There’s nothing quite like the feeling of buying lights and seeds and walking out of the store into a below zero wind chill. Mixed feelings – but most of all, hope.
We had an inkling that a day off might be in the works. Toward the end of the school day, we saw an email from downtown – the Powers That Be had cancelled all after school and evening events, and the morning wellness appointments had been rescheduled. I slid a little in the parking lot; the freezing rain had begun.
By the time I saw the announcement that our local schools would close the next day, I had already prepped for the possibility of power outages. Sometimes, the two go together. Ice, power outages, kind of like chocolate chips and cookies, Romeo and Juliet, or birds of a feather. It’s not a panic situation, but we’d rather not be forced to travel the slick roads in search of eggs or bread if the trip can be avoided.
Our pantry is pretty well stocked as a general rule. A quick stop for bunny food on the way home from work, and we can feed everyone under our roof.
Blankets: if the heat goes off, we’ll need to double up on blankets. We have plenty, and at any given time most are reasonably clean. Most.
Bean bag chairs. Just kidding – sort of. Amigo has several. Bean bag chairs plus blankets equal a cozy corner for relaxing and keeping warm.
Firewood: Bring in a good stack of dry or relatively dry wood. If the heat is off, we’ll huddle up in the den near the fireplace with bean bag chairs and blankets.
Charge everything that needs a charge. That’s probably the biggest challenge on the list. If I can’t plug anything in during or after a storm, I need to be ready to keep the major tools of life charged. To give you an idea, here’s a list.
- Smart phones – three
- FitBit (it keeps my vibrating alarm on time!)
- Is that all? No, but those are the high priority items.
I don’t have a battery operated coffee maker. If we lived in a place where power outages were more common, I’d probably get one. A generator for the freezers would be useful, too. Our two chest freezers are full of vegetables from last summer and meat purchased on sale and a full stock of soup broths (haha). In a short outage, we just leave the freezers closed to maintain their temperatures.
So, folks, how did I spend my bonus day? Power stayed on. Heat stayed on. I relaxed on the couch, watched some HGTV and DIY (no news; after I had the closing confirmed, I didn’t want to see any more news), put a loaf of bread in the bread machine, cleaned a little, sipped my coffee, ran the dishwasher, and a whole batch of small chores. A day like this is a gift, when we’re prepared for it.
Share and Enjoy
The New York Giants are coming to the Frozen Tundra sometime today for a game tomorrow. No snowstorm this week, so Eli Manning and company won’t have to worry about sliding off the runway like Minnesota did two weeks ago. In fact, Amigo remembers a weekend many years ago when the opposition (he’s pretty sure it was the Giants) was snowed in and had to spend a second and maybe third night in their hotel. Maybe it was this game.
Then there was the year when word got out that Manning’s favorite television show was Seinfeld, and the local Fox affiliate decided to show something else in place of the usual rerun on Saturday night. In an attempt to psych out the visiting quarterback, they played an ancient black and white special on Vince Lombardi. Only in Packerland, my friends, only in Packerland do we take our football so seriously that it changes the television schedule – on Saturday.
We’re planning to Eat the Opponent with a choice we’ve made in the past: Jersey Bagels. We’ll be supporting a local business, getting something delicious, and showing our Packer spirit at the same time. The Giants play their games in New Jersey, after all, not New York.
I’m dressed up in one of my warmest and coziest Packer sweaters with a green/yellow patterned turtleneck underneath. It’s cold, cold, cold tonight. The Giants will face temperatures not quite as bad; the thermometer is due to rise above zero Fahrenheit tomorrow. Highs might even reach the teens. Go! Pack! Go!
Share and Enjoy
I haven’t posted lately because we’ve been – yep, you guessed it – very busy. Let’s skim the high points.
Chuck has a new job! He’s no longer making sure the news gets on the air. He is no longer driving and running and repairing live trucks and satellite trucks. He is now installing electrical components in brand new fire trucks. He’s been training for a week now, and it looks like this job is a fabulous fit for him. His official title is Electrician, Fire Truck Division.
