snow


I’ve been abandoned. Really, I have. Yesterday morning, at about 04:30 EST, Mr Izz packed up his way cool rental car and drove off into the…umm…almost sunrise, headed for a distant and exotic Eastern land………ok, fine, he went to New Hampshire on business, but it sounded a whole lot better the other way. But no matter where he went or why, I have still been abandoned. Honestly, this isn’t a really big deal in general. As I’ve said in previous posts, things tend to be more laid back when he is gone. We have things like pancakes for dinner. It’s cool. But the other side of this isn’t really very cool. Almost every time he leaves on business, something happens. Not always something big, but something nonetheless. One time, Victoria tipped over in the chair she was standing on (yes, I know….bad mommy moment), and conveniently broke her fall with her head as it smacked into the cast iron radiator. The lump that very quickly emerged was a sight to behold. Another time, we had a chimney fire….it was small, but still very annoying. Then, of course, the children misbehave more than usual and my stress levels steadily climb until he comes back. The only consolation is that I know he knows he owes me big. Huge. But this time, what Mr Izz owes is bigger than big. It’s bordering on gargantuan. I’m thinking that deserted tropical island may suffice. But I’ll think more about that one. I may be able to come up with something better. Believe me, I’m going to deserve it.  

As I watched Mr Izz leave yesterday morning, I was well aware that a storm was brewing…literally. We were supposed to have lots of wind and some snow. The gusts were supposed to be close to 50mph, which meant the hatches had to be battened down yet again (the wind storms we’ve had this year have been amazingly frequent. I’m not amused). Apparently more than I had anticipated for when I turned on the water this morning to make coffee (ahhhhh….coffee…..), not even air came out of the faucet. Great, I thought; the pipes are frozen. Heaving a very large sigh, I went into the big boys’ room to get Christopher, who was still a-snooze in his bed.  Since his help was needed to remedy the situation at hand, I woke him up and told him the joyous news. He took it about as well as I did, and grumbled his way out of bed to see what could be done. I could torture you with the gory details of what we did, and how it didn’t work, but I think saying the normal avenues were uneventful will more than suffice. Still not a drop from any faucet in the house. Plenty more agitation and stress on my part, but still no water. More grumbling, from both mother and son, ending with another phone call to Mr Izz (he had been called earlier, but no help had been gotten from him…he just said to call him when the water was back on…….maybe my island can be near Tahiti……). I calmly tell him that the heater under the house didn’t work this time (oh yes…this is a regular occurrence), so he then says that perhaps we should put the heater into the well house, near the pump. Now, mind, I had said I thought it was frozen at the pump earlier that morning (by this time, we’re almost at 3pm), but I was told that it wasn’t. As it turned out, that is exactly where it was frozen (a bit of hopping up and down in irritation). Within an hour the water was again up and running.  Now, I could go off onto an “I told you so!!” type tangent, but since Mr Izz isn’t one of my regular readers, I’ll keep my speech for when he gets back. This is advantageous for those of you who do read my blog on a regular basis, for you won’t be bored to tears by my tantrum. But it will also be advantageous  for me, for by the time he arrives on my doorstep, I will have the whole thing perfected…each word stressed for effect; each gesticulation timed perfectly. My diatribe will be a work of art! I’m sure he’ll appreciate it as such.  

I’m just happy the water is back on. but I am not looking forward to round 2 (or maybe 22 at this point…it’s been a long winter) tomorrow. The forecast is calling for more wind and about 10-12 inches of snow and ice. While I really do hate snow, I will say it is a good insulator. That’s helpful in terms of keeping pipes from freezing up…or pumps as was the case today. But I am sure I am not alone when I say I am more than ready for winter to be over. I could use a dose of Spring right about now, but since that seems to be anything but a priority right now, I’ll just go for a glass or two of wine….maybe even three. If I have enough, I can pretend it’s Spring. Cheers!  

