Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind


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Not Lost, Just Buried

In case you’ve been on an island in the middle of the Pacific, you may have heard that the Northeast has gotten a little snow.  Over and over and over, usually on Tuesday, Wednesday and/or Thursday.  It started with 16″ of snow over Christmas but that was just a taste of January, which has been the snowiest month on record here in Connecticut.

Two weeks ago we got 25″ of snow in one storm on top of what was already on the ground.  Last week got another 18″ of snow with ice and sleet just for fun.  This coming week we’re expecting 4-6″ (such a piddly amount)  on Tuesday followed by hammering snow and ice on Wednesday.  FYI, it’s hard to shovel snow after it turns into solid blocks of ice.

No one knows what to do with all the snow we already have.  Our streets aren’t all that wide on a dry day and with every storm, snow piles up on existing snow and the plows box in snow-crusted cars already feet away from the curb.   That’s assuming that the plows come by at all.  The roads, while driveable, are down to single lanes in some places, or at least 2 lanes instead of 4, which keeps everyone on their toes.  Makes me grateful to have a little red car that’s easy to see against the snow piles, but that’s assuming the other drivers remember to look. Parking lots are equally a mess.  There’s simply nowhere to PUT this stuff.

Now don’t get me wrong:  snow shoveling is excellent cardio work, and I’ve done a lot of it in the last few weeks.  We do community shoveling, working together with all kinds of shovels to dig out each others cars.  One neighbor has a broken foot and another is 95 with macular degeneration and a 68 year old caretaker, so taking care of their cars is also a priority.

I’m getting terribly behind at work.  Although I can do some things from home, I can’t uncrate and process shipments of books, sign invoices, meet with selectors about new orders, etc.  I have to be there.  But I’m also a wimpette when it comes to winter driving.  Or rather, I know my limits and what things are problems, such as hills.  I’m willing to take a vacation day to avoid driving in snowy conditions but some of the support staff are low on time to use which puts them in a bind.

When the snow is falling this week, I plan to keep myself safe and dry.  I have plenty of food for my yogurt/fruit breakfasts and portion controlled dinners in the freezer (lots of chili in there), and the makings for Brunswick Stew and red beans and rice.  Or meat sauce to eat over steamed broccoli.  And plenty of cat food, of course.  I know who’s the boss of my house.


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My Head is Too Full of Words

Were you shocked by the Tucson shootings last Saturday?  I wasn’t.  I’ve been expecting some kind of violent eruption since the last election and to be honest, I thought it would be Obama who was shot first.  He’s gotten more than the usual share of death threats because he is Black, because the economy tanked and jobs lost – and because so many people are angry at the world and he is the president and epitomizes The Powers That Be.

The Tucson shootings captured and emotionally entangled me. I was obsessive in looking at more information, more analysis, more ideas to explain what I saw and heard.  It actually reminded me of my reactions to 9/11, and not in a healthy way.

All of the articles, stories, reports, videos, analysis, and prostrations didn’t help.  One article quotes another until they go in a single giant chain of links connecting one to the other.  And they didn’t change the innocent people who were dead, and the assassination attempt on Gabrielle Giffords.   The left blamed the right, the right blamed the left, and talk show hosts decried any responsibility for anything.  Sarah Palin – well, don’t get me started there.

The problem is way bigger than why that particular mentally disturbed armed man managed to kill so many people at the grocery store – and there is plenty going on with THAT that will be dissected as we move on from here, hopefully not just with one party blaming the other.

Politicians and journalists analyzed and told us every single word, phrase, action, reaction, turn of the head, tone of voice, things done and things left undone until my head was full of words swimming in a big stew.  Our country is deeply angry at just about everything and looking for people to punish, and I’m afraid there will be a lot more violence and destruction before we get to a different place.

I don’t know how to change it and find that I isolate and just take care of myself (food, exercise, sleep).  More seems too much to deal with.  It’s not depression; I know what that feels like.  It’s more like chaos that’s too big to break down into pieces small enough to grab.  Though if my congresswoman has a meet and greet event in my area, I’ll definitely be there.

And in the meantime, I shovel.  We got over 2 feet of snow today.

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Obama spoke at the memorial service in Tucson not long after I wrote this, and I listened with tears in my eyes and a sense of peace and calm.  His words were Big and not Inflammatory or Partisan.  That’s what needed to be said, and what I needed to hear.  Thank you, Mr. President.


