Monday, January 31, 2011

Just Say any more Snow

As you know, I am a proud, self-professed snow day lover. Students appreciate that about me. Amy and I have some of the same students, and they know both that we are friends and that we are of that rare breed of teacher that wears pajamas inside out the same nights they do. But today, even Amy and I are over it. Our shared sentiment these days is enough already. Or, as I said to her in an email today I can’t even get excited about it. That’s the sad thing. Here we are, the tee-hee girls, and we’re saying oh sh*t.

It’s not just about losing my April vacation (to San Diego! waah!), which the Board of Ed will begin truncating after three more snow days, which seems likely. In fact, it’s even possible for that to happen with this next “massive storm.” Nor is it only about wanting some regularity and routine in my life, and continuity with my classes. Or wanting to have conversations (or write posts) about something other than weather. I’m worried.

I’m worried about people and their roofs collapsing. I’m worried about people like my parents who handle their own snow removal, even though they’re strong like bulls, because it’s just too much to do. Even for them. I’m worried about safety—or lack of—on the roads, where taking a right on red is a daredevil maneuver—since you can’t see around corners with the snow piled higher than vehicles—and better avoided unless you have a death wish. Of course at intersections with stop signs, well, you’re on your own. You really need to take it s l o w and be extra careful…creeping out an inch at a time.

We’ve moved beyond winter, beyond New England winter, beyond wicked New England winter, beyond wicked New England winter on steroids. As oxymoronic as I know it is to say this about winter, a season, I say anyway: it just seems unnatural. Oddly, disconcertingly unnatural.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Caveat to a Prayer

Dear God,

Gee. I must really be in your good graces lately because you really have been answering my prayers for snow days. Thanks for that. You have been delivering. In spades. But I wonder if maybe some unanswered prayers from previous years were still in your inbox? Because—not to be ungrateful or anything—I really didn’t want 5 days in 3 weeks. In fact, I was hoping for a couple of them to come mid-February, during that week we were supposed to be on vacation. Remember? And maybe one in March, which tends to be an interminable month. And we only get 3 more snow days before they start taking away April vacation, and I have plans to go to San Diego. But I digress.

Five snow days in January, plus delays and an early release, with another storm in the forecast for February 1st?


I think I’m good for now.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

We'll Always be Bosom Buddies...

As fate would have it, I was home for a snow day the same day Jill was off from work. Just after I cleared off my car she called to chat.

“So besides snow storms you’ve been having a lot of Ma’s food lately, hu?”

“Yeah, I guess….I probably shouldn’t tell you…”


“I stopped by yesterday and she gave me more pierogi to restock my freezer and gołąbki.”

“Did I tell you that’s its 75 degrees here today?” she asked.

I laughed and thought I can play that, too. “And did you see that I had tomato soup last week?”

“YES! I saw that picture on your blog—unlike the one of pierogi you textedand thought hello, that’s my favorite! Wait, I lied. Did I say it’s 75 degrees? I think it’s 78.”

We went on from there in our own, private duet: something between We’ll always be bosom buddies, and Anything you can do I can do better, laughing as we did.

“Don’t worry,” I reassured her.” When I come out in April I will bring pierogi—they won’t spoil in eight hours, especially if I use ice packs—and some of her canned goods: tomatoes, her apple sauce.”

“And pickles.”

“And pickles. I’m flying Southwest, and bags fly free so screw it, I’ll bring two suitcases. In one of them I’ll bubble wrap food to bring out for you.”

“And bring wine home in it.”’

“Oh my god, we’re brilliant.”

We devolved into the spirit of our previous back and forth, because that was more fun, and funny—it was 82 in San Diego, she was wearing shorts and flip flops and might go for a walk on the beach before having lunch in Del Mar; I also had on hand kapusta, beet soup, cream of mushroom soup, and more tomato soup—and it ended like this.

“Enjoy your lunch in Del Mar.”

“I will. Thanks. I promise not to send you pictures.”

“And I promise not to blog about it.”

Friday, January 21, 2011

Photo Journal: After the Storm, Snow Day #4

where was this on Christmas?

Kidding! This is La Jolla...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Snow Day SNAFU

Ring ring

"Press 1 for [blah blah ] Press 2 for [blah-di-blah] …Please hold for the next available representative…"

"Cox Technical support, this is Tom, how can I help you?"

"Um, yeah, is it possible for a remote control just to stop working?"

