Snowstorm Survival Tips From a Northern Girl


D.C. is facing the end of the world as we know it, and I’m not talking about the possible presidency of Donald Trump. I’m talking about the really scary stuff. I’m talking about snow.

Last night we got less than an inch and the city went into a panic before the panic. You think gridlock in Washington is bad? Visit D.C. during winter. My husband cleared the driveway with a broom. School was canceled.

Starting tomorrow, we’re supposed to get amounts that measure in feet rather than inches. I grew up in Michigan, and as the old joke goes, we call that Tuesday, but folks around here are talking locusts and plagues. I’ve given up shaking my head over the capitol’s inability to deal with snow.  The amount of chaos caused by winter weather is inversely proportional to the population’s experience with it, so basically, I’m staying home until it melts.

As a public service, however, I will share my wealth of experience and give you some hints for getting through snowmaggedon.

Buy toilet paper. Today, the grocery store checkout had the feel of a cold-war era Russian food line, only the bread was gluten free and the milk was from organic grass-fed cows.  The bottled water section was stripped clean, save for one case of Poland Spring, which two women fought over like a Dooney & Bourke handbag at  a Macy’s one star sale.

What puzzled me however, was the lack of activity in the paper aisle. While carts were filled to the brim with smoked salmon and brie (bless the whole-house generator), not a single person was buying toilet paper.

Paper goods, people. Don’t be a newb.

Buy Wine. I know they say wine induces hypothermia, but huddling under a comforter with a box of Cheerios is much better with a bold Pinot Noir.

If it’s rechargeable, charge it now, and use charged items wisely. My son used his phone as a flashlight the last time we lost power, despite having a battery operated one at his feet. I reminded him that if he ran down his phone, he wouldn’t be able to text “Do you have power yet?” to his friends every five minutes. I could hear his eyes roll in the dark.

Have the power company number on your cellphone. When the power goes out, your landline will no longer work. It will also be dark (because the power always goes out when it’s dark) and the account number on your bill is barely readable in daylight. I know that you’re supposed to be able to call in with your phone number, but when was the last time that worked for you?

Find your candles and flashlights now.  If you can’t remember where they are, think about the least convenient place you can think of, since that’s probably where you put them thinking “I’ll never forget that I put them here.”

While you still have power make the kids shower. This is not the time to humor one’s hygienically challenged teen. They can do it while the water is warm, or take their chances later. Even without power I have my limits. I don’t care if the kid barely brushes his teeth most days, after two days of peanut butter and tuna, these niceties are no longer optional. Even the women of Lost managed to shave their armpits.

 

Use the generator wisely. Who knows how long you have to make the fuel last. First priority? The septic and sump pumps. Number two? The refrigerator.  Next? Lights? Heat? Nope. The internet.

Alleviate some of that pre-storm anxiety by making catching up binge watching musts. My recommendation? Mozart in the Jungle. Two seasons worth of episodes will burn quite a few hours, and Gael Garcia Bernal makes me feel very, very warm.

Unless your family is full of good sports, hide the board games. You’re stuck together in the dark and cold for god knows how long.  Especially if the bad sport in your family is the one who controls the food and knows where the toilet paper is. Don’t test me–I hold grudges. Pass the Pinot.

Most important, remember this isn’t that bad. If you’re reading this, you have a home, with a computer and a heater and probably a full refrigerator, even if you might be low on toilet paper. A snowstorm can actually be kind of fun, and snuggling up is the best way to stay warm. If your fireplace is like mine, and is more ornamental than functional, stream the Darth Vader Yule Log on your IPad, pour another glass of Pinot, and make peace with the weather. It’s a great excuse not to do laundry.

These things are never as bad as the media says they’ll be, except for when they’re worse. In either case, be safe, be wise, and if you’re bored, you can binge-read back essays on my blog.

Carpe Diem Nix. Seize the Snow Day.

 

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Today’s Headline – Satan says “Talk to the hand, but lend me some mittens first.”


Plunging temps are creating havoc across the eastern United States, stressing human services, weary mothers of house-bound children and the pipes of forgetful homeowners. But we’ve found an unexpected casualty of the record-setting deep freeze.

