Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What Is All This White Stuff?


So... you may have noticed on the news that it done snowed in the South. Like... a lot.

Greenville is protected by the nature of its location from the worst of any weather pattern, but that doesn't mean we didn't still have us some fun. 

Now, we've known this was coming for a couple of days now. So when I got up yesterday and drove to work under that special steel-gray sky, I was well aware of what was likely to commence. Work was basically a waiting game to see what would happen; we ended up only getting out an hour early, but frankly should have been sent home at least two hours earlier than that if the goal was to avoid the mess.

When they let us go and I walked out into the parking lot, I looked at the amount of snow on my car, thought about the country highway I drive home on, and said to a coworker, "Well, this'll be nice and dangerous."

And it was, dear readers.

Although it's a highway in serious use, it's still a country road with lots of nice happy curves and hills. The snow was accumulating rapidly, but people had obviously been driving over it, which meant in-between the snow were tire tracks where friction had melted it and it had begun to re-harden into exciting, exciting ice. The South doesn't pre-salt or pre-sand; they don't have enough plows, salt trucks, sand, or even rock salt itself to do anything in advance. The stuff just... sits on the road until someone can get around to it later. And sometimes that "later" is "tomorrow morning."

I took it slow, and really it wasn't super bad. My only concern actually came from a guy in front of me who slammed on his brakes constantly.

For those who don't know how to drive in snow and/or ice, the number one rule is do not hit your brakes.

Just let your foot off the gas. You'll slow down, it'll most likely be fine. If you hit your brakes, you're going to spin out your tires if it's slick and lose control. So yeah. That was a harrowing adventure.

Today my work didn't open at all, which was probably the safest call; while the roads in Greenville were mostly passable, the country roads have lots of trees to shade them from the sun and things were still nice and slick and icy all morning.

The upside to all this madness has been that the dog got to play in snow for the first time. He enjoyed it heartily, until of course he suddenly didn't anymore and ran like the dickens to get back inside and away from it. Then, thirty minutes later, he wanted to try again. Same result.

Then he wanted to try again.

It was sunny enough today to melt most of it, but there's still a dusting for him to play in.

So what did I do on my grown-up snow day?

Uh... I did the dishes?

I ate a pear. That was exciting.

Oh! I went and put gas in the car.

Also super exciting.

(I may or may not have eaten a chicken taquito from the gas station. It may or may not have delicious.)

That is seriously the sum of my accomplishments for the day. It's been awesome.

If you northerners are up there laughing because cities have been shut down by what looks like very little snow... just read this. Oh, and look at the news in Atlanta right now, or this article from an Atlanta commuter who spent eight hours stuck in traffic. Or Birmingham. It was a vague inconvenience for Greenville, but stuff like this can very easily shut down a whole region; we've got nothing in place to deal with it.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Gloves


hands curl into tiny fists to fight against the chill
my mother buys me gloves I never seem to wear
I walk to school against the wind in this land without a hill

every year there's a new pair, or lectures I hear still
hats and hoods I keep, of course, to protect my ears from the air
but my bare hands are hidden deep within my sleeves against the chill

maybe it's just stubbornness that insists on this fight against her will
the feel of gloves is suffocating; more than I will bear
I walk against the wind in this land without a hill

the war is inevitable, an obligation we fulfill
sometimes she waits for me as I clomp my heels coming down the stairs
fingers already inside my sleeves, ready for the chill

maybe, though, I was just enthralled by my own newfound free will
my mother's words I only know in retrospect as care
but then, we raced the wind in the land without a hill

there are things I forget, you see, moments lost to time until
fall's leaves are long gone, all the branches gray and bare
then I remember little fists curled against the waiting chill

then I hide my bare hands inside my sleeves
I'm still the girl in the land without a hill.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Photo An Hour: The Year Two-Thousand and Froze to Death


6:30: The alarm goes off at 6 AM. I roll over, turn it off, and tell Jason we are going to sleep until 6:30 today because I don't care anymore, I want to sleep in.

Our older cat then begins to meow loudly every two seconds for the next fifteen minutes, because food is supposed to come at 6 am and she will not be ignored, she has food needs and we are the bringers of food and food was not forthcoming and that is not acceptable.

