My New Red Baby

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I’ve been thinking about buying KitchenAid’s Nespresso Espresso Machine ever since I landed on Whirlpool soil. I get a great price with employee pricing, but I couldn’t really decide if I’d like making my own lattes at home. I love coffee shops, and it’s so much more than a cup of coffee for me. I went back and forth, and I promised myself I wouldn’t buy until I was totally sure that I wanted it.

I’d go to the KitchenAid webpage and look at the Nespresso one and then the larger version that had its own built in milk frother. The Candy Apple Red was calling my name. At first, I dreamed of getting the “big daddy” one, and I read all of the reviews and watched the videos on how it worked. How do you pass up that sexy English accent on that video? Just think how classy this country girl would be with that heavy piece of machinery that percolates coffee gold! Then I got to thinking that for one person that was probably a bit of an overkill. It’s not like I’d be making five lattes at a time.

When I finally made peace with downsizing, the decision became less of a big deal. I was a little worried about those Nespresso pods. For some reason, I was thinking of Nestle, and I was thinking that wasn’t really much of a great coffee name. Did I want to be stuck with one brand of pod to use? What if it wasn’t all that good? I talked myself out of it about three times. But, week before last, I was once again breathing heavily as I watched that beautiful brown liquor pour out of that red flashy machine on the video, and I decided I was going for it.

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I texted Michael and asked if the coffee was really good. He said I would love it, so I ordered coffee off the Nespresso website and ordered my coveted machine. I got the coffee two days later. It would be another three days before my baby arrived. Luckily, I work at Whirlpool!! Our kitchens are stocked with these machines, so I took my pods to work and started drinking the most divine coffee I have ever tasted. I even drink it black frequently, and I NEVER liked my coffee black. It is silky smooth, and all I need is a touch of milk if I want any at all.

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The pods come in ristretto (a small espresso shot), espresso and lungo (a larger espresso shot) sizes. I’ve been making Americanos, Espressos and Lattes all day long. I even had to place a second order for decaf because there’s no way I can drink this much coffee without blowing my mind. Right now, I’m having a decaf Americano topped with frothy milk. Yum! Who needs dessert?

And I’m saving lots of money. My $3.50 – $4.50 daily latte at Starbucks or at work has been replaced by a 70 cent to $1.40 cup of fabulous brew. The other day I bought a coffee at work, and I could barely choke it down. It can’t hold a candle to this stuff. I have no idea how I lived this long without this candy apple red toy. For a second the other day, I thought it was broken. My heart hit the floor until I realized I’d forgotten to add water. Whew! That would have been a disaster.

She’s so beautiful!!

 

 

 

A Peek Into My Mind

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So I felt like writing today but nothing really is solidifying in my brain. In fact, I ate too much sugar today because I’m feeling a bit anxious. It just made me worse. So, I think I’ll just tell you the random thoughts running through my anxiety-ridden mind.

The best thing about the next four years is comedy is going to be great! I don’t know that I’ve laughed so much in ages… hysterical laughter … but laughter nonetheless. You just can’t make this sh*t up.

A guy just contacted me on Match who is an obvious scammer. He said my profile was duplicated, and it was amazing. When I click on the link, it tells me to log in on a fake website. I reported his stupid ass. I wasn’t born yesterday, fool.

Ashok is mad because I was too lazy, tired and had a head full of wet curls to walk her.

I’ve spent all evening reading the New York Times, fake news sites, Twitter accounts that are totally off the wall. I’ll never get that time back.

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I found the North Country Trail Association website. This trail is 4600 miles long – almost twice as long as the Appalachian Trail. I aim to get involved with one of the groups that does trail maintenance and hiking. Ashok will be happy!

 

I’m anxious to go home for a short visit in March. It’ll be nice to be warm for a change. Magpie Cafe, here I come!

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Speaking of being warm, where is the SNOW???? It appears snow got canceled this year. There’s nothing but moderate temps and no snow in the forecast. It’s February …. in Michigan … duh.… it’s supposed to snow.

And speaking of warm again, did you see where the Antarctic ice shelf is cracking in historic speed. Damn global warming…. if we don’t get flooded or blown away by big storms we’ll die by drowning when the oceans rise. How can this be ignored???