"Well, let’s see. Have you checked the batteries?"

I'm not that stupid, I think. I say, "yes, I switched them with my remote for the TV itself and they work."

"The batteries can power another remote then?"

What part of that didn't you understand? "Yes."

"Unfortunately, it sound like the remote is no longer working. It happens. The remote is the most used electronic device in the home."

Joanne, don't be fresh. "So what do I do?"

[insert representative giving my options for waiting for a service call or instructions on where to go trade it out.]

"AAAHHHH. You mean I’m stuck home all day in the snow and ice without a remote control?!?!"

"Haha. Do you have kids? They make a good remote control."

"Uh, no. I live alone. Thanks."


Actually lots of clicks followed. The first was me hanging up the phone. The next 102 clicks came as I pushed a button 102 times to get from NBC (4) to OWN (106).

An hour later I pushed it 106 minus 39 (63, I guess) times to get to Food Network, and a couple hours after that I pushed it 35 times to get back to NBC again, where I left it the rest of the day.

Good times.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Natural Order

Last week’s storm, which ultimately produced a record 24 inches of snow at Bradley International Airport, ended up as two snow days for me. There was so much snow piled high along the roads and loaded up on corners that it posed a risk for children who need to wait for the bus. The town spent time and resources on the second day of cleanup to remove some of that in order to make bus stops safer.

Today, after a three day weekend with the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday yesterday, I am home for another snow day, as we are getting a wintry mix (not to be confused with the meteorologist’s non-committal “mixed bag” that Jill used to make fun of—before she moved to the most beautiful climate in the US, from where she and her husband Jon now text me weather and temperature updates, sometimes photos, especially while I’m snowbound). My weatherman predicted exactly what is happening today: a few inches of snow followed by sleet and freezing rain as the temperature creeps up. Because I trust him and his forecast, I planned for this extra day at home.

snow day breakfast
Rather than spend a day over the weekend cooking as I usually do, I stopped after buying the ingredients for the pot of chili I plan on making today. Instead of indulging in bacon and eggs for breakfast on Sunday, I ate oatmeal, and saved my perfect plate (and grown up orange juice) for today.

Lately, these last couple of weeks it seems, I’ve had more days off—due mostly to weather—than days at work. Of course we’ll be making these up in June, but it’s all good: we were scheduled to be out early since they took away our February vacation….Which frankly makes me wonder…

The Board of Ed took away our February vacation, and I can’t help but think that Mother Nature seems to be taking it back for us one or two days at a time.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Shoveling Out

So we got some snow. Boy, did we get some snow. Most towns around here got 15-24 inches of snow. At the airport 22.5 inches fell, breaking the record of 21.9 inches for most snowfall in a single day. So, despite this being New England and all where we get snow regularly and know (for the most part) how to handle it (unlike the Carolinas that got pummeled and don’t have the equipment or personnel to deal with it quite as effectively), it was a snow day for pretty much everyone—not just teachers and students. That’s okay. I don’t mind sharing.

taken tonight; I'll try again tomorrow
When I ventured outside this afternoon to deal with uncover shovel out my car, I couldn’t see the steps. There was one big mound between the door and the sidewalk that— fortunately— had been plowed. At the end of the sidewalk and just to the left was my car…somewhere under the snow. Also at the end of sidewalk were several neighbors scattered about uncovering their own.

And that’s when the magic happened.

For two hours neighbors who sometimes never speak to each other helped each other out. We took turns shoveling out our cars, directing each other out of our parking spots and offering the occasional bumper shove so that we could move down the road, clear our parking spots, and move our cars back. I hailed down the plow driver that was attempting to go around the other side of the complex, as if I were in Boston and he were a taxi, and he cleared as many spots as he could while we shoveled cars out of said spots. (I’m sure you find it shocking that I took a leadership role in Project Parking Lot.) We got the job done. Two hours later, I came in smiling.

I know it wasn’t a barn-raising in Amish country or a third world, natural disaster relief effort, but in a world that seems reluctant to let villages raise children (although it is desperately needed), it was nice to be a part of a community of people who helped each other out. Because it was the right thing to do.

Mom's soup with grilled cheese
Too bad I didn’t have enough of my mom’s creamy tomato soup for everyone. I would have shared that, too.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Old School

The other day at a meeting, a young administrator pulled out his smart phone/i-touch/handheld electronic device of some sort to look up the date of our next committee meeting. At the same moment I opened my Filofax and announced the date of the next meeting, and the one after that. And the one after that. The information was right at my fingertips. Ever so satisfied smug, I snapped my planner closed.

