While walking back to the Spring Shelter at Pokagon State Park, I encountered my wife with a fella named Fred. Good thing too, because I would have made a wrong turn if she hadn't pointed the way, and the right way was still a half mile hike. Fred is the saddle barn's only mule:




That photo posted on Instagram at the time, but for some reason Blogger has never updated its app, and it usually crashes when I try to post from my phone (although a previous post I thought didn't go actually posted twice).

I'd planned to work out of the car while she was on the job (I'm revising Beowulf: In Harm's Way). But it was a beautiful day, so I decided to walk the to the Spring Shelter even though I'd already hiked almost four miles earlier in the day. It's in a wooded area along the saddle trail and usually quiet, except for the people who go there with empty containers, for the spring water. They've quite literally piped it right out of the ground.



Since I was carrying a leather case with my laptop, iPad, and my ancient iPod, I checked the weather forecast first: No rain predicted. Then I looked at the weather radar: No rain in the region. So I got there, laid my stuff out, and was engrossed in revisions about an hour later when big drops started falling on the keyboard

Just a brief shower to remind me I'm not in charge. And, after all, the Spring Shelter includes ... wait for it ... a shelter. At least I could see the clouds that were the source of my torment; and when I checked the radar, sure enough, there were the showers popping up. Not like last week, where it started raining on my while I mowed the lawn -- despite the fact that there wasn't a single cloud overhead.



Just goes to show, there's no such thing as a perfect writing spot.

They cleaned up the beach at Chain O' Lakes State Park, all ready for the big holiday weekend ...

And now the beach is gone.

And more rain is expected tonight.

Be very careful driving--there was lowland flooding last night, and there's going to be more tonight across local roads, so slow way down, watch out, and don't go into standing water. Remember this rule: Stalling out your car is no fun, and drowning is even less fun. I've heard.

ozma914: (Courthouse)
( Apr. 15th, 2017 03:55 pm)

I posted this photo on Instagram the other day, but didn't get a chance to put it up elsewhere until now:

That's the Albion Fire Department off in the distance, and the Sheriff's Department communications tower to the left. I'd just gotten off work and was really lucky to snap this--the orange dimmed out just minutes later.

 

 

SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK

(Note: This was originally written on February 7th and then misplaced, which isn’t the first time. It was the beginning of what was overall a nice February—for Indiana. You all know how things changed in March.)

Ah, spring.

Or, possibly, &$@# spring!

That’s the way it is, with springtime in Indiana. It’s feast or famine, a saying that goes well for farmers wondering if they’ll be able to get into their fields early, or ever.

I was reminded of spring just a few days after that stupid groundhog predicted six more weeks of winter, a prediction that’s essentially meaningless in Indiana. There are always six more weeks of winter—we just don’t know when. It could start next week. It could start next month. (Note: It did.) If you’re having a mild winter, like we had this year, a backlash is almost guaranteed. I’m worried about whether spring is going to be full of terms like “polar vortex”, “late winter snowstorm”, and “Is that groundhog still alive? Get my gun”.

On this particular day my wife and I got out of the car while shopping and simultaneously cocked our heads, which come to think of it probably looked pretty funny.

“Is that a bird?” I asked.

“That is a bird.”

“But that’s not a bird we usually hear in February.”

“No, it’s a spring bird.”

It was indeed a spring bird, one that was soon to be very, very unpleasantly surprised. On that particular day, the outdoor temperature hit the mid-forties. Two nights before it dipped into the teens. Two days later it hit sixty and we had thunderstorms, followed a few days after that by snow.

A typical March in Indiana, the only strange thing being that we heard the bird in early February. As you read this is should now be March, which means (if you live in the Midwest) you’re dressing in layers to combat both frostbite and heat stroke, possibly on the same day. But for February, that weather was actually pretty good.

February is usually easy to forecast. You have two choices: It’s cold and it’s going to snow, or it’s not going to snow but even colder. (Note: I said usually.) But spring—spring is different. Here’s a typical Midwest meteorologist in, say, mid-March:

“Looks like a blizzard headed our way, folks—oh, wait. The radar just updated, and the blizzard has been sucked up by a tornado! I think we’re going to see some serious snow drifts.”

