Life at 50 below

The last few days the wind chills were 50 below. That is a whole whopping 80 degrees below freezing. Have you ever wondered what it is like to live in a cold climate? Maybe you already do and we can commiserate together.

It is not terribly unusual for us to face subzero temperatures in a normal Wisconsin January. We are so used to it that the schools only close if it is 35+ below zero and we get over 6 inches of snow.

This week was rather extreme though even for us.

On Monday, we received a foot of snow. On Tuesday, the wind chills were around 25 below. Paul was in a hurry to plow out the driveway before it got cold out. He had some problems with the plow on the 4 wheeler and was asked to plow out a friend that just had surgery and my parents. After Paul got the plow fixed, he was able to plow everyone else out before the wind chill warning.

The kids had off of school Monday, Wednesday, and today.

Tuesday night Arabella and I had play practice. I drove to practice on the highway through the blowing and drifting snow. The snowplows put salt on the roads but it was too cold to melt the ice properly. There were patches of black ice on the highway that took my car towards the ditch. The ditches were already littered with cars and I passed a truck that just went in. I knew this because his lights were still on. I heard that there was a tow ban.

We made it home safely. I wore my goose down jacket, hat, mittens, and two sweaters. My son had a few friends over and they came over without coats and in shorts. They are so cool!

I was planning on working out Wednesday morning, but stayed home to man the fires instead. We have a very large old house. We wanted to keep the house warm without spending a fortune.

Although I sometimes want to spend more time at home, there is nothing glamorous about being trapped in your house when you don’t want to be. I decided to clean my kitchen washing the refrigerator and microwave.

The kids complained about how bored they were and I threatened to tell them about winters in the 1980’s. I wondered how our ancestors made it through the winter without modern conveniences like electricity and heat.

I kept the fires going all afternoon, stoking them every 20 minutes. I curled up on the couch with my cat and wrote a couple more chapters in my book. I listened to the wind howl and whip around the fresh snow. The sunshine glared brightly making it seem warm outside, tempting me to be lured out in the cold.

I looked at pictures on Facebook of tropical places, like Texas. A friend from Texas showed pictures of herself running outside in the frigid temps of 40 degrees. Jealousy stabbed me. To be able to run outside again! I would’ve been happy to be able to make it to the gym. But our world was shut down, even the postal workers didn’t deliver mail yesterday.

I went to sleep late last night checking to make sure that the dog was safely inside in his bed. I worried about the farmers and their livestock. The schools were closed and multiple businesses too. I even heard on Facebook that in WI some of the bars were closed.

I awoke early to the smell of smoke. Was my house on fire? There was a purple haze lingering in the air and a strong smell of smoke. We turned on the industrial dehumidifier to suck out the smoke which caused the boiler that heats our pool to error out and shut down from the cold air pouring in on it. We turned on the fans to get the smoke out. One of the vents was frozen and Paul used a small heater to thaw it out. The vent for the dehumidifier froze open. Paul ran outside to shove some old towels in the vent to keep out the cold air which caused thawing water to drip on electrical cords and outlets.

My parents lost power in their house today. Their house cooled down quickly which is tough since our furnaces cannot keep up running constantly when the power is on. I can’t wait to get our gas bill for this polar vortex.

It was another cold day, but I had to venture out to the gym. Thankfully it was open, although they reduced their hours.

Is it almost spring yet??

Although I complain, there is something beautiful about winter. There is nothing like curling up by the fire on a very cold day snuggled in blankets. The snow on the trees is breathtaking. There aren’t any bugs.

This weekend we are going to have a heat wave. It will be a balmy 40 degrees. Time to finally dust off those cross country skis! The guys will be heading to the lake to ice fish.

We are hardy people, we will make it through..

 

 

 

Goal 7: Finish strong with parenting and be an enjoyable life partner.

Winter has finally arrived in Wisconsin. Yesterday we received a foot of snow and the next two days we will have wind chill warnings of 35 to 50 below zero. Maybe I will be able to dust off my cross country skis after all.

