The Day(s) The Blog Stood Still

“…2…” as the ball pops and rises…


There’s a line in one of the many “How To Blog” books I ran across that states: “remember, post frequently, but not if there’s nothing of value to post about…”  Hmmm… Sage advice, but as I set up the step ladder to take me out of my head, I’m haunted by the tenor of this statement, quickly fold the ladder, and climb back down.  Ah, safe and warm is the blanket of insecurity.  What exactly is “of value” to write about?  One person’s wood carving is another person’s shim.  (There’s probably another line in one of those “How To Blog” books warning: “avoid all carpentry analogies and references when trying to build a readership…unless, of course, one’s blog is to address the woodworking populous.”)  Politics?  Sports?  Arts?  Culture?  Gossip?  Life?  Death?  Who makes the best falafel in New York?  There’s gotta be something that’s universal that’ll pop me out of the self-conscious La Brea wading pool and free the fingers…

Blame it on the snow.

I wasn’t able to put the tire-chains on my post until now, but with the morning coverage of “The Blizzard of 2010” I’m getting a lot of traction.  Yesterday, in the late afternoon on 2/9, the excitement and tension of a possible snow day was neutered by announcements of school districts closing for 2/10.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing like a snow day, but that childlike anticipation the night before and all the superstitions that are enacted to somehow conjure a snow day is half the fun.  To find out a day before was like being told your surprise birthday party would have chocolate cake, a scattering of balloons and about a dozen friends (a little more if the Henderson’s bring their family that’s visiting from Iowa, but their reply on the RSVP was vague at best.)  Unnecessary were the rituals of  “no school voodoo.”

Put away the chicken blood and bag of sacred bones.

Some of the beliefs to conjure a snow day:

  • Wear your pajamas inside out the night before.
  • Put a spoon under your pillow (a cold spoon, frozen) the night before.
  • Walk backwards up the stairs (to bed).
  • Jump backwards on your bed. (?)
  • Pray.  Pray hard, especially if you have a project, test, or paper due.

Is your snow shovel half full or half empty?

There have been two clear reactions to the early announcement from the parents.  One being “Great, now I can plan where the kids will go if I need to go to work.  And if I’m home, what arts and crafts we can do, which fun family activities we can enjoy, and plenty of time to gather all the groceries for staying home and making fresh pasta and teaching the kids how to can their own preserves.”  And then, there’s the other reaction:  “Crap. (They’ll want to go sledding for five minutes, then they’ll get cold, and then wet, and then grouchy, and then we’ll need to come home and drink hot chocolate…it’ll be too hot, and then they’ll burn their tongues and then right when they’re recovered…it’ll be “Let’s go out in the snow again…”)  Truth is, the sledding, justifying the snow-sloth approach to embrace the day wearing sweats, pajamas, and crazy bed hair without a care in the world, the hot chocolate and the suspension of schedules and protocol is a very nice treat.  It gave me time to prepare a little.  Bought a sled.  Picked up a couple of snow shovels.  Went to CostCo…

“You’re gonna’ love those cantaloupes.”

I’ve met Charlene before.  Nice lady, very talkative.  She is the person who is the “You Shall Not Pass” guardian at the end of your CostCo journey.  The one who holds your $438.00 receipt and gives you cart a cursory glance, waves you forward and sends you on your way sans boxes or bags to play Grocery Tetris with your car’s cargo space .  Usually, it’s a quick eyeballing, back and forth from receipt to cart — but not with Charlene.  Charlene takes her time and comments on things you’ve purchased:

“Now, that razor will get your face nice and clean.”

“That ground beef better be used in the next two days — I know some fellas in the meat department.”

“Trick to making those fabric softeners to last is to tear ’em in half.  No one needs that much fabric softener.”

The line grows long as Charlene itemizes and critiques everyone’s purchases.  Carts back up.  Frustrations mount.  And in the distance, from the back of the queue, all you can hear are snippets of wisdom from the woman with the red vest.  “Oh, you got yourself a baby — them are a lot of diapers.  Switch that child to formula — it’ll stop ’em up a little.”  “Can’t ever have too many walnuts.”  “People will laugh now, but when they ask you if you have any chafing dish stands, you can say ‘you bet your ass I’ve got ’em, and I got ’em them 6 for $11.99′”  In case you’re wondering — the fresh fruit, the extra batteries, the water and the spare flashlights were approved by Charlene.  The only thing that drew carticism was my gallon sized purchase of Whoppers.

“That’s just for Daddy, isn’t it?  Some sort of reward for doin’ the shoppin’, right?  Well, that reward will end up around your belly and ain’t no one gonna find that sweet and crunchy.”

“Write what you snow.”

I love it when it snows.  Cardinals and bluejays upstage new fallen backdrops as they balance and hop from branch to branch.  The scratch of the itchy hat.  The burn of the snow that gets between the mitten and the sleeve.  The balling of the sock as it somehow works its way off the foot while in the boot.  The warmth of my house when I came in.  The time with my parents, my sisters when the snow met me at my waist — and now, with my wife and kids and our dog when the snow never makes it past my knees.  And the snotty noses.  And that blanket of fresh snow, white canvases to imprint more memories.  Watching New York City pull up a big white comforter — quieting everything down, making everyone and everything hold off.  The slush will come, the massive gray puddles with icy flotsam will send people on detours.  Salt will sting paws.  Cars will need to be dug out.  Things will need to be rescheduled.  Thanks to those who need to be at work, and are.  People who had to brave some treacherous conditions to get to the hospitals, the transportation departments, the emergency services, the utilities…the people who need to log in that day of work because they have no other choice.  If you’re an extremely lucky person and gets to spend this time at home, like me, go and check on someone who may need some help.  An older neighbor that might be feeling isolated, nervous…or a mom or dad who finds themselves with too many kids at home and not much patience…New parents with their infants…that sort of thing.  As magical as a winter storm can be, obviously, it jeopardizes and impacts many.  It’s a steep price to pay for an initial quieting of time.  It’s easy for me to sit here and put on two generous coats of wax, nostalgic and poetic, writing from an apartment in CT.  But, it’s like Charlene always says…

“Better to grab it now, then to not have it when you need it.”

So, this moment, this snowfall, this blizzard, this February 10, 2010 — I’m doing just that.

Listening to Charlene

–ALN