No School…Again

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I originally wrote this on January 6th 2014.  I find if amusing that I am sitting in my living room, snuggled under blankets, watching a movie with my teenagers almost exactly the way I was 1 year ago to the day.

The temperature this morning is -8° below zero.  I love winter and yet this is too chilly, even for me.  The call came in yesterday evening around 5 p.m., schools were closing. 

This phone call was exciting!  My boys will be home all day for us to enjoy one more lazy, watch TV, play video games, eat snacks, do nothing kind of day.  A small extension of their winter break from school. 

Recently calls of this nature were a life line of hope while I was working at a day care center.  If the public schools closed so did this particular institution.  The cancellation of school was a ticket to relaxation.

When I was younger, in the public school system, we didn’t get phone calls.  The responsibility of knowing if your child was to be at school in inclement weather rested solely on the shoulders of the parent.  The parents had an easy job here.  This was news every student in the district would happily receive for their parents.  The news station, yes it was singular in my house, would scroll a banner of school closings across the bottom of the screen.  Every child would sit, transfixed, to read each school listed.  The silent prayers for your school to be closed flooding the heavens.  Brothers and sisters would stop their teasing, teeth would go unbrushed, pets would become restless at the silence in the house.  Sometimes children would be chased to bed because hopes had not been answered, yet.  Sometimes the district wouldn’t make a decision until the morning.  At 6 a.m. the TV would come to life, cereal bowl in hand, more prayers…waiting…waiting…

Then it would happen!  The announcement would come, NO SCHOOL TODAY DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER.  Chaos would ensue.  Siblings who couldn’t sit next to each other at the dinner table, would suddenly embrace with joy.  The cheering was deafening.  Parents would scramble to make sure appropriate care was in place for the younger children.  Pets would join in with the celebrations with yapping and hissing at the commotion.  Nothing compares to the news of unexpected days off from school.

It seems in our technologically advanced era the excitement has not ebbed.  Social media was flooded with reports of the closings the moment it happened.  My teenagers happily stayed awake as late as they chose.  The anticipation of rest and laziness just for the sake of being lazy is almost intoxicating.  In my house today I will enjoy the company of my boys while I work. I will bake cookies for the sheer love of warm cookies. I will embrace the calm of a restful day that does not require make-up or jewelry.  

Have a warm, restful day.

‘Cuz I’m Weird Like That

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No! I am standing in rebellion! My fists are balled at my sides and I might even stomp my feet! I love change but this is too soon!  I don’t want winter to be over.

I know, I know, everyone is sick and tired of the cold, the snow and the basically depressing weather outside their doors. But hear me out…When those first light flakes fall to the earth in an icy dance, I feel peace.  An all-encompassing quiet in my heart that makes me smile.

Think of your favorite childhood toy.   Think of how it felt in your hands, not your hands of adulthood but your tiny, uncoordinated child sized fingers.  Is it soft?  Does it make noise?  Maybe it was an item that fit perfectly in your little palm.  Think of the way you felt when you had your favorite toy…

That joyous, peaceful, “I’m in my own world” feeling is exactly how I feel when it snows.

Goodbye winter, I will miss you.
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Winter Is Dying

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The days have grown longer, sunshine brightens my mornings.  It has been a long cold winter on The Great Plains.  Weather personalities speak of a Polar Vortex, sweeping down to consume us all in the arctic air of the north.  I feel like the great Alaskan Malamute that lives down the street from me.  As the snow piles higher, that beautiful, cold loving, hound, prances on his daily walks with his master.  One very bitter morning, as I was shoveling my front walk, I thought I saw him smile.  I feel the same way about this quiet, chilly time of the year.  The snuggles are freely given, movie marathons with “blanket beds” retain almost no guilt for tasks left undone, and hot tea warms your body and soul.  I love winter.

In the last few days my fantasies have turned to blissful green meadows, flowers blooming, neighbors chatting, walking a little slower from building to building, just because of the warmth in the air.  Soon inhabitants of the quiet houses all throughout the city will wake from our sloth laden slumbers.  As the sun warms this area of the world, we too shall wake.  I dream of the sunshine warming my hair.  The smell of fresh turned dirt sparks in my memories.  I hear the laughter of children playing in their yards.

