Just Say No to Snow

In Connecticut this month, we have endured record snowfall amounts. Anywhere between 44” and 60” have been reported to have fallen across CT. Enough is enough.

Storm Denis just passed through this week leaving an additional foot of snow on top of the snow that was already here. Typically, for the last few years, it would snow and then the next day be gone; melted away. This year, because it’s been so cold and we keep getting hit with more snow, the mounds are so high in my yard, that I can’t see if cars are coming when pulling out of my driveway.

During the first snow storm of the season, it creates friendly banter between people you know and even perfect strangers. Talking about the weather. Everyone can talk about the weather. But now, after so many storms and so much snow, I am so sick of everyone talking about the weather. Here are some of the most common things people have said over the last few weeks, and what was once pleasant repertoire, has now turned to sarcastic, curmudgeonly things I wish I could say:

“We’re supposed to get 6” tonight.”

“You WISH you were getting 6” tonight!”

“I hope we have no school tomorrow.”

“You know, if you want it that bad, call in sick,
keep your kid(s) home, then you’ll have no school, right?”

“Cold enough for ya’?”

“No, I like it when the wind chill factor goes down to 300 below and my parka feels like a windbreaker. Blood circulation is over rated.”

“I spent all day shoveling and boy am I sore.”

“Take a pill. And don’t you live in a condo?”

“Stay warm!”

“Don’t tell me what to do. YOU stay warm!”

“Mommy, are the roads bad?”

“Yes, Honey, Mommy needs to concentrate because other drivers…Don’t slam on your brakes, you $#@% moron!”

“Take your boots off at the door.”

“What do you mean you’re going to Washington?
Amtrak is closed! Who is going to shovel the driveway?”

Admittedly, all this snow and cabin fever is making me a wee bit cranky.

Here’s another thing lately that’s bothering me. Storm Denis. Have we officially used up every single possible name in their correct spelling that we now have to resort to variations on how to spell names for storms? Last week, it was "Clare". Have we already used “Clair” or “Claire”? And this week it was storm "Denis". Not “Dennis” but “Denis” What next? "Ephan" instead of Evan? (By the way, if we DO get another storm, I WILL call it the Ephan Storm anyway no matter what name they pick!)

And who gets to pick these names anyhow? I want to throw a few names into the hat for the next selection. I work with a woman and her first name is Stormy. How’s that for a storm name. “Storm Stormy is moving up the coast…”

Or how about Anager? That’s a perfectly good name. “It appears that this year’s Storm Anager has left the area and is heading towards Breakville. Later, we’ll take stock in where Storm Anager will be and what totals he will amount to.”

How about one for our Spanish friends that live in the Northeast? If the storms get up to the letter “m”, they should call it “Mister”. Although, using a Spanish dialect, it would be “Meester”. “Si Senore, Meester Nor’Easter”. Has a ring to it, no? How upset can you be shoveling 10” of snow from “Meester Nor’Easter”?

See, why can’t they get creative with these names? Although, I did think “Denis” was pushing the limits a bit. Am I the only one that had a hard time refraining from saying, “I got 10 inches from nasty Denis”? With one simple typo of just one letter, that sentence would take on a whole new meaning, wouldn’t it? If I worked for a TV network, I would have had a field day with the script for the teleprompter on that one!! For example, the teleprompter for Scott Haney would read: “Now on to local weather, Gay City Park in Manchester CT got up to 12” of Penis…I mean Denis.”

Sorry. That was the 12 year old boy in me coming out. Back to the snow.

Here’s a facebook posting between Dianne and I:

SK: There is no mistake that snow is spelled sNOw.
DS: Or maybe it is sNOW.
SK: Or maybe we are reaping what we SnOW.
DS: Or, after shoveling out...snOWWWWW!
SK: Or, SnOw what that the kids will be in school until July!

This is how we speak to each other in the house too, by the way. We’re always one-up-ing each other. She says it’s good brain fitness and exercise. I say we’re just competitive…but in a healthy, funny way. (By the way, I got 3 and she only got 2 so I won. But who’s counting?)