Finally Jason gets up and goes to feed her while I stubbornly lay in bed for the last fifteen minutes cursing the day we chose to get her, cursing morning, cursing Fridays and generally cursing life. Then I roll over and take a photo before I got up to take a shower, because I knew I wanted a 'just woke up' photo and this is as close as we're going to get, folks.

It occurs to me that the door, with the light from the living room just vaguely beginning to slide in, looks like the door to Hell.

At 6:30 in the morning, that comparison seems very apt.


7:30: While getting ready to leave, I step outside and snap a quick photo of sunrise from the front door. The amount of cold sinking into my bones from just this five-second photo makes me consider calling in "I did not move to the South for this kind of crap" and going back to bed.

I am beginning to think the neighbors across the street have never seen me smile. They have inside dogs they bring out to do their business, and some mornings we happen to be out at the same time. I am a cranky bear in the morning. I bet I look angry all the time to them.

Eh, who're we kidding, if I haven't been awake for three hours yet I am angry.

It's not personal, neighbors, I just hate morning. For instance, that's probably a very pretty sunrise photo up there. Part of me can kind of tell it probably is. The rest of me hates it for the fact that it represents me being awake.


8:30: Waking up late = no time for a healthy, planned-out breakfast. Or something like that.

In any case, I bring half a loaf of bread and some pb & j to work, toast it there, and eat it on a paper towel which is kind of like a plate if you tilt your head and squint. Wash it down with a delicious gas station latte.

Still angry at morning. Rage shows no sign of abating. Hope my coworkers are feeling understanding today. Debate going home and hoping no one notices I was ever here and that maybe they will think the coffee just magically made itself.


9:30: In an attempt to cheer myself up, I do the crossword puzzle, but find that I am angry that it's so easy. Read Doonesbury. Remember that Doonesbury is annoying, too.

Wonder if dehydration is perhaps the root of my rage and drink a whole bottle of water in thirty seconds.

Discover dehydration is not the problem, and now I'm angry because my stomach is sloshy and full of water. Decide the problem is that it's just too cold, and if I'd known it would be this cold I could've just stayed in Illinois where at least snow happens sometimes.

Think about what it's like to live in New York City right now, or Vermont. Or Denver. Or Illinois.

Look outside at the not-snow, smile to myself, and start feeling better.



10:30: Find myself getting very sleepy when my coworker comes to relieve me for my morning break. Decide what would help is taking a brisk walk around the museum in order to have the cold wake me up.

Get distracted by taking pictures, making walk take longer than planned. Our running water features are all frozen over and it's both cool and surreal and unpleasant to see. After five minutes, realize I can no longer feel my fingers.

I am definitely more awake, though, so I consider the mission accomplished.

Wonder if, somewhere in Illinois, my mother just sat up and said to herself, "I'll bet Katie's not wearing gloves today."

Well. I'm not. So she's right.




He's hilarious. He's bitter. He's very angry. And he gives a ton of tips about how to get better service at hotels (number one rule; if it seems like maybe you might want to give a tip, GIVE THEM A TIP. Voila, instant better service.)

Reading cheers me up, if only because someone else in the world is exactly as cranky as I am.


12:30: Mmmmn, lunch. Leftover vaguely Mediterreanean chickpea salad thing I made from this recipe off Pinterest. Delicious.

That Klondike candy thing, though?

It is without a doubt the single worst dessert and/or sweet item I have ever consumed in my entire life.

The "chocolate flavor" was something between cardboard and that aftertaste you have after you eat something off the street that someone drove over, and the "mint flavor" was, without a doubt, toothpaste.

I'm not kidding.

It was just toothpaste, sandwiched inside "chocolate flavor" casing. Minty green toothpaste.

I gagged.


1:30: I forgot to take a photo at 1:30.

So, uh... here's a photo of our water feature being frozen over that I took when I first got to work in the morning.

Um...

Enjoy.


2:30: I step outside for a second. It's all of maybe 25 degrees, which compared to this morning feels deliciously balmy.

