Hey, Baby, It’s Fricking Cold Outside

This morning: 11 degrees when I woke up.

That’s up 42% from when I went to bed, though.  It was 7 degrees then.
Snow

 

Interesting fact:  that statistics game is not nearly as dramatic in Celsius, where the temperature difference is a paltry 18.5%.  I suppose that’s why we stick with Fahrenheit in the U.S.
I will admit that the snow is pretty.  I don’t usually mind snow until the second week of January, at which point its novelty completely wears off and the grey, slushy doldrums set in.

Time to plan another trip to Floreeeda.

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Sad News

I think my coffee pot is dying.

When it works it works fine, if that makes any sense.  The trouble appears to be with the circuitry that controls the on-off button.  Sometimes the pot just won’t turn on, other times it won’t turn off after it’s done brewing.  It has a “gourmet” button that makes it brew a little differently than the standard drip-coffee-maker way.  I won’t pretend to understand exactly what it’s doing, but it involves about 30% more coffee grounds and more water per cup and it makes a noticeable difference and that’s how I like my coffee now.  And sometimes the gourmet button won’t work, either.  Damn.

But I am stalling at buying a new pot, because this one’s only a year old.  Plus, the problem is only intermittent and I can usually, with some swearing-under-the-breath and some plugging-and-unplugging of the device, get it to work with the gourmet button (because without it, I would just pull out the French press and not even bother with the electric thing).

I have become suspicious of my coffee pot, though, and nice features like the set-ahead timer and the automatic turn-off after an hour aren’t reliable and make me nervous, so I unplug it as soon as it brews and put the coffee in a vacuum carafe instead of using the warming plate.  I probably ought to just get a new one.

And really, in the time it took to write all this down and complain about it, I could have just gone over to Amazon and bought it already.

Be Careful What You Wish For

I probably spend waaaay too much of my already-excessive internet usage looking at the weather.  Aside from email, my most-often-visited bookmark is not Google, or Facebook, or even Ravelry, but weather.gov.  It’s an illness, I’m sure.

In February, which somehow manages to be the longest, darkest, coldest, most miserable month for having the fewest calendar days, we had a lovely 14″ of snow.  We got 20.6″ of the white stuff in March.  Both months were almost 50% above average precipitation.  I vaguely remember wishing for less snow.

In April, we got our wish: no snow.  Instead we got rain.  Lots and lots and lots of rain.  It rained 20 out of 30 days in April.  We had 6.87″ of it,  practically 3.5″ over average.  In May there was even more: 8.32″, more than twice the normal amount.

By June everyone was either bailing out their basements, drunk or moving to another climate.  But finally, the rain stopped.  We ended up with just 2″ of rain that month, and only 6 days with any noticeable precipitation.  However, it was cool-ish.  I didn’t mind, but some foolhardy folks got greedy and wanted it to be summer or something.  They must have practiced some seriously powerful weather voodoo, because we got summer.  We got it’s-the-equator-of-the-sun summer.  We got the kind of summer that is antithesis to our Ohio winters, the hole-up-and-hide-in-the-house kind.  Because it’s now been like two weeks with temperatures in the upper 90s, more than 15 degrees above average.  And now we have a drought.  

JULY 23 MAXIMUM: 90

JULY 22 MAXIMUM 98

JULY 21 MAXIMUM 97

JULY 20 MAXIMUM 93

JULY 19 MAXIMUM 89

JULY 18  MAXIMUM 91

JULY 17 MAXIMUM 89

JULY 16 MAXIMUM 87

And I am rather disappointed with these statistics because they don’t take into account the oppressive humidity and thus the heat index, which yesterday was 102 degrees F.

I promise to never complain about snow again until next February.

Switching Gears

I really need to get some of the clutter out of this house.  It weighs on me so heavily it might as well be a physical burden.

The clutter here is a combination of:

  • Projects half-finished and therefore not put away
  • Recent acquisitions/purchases that haven’t yet found a home
  • Stuff that someone else has given us in an attempt to clean out their home
  • PAPER
  • Dirty socks (seriously, they multiply under chairs and tables around here)

Most of the stuff taking up space in our home, though, are not current items being brought into the house daily through the mail/shopping/adventure du jour, or things being dragged out of their hidey-holes as we go about life here.  And we don’t have a lot of knick-knacky items collecting dust, so that’s not the problem.  Most of it, truthfully, is stuff I’ve held onto out of some sort of imagined obligation to family continuity.