It has been hard to work out lately. Not only has it been impossible to exercise outside, it has been hard to get to the gym.

Yesterday school was cancelled. Today the kids had school. Some are already cancelling for tomorrow. The roads have been treacherous, but we carry on because this is where we live.

The final countdown is on. Alex has less than 4 months now until graduation. He passed all of his classes and signed up to go to tech school this fall. I have been very excited about the positive changes but there have been a few slip ups. Alex still is consistently late for school. It hasn’t been easier since we moved further away. Plus the weather has been bad and last week he had car trouble. I think a lot of his problems would be solved if he just got up 10 minutes earlier.

Arabella is no better when it comes to timeliness. Angel always had to be 10 minutes early which caused a lot of fighting among the siblings when she drove the kids to school. As a parent, sometimes you just can’t win.

Next year we are planning on hosting a foreign exchange student. Then for her senior year, Arabella wants to be a foreign exchange student. We would love to visit her and watch her graduate in a foreign country.

But after this parenting gig is all over, Paul and I will be on our own too. We weren’t even married for a year before our first baby came along. I want to be the life partner that is enjoyable to be with. Right now it seems like all of our focus is on problem solving and dealing with all of the change in our life. We concern ourselves with the urgent but not necessarily the most important.

Life is always a work in progress. My goal is to finish strong and keep working on my relationships. Instead of trying to change others, I need to change me. That has been a difficult realization to make. I need to be the change I want to see in the world. I can’t fix others.

Oh, and the next couple of days it will be colder here than in Antarctica. Maybe visiting all 7 continents wouldn’t be so bad after all. I am getting used to this now. I have to admit, it is very beautiful watching the swirling snow fall.

Time to update my bucket list and start working on my goals.

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??

The ice shove

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As you may have guessed, running and writing are two of my favorite hobbies.

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I also love photography and traveling. Unfortunately, I can’t do the last two hobbies as often as the first two. I could take pictures of everyday mundane life and selfies galore. But that bores me. So why wouldn’t it bore you??

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I didn’t have to travel far to get a few pictures of the ice shove on the bay of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin. Even local friends asked where I was off to this time…Alaska? Antarctica?? No, just my beautiful home state.

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You really should consider booking a visit. Summer is the best time. But as you can see, winter is beautiful here too. Today the wind chills are only in the single digits below zero. So it is warming up out there!

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The ice shove is 20 feet high. This is the biggest ice shove I’ve seen in my lifetime. It took some really nasty weather conditions to make this. Thankfully the beauty that resulted lasted longer than the storm. Kind of like real life sometimes…

Taking the long way home

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Last night Angel and I got back home from the Lana Del Rey concert. We ended up taking the long way home…

We headed out to Minneapolis early Friday afternoon and got to our downtown Minneapolis hotel by late afternoon. It was still cold outside with wind chills below zero. Even though we were only a couple blocks away, I was concerned about walking outside on a cold frigid night.

The hotel had an indoor walkway that we could walk to the concert in, but it closed at 8 PM. Although we had a map, we got turned around several times in the walkway. There weren’t as many signs as we thought there would be. Someone stopped us and gave us the wrong directions. We met up with another couple that was just as lost as we were. The girl was wearing a mini skirt and a jean jacket. I told her that she would have to walk back outside on the way back.

Surprisingly, despite getting lost, we made it to the concert a little early which gave us time to go through security, find the bathroom, and get a drink before the show. I spent $15 on a 4 oz old-fashioned that tasted like utter crap. I watered it down with Angel’s soda but it was still undrinkable. Gross!

Angel’s friend was going to meet us there and sit by us, but she came down with the stomach flu. The show itself was phenomenal. It was the biggest concert I ever went to. Before that the biggest concert I was at was back in the early 90’s seeing Reo Speedwagon at the county fair. This was Lana’s first concert of her new tour, so being the first show and being an inexperienced concert goer, I really didn’t know what to expect.