Maybe he’ll actually enjoy the NFL playoffs this year instead of huddling in a corner crying out “No, no, don’t send me on the road again!”
In other news, it’s Christmas concert season for Amigo and the barbershop chorus! He’s already sung in two shows in two weeks, and the third comes up in a few days. He looks very festive in his elf costume, and his sense of humor keeps rehearsals light.
For example, consider the following. Dress rehearsal at the restaurant that will host the Barbershop Bistro. Risers are set up, guys are in place, lights are adjusted. Director scans the chorus and asks, “Is there anyone who can’t see me?” Think on this for a minute.
Amigo, he of the white cane club, gleefully raised his hand. The chorus members were beside themselves with laughter. When I picked him up two hours later, the guys were still chuckling. He livens up a party, all right, my Amigo.
My holiday shopping spreadsheet is in place, and I’m filling in the blanks. Wrappings and trimmings and trappings are organized and ready for use. The Christmas music CD collection is accessible – those albums not on my desk at work, that is.
The O.K. Chorale is settled in for the remainder of December. The blog might even reflect that – when I have time.
Share and Enjoy
To do tonight: Visit Kwik Trip. Fill minivan’s gas tank, pick up a dozen eggs, and buy a snow brush. Mine disappeared last time Chuck borrowed the minivan for a weekend.
Ta-dah! Chuck starts his new job tomorrow! He’s no longer in the television industry. He’ll be building fire trucks instead. He’s looking forward to the change, and we are, too.
Doo-bee-doo-bee-doo: It’s the most wonderful time of the year to share my holiday music collection at work. My coworkers have been very accepting of my playing Christmas music as performed by brass groups, pop singers, a capella singers, and just about every genre that plays or sings the songs of the season. Only one puts on his headphones as soon as I arrive. Scrooge. I turn off the speakers and put on my headset as the clock approaches official work time.
I’ve also had fun sharing videos with my virtual students. I use a safe-tube service to eliminate comments and ads (you’d be appalled to know what kind of garbage is out there), and I’m respectful of my students’ many beliefs. In sharing music, my goals include encouraging my students to log into class on time, quieting the chat before class, and starting class on a positive note.
To-do: I haven’t logged into my school account during the weekend. I like to get some grading done at home whenever I can. I have to balance that, however, with my own need for rest and respite, a.k.a. sanity. This item may or may not become a Ta-dah!
Meanwhile, Amigo is helping Chuck get supper ready. The Packers won, and we’re looking out over the first snow of the season. Life is good.
Readers, what’s a ta-dah! in your life?
Share and Enjoy
I almost – almost – feel for the director of Amigo’s barbershop choir. But really, he set himself up for this one.
Director Man had the risers set up, the festive scenery in place, and the lights on the choir. He stepped back, looked over the group, and asked, “Is there anyone who can’t see me?”
Without a pause, Amigo raised his hand, the hand not holding his white cane, and the choir erupted with laughter.
They were still chuckling when I arrived to pick him up two hours later. Spark plug, indeed. They’ll have a hard time picking a new recipient for that award!
Share and Enjoy
The batch of jars from a recent estate auction contained some interesting variations in size and shape. Several were the basic half-pint jelly jar size and design. Some were different.
Some had the word “freezer” embossed on them. Most were Ball; a few said Kerr. Two or three lids, the solid gray lids – does anyone know what they’re made of? I’ve seen lamps and hanging lights made from jars with this type of lid, so I’m not quite ready to throw them away.
For now, I’m sorting and storing those that are clean and suitable for food storage. The others might become…well, who knows? It’s all part of the fun of finding and procuring and using old jars.
Share and Enjoy
1-2-3 Cranberry Sauce
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
3 cups cranberries
Bring to a boil, then simmer 20 minutes or until all the berries have burst. Add cinnamon to taste. Serve warm.