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Bella says she’s running for President in four years. She’ll be the first woman president, and she doesn’t even know how to use email or Twitter! She’s going to run on a “dog ban” platform.

I just drank some kefir hoping it will help me sleep tonight. The sugar is going to mess me up for sure. I’m really mad at myself. I know better than this.

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The famous Gary Hart scandal photo.

Last night I listened to the federal court argument online, and yesterday I saw a group of protesters in my little town of St. Joe picketing to keep the ACA… in the pouring down rain. If there is a silver lining, people are paying attention. I’ve never been interested in politics in my life except when Gary Hart ran. Then he got thrown out of the race because he was in a picture with a woman that wasn’t his wife.  What a scandal! 

Tomorrow is Thursday… Friday eve … come on, weekend. Come on…. 

It’s time for bed. Night, y’all. I hope my mind gets back on track tomorrow. On second thought, let’s hope the world gets back on track tomorrow.

Our Obsession With Ice

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When I was in Louisiana, I noticed this obsession with ice. Now it’s hotter than Hades down there, so I could understand the obsession with keeping things cool. I even got to the point that I would take ice and put it on the back of my neck before and after a run.

When I camp, I have to keep my food cool, so I become obsessed with ice. Every day – or sometimes twice a day – I stock my igloo cooler with ice from the grocery for use in drinks and to cool my milk. So I was thrilled when heard that these new ice chests would keep ice so cold that it wouldn’t melt for 24 hours. So, two summers ago before I headed to North Carolina, I decided that I would splurge and buy one of those nice ice chests. I didn’t need a big one, and I gave myself permission to pay up to $150 for a nice ice chest. I was stunned to see that $150 didn’t even touch the price of an ice satchel much less an ice chest. I settled for the best little igloo I could find and bought ice as usual. It was then I realized that ice – while made completely of water – was revered like gold.

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Ice is plentiful here. In fact, it’s more work to keep things from icing than it is to keep it from melting. Just yesterday, I noticed that a storm drain had frozen as it was dumping water from the bluff downtown. The entire “waterfall” was a solid chunk of ice. “You don’t see that in Louisiana,” I thought. My friend Kenny who lives in Wisconsin said his “must-have” tools for getting his car out of his garage in winter are an ice ax and a snow shovel. He has to literally chop the ice away in his garage to get his car out. And I have to wear traction devices on my boots to keep from slipping on the slippery stuff when I walk Ashok.

People make do with what they have. They eat alligators and crawfish down in Louisiana, and up here they make use of ice. While I get so frustrated that my water freezes when I’m hiking and my hot chocolate turns cold in about 5 minutes, the folks here have festivals celebrating ice. Last weekend, they had a snow-carving festival in Frankenmuth even thought there was no snow. This weekend, Saint Joseph has their 13th Annual Magical Ice Fest. I’m headed to Chicago today, so I’ll miss the frozen fish-tossing, but I went down last night to see the carvings. In the middle of town, they were carving ice sculptures with mini-chainsaws and they built a bonfire in the middle of a huge block of ice.

I was eager to see a fire in ice. I am fascinated by the ice-fishing huts here. This year it hasn’t been that cold, so I haven’t seen any, but when I lived here before I was always taken aback when I’d see a hut in the center of a lake. My fellow blogger and new friend Stacy is an avid ice fisherman, and she said you only need 4 inches of ice to safely get out on it and fish. So, ice fisherman bring a stick to measure. (I don’t know about you, but I don’t know if I’d trust the measuring skills of a male companion enough to put my life in his hands. The correct estimation of inches usually seems to be greatly exaggerated. But I digress.) After they are assured the ice is solid enough to hold their weight, they go out onto the ice and dig a hole to fish.

 

I asked her if she had one of those ice fishing huts. “No,” she said. “Those huts are not easily moved. They are mainly for parties.” Parties? Hmmmm…. I know that people have told me that they build fires right on the ice in those things. I am fascinated at how you can build a fire right on the ice, and you won’t fall through. So, last night, I was very curious to see what would happen when you built a fire in a block of ice.

