Three Things — 1.4.18

Things I’m loving this week

Panda vs. Snowman. Based on the date stamp, this video is a couple of years old, but then… an adorable grown panda destroying a snowman is a timeless sort of gift to us all. Watch and enjoy.

cranberry dip

Photo credit

Holiday cranberry jalapeno dip. My sister made this dip on Christmas and I was skeptical when she told me the ingredients (cranberries, jalapenos, cilantro and onions…uh…ok, sis…). Then, I tried it, and ate a quarter of the plate myself. So, I made it for a New Year’s Eve party we went to and it was a hit there, too. This will become a holiday staple for us and you can expect me to bring it to any holiday party you invite me to next year.

Journee Collection Carver Women's High Heel Boots

High-heeled work-suitable dress boots. I’ve been on a quest since October for the perfect winter  work boots — tall and black with a thick high heel (sooo much better to keep my Achille’s tendonitis at bay..I know, I’m a freaking mess) — but what I have found are boots in which the heel is too skinny or the boots are too slouchy or they are a microfiber material I didn’t want or too biker looking. But, on Sunday I found them at Kohl’s. (*cue angels singing*) The boots I’d been looking for for months. They were on “sale” for $80, but I had Kohl’s cash burning a hole in my purse, so I paid just $50…a bargain for the perfect boots.

Things I’m not loving this week

The full price of Lauren’s medication. I opted for the high-deductible plan at work this year which means I am paying for everything out of pocket (well, out of a health savings account with my pre-tax dollars) and I knew Lauren’s ADHD ‘script was pricey, but I had no idea it was $242 a month. Now, I am keenly aware. Sigh.

Bitter cold temps. I’m OK with the snow…really, especially once they get it off the roads, but…the bitter cold temps are unbearable to me. Both of our furnaces are running nearly nonstop and I keep it at about 66 degrees (put on some clothes if you’re cold!). I don’t even want to know what my gas bill will be next month…I’m guessing more than a car payment.

Lizard hands and feet.  The dry, flaky, cracking skin is back…..because…winter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Erie’s Christmas Storm: Surviving Snowpocolypse 2017

It started snowing on Christmas Eve…those big, fat, fluffy, pretty flakes. It was gorgeous and quaint and nothing out of the ordinary for Erie in December. Until it never freaking stopped…for like four days.

It just kept coming and coming and coming as that storm sat over Lake Erie, picking up warm water and throwing it at all of us in solid form. I think the total was over 80 inches (more than six feet) when it was all said and done.

Our backyard topped out at just under four feet (those closer to the lake got more), but it was more snow all at once that I remember seeing in my lifetime. (Word has it there was a similar Xmas storm in 1977, but I was five, so…I don’t remember it).

I was eternally grateful for two things: My dad’s funeral service was over before any of the nasty stuff hit (treacherous travel would’ve only made things 100 times worse), and the girls and I had the whole week off and didn’t really have to go anywhere.  I missed a couple of appointments/events that were canceled or rescheduled, but…in general…we got off easy because by the time we had some “can’t miss” stuff on Thursday, the major snow had stopped and the main roads and interstates were cleaned up.

After the snow, came the cold. It’s currently 5 degrees in the city by the bay. So, that snow is not melting anytime soon, which is good because if we get a fast warmup, flooding is going to be a major concern as all that snow melts and makes its way back to the lake.

Meanwhile, Erie is frozen in a beautiful suspended winter state. Here are a few of my photos from the big storm, from the first big dump to the final tally (well..final, so far, I hear there’s more on the way this weekend…oi vey…where are we going to put it all?)

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Worth Reading — 1.3.17

A random collection of articles, blog posts, books, and other things I think are worth sharing.

Huffpost: Who is killing American women? Their husbands and boyfriends, CDC confirms

Outside:The Absolute Minimum Clothes You Need for a Life of Adventure (How to travel for a year with clothes that would fit in a carry-on).

