Saturday, April 14th, 2018

I have to say, Spring is not going well this year. The rain that started yesterday kept on pissing down all night and this morning, but we’re pretty lucky to get nothing worse than that.  Not much farther north, they’re talking about having to shovel several inches of snow, drifting, and other unpleasantness.  I’m pretty sure if I’d looked out the window and seen snow this morning, I’d have just gone back to bed.

[Added: Spoke too soon about “nothing worse than that.” Light snow flurries began to fall after the lunch hour and continued through the afternoon, but without accumulation, thank goodness.]

not going well | 1:46 pm CST
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Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Among the things I will not be doing this morning is shoveling the driveway, even though I set my alarm clock to go bleepity-bleep-bleep a half-hour earlier than usual because the all-knowing National Weather Service said there was supposed to be somewhere between five and twelve inches of snow on the ground this morning. The driveway’s on the ground. So is our car. And when our car is separated from the driveway by twelve inches of snow, it doesn’t take us to work in the morning.

That’s why I gave myself an extra half-hour to shovel it all off this morning. It was a brilliant plan, except that, when I peered blearily out the window at the driveway this morning, there was no more snow on it or the rest of the ground than there was when I went to bed last night. Relieved, I went back to bed, reset my clock and burrowed into the bedcovers, where I laid for five blissful minutes until the cats began to dance on my head.

forecast | 5:30 am CST
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Saturday, February 9th, 2013

Friday morning, I opened the garage door to see if the snow that had fallen the night before was enough to need shoveling. It was. I grabbed a shovel and started to work.

I’d cleared about ten feet of the part of the driveway closest to the garage when I noticed that the plow had come by and piled up a wall of snow at the end of the drive that the car would never be able to get past. Shoveling a path down one side of the drive, I figured I’d start on the wall, to get the worst of the work out of the way.

When I got there and tried to chop it into chunks with the shovel, I found out that the plow must have come by last night when the snow was mostly slush, because it had an inch-thick shell of ice that was almost impossible for the shovel to get through. I had to tramp back to the garage to get the ice chopper.

After ten or fifteen minutes of chopping at the ice, then shoveling the chunks away, I had cleared a pitifully narrow path all the way to the street. It was back-breaking work made even worse by the high banks of snow piled up around the end of the driveway, making me lift every shovel full waist-high and pitch it up over the top of the bank.

As I started to chop at the ice again, a city truck came up the street, spreading salt. He slowed down as he got closer and stopped right in front of my driveway, so I stopped working and watched to see what he was up to. He turned the truck so that it looked as though he was going to come right up my driveway. I stepped back, thinking, What the hell? but before another cuss word crossed my mind, he dropped the plow and shoved that whole wall of ice off to the side.

I pumped my arm up and down and shouted, “YOU’RE AWESOME!” I don’t think he heard me, but he probably got the message.

awesome plow | 8:26 am CST
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Thursday, January 31st, 2013

We were on our way home, the car crawling at twenty miles per hour over slush-covered roads that were slowly freezing solid. “It’s the end of the world, isn’t it?” My Darling B asked me.

“No,” I chuckled. “The world is not ending. The world will be around for a long time.”

“No? Yesterday it was warm enough for people to play golf. Today it’s snowing. That’s not a biblical end-of-times?”

“Oh, that,” I said. “Yeah, that’s what’s happening.” I thought she was talking about something like a killer asteroid or the heat death of the universe.

end times | 6:00 am CST
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Sunday, December 30th, 2012

My fingertips are bleeding! My hands are chapped front, back, and now on the fingertips! What new ring of winter hell is this? I can’t type without fingertips! It’s like a kneecapping! I tried wrapping Band-Aids around my fingertips so I don’t bleed all over the keyboard, but I had to backspace and retype every other word at least three times because of fat-fingered typos! And the mousepad doesn’t react when I touch it with a bandaged fingertip! GAHHH! WINTER SUCKS!

fingertipped | 7:49 am CST
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Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Let me tell you about the woman I almost killed while I was trying to get to work this morning.

Driving to work in the snowstorm we have been experiencing on this fine pre-apocalyptic day was a challenge. The O-Mobile is a fine car, but in anything more than two inches of snow it steers like a cow and can’t find any traction. I hate the idea of shopping for a car so much, however, that we won’t be replacing our trusty steed any time soon. I’ll probably go shopping for tire chains the next time I get the chance and call it done.

