Tag Archives: January

Brown Versus White Winter

For a few short days, we are about to experience a brown winter.

Even typing those words makes me quiver with paranoia. Do I dare mention the weather to neighbors, coworkers or friendly convenience store clerks? With a few unguarded words, I may jinx the entire Midwest!

Despite brown winter’s ugliness and dreariness, some consider the warmer weather a gift, especially after enduring several weeks of Snowmageddon. Anyone who mentioned “global warming” then was sentenced to shoveling the town’s driveways with a teaspoon.

No one battling the notorious blizzard of ’78 had ever heard of global warming. If a foolhardy soul had suggested such to brides whose winter weddings were postponed indefinitely, they might have strangled him with tulle bows and buried him in uneaten wedding cake.

Others who survived that months-long whiteout not only stopped driving, they gave up finding their vehicles until spring.

Brown winter, by comparison, seems good.

  • Midwestern weddings should happen on schedule this weekend.
  • Cars start. They move!
  • Even if buckets of rain fall, we don’t have to shovel them.
  • Lower heating bills and fewer frozen pipes also give us cause to celebrate.
  • Mothers rejoice their offspring will not need the 25 pounds of clothing required on snowy days. My son rated snowsuits along with vaccinations and boogeymen. Every outing resulted in a mother/son smackdown, the loudest always occurring at either the library or church.
  • A thaw dramatically reduces the likelihood of mistaken identity. Government statistics state that due to warmer temperatures, 77 percent fewer parents bring home the wrong kid from school.

To be sure, skiers and resort owners long for the white stuff. Ice skating rink owners anxiously await frigid temperatures.

No town wants its snow and ice festival to morph into a Sleet and Slop Spectacular. Nor do cities that have busted budgets, buying snowplows and stockpiling mountains of salt, look kindly on brown winters.

Worst of all, snowbirds cannot bear photos of friends back home visiting mailboxes in their shirtsleeves.

Yes, brown winters remain unpopular with some.

Me? I’m a coat-hater from decades back. (So my son’s snowsuit antipathy is no surprise.)

Still, I can’t help but welcome whispery snowflake kisses on my hood as we walk to church. Thousands of priceless diamonds glitter in my sunny backyard. Wind-carved curves of snow defy human artistry. …

Uh-oh.

I should have kept my mouth shut.

The Weather Channel predicts snow’s return within a week. Do these scientific drama kings and queens truly know their stuff?

Brown or white winter today?

Stay tuned for our latest paranoia.

 

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Which do you prefer, a brown or white winter?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First-Class Snow Removal

Forget postcard views of palms waving in sunny breezes. Forget panoramas of azure ocean and white sands sent by gloating relatives. Warm-weather residents miss some of the most exciting winter scenes one can experience: first-class snow removal.

Admittedly, imagination and keen discernment is required, but therein lies the beauty.

Even Hawaiian residents must concede that neighbor kids rising on a sleep-in snow day to shovel their driveway is a beautiful sight.

Add to that quiet heroism of snowplow and salt truck drivers who often work 24/7 so we who must remain home because of closed schools and businesses don’t have to remain at home. While panicked meteorologists must be put on oxygen while reporting winter’s mega-storms, many snowplow operators venture out gratis. Some have itched all winter to drive their honkin’ big trucks with monster blades, but machismo can’t hide big hearts that determine to plow roads and driveways for the elderly, the infirm and the bank-account challenged.

We fell into the latter class the year my husband opened his solo medical practice. Living on borrowed money, we pinched pennies until they begged for mercy. Hubby often vanished, spending rare time at home sleeping and eating. I, toting a toddler and pregnant with a second child, didn’t rate the world’s most efficient snow remover. But my husband’s patients never had to worry about his timely care. When Lake Michigan gleefully dumped half its H2O in flake form into our driveway, a snowplow hero, paid only with my homemade bread, faithfully cleared it. Thus, my toddler, unborn baby and I could sally forth between blizzards for groceries.