New York Times: The 10 best books of 2017

The Guardian: From date nights to cold showers, 20 habits that changed readers’ lives

 

Three Things — 12.28.17

Things I’m loving this week

snow1

50+ inches of snow. Go big or go home, right? You have to admit all this snow is pretty and it’s kind of exciting and fun, too. Of course, I don’t have to drive to work or really anywhere else this week. If I did, I’m sure this week’s snowpocolypse would be in the “things I’m not loving” list.

Twinings Black Tea Bags, Chai, 20 Ct

Tea. I love coffee, but there’s only so much of it you can drink. But…in the winter, I love to have a hot mug of something in my hand, so when I’ve drank too much coffee, I turn to tea. Mint and Chai are my current favorites. I like that I can drink it plain, too — no cream or sugar needed.

Image result for snowblower

Our snowblower and my inability to use it. I’m thankful I have a snow moving machine…and, more importantly, a man to operate it. #ignoranceisbliss

Things I’m not loving this week

Image result for burning money

My gas bill. Nearly 300 for a month with relatively mild winter weather I don’t even want to think about what it might be next month.

Single-digit temps. Nothing makes me appreciate 30 degrees like 9 degrees. Also…see the item just above….this will have a huge effect on that. Sigh.

Cats in my closet. I have a long-haired calico cat that loves to make “nests” in my walk-in closet, curling up on a stack of t-shirts or sweatshirts. I busted her in there again this week, so it’s time to jury rig some booby traps (i.e. empty boxes that will fall on her when she tries to jump onto a shelf. ) I’d keep the pocket door closet, but that results in 1.) very cold clothes as there’s no heat vent in the closet, and 2.) mold because the closet is off the master bath and doesn’t get any circulation if the door is closed.

 

 

 

 

 

Worth Reading — 12.27.17

Earther.com: Why a small city in Pennsylvania just shattered a snowfall record (Spoiler: It’s about Erie.)

New York Times: Competition is ruining childhood. The kids should fight back

“Everyone tells students that the harder they work to develop their job skills — their ‘human capital’ — the better off they will be. It’s not true. In fact, the result is the opposite: more and better educated workers, earning less.”

ProPublica: Brain Drain at the EPA (This war on the scientists should terrify you. It does me. When our government hates all the smart people…you should be very, very worried.)

“More than 27 percent of those who left this year were scientists, including 34 biologists and microbiologists; 19 chemists; 81 environmental engineers and environmental scientists; and more than a dozen toxicologists, life scientists and geologists. Employees say the exodus has left the agency depleted of decades of knowledge about protecting the nation’s air and water. Many also said they saw the departures as part of a more worrisome trend of muting government scientists, cutting research budgets and making it more difficult for academic scientists to serve on advisory boards.”

Scary Mommy: Middle School Asks For Male Mentors For ‘Breakfast With Dad’ Event, 600 Show Up (Your feel-good story of the week.)

 

 

Dad’s eulogy (to Hell with 2017)

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This year can kiss my ass. Not only has it been a political nightmare for this country, but my herniated disc from Hell returned to torment me…and, also, my dad died this week.

He had been sick for quite some time and on dialysis for two years now, I think. Kidney failure was just one of a myriad of health issues for my father. Diabetes, depression, spinal stenosis….

On December 12, my parent’s wedding anniversary, the doctor told my mother it was time to stop dialysis as it was causing him too much pain and any meds to control that pain were immediately washed out of his body by the dialysis process.

That day was pretty surreal, with all us siblings and my mom gathered in the hall outside of his room at St. Mary’s East where he was recovering from another toe amputation, discussing his funeral while Dad watched Ellen on TV and dozed off every 20 minutes or so.

Did he know? Yes and no. He’d been told a couple of times, but he’d forget (dementia was setting in). At first, that really bothered me, but then I realized it was better that way. It’s what we’d have chosen if we could.

Truth be told: Mom and we kids kept a lot of information from Dad over the years.

I got a call at 2 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 18, that dad had died. He didn’t suffer, he didn’t end up in a days-long coma and, for that, we are all grateful.