We have something called March Madness, which most people think is about basketball playoffs. But in Indiana, March Madness translates to ice season: that time of the year when sleet and freezing rain fall as often as snow.

“Aren’t those icicles on the electric lines pretty—oh, the power’s out again.”

Occasionally we’ll have a dry spring, and instead of frozen precipitation you can see columns of smoke in every direction, often accompanied by sirens. This is called grass fire season, and generally comes just after March Madness. People realize they can finally walk outside without fifty pounds of outer clothing, and their first thought turns to the mess their lawns have become over winter.

“What shall we do with all these branches, leaves, weeds, and trash? Oh, I know—we’ll burn them! The ground is still wet; what could possibly go wrong?”

Pro tip: All that dead plant life around your fire is plenty dry, fella. The ground being wet simply means fire trucks can’t go off road to extinguish that wildland fire you just started. And then firefighters end up out there, ironically, trying to beat the heat with their own fifty pounds of outer clothing.

But it’s spring, so who knows? I’ve helped fight a few grass fires that I had to walk around snow drifts to reach. I’ve gone out on tornado watches in March. (Terrible idea, by the way—the basement’s way calmer.) I’ve shoveled snow in May. And all the while those poor, confused birds are flying around up there, trying to figure out whether they should be heading north or south.

They’d better decide fast, because if they head west they’ll run into a blizzard, and if they fly for the East Coast they’ll run into an even bigger blizzard.

So yeah, I’m worried about that bird. What is he living on, anyway? If he pecks the frozen ground for worms he’ll break his beak. The first bugs don’t come out until … well, about now, if you include mosquitoes.

In fact, it’s not uncommon in Indiana for the big piles of plowed snow to still be melting off in July. Sometimes, on the first really warm days, you can see kids skiing down snow mountains at Wal-Mart, then surfing on across the parking lot.

It’s why I often call Indiana the greatest place in the world, except during winter. Luckily, surviving winter is like surviving pain: Once it’s over, you tend to forget how bad it is. By the end of May you can put your snow shovel away (you might want to keep the gloves and wool hat out, just in case), and enjoy the outdoors, until it gets hot.

Maybe the hot is why we’re not all living in Florida.

 

 

 

 

 

ozma914: (Storm Chaser)
( Mar. 15th, 2017 12:15 am)

Crazy mild February (at least, in Indiana). Trees start blooming weeks early, people can take walks without a clothing store worth of covering, we can see the light at the end of the frozen tunnel, then ...

 

BOOM!

 

Well played, winter. Well played.

I took a couple of days off for our wedding anniversary this year, having come up with a fairly simple idea, which is all I'm capable of when it comes to events like that. Anniversaries, birthdays, Valentine's Day ... my mind freezes up like a ... frozen ... thing. See, just thinking about it does that.

Now, my wife loves camping, but our anniversary is March 5th. In Indiana that's camping season in the same way the South Pole is a tourist attraction: Sure, you can do it, but you're more than likely going to freeze. But we'd had a very warm February, so I rolled the dice and came up with a plan: We would head south for a short camping trip, maybe somewhere along the Ohio River where it's always at least five or ten degrees warmer than Northern Indiana. It's not exactly green down there yet, which is why I settled on Clifty Falls State Park--a place where a lack of foliage might actually improve the view.

As long as it didn't rain it was a brilliant plan, by which I mean it was brilliant by my standards, by which I mean I didn't come up with a backup plan in case it rained. Then we got measurable snow on two of the first three days of March. The first day we didn't get any snow because of the severe thunderstorm rolling through.

I confess to getting a little nervous at that point.

Our forecast was cooler and partially wet, but hey--that was hundreds of miles from our soon-to-be dream anniversary spot. So I checked the forecast for Madison, Indiana, which is right by Clifty Falls at the opposite end of the state.

Their forecast was exactly the same as ours.

That I didn't see coming. It wouldn't be so cold that we wouldn't be comfortable inside the sleeping bags my mother-in-law gave us for Christmas--but three days stuck inside a tent with a dog, wrapped in a sleeping bag (us, not the dog), just doesn't seem all that dreamy.