For example, I literally have about 1000 books that belonged to my dad.  Well, maybe not 1000.  But it’s a lot.  Many of the books in our library were mine to begin with.  Like, I have about six Richard Peck novels (one of them autographed by the author- my first-ever autograph) which I’m pretty sure my dad never even read, let alone owned.  But probably more than half of our library stash are dad’s old (1960s and earlier) books from when he went to college, plus books he accumulated over his lifetime, and I’ve held on to them all these years because I felt like I ought to. Like there was some sort of eldest-daughter-as-family-historian requirement that I keep all this stuff. And they’re fascinating titles, like Finding Latitude And Longitude On Cloudy Days, Masterpieces in English Literature, A Handbook of Machining and Milling, Menlo Park Reminiscenses, Ovid’s Metamorphoses (I have my own copy, thankyouverymuch), etc, etc, etc.  Some of these are practically antiques.  The oldest volume I found was from 1861, with many in the 1930s-1960s range.   But interesting as they sound, I am never going to read them.

I don’t even like having them.

That bizarre epiphany occurred when I took a handful of titles off the shelf to clean, then decided to see if I could sell some to a used bookstore.  (Side note: if you want to sell books online, you pretty much have to have an ISBN number.  Many of my dad’s books were printed before they even had invented Times New Roman, so the ISBN number probably hadn’t even been dreamed of yet.)  Seeing that clean little space on the bookshelf was strangely liberating.  That was all it took.  I grabbed every book that had a searchable number and started furiously typing them in to the search box.  Powell’s offered me about $85 in store credit for 35 titles.  I took it and ran.  Meanwhile, another pile of outdated textbooks, anthologies, manuals, handbooks, historical accounts, novels, journals, and coffee-table books began filling the family room.  I pulled scads of stuff off the shelves, practically rejoicing in the knowledge that I had no intention of ever putting them back.

When DH and I were dating, a bizarre sequence of events happened that helped put me in this position.  I bought a house, just before my 30th birthday.  In fact, I closed in January and my birthday was in March.  The day before I turned 30, my grandfather died.  Nevermind that it sucked spending a significant birthday (or any birthday, for that matter) at a funeral home.  My mom and uncle had to clean out his apartment.  And since I had just bought a house, it seemed logical that all of his everyday things (lamps, chairs, dishes, etc) go to me.  And I was happy to take them, honest.  I firmly believe in the waste-not-want-not philosophy.  And I was poor, having just spent everything on the downpayment for my house.  It was nice to have drinking glasses and a light and not have to shell out money I no longer had in order to get them.

The year after grandpa died, I got married.  We got a good amount of stuff from a bridal shower that my mom and aunts generously threw for us.  We good another haul from a shower that my now-mother-in-law generously threw as well.  Then DH’s gramma died, so even more stuff arrived when they cleaned out her place.

Right after we got married- like 11 days later- my dad passed away.  It was expected, and my mom had already started to clear out her house in anticipation of downsizing.  Most of the stuff she didn’t have a use for came… you guessed it… here.  But I wasn’t complaining.  It seemed easy to just take everything and get rid of what I didn’t need later.

Then we moved.  I moved with DH to the house we live in now, and mom moved to a smaller house up the street.  More stuff came here when mom moved to her smaller house.

Then my mom moved to Florida full-time.  Aside from a couple of sentimental photos and her darn stick blender (the one thing I’d actually use), everything else ended up here.  Books.  Photos.  Family albums.  Dad’s records.  Tools.  Clothes.  Furniture.

So, in the course of 8 years, I have absorbed four households plus a ton of stuff my MIL has purged from her own ginormous collection of inherited family treasures.  She has a similar situation, except my FIL won’t let her get rid of anything.  Poor woman.

The problem is that I hate to throw things away.  Hate it. It’s not that I can’t let go of the object (although I have had a bit of a hard time getting rid of some of my dad’s more valuable possessions), it’s that I can’t stand the thought of burying it in a landfill when it is still perfectly usable.  I just haven’t found an efficient way to match up the unwanted but usable item with a willing taker.   So this is taking for-freaking-ever.  But at least I’ve started.

So bye-bye, dad’s old books.  I’ll check you out at the library if I have the urge to read Contemporary Literary Criticism any time soon.


Randomness and Pudding

It’s the Ides of March, but forget all that blather about being wary today: winter’s finally ebbing.  It’s hanging on, but steadily losing steam.  Now that our 2+ feet of snow has melted, there are perky springy buds all over the place, and zillions of daffodil shoots poking up everywhere    My neighbor claims she planted over 700 bulbs in her garden last fall.  That will be a brilliant display, and you can bet there will be me and every other person in the neighborhood with a camera standing in the street taking photos once they finally bloom.

I made rice pudding today.  Been craving it since last week, when a friend and I went to some cute dinky diner for supper.  Rice pudding was on the menu, but they were sold out.  Damn.  I hadn’t particularly wanted any til they said it was all gone, and now it’s all I can do not to eat the entire pot here at one sitting.

