Sunday, January 31, 2010

Snow Etiquette

This morning I had such a good time walking to Mass...and then the "Love is patient, Love is kind" verses were the second reading, and we sang "Here I Am, Lord," both things that remind me of my brave husband. And after Mass, we had chocolate cake, two kinds of brownies, cinnamon rolls and glazed blueberry muffins -- all homemade. The Lord is good.

But that's not what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about snow etiquette.

I walked to Mass in some pretty good snow, and I walked home in a little snow also. But by the time I settled in with my lunch, we had such serious snow that I couldn't even see across the road to the house of the people from Bartlesville! (Yes, the people who just moved in across the street happen to be from Bartlesville. Small world, isn't it?)

I was transported.

And of course I wanted to go out in it. It seemed selfish to go out without Tula, so I put her little leopard-print fleece coat on her and out we went. But once I got out there, I began to worry, as I always do when there is new snow, that we were breaking some kind of rule. When we walk in the deep, fluffy snow, we make tracks. I know my neighbors gripe about the snow non-stop, but surely they find it beautiful. And surely our tracks mess it up for them. So I walked her around our own yard only and when her legs began to shiver, I brought her back in.

Then I went back outside, choose a good spot, fell down backwards and made a snow angel. It's been a long, long time since I did that. And I'm better at it now than I was the last time, maybe because this time I know there's enough snow to actually cushion the fall and not a hidden rock under there. I could have laid in the yard like that, watching the snow, for longer, but I didn't want my neighbors to think I'd had an event and feel that they should leave their fireplaces, bundle up, and come to save me.

Anyway...I'm leaving the topic: Snow etiquette. Is it neighborly to walk on the sidewalks when the snow is beautiful and new, or should you stay in until you actually have to go out to keep it in its pristine condition? Is it neighborly to shovel past your own house, or is it up to other people if they want the sidewalk in front of their house shoveled? The same goes for the snow-blower. I don't mean once this snow has stopped; then, I think everyone appreciates it. But is letting it be pretty until that moment comes the correct behavior?

It's not very cold now that we have snow again. My two-houses-down neighbor may come over to show me how to work the snow-blower. I have a secret: I kind of regret the snow-blower now, because I don't WANT my snow out of the yard! I like walking through the tall snow on the sidewalk and up the walkway. I like not knowing where the stairs end because the snow comes all the way up to the door.

On the other hand, I know not everyone likes it. And I'm not a good shoveler. So if he comes and I learn to snow-blow the sidewalk all the way to his house (because he likes to snow-blow from his house to the house of the next guy with a cool snow-blower), I will be glad. And all the Sackets Harbor dogs will have a path to walk, which means the little ones will be able to walk longer.

I'm rambling, but another thing: Is it good etiquette to rejoice in the snow when all around you your neighbors are hating it? I'm trying to hold back a little, but it's hard. I love this snow, and there is never enough, and it can't possibly outlast my enjoyment of it, no matter what they say!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Water, water everywhere...

If you don't know the poem that inspired the title of this blog and many of its posts, you might think the title of today's post means that something flooded at my house, or perhaps that the melting continues. But if you DO know the poem, you know differently. (And you are probably my father.)

"Water, water everywhere / and all the boards did shrink. / Water, water everywhere /nor any drop to drink."

And that was my experience this morning: Water in the form of snow all over the yard. Water in the form of icicles dripping from the eaves. I raise the lever to turn on the kitchen faucet at 7 a.m. -- a tiny trickle, and then no more water!

So the whole morning and afternoon were spent bewailing the situation, calling my father, and looking up stuff on the internet that told me I was done for and would soon be paying a plumber in gold and pints of my own blood.

I called the village water guy. He came out immediately.

We have a terrible crawlspace. At least you can get to it from inside the house, but once inside, you have to crouch down. There is no light down there. It's cold. It's dark. It's dirty. When we had the flooding, all the guys who came would make the same sad sound upon witnessing it, then they would go down there and start cursing under their breath, and then start whistling. Maybe whistling made them feel better.