“You’ve got an issue with follow through? Not my fault, people. Leave me alone. I’ve got problems of my own.”  The devil insists this due date isn’t his. “I only run the joint. If you don’t like the climate, talk to the guy upstairs. Ever heard the term ‘acts of god?’ We’re done here.”

Hell has frozen over, and thousands of individuals are facing the unexpected consequences of what they thought were idle promises. But they won’t go down without a fight.

Like Dennis Mattinson of Dedham, Massachusetts. “I don’t care if Satan is doing triple toe loops in the underworld, I am not, I repeat, am not going to see Riverdance.”

Peggy, his wife of forty years begs to differ. “He said it, not me. What happened to ‘a man is only as good as his word? I’ve already bought our tickets, and by the way, he’ll be wearing a tie.” Sorry, Dennis, but Peggy isn’t budging.

“I’m calling a lawyer. Who’s that guy on t.v.? You only have to pay him if you win. That’s what he says anyway.”

For his part, attorney Michael Allen is ready. “This is a gray area, in my opinion. Exactly what does ‘frozen over’ mean and how do we verify the extent of the condition required to trigger satisfaction of the contract? We can’t be talking about a little frost around the edges. Frozen over implies an extensive condition of durable status. I’m not sure these agreements are enforceable.”

Human Resource professionals and former employees alike are pondering the same question–does “I’ll come back to this job when hell freezes over” constitute a threat or a promise?

“I quit that bitch, and I’ll do it again,” says Denise Garret of Pontiac, Michigan.

“We never accepted the terms of Denise’s re-employment,” adds Monica Thomas of Widgetworks Enterprises. “It was verbal only, with no consideration given from either party. Denise is not the considerate sort. Trust me.”

Grant Branch of Chicago, Illinois is ecstatic. “Finally! It’s the Cubbie’s year.” The citizens of Seattle beg to differ. For his part, David Acheson, general manager of the Cleveland Browns is backpedaling. “It’s not like we don’t want to go to the Superbowl. Cut us some slack.”

Katie Dwyer is already planning her spring break trip to Daytona. “Par-tay!!” Her parents declined to comment.

Florists are seeing a boom in business from thwarted suitors seeing a second chance with their future ex-wives, while restaurant reservation lines are the only thing burning up north of the Mason Dixon. “Finally, it’s my turn,” says Taylor Watson. “I’ve been keeping a list. The only problem I’ve run into is that a lot of these phone numbers have been disconnected, and this one,” he points to a number next to the name Emily, “is for the Rite-Aid prescription refill line. When you see this, call me, okay?”

The devil, more formally known as Lucifer Beelzebub insists he isn’t liable for third-party agreements. “What happened to all that free will stuff, tell me that, mankind? I barely have enough time to deal with politicians.” Don’t bother complaining, Lucifer isn’t interested. “And if you don’t like it, you can go to hell, but you might want to bring a coat. Just sayin’.”

All we can say here at the Mobyjoe Cafe is that keeping your agreements is up to you, but at least try to keep warm.

Abominable Behavior

Boston-YetiAbout ten years ago, when I was living in Boston, a major snowstorm hit the city while I was traveling on business.

As fate would have it, parking at Logan was limited, so I had to park on the roof. That’s right. The roof. The part of the building without more building above it.

I was totally screwed. Not only would my car be covered with eight inches of snow, I would be boxed in by whatever the plow left behind my car while clearing the roof for everyone else. In the time I was gone, surely it would have half-melted and re-solidified into a natural barricade which would require a jack hammer to get through.

Come to think of it, I wasn’t entirely sure exactly which row I’d parked in. It’s not like the roof has a lot of identifying characteristics, and I sort of counted on having the identifying characteristics of my car to rely on, unless, of course, it was the only one still covered with snow. Then it would be easy to spot.

I had a snow brush in the car, but what I really needed was a shovel, or a pick axe. Maybe I’d be better off taking a cab home, and then going back the next day with a jack hammer.

And that’s when my husband called.

“So you and the dude are going to drive over and dig me out before I get home, right?”

The dude was six. At seventeen, he still is useless during a snowstorm. If only he shoveled snow as effectively as he manages to shovel everything else.

“Hahahaha. Right.” My husband is such a romantic soul.