I don’t have too much to say…it wasn’t nearly as bad as they made it seem like it was going to be. Anyone think that the Weather Channel likes to create drama to gain more viewers? I mean, who really wants to watch the Weather Channel when nothing is going on? Well…I do, but that doesn’t count. I’m a weather geek. But anyway, the wind wasn’t bad, we did get quite a bit of snow, but not nearly as much as predicted (woo hoo!!). And despite the forecast saying it was to be gloomy and dreary today, the sun is shining brightly…at least as I type at this moment. Here are a couple of pictures:

2007 Storm
(I took these out my window, by the way. There is no way in heck I’m going outside on a cold day like this!)
This one is of the front yard…you can see where the kids have already shoveled, and how high the banks are. We were blessed to have a neighbour (who takes care of the cemetery across the road from us) use his tractor to do the portion next to the road. That part was going to be difficult, since the snow plow compacted the snow and made drifts over 3 feet high. So we’re grateful (well, the KIDS are anyway) that he came over and pushed it all out of the way.

This one is the back porch…even though there wasn’t all that much wind, you can still see where the snow drifted. It’s kind of cool!

Snowy Porch

So, it’s over. The Blizzard that really wasn’t (and I’m glad it wasn’t!). But we did get quite a bit of snow…in some areas of the yard, it’s over 3 feet (so sayeth the child that walked around the house after his turn at shoveling this morning). We may not see the grass again until July, but at least all the snow keeps the kids busy, when they are shoveling, and happy, when they are playing in it. See? I can be positive, even when it comes to snow. 😉 Although, if we’re not careful, we might lose a couple in the higher drifts. That might prove to be interesting.

I was actually going to write a brief post about the weather (ooooo….surprising, isn’t it?). As most of my regular readers may know, I hate the snow and cold with a passion. From the moment the first of the snowflakes fly, I am counting down the days until Spring. This winter (which hasn’t even really started yet if one goes by the calendar…) is no exception…for the most part. Right now, as I type, we have about 2 feet of snow on the ground. Well, it might be more like a foot and a half, but you get the picture. It’s a lot of snow no matter how you measure it. While I’m not terribly fond of this fact, I have come to the conclusion that it’s kind of…ahem….nice at this time of year. It makes things feel really Christmasy or something…especially when you go past houses at night that have their Christmas lights on. It just makes it look that more festive. And, in a way, quite beautiful. So, as of late, I’ve been rather happy with the fact that there is quite a thick blanket of snow on the ground. That is, until now (you knew that other shoe was about to drop…). There is a monster of a storm blowing it’s way across the midwest right this moment, that is preparing to hit us with enough wind and snow to make a bone fide blizzard. Now, let me pause for a second to say something…I lived the vast majority of my life in this area, and I can honestly tell you that I’ve never experienced a blizzard that I can remember. It doesn’t mean we didn’t have one, but while we had tons of snow every year, I don’t remember anyone commenting on it getting there from anything other than a good winter storm. In other words, despite my winter weather experience, I’m not too terribly well versed on the topic of blizzards. And I’d rather not be versed at all, let alone well versed, but it seems that Mother Nature has other plans for me for the next 2 days. Take a look at this lovely map…it shows the precipitation forecast in the Northeastern US:

(the map is now redundant, and doesn’t apply. Phooey I say to weather.com! They should have kept it as it was, humph!)

You see that lovely dark purple area of upstate New York? Yeah…that’s me. Well, not all of it, but right smack in the middle of the dark purple of New York. That area, as you can see, is supposed to get over 12 inches of snow. In other words, dark purple is bad…very bad. There is a such thing as too much, especially when one is speaking of snow. And while I’m more than prepared (we went grocery shopping in anticipation…I have 5 gallons of milk to prove it!), I’d really prefer to just opt out of this one. Anyone know how one goes about doing such a thing?

It really does kind of stink that this lovely winter blow has dashed my feelings of festivity in regards to the winter landscape outside my window. It was nice to actually have a positive outlook on the outside. And with the amount we’re supposed to be getting (at least 18 inches), it’s going to be here until June at least, I’m sure (woo hoo…there’s a positive outlook for you!). Have I mentioned that I hate the snow and cold? Oh yeah, that’s right. I have. And I’m sure I’ll be telling you all that quite a few more times since I’ll be snowed in until July.

