Always look on the bright side of life…

I wish I could say that was my motto, but that would be exaggerating.

I will say, though, that I was able to look on the bright side of a really nasty winter day today. Winds of 30 mph, alternately sunny and cloudy – with sideways-blowing snow every. damn. time. I had to be out today. Which was a lot.

On the bright side, today I managed to have coffee meetings close to home at both the beginning and ending of my day. That means moving my commute OUT of rush hour. Made a new friend at the morning coffee and enjoyed deep conversation at the afternoon one. Got home early enough that I had enough energy to make a pot of chili – perfect for this crap weather day.

All that wind and snow combined with an unusual work day made me feel a little edgy. So I’m sharing one of my fave graphics. Enjoy.

d and j

 

Cold+Snow+Ice=Binge Watching.

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It’s the first winter in quite a while that we’ve had seriously cold weather for any length of time here in the Midwest of the U.S. There are a lot of negatives to this type of winter; dead car batteries, icy sidewalks, the extra time and inconvenience of rounding up gloves, hats, and scarves and then trying to arrange them all properly so you don’t look like the abominable snowman.

But there’s one huge advantage to this arctic weather, especially for rabid introverts like me. It’s the perfect excuse to stay inside with a cup of tea, a blanket, a book, and some binge-watching.

Here’s what’s been on my screens in the last couple of months:

The Great British Bake-off  Multiple people had been urging me to watch, but it wasn’t until our oldest got hooked that I gave it a try. She had occasion to be home from the east coast for three separate visits in the space of a month, and with the younger sister we O.D’d on all four seasons that are available on Netflix. Mocking and disdaining Paul’s tool-y-ness. Enjoying Mary’s calm, coolness while abhorring every dessert challenge she sets the bakers. Seriously, those Genoise sponges and marangues are way too much work for a “treat” that appears, at the least, boring, and more likely quite nasty. Best of all, the camaraderie and kindness of the bakers. It’s pure escapism, something quite needed and healing in our current times.

Poldark   A few months ago I subscribed to our local PBS station and received a “Passport” membership, meaning we now have access to back episodes of many excellent series. You. Must. Do. This. Soooooo worth it. To be honest, we only tuned in to Poldark in order to salivate over Aiden Turner’s brooding and smoldering. For the first two series, that was almost all the show had going for it. Oddly, though, season 3 was immeasurably improved in writing and plotting. Still, eye candy is the main draw; not just Turner’s gorgeous eyes, but also the beauty of the windswept Cornish coast.

Turn  We’re only two episodes into the final season, and looking forward to seeing how the American Revolution turns out. This one is a masterpiece in every way; acting, writing, casting, music, and cinematography. I’m an early American history buff, and have read “Washington’s Spies,” from which the series is drawn. Oldest has a good friend who hales from Setawket, where much of the action of the spy ring took place, and she visited there last summer.

Once “Turn” is finished, we’ll be looking for our next binge – it looks like we’re in for plenty more winter. Suggestions welcome – what are you watching recently?

 

Ice day!

Image credit: David Stimac Photography


An ice storm is predicted to last the entire weekend in our part of the world. All school districts are closed and travel is restricted to “essential only.”

You might call it an introvert’s Perfect Storm.

So…the question is – what will this particular introvert do with potentially THREE ENTIRE DAYS without leaving the house? Save the world from nuclear disaster? Write the great American novel? Discover a cure for the common cold?

Nah. Here’s my Perfect Storm list:

  • Read.
  • Sit quietly under layers and layers of blankets.
  • Netflix and Acorn TV.
  • Knit.
  • Pilates and yoga videos to stave off complete lethargy (and actually doing the Pilates and yoga, rather than just watching from under aforementioned blankets).
  • Bake.
  • Feel smug because I figured out on Wednesday, by looking at the weather forecast, that I needed to order groceries ASAP for delivery on Friday morning, before all the delivery times were booked.
  • Text funny tidbits to my far away darlings so they don’t seem so far away.

Of course, there may also be the search for flashlights and the rush to get our refrigerated foods packed into ice, due to the likelihood of power outages. I can live with that, if it means three days of glorious solitude.

Thank you, weather gods.

How you know when a virus has turned you into a social pariah. 


Just about everyone in my nuclear and extended family has been suffering from THE COLD. Known for excessive sneezing that causes achy ribs and for symptoms that last at least two weeks, this year’s version of THE COLD is greatly to be feared. 