So as I write this it's March Third, and I'm desperately trying to come up with a plan B. I even checked on what the anniversary gifts are for a fifth wedding anniversary. The traditional one is wood, and the modern one is silverware.

Well, the wood would come in handy to build a fire. But silverware? Why don't I just give her a new garbage disposal, or a vacuum cleaner? "Isn't it romantic? A gift like this will sweep you off your feet! Get it? Dear? What are you doing with that ax?"

At this point I considered combining the anniversary gift ideas into a "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" themed anniversary, in which we would go out into the forest with wooden stakes and silver bullets to hunt the supernatural. That show figured into how we met, and I believe it's having a 20th anniversary itself, so I thought I had something. Then I realized it would involve taking my once again disappointed wife into an area with no witnesses, then handing her a sharp object and a loaded gun.

Might as well just give her a shovel, too ... but I think hand tools don't come around until the 11th anniversary. I'll let you know how it goes.

If I can.

At work the other night we took 63 calls, almost all of them storm related, in a five hour period. It's not unheard of for us to take only a dozen calls all of third shift this time of year, assuming no winter weather comes in and there aren't a lot of traffic stops. (I work in an emergency communications center.)

I'm still so stressed that every muscle in my body is tightened up. I feel like if someone sneaked up behind me right now I'd get a concussion hitting the ceiling. But I've learned a few things I'd like to pass on to you:

If a stop light goes dark due to storm damage, the law says you're supposed to treat it as a four way stop. I learned this in driver's ed, but apparently they don't teach that anymore. So my advice to you is that if the traffic light is out you should stop at the intersection and, if you see anyone coming the other way, turn around and take the back roads. Yeah, if the other guy hits you after you stopped and proceeded it'll be his fault, but you'll still be hit.

If you're got a trampoline, anchor it down. Apparently they make great sails until they get to a road, then they make great roadblocks.

If you see a utility line on the ground and can 't tell if it's an electric line, a TV cable, or a phone line ... it's an electric line.

Speaking of roadblocks, if a huge storm goes through at night and you have to drive somewhere in the morning, treat every hill or curve as if it's the wrapping of a huge present waiting just out of sight. That present may be a utility pole, or a tree, or a trampoline, inviting you to party with your insurance agent. Not the greatest comparison ever, but still.

Straight line winds aren't nearly as sexy as tornadoes, but they can still rock your world.

Being in a building hit by lightning is very exciting.

Sometimes exciting is not good.

If you're a 911 dispatcher, don't drink. You might never stop.
Winter almost beat the Hunter family Christmas celebration. Almost. But in the end we celebrated, if only a month or so late.

First there was illness. Then work schedules. Then more illness. Then weather. Illness. A tonsillectomy. (I realize that fits under illness, but still.) Then work schedules again. Okay, a lot of illness: flu, bronchitis, tonsillitis, a stomach bug, friggin' scarlet fever. Seriously? I thought the last person who caught scarlet fever was Charles Darwin. Luckily he survived, what with him being the fittest and all.

Some of this was with my oldest daughter's family: Two eight-year-olds collect germs the way I collected publisher rejection slips. I think my youngest daughter only got sick once during that period; my wife and I collected five illnesses between the two of us, trading them back and forth like Pokemon cards.

But finally our schedule was cleared, our lungs cleared, and the roads cleared: We would meet at my oldest daughter's house to celebrate Christmas on Sunday, January 29th. Enough time had passed that one of my grandkids asked if we were celebrating last Christmas, or next Christmas. But at least the unusual warm weather made the trip seem like smooth sailing.

I walked out that day to load presents in the car, and discovered we'd been rewarded with a white Christmas.

Well, it didn't seem too bad, not really. I mean, not for northern Indiana in January. I even shot a fun video of it, then went inside to get another load. When I walked outside again, a blizzard had hit. I've taken to calling it the Blizzard of Ours, because it seemed to be times for right when we were about to drive twelve miles.

It was a snow squall, really--it didn't last long. After that it was just heavy snow, compared to zero visibility and seeing (or rather hearing) houses blow by. At least, I think it was a house. I haven't checked to see if the neighbor's garage is still there.

