Confessions of an Unintentional Domestic Goddess

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Ghosts of blizzards past…..

This Snowmageddon, this Snowpocalypse and all the time I’ve spent indoors staring at the walls and watching my children play in it really had me remembering some of the snowstorms of my past. You see, monster snowstorms are pretty rare around here. The one we had this week was really one for the record books and one I hope isn’t repeated any time soon! I just wanted to share some of the more comical moments I’ve experienced.

Late 1980’s: I owned a 1985 Trans Am. And man was I ever cool! I loved that car so much, I washed and waxed it every weekend! Never had I done that before or since! So, since I was in my early 20’s, I could do anything. Really. I’m sure you remember that time in your life. Anyone who told you that you couldn’t do something would immediately regret telling you that because you set out to prove them wrong and do that very thing. I was living with my Aunt who lived in a really beautiful, posh neighborhood in a particularly hilly part of town. And of course her house was in a valley, which required driving nearly straight up to get to the main roads. Yes, it’s snowing, so what? I thought. I was going to go to the mall. There was no reason I couldn’t. Well, except that Trans Ams had exceptionally low clearance and absolutely no traction. I made it out of the neighborhood via the least hilly part, to the nearest main street, and almost immediately faced a steep hill (71st going to Yale). Somehow I managed to get up the hill, but the stoplight at the top prevented me from getting much further. Green light, I attempted to make it up another smaller hill, but got stuck, spinning wheels. A very kind man helped push my car so I could turn around and go home.

That storm continued raging for the next few hours, until my poor car was literally buried in a snowdrift up to the windows. For me to make it to work, I had to walk up the hills in knee-deep snow and wait for one of the salesmen to come and pick me up. Did I learn my lesson then? Are  you serious? Why on earth would I do something like that?

Winter 1991: The Trans Am had been traded for a Grand Am. What is it with me and the ‘Am’ cars? In November of 1990 I moved to LA. Long story, working on a novel. Anyway, when I initially left, I didn’t know how long I’d stay there and only took what I could fit in my car, mostly clothes. Once I decided I’d be there for a while, I convinced my roomie, dear sweet Barbara, a SoCal born and raised gal, to come back with me to pick up more of my stuff. It is a two-day drive in good weather. 1200 miles from LA to Tulsa, straight down I40. The trip back home was uneventful. We loaded up the car and headed west. It was in the day before GPS, smart phones, cell phones or any technology like that. Surely they had radars on the news then, but I didn’t watch it.

Barbara and I set out in my little Grand Am for the two day trek. We stopped in Amarillo for gas and I noticed the temps had dropped quite a bit. Hmm. Oh well, it was just cold and raining, no big deal. We hopped back in and hit the road. It was Barbara’s turn to drive, so I was in the passenger seat when I noticed the ‘raindrops’ were hitting the windshield with a characteristic ‘splat’ that looked more like snowflakes. Crap. We continued on and I noticed the ruts in the pastures were beginning to turn white. I told Barbara my thoughts, but she was ok driving. Until….the snow started to get deep enough there were ruts in the road and the slush was hitting the bottom of the car. I looked over and noticed that Barbara was white-knuckling the steering wheel and asked if she wanted me to take over. With a gasp, she said yes. She was terrified of driving in it!  Barbara was quite a trouper. That day we were able to make it to Albuquerque. And only then did we find out we’d driven thru some really bad snow.

March 1999: March equals spring right? Mostly. It was my last trimester in college in Dallas. We’d bought a house and were moving our stuff from Dallas. It’s a straight drive that is normally 4 hrs door to door. No problem. We had my stepdad’s brand new pick-up pulling a trailer w/our furniture in it. Also in the caravan, my BFF’s from school, Charlanne-another SoCal born and raised gal, Joey-a New Yawka, and Anuschka-my Canadian connection. Charlanne and Joey were in his car and Anuschka was in her own vehicle as well.  The trip was going well, nothing unusual. Once again, we hadn’t seen any weather reports and so were going ahead not knowing what was coming. Do you sense a pattern here?