Anyway, this man also whistled while he was down there. Then he came up and told me the pipes were frozen. He said I'd done the right thing in turning the heater up to 85 (thanks, but if they didn't unfreeze after awhile, I should call a plumber. He didn't recommend going down there to thaw them myself, thank goodness.

I called the plumber and left a message. Ten minutes later, I tried the water, just in case, and it had come back. Now that's a good plumber: I just had to invoke his name and the problem was fixed!

I called him back and told him never mind, and I could almost hear the sigh of relief all the way in Sackets Harbor (he lives in Watertown). Nobody likes going down in that dungeon.

And so now, here I am. My faucets are dripping. I have bought candles, fire starter logs, a battery-powered lantern so I won't have to hold a flashlight up if the lights go out and I want to read (because yes, folks, I am that lazy). I am ready for a blizzard, and hopeful that one will come. We are supposed to have snow tomorrow night. I hope "the north wind doth blow and we shall have snow. And what shall poor robin do then, poor thing? She'll fly in the barn to keep herself warm and hide her head under her wing, poor thing." But not this bird. This albatross will bundle up and go out in it because she knows it won't last forever.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Five-Minute Blog List

1. There is something they call The January Thaw, and it happened. We could see the grass! It was awful!

2. And then, Joe left for Afghanistan. Fortunately, it started to snow right when I left him and snowed for a few days.

3. But today, it stopped snowing and the sun came out. It is still so cold the inside of your nose freezes, but the snow, somehow, seems to be melting.

4. We are supposed to have a hockey game on the lake this weekend, but I'm not sure the lake is frozen enough for that anymore. I was really looking forward to it.

5. Oh my gosh, I was going to go to Holy Hour, and it's in 30 minutes! I just realized what time it is! Do I still want to go? Not really, but I might anyway.

And that's the news...

Friday, January 22, 2010


It's cold, sort of, but the snow is melting! It's so sunny that my office at school, which has a south-facing window, is uncomfortably hot. The sun is pretty on what's left of the snow, but there's not much left. I don't like this!

But I do like how happy it makes my colleagues and neighbors.

Selfishly, I wish I'd wake up to a blizzard. I want too be snowed in, iced in, immobile.

But it feels like spring! I can see grass. And mud everywhere.

They tell me February usually has big snow. Even March, sometimes. I've heard of hunting for Easter eggs in snow here. I suppose I believe them. Even Oklahoma has big February snow. That's why I'm glad I was born in that month.

Today I was invited to visit the motherhouse of our school's chaplain, who is a nun and also teaches Early Childhood Education classes. I've always, always wanted to visit a convent. She invited me to eat dinner there, with the 30 nuns, and visit their chapel. So, snow or not, I do have something to look forward to.

(Don't you wish I'd get snowed in at the convent?)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Walking on Water

My husband had a long weekend this week (we're still on it, in fact), and I hoped, as always, for adventure. But if an adventure doesn't involve shooting guns, he's not too into it. So we've been home, and there has been much reading and sleeping and watching movies. I think that's good, though. He won't have much more of that soon, and it's what makes him feel best.

But last night, magically, he agreed to join me and Tula on our evening walk downtown. Sackets Harbor is very pretty at night in the snow. We have faux-historic streetlights designed to glow softly as if they have flames inside, and they still have white Christmas lights wrapped around them also, as does the gazebo at the lake. Even though the snow is (sadly) melting, in the dark it still looks nice.

When we got to the lake, there were twinkling lights all across it, the crunching sounds of sleds being dragged across the ice, the voices of fishermen. And so we decided to walk our dog on the lake.

We didn't walk out far, even though the fishermen were spread all the way to Pillar Point (the village on the other side). So had we fallen through, we would have only been up to our hips or lower. But there was no way we were falling through. The lake has to be frozen at least five feet, Joe said.

It's a very strange thing to walk on a lake you've watched boats on all summer, for the boats to still be standing there, in fact, moored and with their masts clanging in the breeze. We were quiet, walking, though. You don't want to disturb fishermen, and I assume that means ice fishermen also.