But you know what? We were having by-gosh Christmas, and no more delays! The happy ending is that we made the drive safely, successfully dodging the guy who did not successfully make his turn in front of us. We all emerged unscathed, and I got new fur-lined house slippers, which every successful and unsuccessful writer should own.

And the best part is, we also made it home safely, leaving my daughter and son-in-law to deal with the present we got the twins: a home kit to make your very own volcano.

Looks like they're in for rough weather.

 

Have you ever looked back at something you did, and realized you’d been warned all along not to do it?

I don’t mean like when you were a kid, and your mom told you not to go out without your hat and gloves. Although come to think of it, sorry, mom: My mottled, aching hands tell me you were right. No, I’m talking about when you get those little signs, those portents that, in retrospect, stick out like giant stop signs.

Our plan was to go to southern Missouri, to see my wife’s family and visit with her friends. The friends are largely alumni of Emily’s Girl Scout camp, Latonka, where for many years she went as a camper and then worked. It’s the basis for (and receives half the profits from) my novel The No-Campfire Girls.

This trip required driving a thousand miles over a four day period in late December. What could possibly—well, you know something went wrong, or I wouldn’t have written this.

 

Spoiler alert: Emily did get to spend some time with her family.

 

I got the time off work, but felt guilty about it because right afterward one of my coworkers resigned, making scheduling a problem. Early in December, Emily got sick with what might have been a mild case of strep throat. Later my oldest daughter and one of the grand-kids came down with a much more than mild case of strep throat. (The other grand-kid came later.) A week before we were to leave, the dentist told me I needed a filling replaced as soon as possible, plus a crown on another tooth. Three days before we were to leave, I was cleaning my glasses when they literally fell apart. And I literally don’t use the word literally very often: They just broke into two pieces. Then my grand-kid got scarlet fever. Friggin' scarlet fever.

All the while I kept watching the weather forecast.

I’m accused of obsessing about the weather, and it’s true; but when you’re about to drive five hundred miles through three states in winter, then hopefully return, it’s a reasonable obsession. In this case, we had a one day window to get there, after which a winter storm would hit the whole region, clearing just in time for a one day window to get back.

What could possibly—ah, never mind.

Emily was better by then, and although it was a cold trip all the way down, that only counted when I had to get out of the car for gas or the dog’s bathroom needs. (As for my bathroom needs, I held it. Kidding! But I didn’t join the dog by a tree.) That was Friday.

On Saturday the temperature got up to 69 degrees in southeast Missouri. That’s not a typo, you northern Indiana people. We ran some errands before the party, and were driving around in t-shirts with the windows down. It was glorious, right up until about the time the tornado sirens went off.

Surely you expected that?

 

It even got a degree warmer than this.

 blob:null/48fa92d1-a7ed-4434-933a-8069f64d8ec9

There was a confirmed touchdown, although safely to the south of us. At about the same time, starting on a line twenty or thirty miles north, the rest of the Midwest was being socked in by an ice and snow storm. But we’d expected all of it—except the tornado—and although it was a little odd watching lightning in December, we really did have a good time with Emily’s parents and at the party.

This despite the fact that by the time the party started, the temperature had dropped thirty degrees. As the storm progressed south the temperature dropped close to fifty degrees in twelve hours, and if you think my car doors got iced shut, you’re right.

But we were there, and had some time before we had to go anywhere, and everything was just swell until Emily developed severe pain from a urinary tract infection. It was bad enough that we decided to go back a day early, which was totally not inside my weather window.

Still, a lot of dedicated highway personnel had the roads in good shape by the time we left Sunday afternoon. We passed some wrecks along the side of the road and, just to punctuate the point that we should have seen the “don’t do it” signs, we hit a discarded semi tire tread in Illinois. That was an exciting after-dark moment. But we got home, where at 9 p.m. Sunday night it was three degrees. For those who didn’t do the math, that was a 66 degree temperature change for us.

Sure, I got hypothermia unloading the car. But it was good that we’d traveled and charged up the car’s battery, because it got down to minus 9 later that night.

 

The sad part is that I've been colder.

 

 

It was a couple of days later when people who were at the party, including Emily and I, finished incubating our upper respiratory infections.