About half-way there, we stopped at a Mc Donald’s for a rest stop, and it had started lightly snowing. Charlanne was jumping up and down, so excited to see snow, since she hadn’t seen it often in her life. Me, well, I was less excited, but not too concerned, it was only lightly coming down after all. You know, as I’m writing this and thinking about my life, I never thought I was stupid, or naive, but now I’m not so sure!

As we are driving north, the snow becomes heavier.  We were moving right along, no problem, until a genius highway patrolman decided he needed to pullover a Trans Am (what is it about those cars?) in about 6″ of snow, at the bottom of a long steep hill. Guess what, Mr. T.A. couldn’t get his car moving, and then the semi that was behind him got stuck too. Can you imagine? I was so pissed at the idiot cop! As we are trying to make our way up this hill,  we’d had to slow down from the stupid cop, our truck started sliding toward a 3ft deep ditch! Holy crap! Every time we tried to move, the tires would spin and we would go more toward the ditch. All I’m thinking is ‘how in the hell am I going to ‘splain this one?”  Joey saw that we were having problems and he pulled over ahead of us and got out to help. I had picked up bagels from my favorite bagel shop on our way out of Dallas and put those under the tires for traction! Somehow, between the bagels and Joey jumping up and down on the trailer hitch, the truck got unstuck. We finally made it home. The 4 hr trip had become a 6 hour trip. That night, we all sat outside in our new hot tub with snow all around us. That part, at least, was fun.

Can you believe there’s more? Just one more, I promise.

December 2002: We had only just found out we were pregnant with our daughter when my husband’s grandfather became critically ill. We didn’t know how ill he was until he passed away. He was a very sweet man and I”m honored to have known him for the short time I did. His funeral was December 23. All his life, Quentin had been a farmer. The day of his funeral, we woke up to snow. The big fat, fluffy flakes that pile up quickly. It had already been snowing for a while when we made our way to the church for the service. We were in Okeene, Oklahoma AKA podunk/one flashing red-light town. There are more students in our elementary school than there are residents of Okeene. The joke was that the snow was Quentin’s final practical joke on us because farmers hate snow. They can’t work when it’s snowing.

The drive from Okeene to Tulsa is 2 hours door to door. Not far at all. Unless you’re driving in a blizzard. When we left Okeene headed east, it didn’t take long before we were completely unable to see the road at all. We were in farmland and the snow was blowing sideways and I think coming from Kansas! Visibility was terrible and we were creeping along trying to stay on the road.  There were 5 of us in the car. My sister and brother-in-law were in the back seat with our 18 month old son. I was the white-knuckle co-pilot in the front. As we were coming up a short hill, we saw a mini-van that had gone off the road into the center median and the occupants were standing outside the van assessing their situation when behind us, a semi comes barreling along, as if there’s nothing stopping him at all. My husband saw this first, kind of gasped and let off the gas. I couldnt’ figure out what was going on at about the same time the truck literally blew past us and cut in front of us just in time to not hit those people standing in the median.  All four of us literally did not breathe for a minute. I had visions of bodies flying and a sudden need to change my pants! Someone was looking out for all of us then.

The trip took us 6 hours. It’s normally 2. The roads were in horrible condition and didn’t get any better until we hit Tulsa. If I hadn’t been pregnant, I’d have had a really stiff drink when I got home!

Sometimes when I think about these situations, I realize a few things.

Number 1: I am so glad I dont’ live up north and have to deal with this junk on a regular basis.

Number 2: Just like my father-in-law has always said, the Lord looks out for little children and dumb animals, you just have to figure out which one you are.

Number 3: I have been traumatized by those snowstorms and will not venture out of my house in snow unless I”m forced to, not just to go to the mall!

Number 4: I am so ready for spring and so sick of snow, I can’t stand it! The ground hog didn’t see shadow and says early spring, I hope he got right this year!

Now, aren’t you glad you haven’t been with me in snowstorms? I hope this finds you warm and dry and free of snow! Now, I”ll go and look at my beach pictures and think warm thoughts!

