Wednesday, February 24, 2010

End of Winter Blahs

New England...the land of changeable weather. Usually I love living in this part of the country. We usually get hot summers, bright and colorful falls, and cold, snowy winters. Then there is spring. In my head spring is warm and flowery with rain showers and puddle jumping.

But that's in other parts of the country, or in books and movies. Not here in the Northeast.

While it's not spring yet, we're pretty close (24 days), and the emergence of spring weather patterns have gotten me a bit down. Rain and slush. Cold and raw. Hardly cheerful things. It's my least favorite season.

What is even worse is my commute to work in the spring. I live about 30 miles outside Boston, and travel along the weird weather lines that Massachusetts has. It seems that these weather lines have been there for at least a hundred years or more, as the main roadways outline each approaching storm. We have the Mass Pike as the north/south boundary, and Rts 495/95/93 as the east/west lines. Well, I have to cross all but one of these lines to get to my office (I live inside the 495 barrier--which essentially separates eastern and central MA).

For example, this morning I woke up to snow. The trees were heavy with it, bowing the boughs towards the snow covered landscape. We had to get out the snow blower to clear the plowed in driveway, and many of the schools around us were either closed or had 2+ hours delayed opening. Having to run errands after work, I needed to drive into the subway instead of taking the commuter rail. After shoveling the back walk so we could get in and out of the house without trekking in snow all over the kitchen, I got in my car and cautiously drove down the snow packed street. The main roads were clearer and I drove the 5 miles out to Rt. 2, a small divided highway that runs east/west. Once I hit the highway, I noticed the pretty snow had changed over to a sleety mess. No problem, I'm in my car! Ten minutes later I cross the 95 barrier and it's raining. Pouring actually. Wipers on high, I keep going and enter the MBTA parking garage, park, and head into the subways. When I pop out of the orange line 30 minutes later, I could have walked straight into the April showers. Lashing rains, winds, and...well, it's nearly warm. I put my snow gloves and hat into my purse and wish for an umbrella.

It's going to be like this for the rest of the week. Unpredictable. Wet. Coldish. Looking at the weather map from my dry office with rain drizzling outside my window, I see that it's still snowing at my house. My urban dwelling co-workers don't believe me. But right now we're 500 feet south of the Pike, and right on the 93 border. There's a gale coming off the water a quarter mile away. 30 miles away they are getting 6 inches of the white stuff throughout the day. Then rain showers all tomorrow. What a mess.

Spring. Definitely not my favorite season. It sounds full of hope and promise, but then drips cold water down the back of your neck, soaking your t-shirt you put on in hopes of a 40 degree plus day.

Oh yes, this is New England. T-shirts come out when the mercury pops above 40. Where spring hopes are eternal.

Monday, February 15, 2010

It's nice to be wrong

Valentine's Day was yesterday, and I received a valentine!!

I know, it sounds silly. I'm a married woman, of course I would receive a Valentine. But that's not really true. I live and am married to a man who just doesn't like holidays. Except Thanksgiving, because there is no expectation there. I love holidays, and have been known to celebrate Bastille Day (July 14) even though I'm not French and have only been to France once. In his mind, however, Valentine's Day is a Hallmark holiday. To me, it is an extension of my childhood memories.

My family has always celebrated Valentine's Day. I remember receiving a heart-shaped box of conversation hearts when I was 3 or 4 and loving it. Each year my parents would give us candy, and when I started dating I looked forward to receiving flowers and candy. I never expected anything else. Just candy. Flowers were a maybe, and always appreciated. Plus, Valentine' parties in school rocked. Dessert, cards, and paper hearts.

I'm not going to broach on the history of Valentine's Day. I will only say that it's a saint's day, Cupid is as old as the Greek and Roman myths, and I love the Victorian tradition of trading cards.

Now, the past few years I've fought with dear husband about the importance of V-day. I see it as a fun day, where you get to share your love with someone. Yes, I get that every day, but do you know what I don't get every day? Flowers, a lovely card, or silly candy in a heart shaped box. This day is a long 6-weeks after Christmas, and falls in a cold month here in the north east. It's nice to look forward to some fire.

This year I was determined to be OK if he didn't do anything for the day. I sent out my cards to my family and friends, bought him a small gift and his favorite chocolate treat, and picked a cute card.

