What follows is a piece I did for our local Mensa newsletter. What follows that are my 365 photos since I last posted.
Writing in a Winter Wonderland
Day One, February 5th, isn't that bad. I was home from work with a stomach flu but I hadn't intended to go to work anyway. I have a bad leg and a lot of difficulty walking even in good weather so giving the called-for 9 or so inches of snow a miss seemed like a good idea. My husband Bob stays home as well. He is my gallant knight, protecting me from the storm and nursing me back to health at the same time. I indulge in it. I make a big pot of Pasta e Fagiole for dinner. That evening, we watch the snow fall and huddle in together, hoping the power won't go out. The next morning, we wake up to something amazing.
Day Two, February 6th, is kind of fun. I'm finished with my stomach flu, and spend a lot of time going from window to window taking pictures and marveling at the transformed landscape. We find we've lost a good half of our apple tree, but it fell straight down and did not hit the house. And considering the amount of snow, there is nothing we can do about it anyway. It is bright and beautiful outside with everything dead quiet. The birds that usually frequent our feeders are nowhere in sight. No cars on the road. No traffic noise other than the occasional snow plow. Quick checks on the family find my mother with no power or heat but safe for the moment, and my daughter stuck at a friend's house across town, but also safe. Once it stops snowing, Bob measures the snowfall at 23 inches. He starts shoveling the driveway, and that's when we realize this isn't going to be as much of a party as we hoped. The snow is heavy and wet and deep. A shovel is futile. But wonder of wonders, our next-door neighbor's son has a snow blower and is willing to do our long, steep driveway for a reasonable price. Bob still has to unearth the cars, dig out a bigger place for our Corgis to go potty outside, and dig a path to the trash can. My main fear is my Mom's power, and once it comes back on, we have few worries. She and her 2 dogs and 7 birds will not freeze. I figure out a recipe for stuffed acorn squash off the top of my head. It's good.
Day Three is Super Bowl Sunday. Bob had a brief skirmish with the stomach flu the night before but is feeling much better. The snow has stopped. The cable TV is finally back to normal, after being pixilated all day Saturday. We never lost our power, and the water warnings are finished. The snow reaches as high as the picture window in the dining room. It is awesome to behold, and a little frightening. Ice forms along the edges of the roof with huge icicles hanging down from the gutters and the awnings. We breathe a sigh of relief anyway, eat a nice homemade spinach quiche, and enjoy watching the Saints win their first championship. The dogs are starting to get restless, but the streets in Penn Hills are clean and we could leave if we wanted. We are fine, it's a fun adventure being snowed in and we are safe and warm. It's a little bit romantic. I may have made homemade puff pastry, and hot chocolate with hand-whipped cream, I don't quite remember.
Day Four, Monday, Bob goes to work. I do not, as I work a four day schedule with Mondays off. I decide to take advantage of the clean driveway and the need to start my car anyway, and I go to the grocery store. In retrospect, that was the official end to the prosaic snowbound experience. My first clue to the fun to follow is the parking lot. It is plowed, but people are parked all willy-nilly anyway. I have a handicapped placard, and I have to squeeze into a parking space with cars on either side parked at strange angles. There are very few shopping carts available but I get one. My shopping is purely recreational; we don't really need any groceries, but there were a few things we're running low on and I need to get out of the house. I have the opportunity to observe people who are normally kind and considerate acting like the end of the world is nigh, and this was after the storm had ended! General rudeness, pushing and shoving, impatience, and grabbing random items off the shelf are all common. There is a line at the dairy section. The eggs are gone. This is what the snowpocalypse brings; you can't make omelets any more and your normally mild-mannered neighbors turn into wanna-be brides at Filene's annual wedding dress sale. I make it home safely, a bit lighter in the wallet but heavier in fresh fruit and insight into human behavior. I put out birdseed, which quickly transforms our front window into HD entertainment for the cats. That night's dinner is baby back ribs with mashed potatoes. Baked, as we are out of propane for the grill and the grill is covered with snow, in any case.
Day Five, Tuesday, I go to work. There are warnings of more snow. The bus is late, and has three times the usual number of passengers. The sidewalks downtown are treacherous and truly frightening for someone who walks with a cane. I ask to leave early, and shorten my work day by two hours, getting home just before the next wave hits. When I leave the mall Park and Ride to go home, the roads are wet as is our driveway. By the time Bob arrives home some two hours later, he barely gets his normally maneuverable car into the driveway. Any coming up the hill is out of the question. And the snow is barely getting started. We want to cry. Instead, we watch a movie, eat leftovers, and fret. Late that evening, I get word that work is cancelled, and Bob decides to give his job a miss as well since things are rapidly going from bad to worse outside.
Day Six, Wednesday. Still snowing. The icicles have grown to epic proportions, and I fear for our front awning. Nothing to be done about it, though. The ice dam is seven to eight inches thick and frozen solid. We watch another movie, do some cleaning, sort through some files, try to stay out of each other's way. The bloom is off the rose in terms of the romantic snowed in experience, for sure. Bob reads and I read, then knit, then read again. I've never been so glad to have hobbies. I make a truly epic chili for dinner while Bob attempts to shovel the driveway again. Another six inches of snow. The official tally is 29.6 inches for the region. At Chez Fritz, we got 30 even. Hurrah, we're above average! I decide to take a vacation day and stay home until Friday. No choice but to go in on Friday, as I have work that must be done. More fretting. More knitting. The garbage is starting to accumulate and Bob and I might just be getting a little short with each other. It's a stressful situation. I do some yoga. The Penguins win, and we are safe and warm and well-fed, so there's nothing to complain about, what with City residents dealing with unplowed streets and 20,000 people still without electricity. We're lucky, and we know it.
Day Seven, Thursday. I call work and let them know not to expect me. Bob left the shovel at the end of the driveway when he got stuck trying to leave for work, so I walk down to get it. I feel like Scott of the Antarctic in my docksiders and skirt and cane. I slog through knee high snowdrifts trying to see if there's any mail. There isn't. I've had enough of creative cooking. I've had enough of knitting. I decide to do a little spinning, and make some yarn to match an ongoing knitting project in case I need some more. I watch a lot of On Demand programs. I've seen every episode of Hoarders, Worst Cooks, Iron Chef America, and Ru Paul's Drag Race. I'm bored. I've taken the same pictures over and over again. I try for different angles on the icicles. I try to use my camera to convey my sense of imprisonment. That fails too. I pet my cat and he purrs, loudly, then rushes off to see what's on HD Bird Window. I call the neighbor to see if he'll do the driveway so my dear husband doesn't have to work half the night finishing the job. It's money well-spent. I take a photo of the check just for fun. I am careful to obscure the account and routing numbers, just in case it makes it into my "Project 365 " set on Flickr. Pot roast for dinner. It's done snowing for a while.
2/7, "Wounded". The damage to the apple tree in the aftermath of the first storm.
2/8, "No Grain for Good Birds or Bad"
2/10, "Bite Me". What to do with leftover puff pastry. They had cream cheese and half had pears, the other half had apricots.
2/11, "Nor Iron Bars a Cage".
2/12, "You Can't See Me". Biscuit attempting to hide under my desk.
2/13, "A Less Than Eternal Flame", from our dinner at the Lamplighter restaurant in honor of our friend Dave's birthday.
If I take the day off tomorrow, I may do an actual blog entry then. I'm getting tired of burning all my vacation time on this crap, though. Sheesh.