I shoveled the driveway first thing in the morning, but realized before I got to the end that the O-Mobile wouldn’t be going anywhere until the city’s snow plows cleared the street. I didn’t even shovel all the way to the street until they came by and did that thing where they pile up a snowbank as high as an elephant’s eye right at the end of all the driveways, then speed away, cackling maniacally. That happened at about a quarter past seven, right after Tim came over to help dig out. All alone, it would’ve taken me at least twenty or even thirty minutes to chip away at that pile of snow, but together we murdered that snowbank in about ten minutes.

After a long, steamy shower to get all the snow-shoveling sweat off me and soothe my aching shoulders, I finished off a cup of coffee and headed out. The roads were a horror story. Our street, freshly plowed, was not so bad, but the main road through town was covered in slush, as were the roads further on. I wasn’t steering the car so much as suggesting which way it should go by ruddering the front wheels in what looked like the direction least likely to result in an accident. The O-Mobile decided to go in that direction or in another, apparently random direction, but the process it used to make that decision remained unknown to me.

This resulted in a more or less safe trip right up to the point I arrived at the office building where I work. The six-lane road it’s on, Washington Avenue, is one of the main traffic arteries right through the middle of the city and had been recently plowed, resulting in the aforementioned elephant-eye-high snowbank across the side street I would have to turn into to get to the parking lot. To get a good look at the street I cruised right past it, driving further down Washington to double back on Johnson, where I got stuck in a snowbank. The irony was not lost on me.

After a good Samaritan helped dig and push the O-Mobile out of the snowbank, I circled around the block and was coming down Washington for a second pass when I saw that someone had already turned into the side street and left two deep grooves in the snow. With some careful maneuvering and a little bit of luck, I thought, I should be able to make this turn if I can manage to get my wheels in those grooves.

Luck seemed to be with me. There were no cars behind me and none beside me, so I had the luxury of swinging the car into the middle lane and setting my speed just where I wanted it so that when, at the critical moment, I began a wide, sweeping turn into the side street, everything looked exactly right. But luck, she is a bitch sometimes. Just as I came to the corner of the building and could see around the snowbank, a woman on a bicycle appeared, riding out of the side street toward Washington in one of the tire tracks I was aiming for!

She jumped off her bike. Whether she was jumping off in reaction to the appearance of a 2005 Toyota Camry suddenly careening in her direction, or because she was tired of trying to pedal through slushy snow, I can’t say. I was kind of focused on trying not to turn her into road kill. Swerving to one side, I ran the O-Mobile into the snowbank. Momentum carried the car through the snow as it fishtailed back and forth, and I sailed past her, up the street and into the parking lot in the space of about five heartbeats. Five resting heartbeats. I squeezed about fifty heartbeats in the same amount of time. How I didn’t have to pick the broken remains of the woman on the bike out of the grille of my car, I can’t explain.

The storm continued pouring down snow all around the city and even got worse as the day went on, so I punched out at noon and made my way home ever so slowly along roads that were freshly-plowed on the Madison side of town. Further around the lake, though, the roads didn’t appear to have been plowed since I drove in four hours earlier. As the O-Mobile wallowed and swam along the slush-covered roads through Schenk’s Corners, another bicyclist appeared through the murk, riding right down the middle of the road. I smooshed him. He was asking for it.

kill death murder horror | 8:33 pm CST
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Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

First snow of the season fell from the sky this morning as I was backing the car out of the garage, headed down the street to Crema to see if they could sell me a bag of coffee beans after I let our supply run out. I’m a bad coffee janitor.

The snow came down as those tiny little blobs that look just like Styrofoam. They even bounced off the windshield the way Styrofoam would, and they didn’t melt until the defroster warmed up the glass.

Back at home, there was enough snow built up on the back porch to be impossible to ignore, and it stuck for about an hour, so I think it counts as a real first snow.

first snow | 10:13 pm CST
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Friday, October 12th, 2012

Before we left town to visit New York, the weather here was fine, all the trees were green, even the lawns were starting to look normal again after the summer heat wave that tried to kill them off.

New York was hot and muggy. We had a little rain, but temps were always in the 70s and 80s. We walked the streets in our shirtsleeves. We sat in parks under full, verdant trees surrounded by thick bushes and brightly-colored flowers.