So, what have we learned from this? Don’t travel in winter? Be prepared? Watch for signs and portents?

I’m gonna go with all of the above.

 

ozma914: mustache Firefly (mustache)
( Nov. 20th, 2016 11:29 pm)

When the temperature drops 35 degrees in 24 hours, your best bet is to stay inside with a warm puppy.

 

Tags:
 http://markrhunter.blogspot.com/2016/07/how-i-moved-my-summer-vacation.html

How I Moved My Summer Vacation



"If you really want to find out who your friends are, ask them to help you move."
 
I don't know who said that, but truer words were never spoken. However, you have to amend that statement when you're going to help your in-laws move. If you like your in-laws, as I do, the question is pretty much the same. If you don't, well ... it's like making a political statement on Facebook: You need to decide in advance how much grief you're willing to go through.
 
There's a twist in this particular tale. About two days after my in-laws closed on a house, the mobile home they were living in was hit by a car. No, the home wasn't mobile at the time. They say the driver hydroplaned—which I find odd because it wasn't raining at the time—then slid through a utility pole and turned the front bedroom into a drive-through. And isn't that the next big thing in mobile homes? First they can travel, now you can just drive into the bedroom and voila--combination garage! Leave the car in there when you move it, and save on gas mileage.
 
The result: They had to get moved a bit faster than planned. For one thing, the bedroom was now about the width of a bathtub. For another, it had huge holes in the former walls ... and this is southeast Missouri, where the mosquitos can punch through walls without the help. And finally, the electricity had to be cut off in the home. See above about southeast Missouri—in July.
 
It took six people total, averaging three or four at any one time, two days to make the move. They rented a truck, and that makes things way easier, although maybe we should have rented some people. About 50% of us had chronic back issues, but that wasn't as much an issue as the fact that it was southeast Missouri. In July.
 
See, here's the difference between that area and where I live, in northeast Indiana. Hoosier weather gets just as hot and humid ... from time to time. It seems like our heat waves last forever, but in reality they rarely go more than a few days. (Last week excepted.) Down there the humidity pops up to 114% in May, and the temperature doesn't drop below 90 until October. Yes, the humidity's actually more than 100%. It’s a head-scratcher, or maybe that’s the mosquitos.
 
Their winters are wonderful. I mean, compared to Indiana.
 
So that led to a few bumps along the way, such as my difficulty in seeing because the lenses on my glasses melted off. Going into that trailer was like sticking your head into the stove to see how the all-day Thanksgiving turkey is doing. Leaving the trailer was like going into the kitchen where the turkey's been cooking all day.
 
It was so hot they had to open the fire hydrants to let steam out.
 
It was so hot even the politicians stopped talking.
 
It was so hot we had to put the beverage coolers into cooler coolers.
 
It was hot, I tell ya'.
 
None of this bothered the mosquitos a bit. The first day we soaked in bug spray, which actually cooled us down until later, when it started boiling off our skin. But I was wearing jeans at first, and when I got the bright idea to try shorts an hour later, I forgot to reapply. By the end of the day, my legs looked like an overhead photo of a heavily shelled World War I battleground. I couldn't get more bites touring a donut factory.
 
What I'm saying, basically, is that we didn't have much fun.
 
And yet, in the end, it was worth it. The in-laws have a nice little place now, and we visited with some friends, and once the moving part was over we even got to do some traveling. There's something to be said for helping people out. If I could, I'd go back down there and embrace the whole community with a great big, loving cloud of DDT.
 
It would still be hot, though.
  