The sun is bright, I can actually kind of feel it on my skin, I am able to bare the bottom half of my face without feeling like an extra in an Arctic adventure movie... all is well. I discover I stopped being full of rage a couple of hours ago.

Nice.


3:30: I look out the window at the cars on the road, and realize that there are people heading home from their jobs right now. Lucky, lucky people.

Then I realize that most likely means those people had to get up way earlier than I did today.

Well. 

I probably wasn't cut out for whatever job those people are doing anyway.

 
4:30: I, uh, forgot to take a picture at 4:30, too. I was busy! We had people in the museum! I had stuff to do!

So, to ease my stinging conscience... here's a photo of an orange gingerbread cake I made out of the Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook. It was delicious. It was amazing. It was everything I dreamed it would be.

It's also a cake I made last week. But I kept that photo, because that cake was so good I needed something to remember it by. Seriously.

5:30: Home. Delightfully, gloriously home.

This is the best I could do at getting a very excited puppy to hold still. You can see the horror in his eyes at having to sit, and stay, and not jump on me or wrestle-play like we normally do. 

Whatever, dog.

I gave you a Beggin' Strip, that sad face is a total lie. Besides which, your tail was wagging the whole time.

Also, we've had Indy over a year now. I was not a dog person when we went to the Humane Society that day and picked him out. I'm a dog person now.


6:30: Jason is hanging out with some friends, therefore I declare this GIANT BATCH OF COOKIES FOR NO REASON NIGHT.

What you're looking at is the first six ingredients in this oatmeal raisin cookie recipe. It's for crunchy cookies, be warned. I also added some chopped up dates and almonds and cut the butter amount in half, substituting the rest for applesauce. Next time I make it I'll cut the sugar in half or at least to two thirds, too. 

Can I replace sugar with something?

More applesauce?

Anyway, I'm calling these breakfast cookies because that makes them sound healthy. So there.


7:30: The finished product.

Incredibly unattractive, kind of gross looking, very delicious "breakfast cookies". I ate four.

Don't worry, they are very tiny cookies.

Except I have like thirty of them.

Oh no... however did that happen...


8:30: I make a terrible mistake and sit down for five minutes.

Within thirty seconds, there is instantly a cat curled up in my lap. She teleported there, or perhaps it was some kind of magic spell. I blink, and there she is looking like she's been sleeping in my lap since time began. It's a special talent that cats have, along with moving so reluctantly when you (finally) have to get up to go to the bathroom that you begin to wonder if, maybe, you don't really need to go that badly...

Trust me. 

You do.

They're cats. They'll live.


9:30: When I finally manage to push one cat off my lap and get up to check the internet, I discover the other one curled happily up in my computer chair, purring in a way that is frankly almost aggressive as he turned to look at me.

He's daring me to take this chair.

He weighs like 2 pounds.

I pick him up and deposit him on the couch, where he, the dog, and the older cat all promptly curl up and go to sleep within a couple of feet of each other, while each of them pretends they are alone in their own universe.

I'm going to stop here, not because I'm going to bed at 9:30 on a Friday night - although I kind of want to - but mostly because I think "I am 27 years old and spending my Friday night taking photos of my cats" seems... it seems like a good place for us to stop.

You know. Before things get weird.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Seven Things Since My Last Update


1. I ate a lot of food; I mean a lot of food. I last updated right at Christmas, right? Well, let me explain something to you; Christmas = food. That's it. That's all Christmas is, just food and food and food. Well, and family and love and Santa and my niece's cookies she made herself (with, er, a little help) in her Easy Bake Oven and all kinds of other things, but... food.

I ate kolaches (thanks to my talented older brother, he of the famed delicious chestnut soup), cinnamon rolls (Christmas tradition!), Chex Mix, ham, like nine kinds of potatoes, green bean casserole, sugar cookies, nutter butter cookies, cookies cookies cookies and I think there was some pie in there somewhere too? Although that may have been after the return to South Carolina. Can't always keep my desserts straight, you know.

Two of my Christmas presents were the Beekman Boys cookbooks I've been drooling over, and I've already done the dandelion greens salad with warm bacon dressing, which Jason and I agreed was a great recipe while stuffing our faces with absolutely on sense of shame.