Then we came back here to find that, in the short week we were gone, practically all the leaves on the trees turned and fell, all the lawns went brown and spotty (again) and, even before that, the first thing to hit us was temps cold enough to make us put on our jackets and make us zip them up to our necks. It’s like we missed fall.

missing fall | 5:34 am CST
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Friday, August 31st, 2012

image of a tree's leaves turning colorThe maple tree across the street has apparently been turning color for at least a week, but I only just realized it yesterday. I stepped out the door to get the paper and was hit in the face with its fiery change. The first rays of the sun had splashed it with bright orange, highlighting the leaves that had already turned. What a spectacle.

I thought maybe the leaves were turning earlier than usual this year, but it turns out that’s not the case. Two years ago it turned at almost exactly the same time.

turning, turning | 5:36 am CST
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Sunday, March 18th, 2012

I changed out the storm windows for screens in the front door and windows this morning. The cats can’t decide whether to shit or go blind.

sprung | 5:55 am CST
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Saturday, December 17th, 2011

Ah, yes. Shoveling snow off the driveway. The wintery exercise that blows the flabby coronary muscles of dozens of aging, out-of-shape Wisconsin men every year. Will this year be my turn?

After I “retired” from the Air Force, I moved back to Wisconsin because I remembered liking four seasons, and after living in so many places that had two or less, I thought I wanted to go back to having the full four.

Oddly, Misawa was the last place I lived before I came back to Wisconsin. There are four seasons in Misawa, just like Wisconsin. Also, just like Wisconsin, I had to shovel snow in Misawa. Lots of it. I wonder why that didn’t set off alarm bells in my head?

Anyway, today was the first day in winter when I had to shovel the driveway. In my mind, that ought to be the first official snowfall of the year. If you don’t have to shovel it, it really shouldn’t count.

snowfall | 9:25 am CST
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Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

And, just like that, we went from barefoot weather to slippers-wearing weather. I can go barefoot in my house about half the year, and in the summer I actively search out cool floors where my feet will bring relief to the rest of my broiling body, but the other half of the year I have to put slippers on my feet if I want to maintain a body temperature above frozen solid. And I am living in that half of the year now.

I don’t remember what day it was, but it was last week while I was changing after coming home from work that I first said to myself, “It’s kind of chilly, think I’ll wear my slippers tonight,” and realized immediately that I would probably be wearing slippers in the house from now until March or April. And wearing flannel shirts and long pants. And not feeling warm, except when I’m buried under a quilt and a blanket and a comforter and snuggled up tightly against My Darling B, who will throw off all the covers because she’ll be too hot if I do that.

Some people figure it’s not winter until the snow flies. I figure it’s already here.

slippers | 6:18 pm CST
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Monday, August 23rd, 2010

image of tree

Oy. The leaves have started to turn. Time to lament the passing of summer already.

Or not. I was talking with Timbo about this last night, and he and I agree: Summer’s too hot. I like summer up until about mid-July when the temps get high enough to fry my brains if I don’t wear a hat and all the bugs in the world descend on my yard with the intent to eat me alive whenever I go out there. Sometimes it’s so bad that, to do something as simple as mow the lawn, I have to dress up in long pants and a shirt with sleeves, take a shower in bug spray, and put on a straw hat with a comically wide brim so my ears won’t sizzle like bacon in the merciless summer sun. And that’s if I get to keep moving. If My Darling B needs help weeding the garden I also put a net over my head like the kind beekeepers wear. If I don’t, I just end up swatting myself in the face over and over again so much that the number of weeds I can pull is so close to nil it makes no difference.

I don’t like to sweat when I’m sitting still, either. I don’t mind popping a sweat when I’m working hard, but when I sit and read, or sit and eat, or just sit absolutely still, I want to remain dry. I don’t think that’s too unreasonable, do you? I don’t want to have to uncross and re-cross my legs to keep them from gluing each other together, I don’t like having my clothes stick to me no matter what I do, and it really bugs me when even the tiniest rivulet of sweat tickles its way down the back of my neck. I’m sitting still! None of that should be happening! The only time I should be dripping sweat is when I’m digging rocks as big as babies up from the garden, roofing a house, lifting dat barge or toting dat bale.

These are just a few reasons that, from mid-July until the end of August, all I want to do is stay inside the house with the airco on.

