If you don’t like the weather today…

We’re pressure-washing the porch rails today. Last Sunday we might have used the pressure washer to de-ice the driveways.

January 24. Cabin fever, ah, yes. This sickness will make a girl jump up on the tables at the local Pizza Hut and cut loose a wild frug. I didn’t have cabin fever last week, but I do remember it from my winters in Montana.  We don’t usually get a socked-in amount of snow here in Nashville, but last weekend, oh boy! I loved it–just like I’ve loved the sunshine and warm temperatures this week.

But there are some people on the other side of that opinion. Okay, go ahead, all you weather-haters. “Snowed in!” Yell it–like Edwin Starr singing “War!” back in 1970.

SNOWED IN! Huh, yeah, Good God, y’all, What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

Now hear my opinion. Here’s what snowed in is good for:

JCSleddingSledding. Christmas gifts for the local grands were four-foot $10 plastic sleds (I’m sure they were made in China). The boys got blue and Carly got hot pink. We put the sleds on the porch instead of under the tree. Our Christmas this year sported 70-degree temperatures. Jaxton ran around yelling, “Come, look! I got a swed! I got a swed!” (He’s three.)196

Jameson and Carly took on the hill above their front yard. Jameson’s blue wonder eventually cracked when he hit a bump.

Reading. I confess I haven’t done much reading during these snow days, but if I could stay awake in the afternoons, I could knock a few off my list. Instead of reading, I’ve been….

Napping. Oh, how cozy it is to bundle up on the sofa. If you have cats, gather them around you. We only have an outside cat and he’s not quite tame enough to cuddle. However, he has enjoyed curling up in the rocker on the porch.

Movies. Or binge-watching a series. I finished the first season of The #1 Ladies Detective Agency at no charge and was disappointed to see that Season 2 was not On Demand. I guess I’ll have to rent or buy. This HBO production is based on Alexander McCall Smith’s books about a female sleuth in Botswana. Don’t expect a lot of violence and kinky sex, just culture, scenery, and sweetness (except for, uh, the mambas.)

Projects. I am famous for having almost as many projects stacked up as I do book titles, but today, I have two less! I painted a picture frame. I’m trying to take a page from one of my daughters-in-law and get all the frames in the house one color.

This is Mom’s grandmother, Ada Shoemake. 2016-01-24 14.54.30She was a hoss of a tiny woman, revered by both sides of my mother and father’s family. She looks so much better in black.

And these are the Pizza Hut chairs I 2016-01-24 14.53.44painted and upholstered for The Cellar. Bought these two years ago for $10 each, or was it $5?

Cleaning. (I was led to this topic by the mention of “projects.”) We are fortunate around the Compound to have bi-weekly housekeeping help for the regular stuff, but there is always something deeper that needs attention. I cleaned off three-quarters of my desk, does that count? Wait, wait, I also dusted the shelves beside the TV in The Cellar. Wow. By the time I make my way around the other book “wall,” the ones I just cleaned will be ready for another swipe.

Eating. Soups, for sure. Chili, beef stew, New England clam chowder, vegetable soup. There’s always something on the stove. And then everybody gathers around one table, sort of like Blue Blood’s Reagan family at Sunday night supper. (Or maybe they spread out on chairs, couches, blankets, and pillows in front of the TV.)

Birdwatching. The cardinals adore the snow. They are all over the branches and at the feeders. 2016-01-24 07.06.45This morning, I trained my eye on a red-headed woodpecker working his way up a tall elm rooted in The Ravine. My peripheral view included chickadees, more redbirds, purple finches, house wrens, and…a robin! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a robin in the snow.

Get outside. Walk in the snow. I recommend you wear boots. We don’t buy a lot of snow boots here in the South, but if you have boots for rain, they’ll work. Or if you have everyday boots that you don’t mind pushing through the powder (hard powder by now), use those. I surveyed the ravine while out with Murphy.2016-01-22 15.51.26

Always have your camera handy–or your phone, and don’t forget to take the dog with you. 2016-01-22 15.33.59Murphy loves the snow. She digs in with her face and plows.

Help a neighbor–or be helped. A post by Heather Corum Powell on our neighborhood Facebook page on Friday reminded me. “If anyone on Hilson has chocolate chips, I’ll make the cookies!” She got the chips, made the cookies, and then started delivery for those too far away to walk to get them. Since Dave and I are, ahem, watching the sugar, we asked her if she could take them to a single mom, or maybe a senior who can’t get out. Frankly, I didn’t feel that good being so altruistic and I’m a bit jealous of some old codger grinning over my cookies, if you know what I mean. <Sigh.> At least I know I did the right thing.

About that soup. If you’re like me, you always have an extra bowl (or pot, in my case) of soup. Since my neighbors have already foundered on my multiple pots of turkey soup this year, I haven’t reached out with the grub. Now I’m reminded that I need to.

The “be-helped” part. I’ve been a single mother in my past, and fortunate enough to know enough willing helpers to write at least fifty different stories. Every once in a while, I think of some of these people, and I write a note, but not nearly as often as I should. (Maybe some note-writing would be good during this in-house episode.)

If I were without Dave, I would not be able to drive the van up the driveway hill. I know that any one of the five closest neighbors would heed my call. First I’d try Saleh because he wants to help the most. Then Don–He’s the most vocal about my soup. Then I’d go for Steve. Maybe I should try Steve first. He’s from Upstate NY. Then Patrick or Chris since they’re younger, and therefore braver, than the rest.