Tula didn't know the difference. She smelled around in the snow out there and kept her footing even though there were places that were a little slick. But it wasn't as slick as I expected. There is still a little snow on it, so that gives traction. Sometimes I worried that I could fall through, but then I'd look over and notice the tracks where someone had ridden a four-wheeler out to his ice hut.

It was every bit as exciting as I expected, but I don't have the right words for it this morning. Still, I wanted you to know.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The ice did split with a thunder fit, the helmsman steered us through

I knew this day would come, but I hoped it wouldn't be so soon. No, Joe has not deployed. Tula has not died of eating something poison.

The snow has begun to melt.

It is 38 degrees, and I am HOT. The walkway is concrete, water and mud. I can once again see the doormat. Ice fisherman count: zero. Because the middle of the lake is water. The sidewalks are slush. I found someone's keys that had been lost in the snow because the snow melted away from them. They were in front of the pizza place, which was closed. I took them to the post office, and the woman there is going to put them in the pizza place mailbox with a note because she said they look like the restaurant keys.

The icicles have fallen off the house, and I didn't even get to hear the crash. I must have been asleep.

It's supposed to be above freezing for the next two days, so I figure we'll be rowing ourselves back and forth to town. The next chance of snow we have is next weekend, and it's only a 30 % chance and only for a little snow.

This is terrible! I was told we'd freeze in until April! Is it my lack of faith that has caused this warming?

Another terrible thing about the thaw is that it uncovered Tula's favorite morning walk treat: Poison berries. So I had to stop and fish them out of her mouth every few blocks while wearing mittens -- pleasant for neither of us. She was just so glad to see them again.

But now she's racing around with wet legs, which caused her to have a dramatic, whirling wreck with the recyling bin in the kitchen. I'm sitting here trying to get up and go to work. My boots are soaking wet. My coats are too hot.

We need a blizzard!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice

Our snow is still here, but there is no new snow.

I went to work today, to be trained as an advisor and prepare for the semester's classes. When I was leaving, I said, "See you tomorrow!" to the department secretary, and she said, "Maybe...Check the weather!" I wish it was because a blizzard was coming, but no: Ice.

I love snow. I love to look at ice. I do not love ice. Ice is dangerous. It hides. It trips you. It spins you.

On the other hand, it is what we skate on. It is what the ice fishermen fish on. It's what makes us able to walk across the lake.

But I don't like when it falls out of the sky. Unlike snow, ice hurts.

So, I hope I get to go to school tomorrow, drink tea out of my office cup, make my syllabi and lesson plans, eat candy with the secretary, get things done. I don't get things done at home. I blog. :)

But the ice may thwart me. We'll see.

I hope they are wrong. I hope it snows instead. We are running low.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How Do I Love Cocker Spaniels...

Let me count the ways...

1. They are beautiful to look at. I never thought I would care about that part of owning a dog, but it is gratifying to see a very elegant dog lying on the couch or running through the yard or trying to sneak onto the table to eat leftovers.

2. They are soft. That is actually the reason I wanted a dog in the first place. I was in the final throes of my dissertation when we got Tula. All my life seemed like hard angles and difficult things and guilt. Cocker spaniels are soft of fur and even of make; when you pick them up, they just fold up into a mass of curly fur like they don't have bones.

3. Their hair is fun to comb. I originally said "No dog who requires grooming!" But it turns out that, although I hated Barbies and other dolls whose hair needed combing, I love combing my dog's ears. It is satisfying to see her looking nice afterward, and it's even a fun challenge to convince her to let me keep doing it. I love how silky her ears get.

4. Every time you go to the groomer, you get a new dog. Seriously. We take her in a shaggy dog with whiskers, and she comes out a show dog. Or a skinny, spotted little shorn dog. Either way, it's like having a new dog every few months so we are never bored!

5. People stop me in the street to tell me my dog is beautiful. Again, this is something that shouldn't matter, and it doesn't -- but it is an extra perk. I'd planned on having a non-descript dog, but we got Tula. Now, I get to walk down the street saying, "Thank you! Yes, we love her." over and over.