Here’s a checklist of symptoms that will tell you if THE COLD has turned you into some sort of strange, fearsome creature never to be seen in public:

  • You’ve only been awake for an hour and already your inside sleeve of your hoodie is wet from sneezing into it. 
  • Two soup bowl-sized cups of coffee only get you through the first item on your task list for the day.
  • You find yourself playing “beat the nose drip,” a game in which you hurry to get the clean dishes put away before you’re forced to wash your hands again to avoid contamination. 
  • People who insist on talking to you about their own problems cause you to die inside. What the hell is wrong with the rest of the world that they think you care about their issues when you can’t go five seconds without coughing up a lung?
  • Your rescue inhaler, which your doctor specifically told you to use every four hours while you’re sick, visibly shrinks in horror when you reach for it. Slacker. (NOTE: It’s possible this is a figment of my fevered imagination.)
  • Your nose is shredded from constant blowing and your hands are shredded from constant washing, causing you to look like some kind of nightmarish zombie/mummy hybrid. 

A score of three out of the six symptoms should be a warning to hide until you’re fit for human contact. 

Good luck. 

Faux sunshine.

Here we are in February, the smelly armpit of the calendar year. As much as I enjoy curling up on the couch with a blanket and a cup of tea, a book, or Netflix, I’m longing for some outdoor time. Or at the very least a good snowstorm that would shut everything down for a day or two, allowing us to indulge in that couch, blanket, and tea round the clock.

Instead, in this part of the world, we’ve got grey skies, blustery winds, naked trees, and brown grass. Bleh.

And so, here’s a little pretend sunshine for all of us…a sort of “I like bunnies” for these nasty, hopeless days of winter:

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Hang in there!

 

What to do when you’re too sick to care what you do.

Wondering how to occupy your time when you’re too sick to get up and do anything, too tired to think straight, and too congested to sleep? Try these tips for a little pick-me-up:

1. Use the “suggested word” function on your texting program to send cryptic and nonsensical text to friends. They’ll either think it’s hilarious or block your texts. Either way you win! Sample: “No more of the year before that is not the same thing over and over again.” Hours of laughs.

2. Play “Bookworm” on your iPad until you’ve sneezed on the screen so often the display becomes obliterated by spatter patterns.

3. Try out every flavor of cough drop you can find in the house, even the ones that are flecked with bits of fuzz from the bottom of your purse. For a little twist, unwrap them all, throw them in a pile, eat them one by one, and see if you can identify the brand and flavor. While you’re at it, see if you can identify the exact origin of the fuzz on the piece currently in your mouth.

 

4. Regularly announce to no one in particular that you’re probably dying and would they please tidy up the house before the undertaker arrives.

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5. Count how many Kleenexes you use in a ten-minute period. Google the price of a box of Kleenex to calculate how many pennies you’re tossing into the trash by the hour. Never mind, that’s way too much math. Just get a pile of pennies and start tossing one into the trash with each snotty Kleenex. Nobody likes pennies, anyway.

6. Eat anything and everything you can find in the kitchen, because stuffing random food into your face is the only thing that makes you feel even vaguely human at this point.

Here’s hoping you remain in the pink glow of health and won’t need to fall back on these fun and exciting activities. But if you do succumb to the scourge of winter ailments you’ll at least have these tips at hand to keep the boredom at bay. Enjoy!

So it’s Superbowl Sunday…

No matter how hard I try, I cannot see XLIX as a number - I just read it as a weird word.

No matter how hard I try, I cannot see XLIX as a number – I just read it as a weird word. Try it: “X-Licks!”

…Don’t care.

So we’ve got a house guest coming in this afternoon and Middle Sister’s significant other joining us for dinner…

Don’t care.

So we’re finally getting some of the snow I was hoping for…

Don’t care.

So The Husband arrived home at 1:00 am last night after driving a couple of hundred miles at 30 mph due to bad weather, and he brought with him a mountain of laundry and a cooler full of grubby containers that all need to be turned around within the next 24 hours.

Care just a bit.

I’ve done nothing but sneeze and blow my nose since the moment I woke up this morning.

Suffering from virus-induced indifference.

A4B1GD Box of facial tissue

Blizzard envy.

This week the big news (because I’m taking a much-needed break from the outrage of politics) is the HUGE snow in New England. Our northeastern friends are dealing with as much as two feet of snow, and quite frankly I’m jealous.