Autumn is a relief when it comes, as far as I’m concerned. I love the return of cool weather, and the idea that bugs are dying by the truckload is very satisfying. Where do they all go? You’d think we’d be knee-deep in bugs, but unless they’re under the leaves I don’t see them anywhere. We live in an older neighborhood with lots of mature trees, so great big swirling piles of leaves wander to and fro across all the yards. Even in our yard, one of the few on our street that doesn’t have any mature trees (thanks a lot, previous owners), I have to clean leaves out of the gutters and B rakes up huge piles that she composts and throws on her garden.

I expect the bugs are getting recycled in other ways, though, that the birds and bats are fattening up on them before the cold weather hits. The irony of bugs getting eaten instead of eating me is fairly satisfying, too. I can’t fatten up no matter what I do (I’m one of those guys) so this is the time of year when I dig my flannels out of storage, start wearing socks that go higher than my ankles and get out in the yard with a rake.

Only a few more weeks.

Already? | 6:16 am CST
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Sunday, August 8th, 2010

I retreated to the cool, cool comfort of the basement lair this evening, once Tim went back to his apartment after dinner, because it was just too freaking muggy upstairs. Humidity had surpassed the ability of certified official weather personnel to measure it in the way they’re used to, so according to the local weather web source the humidity this evening was so heavy and damp that it had a dangerous undertow that would drag you way out beyond the dropoff and drown you.

I was pouring sweat just from the mild exertion of chewing my dinner. When I stopped doing that and I could sit absolutely still I was still pouring sweat, but I felt only almost as miserable as when I had to move my jaw up and down and continued sitting stock still right up until the time I had to get up out of my seat to say good-bye to Tim. That was agony.

Things weren’t quite so bad this afternoon while I was trying to do a little more work framing up the windows I installed by the back door yesterday. I was pouring sweat again, but once I’m already basting in my own juices I can just keep on chugging away and it doesn’t make much difference how much hotter I feel. At that point, hot is hot and doesn’t feel any hotter until right before I collapse in a puddle of my own juices and go sliding down the tunnel with the bright, shining light at the end.

It was so hot that a Porsche in the parking lot at the hardware store burst into flames and every fire truck in Dane County came to put it out. Seriously, there were almost as many emergency vehicles in the parking lot as there were cars that belonged to customers. With that many blinking lights I expected to see quite a show, but by the time I came out and saw what was going on the car was barely smoldering as its owner poked dejectedly through the interior as a couple dozen firemen stood by, ready to douse him in foam if the fire should somehow spring back to life.

Actually, I was much more interested in knowing why a Porsche was in the parking lot of this particular hardware store. It’s the sort of place where you see lots of pickup trucks and beat-up Econoline vans, but the most expensive car you’re likely to catch sight of would be a late-model Camry or possibly a Lexus. Driving there in your Porsche is practically begging the gods to drop a meteor on it.

And naturally on this hot, hot evening we planned to grill our dinner on the barbecue, a task I’m normally all to happy to do but this evening was thinking up ways to get out of it, like faking a stroke or gnawing off my own leg. My Darling B asked me to grill bison steaks, though, and I love those so I just manned up, lit the fire and grilled away. They were delicious.

Hot Hot Hot | 9:12 pm CST
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Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

image of lilac blossom

I’ve never seen the lilacs in our yard bloom more than once, early in the spring, but the bush against the front of the house has squeaked out two small blossoms. I was about to give it a good going-over with the hedge trimmers when I saw two bright splashes of violet at the ends of some new growth, and after that I didn’t have the heart to do it.

Probably a good thing, too. I got out the weed whacker to do a little trimming around the shrubs and when I pulled the trigger and started trimming, mosquitoes rose like a cloud from the undergrowth. Same thing happened when I uncoiled the hose to water the snapdragons in the planter by the stoop. I figured that would be absolutely safe, but from the first splash of water I was greeted by thousands of the bloodthirsty little bastards, which fell on me like high school kids mobbing a McDonald’s at lunch hour. And once they’ve been at you it’s like they never go away. Even after I retreated to the safety of the house I was slapping and scratching at what felt like mosquitoes all over me.

The snapdragons got a quick drink. I hate to tease them. I might go back after my afternoon nap, if the setting sun fries that side of the house to a crisp, as it usually does, and no mosquito would dare come out.

Late Bloomer | 6:04 am CST
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Friday, May 28th, 2010

When does summer start for you? What’s that first day you have to do something, or something is done to you, that you stop and think, This is it. This is summer. We turned on the air conditioning for the first time this week when the weather got all hot and sticky. If I hadn’t stopped and thought about it before then, I did as soon as that cool, sweet air began to fill the rooms of Our Humble O’Bode.

