Posts Tagged ‘winter’

photo courtesy of Microsoft

photo courtesy of Microsoft

When I was a little girl, I lived in a small town in New Jersey, in a big old house with a wrap-around porch.  I had two cats named Alice and Pickles, fought regularly with my two older brothers, and became friends with a girl named Cathy S.  I don’t remember much about my friendship with Cathy, except that she was supposed to be my best friend for life.

How do I remember that?  Because she told me she would be, right after she asked if I would give her some of my jelly beans.  “Pretty please?  I’ll be your best friend forever,” Cathy promised.

For awhile, we were indeed best friends.  Then, her family moved to Illinois and my family moved to Connecticut.  We didn’t have cell phones or the internet back then, so Cathy and I soon lost touch.  All I have left of our never-ending best-friendship is a photo:

Cathy and me

Cathy and me

I’m sure Cathy thought we would be friends forever, just like she promised.  It couldn’t have been just about the jelly beans, right?

Regardless of Cathy’s intentions at the time, she was doing something I’ve done too many times to count: I’ll make a promise with the best of intentions but, in all likelihood, won’t keep.   Like the promises I made in college:  “Dear God, if you help me pass this test even though I didn’t study enough, I swear I’ll never procrastinate again!”

Or the times I let the car get just a little too low on gasoline: “Please, car, get to the gas station and I’ll never let you go below a quarter tank again!”

I’m particularly bad about making promises during sporting events.  “Please, in the name of all that is right and good, let us win this game!  I’ll never ask again!”   Until the next game, that is.

I’m also bad about promising to be grateful for things I take for granted.  Like health.  Or walking free of pain.  Or electricity.

Two weeks ago, we had an ice storm.  It wasn’t the worst storm we’ve had this year – there had been more snow, and the roads had been covered with lots more ice.   But somehow this was the storm to bring down trees and power lines.    At 4:45 a.m. on a Friday morning, my power went out.

my back yard

my back yard

I woke up about half an hour later, confused.  Was it bad everywhere, or just my neighborhood?  Were the roads clear?  Did my work have a delay?   I checked my smart phone, but wasn’t able to determine much.  Turns out the majority of this area was fine; I just happened to live in an area that got the most damage.  The big cities of Raleigh and Durham were fine. Hence, no news.

So I got up, thinking I would make some coffee.   Oh… wait.   Can’t make coffee.  I’ll just make my morning smoothie.  Oh … wait.  No smoothie.   How about oatmeal.  Mm… nope, unless I want to eat it raw.

Good thing I had taken a shower the evening before!

Power crews worked tirelessly through the weekend to help us.  But there was so much damage that it took until 2:45 a.m. on Monday before my electricity was restored.    I know, because I heard the heating unit click on and the refrigerator start to make its familiar hum.  I was so excited, I got out of bed right then  and did two loads of wash!

During my time without power, I swore I would never take electricity for granted again.  But really, who was I kidding?  I was — and still am — grateful for all the creature comforts that electricity provides. But, just a mere two weeks later, when I walk into a room, I flip the light switch and automatically expect the lights to come on.  I get up in the morning and expect hot water to come out of the shower tap.  I am certainly grateful for these things, but I definitely take them for granted.

How about you?  Anything you take for granted in your life?  Any promises you make that are hard to keep?






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Meghan’s First Snow


Meghan experienced her first “real” snow earlier this week.

Snow started falling rather quickly at my house on Wednesday afternoon.  After about an inch was on the ground, I figured we could run around and play before it got too deep.   But, when I opened the door and Meghan saw this strange white stuff coating the deck and ground, she balked.   No way she was going outside…

Eventually, I decided to just start walking away. That did it!  Determined not to be left alone, Meghan stepped outside and began exploring.

Finding her rawhide bone outside made everything better!


The next morning, however, was not so fun.  Hours of sleet and rain left an icy coating on top of the snow, making it very hard for Meghan (and me) to walk.  Eventually she figured out that by walking in my footsteps, she could keep her balance.


Since it was impossible for her to run around outside, I had to come up with indoor activities to use up her physical and mental energy.   I threw her squeaky toys down the hall for her to retrieve and we worked on some new commands.  Luckily, I had planned ahead and bought a few hula hoops and began teaching her to jump through them.   And we played a lot of her favorite game: “find me.”   I make her sit and stay on her mat, then go hide behind some doors, in the tub, or behind chairs.    As the week went on, I tried progressively harder hiding spots, but my house is small and I eventually ran out of options.

Luckily for her (and me), the sun came out yesterday and melted a lot of the snow.   Meghan was able to sit outside while I did some work transplanting seeds.


Soon we’ll be dealing with lots of mud!  Red clay paw prints everywhere…


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My favorite things about winter: the crisp air, the stillness of freshly fallen snow, and the fact that, where I live, it’s usually not cold for long.

But when it is cold, I pull out a few of my favorite clothing items:


I love, love, love my Patagonia long underwear. They aren’t cheap, but I’ve had several pairs for going on 20 years now, so they are worth every penny!

Another of my absolute favorite items is my hoodie sweatshirt.


I actually have two of these sweatshirts, advertising a former employer, and I wear them pretty much every night and on weekends. Even though I wear hats when I’m out walking, the hood provides extra warmth. And maybe the neighborhood kids think I’m cool. (ha)

Another favorite winter item is a scarf.


I’ve got several store-bought scarves along with the beautifully handmade ones above (thanks K and M!).

And on winter nights, I snuggle up in my flannel sheets.


But thinking about it, my new absolute favorite “warm” thing is:


My new dual-fuel heat pump and programmable thermostat!

Now, me being a Nell, I tend to keep things for years (note the age of the long undies referenced above). So of course I wasn’t going to rip out a usable gas pack until it no longer worked.

But how I wish I had chosen to do just that sooner! The difference in my utility bills is amazing, and I’m keeping the house way warmer than ever.

And I love that the new thermostat can be set so that my house is toasty warm when I get up in the mornings.

So when the dog bites or the bee stings, or I’m feeling cold, I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad. (Apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein)

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