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Watching the Weather

funny-pictures-upset-lion-snowWhen you travel in winter months, and especially if you live in the Northeast, you watch the weather forecast like a hawk.  Multiply that with extra stress when the travel plans are for holiday travel.  I refuse to mess with it for Thanksgiving, which is just one day plus football, crammed into a narrow window of time.  Christmas is also just one day but then there’s Christmas Eve and extra days for visiting, parties, caroling, shopping, decorating, etc., so that makes this my holiday of choice for travel, though I admit that I’m not always upset when it doesn’t happen.

Today I’m sitting warm and cozy in my house with the kitty, watching the snow fall and blow outside.  The weather guys are all excited about the first big storm of the season and you never know when they start babbling if things are real or exaggerated out of enthusiasm for a Weather Event.  Since I’m a winter weather driving wimpette, I opted to take a personal day and stay off the roads entirely after running errands first thing this morning – and they could have been deferred had the snow started earlier.

After the storm today/tonight finishes up, we have a little break on Saturday and then another storm roars through on Sunday.  This is the one that has me worried.  Oh, I’m not traveling anywhere on Sunday and can stay warm and dry except for maybe some shoveling out behind my car (which lives in a carport).  But Monday I’m off to Texas for a week with the family and I don’t trust the weather to make this work without delays and snags.  Take heavy holiday traveling, add in weather delays and cancellations, mix with fewer planes, and you have crowded, uncomfortable flights and grouchy people.

I can’t help but remember news stories a few years ago about horrible winter storms snarling flights over Christmas, leaving people to spend days in airports trying to get to destinations.  I don’t anticipate that but it’s hard to block out the possibility.  At what point does it make more sense to say, yanno what?  Just send me home instead.

The kitty knows that something is up and has been wanting to sit on me more often today. Usually she wants to just sit nearby but not today.  I’m wondering if she’s planning to sneak into my suitcase.  Which reminds me that I need to do laundry tomorrow to be sure everything I’m taking is clean, dry and ready to pack — which means that I need to know what I plan to take in the first place.  Guess I’d best get cracking.


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How Did That Scone Get Into My Kitchen?

Snowy View From my WindowThere are blueberry scones in the kitchen. I don’t know how they got there, although obviously I picked them up myself and put them in the shopping cart and then unloaded them in the kitchen.

It was that, “there’s a storm coming and we need to buy weird things because we don’t know when we will dig ourselves out to shop again and hey, we might need it,” kinda thing. The rest of my cart was pretty normal and explainable: yogurt, apples, potato rolls, butternut squash soup, ground turkey, Diet Coke with lime, Edy’s Loaded light ice cream … and those scones.

New England redefined winter storms for the modern age with the Blizzard of ’78 when people were stranded in their homes for a week, roads closed down, offices shuttered, and those bread and milk supplies ran out early. Now we make sure that doesn’t happen again by stopping at the grocery store on the way home from work the day before the Bad Stuff comes.

We see each other pushing carts around the store, grabbing things from shelves that combine holiday treats with Super Bowl snacks and comfort food basics. It’s as though we will never have a chance to get to the store again so we want to load up now. In reality, of course, the roads will be clear in a day and cars dug out enough to make another trip to food heaven before make a dent in the stuff we got “just in case.”

Today it’s snowing and I skipped work, as did most of my colleagues, to sit home and watch daytime TV and the snow fall gently and steadily. Staying off the roads, even in a moderate snow, allows the road crews time to clean up well, which makes it easier for us to get out and about later.

And what’s the hardship in staying home with my kitty? I’m working my way through the second season of West Wing on DVD – and nibbling on a blueberry scone. Hope your day is relaxed and comfortable.


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In Between Time

Sleet covered twig

The calm before a storm is eerie. You can feel it in the air, the thickening that tells you weather is coming, and at this time of the year, that means snow, sleet and freezing rain in various combinations. People scurry around running errands but also stocking up on food and supplies just in case. The weather forecasters are in their element, showing pinpoint doppler images every 15 minutes and rolling up their sleeves to show you that they’re hard at work on our behalf.

We’re in this in between state today. Thursday was the first big winter storm here, dumping up to 14 inches in parts of the state and roads into either parking lots or bumper car lots, with people stuck or spinning out all over the place. Yesterday it warmed up enough to melt some of the mess but then sidewalks froze over again and today treacherous black ice was the problem.