Here we are in the Midwest with naked trees, brown grass, and temperatures that are spring-like warm. Yet spring is really too far off to contemplate, so we’re stuck with the ugliness of winter without any of the interesting bits. I have guilt because the weather’s so nice I really should be out raking up the mountains of crunchy leaves that didn’t jettison from our oak trees until late December. I’m disappointed because it’s not much fun curling up in the evening with a blanket and a cup of tea when we had the windows open part of the day. No pleasing some people, huh?

long winterI would actually enjoy the excitement of stocking up on milk and eggs, planning meals that could be prepared on our gas stove when the power goes out, holing up for a day or so before a kind friend drops by with his snow blower to set us free. A day of tea, reading, card games by candlelight, and knitting.  And picturing myself as the intrepid Laura Ingalls, surviving the “Long Winter.” In my blizzard fantasy, the whole family would be there with me, cuddling up for warmth and rushing to the window every few minutes to stare at the beauty of the dazzling white drifts.

So I say to our New England neighbors, “Good luck and enjoy!” And please send some of that blizzard our way!

 

Furnace wars

Last Monday it was hot in the Midwest. We’d been living with lovely fresh air coming through the open windows for about a month.

For the last week, though, it’s been furnace time 24-7. Which means constant angst.

“It’s too cold in here!”

medium_6774927547“The furnace won’t stop running!”

“The thermostat is set at 70 but it’s only warming to 62!”

When The Husband got home this weekend he fixed the thing where the furnace comes on for ten minutes and then shuts off. That’s a yearly fix at our house. Some sensor in there gets corroded and has to be cleaned. Until he got home and fixed that we were having to run down to the basement several times a day to flip a magic switch off and back on again to keep the heat running.

And then, last night, came the question I’d been hoping to avoid. He hadn’t been home since the weather turned frigid, so Middle Sister and I had managed to escape this issue for almost an entire week:

The dreaded timer settings on the thermostat.

They’re supposed to save energy by automatically bumping the heat down when you go to bed, bumping it back up at the time you get up in the morning, turning it back down at the time you leave home in the mornings and automatically bumping it back up again shortly before you get home in the afternoon/evening. Theoretically it’s a great idea.

In practice it sucks.

Furnace battle number one: Our very clever thermostat wants to be helpful by making sure the temperature is nice and warm by the time you get out of bed. So it actually makes the heat start running half an hour before your wake-up time. Our bedroom is right above the furnace. Every damn time it kicks on I wake up, and stay awake. So I effectively have a furnace alarm clock waking me up half an hour early. Yeah, yeah, we can set it half an hour later. And then people gripe because it’s cold when they get out of bed. I’m telling you, the mother in the house not getting enough sleep is WAY worse than somebody having cold toes in the morning.

Furnace battle number two: Our coming and going schedule for different days of the week is erratic. My job is flexible, and I leave the house and come home again at whatever time works on a given day. Middle Sister is home all day three days a week and until 10:30 in the morning the other two days. So there’s no regular pattern we can set the thermostat timer to that will keep us from either freezing while we’re home or heating an empty house. Really, the best solution is for us to manually change the temperature when we’re staying home, when we’re leaving, and when we get home. But The Husband can’t stand to not use such a “clever and convenient feature” when it’s available to us. He insists on setting the timer. Sheesh!

Furnace battle number three: I hesitate to say this very loudly, but…The Husband can’t set the thermostat timer correctly to save his life. At first it was because he refused to wear reading glasses and there was no way he could see the tiny printing and numbers. Now that he’s conceded to the glasses, he just plain sets it wrong every time. Last night when he insisted on setting it, he got AM and PM mixed up. I was awakened by the whoosh of the furnace four times in the night before I finally got up and just shut the damn thing OFF. I am the first to shout to the world that The Husband is a mechanical and electrical genius who can fix absolutely any machine or appliance. But he is completely defeated by the heater thermostat.

This morning he hit the road for another week. Guess what will be the first thing I’ll do when I get home this afternoon?

Yup. Turning OFF the timer on the thermostat. Furnace peace will reign for an entire week.

photo credit: John Loo via photopin cc

Baby, it’s cold outside.

Well, my complaints against the annoying weather are gone.

For several weeks it had been COLD here in the mornings but HOT as the day wore on. Very difficult to figure out what to wear, especially since I”m heartily sick of warm weather clothes.

coatBut now the Midwest is caught for the foreseeable future in winter temperatures and even a good chance of snow this weekend. So I’m free to wear the sweaters I’ve broken out of storage recently, the adorable boot cuffs I made for myself, super cool tall boots, and the NEW COAT I got for 50% off last weekend when Middle Sister and I went shopping together. Of course, gone are the days of dashing out the door without a thought. Now we have to search for scarves and gloves, get everything situated and buttoned up, and waddle out the door bundled like Ralphie’s little brother in “A Christmas Story.”

But seriously, the cute coat makes up for a lot.