Anyway, the snow. Oh sure, the snow is fun when you have kids. The first one or two snow storms are great. You bundle up in your snow pants and burnt mittens to go outside. Burnt mittens? Oh that. Dianne brought back mittens for Rachel from Canada from the Olympics. Rachel wore them, and as mittens do, they had clumps of dingle berry snow on them. So, like an idiot, I put them on my gas fireplace stove to thaw and dry out. The next morning this is what they looked like:

Dianne, of course, was very upset with this, and over night, those mittens had increased in value.
“Those were one of kind! They only sold them at the Olympics!”
Under my breath, “…to millions of spectators and thousands of athletes.”
“That’s not the point!”
“I know, I’m sorry. But aren’t you glad they didn’t catch on fire and burn the whole house down?”
“Yeah, but I can’t get those mittens again. I knew I should have put them away for her and not let her wear them.”
“Um, yeah. Did you think they were going to improve with age like some kind of investment?”
“You’re missing the point.”
“No, I’m not. I burned a pair of mittens and somehow managed NOT to burn down the house.”
“Oh never mind.”

Truth be told, I felt horrible about those stupid mittens. In case you've seen Rachel in those mittens, now you know the story behind it. She needs to still wear those mittens or I'll never hear the end of it.

Anyway, as I was saying, you get bundled up and go outside. The first snow storm, you throw a few snowballs at each other…until someone gets hurt. You hold your tongue out and let acid snow fall on your tongue…until it burns from all the impurities. (We need a huge Brita filter in the sky.) You track footprints in the snow that wild coyotes or deer have made in your yard until you discover yellow snow, followed by having to change your boots because you’ve stepped in a pile of deer dung. And isn’t it fun scraping the snow off the cars only to discover that the brush you were using had sand all over it and it scratched the heck out of the paint. Isn’t it just grand when you have to shovel all that loveliness away? The first or second time, you get out your shovel and it’s not too bad because you don’t have to lift the snow very high. But the fourth, fifth, sixth time it snows, it’s living hell. It’s hard work lifting snow up 4 feet in the air to throw on existing snow piles that just keep getting higher and higher. Anyone that knows me knows that I detest hard work. So there you go. Nothing about this is fun to me.

But here’s the silver lining to getting older, or at least what I see as a silver lining. Recently, we had a friend that is well below the risk factor age for heart attacks but indeed had one. Thanks to her, because I AM of heart attack age, I never have to shovel alone again…and soon to never have to shovel period! So see. Life does get better with age.

We had shoveled our driveway clear just enough to get our cars out. Admittedly, it was dicey trying to back out and not hit the wo-manmade mountains at the end of the driveway. I think my mirrors actually grazed them while going by. As long as we could get in and out, that’s all that mattered. That is, until I read a friend of mine’s post on facebook about the propane truck driver who insisted that he widen his driveway and remove more snow. That’s when I realized that I, too, had to widen the driveway for my propane delivery due next week. What a drag! For Dianne, that is. After all, I could NEVER lift that snow that had been sitting there for a few days. I could have a heart attack you know. (I suppose not funny, but actually true.)

Here are some pictures of our driveway from all the snow, as of today. And we're expecting more snow this week!

What is more fun than lifting heavy snow and trying to throw it over 4’ snow banks? Roof Raking! First of all, I don’t own a roof rake. And even if I did, I wouldn’t be attempting to rake a foot of snow off my house with me standing below. Especially with all those dangerous icicles just waiting to come down and poke my eye out. Didn’t you see “The Christmas Story” where an icicle nearly takes Peter Billingsley’s eye out? Oh no, wait, that was from a BB gun and he just said it was an icicle. (Did you know “BB” stood for ball bearing?) Anyway, pulling mounds of snow on top of myself waiting for an avalanche to come down on my head, is not woman’s work. It’s man’s work! Therefore, the snow remains on the roof until Spring.

I have to say that the only good thing about snow is the annual sledding event. We have managed to go again this year, as we usually do…

We went to the Ledyard Middle School hill off of Rte 214. Unlike last year when we went in the dark (Click here to read that blog), we went during the day this time. The kids enjoyed it. Even some of the adults took on the hill. Sue and I are both older moms. But you would never know it by the way we dared each other with triple dog dares to go down the hill. It wasn’t really sliding down the hill that worried me, per se. It was the walking UP the hill that had me more concerned. I’m not exactly in tip-top shape. Any over exertion, like lifting a fork to my mouth, can cause heavy breathing and cause for concern. So looking up at the hill from below, I had my moments of questioning my physical abilities. But throwing caution to the wind, I gave into the peer pressure and Sue and I succumbed to taking on the challenge. We took a swig of medicinal port and off we went.

