Tag Archives: weather

Snow joke

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My kitchen chairs have been taken from me. My sofa cushions are two rooms away from their sofa. The big brown blanket that belongs on my bed has been repurposed. Yes, it’s a blanket fort, and it’s been there for three days now because I can’t face the mutiny I would encounter if I told them to dismantle it.

Scratch that. I’ve told them to dismantle it. They haven’t, and I haven’t bothered to follow up. I take the blanket with me every night, we sit on the bench in the kitchen, and nobody used that sofa much anyway. The fort is in use as an animal hospital and they spent a good hour designing, engineering, building, fortifying, populating, guarding, and creating signage for it. That’s good enough. Standards are low.

It’s day nine of the weekend that never ended. They’ve been off school all this week plus Thursday and Friday of last week, for the snowstorm that ended on Sunday morning. We dug out on Sunday and Monday, our roads have been perfectly passable since Tuesday at the latest, and yet…

There are many reasons why this is so, even though it is far from ideal for all concerned. The Washington DC area is southerly enough that snow is not a sure thing every winter, but northern enough that sometimes snow happens in large quantities. That means the cities and towns and counties and school districts are somewhat equipped to deal with snow, but not as well prepared as places like Boston or Chicago, where this is just called winter and people get on with it. We got our season’s worth of snow in two days, and we’ve nowhere to put it. The roads were prioritized but the sidewalks and bus stops were left to languish under extra feet of ploughed snow. The school closure decisions are made county by county, not by smaller districts or a school at a time, and though our area dug out quickly some people didn’t even see a plough on their street till Thursday.

This is no joke for those people who were expected back at work on Tuesday morning but have had to scramble to find last-minute childcare for every other day of the week. It’s no joke for those children who depend on a free hot meal at school every weekday. (Some schools opened to provide lunches for those who could get there and needed it.) It’s not even much fun for the lucky ones like me who had nothing much else to do and could at least let their kids profit from late lazy mornings, seasonal outdoor exercise, an extension on the science fair project, and a few family movie nights instead of a workaday week of spelling tests and classroom spats, too little recess and too much homework.

By today I was actually going to feel a little inconvenienced if the kids did have school. Mabel’s annual checkup was this morning and it was much easier to bring Dash along too instead of rushing around trying to get them both to school – I even, finally, got him a flu shot, which certainly wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t been with us. Afterwards we had lunch in IKEA and … well, maybe I’ll find another movie for this afternoon.



You think the hard part of the storm is going to be the storm. When you’re in the middle of it, with the snow swirling all around and the view out the windows looking very much like Hoth, and the constant nagging worry about whether you might lose power and if there’s anything you could be doing now to prevent that or make things easier when it happens; not to mention the worry about trees falling on the house or the roof caving in under the weight of the snow.

Looking down the street in the snow


Snow-covered bikes

Not bicycling weather

However, assuming that none of those terrible things happen and you didn’t really think they would, the aftermath is worse. Because then you have to venture out, and you have to shovel the stupid white wet stuff off your car and out of your driveway, and the kids are complaining because it’s no good for sledding (too deep, uncompacted) and no good for snowballs or snowmen either (too fluffy, not sticky), and because it’s too long a walk home from the place you took them to sled, and because their snowboots let in snow and their chins are numb and they can’t feel their fingers. And then the snowplough comes by (if you’re lucky) and shoves a whole lot more snow in front of your house.

Mabel playing in the snow

A mountain lion leaping from bank to bank

Dash sledding

Sledding fun

No, that didn’t really all happen to us, and yesterday, after the storm, wasn’t so bad. It’s quite nice, really, when the sun comes back and the wind dies down and all the neighbours come out and chat to each other about how great it is that we still have electricity. But today the white stuff is still there, and it’s hardly even pretty any more because it’s just all piled up getting in the way and not melting. And the schools have already announced that they’ll still be closed tomorrow, so who knows what the rest of the week will look like, and let’s not even think about the possible snow that’s forecast for Friday because by then we will absolutely all have died of tedium and irritation.

Shovelled walkways

Not so pretty

Clear sky over snowy road

The long road home

Less than clement

We are having a lot of rain. It’s been raining since Tuesday or so, and it’s Friday afternoon now. I think it’s due to stop on Sunday.