And so the day has come that I am officially old school: the new old-fashioned, that word we flung at our parents with such contempt. How embarrassing when my father would pull out his sometimes monogrammed handkerchief –well, it was a husteczka (hoo-stech’-kuh) to me— to blow his nose in church. (C’mon, dad, can’t you use Kleenex?!) (Even though it did come in handy.)

Flash forward thirty years in my classroom and there I was, not reaching for au courant pocket-sized technology, but pulling out a bulky (but pretty) (and handy) leather planner, leaving my cell phone in my purse. Cell phones are for talking and texting, i.e., communicating; calendars are for planning. Old school.

At least there is a cell phone.

Now If I could only find a pack of pencil tip erasers that aren’t neon.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Get Your OWN Opinion

The other day, when I was beginning my “re-entry” phase of vacation—slowly adjusting to the idea that it would be over soon and I would be returning to work—by secluding myself and having no commitments , TV choices were weak. Saturdays tend not to have great TV programming anyway, and New Year’s Day was worse than a typical Saturday. And then I remembered it was January 1, and Oprah was launching her own new network. So I watched an hour of Oprah’s Guide to OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. And then another couple of hours/two episodes of Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes. And I saw an episode of Master Class with Jay Z. Then Sunday night I saw Diane Sawyer on Master Class, and a part of the Ask the Experts with Drs. Oz and Phil and Suze Orman. Oh, and the sex therapist. And then last night I watched the de-clutter guy.

In other words, or word: YAY.

Now when Food Network is running cake challenge shows or the Secret Life of ___[fill in the name of a confection or mass produced food]__ or other shows that I tend just to leave on as background noise, I can turn to OWN! I’m not sure I’ll watch the Shania Twain series, but I’m fascinated that Fergie has no self worth. (I can see struggling with self esteem, but self worth? Aren’t we all worthy simply because we are?) And the Lisa Ling series looks compelling.

If you haven’t already, I urge you to tune into her one hour preview show to check out the lineup, which really looks good. I’m sure there’s something you’d be interested in watching, just as I’m sure Oprah will deliver on providing good, intelligent, inspiring programming on a network that bears her name. Right? As I mentioned in a previous post when she began her final season, there is a lot I admire about Oprah. She’s powerful and successful and compassionate and let’s face it: most importantly, she ain’t no dummy. She wouldn’t put her name on anything that wouldn’t do her proud.

But that’s my opinion. You’ll have to watch it yourself so you can have your “own”.

Photo Journal: Vacation Indulgences

Nothing says Happy Holidays like Cheez Balls!

Toffee: sweet to follow salty

Yep. Remember these? Back to salty.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

First Night

Dear City of Boston:

I would be happy to pay my parking ticket dated 2:39 pm 12/31/2010, if you would pay for my dry cleaning. Please allow me to explain why I think this is only fair, and why I didn’t feed the meter to begin with.

At first, I was so f**king happy to find a parking spot in the city—with so much of it blocked off for First Night—that I thought for a minute you might actually be cutting us a break and not charging for the rare available and unoccupied parking spot. Then I realized I was out of my mind. So I readied some quarters and stepped out of my car. Unfortunately, when I tried to get to the meter with my quarters, willing to tackle the small mountain of snow between my door and the meter, I stepped on the snow bank and sunk into a puddle of slush--while wearing my cute new patent leather boots, lost my balance, and nearly fell on my ass while soaking the cuffs of my newly dry-cleaned and creased pants.

So you see, if you did a better job with snow removal, my parking ticket would be a non-issue. I would have fed the meter before feeding my face a wonderful late lunch. But honestly, I didn’t find it prudent to put my life in peril to feed the meter. Frankly, my life, and my boots and pants, are worth far more than the four quarters you would have gotten.

Now that I’ve discussed my ordeal in detail, I think I’d like to change the terms of our deal. Why don’t we call it square? I won’t sue you for putting my life, boots and pants at risk, and you can forget that there is someone you employ who stuck a ticket under my windshield wiper that I didn’t even see at first because it was on the passenger side, which was street side, meaning he or she didn’t brave the snow bank at all which was on the left, driver’s and sidewalk side of the street. How can that even be fair?

Exactly. It’s not.

So Happy New Year. Please continue to run your fine city without $25 from me.

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