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They lit the blazing fire about 7:30. Everyone stood around as fascinated as I was that you could build a fire in ice. Meanwhile my hot chocolate turned cold in about 5 minutes, and my ears and hands felt like frozen human popsicles. I went inside the Saint Joseph Today visitor center to save my hot chocolate and visit my friend Karen. After getting her set up to subscribe to my blog, I went back out to the bonfire which had become a small fire still sitting in the middle of a large block of ice. There were spots that had melted, but it was still frozen strong. I was amazed.

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I have been wondering how I had missed all of these ice fests when I lived up here before. If this was the 13th annual event in Saint Joe, I would have been gone the year it started. But I’m glad to see that there are so many things to do with ice. I can ice skate, carve ice sculptures, ice fish, enjoy pictures of all of the manifestations of ice, throw frozen fish and even build a fire in ice. The people in Louisiana need to be more creative. Yeah, I see a Yeti every now and then here, but they are all on clearance. Who needs a $700 ice chest when you can just throw your beer – and your fish – outside?

 

 

 

Change is Good

 

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I’m still making it Facebook-free! I think it’s been a week.. or more maybe. I don’t know how long it’s been, and I don’t care. I just know that I don’t miss it at all. I’m finding ways to stay in touch with most of my friends by now in other ways, and that feels really good. Yes, I sort of miss knowing what all is going on in everybody’s lives, but, I don’t miss knowing what’s going on in everybody’s head. Besides, maybe there is something to be said in reaching out to someone instead of lazily stalking their life with no real connection.

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I started using Instagram. I have to admit it doesn’t have the addictive quality of Facebook, but it does offer cute cat videos. I’m calling it the softer, gentler social media outlet. This weekend my friend Cy and I were playing with some of the features. He’s a friend from Louisiana, and he’s sick of the BS on Facebook, too. When I told him about Instagram, he was a little hesitant but thought he might try it. Next thing I know, he’s posting update videos from Livingston of his daily goings-on. He’s becoming an Instagram super user!

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There is a new feature on Instagram called My Story. Apparently, the idea was stolen from the popular Snapchat, but since I never have gotten into Snapchat, I don’t have any judgments. You can upload pictures to My Story, adorn them with text, add the temperature and location and decorate with funny accessories. As the day goes on, My Story grows, and your followers can view it like a slideshow. After 24 hours, it disappears! I had fun on my adventure this weekend chronicling all my stops with videos and pictures. I had a few followers sharing in the fun. They say a picture paints a thousand words, so Instagram is an efficient way to get a point across.

I’m also meeting different people on Instagram. Some of my friends are on Facebook and Instagram, but many of the ones on Instagram are not on Facebook, so I haven’t been “socializing” much with them in years. It’s nice to see my friend Amy’s kids growing up and catch up with a couple of my runner friends in Memphis. It’s just a bit of a different experience, and I don’t find myself obsessed about being on there. I actually have time to read and cook and exercise.

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I subscribed to the New York Times, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. When I was on the News app on my phone, all I got was stories on politics and tragic happenings. Now that I have the Times I try to go in and read some of the features, scour the book reviews, devour the articles about history and occasionally read about politics. The writing is so good. Articles are well researched and actually have a real story behind them. I feel so much better about the world. Yes, there’s drama going on at the White House, but the rest of the world seems to be moving along quite normally.

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My Virtual Boot Camp is almost over, so I’m trying to decide what I want to do next for fitness. I really do miss the heart-thumping cardio from running, so I’m considering getting in shape to run again. I did my first 30-minute run/walk tonight. Injuries have plagued me the last few years every time I got started, but I’m hoping if I take it slow enough I’ll get back into it. I’d like to keep the distance at 5k or 10K at the very most because I want to continue my yoga and strength-training, too. I think marathons are in my rear view mirror. I’d rather be hiking!

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Will I ever get back to this again? I miss my runs.