Today, I am going to bake their orange gingerbread cake.

It's going to be a good day.



2. It done got cold.

Not, like, a little cold. That whole polar vortex thing that swept the nation (except southern Florida, and let's all take this moment to hate Florida, shall we)? It hit Greenville, too. When my plane landed back in South Carolina on December 31st, it was 47 degrees and was up to 54 by the heat of the day, which is perfectly normal for a southern New Year.

By the next week, the day of the month and the amount of degrees it was outside were exactly the same - six. It was six degrees. On January 6th.

Let me explain something to Northerners who are shrugging and muttering about the negative-degrees they were dealing with. First, trust me, I am with you. I remember -20 temps and I do not wish them on anyone.

But for a moment imagine you are a Southerner.

To you, unbearable cold is 30 degrees. You put on your winter parka and scarves and gloves and hats when it's 40 outside.

Six degrees is a frozen bafflement. People stared around themselves, too distracted by ice that didn't melt during the midday sun. Our running water features at work began to freeze over, something I had yet to see before.

I attempted to make the argument that this clearly constituted some kind of Act of God that was telling us all to go home to our warm houses and sleep all day, but apparently my employer doesn't agree with my line of thinking.

Pffffft.



3. When it stopped being cold, it started raining.

I am sitting here writing this as the rain falls, and it's only going to fall more all day long. It started raining Friday, the first day it started to feel back to normal here as far as the temperatures go. It rained all day Saturday. Our yard is a mud-hole mess. I try not to even look at it at this point.

It's sunny today, but that's mostly meant Jason digging out drainage for the yard because we had kind of an alarming amount of standing water.

At least it's not cold, though. That's something.



4. I woke up around 4 a.m. Saturday morning to the loudest thunder-crash I have ever heard in my life. It wasn't that it rattled the windows, it actually rattled the whole house. I had that movie wake-up that always seems like something no one ever does, where you go from dead asleep to sitting up in bed, straight up. The sheer feel of the thunder gave me a half-second of confused sleepy worry where I couldn't figure out if it was thunder or some kind of weird little earthquake, where I forgot what state I was in.

It took me about an hour to get back to sleep, lying in bed in the dark watching the lightning flashes and counting the seconds to the accompanying thunder. As the time between the two grew longer and longer, I started to relax and fell back asleep.

My younger cat, no doubt, was chasing toys obliviously around the house. The dog and Jason had both fallen right back to sleep after the original loud crash.

Only my older cat, busy hiding in the closet, and I remained awake to listen.



5. Despite my pride in being a member of the Coffee Cult, those who cannot survive without their certain amount of the stuff by 10 am... despite the fact that I am the kind of person who gets a headache if they don't have caffeine by noon...

I've been drinking tea pretty much nonstop lately. Earl Grey and Chai are my favorites right now; I'm not usually a brand-person or even particularly picky about what kinds of tea I drink, but I'm very picky lately. I want the Earl Grey Creme from the Charleston Spice & Tea downtown, Snowflake (coconut and almond black tea) from Tealoha (also downtown), and my Bigelow Vanilla Chai from literally any grocery store whatsoever.

Add honey and a ton of milk, and I am a happy, vaguely caffeinated camper.



6. Did I mention that all this cold nonsense has meant I actually got to wear my heavier sweaters? I am completely happy with sweater weather. I am all about sweater weather.

I'm going to be miserable from May through October from the heat, but late November through February? Those are my months down here.

They're less fun for our electric bill, but, you know... sweaters.

It all evens out.



7. I'd like to be able to say that I haven't been updating because my life has been super busy, or I've been crazy active or there's plots and plans in the works or any other of the usual Blogger Excuses For Why They're Not Updating, but...

those would all be lies.

Vicious, vicious lies.

Because I am so wonderful, I'm going to tell you the truth; I just... kinda got lazy. I wasn't busy; I was lying on the couch reading books, playing videogames, occasionally frantically cleaning, and then starting the process all over again.

If it makes you feel better, though, I remembered!

(Actually, my sister reminded me. But it's like remembering, right?)

Here I am!

Uh...

Hey.

So how are you doing?