Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind

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52 Ancestors – #16 Storms

encased in iceMy father obsessively watches TV weather forecasts and special inset maps during bad storms, at least until the power goes out. He watches the maps of radar that show every documented lightening strike and calculates storm direction and power. Knowing what’s coming allows him to be prepared.

Our ancestors didn’t have Doppler Radar or National Weather Service alerts tracking storms and warning of flooding and torrential rains or high winds. There were no weathermen telling them to get into a windowless room in the center of their homes when tornadoes were coming.  Of course, our ancestors also didn’t have days and weeks without power because they didn’t have electricity, either.

Instead, they learned to read clues in nature, to master the meaning of the cloud formations and colors of the sky. They smelled the air and could tell when rain or snow is coming. They paid attention to muskrats and bees, migration patterns of birds and insects, the sound of crickets – and some of them used the Old Farmers’ Almanac which was first published in 1792. They had to be prepared all the time.


Storms and weather disasters normal in one area are not the same in another. But you learn to live with what you have, whether that’s hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes, or earthquakes. As your “normal” changes , so do your expectations and preparations. Move from one area to another, though, and you have to learn a new normal. You learn how to prep for power outages, what nonperishable foods to have stocked in the pantry, to have enough cash and cat food and full bottles of prescriptions, and to fill the car’s gas tank before the storm hit. You have a storm cellar or know what to do when you feel a tremor.

The storm is coming. You know it, you’ve prepared, you’re hunkered down at home, sometimes with battens or wood covering windows to keep them from breaking. You have candles, battery-powered lanterns, maybe a generator. A hand-cranked radio. All electronic devices are charged up. You watch the Weather Channel until the TV flickers and goes out, then you just wait it out. You hope the howling winds don’t knock over trees, especially into your house.  And you are grateful to be warm and dry and safe as long as possible.

I like blizzards as long as I’m not out driving in one. I respect the power of hurricanes and have seen the incredible damage done by raging winds and water to homes and lands and people. Tornadoes terrify me as do earthquakes. Nature can be cruel and at best, tolerates us. We can learn something from our ancestors about living in tune with the world around them. I think I will go watch the sky.




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.


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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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.