I’m continuing to follow Weight Watchers’ maintenance plan, and the accountability has helped me stay on track and actually lose a few pounds the last few weeks. Tonight I made some delicious butternut squash soup, and finished it off with smoked trout from Lake Michigan and some homemade bread with goat cheese. It was delicious! I feel so much better when I’m eating right. I’ve been tempted a couple of times this week to indulge in the crap that is out at work, but I’ve stayed on track due to the “rails” I have in place. I even ate pretty healthy over the weekend while I was out of town. I’m sort of proud of myself.

I head to Chicago this weekend to stay with my friend Nancy. I’m looking forward to being in the city. We might go ice skating, walk around downtown and will probably just hang out and laugh a lot. Meanwhile, I have to get through Thursday and Friday at work. It’s only Hump Day, y’all! Friday’s coming…

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Day 2: A Little Bit Unexpected

 

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So, today I was pleasantly surprised that I felt more connected to people than ever – no Facebook needed. I got emails from several friends, texts from others and have even gained a couple of new blog followers from Instagram. One even sent me an email to tell me her story. It seems that life after Facebook is … well …. pleasantly social!

Tonight I went to dinner with some old friends. I felt the urge a couple of times to take pictures of my food and post, but I realized that it wasn’t necessary without Facebook. I suppose I could have posted to Instagram, but you really can’t tag people so it’s just not the same. I like a feature that Instagram offers that’s called “My Story”. I can post pics and videos all day to “My Story”, and people can view it as a slideshow. In 24 hours, it disappears. I’ll give that a try on one of my adventures. It’s not the same as a Facebook photo album, but I can make photo albums on Google Plus, and, of course I can post them on here.

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It spit snow all day but nothing ever stuck. It’s supposed to snow the next few days but it doesn’t look like much accumulation. It’s really weird. The winter has had a few cold spells, but I always remember there being snow on the ground most of January and February. I guess it’s getting warmer up here, too. It’s just been foggy and dreary with rain for the last two weeks. My friend Laura in Louisiana said the azaleas are already blooming down there. It’s like we had winter for 3 weeks in December, and then it stopped. All I know is I will not have to suffer in July anymore! Yay!!!!!!

 

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A little present from Louisiana arrived on my doorstep today. My friend Michael bakes King Cakes every year, and he sent me one. I was so excited to receive the colorful sweet bundle. King Cakes are served in Louisiana during Carnival season, and they are served in offices, at parties and anywhere people are gathering. My Facebook feed has been full of photos of people at Mardi Gras balls for the last few weeks. It is one of the things I miss. Even though we still have Christmas lights lit up here, there will be no festivities until Memorial Day. But in Louisiana, they are dancing and eating and socializing like there is no tomorrow. The normal holiday season is just a warm-up for Mardi Gras.

My friend Laura’s comment about the azaleas reminded me of one of my favorite days in Louisiana. A friend of mine came into town from Memphis, and we went to Cafe des Amis in Breaux Bridge. It a small bar in a small Cajun town that has a Zydeco breakfast on Saturday mornings. This is no quiet brunch. It’s an all-out dancing party at 8 in the morning. On the way out, we spotted some blooming potted Camelia bushes. It was my first winter in Louisiana after many, many years, and I was so delighted to see flowers in January.

I felt the same delight today when so many people were contacting me. I’d opened up a little space for something new by letting go of Facebook. The Universe gave me a little gift for trying something new – a confirmation that this could be good for me. Maybe it would bring new people into my life that have been living in other social circles. Perhaps those that have just been on the sidelines of my life might now make more effort to stay really connected. And maybe I would work a little harder at staying in touch, too. It was as unexpected and as pleasant as seeing flowers in January.

 

“Welcome Aboard,” The Conductor Said

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Some of my friends do not understand why I would ever come live in a place with a northern winter. I get a lot of flack from them when I post pics of this beautiful Michigan season on Facebook. I’m sitting here looking out my window at the snowy scene at the first glimpse of daylight. Frost etchings in the corners of my windows make the most delicate frame for the winter scene.

Why am I here … at this time … and in this place … AGAIN?? I’ve asked myself the question numerous times – each time for different reasons. Sometimes it’s in angst from the effort of moving. Other times the pain of loneliness begs to know why as I struggle to get connected. And just as often, it’s asked in a sense of anticipation and wonder. Why am I here? 