Neighbors have volunteered all kinds of help on our Facebook page, not to mention the most helpful posts about street conditions from those who’ve been out. (See, there is some good in Facebook.) I feel inadequate to help. Dave did shovel all around the house, paths in both driveways, the ramp, and around the back doors, but I wouldn’t allow him to try the same thing for another house.  We have become the older ones. Note I did not say “elderly.”

My dad is always saying, “Let me do what I can, and then help me.” I think we should translate that to “I’ll do what I can, and then, if I need help, I’ll ask for it.” My second goal would be to always think of something we could do for somebody. I think I’m about to put on another pot of soup.

Sure hope Dave gets the porch rails blasted and they dry enough for me to caulk and paint tomorrow. This good weather is only going to last three days, they say. That means on Tuesday or Wednesday, I’ll be looking for things to do inside–and there may not be any snow to play in!

Mary Oliver First SnowSo here’s something to do that requires nothing but attention: Poetry. Yes, I know that is reading, but it’s almost, well, not–at least for me. I am fond of Mary Oliver (who isn’t?) so I’ve taken out all of her books that I have on a shelf and I carry them with me, upstairs and down. Here is just a little bit of a poem that stayed with me from last weekend.

Look it up. Read the whole thing. First Snow. You’ll be ready for it next time you get snowed in.

 

 

The Bad Thing About Snow in Tennessee

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAWe’re having a snow day. Except that we’re really having an ice day. And THAT is the problem with snow in Tennessee. Southern clouds try to conjure up snow and take their work just a little too far. The result hangs in sharp points from rocks, rooftops, and shrubbery. It pulls tree limbs and power lines to the ground. Schools, churches, and flights get cancelled. There are people without heat, or stranded, or hungry–Our heat could go out any time. I know I’m not supposed to enjoy this.

It’s ice out there, not snow, and it’s about two inches thick. I was glad I thought to fill the bird feeders. GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAOne little chickadee sang his thanks this morning, perched on the ledge of the big picture window behind the couch in the den. He didn’t fly away when I turned my head to look at him. The cardinals are having a rip-roaring soiree. They love a party in the cold. They take turns at three feeders with the chickadees, woodpeckers, finches, and wrens. It’s no surprise to see the other birds, but yesterday afternoon a bluebird crossed the back yard. Our neighbor, Don, keeps several houses for the cheery little Eastern bluebirds.

“Look, look! One of Don’s bluebirds….” I was driving, just pulling the van into the garage, with Dave riding shotgun.

“Could be one of our bluebirds,” Dave said. “I saw bluebirds in that second house between those trees we planted on the edge of the ravine.”

“Really? We have bluebirds? In that little house that Dad built?”

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAI couldn’t keep my eyes off the back yard action today but I managed to cook the mid-day meal. Most of the time, lunch is our largest meal of the day. Today I made chicken adobo. I learned this dish in seventh grade when my friend, Dorothy Valenzuela, came to the house and cooked for us.

I bought a chicken, just like she told me to do, and she arrived that evening with rice, soy sauce, garlic, and onions. “You have oil?” she asked. “How about vinegar?”

“What kind of vinegar?” I asked.

“The kind  you cook with,” she answered.

I handed her some apple cider vinegar.

When the rice adobo was done, so was the adobo . She announced that she was leaving the soy sauce for us.

“You’re going home?” Dad asked. “Aren’t you going to stay and eat dinner with us?”

Dorothy giggled. “No, no, I can’t stay tonight. See you later.”

At the door, she said, “You have to teach me potato salad.” Later, she told me the reason she left was that she didn’t want to be eating if we didn’t like her adobo.

Mom and Dad and I talked about Dorothy at lunch while we did away with the chicken, rice, fried apples, and broccoli-fixed-two-ways. Dad gets his cooked to mush in cheese sauce; I roast it crisp-tender for the rest of us. Dad declared the meal to be the “best meal you’ve cooked in a long time, Sis. I’ve made a pig of myself.”

“I thought you liked all my cooking,” I said.

“I do. I just think this one was extra-special,” he answered.

Mom got in the game. “I’ll just say that chicken was out of this world.”

***

 

After lunch, Dave made a trip to the veterinary specialists’ office. No one is supposed to be driving today, but we realized Friday night that Murphy would run out of prednisone on Tuesday. We stopped in at the office Saturday morning and the receptionist said it would be better to just wait and call in on Monday. Huh. See how that went down?

 

Dave is an excellent driver in snow and on ice, a skill he picked up in his home state of Montana, but I was relieved when he got home. “You didn’t crash and burn!” I said.GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

“No, but it’s a wonder,” he said. “And it took me five runs to get out of our south side driveway.”

***

 

I didn’t see a bluebird today, nor the doves. They must be bedded down in some warmer place, but there were two or three robins pecking at the ground under the curly willow. I wondered if they were digging out frozen worms.

I received a text from a young man who’s done landscaping and handyman jobs for us. “Ms. Revell, do you all have kerosene or a generator? Do you need me to bring you something? I will. Whatever you need.”

I responded. “I think we’re good. Thanks for thinking of us.”

“If you need your drives and walks cleared and salted, just let me know, Ms. Revell.”

And that’s probably the best thing about snow and ice in Tennessee, at least here in Nashville.

***