I shouldn’t be sorry that it’s not a hurricane, because hurricanes are bad and this is causing plenty of problems just with flooding, but I was sort of looking forward to being cosily housebound for a day or two. With electricity of course; not the uncivilized sort of housebound. The sort where you bake things and watch movies and do jigsaws companionably and nobody goes stir-crazy and kicks balls inside the house and splits their head open on the hearth because they were doing gymnastics off the sofa onto the coffee table.

Oh wait, I was envisioning a nice cosy hurricane without children. We had one of those in 2005 when we lived in Texas. Emily, it was. A category 2 that whirled past the town causing a wall to fall on some cars. We assumed our apartment complex would deal with any boarding up that should be done (they didn’t do any) and our friends who lived across the way came over to play Trivial Pursuit and drink wine. It was just lovely. I probably made nachos, or a cake. There may easily have been mojitos.

But still. It’s cold and wet and miserable, and now that I’ve finished driving the length and breadth of [a small portion of] the Beltway, where things are not improved by such conditions, it’s really the nicest sort of weather for making a vat of chili and opening a bottle of red, with salted chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven. We can have a hurricane without the hurricane, and sleep soundly to boot.

That’ll do, then. And nobody needs to split their head open.


I admit this is not today’s rainy view. There are still leaves on the trees.


I go to bed. It’s cold and windy. I am 85% well but 15% sick so I’m cold in spite of the down comforter and the fleece blanket. I try to relax my jaw so that I can sleep. I discover I’m clenching a buttock. If I unclench the buttock my teeth lock again. Relaxing both at once is impossible. I listen to the wind.

Mabel wakes up and calls out for me. I climb into her bed. It’s much windier on this side of the house and I can’t possibly sleep. I lie there thinking about windows and gusts and the trajectory of broken glass and how far the trees are from the house. I think she’s asleep so I try to leave. She wakes up. I say “I can’t stay here, it’s too noisy. Come and sleep in the spare room with me.” She won’t. I offer up the husband like so much chopped liver: “What if I get Daddy to come and sleep with you?” That would be okay.

I go back to my bed, turf out the poor sleepy man, and slide into the warm space he left. He goes to take his chances in the room in the back on the corner with the six year old. I worry about the 8 year old who was too hot earlier and has only a thin sleeping bag over him tonight, the coldest night of the year. Will he wake up enough to pull the duvet back over himself if he’s cold? Nobody dies of hypothermia indoors, in bed, right? The heating’s still working, isn’t it? How does the heating work, anyway? Is there a pilot light? Might it have blown out? Will the house explode tomorrow morning when I go to turn on the stove? I hear the gentle hum and whoosh of the heating kicking in and can at least check dying of hypothermia off my list of things to worry about for now. I listen to the wind.

They all feel so far away, spread around the house. I wish we’d slept in the basement. Next time it’s going to be this windy we have to all sleep in the basement. B arrives back in the doorway with Mabel clinging to him like a limpet. “She wants to be with you,” he says, or something, deposits her into the big bed with me, and goes back to the noisy windy corner of the house alone. Mabel pushes her head against my cheek, throws a leg over mine, holds my hand. I put my other hand over her middle. This is how we sleep, she and I. We know how to do this. After a while I can turn over and she’ll just bump her back up against mine.

I listen to the wind. I feel guilty about B and think he should sleep in the spare room, which is at least on the less windy side. There are no sheets on the spare bed. He could bring the warm duvet with him. I think I hear him moving into the other room. I write blog posts in my mind. I plot short stories in my mind. I hear something banging and worry about what it might be, straining to listen for the next time it will bang. I wonder if it will wake the 8 year old, who sleeps like the dead. I wonder whether all our siding needs to be replaced. I wonder whether the table is blowing around the deck. I’m still cold. I pull my pyjama sleeves down and I feel the almost-pleasant thrill all over my body that means all my follicles are standing to attention, goosebumpy. I realise that my teeth are grinding to the rhythm of Take me to Church. I try really hard to relax. I listen to the wind.

Much later, I realise I’m warm, and that I’m not listening to the wind any more. I must have been asleep. I have a headache. Mabel is taking over the bed, even though it’s a queen size. I go back to sleep. There’s snow outside, and it’s minus 20 and it will all keep a while.


Entertainment value

I lost the run of myself entirely yesterday and started the 30-day shred again. I was so achy this morning after it that I misguidedly decided the best thing to do to loosen up my poor muscles was to keep at it. Now I can barely sit down, stand up, or go up or down the stairs, so it didn’t exactly work the way I’d hoped. I think that’s how they reel you in, and then you’ve a few days under your belt by the time it stops hurting and you think you can’t stop now. So maybe I’ll keep it up for a few more days.