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Welcome to Snowklahoma!

since I really have nothing else to do, enjoy a few pics of our blizzard. We have gotten over a foot of snow so far and it’s still coming down! This is our snowpocalypse! Our snowmageddon. We haven’t gotten this much snow in a single day in over 100 years! And the part of it that sucks is the temp: 10F with a windchill of -8. That means I can’t throw my kids out in it! Booo! We’ve got 3 to 4 foot snowdrifts and the entire metro area is shut down. Seriously, the mall is closed. That equals everything, right?  Emergency vehicles are getting stuck. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you drive, you’re gonna get stuck! Unfortunately, we do not have the equipment necessary to deal with 1 to 2 inches of snow an hour with 35mph winds. Oh yeah, and my hubby’s flight to San Francisco that’s out at 7AM tomorrow, yeah, that’s been canceled. He thought he was going to escape the fun we’re having here!

The view from my bedroom window during a lull in the storm.

The tree in my front yard. The bricks that are barely visible on the left side are two high and completely buried!

Poor lonely playset. It's too cold to be out there now. 😦

It's so deceptive. The sunshine makes it look not too bad. At the time I took this, it was 5F/-1 windchill!

I thought this was really beautiful. It shows how windy it was and how dry the snow is. No snowmen with this stuff!

This is the view out my SECOND floor bathroom window. It's apparently situated just right to catch a wicked drift! kinda creepy!

So, in the meantime, I’m watching a movie with my daughter, making a cross stitch unicorn, washing laundry and thinking of making peanut butter cookies. Oh, and that three foot deep drift in front of my garage door, that is keeping me from going anywhere. Well that and the fact that the roads are a complete mess and I hate driving on crap roads. So, i”m tucked in, drinking hot tea and hanging with my offspring, my pair and a spare. Hope you are all staying warm and dry wherever you are!

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The ghost of Christmases past

 This time of year gets us all reminiscing about past Christmases, myself included. I remember one year in the late 70’s when I got a Simon game and I thought I was hella cool. I think I remember that one more because I’ve seen a picture of myself holding that crazy game with a big smile on my face.  We didn’t have a fireplace, but Santa always made it to our house. I should ask my mom if I ever questioned how he came to us without one. My son has asked me what about those kind of things. I just say it’s Santa magic. What else can I say?

With our Christmas blizzard this year, I was thinking back to our last snow-covered Christmas.  It was 7 years ago and I remember the days leading up to it more than I remember the day itself. My husband’s dear, sweet grandfather had been very ill with pancreatic cancer and passed away a few days before Christmas. We drove 2-1/2 hours away for the funeral on December 23. Terrible time for a funeral, yes. But the gift of that situation was that he was no longer in any pain and was reunited with his beloved Helena.

His grandfather had been a farmer most of his life, until he’d gotten older and all of his children were grown, then they moved to a home in town, where it would be easier for them to get around, especially in the bad weather.

We were in the tiny, one-red-light-flashing town my mother-in-law grew up in for the funeral. Everyone had come in the day before because it was quite a jaunt to get there. We enjoyed everyone’s company the night before and stayed the night with an aunt and uncle who lived just a few doors down from grandpa’s house.

When we woke up on that sad December morning, it was snowing. Not just snow, but the big, fat, feathery flakes that are so beautiful when they fall. And let me tell you, they were coming down hard and fast. Within an hour of us getting up, there was probably an inch on the ground and it was getting deeper by the minute.  We made jokes that it was grandpa’s final practical joke. He was a farmer and because of that, he had a serious dislike of snow and inclement weather; it prevented him from doing the work he needed to do on the farm.

We watched in amazement at the ever-deepening blanket of white. The children giggled and squealed with delight, since we don’t see snow here every year.

The funeral went off as planned, but several sisters-in-law and myself stayed at the church hall with the children while the others went to the cemetary. It was way too cold and windy to have several young children out in it.

We all piled in the car for the drive home, becoming increasingly nervous at the thought of driving 2-1/2 hours in blowing snow. My sister-in-law and her husband were in the back seat, along with our two year-old son. We chose a route we thought would be well cleared to drive home, only finding out later that we had unwittingly driven right into the heart of the storm.