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I moved when I was younger out of a sense of adventure laced with some sort of searching urgency. I was looking for something. I’ve described midlife as a time of waking up for me, and, in this time, this relocation business has reframed to something else entirely. I’ve learned over the years – and the lessons – that everything happens for a reason. The urgency for answers has gone, and I find myself relaxing into the questions.

When I was first contacted about this job, I pulled the Eagle card. It is the first card in my Medicine Card deck, and it represents a strong connection to the Great Spirit. Eagle medicine urges me to look at things from the eagle’s perspective, a perspective much broader than a human perspective. My friend Ann reminds me of this when things get tough. Sometimes I’m happy to be reminded. Other times I ask, “But why, dear God, am I here?”

Loneliness is my greatest teacher. Being an extrovert, I have a high sensitivity to loneliness, but I also have this really strong need for solitude. Achieving a balance is critical for my well-being. I’ve gotten so much better at understanding my needs, but when events like a relocation happen in my life, the challenge increases.

This bench was at the top of a dune at Grand Mere State Park, and this was the view!

I had some energy work done with my friend Lexlee the other night because I was feeling lonely and low after the holidays. During my session, she said the Eagle came to her. It was a reminder of my purpose here, and she reiterated the assurance that ‘Every step has a reason.’ I pulled a card the next morning to see how I could “step into” Eagle energy because right now it seems a bit unreachable. Wolf appeared to me and reminded me that I am a teacher. And right in the middle of the reading for the card, wolf medicine urges me to “seek out lonely places that will allow you to see your teacher within. In the aloneness of a power place, devoid of other humans, you may find the true you.”

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I still don’t know the answer to “Why Am I Here?” I may never know the answer. But I do know that there is a reason I am here. I have learned that God does not send me anywhere for a job. He sends me to places because I need to be in a specific place with a certain group of people at a certain time. I imagine myself boarding this Southwest Michigan passenger train at this moment in time,  and none of us really knows where we are going or why we are aboard. We could be riding together for a long time or a short distance, but when I think of how this all came about there is no doubt that I landed here on the wings of eagles. So, I’m just trying to step into my own best self and contribute what I think is mine to give.

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Last week I hiked in Grand Mere State Park. Like Warren Dunes, it is a beautiful place with woods and enormous sand dunes overlooking that jewel Lake Michigan. I stood on the top of a dune and looked around. “Why am I here?” I said aloud. Without even knowing that I would later that evening brush wings with eagle, I felt her presence. The view was incredible, and I was literally on top of my world. The sting of loneliness ebbed beneath the surface of my heart, but the magic of this transition held me captive emotionally. “You know why you are here,” eagle answered back as she descended upon me playfully. My soul resonated with the knowing that this is a spiritual journey that led me to the top of a dune in a very cold place alive with a warm and inviting spirit.

“Welcome Aboard,” the conductor said. “Enjoy your ride.”

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Winter Moments

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It’s cold everywhere today. My Memphis friends are checking in with snow photos from a long snowy day at home. A friend from Baton Rouge called me to laughingly inform me it was 38 degrees, and Louisiana was officially shutting down. My old boss texted me a photo of an icy drive home in North Louisiana. All evidence says that winter is settling in even in the deep south.

As for me, I shoveled snow twice today although my snow removal person told me we didn’t have enough snow for him to worry about. I informed him that I was Southern and wouldn’t know how much snow was enough to shovel. He told me that this snow was powdery and nice, but if it’s a wet snow, I’d need to have it shoveled. “It all depends on the type of snow,” he said. I reminded him again that I was Southern, and I wouldn’t know the difference in types of snow. He left with an assurance that I would figure it out, and that he would help me when it gets too bad to get out of my driveway. And he wouldn’t even let me pay him.

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This morning I had to be at work for 6:30, so I drove to work in complete darkness. But it was so beautiful out. The roads were completely covered in snow as the plows had not gotten cranked up yet. The bridge over the St. Joseph River was icy and snowy, and it all looked like a perfect winter wonderland. Christmas lights still burn up here because … well… it still looks like Christmas. As I left the edge of town and hit the country road leading to Whirlpool’s campus, it got darker. The snow was blowing sideways in the wind, and I felt myself start to smile this really big grin.