It’s only November! In my mind, the weather should still be balmy and warm. But this morning, as I took Mr Izz to school (story of my life these days…), it was cloudy, cold, and it was precipitating a mixed bag of goodies…first some rain, then some sleet, then some snow. SIGH! I really was hoping to get through at least until January 😛 . Yesterday, as I cooked the rice outside on the camp stove we have (don’t ask….really…you don’t want to know…), Victoria came out and asked if it was going to snow soon. I told her more than likely, but hopefully it will wait for another month or two…or three…. All of this despite the smell of snow on the chilly wind that was coming in from the north. Yes, snow really does have a smell. And it looks like I pegged it, as I always do (patting myself on the back, thank you very much). I’m just not ready. I know, I never will be, but my lack of readiness and general avarice to such things as snow and cold really ought to be taken into consideration before they are inflicted upon us all.

The other thing that’s annoying me today is the whole “holiday season” thing. Why on earth do we start with this madness so early? Do I really need to be thinking about Thanksgiving, let alone Christmas, before Halloween? I don’t think so. And yet, as I watch my telly or listen to my radio, I am bombarded with commercials laden with the sounds of sleigh bells and random “ho ho ho”‘s. I swear it gets earlier every year.

I think that if we banish snow and cold until around…hmmm, let’s see….the middle of December perhaps, then maybe we’ll be able to circumvent the whole “holiday season” garbage. It won’t be cold enough for sleighs, therefore no sleigh bells, and there won’t be snow, so no one will want to think about ho ho ho’ing. And I’ll get a bit of peace and quiet on the holiday front, along with good weather for longer. Sounds good, don’t you think? Unfortunately, given the fact that I live in the frozen tundra which is the North Country, neither of these things is going to happen any time soon. Which only means I’m going to have to find my boots, which are still packed away…somewhere in some box in some void which no one in their right mind would ever enter. Except me, of course. But only because I hate cold feet.

When we moved into this house, the landlords left an electric dryer and told us to feel free to utilize it. I’m used to a gas dryer (since that is what I have), but since we knew we were only going to be here for a short amount of time, we felt there was no reason to have a guy come out to install a propane tank and run the gas line to the laundry room just to put our dryer in the house. The electric one worked, and that was good enough for our brief stint here.

Despite the cost of running the darn thing (electricity is really expensive!), it has worked out well for the 6 months or so that we’ve been here. Until last week, when the thing died the death…I put a load of freshly washed sheets in, set the timer, pushed the on button…nothing. It didn’t even turn on for a split second. This was not a good thing…when you are running a household of 13, you need the means to launder, and then dry, copious amounts of laundry on a daily basis. Of course, there are alternatives to an electric (or even gas) dryer…one especially that I actually enjoy doing. When the weather is good (in other words, the sun is shining and it’s at least relatively warm), I utilize a clothesline on a constant basis. I very rarely dry the clothes in the dryer, because using the sun and wind is much more appealing to me. It’s better for the environment, and the clothes just smell so much nicer. Plus, I just love being outside in general, so any excuse I can muster to be out is a good one (at least to me). Unfortunately, it’s still Winter here in the North Country. There is no sun, and no warmth…there is plenty of wind, but it’s hardly the kind that beckons to you to come out and run through the fields with it…or to hang laundry out on the line in, since that is what we’re talking about (I did lose myself there for a second, didn’t I?). But the laundry must be done, so I put a load of towels into the washer, and waited patiently (HA! That’s only because I really didn’t want to do the next step) for it to be done it’s cycle. After the final spin, I grabbed the towels, put them into a basket, put on my really cool red hat and gloves, and proceeded to go outside. The snow was mid-boot, and the wind was making my longer skirt flap around in the wind (not a day for skirt wearing, that’s for sure), but I made the hike to the clothesline anyway. There were still diapers on there from right before the storm over the weekend…still wet, of course. I was losing hope that the towels would dry at all, to be honest, but they had to be put somewhere. So I hung them up…skirt still flapping around, my hair blowing into my face, and the towels flying up as the wind blew under them. They were beginning to get stiff as I put them onto the line too…I wonder if there is a possibility of their freeze drying? You know, like the strawberries you get in breakfast cereal now? No? Oh well…it was a thought anyway.

I’m sure I was quite a sight to the neighbors…that silly lady next door who hangs her laundry out in the freezing cold and snow. I know I would have laughed, had I been the one witnessing the scene. But there I was, be-gloved and be-hatted, trying to get the darn towels to stop blowing long enough to get them all onto the line. Which I did. And there they’ll stay until they dry. With the way the weather is looking, that might not be until next week, but at least I can say that I washed them, and then attempted to dry them. I’m actually hoping that the wind will help them along, despite the cold. If not, the next time someone takes a shower, they’re going to either air dry, or go out and get a wet towel before they jump in. I’m not really sure which one would be better, but I know I would prefer not to be the one to find out.

