Taking the best of the blizzard

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On Saturday, the mail didn’t come.

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After round one of the blizzard, my son’s car was almost covered with snow.

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After round two, the blizzard won. There were reports of the blizzard collapsing roofs.

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It took 4 hours to shovel out after the first round.

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We had to shovel out twice after that. Tonight my son is digging out his car.

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Climbing snow drifts is a good workout.

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This has been the 2nd biggest snowstorm ever recorded in our area. The biggest snowstorm recorded occurred back in the 1800’s, before anyone now living was even born.

This might be the biggest storm of my lifetime.

It is exciting to be a part of history.

Although, at this point, I just want winter to be over.

Blizzard blues

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It’s the third day of the blizzard now.

Yesterday it took my husband and son 4 hours to shovel out the driveway.

It is very likely that we are going to break the record of the biggest blizzard ever recorded in Wisconsin. This is the biggest snowstorm I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. By the time it is all said and done, we should have at least 3 ft of snow on the ground.

We have 30 mph sustained winds with gusts around 50 mph. It sounds like a freight train out there. Or maybe the roar of waves during a storm.

I awoke during the night to what sounded like distant sirens. I can’t even explain it. I don’t think I’ve heard it before, the howling wail.

I felt anxiety earlier in the day. Saturday is my long run day. I have a hard time with forced relaxation and sitting still. I finished my jigsaw puzzle, did a couple loads of laundry, and cleaned the kitchen.

Last night we received notification that there was an emergency code red. There is a tow ban, which means if you get stuck you won’t be getting out. We could get ticketed for going out. The roads are open for emergency only.

I had a hard time winding down to go to sleep because I felt the panic of being trapped surge within me. I was exhausted, but anxious and worried at the same time.

Isn’t it strange how anxiety works? I felt utterly exhausted, but had this useless nervous energy that wouldn’t let me relax and go to sleep. It would be great if I could write brilliant words or something along those lines. It is good for nothing, except running which I couldn’t do. The gym was closed.

I feel better with the morning light. Maybe it is good sometimes to try to relax, even if it is something I am not good at.

I’ve decided to take photos and document the biggest blizzard I will probably see in my lifetime. I will share the best with you after this storm is done.

Until then, I don’t want to hear anybody complain about how hot it is. I don’t want to see pictures of smiling people in shorts next to flowers.

I guess you could say I have the blizzard blues. Maybe I should write a song about it, I have enough time. School will probably be closed tomorrow. I doubt I will be able to get to work.

I might have enough time to dust off my summer clothes. Maybe I could crank the furnace to 80 and set up a beach towel on the carpet.

Or maybe I should cut down the snowy pine and call it Christmas.

I’m sick with spring fever. I’m going stir crazy.

Blizzard half time report

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It started yesterday.

It was mainly rain at first, heavy rain.

It puddled in pools in the parking lot.

Then there was the ping of ice on the windowpane.

I couldn’t stay warm.

We went to see Arabella perform in her high school play.

Claps of thunder rattled through the auditorium.

I wondered if the lights would go out from the tempest that raged outside as the drama unfolded on stage.

I left the school and entered into a swirling snow globe.

Cold ice pellets slid down my back through the gap the wind found in my coat.

The snow obstructed my view making it hard to find the path back home.

I awoke this morning to the mighty roar of the north wind.

I won’t make it to the gym today.

Wisconsin is closed for the weekend.

Overnight and into the day, 17 inches of snow came our way.

We are half way done now.

We are bracing for round two.

We are expecting 2 to 3 feet before this storm is through…

How is spring going for you??

Sprinter

Judging by the title, you might be tempted to think this post is about running. But I hate sprinting almost as much as I hate this sprinter.

I’ve heard this spring is referred to now as sprinter because winter has been hanging around too long at the end.

Last week we got over a foot of snow. We had one massive snowfall and very brief periods of heavy snow on a couple of other days. It’s been so cold and windy that I was tempted to cut down a Christmas tree for Easter.

I heard we broke a record for snowfall amounts in April. We also broke a couple of records older than me for record low high temps. On some days our high temperatures should’ve been our low temps for this time of year. So far we are expecting a 6 inch winter mix this next weekend. Seriously, we already broke the sprinter record. Why not call it quits? The only med(t)al you are going to get will be from the back of my shovel.

My car got stuck in the driveway at work. The snow was up to the bottom of my car. There was no way I was going to be able to drive through it. My husband said that my car was not made for Wisconsin winters. I agreed. I think I need a car for every season. I could have a 4WD Jeep for winter. In the summer, I would have a convertible. In the fall, I would buy an old VW robin egg blue hippie van for road tripping. I picture myself wearing vintage 60’s clothing as I am checking out the fall colors on Route 66…My husband said that probably won’t be happening anytime soon..Oh well.