I was thinking about bringing ear plugs, but Angel said that would make me look way too old. I was already instructed not to look like a mother. Some of the young girls barely wore any clothes which concerned the mother within me a whole lot on such a cold night. There were a few other middle aged concert goers. Most were in their early twenties. The whole row behind us seemed to be in their early 20’s and were all smoking pot. The young couple next to me was making out the whole time. Seriously, I could have used a better drink.

Afterwards, I was satisfied that my ears did not ring. The acoustics were great. Lana played a lot of songs that we knew and she had a great performance. We walked back to the hotel in the cold. I had a hard time pulling up the hotel on my phone’s map. I was a little afraid that we would walk around the city in circles until we froze to death. Although my daughter is an adult, I felt responsible for her safety. We were very cold, but we were able to find our way back before we froze to death.

The next day we had lunch plans with an old college friend that lives near the city. She hadn’t seen my daughter since she was a toddler. It has been over 8 years since we last saw each other. We had a really nice visit, but had a long drive home.

I fell asleep on the way home which hardly ever happens. In my defense, I can’t remember the last time I slept through the night and felt rested. I was the only one that knew how to get home and since I was sleeping, we missed the exit. I woke up to different scenery. We drove a few more miles before I had the nagging suspicion that something wasn’t right. Sure enough, my little siesta cost us an extra hour of driving.

What good is knowing the way if I couldn’t show the way to go?? Seems like another whole philosophical blog topic, but I am much too tired to form a thought. I would like to think that we circumvented a crash on the interstate. But the truth is that I am getting old and tired..I fell asleep and wasn’t paying attention.

However,the long way home was a more scenic route with its rolling hills, cranberry bogs, marshes, reeds, and woods. I wanted to stop several times to take pictures, but I also wanted to get home and felt bad for making our trip a lot longer than necessary. So I snapped a few pictures when we stopped for a stop sign.

Angel and I did a lot of talking on our long trip home. It was nice having some uninterrupted time to visit. Next weekend she will be leaving to go back to college. It will probably be a couple more months until we see each other again. Despite taking the long way home, we had a lot of fun together..

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In the cold dark light of the full moon

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It only takes a little light to reflect the cold barren emptiness of a winter tree on the snow.

It has been cold in Wisconsin. The wind chills haven’t been above zero since who knows when..probably a couple of weeks. We haven’t noticed that much. We have been busy with the holidays.

We know the drill. It happens every year. It doesn’t snow when it is bitterly cold. The cars make strange noises when attempting to start. You don’t want to get a car wash or your car doors will freeze shut. Everything creaks, crackles, and moans under the heavy weight of the bitter cold. People die.

People die! I knew it would happen on New Year’s Eve especially. The reports of the deaths. I live in the drunkest state next to one of the drunkest cities in the United States. I predicted that if the Packers were having a better year, the death toll would be higher. The bitter cold usually starts this time of year, but this year it hit us a little early. It started over Christmas…the home Packer game…Christmas weekend and New Year’s Eve…the drunkest time of the year near the drunkest city in the drunkest state. The roads are hazardous not just for the cold, ice, and snow ya know.

Drinking is our culture. It just is. I am a big proponent of designated drivers, but sometimes you can’t trust that will even work. People get carried away. Blame it on the cold harsh climate.

I worried the weekend of New Year’s Eve. My daughter Angel drove to Madison to go to a party with friends. My son was who knows where. Every day I would be in touch asking where he was and what he was doing. Every day my son stopped home and my heart rejoiced that he was alive. It’s not always them I worry about…it is the others on the road. How do I keep them safe? It is surprising that I am letting go at all.

I worry about the drunks on the road. I worry about car trouble in the bitter cold remote areas with no cell reception. Or what if I am sleeping and don’t hear the phone? I worry about car accidents on slippery heavily wooded winding roads.

My deepest fear is that my children will die if I am not in control. If I don’t pay attention, they will be gone. If I don’t notice a problem, they will slip through my fingers forever. It is really rather horrifying since I am not in control. I never was in control even when they were babies. I couldn’t control if they got sick. I couldn’t even control if they decided to sleep through the night. As they got older, the feeling of being out of control grew and festered in my soul.