Now, the backstory. I brought this recipe home from kindergarten on a sheet of construction paper. We made it at home since it was so easy. It became a standard at Thanksgiving dinner, the tradition lasting long after the original paper faded.
A generation later, my kids started helping me make it every year. If we have leftover cranberry sauce, I use it in jello or add it to muffins. This little piece of my “saucy” childhood continues, along with Thanksgiving memories that will never fade.
Have a wondering Thanksgiving, readers.
Share and Enjoy
Introduction – Blogging this election has been much harder than 2012 or 2008. I don’t want to give the Republican candidate any more of my time or blog space than he deserves, but if I stay silent, if too many stay silent, then his misogyny and racism will spread. Instead of posting election-related content, I’ll simply tell you that I VOTED already, and move on to an everyday conversation.
Actual Text Message Conversations (I couldn’t make these up)
from Chuck: Gotta love our downtown! I went out to plug the meter again and a stranger had already done it.
my reply: Pay it forward!
And yet another day —
I was on my way to the Take and Bake pizza place to pick up a particular type of pizza for Eating the Opponent. As I pulled in to the parking lot, my phone went “Ding!” signaling a text message.
from Chuck: Here’s some must have – the Golden Girls Action figures. Someone really is producing them and will sell them at an upcoming comic con. Collect the whole set!
my reply: I want the Supreme Court Women set.
Chuck’s response: I bet the Ruth Bader Ginsberg action figure would kick the trump bobble head’s butt.
my reply: Darn right. Notorious RBG to the rescue! Add superhero cape to the judge’s robe!
Follow up: I haven’t ordered my blue pantsuit Hillary action figure yet. Yet. I still wish Lego would get serious and make the Supreme Court Women.
Share and Enjoy
It’s sort of like a to-do list. I’ve accomplished a lot in getting the garden put away for the winter, but there’s still a great deal left to be done.There’s always an excuse, er, a reason, though. Let’s see.
Drain the rain barrels. But it’s still warm enough that there’s no danger of freezing. I use the rain barrel water to rinse out the litter boxes and the kitchen compost containers. Can’t I keep the rain barrels running for a little while longer? (she says plaintively)
Take out the last tomato plants.
Cut back the flowers, such that they are. This is a low priority task. If I don’t do it, the small furry creatures will do it when winter sets in for real.
Spread compost. This is an ongoing task. I’d rather spread it now than in the spring, but I can do this in the spring if need be. But if I don’t do it now, will there be room in the compost bins for the winter’s kitchen scraps? Well?
Plant the walking onion bulbs I procured through foraging. It’s okay. I had permission. If I plant these now, they’ll come up in spring with little or no help. But before I put the bulbettes in where I want them, I have to weed that space. Yes, folks, it’s true. I need to weed the garden in November. Do you see why I’m procrastinating?
Trim the lemon basil plant. This plant isn’t happy indoors. Maybe it needs a trim and a grow light. Maybe I should just cut it off and hang dry it, once and for all.
Take a load of cast-offs to a thrift store. The pile I call the “Next Goodwill Load” is overflowing the laundry basket that holds it. But first, I really wanted to empty a couple more drawers. It’ll make room for hiding birthday and Christmas gifts.
Speaking of gift shopping, I need to get my annual spreadsheet in place. Ugh. It’s a necessary evil. Keeping track of what I’ve already bought will help prevent overspending. And since I started shopping in August – hey, don’t roll your eyes. Art in the Park (a local summer art festival) is one of my favorite shopping opportunities.
Rake leaves. It’s windy out. That’s enough, isn’t it?
But seriously, I’ve gotten a lot done recently. I cleaned out the main garden plot and the plot behind the garage. I’ve stirred both compost bins and added water to the smaller one to keep it from drying out. Rain barrel water, in fact. I’ve kept up with bunny’s litter boxes, and I add those to the garden soil, too.
Most important task of all: I voted. I voted early at City Hall. That’s a deep sigh of relief.
Readers, have you voted yet? All the other tasks can wait.