6. Hers a sweet baby dogga! And that's an example of the new language we have developed. We only talk to cocker spaniels like that, so it must be the cocker spaniel language. The bad thing is that we sometimes talk in cocker spaniel for no reason, when there is no cocker spaniel with us. But it's funny.

7. They are fun, but hard, to take care of. I wanted a nondescript, healthy, boring dog who required little of me, but I got a cocker spaniel. They are not for everyone. They have to go to the vet for ear medicine quite often (about every 4-6 months in our case) and to the groomer about every other month. I thought I would HATE a dog like that, but it turns out that I like maintaining her many needs.

8. They aren't crazily hyperactive. At least ours is not. She sleeps about 16 hours a day. She'll play if we want to play. Sometimes she'll bring us toys because she wants to play. But for the most part, she just wants to lay around. Much like us.

9. They are smart. At least ours is. It was so easy to teach her to shake hands, sit, stay, roll over. I ought to teach her more things, but I don't know how. I'm not good with dog pedagogy.

10. They are just the right size. They aren't so small that they don't seem like real dogs, but they aren't so big that you have to have a huge house and yard for them. They are substantial, but not cumbersome.

11. They don't shed much. I thought for sure they would because they have so much hair, but ours doesn't. Of course, we keep her groomed pretty well. When she does shed, twice a year, she sheds in clumps instead of millions of hairs all over the place, and that's easy to clean up.

12. They are easy to please. At least Tula is, and I hear most are like this. Give her food, she's happy. Especially if it's your food.

13. They could be useful dogs. They were originally bred as bird dogs, and most can still do that work with the right training. I won't be hunting birds with mine, but it's nice to know I could have if I'd wanted to.

Five-Minute Blog: Dog Trails

One of the cutest things about living in this much snow is that everywhere I can see where dogs have been. Sometimes that is gross, but I don't mean the yellow snow. I mean their little footprints. There is an empty lot a few houses down from us, and it is criss-crossed with dog tracks. Some are so small the dogs must have been up to their bodies in snow (like our dog, Tula). Some are huge, and I think they come from the village's many big dogs.

Since this is a blog and I can ramble with impunity, let me get off on a side note: This village has really fancy dogs. I have never seen a dog here that I would call a "mutt." Some aren't purebred, but all are identifiable breeds. We even have some unusual ones: Near our old apartment was a house where three very cute French bulldogs lived. Someone around our neighborhood walks a Swiss Mountain Dog. There is a couple near the American Legion that has two Boxers. There's a house on the next block with two Westies. Our neighbor has a Pomeranian and a Labrador Retriever. Even we have a Cocker Spaniel. And the new people who just moved in at the end of the street and didn't even know about the Sackets Harbor Fancy Dog Rule just got a Springer Spaniel puppy.

But I guess you can expect this from a village that hosts a dog show.

We are thinking about getting a second dog. We've been thinking about it for a year. We do not make impulsive dog decisions. Our parents tell us we should not get a second dog, but we may ignore them. Joe's mother doesn't mind the idea of a second dog because she worries that Tula is lonely while we are at work. They have good, rational reasons for not wanting us to get a second dog: 1. It would be more expensive. 2. It would take up more room. 3. We'd have to board two dogs when we went anywhere. 4. Sometimes two dogs get into trouble. 5. The new dog may teach our good dog Tula bad habits.

Here are the reasons we may want the second dog, though:

1. It's kind of fun to spend money on a dog. I don't know why that is, but it's satisfying. We have good jobs, so we can afford it. Anyway, Tula doesn't cost that much, and she's a cocker spaniel, the most high maintenance dog there is. (In fact, I'm taking her to the vet today because I think she has an ear infection.)

2. It's fun to watch dogs interact. Unless we get our own dog, we will never see this because all my English-teaching friends have cats. (We'd have cats too if Joe wasn't allergic to them.) We barely like making friends as it is, much less making friends so our dogs could play.