When I finally arrived in Boston it was late–well past midnight–and I made my way to the roof of the parking ramp. As expected, the rooftop was a sea of white under bright lights, each car an indistinguishable white blob next to another white blob.

All except for one. Mine. Completely cleared and shoveled out of the mess. All I had to do was back up and I could head home.

I called my husband. “I was joking, but really, thank you. That was amazing. You really didn’t have to dig out my car.”

I basked in the feeling of overwhelming love. It was so good to be home.

“Good, because I didn’t.”

I’ve always wondered who shoveled out my car. My husband’s theory is that someone spent an hour digging out a car only to figure out it wasn’t theirs. Their silver Sienna was one more row over. Their worst night ever had become my coup.

But as of today, I know the truth. It was the Boston Yeti.

Boston has been hammered with snow the last few weeks, and the Yeti has roamed empty streets late at night, played in the snow, and even hailed a cab. Folks all across town have tweeted their sightings using #BostonYeti2015. Last week, he began digging out cars, and he didn’t even put a lawn chair with a box of cat litter on top of it to call dibs on the space for later. I told my family that my mystery was solved.

A lot of really shitty stuff is happening in the world right now, like we’re engaged in a sick one-upsmanship to establish who can be the most horrific of all.  Ironic, isn’t it? Someone in a an abominable snowman suit is representing the best of human spirit, while others engage in abominable behavior while pretending to be human.

The Yeti says he’s just lending a claw, but I’d like to think he’s starting a movement. What would the world be like if we were all Yeti, just doing what needed to be done, without fanfare or attribution, just to make the world a little better for one person on one day by doing one simple (or not so simple) thing.

Is today’s Yeti also my Yeti? I don’t know, and it doesn’t really matter. It’s been over ten years since my personal Yeti rescued my car from burial by snowdrift at Logan, and just thinking about it renews my belief in magic. We could use a little magic, don’t you think? Maybe we could all be someone’s Yeti.

Go do it. Be abominable. Be a Yeti.

Photograph from Mashable

Blessed or screwed, I’ve got it twice over

IMG_0656According to my husband, Winter Storm Pax was entirely my fault.

When my son was home on his third straight snow day, I aired my grievance to management.

“Mother Nature,” I shouted, “Go **** yourself. Twice.”

Around here, mothers have each others’ backs. If Mother Nature lived in my neighborhood, the Mommy Mafia would have sent her to sleep with the goldfishes days ago. Nothing diminishes the affection for one’s children like extended periods of close proximity.

My husband clamped his hand over my mouth. “Are you crazy?” His eyes held the crazed look of a man contemplating another five hours behind a snow blower. He whispered. “She might hear you.”

Being subjected to repeated queries regarding “what do we have in the house to eat?” diminished my sympathy.

“I wouldn’t mind as much if I had a mudroom,” I said. My husband sighed. It’s a sore point for me. When we bought our house he said it wouldn’t matter because it doesn’t snow in Virginia. I guess he should have checked with Mother Nature before making that assertion.

So when the Weather Channel sounded the alarm, the accusations flew. “You did this. I warned you.”

I was the picture of innocence. “I wished her sex. Twice. Who doesn’t want that?”

My husband said, “I wouldn’t mind sex once.”

“Which you might get if your son wasn’t following me around all day asking if there’s anything to eat in the house.”

Still, the aftermath of Pax was beautiful, the vibrant blue singular to evening snow contrasting with the golden pools cast by the landscaping lights. The world was hushed, like everything had stopped to admire the view.

“Let’s take a walk,” I said. We put on our gear and strolled hand-in-hand down the middle of the street. The light bounced off the snow on the ground and in the air, almost bright enough to read by.

When we returned from our wandering, we saw a message scrawled into the snow on the driveway.

Never Surrender.

My son popped up from his hiding place and pelted us with snowballs. I wondered how long he had lain in wait, especially when I noticed that he was wearing shorts and a tee shirt. When the battle was over, my husband and son went inside, but I hung back a moment.

“Try not to get snow all over the floor,” I shouted. “I don’t have a mud room.” My husband shook his head.

I took a deep breath. My son would be home again tomorrow.

“Hey Mother Nature,” I called into the silence.

“Thank you. Twice.”