The weather has brought about other repercussions. Our kids ran out of allotted snow days at school. Now they have to go to school 10 minutes earlier for the rest of the school year. It was that or have a week off for summer break. We’d also have to hope the week they had off was actually summer like. Okay, I may be exaggerating a bit…but I do remember a time where we had 6 inches of snow in the middle of May.

I spent sleepless nights wondering if the school bus would be 10 minutes early. Would my daughter roll out of bed right as the bus showed up? How will I get them out of bed earlier? I think my son was late for school today. He is always late. I told him last week that he would probably be late for his own funeral. Personally, I don’t care when he dies as long as he has given me many opportunities to roll over in my grave before he joins me at the pearly gates.

On days that school is off, my autistic brother Matt does not go to his workshop for the disabled. Apparently, however, he got picked up from his group home and was dropped off at the workshop. All of the doors were locked and he was left out all alone in the cold blustery snow. He wandered around for awhile outside in the cold until he found a business that was open. He went inside and told the lady at the front desk that he needed help.

Thankfully, he ended up being okay. It could’ve turned out worse. He could’ve froze to death out in the cutting cold north wind and blowing snow. I felt angry at the incompetence of my brother’s caregivers. What a bunch of idiots.

How can you feel good about dropping off a disabled person at a place where there aren’t any cars and the lights are all out during a snowstorm?? I’ll dump this guy off in the snow bank and be home in time to watch Family Feud. My brother doesn’t have a cell phone and has a hard time communicating with the people he knows.

Maybe something good will come out of it. Maybe the drivers will be required to make sure their disabled passengers get inside wherever they are going.

This past weekend I helped my uncle transplant at his greenhouse. I wasn’t allowed to touch the plants because I have been known to kill them. Instead I stuck labels in front of the plants like a tombstone in the cold dirt. The flowers smelled so nice and the greenhouse was so warm and sunny, like summer. I didn’t even mind all of the sneezing! For a few brief moments, I almost felt happy.

I hope this sprinter will morph into a full on marathon of summer.

Soon, I hope! I can’t keep going at this pace much longer..

That bites!

I feel overwhelmed by the busyness at work. I like being busy, but I don’t like feeling like I can’t keep up. Paul and I have been working hard together, alone. We have been arguing for days. It seems like the stress is bringing out the extremes in our personalities and right now we clash. I have been holding myself tight and my body aches from it more than it does from a 12 mile run.

There is no sanctuary.

At home, my pets still have fleas. They are licking and scratching themselves until they bleed. It disgusts me. I don’t want them around me. They sit in my chair and scratch. I can’t relax. I feel crawly when I sit down. I can’t stand to be in my house. It is unnerving.

The vet said there was nothing I could do, that I might still see a few fleas all winter even after treatment. I never would’ve guessed that something like this could happen. Was it the unseasonably warm fall temperatures??

I blame myself. My husband asked me why I blame myself for situations I have no control over. I really don’t know why.

If only I would have treated the pets a few weeks back when I suspected but didn’t find anything. I only put flea treatments on my pets if I have to. Maybe I was wrong.

I have been strongly indoctrinated as a child that the use of any chemicals was wrong. My autistic brother Matt was supposedly allergic. We weren’t allowed to wear bug spray. My brothers and dad had to take down wasps nests with the end of a rake and run or spray them with a hose. Chemicals were not allowed. Instead of weed killer, we put cement blocks on weeds to kill them.

I am not that extreme, but it is hard to change my mindset.

The one thing I am excited about is picking Angel up from college for winter break. We are heading out to pick her up this weekend and then having a family Christmas party at my brother Luke’s house.

We are also supposed to get a snow storm this weekend. We are expecting a foot of snow. After it is done snowing, we will have strong winds and dangerously cold temps. This is going to make the 6 hour drive downright treacherous for us.

Why can’t my life ever be boring!??!!!!!

Regardless, it is certain to give me something interesting to write about!

Travel woes, just trying to get there

You may or may not have noticed that I took a week off from my travel series. I took time off from writing about traveling to actually travel. We decided to take one last family vacation to Florida before my oldest child graduates this year. The trip down to Florida and what happened at the end of the trip was so horrible that I am still upset about it. I decided to vent about my woes with you today and then write about the trip (which went great) in another post.  

Last week my mom, husband, 3 kids, and I flew out of Milwaukee with Delta to meet up with my brother Luke and his family in Orlando. We were not able to get a direct flight to Orlando and had an hour layover in Detroit. Our flight ended up being delayed in Milwaukee because someone over fueled the plane which caused us to exceed our weight limit. Eleven people needed to give up their seats due to this. They also had to get a large hose to remove some of the fuel. When we were finally able to board they still needed to de-ice the plane which took a long time because they ran out of de-icer. It took an hour before we were finally able to leave. At this point, the flight attendant assured us that if we had a connecting flight they were aware of our situation and would most likely wait for us.