3. A second dog might make Tula's weekdays more pleasant. She's alone for about eight hours while I'm at work. (Except for the middle of the day, when the dog walker -- yes, I said it -- dog walker comes to visit her.)

4. A second dog might make Tula's whole life more pleasant. Right now, she only has us, and we don't speak dog. We think about when we lived in Italy. I LOVED speaking Italian, but it was a struggle, even once I got relatively proficient. I couldn't ever say exactly what I meant, and I had to listen really hard to the other speaker. When Joe was gone and I spent a few days only speaking Italian, it was (I hate to admit) a relief to speak English on post or with the Nigerian peddlers who came around selling socks. Sometimes I think having a second dog would give Tula that feeling of speaking her own language, of being able to say entirely what she means.

5. Sleeping with Tula is my favorite part of having a dog. She is warm, and she is also very sweet to see first thing in the morning. It seems like two dogs to sleep with would be twice as warm and twice as sweet.

6. Tula may be a spoiled little pill. I'm not sure because we seldom have a dog with whom to compare her. It seems like a second dog would keep us from spoiling Dog 1 and making her bad. (For the record, we have different ways of spoiling Tula: Joe spoils her by giving her treats whenever she looks pitifully at him. I spoil her by carrying her to bed so she doesn't have to wake up.)

We are looking at a dog in Saratoga County. His name is Harris, and he is a pitiful black cocker spaniel. I'm going to e-mail his shelter today and ask more about him before we drive three hours to see a DOG. It's a scary thing to think about getting the second dog, though. What if we are wrong? What if the second dog makes us all miserable?

But what if he doesn't?

So, we may be making two sets of dog prints through the snow soon. We'll see.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ice Capades

All my life I have wanted to ice skate, but I am from rural Oklahoma. Not many people skate there. You'd think I would have tried it the minute I learned to drive, but I didn't. I don't know why. I love it -- watching it, reading about it, the very thought of what it might be like.

Mostly, I love women's figure skating, but I also like speed skating and ice dancing. I do not particularly like hockey, but I appreciate it (and I got to see Sweden vs. Latvia at the Olympics in Torino when I lived in Italy!). Anyway, I always imagined there would come a time when I would put on white leather ice skates with delicate silver blades and glide along like a ballerina in a fantasy sequence, my hair in a bun, my eyelashes long and glittery, my hands poised and beautiful and my whole self ethereal and perfect.

Finally, today, I got to try it! Of course I did not glide. I did not even wear white leather figure skates. The guy at the skate rental window suggested that we wear hockey skates for our first time out because they give you more ankle support, have wider blades, and don't have the tricky little grinding thing at the toe that causes inexperienced skaters to fall on their faces.

He was so smart. The hockey skates were not delicate and beautiful. In fact, they were black and clunky. But, amazingly, after a trip around the rink clinging to the rails, I started to figure out what to do. Mostly. All the things I'd read about figure skating as a 12-year-old and all the things I'd watched the other skaters on the rink do came together, and I was able to at least stay upright and moving, even around the corners.

I feared false confidence, and so I tried to focus on what I was doing at every moment. But sometimes I would forget, and for a minute I'd just be skating. Then I'd be amazed that I was ice skating! Then I would remember to pay attention. But I would forget again and skate. In my imagination, I was moving along smoothly, but when I dared to check my reflection in the plexiglass hockey walls, I looked stiff and uncertain. So I quit checking and imagined I looked at least like a person not worth watching, an okay skater, someone having a casual day on the ice.

Joe was a good skater, of course. He's good at everything, and he's also brave. He went out away from the rail after awhile, even out to the middle where there was nothing to grab if he started to fall. He didn't love ice skating as much as I did, but he didn't complain. He said he can see how it would be fun if you were able to go really fast. I'm sure he'd be able to go fast with just a little more practice. I don't know if I can convince him to skate again, though.