Makes a change from the sore back anyway, and I’ve officially graduated from the chiropractor, so my mornings have freed up again. (Fine, it was only half an hour twice a week and it’s right beside the supermarket anyway, but it felt like it was the impediment to any exercise.)

That’s not what I was going to say.

It’s been raining steadily all day, except for when it turned to sleet. In the afternoon we half-heartedly offered to take the kids to the new Muppets movie, but as predicted they decided it would be more fun to stay in their pyjamas and play with a large cardboard box. (Otherwise known as “Stunt Box”. It has its own theme tune.)

So I went to Target instead, which was very relaxing except for when it was oddly difficult to get into the car (see above re muscles) and I had to sort of lean over it and then fall in the right direction with a little squeak. I hope nobody was watching.

And, even though it’s nobody’s birthday and certainly not Christmas, B suggested that I pick up Frozen on DVD, now that it’s out. Tis far from such profligacy I was raised, I’ll tell you, but I felt it would be churlish not to, seeing as how it would solve the perennial DVD selection problem for another week. And because secretly (or not so much) we’re all dying to watch it again.

When I got home (with, in addition to the DVD, a maxi dress for summer, some shoes for Mabel, some plastic tubs for yet more storage solutions because I am married to a man who believes all storage can be solutioned, and sundry groceries) nothing had changed on Walton Mountain. By which I mean the kids were still watching TV, jumping on a box, surrounded by soft-toy chaos, and in their pyjamas. I thought I should at least leverage the situation.

“I have a treat for you, but you have to get dressed and go out and get some fresh air before you can get it,” I announced. I really didn’t think it would work, but their respective imaginations went into overdrive wondering what amazing chocolate/iPad/toy I might have picked up in Target, and they sped upstairs. Mabel came down first, put on boots and raincoat, and dutifully went out into the “wintry mix” (which is what they call horrible rain that can’t decide whether it’s snow or sleet or what). She zigzagged down the driveway, walked in ever-decreasing circles for about three minutes, and came back in. Dash went outside after her, counted to 28, and was done.

Since B and I hadn’t even set foot outside while they got their “fresh air,” we couldn’t really demand any more than that. We produced the DVD (Mabel was delighted and Dash was a little resentful that it wasn’t a more him-appropriate treat, but he got over it) and we all very much enjoyed the movie for the third/fourth time.


White stuff

All this white stuff is getting me down. It’s doing nothing except getting in the way at the moment. It’s piled up at the sides of the road, turning slowly black from the car exhausts, slushing in the driveways, lying slippily in wait in the shadows where you least expect it, blocking the way at every turn so people are walking on the roads and can’t get from the bus stop to the bus without clambering over an Everest and possibly leaving a shoe behind in it.

And even though forecast temperatures for the rest of the week are in the 50s, (that’s over 10C), we’re expecting possibly another inch or two tonight, as a sort of farewell gesture. If school’s cancelled tomorrow I’ll be … I’ll be… actually, I can’t even muster the energy to threaten anything. It’s been so long since Dash went to school (last Wednesday, it was) that I’ve forgotten what it’s like.

While it persists, never mind the ever-present children, I can’t get down to anything. Everything is too much work. Everything is temporary, about to melt away any moment (if only it would). Everything is on the long finger, for when things go back to normal, when everyone goes back to school, the ground goes back to looking like the ground instead of treacherous uneven cold wet stifling white stuff.

Snow and trees

Brat bán sneachta

Mabel making a snow angel

Apparently every Irish essay I ever wrote in school involved the unlikely scenario of waking up to snow. I know this, because I can still write it.

Ar maidin, dúsigh me go luath mar bhí geal ait ins an seomra. Nuair a d’fhéach mé amach an fuinneog, chonaic me brat bán álainn sneachta ar fud na háite.

[In the morning I woke up early because there was a strange light in the room. When I looked out the window, I saw a beautiful white cloak of snow everywhere.]

(No correcting my Irish, please, from any of you Gaelgóirí. It’s mostly right, and I only looked up one word.)

I know this phenomenon is not limited to me, because the first thing my husband said to me this morning was that he was considering posting “Brat bán sneachta” as his Facebook status.