We ended up landing a few minutes before our next flight was scheduled to depart. We ran across the airport as fast as we could and got to our gate two minutes after our flight was supposed to leave. We arrived to the gate just as our plane was leaving. They could not wait for us for 2 minutes!! Then we were herded into a long line of passengers from our plane. At least 20 people that were sitting near us missed their connecting flights. After waiting in line for what seemed like forever, we were able to talk to an agent that barely spoke English. He said that the only way he would be able to get all six of us to Orlando together was if we took a connecting flight to Boston. At this point, I was extremely angry. He wanted to direct us into Boston right around the time that the east coast was supposed to be hit by a blizzard. I pictured my family being stuck in the weather that we were trying to escape from. You didn’t want to hear the words that seeped out of my lips.

He booked us on the flight to Boston which we cancelled. Then he tried to get us all on the earliest flight available closest to Orlando. He had a few seats available but by the time he tried to type all of our names in the seats were gone. The best he could do was get an 8 PM flight to Tampa for my mom and Paul. He was able to get the kids and I on an 8 PM flight to Jacksonville. I would arrive in Jacksonville at 11 PM then have to somehow find a rental car to drive 2 1/2 hours in the middle of the night with 3 kids on roads I’ve never driven on to get to the house that we rented. You would think that they would agree to pay for the extra rental car to get us there. Nope, they told us that the flight was delayed due to weather and that they would not cover that additional cost. The delay was NOT weather related.

We noticed a half an hour later that another flight was leaving for Orlando. We decided to run across the airport to try to be on stand by for that flight. When we got there, they made the announcement that they were overbooked and were looking for volunteers to take another flight. That wasn’t going to work. We saw another flight leaving for Tampa in 30 minutes all the way across the airport. So once again, Paul and I ran as fast as we could with 3 children and a senior citizen with all of our carry on bags across the airport. When we got there, the Tampa flight was boarding. They told us that we needed to talk to customer service to be added to the stand by list. We went where they directed us to go and no one was there. When we found where we needed to go, we had to wait in line for 10 minutes to speak to someone. When we explained our situation, the woman told us that she needed to leave for her lunch break and directed us to talk to someone on the phone. While Paul was speaking to someone on the phone, my daughter called me in a panic to say that the flight was about ready to leave. We missed the opportunity to catch that flight.

Then we went across the airport again to get on stand by for the next flight to Orlando at 5:30 PM. It was at this time that I switched the Orlando rental car that I booked over to Tampa. I made several other troubleshooting and problem solving calls. I was so angry that I wanted to take my carry on backpack and slam it into the garbage bins to knock them over. I don’t think that I ever swore so much in my entire life. I don’t know what it is about yanking around people’s schedules (while feeling a total lack of control) that can turn reasonably sane people into raging bulls, but it does.

I will be totally honest with you right now, I am terrified of flying. Every little bit of turbulence, I agonize that the plane is crashing. I usually pop a couple of anxiety pills and sleep most of the flight arriving in a comatose state. Paul usually has to make sure that I get to wherever I need to be safely. I read everything that I could about flying to try to get over my fear. I read that planes don’t crash due to turbulence. Most planes crash during take off or landing. Thanks, now that scares the hell out of me too. I am afraid of dying. The thought of falling terrifies me. I feel trapped with a total loss of control while flying. My life is in the hands of some pilot that I don’t even know. You say that flying is safer than driving? Well, that scares me too. I spent a good deal of my life struggling with driving anxiety. I told Paul that I didn’t think that I could handle flying and then driving 2 1/2 hours after being awake 20 hours. He did everything that he could to make sure that the kids and I were on that next flight to Orlando. At the very last second, the person at the desk was able to get the kids and I on the flight. I told Paul to make sure that if they couldn’t get my luggage on that they would send it to Tampa. I had to fly totally alert and unmedicated ridden with anxiety.

Once we landed, I got the message that Paul and my mom were able to get an earlier flight to Tampa. They said that my luggage was in Orlando. My youngest two kids were fighting and touching the luggage carousel. I was just about going crazy, but I was there. My luggage never came out and I panicked. It turns out that they set some of the luggage to the side. Then, due to miscommunication, my brother did not know that he had to pick us up at the airport. We sat at the airport another hour waiting for him. Finally we got to our rental house after 10 PM. My mom and Paul ended up getting there at 11:30 PM.

It was a rough start to our vacation. I am glad that we were able to get there the same day. All of the stress could have been avoided if some idiot did not over fuel our plane. I don’t think I would have been quite as angry if we didn’t watch our connecting flight leave two minutes after the scheduled departure time without us.  Running back and forth across the airport with 3 kids and my mom was extremely stressful as well. I am thinking about writing Delta a letter. Unfortunately, our arrival back home was just as horrible and that had nothing to do with Delta. I will tell you about that next, this post is long enough already.