I am very sad to find out that the ice rink is only open until March. I don't see why it can't be open all year, but I figure it closes because people here get tired of ice really quickly. Once there is not ice outside, they probably don't want to see it inside either. Anyway, I'm going to try to take advantage of the rink while it is open. I'm thinking about hiring a teacher so I can learn the basics of figure skating. I don't have to do jumps. I'd be happy with the very least of the things the ice dancers do -- going around the rink on one leg with my arms open joyously to the world: That would be good.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Snow Anxiety

Some girls have really bad luck with guys. They fall in love, get their hearts broken, fall in love, get their hearts broken, fall in love, etc. Understandably, when they finally find the good, right person for them, they can't relax and enjoy the love because they keep thinking it will be yanked out from under them.

I have been luckier than those girls. With one glaring exception, I have only ever been loved by gentlemen, and I've been the heartbreaker more than the heartbreakee (which is no fun either, but that's for another, more serious blog that will never be written).

Anyway, what I mean to say is that I'm like those unlucky girls when it comes to this snow. I am from eastern Oklahoma. When we get snow, it's a big event. But two days later, it's gone -- turned to mud, and in the evening, dangerous black ice. In Oklahoma, you can't waste a moment of your precious snow because it'll be gone in a few days. Every year, this happens --the heartbreak of the snow melting before I've really gotten to enjoy it. And some terrible years, the snow never arrives.

So, like the girl who can't believe "I'll love you forever," I can't believe, "This snow is going to last until April." And, like those poor girls, I become clingy and neurotic with the snow.

Every morning I look out the blinds to see if it's still there. And when it is, I am happy and surprised. This morning, I am even happier and more surprised because not only is the snow still there, but more is coming down!

But here's where I turn into the heartbroken girls again: It's not enough. The snowflakes seem really small and sparse. I'm standing in almost knee-deep snow, in probably 19 degree weather, worrying that these little flakes won't be enough to sustain it. I went out to the lake and worried because I saw no ice fishermen. Was my first thought, "Oh, the ice fishermen aren't college professors, so they are probably at work here in the middle of the week"? No. My first, neurotic thought was, "The lake is melting! Nooooo!!!"

Every day that I don't go walking in the snowy woods, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, or any of the other things you do in snow, I am certain I've lost my only chance for it. I look out the window all day and monitor the state of the icicles on my eaves. When they start dripping, my first instinct may be to write bad poetry in a journal with skulls on the cover, since I can't call the snow every ten minutes and ask if we're okay.

The people here don't understand this relationship, naturally. True love is always misunderstood. They take their snow for granted. They snowblow it. They curse it. They move away to Florida for the winter. But I know our relationship is fleeting. One day, I'll be back in the land of black ice and sleet, and this snow will keep on falling every winter like it never knew me. Sigh.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wasting the Snow

For some reason, I have just wasted so much time ever since we got back to NY. I've spent two whole days just sitting around, going on Facebook, reading this and that...I'm running out of Christmas break, and I need to take advantage of what little time I have left before the onslaught of students.

Today, I was going to walk out to the lake, play some music, maybe go to town and take my library books back, find the new yoga studio, see what the snow in Watertown looks like...But all I've done today is take Tula walking out to the lake. And read, get on Facebook, put some laundry in, put some dishes in the dishwasher, a little housecleaning of various sorts...the house looks like I haven't touched it, but I have. Nothing I do seems to make a difference.

The lake was interesting, though. There were two ice fishing huts on it, and some of the guys had ridden out to theirs on a four-wheeler. There were several guys on the lake -- about six that I could see, but there may have been more in the huts. They were talking, walking here and there like they weren't on Lake Ontario. It's so neat to me that the lake freezes that hard. I will walk out on it myself one of these days, when I'm sure that's a good idea and I don't have Tula with me. I'm waiting until a local person tells me I should do it.

I'm told they haul houses over the ice of the St. Lawrence River. I want to go watch that very much. I'm not sure how you find out when it's happening, though. Nor am I sure where I go to learn how to cross-country ski. I want to do that too.

They tell me this snow will last until April, but every morning, I look out to see if it's melted. I guess I'm used to Oklahoma snow, which messes with your heart by disappearing overnight. Cold is bearable when there is snow. Muddy, icy cold is not fun.

