Christmas Photo a Day, December 21, 2017

Happy Winter Solstice!

Throwback Thursday –Michael, Joseph and me…1969-70Anoki, Joseph and Arlie 1987


Since it seems like EVERYONE is about to be walloped, I thought I would pull out this essay I wrote eons ago.

2010 dec 13-8 copy

The first thing that you realize as consciousness overtakes your dream state is an odd quality to the light that hits your closed eyelids. It isn’t that squinty red feeling you get when toasting yourself on a beach, but a soothing whiteness. Your alarm clock hasn’t gone off yet, so you feel obligated to just lie there, trying to interpret the feeling. You realize that there is no sound in your world. You don’t hear the cars and doors and dogs and birds and all the other white noises that tend to occupy space and time.

The sounds you never notice until they leave a void. You feel particularly comfortable, not as if you would dread getting up, but you don’t have the same desire to stay abed as you do when you are rudely awakened by the alarm mere hours after retiring. In other words, you feel peaceful, and well rested. Then knowledge of what is happening reaches you, in the deeply echoing sound of metal hitting pavement on an oblique angle as it scrapes a path in the…snow!

A snow day!!

Only snow can, of all weather, elicit such emotions in people. Those who complain are probably grinches, and despite their grumbling, probably lie in bed like you and I thinking of the snowmen or great snowball fights of their youth. Snow is inherently different from other forms of weather. The sun goes away, every day, no matter how sunny. Rain, once it stops, exists nowhere but in puddles. The wind, unless gentle, is feared and people prepare to fight mightily to protect their lives and belongings when they hear it will be visiting. Snow is physical in a way that no other weather can be.

Snow is sculptural, and it is sculpted. Snow can be picked up and moved. It can be molded into different shapes, and it can be thrown. Snow wants to be touched. Sometimes it is soft, and fluffy, and tickles cheeks and eyelashes. Sometimes it can be dense and so strong that it can be walked on. It can balance on objects less than an inch wide. It is quiet, too. Snow comes silently. Oh, people fear snow. But mostly at the inconveniences it causes. If it rains you leave a few minutes early to take a route that doesn’t flood. Snow wants you to really think about it. Will I be able to get to the store for milk? It is the kind of weather that brings back those hunting and gathering, hibernating instincts.


How long will it take to move snow from the car, the driveway? And will you be plowed back in? Can you admit to never picking up some of the snow from the car and forming a snowball, even if there is no one to throw it at? It is an exercise in sentiment, because as you move it from one place to another, more convenient spot, you certainly recall a snow day from your childhood. Of the percolating excitement as you dressed to go out to make “snow angels“, to fling yourself into a flat unmarked area of pure white where no foot had yet stepped. The purity of the white, the unerring evenness of the coating, the amazement as you stepped off the porch up to your knees and sank slowly into its softness. Of not having school and having grandma ready with the hot cocoa when you finally came inside, looking very much like the snowman you just finished building. Snow chunks hanging from every fiber of your scarf and hood and mittens, and the sound of swishing snow pants and frozen toes and shiny red cheeks and noses. Of being sent to a radiator to remove layer after layer, a warm dry sweater waiting to take its place.

As a child of the most amazing aspects to snow was its staying power. Snow, if piled correctly, densely enough, high enough, if it rained or melted a bit and then froze again, could provide a mountain to climb until Easter! Even as daffodils and tulips came from the soft spring ground, there would be a game of king of the mountain going on (right where third base would be in spring)

Snow alone causes a kind of community that generally doesn’t exist. People tend to get to know neighbors on snow days. They trade shovels, or dig out one car at a time. People who would barely nod acquaintance at any other time become, if only for the moment, pals. They chat and joke, complain and shrug. We are all in it together. The street where I grew up was private, one that was not plowed by the city. The whole street was shoveled by the residents, one shovelful at a time. Everyone went out to help. One person had a truck and he went up to each house and took grocery orders (we always needed cat food!) and he ventured off our block. If we knew snow was coming, most of the cars were parked on the next street so people could get to work.

What other weather causes people to behave in quite the same way? It is the only weather that stays. It may rain on Tuesday, be sunny on Wednesday. But if it snows on Thursday, you start thinking about sledding trips on Saturday! Truly there is magic in snow! (and to think that each flake is an individual) We usually dream of a White Christmas, but don’t get our snow until far later in the season, when it doesn’t help the ambiance of the holiday, yet, still deep down, we all long for a snow day. On a snow day things don’t have to get accomplished.