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I slowed down for the Whirlpool parking lot which was almost completely empty except for a car that had been left overnight and one or two others from my team. The parking lot was not cleared, so my tires squeaked on the freshly fallen layer of snow. I parked under the lights and jumped out of the car. With the delight of a child at 6:20 in the morning, I took some pictures of my workplace lit up in the snow. I looked around and realized that no picture could capture the moment in this snowstorm. The scene was only mine to see.

I’ve felt it many times since I’ve been here. Standing on top of the dunes at Grand Mere or Warren Dunes State Park, driving through corn fields in late summer, freezing at the end of the pier by the St. Joe lighthouse in a vicious wind…. the raw beauty of it all ignites something inside of me that makes me feel quite young again. Even while I’m out shoveling snow in the darkness with my dog running around rolling in the snow I feel this sense of adventure… a knowing that this life is short, and this moment – all moments – are fleeting.

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Tonight I bundled up – 13 degrees and dropping – and took Ashok for a walk. I finally found some little booties that work, and she looked so cute plodding around in them. I was wrapped up in my down parka, $75 technical gloves that still don’t keep my fingers warm and my snow boots. We trudged across snowbanks and shoveled walks. The snow was coming down hard and fast, and the Christmas lights twinkled an assortment of colors.

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I let Ashok loose in a field of snow, and she raced in circles, rolling in the snow every few seconds. She ran back toward me and gazed at me in a downward-facing dog position. She was completely covered in snow. Her black fur made a shadowy outline around her eyes. For a moment, I really regretted that I didn’t bring a camera. I giggled because she looked so funny. And, just like this morning, I realized that some moments are not meant to be captured. They are only meant to be lived.

Enjoy winter, my friends – whether you have it for a day or for a season, it’s meant for inward reflection and downtime. Fix a hot chocolate and cuddle up with a loved one. Tomorrow, this moment will be history.

Merry Christmas from Michigan

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Merry Christmas, Midlife Moments Readers from snowy, cold Grand Rapids! Thank you for reading and hanging in there with me this year. For me, it has been a year of ups and downs and all arounds. I’m grateful to have landed where I have, and I’m grateful to be bundling up for Christmas rather than sweating.

Baton Rouge weather forecast….

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I’m in my “Christmas on my own” mode this year. But I have to say people up here are so darn nice that I can hardly believe it. I have an invitation tonight to spend Christmas Eve with a friend and her husband, and I have an open invite tomorrow with another friend if I am not out and about on the trails which is how I think I’m going to spend my holiday, weather permitting. Thursday night I was able to get two short visits with two old friends that I haven’t seen in 10 or more years. It was fun to catch up and see them again.

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I decided to come to Grand Rapids for a Meetup.com hike this morning so I can meet some like-minded folks, and I’m sitting cozy in a Starbucks all decorated for Christmas. Christmas music is playing, and I feel in the holiday spirit. With the absence of a party to attend, I made a trip to the outlet malls yesterday and scored my own Christmas loot of the fashion sort. I’m still building my winter work wardrobe, and I enjoyed getting some great deals on Ralph Lauren, Loft and Calvin Klein items. I think I’m ready for the long haul now. I just have to keep being active so they don’t get too small!

 

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On a lark, I decided to sign up for Match.com a couple of months after getting here, and I’m meeting some very nice men. Nobody special yet, and it takes time for me trust somebody I meet on the internet, but it seems that Michigan men like me more than the Louisiana ones did. I was wondering this morning if maybe I’m in an area now that has more men than women. That could be a factor, too. Match hasn’t been very successful for me for dating, but it’s been a great place to make friends with common interests. I don’t know what I’m looking for in the dating arena anyway. I’m sort of busy at the moment.