If my Dad and I had a Facebook relationships status, it would be “it’s complicated.” Because it was.  But, then, name a familial relationship that is not, right?

Being “the writer” and the one most likely to keep it together through eulogy, my mother asked me to say some words at the funeral. I wasn’t going to do it, but then I couldn’t sleep and the words were coming to me, so I just got up and typed them.

Then I stepped out of my comfort zone (behind a keyboard) and stood behind my father’s casket in front of the church altar where I got married and baptized both of my daughters, and read those words.

I made it through most of it without crying. It’s when I think about my siblings that I get weepy because I’m so grateful to have them and to have them here in Erie, even if most of them are Republicans.

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Anyway…I thought the eulogy turned out to be pretty decent and thought that if you care enough to read the drivel I write here (I promise to do better in 2018), maybe you’d want to read it:

Hi, I’m Heather. For those of you that don’t know me, I’m Joe’s daughter, the second daughter, child number 4 of 5. I’m “the writer,” and so, was asked to write a few words about my dad.

To be honest, I wasn’t going to because, by nature, we writers are introverts. I don’t share a lot with people unless there’s a keyboard and paper or a screen between us and 65,0000 circulation.

Also, I hate to cry. When you grow up with four siblings, you learn not to cry because that brings mom into the picture, and then you’re all in big trouble.

But, it’s really hard to say no to my mother, you know.

Like any professional writer, I procrastinated until the last possible moment. At 6 a.m. this morning, I Googled “how to write a eulogy.”

The templates I found were full of trite phrases and platitudes that I could not physically type without retching and none of them fit my father.

He’s a hard man to label. He was and could sometimes be in one day or one hour, two very different things. For most of my teen and young adult years, I faulted him for that. But, then I grew up and realized how complicated life and people are and that we’re all that way.

We are all a bundle of contradictions and incongruencies shaped by our personal experiences. We are who we are. And, my father was who he was:

He was gregarious and kind to strangers. The kind of guy who could strike up a conversation with anyone anywhere. He was also the guy who would very loudly and with a few gestures, tell you to “slow the hell down” if you were driving too fast past his house.

He was hunter in his younger days, especially duck and deer, but he was also an animal lover. I think all of my siblings and I can agree that my father’s favorite child was really his husky, Lakota. Lakota was actually my brother’s dog, but was far too attached to my dad to leave when Patrick did. I wish that dog had lived another 10 years because he took a big piece of my father with him when he left.

He was a master jury rigger. Zip ties, duct tape, glue, and swear words were my father’s favorite tools. It’s true, mom: I get my foul mouth from dad.

He was a man who never changed a diaper, but he raised five children. He didn’t have to sign on for that when he met my mother, a divorcee with three young children, but I’m 100% certain that he’s glad he did. Joe, Pam and Rich were as much his kids as Pat and I. In fact, I never even remember that my older siblings are half-siblings until someone comments on our different last names or tells me I don’t look like them. While it was annoying to grow up with so many siblings and one bathroom, one tv, one phone and never enough of anything, there was always enough of what we needed. I’ve never been more grateful to have a large family than I have in the last year. I’m so thankful for all my siblings, even if we can never, ever, ever talk politics.

He was a car enthusiast, with his second favorite baby — after the dog — being his 1964 Chevelle. And, really any other car in his possession — they were all treated to frequent cleanings as were any of our cars if we happened to show up while dad was washing cars.

He was a Navy sailor, who didn’t care much for water. We had a big backyard when I was growing up and I was an avid swimmer who frequently begged for a pool. Dad would never put one in — too much work, he’d say. But when Dan and I put in a pool, dad would come over and swim with the kids on the hottest summer days. I refrained from saying: I told you so.

I could go on and on, but a writer knows that conciseness is as important as word choice and grammar. Readers won’t stay with you for long.

That’s true for the ones we love, too. We all know this, and yet, we live like we don’t. It’s better that way though. Endings are hard — in writing and in life.

We’ll miss you, dad.