You can maroon yourself in your home.

Lie on the couch with tea and a novel or popcorn and a video.

Write a letter, or look through boxes of old photos.

Forget so many of your responsibilities. Put them off until tomorrow.

Reassess priorities. Realize what’s really important.

Put on gloves and scarves and boots and lip balm and go play in the snow with your dogs, your children or your memories.

Trish Casey, 12/1995. first published in the Women’s Forum, a column of the Staten Island Advance.

If you can’t complain about the weather….

People are an interesting breed. We complain about EVERYTHING.

Right now, a goodly portion of the USA is recovering from a blizzard. Snow is unlike other weather, and the logistics are, well, involved. There was as much complaint during the 113 degree days of summer.

The rest of this post is an elaboration on a rant from a message board. Not stating the stores, because if I did, you might not see yourself in this, because you don’t shop at the particular store.

Their store. Their coupon. Their sale. Their rules.

“They”  create the rules. They print said rules on the coupons/advertisements/policy sheets. One gets mailed to each address in their data base (snail or email), or put into each newspaper. If ‘you’ collect coupons from your friends and neighbors, create multiple email or mailing addresses to collect extra coupons, then ‘you’ are the one attempting to create a problem by not playing by the rules, (or in other words, by being dishonest.)

I’ve heard people complain that all the store is trying to do is to get you in there. DUH.  ‘You’ seem to be forgetting the POINT of an advertisement for a place of business IS TO DRAW IN CUSTOMERS. The purpose of the place of business itself, for the owner/investor is to make a profit.

“How” they make that profit is not part of this ‘argument’….(as long as it isn’t illegal, immoral or unethical…)

These complained about coupons are no different than your local grocery store ad that you peruse weekly. Or department store ad. (Buy one pair of regular priced shoes, Get one at 5o% off. Purchase 2 containers of ice-cream and receive a box of waffle cones free. Exclusions apply.)

If you spent the better part of ‘your’  parenting life teaching your children the difference between right and wrong, about how it is important to follow the rules, behave fairly and be honest, well, perhaps it’s time to revisit those lessons.

The coupon states (and as I am not calling out any store, I am ad-libbing) “ONE coupon PER person PER day, not to be used on XXXXXX.”

It doesn’t say, sure, run outside, come back in over and over; it doesn’t say, aggravate the cashier (and the customer behind you) as you argue your case about using it on Sale items, or three in one transaction. Or that you can hand your phone with it’s email coupon to the three people behind you to use also. Nor should you be ringing up one item per transaction, cash register hopping, going through over and over, paying one at a time for a $3.99 –before discount—item.

It doesn’t even state you HAVE TO BE ABLE to use the coupon.

‘You’ are all adults. You are intelligent enough to understand that it’s designed to be a loss leader, not a gift to you. You are also (assuming you are reading this on the screen) literate, and can read the sale signs and not bring up something on sale and demand to use the coupon. Something being mis-signed or misplaced is not part of my conversation. (But, the reading of the words on the signs, not just the numbers? Part of the conversation. If you know it’s 50% off, how come you don’t know what the sign says other than “50% off??”)

A coupon or a sale flyer  is designed to bring you into the store. Just as the Kleenex coupon cut out of the Sunday paper is designed to take $1 off one box, (of the size stated, not the size you choose to pick up.)

The stores in question during this message board free-for-all carry something like 30,000 to 50,000 unique products. As I have put sale signs up in two of the conversed about stores in my day, I can guarantee you that there are tens of thousands of items that are NOT ON SALE at any given time.

The fact that you don’t wish to purchase any of them is of no regard to the rules printed clearly on the coupons.

As a corollary,  there is as much complaining about the fact that discount store quilt fabric quality stinks as there is about LQS (local quilt shop) fabric prices being too high.

Think on it.

(Running now, probably won’t be allowed to show my face for a week once the $$^& hits the fan…)

December 19…

IMG_5823 IMG_5825 IMG_5826 IMG_5827 IMG_5829

Live from the front (and back) porch reporting!

Snow in Virginia for Christmas?? Or not? Its only the 19th, it could easily go back up to 62 degrees and melt it all…But for now, we are covered in snow. (It’s raining now, but we had about 5 inches of good, heavy, snowball snow starting yesterday evening)

The weather report claims it will get colder shortly and turn back to snow, with another 2-4-6 inches before its over…

dec 21 sm

Rites of Spring

my goodies

Originally uploaded by rteest42

Rites of Spring….

