After the ice storm early last month, which covered everything in ice (of course), there were four or five days of deep-freeze weather, and walking outside was genuinely dangerous. Things warmed up after that, and we had a week of days in the upper 30s and lower 40s, which melted most of the snow and ice. There are still a couple patches of ice at the end of the driveway that won't succumb to the snow shovel, but the car can navigate them easily, so things are OK.
Then the temperatures fell and another storm came around.
Having learned my lesson, I cleared the driveway and walks of snow the very next day and headed out to Blain's Farm & Fleet (where I got my cold-weather togs with brother Steve) to pick up some sidewalk salt (referred to as ice melt). It's actually a mix of different salts (magnesium chloride, calcium chloride and sodium chloride). I got two 50-pound bags of a mix that melts ice at temperatures down to -5º: one in the garage and one on the back porch. No one told me that one of the things you do when winter shows up is go out and get ice melt.
I haven't spread ice melt on the whole driveway and sidewalk, but it did take care of the inch-thick sheet of ice on the back door walk. Until then, just taking out the garbage was a life-threatening proposition. I'm getting the hang of this winter stuff.
At Blain's, I also picked up a couple of plastic bins designed specifically to store Christmas stuff. I've filled the first one with everything that goes on the and under the tree. The Xmas tchotchkes are assigned to the second bin (I have yet to bring up their individual storage boxes from the basement).
The tree has its own box, and garlands and wreathes their own box as well. Shlepping all those boxes up from the basement is not difficult, but I just haven't had the motivation yet. I am determined to get all the holiday decorations down and away by Valentine's Day. My friend Sandy gave me the inspiration for that deadline. You get two months of decorations that way, and I consider that reasonable for the amount of effort that goes into putting them up.
|Looks good, tastes like crap.|
I have been experimenting with my cooking on these long winter nights. It can be risky, though. I see these intriguing recipes on Facebook and decide to try them out. Some are good, but every once in a while I invest in a full dinner for four and end up with horrible results.
This week it was a chicken and rice casserole. The recipe called for cooking it for two hours as 320º. Sounded like a long time to me, but I followed along. The resulting dish was absolutely hideous, though it did look good coming out of the oven. I ate one helping and ended up tossing the rest: the chicken was dry and overcooked, as were the vegetables, and the rice was muddy with a slimy mouth feel.
In winter, when the daytime high is 12º and the nighttime wind chills hovers in negative numbers (sometimes -20º to -30º), it's easy to stay in the nice warm house. When I do bundle up and go out, I really enjoy the cold, even when it's in the teens, like today.
I headed out and did much-needed shopping errands today (a new cutting board and bathroom accessories from Shopko, extra glass shelves for the powder room from Menard's, and grocery shopping at Festival Foods). Cold in the teens is invigorating. Cold above freezing is downright comfortable. I'm getting used to this.
A storm came through a few days ago and dropped less than an inch of snow. If it's less than two inches, the city does not require you to clear your sidewalks, so I just let it sit on the sidewalk and driveway, since the car actually does better with a little snow on the ground.
I was putting together my shopping list this morning when I got a Faceook message from the wife of the guy who did snow removal for me last year. She was asking about the snow on the driveway. I wrote back I was clearing the snow myself and asked if Mark (her husband) was doing snow removal (and she was fielding offers for him). She said no, but she and Mark worry about me and she noticed the snow in the driveway as she was driving by, so she checked up to see if I was OK or needed help.
I love this town and its people. Thinking of others is the norm here.
I am not one to make New Year's resolutions, but I came up with one this year that rang true for me: Show up. Too many times I've let attending a meeting or social events just slide: too cold, too tired. So I'm making a point of getting next door on Sundays for the Unitarian Universalist services, and I've been going to functions at the Center, like the annual meeting. Because nothing of consequence happens if you don't show up. And, at some point, I'm going to locate a part-time job to fill in some of the idle hours. It's out there; I can feel it. It just hasn't arrived yet.
Brother-in-law David said I should be putting more pictures in the blog entries. Problem is, I don't remember to take them (except for the casserole). And I usually sit down to write these in the evening, and all the light's gone outside. And also, my phone has been losing its charge over the course of hours: the battery is dying, and it's time to cough up the cash and upgrade from my iPhone 4 to the iPhone 7. It would probably motivate me to take more photos, since the camera would be much improved. The Verizon store is just down Losey Boulevard, across from the supermarket.
But that's an errand for another day.