The Army has been keeping Joe at work until 7 p.m. since we got here, so I have the whole day in which to do things, but I don't have him to play with in the evening. He gets home just in time to eat dinner and go to bed. So I need to use the days wisely, and I haven't been. To be fair, I am sick and don't feel like running around much. (It's not a real sickness; I've been to the doctor. I have medicine. I'll be well in a few days.) But I could use them to clean house, to play guitar, write songs, write books...instead I wander from thing to thing, and none of it is satisfying. I want to be out in the snow and not feel guilty about my lonely little dog.

But I can't do that tomorrow. Tomorrow, I have adviser training at school. It's good, though, that I have something that reminds me I ought to be making lesson plans instead of sitting around. And Friday, I have no work.

Today is the day La Befana comes with presents for the children of northern Italy. It is the day me and Joe usually celebrate instead of Christmas, because there is no sacred moment during the actual Christmas break. But he's at work late, and we knew he would be. So, no plans. I'll make some soup, and we'll celebrate this weekend if he feels like it.

I sound like I'm complaining, but I don't mean to. You should SEE our snow. It's amazing. I hope it stays until summer!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Some Things I Learned Today

1. Shoveling snow is an art.

2. Moving snow off a car whose paint you don't want to scratch is a meditative experience.

3. The important part of moving snow off a car is having good gloves. I do not have good gloves yet.

4. Pushing a grocery cart through snow is comical. And hard.

5. The inventor of the long-handled ice scraper deserves a medal.

6. Ice scrapers that you get for free from the bank are okay for Oklahoma, but they are laughable in upstate New York.

7. There is a reason for the metal blade at the edge of the snow shovel.

8. If you leave cans of Coke in a frozen car, they will explode.

9. If I go to the grocery store without a list, I end up eating hummus and rosemary-flavored Triscuits for dinner.

10. Cocker spaniels look good in tiny little Arkansas Razorback sweatshirts.

Septic Tank, Round 4

I am writing this from the living room while Tula sits on top of her crate and tries not to bark at the septic tank guys, who are once again in our crawl space. These are two different guys -- the fourth set of guys who have come to deal with our main-line problem. But they seem to think it will be over once they are finished. I sure hope so!

Not that I don't enjoy having plumbers and septic tank guys around. They've all been nice, professional people, and it's interesting to see people do work they are knowledgeable about. I just don't like being trapped in the house or having to put on real clothes during Christmas break. I have very luxurious problems, for which I am grateful.

On another note, it is snowing again! It is light, fluffy snow, not big flakes, but it is adding to the pile. My New York friends put sad notes on their Facebook updates about how they wish it would stop snowing. Meanwhile, I have named a blog after my favorite thing about upstate New York -- nonstop snow! I hope I am not like those people who move to Oklahoma and can't wait to see a tornado. I can't stand those people.

The snow is now up to the tops of my boots, I think. I've only been in the backyard this morning, and I think it's deeper back there for some reason. Once the tank guys have gone, I'll take Tula on a proper walk and find out. I may take the ruler and get a real measurement...but I'm not sure I want to know the real measurement. If it's small, I'll be disappointed. I'm already kind of sorry we've moved too close to the lake to get the kind of snow that covers the windows of houses.

Tula is laying on top of her dog crate, still. Her eyes are half-closed, but she's waiting for the septic tank guys to make a noise that doesn't sound enough like work to her. I'm not so paranoid. I'm looking through the skylight at the new snow, hoping it won't stop for days.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The ice was here, the ice was there...

Finally, I was able to walk Tula downtown to see if Lake Ontario was frozen. Friends and neighbors, it is more than frozen: It is frozen, and there is snow on top of it! And on top of the ice and snow was a MAN, cutting a hole with a saw. He is fishing out there in the middle of the lake. I wish I could have walked out on the lake too, but I know fishermen. I know they don't like noise disturbing their fish. I am a little noisy, and Tula barks at most strangers these days. But next time I go to the lake, I'm going to walk on it. I'm not walking out to the middle, even though people do that. I'll just walk out a little way, where if the ice did happen to break, I'd only be up to my knees in freezing cold water.