So the hike this morning is in a park near Grand Rapids called Provin Park. There are 17 people signed up, and it’s a dog-friendly hike. It’s not too cold today by Michigan standards, so I’m looking forward to a nice morning in the woods meeting some new people. I thought that the outdoor groups would pack it up and get started again next spring, but that was obviously a southern notion. They are just as busy – if not more – for the next few months. If you can’t hike, you snowshoe or cross-country ski. Kayaking is obviously out because you’d have to have skate blades on it, but people get out and ice fish and ice skate instead.

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There was rain forecast for last night, but I walked out of the hotel to go to a meeting, and it was snowing like crazy. The parking lot of the meeting place was on the downside of a big hill, and I couldn’t get slowed enough to turn. I didn’t get stuck or anything but I sort of slid onto a snowbank on the side of the driveway. I just backed up and was able to get right in, and I jokingly told people I wasn’t drunk, I was just driving Southern. When I tried to drive home, I couldn’t make it up the hill, so I had to take a side road midway up to work around the icy incline. But I got home safely even though there were many cars on the side of the interstate stuck in snow and ice.

 

It’s kind of funny driving in this. People are all over the roads and in the ditches when it snows. It seems they are not much better than Southerners at driving in it. But there are always loads of people providing assistance. It must be a normal thing to either get stuck in the snow or help people out. My Dad, of course, is obsessed with the reports of those huge pile-ups on the interstate, and I get a report every day of how many cars have been involved in snow pile-ups on Northern interstates. I guess it gives him something tangible to worry about. The reality is that I’m more likely to end up in a snowbank than a pile-up, but I take it slow. Billboards urge drivers to take it slow in snow and ice, but obviously some don’t. I’m told that’s who I really need to worry about – the other guy.

We got snow a plenty in Grand Rapids, so it’s beautiful out this morning. I’m looking forward to walking around in it, and I know Ashok can’t wait! I hope you all have a Happy Christmas Eve doing whatever is in your hearts. It is truly a special holiday, and it only comes once a year.

A Few of My Favorite Things

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So, it’s been a week since it started snowing here. The first snow was like a practice run, and it melted almost 24 hours later. But the lake effect stuff started on Saturday in full force, and we are now buried in it. In fact, we are about to be frozen in it as the temps look pretty grim for the next few days. In fact, for the next 10 days, the highest we’ll see is 33 degrees on two days only. The rest of the time we’ll be in the deep freeze. The silver lining is I didn’t move to Buffalo….

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I think I’m better suited for winter than the heat down south. It just doesn’t bother me to get bundled up and go walk my dog. I think it’s beautiful out, and the truth is I think winter is just cozy. About March I’ll be ready to move on to something less cozy, but I love winter clothes, hot drinks and cuddling up on the couch reading. I even like doing yoga upstairs in my toasty warm yoga floor.

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This evening I came home, changed clothes, bundled up Ashok, and we walked around the neighborhood and through the park. Now, it’s a little dicey doing that because the snow has melted and refrozen, and another coat of snow has been layered on top. So, I have to slow my step and shuffle more. I forget sometimes, and I get a warning slip that reminds me that me and Toto are not in Kansas anymore.

My favorite cozy things…

The one thing that drives me crazy is the continual putting on and taking off clothes. In order to go to work, I get up, get dressed for the gym in my gym clothes with my snow boots on. I get to the gym, put on my tennis shoes and take off my coat and gloves. When I leave I have to put the boots and coat and gloves back to go home. Then I have to change in outdoor “dog-walking” clothes which means I have to put on a few more layers. Then I shower, get dressed in my work clothes and my snow boots. I pack my regular boots to put on when I get to the office. Then when I leave the office I have to do it all over again. It drives me nuts!

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But I am finding some of my favorite things. I’m loving my chamomile citrus tea for sipping in the evening. My snow boots from LL Bean are the bomb. My feet haven’t been cold once. I love my brown parka which was a Lands’ End purchase while in Memphis. My coziest hat is one that I bought in Chicago. A piping hot bowl of minestrone soup from Caffe Tosi is my “go-to” dinner. And I’m loving a new yoga series from Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube. While it took awhile to get my yoga floor like I like it, it’s become one of my favorite spaces.