Some snow heroes use only shovels, blowers, and strong backs. Our neighborhood children didn’t appreciate snowblower-toting guys who ensured they would arrive at school on time. But cabin-feverish moms, elderly folks and a cancer victim were eternally grateful.

During one Snowmaggeddon, I awakened to discover the multitude milling outside was our church youth group and their pastor, clearing out the last of the snow from our driveway. I’ll bet both my snow shovels that no San Diego residents awaken to surprises like that.

But warm-weather residents miss an even greater view we savor every year. The snow giants will eventually disappear before the power of gentle rains and stubborn green baby fingers poking up through the soil. Certainly, the giants reassert their power during tourney time, as every basketball-crazy Hoosier knows. But their second-class strength will bow to God’s spring every time.

If that isn’t first-class snow removal, I don’t know what is.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do winter heroes live in your neighborhood?

Diary of the Christmas Fudge

December 16, 2016

My short—but sweet—life began as an on-sale bag of sugar.

Then the Fudge Monster decided to double her Christmas fudge output. Having bought one bag in November, she bought me in December.

She hasn’t found the November bag yet.

Perhaps it languishes where she stowed four boxes of Christmas cards, her mother-in-law’s present, and a missing gallon of egg nog — plus all that extra money she thought she’d stashed.

December 24, 2016 – Christmas Eve

Sadly, the Fudge Monster delayed making fudge until Christmas Eve … after stores closed.

No double batch.

The Fudge Monster wept.

But did she let a little senility stop her?

Never.

She considered borrowing from a neighbor. But six cups of sugar? On Christmas Eve?

So the Monster used me — the December bag — plus sugar salvaged from various bowls and a Cool Whip container she took camping last summer. Finally, she located a bag with cement-like contents probably bought when a Bush was president.

As she chipped sugar, her husband questioned her wisdom.

Thankfully, the Fudge Monster, wielding wooden spoons like a kitchen samurai, chased him out.

She hacked chocolate and pecans like firewood. She measured and boiled. The Monster stirred and stirred, finally pouring my smooth mixture into a buttered pan. She filled another. And another. Whoa, unlimited chocolate power!

If I solidified.

The Fudge Monster stuck in a spoon. It sank deep into my thin syrup.

Sixty seconds later, she checked again.

Thirty seconds.

I objected. Would she like someone poking to see if her core was solid?

The Monster called to Hubby: Did he think half our county would like chocolate sauce for Christmas?

From the safety of his locked truck, he answered, “Certainly, dear. Everyone needs a gallon or two.”

Later, she dared sample a corner.

Voilà! I am the best fudge she’d ever made!

Later that night, a gooey kitchen returned the Fudge Monster to reality. Even the toaster was glued to the counter.

With hair marshmallowed to her face, the Fudge Monster could have intimidated Bigfoot.

With 10 guests due within hours, she coat-hangered Hubby’s truck door and dragged him inside to help.

Together they whipped the kitchen into shape.

December 25, 2016 – Christmas Day

Their family arrived to celebrate and eat fudge.

Snarfing creamy, chocolaty chunks, the Monster was in such a magnanimous mood that, instead of hiding my extra pans under her bed, she sent fudge home with them.

And they say Christmas miracles don’t happen.

January, 2017

After Christmas, the Monster celebrated New Year’s Eve with fudge. New Year’s Day. Every single football game on TV. Her dryer’s completion of a perma-press cycle.

However, a January Judgment Day, when she finally mounted the bathroom scales exiled my remaining yumminess to the freezer. …

Until her dryer’s perma-press cycle buzzed once more.

 

What kind of Goodie Monster lives at your house every Christmas?

Rachael’s Rockin’ Resolutions

Happy New Year!

Despite gloomy prognoses, there is room for optimism in 2017, especially as I’ve discovered an awesome new approach to making resolutions. This innovation effectively protects the resolver from the root-canal effect of good behavior.

My secret? I make only resolutions I can keep. Simple. Profound.