I learned something important on this walk: Don't dress too warmly or you'll be miserable. I had on my Gulf Shores Beach Bum t-shirt, SUNY Jefferson sweatshirt, red fleece, scarf, down-filled coat, Razorback knit cap, gloves, longjohns, jeans, two pairs of socks and fur-lined snow boots. By the end of my block, I was sweating. I guess that's better than freezing, but not by much! Next time, I'll layer with more breathable fabrics and see how that goes. It's noon; I think I was dressed for morning or night.

Tula had on the new leopard-print coat with fringes that my sisters-in-law made for her. She was very stylish, and apparently warm. She ran ahead of me on the leash, burying her head in snow every few steps. I carried her across the roads because the road salt isn't good for her paws. On one trip, I dropped my hat (I'd taken it off; I'm sure my hair was pretty after that). When I got to the other side of the road, a woman was there. She admired Tula and offered to hold her while I went back across the road for my hat. Tula, thankfully, was well-behaved and sweet.

It was fun to meet other people walking around in the snow. People were out going to the library (the woman who held Tula had a bag of new library books), walking to the grocery store, gleefully using their snowblowers. Nobody seems sad about this snow like they did about the last one. Maybe because it is so deep and beautiful and didn't come with raging winds.

The men here seem to love their snowblowers. I don't blame them. I can hardly wait to try ours out. The men get out there with the blowers and clear the whole village, not just the sections in front of their houses. They wave at each other, make jokes, have driveways that look like parking lots. All the elderly people also have nice, clear driveways and walkways to their mailboxes because the men come by and do that for them.

This is a very nice place. Summer here is very beautiful and full of flowers, and winter is a marshmallow world of sparkling eaves and men who walk on water.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Snow Shoveling!

We drove from Oklahoma to Terre Haute, Indiana on New Year's Day, and we had a late check-out, so we didn't get back on the road to New York until 2 p.m. But it was fun, as driving across the country always is. We had clear weather all the way to Ohio. I started driving then, and Joe slept. I listened to my Arkansas Razorbacks win the Liberty Bowl by a field goal and drove through episodes of blowing snow followed by regular snow followed by nothing and back again.

By Pennsylvania, there was more regular snow, and Joe took over driving again. By New York, there was serious snow, and it was hard to see. We got behind a semi and followed its flashing lights at 30 miles an hour from about Buffalo to Syracuse. You couldn't go faster than that because it was almost impossible to see the road...but somehow, it wasn't really scary. At Syracuse, the snow got a little better and we passed the truck. I didn't think that was wise, but Joe was, as usual, right. We were able to go 40 mph from Syracuse to Watertown and could see Highway 81 pretty well. Anyway, it's a straight line to Watertown. It was strangely invigorating, but we were worn out the minute we got into our own bed at 5 a.m.

We got up at 1:30 this afternoon. I made oatmeal, blueberry muffins, bacon and hard-boiled eggs for breakfast, and we sat around wasting time all day. They let Joe call in instead of coming into post, so we didn't ever have to leave the house.

This evening, I couldn't stand not getting out in our big snow any longer, so I shoveled a path from the front door to the truck. I love shoveling snow! I know it wouldn't be fun if I had to do it or if we had a longer driveway, but happily, that's not the case. It was very satisfying, like playing with clay. The best part of shoveling snow is that it shows you how high your snow is. Ours is almost up to the top of the new snow boots that Yahnah got me for Christmas. Tula leaps through it with only her head showing when she lands. I wish we could trust her on a leash because I can tell she'd love to run through it, but she won't come back when we call.

Anyway, I had to stop shoveling after awhile because I'm out of shape. I took Tula on a little walk up the street, and when we got back, I could hardly tell Joe our adventures because my lips were numb. I am excited for tomorrow, when I can shovel better and more. We might get the snowblower out also.

Maybe I will get tired of this eventually, but I can't imagine that. I look forward to a long, snowy, inconvenient, magnificent winter!