Another storm comes tonight and tomorrow, this time mostly sleet and freezing rain rather than snow. It’s not as pretty and it’s wicked dangerous to be out in, so I plan to stay put inside with Tessie. Debbi wrote about her storm preparations down in West Virginia and I’m impressed with her matter-of-fact inclusion of clean clothes and dishes on the list. If power goes out, it’s a big plus to not have to worry about those things with so many other things to deal with, such as keeping warm.

My preparations haven’t been that complete, but I did make sure that the last Christmas presents were mailed, groceries fetched, Diet Pepsi lime stockpiled, and a pedicure so my feet are happier stuck in boots. I know, that’s really a stretch, but it was worth it.

I ate breakfast out today and ate far more than I should have, which messed up my eating the rest of the day. Another reason to be happy I’ll be home where food isn’t as much of a lure as when I’m out with piles of chocolates and holiday treats call to me as I walk by. There are parties next week and food will be more difficult, so I want to relax with what I know tomorrow.

And watch the sleet from the inside comfort of my cozy recliner.


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Please Let it Snow, Not Sleet

Winter DrivingWinter Storm Alexander is upon us. I know, I never heard of naming a winter storm before either, but apparently one of the local stations thinks it’s a good idea, being the winter equivalent of hurricanes and all. I think it’s kind of dopey. What matters, though, isn’t the name but the fact that the weather is awful and so is the driving.

I’ve lived in three New England states over the last 21 years and know what it’s like to put up with snow, sleet, and freezing rain in various combinations. Maine manages it the best, probably because they have more of it so have enough equipment and smart drivers. Universities aren’t known for shutting down or giving early dismissals but we are encouraged to use our own time if we think we have travel issues.

Well, duh. After venturing out at lunchtime for 20 minutes, I returned to close up shop and head for home whether the U decided it was a good idea or not – and I had lots of company. It took me 30 minutes to get to the parking garage; even with only a few inches of snow, the ice underneath was problematic. It took me another hour to get home from the garage, a trip that normally takes me 15 minutes. Roads were clogged and single-lane traffic going about 8 mph on poorly plowed and treated surfaces.

My biggest challenge was the final big hill before my complex. I ended up behind a car that careened into the side of the road and was in danger of spinning out and getting hit myself, but managed to straighten out and get to our road and down to my little carport. I admit I really don’t want to go back outside to shovel out behind my car to the hopefully plowed main road.

Snow is pretty and artful and fun to play in. Ice and sleet are not and that’s what’s pelting down now. All I want to do is stay inside and play with the kitty and maybe start a pot of soup. I’d best get used to this because the first Nor’easter is due on Saturday night/Sunday. I think its name will be Brianna. Who knew?


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Paying the Price for Shoveling

Shoveling penguinAs I went to bed last night, my shoulder, side, and knees were beginning to be stiff from shoveling all the heavy wet slush/sleet/snow from the storm. My soaked clothes hung up in the bathroom, trying to dry out, making a little forest of wet fabric. The wet stuff outside had already solidified into interesting shapes of thick ice and the news reporters were busy telling us of the dangers of being outside. Not that I planned to GO outside at 10pm in a winter storm.

When I woke up this morning, I could hardly move. Sleeping soundly and waking up in the same position in which I fell asleep convinced my muscles to stiffen up and my right knee didn’t want to bend much. It’s still not back to normal after the August surgery and gets unhappy with cold or wet weather. That would be now.

Looking out the window I could see the ice sparkling across every surface within sight. Cars were having difficulty getting out of the parking lot and the way to my car resembled a skating rink instead of a cleared sidewalk. This did not bode well given the gimpy knee, I decided to just stay home with ice on it (how ironic was THAT?) and not risk falling and smashing it again. Once I’m on the ground, I have trouble getting up even without ice; today was not a day to push my luck.

So it was a quiet day. I did some email, watched TV and paid bills, with my leg up and ice on and off, and I followed stories of the horrible roads and sidewalks that people in Boston encountered today making their way amid thick ice on unshoveled or untreated surfaces. Our parking lot still looks scary but I will be out on it tomorrow, very very slowly wending my way to the car which is sitting on a 3″ slab of ice that filled up my hard-shoveled parking space. So much for all that work!