I’ve been knitting like a fiend, sometimes working on socks but mostly doing a shawl that I decided, last-minute, would be nice to have for an early April wedding.  I want to finish it while the motivation lasts.  That window of opportunity is dangerously small.  Fortunately, so is the amount of knitting left to go on it.

Our garden seeds arrived over the weekend, and S-almost-6 and I spent a lovely afternoon planting some of them in peat pots.  We sorted the seed packets into piles of “start inside weeks early” and “sow directly after all danger of frost has passed”.  There’s one small pile for peas, because those get sown outside but early.  They’re rebels, those peas.

Finally, my husband had a job interview in another state.  I have no freaking clue what is going to happen with that.  The interview went very well, they called back a few days later to ask him some followup questions about salary, and then… nothing.  Two weeks have now passed. He’s adopted the “just forget about it and act as if we’re going to die here” attitude.  I’m not that placid, unfortunately.  I just want to know, one way or the other, what the hell is going on.

Guess I’ll just have some more rice pudding while we wait.

Creamy Rice Pudding

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked white rice
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups milk, divided
  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 3/4 – 1 cup raisins
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 T butter

Combine cooked rice, sugar, salt and 1 1/2 cups of the milk in a saucepan.  Heat on medium flame until thick and creamy, about 15-20 minutes.  Stir regularly to prevent milk from scorching.  Combine 1/2 cup milk, egg, and raisins and pour into rice mixture.  Cook 2 minutes more, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and butter, and let cool slightly.  Pudding will thicken as it cools.  Serve while still warm.

and buds and green all over the place.

Time Out

Today, I took the girls to a preschool program at our local nature center.  That part’s not very relevant, although it does sort of set the stage for the seemingly-minor sequence of events that took place today.

There were about seven kids at the program, all between three and five years of age.  S5 was the oldest, most of the other kids were 4, and a few were just three.  They all behaved fairly well, with just the occasional extraneous wiggle.  S5 blurted out answers a few times.  O4 did, too.  But everyone did a pretty good job at keeping focus and joining in on the activities, participating without distracting the rest of the group.

Everyone, that is, except for Erica.

Erica, an older and very verbal three-year-old, was there with her grandparents.  Erica did not want to sit with the group.  Erica did not want to be quiet during the story.  Erica had plenty to say about things not even related to the program or the current activity.  She wandered.  She blurted.  She distracted everyone, including the ranger running the program.  At storytime, she stood up in front of the book (“Cactus Hotel”, if you are wondering) and stuck her little face into the page so that only she could see the pictures.  At one point, she even knocked the book out of the ranger’s hand.

The ranger was very kind, but she was obviously getting frustrated.  The other kids were getting frustrated, too.  “Sit down, Erica!” everyone said half-a-dozen times.  The grandparents joined in the chorus of people admonishing her to park her behind, too, but otherwise did nothing to correct the situation.

Finally, after sternly telling Erica to sit down for what must have been the tenth time, and giving a pointed glance at the grandparents (who still had not moved to correct their little charge), the ranger finished the story and moved on to the next activity.  Erica loudly announced that she wasn’t interested in holding on to a picture of a desert animal while we sang a song.  She threw herself on the floor and complained that she was tired.  We kept going around her, ignoring the tantrum and trying not to get too distracted by this very obnoxious behavior.

Ad nauseum.

Now, I really don’t have a problem with Erica’s behavior.  Every child has off-days and rough moments where they simply cannot behave, whether it’s because they’re tired, or they had too much sugar at grandma’s that morning, or maybe their clothes are itchy, or their bodies are changing and adjusting, or the stimulus is too much, or whatever.  It happens to everyone.  Every parent has, at one time or another (sometimes many times, if we’re going to be honest here) been the parent of that child, the one who disrupts the entire scene and makes his mother want to crawl into her diaper bag and hide there until everyone else has gone home.

The thing is, most of us will reach out to our child during these little episodes and try to help them refocus.  We will scoop them up, look them in the eye, and let them know that what they are doing is not acceptable.  And then we will let them try again, maybe once or even twice.  But if it’s obvious that Preschool Nature Hour is just not happening this morning, we’ll stick them into their little boots and coat and take them home.  It’s not only the considerate thing to do for the rest of the group, but the kids need that kind of reinforcement.  They need to know when they are behaving out of bounds.  And they need someone to take them out of situations that they aren’t prepared to handle.

No, it wasn’t Erica’s behavior that was immature and irresponsible.  For a three-year-old, she behaved completely normally.  It was her grandparents who needed the time out.