It is still just a dream.  Winter has not released her grasp on us, yet.  The air is cold.  Jack Frost will visit again tonight.  I will continue to dream of spring.  While I am awake I will relish every cold moment.  For everything changes and soon winter will pass along to spring.

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Find Inspiration

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I did not attend church yesterday.  I was visiting older friends, out-of-town, who do not normally attend church.  We spent the morning sipping our various warm-wake-us-up-drinks, chatting, relaxing and generally enjoying the calm of another cold winter morning.  The grey clouds veiled the sun from us.  The winds blew whistles in the trees.  We stayed inside, in the warmth, of my hostesses home and her friendship.

Our conversations flowed with the ease of old friends, reacquainting ourselves with each other.  We talked of our children, the Olympic games, favorite foods, and our individual faiths.  We did not rush.  We just relaxed.

As the morning waned to the afternoon our hostess excitedly told of a pastor on television that gives a great sermon.  She told us he is not like any pastor we have heard preach and insisted we watch this mornings message.  I will not mince words here, I was not interested.  I take my sermons from trusted pastors in familiar settings, like a church.  I am of an era that remembers the scandals of TV evangelists.  People that got rich from little old ladies sitting in their living rooms trusting the reverend who gave a “great sermon”.  They being of the era that knows their tithing is a direct path to righteousness.  Then the scandals would explode on mainstream media.  The women, and men, who trusted their earthly souls to a person, who took their money for their own benefits and ran.  It is heartbreaking for me to see the trust so generously given, be stripped away so completely.  So, I do not give a lot of credibility to this form of religion.

Yet I sat down and opened my mind to the words this pastor imparted to the millions this Sunday morning.  His message talked about judgment.  How we should not be standing in judgment of others.  Quotes from the bible rolled off his tongue, he added in funny antidotes, and knowingly talked of theologians.  He talked to his congregation as if he was talking with a group of old college friends.  He seemed at ease with his stardom.  Without really thinking about it I started taking notes in my journal.  I was jotting down the bible references, adding in my personal thoughts, just plain wanting to remember the words that he spoke that did mean something to me.

At the end of the message our hostess turned to me with a smile and asked, “Wasn’t that a good message?”  I honestly responded with “Yes it really was.”

You may not be looking for inspiration, but sometimes inspiration finds you.  Be sure to keep your hearts and minds open to our world around us, you never know where you will find inspiration next.

A Day For Lovers

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Snow blankets the earth, you are by my side.

We sit, snuggled under a blanket,

watching our fingers intertwine.

Your voice whispers to me, “stay here.”

I feel your heartbeat next to mine.

Gentle, falling, lacy crystals

entice us to remain.

The day will pass, outside my door.

We will embrace forevermore.

 

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Frivolous Friday

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I sat ensconced in warmth, munching salted chips, thinking the world looks cold.  People pass by, bundled, trying to keep the icy air at bay.  The police officer writing tickets for the parking meters looks like Ralphie’s brother from A Christmas Story.  Her arms are stiff from all the fluffy padding of her winter attire.  The homeless man with all his earthly possessions, wheeling behind him, is moving tirelessly.  He pauses for only a few moments to rest before moving off, around the corner out of my sight.  I hope he finds somewhere warm and safe to pass the rest of the day, out of the biting cold.  College kids hurry past, heads down racing to the next building on campus before they freeze.

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The music is too loud here, so my mind blocks out all the noise and I focus outside where the sound is released to collide with other sounds.  The conversations echo off one another.  I am trying to focus on the conversation with my friend but between bites of food and my brain shutting out all the noise, it is difficult.

The gentle sloping roof of the building next door makes me wonder why all buildings are not built with curves.  The roof line looks elegant.  Plus with the recent snowstorm the weight of the snow slid gracefully off the roof to pile on the grass below.  The huge art in the grassy area near the curved roof structure is still covered with snow.  The snow adds to the towering monolith, making it seem more robust.

“What do you want to do today?”

I think he asked it twice.  My mind slowly starts firing on ideas.  I smile at him, “Let’s get out of here.”  I say.  “Road trip?”  He smiles back.  One of our favorite pastimes.  He is always up for one of my ‘I-have-no-idea’ kind of ideas.  We bundle up to leave the noise and the picture window behind.

