Polar Vortex

It’s the fifth consecutive school day off.  In case you’ve been living under a rock, a boulder really, you know it’s downright frigid here in the Midwest.  Baby, it’s cold outside.  It’s cold inside too.

The frost is inside our kitchen. Inside!

When my babies were babies, Jody, their day care provider would usher them into her house with the warning that if they didn’t hustle, they’d “freeze their frips off.”  To this day, the exact meaning of “frips” remains a mystery to me, but I will guarantee that whatever frips you have would become fripcicles in an instant this week.  Bars are beer delivery are shut down.  IN WISCONSIN, you guys.  Delivery of the US Mail has been suspended, and workers whose jobs take them outdoors, like my husband, have been given the option to take vacation time instead of repairing streetlights, which this week is essentially a suicide mission.  Some vacay.  Well at least he’s still got his frips!

Cabin Fever has begun to set in however.  Ennui abounds (or lies there doing nothing, more accurately), and even my children, slaves to their electronic devices, want to go back to school.  They miss their friends.  That biology exam keeps getting pushed back, which sure, means more time to study, but let’s be honest about the fidelity of that process. . .  YouTube has lost some of its luster, and even my dear, dear roommates, the boys’ best TV friends, the Impractical Jokers guys, are enjoying a brief hiatus at Chez Weir.  Summer vacation is different–even when it rains, you won’t die going outside–there’s always somewhere to go, something to do.  You know the fever’s bad when the kids want to go to school.  And NOT until the end of June.  I’ll be curious to see how many of these days will be required to be made up and how the district determines just how it will make them up.

There are myriad activities to enjoy, or if not enjoy, then just do, when you’re housebound though.  I thought I’d share with you a few of the ways we’ve been passing the time this Polar Vortex.

  1. Yoga: I rolled out my mat Tuesday morning, and before I could remove my socks, my idiot dog had commandeered my mat, laid out, covering the whole thing in what I call his frog-dog position. *eye roll/sigh*  Caleb is better at downward facing dog than I am, but that’s only because his snout is in my face while I breathe deeply seeking zen.  Idiot.  I love him.
  2. Watching Bosch on Amazon Prime: I’ve faithfully read the entire Harry Bosch series from author Michael Connelly as he’s cranked out each volume, though ’til now have avoided the screen adaptation.  I’m one of those “it’s better in my imagination” types so I’ve stayed away, but they’re worthy mysteries.  I enjoy Titus Welliver’s embodiment of Bosch, and I like how the series has updated some of the details to lend a modern feel.  I love that Bosch remains an vinyl LP-spinning, old-school jazz guy, and that not every actor is a perfect physical specimen. I mean, they’re all TV-pretty, but not unbelievably so.
  3. Culling through stemware: As a rule, I’m a moderate-to poor housekeeper.  We don’t live in squalor, but I suck at making things pretty, and this includes my ability to display china and crystal.  I ditched three mismatched wine glasses (I’m guessing each the lone remnant from a one-time set of four), a couple vases and two candleholders. I purchased that Marie Kondo hold-onto-your-shit-and-see-if-it-sparks-joy book four years back.  It sat, spine barely cracked, on my nightstand every day since until I finally gave it to a coworker just last week.  You’d have to strap me down and tape my eyes open to make me watch the tidying up show.  Just not my jam.
  4. Culling through greeting cards: There is an excellent reason to keep some of these missives.  You’re reminded just how spectacular others believe you to be, even if only for a brief and shining moment.  It’s a happy stroll down memory lane mostly, with a few bittersweet moments–like the transition from the kids’ birthday cards being signed ” With love from Gramma Terry and Poppa” to only “With love from Gramma Terry.”  I held onto all our wedding cards, the welcome baby cards, and a few sympathy/support cards from when the big kid’s diagnosis was handed down.  I say this all the time, but you wish you had the friends I have, you really do.

    In an example of my poor organizational strategy, I unearthed this photo, stashed in the greeting card drawer. Awwwwww. This is truly one of the best-ever photos of the tall one! So pure.

  5. Family Game Night:  There is nothing like a game of Sorry or Uno to learn exactly where family allegiances lie.  It’s generally agreed that the individual producing the highest volume of sass and trash-talk (my husband) is the common enemy.  I’m a little disturbed though at my children’s ease and delight in throwing down a Draw Four or Sorry card in my direction though.
  6. Reading a couple Harry Dolan books:  The two I’ve read are set in Ann Arbor, Michigan which is where my friend Kristen used to live.  According to her, Ann Arbor is cool (I’ve visited only once and had a lovely, murder-free experience), collegiate and literary like the novels, but not as vibrant with intrigue and killing.  Thinking about Kristen makes me think about how we met, through Barenaked Ladies (she, an uber-uber-uber-uber fan and pretty cool chick otherwise too), so there’s a totally weird connection that in all the world can only be made in my brain.  Then you can while away a surprisingly large sum of time thinking about the upcoming summer Barenaked Ladies tour, and the fact you’re not going.
  7. Baking a really shitty cake: You know those Pinterest pins and Facebook videos that suggest you can make a box-mix cake taste like a bakery cake if you simply add an extra egg, substitute milk for water, and melt butter?  DO NOT DO THIS.  Well, don’t do this unless you want a cake that rises, then settles like a brick.  We legit laughed out loud after we let it cool.  The “cake” did not retain even one inch of its height.
  8. Cleaning out the spice cabinet:  I have an entire kitchen cabinet of spices, not just what one might consider a spice cabinet, but a wall o’ flavor.  After our kitchen remodel, I organized them alphabetically, sorted by cooking vs. baking spices (nerd, and FYI, my closet is a rainbow, sorted by color).  Naturally, spice blends like Montreal Steak Seasoning, Emeril’s Essence, or Garam Masala occupied their own shelf.  Over time, I’ve come to just toss them back in (see Number 3 above for my statement about my housekeeping prowess), but now I’m good for another two years or so.
  9. Public Library Time:  I love spending time at the library, just hanging out, browsing amid the shelves.  I took the kids before the deepest segment of the deep freeze kicked in and the city closed the libraries.  I think about library patrons whose only warmth comes from an open public space, such as what libraries provide, and think I’m not as grateful as I should be for the good fortune of a thermostat.  And the house the thermostat serves.
  10. Preparing for my dog’s girlfriend’s birthday party: I’m just going to close with that entirely true statement here.

The one thing I absolutely cannot do is catch up on the mountain of work that was already a foothill of work before these days off.  When I left work last Thursday, I never in my wildest dreams believed I’d have a week off.  I can’t access any of my data, observation notes, or historical records from which to draft my reports. They are locked up nice and tight, safe and sound in my desk.

My kids wanna go back to school, a big enough shock to stand on its own merit, and *gasp* so do I!