I try to let go and let God, but then grab the reigns back again chaffing my hands not able to get a grip. This worry, this anxiety, has been a constant thorn in my side. I feel if I let go of my little iota of control, then my children will die and I am responsible. It is completely illogical and irrational as most fears are.

Do all mothers of teenagers feel this way? Or do I just take it to the extreme since I am anxious to begin with? Or maybe having 3 teenagers is enough to set the sanest person over the edge?

Snowstorm slacker and other partly cloudy stories

Today was supposed to be the day that we were going to get a monster snowstorm. The whole state of Wisconsin was supposed to shut down. Everyone wants a white Christmas, but no one wants to cancel plans, or at least admit that they want to. Instead a few inches are going to trickle in over the next two days. Here comes snowstorm slacker…How flaky!

I wish I could be paid a lot of money for being completely inaccurate. I hope the weather forecasters are wrong about the 15 to 30 below wind chills Christmas morning too!

I thought I would have to cancel my plans for tonight. I have a karaoke date at a dive bar with an older man.

Now before you start to judge, let me explain. I have a thing for older men…like way older men. I have developed friendships with men that are in their 80’s. I am particular with my older men…they have to be flirty, funny, eccentric, and smart. This year my older friend lost his wife of over 60 years. This will be his first Christmas without her. He shares our family passion of singing…maybe this would make his day a little brighter on the darkest day of the year.

Yesterday I called my older friend from work to see if our date was still on. He asked me if I bought him a Christmas gift yet. Then he said, “Honey, why don’t you come down to the bar right now and I’ll buy you a drink?” He makes me laugh. I spend more time with him than with my own dad.

Family, it is a difficult time of year for that…family…strained relationships, obligated gatherings, all creating more stress over the busiest time of year…with the expectation of hearts filled with peace and joy.

I think I am finally at peace with our Christmas plans. My mom wanted to get together at my house at noon on Christmas Eve, but I wanted to get together later in the day instead. Paul, Angel, and I will be singing at the late night service. It is much more than I want to squeeze into one day.

If I have everyone at my house at noon then I would have to plan two meals that day, clean up before and after, and all of the dishes…then have enough energy to deal with family and be ready to sing. Thankfully, Angel has to work Christmas Eve until 4 PM and I DIDN’T WANT TO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS WITHOUT HER. Plus I didn’t want everyone to eat and ditch before church.

So, my brother Mark and his wife won’t be able to attend. I haven’t seen or talked to them since July anyway. They never come to my family’s events or even send a card…so…oh well. My uncle Rick is having a family party the day before anyway. We will see them then. Uncle Rick is too nice. Everyone is telling him what to do for his party, but no one wants to do the work of having the party.

I think that if you are hosting the party then you should have full control. You pick the time. You pick the menu. You get my drift. I don’t think Uncle Rick wants that though. He seems more content to have people tell him what to do than I am.

Things have been going well. Angel is home from college. It is so wonderful. I get home from work and the laundry is folded and the dishes are done. She asks if she can help with anything else. In the evenings she just wants to visit and talk. She is my only kid that makes me feel like I did something right as a mom.

Other than that, I have been trying to keep up with my exercise routine. I called my cousin last week and told him I would like to run a trail marathon with him next summer. I like to run twice a week and have one day a week where I do something other than running to work out. Last night, Paul and I went cross county skiing the first time this season. I have to tell you that I am not really good at sports. Trust me. Although I run marathons and do Half Irons and stuff like that, I am the world’s biggest klutz. I watched others glide by skating on skis while I managed to fall in the flat area. I have zero sense of balance. I would fail yoga 101. I keep trying though. I’m going to need all the balance I can get as I age.

I probably won’t have much time to talk until after Christmas. It already has been a busy week with Christmas parties and programs galore.

And so far we got zero inches of snow from snowstorm slacker..

Merry Christmas!!