Preparing for nothing really led to an exciting day. I received the trifecta. Flowers (12 dozen beautiful red roses), candy (Godiva chocolate), and jewelry (a gorgeous white and black diamond heart necklace). And....a card.

The card in itself was a miracle. In the past ten years, dear husband has given me probably 4 cards...2 of which were birthday cards. Cards belong to holidays, and well, as already stated, he just doesn't do them. That card meant more to me than the Valentine trifecta. It also brought the day back to basics for me. Trading sweet notes and poems, surprises, and love.

Although I am a sucker for some nice flowers.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Simple Saturday

Today I'm taking the advice of the many people and not doing much. Instead of rushing around, going to the gym, cleaning the house inside and out, I do a brief errand this morning, went to an market, came home and took a nap. It was a great nap in the sun, and the cats must have agreed that I chose a good spot and time because they both curled up with me.

I'm probably not going to be able to do that in a few months. My father told me yesterday to enjoy my boredom. Right now I am. Post nap snacks, still hanging out with the cats, and catching up on my DVR shows.

Ah, Saturday.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The story of the distracted writer

My friend Elle33's blog inspired me to catch up on my own. I couldn't remember the last time I wrote in it, and then when I looked I was embarrassed. Nearly a year. Whoops.

But it's not like I've been thoughtless or even lazy. I've been devoting my time to other projects, and some even include writing. Not the other other blog I have though [Garden Spider Hollow]...that's dead. It was a one year gardening project that I never gave an official send off to when it was over. My last post on that one was a year ago as well. Just as well though; the growing season last year sucked due to the constant monsoons that hit the Northeast. To sum: slugs, lettuce, small pumpkin, lots of pickles, no flowers, and lots of squash that people thought were sweet potatoes.

The other projects I've worked on since last February have been diverse...running, baking, canning, noveling,, poetry of different states, and getting knocked up. Not in that order of course.

Let's start with the last one. I'm pregnant. Not preggers, cause I really don't like that word. Due May 4 (3 months from today, s*#t!) and having a really good pregnancy so far. It's uneventful which is good, and I've never heard the word "perfect" from the doctor more in my life. Not to say I haven't had weird things happen (mainly weird rashes) but I just dont feel pregnant. Until I catch a sight of the basketball belly in the mirror that is. And then I see our guest room, which hasn't housed a guest since July and has become more of the kittens' playground due to the boxes of stuff that I'm storing in there. [To be fair, for November and December it was the Christmas present staging area.] By now people tell me it should start to resemble a nursery. It doesn't at all. But when I shut the door I can pretend it is, right? Out of sight, out of my mind. Totally out of my mind.

But not really. I've developed a great coping mechanism in the past few years for being out of my mind. Exercise. Particularly running and yoga. Not so much running these days, but being active and yoga have really trained my mind to focus. I am less likely to fly off the handle over nothing (except when dear husband tells me how to do something in the kitchen--off limits buddy). Marathon training has led me to be able to sink into my head at a moment's notice and take over my body. Complete control. It's a relatively new thing for me. I can only imagine where I would be in life right now if I learned this skill 15 years ago.

Now on to the oddest of my hobbies. Canning. Yes, as in food preserves. My dream is to have a wall of shelves in a pantry (which I do not have) with jars lined up in rainbow colors of food to get us through the winter. In this dream there is also a nice window in the pantry that allows the sun to bounce off all the jars too. Ahhh. Last year I focused on pickles, jams, and apple-butter. This year I will be incorporating fruit preserves as well.

Lastly, writing. I really have been writing. True, not as much as I should or could be. But I'm putting the pen to the paper. Or fingers to the keyboard. I was involved with an online poetry group that created collaborative poems and now I'm working on getting them together and publishing them. If I can remember how to use Quark. I also dabbled in the website but just cannot write every day. Then I completed the a novel in a month challenge, which I'm still editing and rewriting. My goal is to apply for the Boston Library Writer in Residence. It offers a $20K grant, writing space, a chance to work with some of the library programs, and time to finish my manuscript. We'll see. I'm sure there is stiff competition, and I need recommendations that just aren't out there for me really. One of the consequences of working in a medical editorial office with people who don't understand writing. But if I can get my manuscript in good enough shape (at least 20 pages of it) I'll apply.

Cause you gotta put yourself out there for the universe to find you, right?