And lately I’ve noticed, as I’ve been standing in the kitchen window taking those first few life-giving sips from my morning cuppa joe, that the temperature hasn’t dipped below sixty all week. A couple mornings back I glanced at the thermometer right after I turned on the kitchen lights and it was seventy. That doesn’t happen unless it’s summer.

| 5:54 am CST
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Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Time for a few stray thoughts. I haven’t done this in a while, and I can’t come up with anything but complete randomness right now, so the timing seems auspicious:

Granola. I eats it. I didn’t used to because I thought it was ucky, and I thought it was ucky because it was pretty bad granola. Dry enough to suck every molecule of moisture out of every cell in my mouth and gritty enough to use as traction if my car got stuck on the ice. I don’t know who made that stuff or why, but as granola it was crap. Or maybe that’s just the way granola was made back then, and now they know better. We started bringing it home from the co-op when Tim asked for it, and as he asked for it more and more I started eating it, too. Crunchy and sweet, it’s pretty tasty stuff and comes in more flavors than the multicolored plastic stuff they sell to kids as breakfast cereal. There was a spell after Tim moved out where we didn’t bring much home for a while, and then a while back we started stocking up every week because both My Darling B and I were eating it for breakfast in the morning, and neither one of us are breakfast-eating people. Or weren’t. I guess we are now.

We practiced our dance steps last night and we were freaking AWESOME! By our standards. And the bar’s still set pretty low, but only because we’ve been at it for just five weeks, folks. It’s not for lack of trying. We’ve got all the steps down, for instance, but that’s about it. Grace, poise, timing, that’s all stuff far in the future. BUT WE’VE GOT THE STEPS DOWN, OKAY? That’s gotta count for something.

I thought we’d be able to get an uninterrupted night’s sleep now the weather’s warmed up and the cats have wandered off to find other places to bed down for the night, but the recent cold snap brought them right back to cuddle up alongside us like a couple of heat magnets. Last night they had me pinned to the mattress like Lilliputians pinning Gulliver to the ground. They were purring like great big furry purring things. They were just like another metaphor that I can’t recall right now.

We had one of those weekends where we didn’t go out much and it seemed as though we didn’t really do all that much. I mean, we weren’t inert blobs of protoplasm; we washed some clothes, took out the trash, cleaned the kitchen and unblocked the bathroom drain, things like that. Stuff got done. Also, I finished a book I started last weekend (no prize for guessing what it was about) and My Darling B got herself up into the biggest snit ever talking to me about the book she finished.

And some of us had plans that were dashed by the cold snap that brought us that one last dump of winter (at least I’m hoping it’s the last dump). B wanted to break out her roto-tiller and turn over some soil in her garden so she could plant lettuce, and I think she may have been just a teensy bit bummed out that she couldn’t. With temps in the fifties all week, she was living in anticipation for too long not to be utterly gobsmacked by the change in weather. I’m pretty sure my head would have exploded, but I’m a little more excitable than she is.

strays | 5:59 am CST
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Saturday, March 20th, 2010

Well, who’s going to come clean this up, then? Because it’s not gonna be me! I’m done shoveling snow.

snow snow snow DAMMIT

We here in Wisconsin have a saying about winter: It’s not over until April. March may get warm enough to go out in shirtsleeves and shorts, but there’s at least one cold snap and snowfall coming down the pike to slap us all in the face, and if you can’t abide by that, you’d better move to Texas.

We have another saying about winter that’s especially reserved for mornings like this one, typically uttered the moment we look out the window on the scene of freshly-fallen snow: Dammit! And then we pack up and head for Texas.

[Update: I just realized this is technically the first day of Spring. Touché, Mother Nature!]

final | 6:03 am CST
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Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

B in her gardenWith a warm spring sun still dazzling the skies over her shoulder, My Darling B turns over a forkfull of garden soil and crumbles it in her hand to see if it’s ready for planting. It looks promising. This photo was taken in the middle of last year’s potato patch.

garlic sproutingThe garlic has sprouted!

alpine strawberriesAnd the strawberries have wintered over nicely. B says these are “Alpine strawberries,” the most hearty plants she could find. They’ll survive the cold snap forecast for this weekend, she says, even if she leaves them uncovered. I certainly hope so.

in the garden | 3:07 pm CST
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