We made our way up the hill, with toboggan in tow. We solicited some of the kids to go down with us (for extra padding should we crash), but then thought twice once we started to discuss who would sit where. I know I was calculating in my mind where the safest place to sit would be, and I knew Sue was doing the same. “If I sit in the front, I can see where we’re going. Hmm, yeah, but is that a good thing? Maybe I should sit in the rear. But then I’ll be the first to fall off…No, it’s definitely the middle I want.”

So Sue got in front and crisscrossed her legs to fit under the protection of the curved up end of the toboggan. It was decided that she would go on first since she’s shorter than me and could fit her legs in. Once that was decided, next there were discussions of what kids should go where. It was decided that Leah (9 years old) would go next. Why? Well, because she got fed up with us discussing it and just got on. (Good for her!) Looking at the space that was left on the toboggan, and looking at the size of my derriere, it was obvious that if I got on, there wouldn’t be any more room for anyone else to go down. Feeling bad that the kids weren’t going to be able to go down on this run, I graciously and humbly said I would decline and let the kids go instead. Sue was wise to my game and said not a chance. With apprehension, I lowered my plumpness down on the sled and lifted each leg while Leah pulled each of my boots up onto her lap. Even though I was in pain, I let her do it – you don’t mess with Leah!

Being in this compromising position, with my tailbone sitting squarely on the flat side of the wood, my legs up in the air like they haven’t been in years (tmi?), the toboggan started to move. In my head, I started to think, “Wait”. Then my brain started to send out all kinds of warnings, red lights were going off, and all I could hear in my brain was “WAIT!” But it was too late. The three of us were in motion. As soon as we started to take off, both Sue and I started saying out loud, “This wasn’t a good idea…” Then we picked up speed. “THIS WASN’T A GOOD IDEA!!” And before you knew it, we were careening down the slope of Homicide Hill* going 50 miles per hour on a wooden toboggan that could crack and leave wood shards up our you know what if it broke. “THIS WASN’T A GOOD IDEA AT ALL!!”

Halfway down the hill, things began to fall apart. Oh, not the sled. The sled was tried and true and had been for many years. No, it was the tobogganers having a little miscommunication on which way to lean. “LEAN…to the right!” “No, L-E-A-N!!!! To the Left!!!” Before I knew it, I was off the toboggan and sliding down the hill on my side. A few feet away from me, Leah fell off and a few feet away from her, Sue was lying on her side. The inclination was to lay there and laugh, which we did. But then I remembered that I had been the one screaming at the kids when they got to the bottom of the hill to immediately get off their sleds/tubes so that others coming down the hill wouldn’t crash into them. Assessing that I hadn’t broken any bones, I got up. We had made it only halfway down the hill and I had to make a decision. Walk down the rest of the way and possibly get knocked down by some crazy, out of control tuber, OR get back on the toboggan and ride it the rest of the way down. I chose the latter. I was the only one that got back on and rode it to the bottom of the hill to sweet victory. (It was only another 10 feet.)

The first time Sue went down Homicide Hill by herself, she had one of those plastic saucers that only one person can ride at a time. She sat on it cross-legged and went down the hill. I’ve never seen anyone go down a hill so slow in all my life. She had a strangle hold on the front of the sled and was in complete control. “I will NOT go over the ramp the kids made in the middle of the hill. I will NOT!” And her steering abilities made it so. It only took her 35 minutes to get down the hill. Kidding.

The saucer she was using reminded me of when my sister, brother and I would go sledding in our yard on a washing machine cover. Now THAT was sledding. We’re talking 70 miles per hour and without a helmet! Concussion Central!

Here’s a very poor picture of us sledding 45 years ago on the washing machine lid. It’s of very poor quality, but in the original I can make out that my sister is laying across the hill (middle of picture), my brother is waiting at the top to come down on his sled (upper right hand corner), and I’m off to the side crying because they won’t let me take a turn (top center). Or at least that’s what I see when I look at that picture.

When we moved from that house, we moved to a house that didn’t have a hill. Well, it had a very steep driveway that was between two concrete walls that led out to the street with no visual way of seeing if cars were coming or not. (And they call the golf course Suicide Hill?) By the time we moved into our new house, washing machines then were made with doors, not covers or lids. So all we had was a sled. Yes, a red, lead paint, rusty-after-the-first-year, sled. The kind with wood slats that we would lay on that was perfect for getting slivers in your belly. Upon laying on it, face first, it had a cross bar that was meant for steering. There were metal blades that glided through the snow and the only way to stop was to fall off, hoping, of course, that the metal rusty blades didn’t glide over your fingers thus cutting your fingers off.