 
SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
First appearing here:  http://www.4countymall.com/#!Winter-Driving/r48sv/56d8842c0cf20d226f1d75b7
 
There was a time when I was the same reckless driver I now complain about. My first two cars were fast, and I liked to believe I was the stuntman for “Starsky and Hutch”. (Look it up, kids.)
I actually jumped my first car. I mean, all four wheels off the ground. On purpose.
It was stupid. And that’s the difference between me and other people who drove like that: I’m not proud of it. I wasn’t skilled: I was lucky. (And stupid.) The only reason I never totaled my first car is because the engine blew first. The only reason I didn’t total my second car is because the officer who wrote the speeding ticket swore he only caught up with me because of the stop sign. That made me think.
I thought, “This is stupid”.
These days I’m that guy you’re tailgating, who drives like your grandma. “What’s the matter with that guy? He’s going the speed limit! What kind of idiot goes the speed limit?”
Me. It helps that I’ve seen a lot of dead bodies at accident scenes, which is really attention-grabbing.
Winter is the time when we tend to weed out the reckless, at least until they get their rides replaced. That white stuff on the road? It’s not sand from Jamaica, folks. Snow sent me into the ditch three times in my younger years, and what I learned is that the ditch is fine if you’re a drainage consultant or a ditch digger, but it’s not so good for travel.
(Granted, this past winter was fairly mild, but that's like saying you had a mild heart attack: it still counts.)
We’re nearing the end of the latest never-ending Indiana winter, so freezing precipitation is only possible for another few months or so. This late it tends to melt off within a day of the moment I finish shoveling. What have we learned from another season of slippery roads?
Well, the first thing we learn, every year, is that people don’t learn every year. The first snow “event” of the fall brings the same thing: People sliding off roads all over. In cars, I mean. Some are brand new drivers, or just unlucky, but a lot are idiots. Many of the unlucky are victims of the moronic.
“I’ve driven in Indiana for thirty years, and nobody ever told me snow could be slippery! I’ll sue! I should have sued when this happened last year!”
That just doesn’t sound like the voice of reason.
The problem with stressing snow is that some people assume when the snow is plowed, the danger is over. “You can’t say black ice! That’s racist!” Fine, call it Sudden Ice Syndrome, then. SIS kills.
Freezing rain? By definition, it’s freezing. Some people only seem to hear “wa-wa rain”.
On a related note, I wonder what would happen if the movie “Frozen” was real? Wouldn’t everyone who came close to Elsa end up with strains, sprains, and concussions? Hopefully Kristoff’s sled has four wheel drive.
Not that it would help, which brings us to one of the big dangers: people who put too much faith in all-wheel drive. “Yes, I know it’s snowing, but I have an SUV!” Does the first letter stand for Stupid? It does if you drive 70 in dry weather, and also 70 in wet weather.
Yeah, I see you driving behind me, and you know what? The closer you get to my taillights, the more I’m going to slow down. That’s why I’m going 53 now.
There’s no point in me being the 532nd person this month to point out that four wheel drive does absolutely no good on ice. The people who need to hear it aren’t listening. They’re listening to their car stereo, maybe, or more likely their cell phone. They’re also cussing a lot, because that’s me glued to their front bumper, and I’m now doing 49.
Not only do SUV drivers get up to speed in bad weather (when not behind me), they go out when they don’t have to. What’s the best rule of driving in ice or snow? Don’t. My wife can, and does, make fun of me for being a weather junkie, but I can tell her three days ahead if there might be bad weather. Maybe there won’t be, but if you’re almost out of bread anyway, why not stock up? And get some dog food too, so the mutt won’t be tempted to eat his owners in a worst case scenario. Then, if the bad forecast doesn’t pan out … so what?
But four wheel drivers think, “Let’s go out!” I suppose you people ski and ice fish too. Oh … you do? Never mind.
I’ve seen a lot of bad driving, and I’ve done some of it. In the end, I can only conclude that people who ignore bad weather should be lumped in with those who don’t use seat belts, or have no idea what a turn signal is for. There’s a special place in hell for them, right below women who don’t vote for Hillary. (Hey, I didn’t say it.)
But there is one good thing about dumb drivers. When the road conditions are good for maybe 45 mph, and you get passed by some moron who wants to go 60, there’s no better feeling in the world than going on another two miles … to find him spinning his wheels in a ditch.
 
No, I didn't get off the porch for this. You kiddin' me?
ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)
( Mar. 10th, 2016 01:53 pm)
This has been a mild winter for us, and spring seems to have come as an early, unexpected (and probably temporary) surprise. But to remember how it usually is, and will be again, I wrote some new lyrics to the song from Frozen, “Let It Go”.
 