It is March. Twenty more days left of winter. What is winter though, when you live where the snowfall tends to be measured (by me, at least) in minutes on the ground, not inches?

For the first 37 years of my life, seasons had defined, proscribed roles. Summer was defined by the lack of spring. The gentler breezes, the cooler nights, the incessant green was spring. Summer was travel, heat, vacation. Free time. Lethargy. Steam and haze, the occasional blackout, fans turned backwards in opened windows. Fire hydrants opened, garden hoses spraying, waiting till dark to sit outside on the steps.

Summer is still HHH, but to the N th degree here. The windows won’t crack open after mid-May. The humidity by May, the temperature by May, will have destroyed any thought of spring, despite the month that is left of it.

Autumn once was colorful leaves, and crab apples falling, walking up and down the hilly streets in Randall Manor Trick-or-Treating with the girls, and kicking through piles of leaves. It was designing costumes based on what kind of outerwear or layers could be hidden underneath so it wasn’t too cold to remain outside after dark for hours.

Autumn here seems to be about 15 minutes long, and if you aren’t really appreciating the subtle changes, it seems that summer slips to winter without notice.

In my other life, winter meant snow –snow shovels, snow scrapers, snowballs, and snowmen. It meant there was at least one good snowfall, one that would obliterate the dirt, the grime; one that would cover the un-raked leaves. One that was deep enough to leave piles on the side of the road after the snowplow came through. Many years, these snow events occurred with enough frequency that the pile of discarded snow could be seen in parking lots long after Easter, slowly melting away, no longer appealing but rather a reminder that winter occurred. No snow days really, the City of New York doesn’t declare them (In Arlie’s entire 12 years in school there was ONE snow day, and only because Governor Pataki declared a State of Emergency in 1996)

But down here, winter gets you in this odd beginning grasp, and stops, mid-flight. The temperature falls, it goes down into the teens, but nothing more occurs. The next step seems to be missing from the playbook. All we get is the grey, and none of the wonder or the sparkle or the glow. Because the next thing you know, the forsythia is blooming, the birds are back, and the calendar page flips to March and winter has yet to HAPPEN. My first winter here, there was snowfall. It was approximately 1.5 inches, and my job called me out for the day!

Snow gave spring meaning. The Rites of Spring, for my first 37 years, were simply these two things. My birthday on the 3rd, and The Parade. The St. Patricks Day Parade, held on the second Sunday in March on Forest Avenue, Staten Island New York. And it didn’t matter if it rained on our parade. Or snowed. Or if you stood on the curb, snow piled around you and chilling you to the bones. A parade simply means that winter WILL
end, and that Spring will occur!!! Despite the fact there may be a blizzard the next week, the simple fact of the matter is that thousands of people would line the streets, suffer the cold, bundled up beyond recognition and stand outside for hours to watch the parade. To wave at the marchers they knew, to re-connect with neighbors they may not have seen during the craziness of the holidays, and the time that we stay hunkered down in our homes.

A goodly number were there for the beer. (Green or not, beer never did it for me, its aroma too close to the memory of my mother’s embrace to work for me) But beer or no, the friendship, the memories of hanging out with friends, wandering the avenue for hours on end, singing, laughing and carrying on, these are memories of spring. Of hope.

The idea of reaching my birthday each year without snowfall is disconcerting. It shocks me each year that my birthday has arrived because it couldn’t be SPRING yet, because where is the SNOW??

I have replaced my parade as a harbinger of spring with the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Fest, held in Hampton, the weekend before my birthday. It has become an annual event for me since moving here. Sometimes I go alone, sometimes with friends, always with excitement. I come home full of wonder, with bags of fabric, and my head bursting with ideas. This year was no exception. I have a list of at least three books (Pokey, Jane, Gloria)  I MUST own that I couldn’t buy because I spent all my money on fabric!!! (shocking, no??)

Springtime, here we come!

(The weatherman is calling for 3-6 inches overnight. I am so excited!!!!! I don’t trust him, or believe him, but I am thrilled by the thought!!!)

BELIEVE IT!! The snow came, and it STAYED…The Van is frozen shut so I am declaring a SNOW day, and then tomorrow, my birthday, I won’t feel gyped! I shall be posting pix at Flickr shortly, check out the sidebar!