Why Albert Einstein or some other genius with funny hair hasn’t discovered this goof-proof method before, I can’t imagine.

Welcome to my easy-peasy 2017 list of resolutions:

  • I resolve to leave my save-the-earth bags in my car’s trunk when I visit Walmart. I will ignore their existence, even while stacking plastic bags of groceries on top of them. Every week.
  • During winter months, I promise to lose one glove of every pair. And a hat once a week.
  • I will continue my don’t-ask-don’t-tell relationship with the dust bunnies under my bed.
  • I resolve to try “color catcher” sheets that allow me to wash red clothes with white. I haven’t attempted such a feat since early marriage, when my brave new approach to laundry resulted in my husband’s wearing pink Fruit of the Looms throughout his medical school career.
  • When some overbearing airport suitcase hurler points to me and says, “This old bag’s too heavy to be a carry-on, charge her extra,” I promise to cut him down to size.
  • Speaking of traveling, I resolve not to smoke in airplane bathrooms. First, having never tried a cigarette, I’d probably light the wrong end. Besides, conducting the usual bathroom business requires enormous coordination in a space the size of a glove compartment. Why risk stuffing a glowing cigarette down my throat, should the plane decide to tap dance?
  • I resolve to iron one shirt this year for my husband. Or at least the front (this works if he wears a suit).
  • I resolve to kill my Christmas poinsettias before Ground Hog’s Day.
  • Finally, I resolve not to climb Mt. Everest. Or slide down.

Mission accomplished. I’ve made my list of resolutions, with no negatives to cloud 2017.

Come to think of it, my funny hair rivals Einstein’s, anytime.

How about you? What will be the first goof-proof resolution on your list?

January Birthdays

BirthdayCakeRosesI hold a soft spot in my heart for people born in January.

Not that those who celebrate December birthdays have it so great. Do children born in June receive gifts with tags that state “This is for D-Day and your birthday”?

Still, in December, the whole world puts on its festive best. You share your birthday month with Jesus, and that’s a cool thing.

January birthdays don’t generate similar enthusiasm, as the whole world diets. No matter how you decorate it, a birthday veggie tray with fat-free dip doesn’t attract the same crowds.

At Christmas, people mortgage their organs to be with kin. By January 2, however, even close relatives develop allergies to the cold – and each other. An important safety principle: the cosmos will crash if we see relatives more than once a year.

Even those willing to risk life and limb to attend January celebrations face gift challenges that would daunt Santa. As of December 25, Birthday Boy already owns a robot that makes his bed, does homework and gargles for him. He has stashed his excess Christmas cash in T-bills, since the stock market is down.

Mom and Dad could use a nice little check, which makes gift-giving easy if the birthday person is a grown-up. But many adults don’t feel like blowing out birthday candles in January. Their years have risen like heating bills. Nice little birthday check? They need gold bars to shrink January Visa bills.

I even sympathize with my brothers, born this month. I didn’t when we were children, however. Only weeks after Christmas, they received another gift, whereas I waited until March to collect birthday booty.

Two of our grandchildren celebrate January birthdays. My husband notes that they enjoy the old-fashioned games we give them more than electronic versions: when they lose, they can throw game pieces at their siblings.

But if January birthdays bug them as they grow older, we will point out that even January birthdays haven’t stopped Martin Luther King, Jr., Carl Sandburg, or the painter Cezanne. Or Benjamin Franklin, Mary Lou Retton or George Burns. Or Edith Wharton, Mozart or Jackie Robinson. No birthday veggie trays have kept them from leaving unique footprints in their worlds’ snowy paths.

God Himself decorates for January birthdays. Plus, He gives hills to sled, snow forts to build, and hot chocolate with gooey marshmallows to guzzle.

Best of all, He has made January the premium snuggle and huggle month for all ages. Hugs never show up on a Visa statement, and they leave love imprints no raging snowstorms can erase.

Actually, a January birthday is pretty special. Just like our grandkids.

Are you a lucky January birthday girl or boy?