In the sledding adventure this week, Sue’s son came sledding with us for the first time in his life. (He’s 10). He had one of those types of sleds. Honestly, I thought for sure we would be calling an ambulance for him at some point during the day. But his father gave him instructions and he managed to master the skill. Here’s a picture of Colin and his Flexible Flyer.

Krista and her two girls came sledding as well. Krista came sledding wearing only ski pants, a ski jacket, and thermals, and I mean really only that! Oh no wait. I lied. She had on a face mask too so that nobody knew who she was. She tubed down the hill on her own. What was interesting about her ride, which unfortunately we didn’t videotape, was that she decided to make her own pathway down the hill. You know how a hill gets worked in by the sleds and tubes and becomes flat and slick by the continual usage. Well Krista decided she wasn’t going to be confined to just sledding in that area. Oh no. She was going to do it her way. She was going to slide through the “rough”. She got to the top of the hill, set her tube down just at the peak of where everyone was walking up, sat down and proceeded to wait there until nobody was walking up the hill. She must have sat there for a good 3 hours. I’m exaggerating. It was probably more like 15 minutes. But there she waited until the coast was clear (and basically made everyone walk on the other side of the hill so that she could slide down), then rode her tube to the finish line and beyond through unchartered territory.

Here are some other shots of sledding this year – these were before Denis took his dump on us:

And the boy who refused to go sledding:

My Kaneclusions: Why did I call it Homicide Hill? Well, the Norwich Golf Course has Suicide Hill. Suicide Hill indicates that if you go down it and you don’t make it back alive, that you took your own life into your hands by going down it. But the hill we were sledding on in Ledyard would be Homicide Hill because if I went down it and didn’t make it out alive, the blame would have been purely on Sue for bullying me into doing something that caused my demise. Homicide Hill. I’m liking it.

I’m ready for it to be summer already when I can complain about 90 degree heat, brown outs, bugs, humidity, etc. It’s only January and I’m already running out of things to complain about. What we need is a heat wave so we can change our elevator speeches to “Can you believe how warm it is? It’s February and it’s 80 degrees. Must be El Nino, huh?”

Actually, I’m a hopeless romantic and I actually do like the first time it snows each year. Everything gets all pretty in a blanket of white. We hibernate in our safe, warm homes. I usually cook a hearty meal so the oven adds heat and makes the house smell good. I always have a fire burning in the fireplace for both warmth and aesthetics. There is always a trip to Red Box to rent movies prior to the storm so that when our tired bodies are done shoveling, we can curl up on the couch and watch a movie. It’s the things that memories are made of.

But after that first snow fall, I hate it. I’ve been considering what President Obama has called upon us to do as a Nation, which is to be innovative and come up with new and improved products to boost the American economy. In a show of support and in an effort to create jobs, I have an idea. It costs the towns in this country hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in plowing and sanding the roads, and then after the season is over, fixing the frost heaves and potholes that are left afterwards. With all the snow we have gotten in CT this year so far, houses are actually collapsing from the weight of the snow on roofs. The number of car accidents and people getting injured from falls due to snow is enough cause to try to remedy this Mother Nature event, or at least defend ourselves against it. And that’s why I want to invent (are you ready for this?)…”the first “Dental Dam for the Sky”. Yes, Folks, it’s a dental dam for the sky to prevent snow from ever falling on or around your haouse again! Here’s how it works. Our dental dams, or tarps if you will, are tied to the top of every telephone pole and tree surrounding your house. The tarp collects the snow as it falls and with our special patented heater coils inside, it melts the snow upon contact, 100’ above your house. By the time it seeps through the tarp, it becomes rain. Yes, folks, I said it. Rain! No more shoveling! No more roof raking. No more slipping on the ice! Folks, you, too, could cover the sky over your house with your very own “Dental Dam for the Sky”. It comes in sky blue color, giving you the sensation that every day is a bright sunny blue sky day, or gray, for those of you that like the realism of it raining from gray skies. Call 1-800-NoSno4U to get yours today!”

What do you think? Am I on to something? Probably not. I always talk myself out of good ideas thinking I could never get them manufactured. So this idea, too, will sit on the shelf in my mind, until someone else develops it and gets rich off it.

I guess the only thing left to do this winter is sit back in my warm toasty house, gaze into the fire in my fireplace, with a nice glass of my homemade chocolate port by my side, and come up with ways that I can blame all this snow on Congress, Boehner or Sarah Palin. God knows, there’s someone out there right now trying to pin this on President Obama.