 

The travel diaries, Jamaica

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Paul and I stayed in Jamaica at the gorgeous Sandals Whitehouse Resort for our 10th anniversary. Besides my 20 minutes in Canada, it was my first time out of the country. It was Paul’s first time on an airplane. This is a picture of the island taken from our hotel window.

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The most adventurous part of the trip was simply getting there. I picked Paul up after work on a Wednesday evening. We had plans to stay at a hotel the evening before and fly direct the following morning. Our 2 hour drive to a direct flight turned into a 5 hour drive due to a snowstorm. The first half we drove snow free, the second half was downright treacherous. We had to drive through blizzard conditions the rest of the way. We saw multiple accidents, drove around jack knifed semis, and cars in the ditch. The highway was down to one unplowed lane. Every so often the snow whipped around in front of the truck so hard that our headlights would flicker off. We spent hours driving in the dark through white out conditions wondering if we were going to be able to stay on the road and oftentimes finding ourselves veering off. Nearby highways were shut down.

We drove through two feet of snow that evening in very windy conditions. When we finally got to the hotel, nothing was plowed out and we couldn’t tell which parking spaces were occupied. Management was fluttering around in a fury of flurries trying to figure out what to do. They ended up telling us to park anywhere. I had to take a picture of Paul in the snow to show what he had to drive through.

Our flight ended up being delayed the following morning, but we decided to go to the airport early anyway. Last minute Paul forgot to pack his tennis shoes, so I grabbed a pair from home and apparently grabbed the wrong ones. Just before we hit security, Paul exclaimed that I brought his old shoes, the ones that he put a screw in to hold the bottom flap together. (Cheapskates, remember?) So here we are trying desperately to get the screw out of his shoe before we hit security trying not to look suspicious. Talk about having a few screws loose!  We were really frazzled. Finally, after a 5 hour delay, we were able to fly out. We finally made it to our resort in Jamaica at 10 PM on Thursday.

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Finally we were at our resort and could relax a little. When we went, the resort was very new and in immaculate condition. The staff took very good care of the property and even raked the beach every morning. We were in paradise. We took some dance lessons, sang at the martini piano bar, went snorkeling, and spent most of our time at the beach. The staff was personable and the food was good.

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This is one of my all time favorite pictures of myself surrounded by the beauty of the island’s colorful flowers and plants. Especially since it was twenty below at home and our plants were dead, dormant and/or brown. We went in February and the temperature was absolutely perfect with highs around 80 without a lot of humidity.

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Unfortunately, we did not have a lot of time to explore the culture outside of the resort. The beach was rugged outside of the resort grounds. We had to sign out of the resort before we left because at that point we were on our own and the resort was not responsible for our safety. This was a little unnerving so we didn’t stay away too long being very inexperienced travelers at the time.

Monday morning we were on our way back home. We were loaded up in a van for the hour and a half drive to the airport. Now if you are ever thinking of visiting Jamaica, let me give you a little forewarning about their roads. Our one and a half lanes at home are like two lanes for them. There are often animals and people along the road. They do not have traffic lights or stop signs as far as I am aware of, even in the city. The main roads were in very poor condition with a lot of potholes. It seems to work out for them, but was very scary for us. There was a woman that started screamed as we passed a truck up a hill and came inches from knocking a bicyclist off the hill. Made me have a new appreciation for our roads, even with the road construction.

On the trip back, we saw school children in uniforms walking to school, a man washing his clothes in a stream, and just the every day flow of how the people lived. For the most part, the people seemed to be happy. We really enjoyed our time there. It would have been nice to interact more with the people outside of the resort and learn more about their culture. If there is anything that I would recommend to a new traveler, it is to stay for a whole week if at all possible. We only had three full days to explore the island and that wasn’t enough.

I would recommend a vacation to Jamaica. It is relatively affordable. Sandals resorts are great, it is all inclusive including transportation to and from the airport. We were able to try some new fruits that we don’t have at home. I fell in love with eating papayas.  I was able to relax and reconnect with Paul in the slow pace under the warm sun. The constant reggae beat was calming. We listened to local radio stations in our room and I really miss the uniqueness of their music. If I went back, I would take some tours and immerse myself in the culture more. What a lovely place.

Then just like that our vacation was over. We went back to the hotel and picked up our truck which was parked sideways in the parking lot. We smiled through construction. We thought of the Jamaicans that have never seen snow who thought our snow looked like sand on a beach. It is amazing what a few days in the sun away from  everyday life stressors can do. But the best part of the trip was that we fell in love all over again.