We were on a divided highway, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by rolling hills and farms, which gave no shelter or breaks to the blowing, blinding snow. I have a feeling much of the snow that day actually fell in Kansas, but was blown into Oklahoma and probably ended up in Texas. My husband has lived in several northern, snow-covered states and is well acquainted with driving in snow, so I trusted him to get us home safely, but that didn’t prevent me from having white knuckles.

The snow deepened, the storm intensified until we were barely able to see the road. We were trying to follow in the tracks of other cars in front of us, but when it’s blowing and snowing so hard, the tracks get covered very quickly, making it difficult to tell where you are actually driving.

My husband was doing a fine job of navigating in this horrible situation. Driving blind is quite a feat for anyone. We were crawling along when he made a noise and I looked ahead to see what he was looking at. There was a minivan in the center median and people standing outside it surveying the damage, probably trying to decide if they could get out of their current predicament.

Then he made another sound as he looked into the rear-view mirror. I turned to see what he was looking at: a semi-truck barreling its way down the inside lane, on a direct course for those people standing in the median. My sister-in-law and her husband saw it too and my husband let off the gas, to give this idiot room to get in front of us rather than mow down these poor people stranded in the blizzard.

We were all literally holding our breath, waiting to see if the jackass truck driver would make it. I closed my eyes, fearing what I might see and what would be a tragic scene that would surely be burned into my retinas for life. Thankfully, Mr. shit-for-brains managed to get his big rig over in time to miss those people.  But probably not before they messed their pants seeing what was going to happen. I think those people had some guardian angels on double duty that day, because he narrowly avoided completely destroying them.

The rest of the drive was difficult at best. We ended up most of the way on a turnpike, which, thankfully, was mostly cleared, but after that nerve-shattering experience, we were all on edge. A drive that normally took 2-1/2 hours took 6 hours that day. I don’t remember exactly, but I think I kissed the floor when we walked into our house that day. One of my brothers-in-law who lived 4 hours beyond us decided that the drive was not worth it and stayed the night with us that night. Their nerves couldnt’ take it either.

Needless to say, that Christmas stands out in my mind for several reasons. The positive thing that stands out in my mind from it, was telling my mother that we were going to have another child. I wish I’d had the camcorder going, but I gave her the stick, the pregnancy test, wrapped in tissue paper and in a lovely gift bag and saved it for last. She very gingerly unwrapped it, as if it were something very delicate and breakable, and looked at it puzzled for a moment before she realized what it was. Then she did the squeal/jump up and down happy dance. I think we could’ve made it to AFV with that one. if nothing else, it would’ve been fun to show to our daughter, who was the reason for that dance.

Now, that is the most exciting Christmas in my recent memory, but I like the ones like we had yesterday, very mellow, laid back and peaceful, no drama is a good thing!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Merry Christmas!

And what a day it is! We had 6 to 8″ of snow yesterday on top of about 1″ of sleet and the FIRST ever blizzard warning for our state! It is definitely one that we will be talking about for a long time to come.

I am very thankful that we don’t have work and school to worry about missing today. We are able to just spend time together playing and hanging out. Enjoying each other for a bit. Later, when the windchill isn’t in the single digits, we’ll go out and build snowmen and have some fun outside and then come in for hot cocoa with loads of marshmellows!

My living room is strewn with the remains of at least an hour or two’s worth of wrapping, clothes, toys, random and miscellaneous stuff and a few lonely presents still under the tree waiting for the snow to clear so we can venture out and deliver them to their intended recipients. It essentially looks like a department store threw up, yeah, I think that’s a pretty good description, just because of the sheer variety of things lying about. Shoes, Lego’s, candy, Nerf guns, books, video games, board games. Wow! What a haul. I even really tried to scale back this year. Honestly, I think I was able to scale back a bit, but it still looks like my kids made out like bandits!

Me, my gift was spending time with them and seeing the pure joy on their faces and thinking about the families of the children I purchased for from the Angel Tree.  How the kids’ faces must have lit up seeing the presents under the tree, if they had one, and the joy on the parents’ faces knowing someone cared enough to help them in a time of need.

Now if we could just keep the feeling of love and caring going all year long, how wonderful that would be.

I hope this finds your heart full of love and your home full of friends and family sharing this wonderful day. I wish you the Merriest of Christmases and a blessed New Year!

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