The muffled sounds of the city are a welcome relief for me.  Gone is the blaring music, the cacophony of voices and the racket of a kitchen.  We parked close, to avoid the prolonged cold.  He drives.  I drive like a bat out of hell, so his slower more relaxed style is better for us on these drives.  We head west out-of-town to no where in particular.  I snap pictures as we drive.  I have a general destination in mind but no exact direction is necessary.  I love to just be away, even if it is for just a few hours.  I work on a project, we talk, we absorb the world around us as it flies past us outside the windows.
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The rolling hills go on and on.  We pass a cemetery that has a historic marker posted by it’s entrance.  We pass through small towns that have fur trader businesses, where stacks of furs are covered in snow waiting to be cured and made into…something.  Every town we visit has at least one church and one bar.  What an interesting combination.

Returning home I feel refreshed and relaxed.  My boys are home from school.  It is rejuvenating to travel, even for just a few hours, but it is the coming home I love the most.
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Thank You Snow People

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Nebraska is notorious for harsh winters.  We experience arctic cold air, piles of snow and wind that cuts across this land unchecked for miles.  The people who live in Nebraska know our weather is extreme (don’t even get me started on the summers around here).  Yet here we all are.

I personally love living in Nebraska, extreme weather and all.  This winter season has been marked by erratic weather patterns of high temperatures of 50º (F) one day and the next day 10° (F) or less.  Right now in Nebraska we are frigid.  Twice area schools have been canceled due to temps dropping to -11º (F).  We haven’t seen the snow piles of the past two winters but the cold is still reminding us of the season.  It has been so cold the polar bears are going to start migrating down here.

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Two days ago we got our first major snowstorm of 2014.  Schools got canceled due to the snow and temperatures once again falling below zero.  So yesterday was a wonderful stay at home day to enjoy the warmth and love of an extra day off together.  I love snuggling down to watch movies in the middle of the day with my teenagers, eating junk food and laughing together.  It feels like the world is standing still just for us.

Today was a normal schedule of out the door, fight the traffic and take my boys to their respective schools.  What I found was snow cleared away from the roads.  Yes of course the snow plows were out working but I mean the lesser used side streets were cleared, the parking lots were almost flake free and the sidewalks looked unscathed by mother nature’s wrath.  The hard work of the people, to remove the snow for others, so they have safe travels made me smile.

Thank you Snow People for all of your hard work.

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No Snocalypse Here

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The memories I have of traveling as a young child / young adult shaped the traveler I am today.  The scenes of the world flashing by the window of the car as we drove to the next destination inspired my imagination.  Walking in territory undiscovered by me kept my interest flowing.  The discovery of a new part of the world excited my determination.

When weather predictions declare snowfall during a road trip weekend I must take precautions.  In light of the polar vortex weather this year I felt the predictions warranted my caution.  I am an adventure seeker and most weather conditions will not deter my travels.  This trip was not planned or necessary.  One of those just-for-fun kind of weekends.  I love traveling, just for the sake of being away.  Yet for some reason I decided to cancel my travels and snuggle into my home to wait out the storm.

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The blessings of staying local when you want to be away can be enormous.  I am able to enjoy unexpected visitors, warm morning breakfast in bed, great conversations with friends and of course the gently falling snow outside the window…or not.  As I tried to keep my heavy eyelids from shutting for the night, my vision beheld not one little white, lacy, flake floating down to rest on the earth.  Not one.  I gave up the hard fight and went to slumber in my bed hoping to awake to a winter wonderland of snow, at least 2 inches.  Bounding out of bed to greet the “snocalypse” of February 1st 2014, I was ecstatic.  Alas, it was not to be with this storm.  I awoke to a light dusting of the fine, powdery crystals.  My heart sank.

Yet, the trade-off of travel for the company of people who restore my soul is much more valuable than a new vista.  I awoke to not mountains of snow but mountains of familiarity and love.  My car was graced with a snow note, the breakfast was lovingly prepared, and the community of my heart rejuvenated.

Travel well my friends.

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Winter Captivity

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HELP!  I am being held captive by my blankets!  They refuse to let me go.  They say it is for my own good that they keep me securely in my bed.  Their warm embrace cocoons me.  The blankets who did not welcome me as I laid down to sleep last night now ensconce me completely.  The treadmill is calling, I cannot move.  My work is begging me to start my day, the blankets snuggle me closer.  I am trying to break free of their bounds….or maybe I secretly like it!  😉