It seems that Winter refuses to let go of it’s stronghold upon the North Country. Here we are, in the middle of what should be Springtime, only to find ourselves surrounded by snow and cold. Late yesterday into early today, a good old Nor’easter blew up the coast, leaving us with about 4 inches of snow, ice and lots of wind. Those of us who reside in the area are ready for Spring in a big way, always hoping it’s right around the corner. And yet our hopes seem to be quickly dashed the moment another storm blows in, leaving behind yet another cold, snowy mess that needs to be shoveled off the walkways. Good thing I have lots of sons.

This snowy landscape was what greeted us at Casa Izz this morning, as it has for the past several mornings. Even the Izzlets are getting rather tired of it all…it seems that one can indeed make and throw too many snowballs (who would have thought!). The only difference today was that the storm was bad enough to cancel school for Mr Izz, much to his joy since it extended his Spring break by a day.

At one point, as we were cleaning up after breakfast, Mr Izz was looking out the window, shaking his head in disbelief. As he scowled upon the scene, Séamus came up to him and asked to be picked up.

“Do you see the snow, Séamus?” Mr Izz asked.
“Yes, lots of snow!” Séamus exclaimed.
“Where did it all come from?” was the next question.

Séamus didn’t answer immediately, which would be more in line with his two-ishness. He actually took the time to think…very much out of character indeed. Then he smiled, looked out of the window and up into the sky, and simply stated:

“From the stars!!”

Such a thoughtful answer from such a little boy…an answer that was laden with such an innocent wisdom that only a two year old can give. To him, it made perfect sense that the wonderful whiteness he saw before him outside the window was put there by the stars. And honestly, even for those of us that haven’t been two in quite some time, and hardly possess even the remnants of two-ishness that Séamus seems to have in abundance, it makes it all a little more bearable thinking that just maybe it was.

The weather here is finally improving (I’ve been dancing around because of it all week), which of course can’t help but put me in good spirits. Today the forecast is calling for thunderstorms, and I couldn’t be happier. Rain is awesome as it is, but rain with thunder and lightning is even better. But anyway…

Izz's Sugar Snow

A couple of mornings ago, I awoke to snow (as shown above)…but not just any snow, as it clung to the branches of the trees making the world a glistening white wonderland…for a little while anyway. It was a “sugar snow”. For anyone who may not be familiar with that term, the “sugar” part of it has nothing to do with the color, the texture, or the taste of the snow. It really is just SNOW in the end. It has to do with the time of year, which is Maple Sugaring time. As I’ve stated (probably more times that I’ve needed to), the days are getting longer as well as warmer (more dancing around…sorry about that), which promotes the sap to run in the trees. Here in the North Country (as well as in some other places fairly close by), we are particularly interested in the sap from the Sugar Maple, for when that sap is extracted from the tree, and then boiled down for a few hours, you come up with some of the most heavenly stuff in the world: Maple Syrup. Anyone who has ever had some of the real stuff usually can’t tolerate the fake ick that they try to pass off as the real stuff in your neighborhood box mart. Pure maple syrup is simply divine, and goes well with more than just your average, everyday pancakes. I use it for braising vegetables (most notably carrots), for topping ice cream, for some breads, and lots of other things.

Maple Sugaring

So why am I talking about this? I don’t know really…I suppose it was just one of those things I had kind of forgotten about while I was living away from here for so many years. It’s amazing how much you forget about a place that you lived practically your whole life in, and yet how quickly it all comes back after you return. I’d been seeing all of those little buckets hanging on the trees, and I remembered the spring that I did the same thing. How truly satisfying it was to collect the sap day after day, and then after the sap was done running, to take it all and boil it for hours until you have the right consistency. That was the best maple syrup I’d ever had, and I think it has a lot to do with all of the work I put into making it. As I see those buckets, I remember good times from my childhood that were so long forgotten. Things that I would love to share with my own children, and have them experience as well.

Nostalgia…that’s why I’m writing about this. I’m feeling nostalgic and that’s a good thing.

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