, instead of in school annoying the teachers, (don’t they know waiting at the bus stop in sub-zero weather builds character?),  there are the questions.

For example, my husband, asking me every single morning – like my uterus is somehow hard wired into the Doppler radar – “What is the weather forecast for today?” (um cold, freezing or excuse-me-while-I-scream-in-agony-cold?).  Or from friends and family smugly living in my native California – like they don’t recall that anything under 60 degrees qualifies as “cold” in Cali (yeah, you know who you are) – “Is it cold there?”  (um, yeah, cold, freezing, and excuse-me-while-I-scream-in-agony cold).  Or from Teen and Pre-Teen who I suspect secretly just want me out of the way so they can watch a cagillioneth episode of Family Guy “Why are you watching Dexter…again!?” – (because the Miami setting makes me feel warm and I have a soft spot for a cute sociopath with heart, if you must know).

I can at least appreciate the question from friends who, like me once basked in the glory of a sunshine state but have now unwittingly found themselves relocated in a polar vortex – “Are you surviving the cold”  (since I wear gloves to grocery shop, I would have to say “No”).

One thing is for certain.  My cat, Lulubelle, doesn’t seem to have trouble thinking in the cold and has in fact figured out a way to survive and keep warm, which makes her the smartest member of our family.

You don't mind a few, or say hundreds of white hairs on your clean laundry, right?

You don’t mind a few, or say hundreds of white hairs on your clean laundry, right?

Yep, things are that bleak.

So for now,

I am coming to you live from the Polar Vortex…

But, only barely.

Resolutions Are For Chumps

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Freeze-your-buns-off-cartoon

On New Years Eve 2014, I was in Las Vegas and by the time midnight rolled around – man, I was flying high!

Ok, well, actually, I was delayed in the Las Vegas Airport on my way home on December 31 and when the midnight hour struck Jan. 1 2014, I was (finally) in the air somewhere over Kansas (which could be perceived as a good or bad omen depending on your POV).

Despite this scintillating passage into 2014, I have managed to hold onto my tradition of not really facing the prospects of a new year until long after interest has died away.

First of all let me say, in the words of my brother – “New Year’s Resolutions are for chumps.”  (in truth what he  said was “fruit is for chumps”, but, like a sea turtle, I adapted).

Bottom line, I don’t do resolutions.

That is not to say, however, there are not some things I wish I did better, such as; exercise more, eat less sugar, drink more water and less coffee, have a cleaner house, write more (maybe even write a New Year’s post actually on New Year’s), be a better wife and a cooler mom (the kind that lets them eat Doritos and use the microwave), put up holiday decorations more than a few days before a holiday and… have perkier boobs.  I would love to be the person that shops at farmers markets, has dinner parties, can keep a plant alive, loves every second of kids’ sporting events, doesn’t need to have gray hairs dyed constantly and… has perkier boobs.

However, since I resolve to never make New Year’s Resolutions, I am stuck with a few survival type choices:  make it through another Midwest winter with my butt intact, laugh with abandon at the stupidest jokes, get on my snowboard at least once, finish watching Dexter (cause what is better when stuck inside for days on end than spending it with a serial killer with a code), and… pretend to have perkier boobs.

I won’t be in better shape, have less dust on my furniture, grow my own vegetables or have a festive looking house but…

At least, I’ll be no chump (with imaginary perky boobs)

Bring it on,  2014, I’m ready now.

Fall and the Drive-By Photo Op

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Being a native of California, I scientifically lack the gene required to flourish in a cold climate – cold being, anything under 60 degrees.  Seriously, it’s true. There is a grant-able study in there somewhere, I am sure of it!

Therefore, having chosen to live in the Midwest (and by choose, I mean going all pioneer woman and falling in love with a country boy – True Love By Way of Kitty Dance and a Bucking Horse), I have had to rely on instincts from my ancient ancestors, ugly shoes and, at times, the cat’s pooper scooper (A California Girl’s Rural Winter Survival Guide) in order to survive.

However, there is a bright spot to living in a place where all vegetation turns into standing firewood for months on end each year.  Just prior to becoming winter skeletons, the trees and bushes turn, if only for a brief time, into the most amazing parade of yellows, oranges and reds.  It is truly beautiful.

This fall season has been particularly stunning where I live.  So of course, I spent the whole of the Fall season running around trying to get “the perfect photo” to share with Sweet Spot visitors.

Some of the most amazing displays are along the main highway I traverse on a daily basis.  Unfortunately, I quickly discovered, on my 60+ stretch of frequented highway, there is virtually no place to safely pull over for Vista Views and Photo Ops.  I suppose this is to keep the foreigners (i.e. people from Kansas) from stopping until well across our state.   Anyway, since I did not desire my epitaph to read “died in pursuit of a pretty picture of trees” and the “drive-by” photo always looked exactly like what it was, a crazy lady trying to drive and take pictures on a highspeed interstate highway at the same time,

Crazy Lady Photo Drive-By

Crazy Lady Highway Photo Drive-By

I ditched the effort.

