Monday, December 17, 2007

Testing Even a Mainer's Tolerance

I am a "real" Mainer. By this, I mean that I was born and raised in Maine, from parents who were born and raised in Maine. It's a long-standing "joke" in Maine that even if you came to Maine when you were one minute old, you're "from away." (I say "joke," but we really mean it. You can live here fifty years and if you weren't BORN here, you're not a real Mainer.)

Anyway. It's winter. In Maine, this means lots of snow, ice, cold, frequent power outages, more cold, more snow, more ice, lots of shoveling, and a little more cold. Winter in Maine usually starts in November (sometimes October) and lasts until March or April, when mud season arrives. (This is what Maine has instead of spring. Mud season. Pretty self-explanatory, really.) Maine's pretty well known for its tough winters. Maybe not as tough as Alaska, but it's still up there. You've really got to be able to roll with the punches that Mother Nature gives you.

So yesterday we had a blizzard. Not too bad, really; I never lost power, even though the winds got pretty fierce. I was up in my bed watching some TV and I could feel that entire ell of the house literally swaying. It was almost fun, when I wasn't visualizing the whole house falling in on top of me. The great thing about the wind is that it blew most of the snow off the deck and driveway, so there wasn't as much to shovel. Although that was counteracted by the freezing rain that left a skim of ice on everything and made it impossible for me to open my car doors first thing this morning.

But I'm taking it out of order. Here was my morning:

* Kira slept in my room last night because of the strong likelihood of power outages. It was just easier to have her in my room to start with than to deal with a middle-of-the-night freakout. So she ripped most of my covers off the bed. Woke up cold.

* Listened to the radio until the weather came on. Nothing special predicted for the day. No indication of cancellations. I got up.

* Couldn't get my internet going. This is particularly frustrating for me since I have an internet addiction. A STRONG internet addiction.

* Got the kids ready for school, reminding them constantly that the bus driver has asked everyone to be at their bus stop an extra ten minutes early because they've been late to school every day due to slow traveling on the bus route.

* Kids are out at bus stop, Mark decided not to bother with a hat or gloves. He's shivering. Fool. (At 12, I have decided that he is old enough to dress himself appropriately or not for weather, and deal with the consequences. If it's 10 degrees outside and windy, most people would take the extra two seconds and grab some warm gear.) Kira is ecstatic and sliding around on the icy ground, ripping the knees even more on her snow pants. The lining is hanging out of them at this point. I have picked up patch material, but still need to actually attach them.

* After pretty much having to chisel my way into my car because they were iced shut, I have started the car and left it running to warm it up. The game plan is to take off as soon as the kids get on the bus.

* I *still* can't get on the internet, where I had wanted to just double-check to make sure there wasn't a school delay. I decide to call my mom and have her check.

* Sure enough, a two-hour delay. I call the kids back inside (asking Mark to shut the car off on his way in). Then I begin to panic, because a two-hour delay means they'll be waiting for the bus at the time that I am supposed to be starting my weekly therapy session, that I have had to cancel for the last several weeks either due to weather or illness. I really, REALLY need to go to therapy today. I can't leave Kira home without a grownup. I don't really trust Mark to remember to get out to the bus on time, either.

* I call up the street to see if I could leave the kids there to get on the bus with a classmate. The mom has to work, though, so she won't be home. That won't work (see: can't leave Kira, don't trust Mark). I call Ro to see how early I can take the kids to the school. Turns out it'll be okay if I bring them at 9:30. Then I'll just book it into town (a 15-20 minute drive on a good day) to get to therapy by 10.

* So. New game plan. Drop kids off at school and then head to town. At a little before 9 I head back out to warm the car up again, and also to just check to be sure I can get the car through the snow.

* Car is stuck. Tires spinning aimlessly.

* Get out the rock salt. Through much internal cursing and manipulation of car that includes having Mark try to push it while I rock it in reverse, and having MARK rock it in reverse while *I* push, after about 20 minutes we are able to move the car back about 10 feet. Where it gets stuck again.

* Even more manipulation, rock salt and internal cursing has failed to move the car after 20 more minutes. Then the car dies and refuses to start again. It is stuck in the middle of the driveway.

* It is now 9:40, I am 10 minutes past the time I had hoped to drop the kids off at school, see no possibility to get the car moving, and the bus is supposed to come by in about five minutes, so I set the kids up at the bus stop. I go inside and cancel my therapy AGAIN, but mention on the machine that I'd like to reschedule for another time this week.

* I start this blog entry. Then I hear a plow outside. I hurry to the door to see my neighbor plowing out the other side of my driveway. I throw my boots and coat back on and get outside and tell him that I'm stuck. He's wondering if I've got a hook under my back bumper so he can haul it out. I don't think so, but he checks and sees something he can latch on to, so he gets out the chain and hooks on. My car refuses to start for a few more minutes, but just before I hit it (and after I threaten to have him just push it off a cliff for me) it deigns to start, and he is able to haul me out of the driveway. I move the car out of the way and he plows the rest of the driveway out. There's a huge mountain of snow I need to adjust to be able to get onto my deck properly and in the house, but I'll deal with that later, when Mark comes home from school. I call my neighbor an angel, grab my pocketbook and head out to town. It's a little past 10, but I might be able to salvage at least some of my therapy session.

* On the way to town, I call my parents so they can look up a phone number for me (mental note: program it later!) so I can see if we can still hold the session. While I am waiting for them to look it up, my car dies while I am driving down a hill. I hang up the phone, coast to the side of the road and curse some more.

* The car restarts immediately, amazingly enough. I get back on the road, back on the phone, get the number, call, get voicemail, leave a message.

* At 10:20 I get to therapy, sit in the waiting room for a few minutes, and actually get in to see my therapist. We are also able to schedule another appointment for tomorrow, which is especially good because the next two weeks need to be canceled because she will be away on vacation.

* After no further trouble with the car, I visit with my parents for a short time, get some groceries (including a six-pack of Smirnoff Ice, and if you think THAT won't be opened about 5 seconds after Mark goes to bed tonight, you don't know me very well), and get home.

* I see a message on the machine, where Kira has called and asked me to bring her sneakers to school because she forgot them. That message was at 10:20. She's been without sneakers for over three hours by the time I get the message, and school only goes for another hour. I decide not to bring them at all. Bad mom.

* Still left to do: dig out the deck, shovel a path for the fuel guy to get to the pipe, make a path to the side shed to be able to take trash out, clear snow from in front of van. Possibly even eat something, as food has not yet entered my stomach today. It's 2:00. At this point, it's foolish to make anything approximating a meal, because then I won't be hungry for dinner. I have discovered that when I am not hungry for dinner, I have a tendency to not cook properly for the kids. Planned dinner tonight: baked chicken breast, garden broccoli soup, baked potatoes, and crusty rolls. Warm and hearty. Dessert: chocolate pudding with whipped cream and banana slices.

OK. I'm gonna go sit on the couch and breathe for a few minutes before the kids get home in about 45 minutes. Tomorrow WILL be a better day. mk

*******postscript: It is now nearly 8pm and I am counting minutes until I can go to bed. There will be no Smirnoff Ice tonight. It is a sad state of affairs when a girl is too tired to even have a cocktail.

Didn't bake the chicken breast, added peas for more veggies, the chocolate pudding had sat in my cupboard for far too long and was hard as a rock. It did not go well. Fortunately was able to find some sugar-free chocolate pudding in there also, and that worked out okay. I'm trying something with the rock-pudding and some whipped cream, making a sort-of mousse-ish thing. It doesn't seem to be working. What-the-hell-ever. Bed. mk

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