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Wool seems to be my favorite fabric at the moment. My cozy second-hand wool blankets are so warm that I wake up sweating in the middle of the night even though I keep the thermostat really low. My neighbor gave me a wool sweater that she was trying to unload in a garage sale. I wear it almost everyday I’m home layered over a Smartwool base layer that I bought for backpacking last year. Some polartec tights from LL Bean complete the cozy, warm outfit, and I finish it off with a cozy pair of slippers. A good day is one sitting on my futon sipping tea wrapped up in my woolens. And the wool is great outdoors and for skating, too! It’s so versatile.

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I’m still searching for the perfect gloves. I bought some sweater fleece gloves from LL Bean that I really like, but, since the temps are dropping, they don’t feel as warm anymore. I really need something that is waterproof. If you have any suggestions, I’ll need something soon. It’s just getting colder, and I’m miserable when my hands are cold. I suppose I could tuck some hand warmers in there. That might be a good fix. Any other ideas?

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With my walk done already, I’m hunkered down and cozy right now. I think I’ll go do a little yoga to stretch out before I go to bed and read. I’m reading a biography of Einstein. I just love that guy.

 

Let the Shoveling Begin #southernbadass

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I knew it was coming. St. Joseph was just on the edge of the lake effect snow of last week. We got an inch or two which was beautiful but was certainly NOT lake effect snow. All day last Thursday I watched the radar as Benton Harbor/St. Joe skirted by on the edge of the snow belt onscreen. But the forecast said we were only just starting. I knew it would get us sooner or later.

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This morning I looked out the window, and I knew today was the day. I practiced a little shoveling snow a few days ago when we had a baby snow. I just wanted to figure out how to do it. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. But, then again, it wasn’t much snow.

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When I lived here before I never even owned a snow shovel. I lived in a condo, and my condo fee paid for snow removal. I just waited until it was done and went on about my business. My second husband who was from Chicago did not shovel snow. I had made a deal with him that if we bought a house instead of a condo, he had to do the yard work. I didn’t realize that his agreement was based on the fact that he had an extremely low standard of yard work. If it wasn’t in danger of covering the rooftop, he wasn’t mowing it, shoveling it or weeding it. I hated having to wade through snow while my neighbors’ sidewalks and driveways were free and clear of ice and snow. But I kept my mouth shut. That was his job.

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With a house, I need to shovel snow. Someone is supposed to come out for snow removal when it gets over 4 inches, but I don’t really know when they show up. I have to get out today, and when I saw what was outside I knew I would have to get on with it. I waited until I saw the neighbors out shoveling their sidewalk. I didn’t want to do something ridiculous like shovel snow prematurely. But as soon as I saw them outside, I bundled up and took to the task.

The white blanket left no evidence where my sidewalk or driveway ended, and neither neighbor on either side had shoveled yet, so i had to figure it out. The steps were easy enough, and my friend Kenny who moved to Wisconsin from Memphis had advised me earlier in the week to get some traction for my boots. I received these little pull-on “snow tires” for my feet in the mail yesterday.

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My supervisor waited to see what I was going to do and bounced around a bit while I was figuring out where to start.

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I started with the steps and moved on to the sidewalk before tackling my single-track driveway. I yelled at Ashok when she peed on the neighbor’s driveway. “How embarrassing,” I thought. The teenage boy came out to warm up his car while I was out, and I asked him if I should shovel the center of the driveway where grass grows. “No,” he said and added, ” Do you mind if I just drive out your driveway? If I don’t get stuck, that is.” Well, I thought, I don’t care if she peed in your driveway if you are just going to take advantage of all my hard work.

It didn’t take as long as I thought it would, and it wasn’t all that hard although I did get my upper body workout done for the day. I felt very happy knowing that there were women all down the street telling their husbands, “Honey, that southern woman has already cleared her driveway. When are you doing ours?”

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As I was finishing up, my neighbor across the street walked out, and I asked him how I did. “Better than I’m doing,” he said. “Now if we can just get that dog to shovel snow.” My other neighbor didn’t seem as impressed with my novice shoveling. “It’s an art,” he told me. “You get better at it as you go along.” Of course I noticed that he drove away from his house without shoveling at all. I guess even art can be procrastinated.