Thus, I resorted to skulking around back roads, byways and onto peoples’ private property – which can be precarious in a place where the guns outnumber the residents 2 to 1 – to take photos.

In the end, the one Utopian Fall Photo I was so desperately in search of eluded me. But maybe this collection of my favorite photos (and one stolen from a friend), make their own kind of perfection:

Fall in the MidwestFall in the MidwestFall in MidwestFall in MidwestPhoto by: Nollie Moore

Fall in MIdwestFall in Midwest

If you want to see the most beautiful fall display, I guess you will have to someday come and drive our Midwest highway yourself…just don’t plan on stopping.

Thought For the Day

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For those of you who live in places where seasons are practically non-existent, you can just tune out right now for you may  be perplexed (and possibly horrified) by what I am about to say.  However, for those of you in  other parts of the country or world where winter just does not seem to want to leave this year, allow me to express my thought for the day:

If spring/summer does not come soon, I will be compelled to begin painting my house all colors of the rainbow.  My kids will hate it,  but may gain some ground for their “Mom is off her rocker” defense”.  My husband will love it because his motto in design is “go to the point where it is almost gaudy…and then go one step farther.  And I will regret it once I have a chance to stand back and admire the purple beaded board with green trim in the kitchen. 

There, I said it.  May the best man win.

RAINBOW-5

A California Girls Rural Winter Survival Guide

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Sometimes life is stranger than fiction. For example, why do aliens only abduct sanity-challenged recluse people? What are artificial bacon bits really made of? And, how does a born and bred California girl end up living in rural Missouri?  Rural Missouri, mind you, where roads have letters instead of names, directions are given in reference to so-and-so’s house – whether they still live there or not – and…it snows!

Well, in my case, I was either crazy or in love, or both.  Whatever the case, the predicament of surviving the winters became glaringly apparent upon the first snow; A feat which my California upbringing had just not prepared me for.  Therefore, for those of you who have found or may find yourself in a similar fix, allow me to share 5 of my hard learned survival tips.

1.  Be Prepared: If you are to survive in the harsh environment of cold, ice, and snow, you must have the proper tools. Following are, in my experience, the most important items.

  • Cat Box Pooper Scooper – Oh, sure, you will be told that having an ice scraper is what you need to clear off your car windshield every morning.  But, in my opinion, the everyday cat box pooper scooper makes much more sense to get the job done.  It is always handy, never gets taken by other family members for use and well, has multiple functional purposes (need I elaborate?).
  • Ugly Shoes – Trust me on this one.  Those peep toe pumps will sing a good song, but when push comes to shove (or rather ice comes to driveway) those pretty shoes will leave you flat on your behind.  The ugly shoes, however, will be your friend for life. They will keep you warm, be devoted to your happiness, and never let you go down looking like a flapping dodo (bird, that is).
  • Hair Dryer – You would be surprised how often a good blast of hot air will come in handy for various frozen things and/or body parts.
  • A Hammer – No real function, but it will make you feel like you belong – like one of the natives.

2.  Be Wary:  Never trust ice – it is the enemy and yes, it is out to get you.  It will freeze your pipes as soon as you stop dripping them in order to head to the mall.  It will freeze the Frappuccino you left in the car overnight. And, if you have a change of heart (i.e. panic attack) about driving on it, it will promptly and not very graciously, introduce you to the side road ditch.

3.  Be Audacious:  When that fluffy white stuff starts pouring out of the sky, get in your car and just go for it.  And when I say, ‘go for it’, I mean, when your husband tells you to drive fast to get over snow drifts growing in the road – DO IT! Otherwise you might find yourself stuck on top of one of those pretty drifts like a whale bellied up on the beach (which is, fyi, not near as much fun as bellying up to the bar). And, it may take every relative and friend within a 20 mile radius to come and dig you off.

4.  Be Mindful:  As in all things, there are pitfalls to watch out for during the long winter season.

  • Do NOT discover online shopping.
  • Do NOT, under any circumstances, decide the inside of your house needs to be painted all colors of the rainbow. (You may not be fortunate for to spring to arrive moments before project commencement).
  • Do NOT try to eat your weight in chocolate.

However, DO, have as many snowball fights as possible, roast marshmallows over a candle, and treat yourself to every  ‘icure come spring.

5.  Be Canny: Sooner or later you will be faced with a suspicious random occurrence that can only be experienced in the rural wilds of winter.  Therefore, when you, for example, find a several foot long shed snake skin in a storage area behind your bed where said snake clearly hibernated the winter with you, don’t, whatever you do, tell your snakephobic husband.

Goodbye and Good luck.