But I remember so well all the mornings I spent lying in bed trying to divine a geal ait (strange light) in the room, approaching the divide of the curtains slowly, wondering if what I was seeing through the crack was just plain white sky or if it might possibly be a brat álainn sneachta (beautiful cloak of snow) after all.

Almost always, it was not snow. In spite of all my Irish vocabulary had taught me, snowy winter days are not very common in Ireland.

But last night here, around 3am let’s say, when for some unknowable reason (Mabel) I was wandering around our house, the geal ait was completely obvious. Instead of an inky night sky  – Washington DC light pollution allowing – the sky was eerily light, illuminated somehow from within, or maybe as a reflection of the thick layer of white stuff it had already begun to lay down below it. I could see the softly falling flakes quite clearly everywhere without having to find the arc of a streetlight to show them to me.

So, snow day. I think the sled is buried somewhere at the bottom of the garden. Hope we can find it.

Dash making a snowman

Weather permitting

It’s clearly unfair that in America the concept of the snow day – when work or school is cancelled because of too much snow for your particular part of the country to handle – even exists. Ireland needs some days. I came up with a few you might like to try using on the establishment.

  • Rain days, for when the rain was pelting so hard against the window all night that you couldn’t get a wink of sleep.
  • Wind days, for when the wind is blowing your front door shut so you can’t leave the house.
  • Sheep days, for when the wind and rain are blowing the sheep sideways across the roads, causing a traffic hazard.
  • Mist days, for when you can’t see as far as the car in your driveway, let alone a bus stop. It would clearly be dangerous to venture out looking for it.
  • Radiance days, for when you’re blinded as soon as you go out by a strange shining orb in the sky. You’d better go straight back inside and take it easy in a darkened room.
  • Temperate days, for when it’s much too nice to go to school and you just have to play hooky.

Let me know how you get on with that.

Snow, trees, cars, houses

Round trip to Melodrama Central

Things Mabel had a meltdown about this morning:

  • 7am: I wouldn’t go downstairs with her. Daddy was already downstairs. I wanted to stay in bed for five more minutes. This was unacceptable.
  • 8am: She was asked not to sing Frozen songs loudly while jumping on the sofa in the room where Dash was trying to read. This was completely unfair. Also, she wasn’t hungry and didn’t want breakfast yet.
  • 8:55am: She doesn’t want to have to walk to school (in clement weather) when she goes to Kindergarten next year. That will be just too hard and she doesn’t like exercise.
  • 8:59am: Her best friend insists that he’s in charge when they play together. He never lets her be in charge and won’t even take turns. He says his mom says he’s in charge.

Things I believed this morning:

  • None of the above.

How happy am I that my county did not call a two-hour-delay on school this morning, even though we had freezing rain and they probably should have?

  • Very.

Frozen eyeballs

The weather was fine. I mean, it was cold, and I got cold waiting for Dash to come out of school, and one of our cars didn’t start because it’s been acting up lately and this was probably the final straw, but happily we have two cars, and B was able to work from home, and my fingers didn’t drop off and by tomorrow things will be back to a much more normal around-freezing point and we have temperatures in the mid 50s forecast for the weekend which will be utterly tropical and we will all be outside basking in our bikinis, figuratively speaking.

So that’s good. I do have a new appreciation for those people of the frozen wastes of the North who deal with this sort of nonsense on a regular basis, but then again, they probably have structures put in place, both literally and organizationally, so that nobody is expected to stand outside the school for ten minutes even though they got there just about when the classes are theoretically supposed to be dismissed.

But mostly I think everyone should live in California, probably. Especially me.


Dash had his last vision therapy session on Monday. He has maintenance exercises to do and I think we’re getting some sort of computer game thing that should help with that, and he goes back in three months to make sure his vision doesn’t backslide, but for the most part he’s done. Graduated.

His final assessment showed that his eye teaming and tracking are vastly improved, and he can switch focus from near to far at a very acceptable speed. He can do fancy things with focus that I can’t do at all, like seeing the magic-eye pictures, and knows how to relax and then sharpen his focus to order.

He’s still a strange mixture of reluctant and eager reader. He won’t look to find out the title of a book unprompted, he won’t peruse a book out of interest; but he’ll demand that I order the next in the series from the library and happily pick it up and tell us how many pages he’s read during his mandated twenty minutes an evening.

Yesterday at the library he read the signs and found out for himself why I had gone to the shelves I went to in order to pick up the reserved books.

I think we’re getting there.

Dash reading


Onward and upward, people. Onward and upward and towards spring.