I know what you’re thinking: “Why, Mark? Why?” Good question—I don’t even find it easy. The original lyrics can be found here:
 
 
 
But I present you with: “Stop the Snow”

 
The snow’s piled high almost to my thigh
It’s so cold I want to scream
No sign of spring salvation
I’m stuck in a snow globe dream
 
The wind howls through windows, bringing swirling snow inside
Couldn’t keep it out, plastic sheets I tried
 
Let the dog in, his frozen pee
Is an icicle I never want to see
My hands can’t feel—this weather blows
Thanks to the snow
 
Stop the snow, stop the snow
Can’t get my car unstuck
If I had enough dough
I’d move away from all this yuck
I know just what the forecasts say
Get your storm rage on
I’m stuck in my drive anyway.
 
It’s funny how this temperature
makes everything seem blue
And if you don’t see the misery
there’s something wrong with you
It’s time to go and break the ice
To start the car, oh please play nice
No lights, no juice, not to be rude
I’m screwed
 
Stop the snow, stop the snow
Just one day when it’s warm and dry
Car won’t go in the snow
Ice falls down from tears I cry
Here I push in four foot drifts
Till my hands freeze on …
 
A patch of ice takes me to the ground
Underneath the snow it’s all cold, dead and brown
And one thought penetrates my frozen brain
Summer’s not so bad—I don’t mind the rain
 
Stop the snow, stop the snow
My car’s buried in five foot drifts
I can’t feel, my own toes
I’ll never make it to my shift
My hands are blue and my face is white
I could use a lift
But the snow plow buries and passes by.
 
The Groundhog came out, saw the Iowa Caucus, and is predicting ten more months of misery.  

"Drive us off a cliff before Super Tuesday."

I posted this back in February of last year, and for some reason I started thinking of it again this weekend. Really, it works best if you have the music playing in the background while you’re reading it.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­____________________________________________________

Maybe you’ve seen “Frozen”. Maybe you’ve been frozen. Either way, I think you can relate to how I changed the song’s words, to reflect my feelings about winter. If you’re not familiar with the song, just ask any kid. If they don’t have the soundtrack or a karaoke version, they can probably still hum the tune from memory.

 

"I Don’t Want To Build a Snowman"
 (sung to the tune of Do You Want to Build a Snowman)


I don’t wanna build a snowman. 
Come on, are you crazy?
I’m not going near that frozen door
Call me a bore
I’m not going to freeze today.           

I’m used to being warm
and when I’m not
I wish that I could die!

I don’t wanna get the frostbite.
I don’t want to see fingers white.

Go away, Winter.
Okay? Bye...


I don’t wanna build a snowman.
Or get hit with wet snowballs.
I think the outside may be for you,
I don’t like turning blue
and suffering from falls.

(Just hangin’ at home.)

I’ll stoke a fire or two
Staying in my room,
and at least then I won’t die.
(Brrrrrrr)

Please don’t make me go out there,
People are asking when it will end.
They say their skin has turned to ice,
Out there it’s not so nice:
Just go back in.

We’re not such a fan
Of this icy land,
But what are you gonna do?  

I don’t wanna build a snowman. [sniff]

____________________________

 

 

So ... should I post my next great song, "Stop the Snow"?

 

But ... I'm so cool!

 


 

Blizzards happen. This one affecting much of the east is particularly bad, but they happen--and they'll happen again.

 

Most of the things people should do to prepare for one disaster are the same for any disaster: Stocking food, water, first aid supplies, battery powered lights and radios, and so on. When you're hit by a tornado, earthquake, snowstorm, or many other catastrophes, you might be on your own. Emergency services might not be able to get to you at all, or they might be overwhelmed.

 

Whenever an emergency comes, someone who thought it wouldn't happen to them has it happen to them. Don't wait until it's too late to be prepared. It's not silly. It's not overkill. It's what may keep you and your family alive.

 

When I woke up, I could feel in my sinuses that the weather was changing—again. Not exactly a superpower. Then I went outside, skidded across the porch, pried open the car door, got the car started (barely), and chipped ice off the mirrors while it warmed up and charged the battery.

Ah, winter.

But what I hadn’t expected was the way I felt after being outside for half an hour. Although overall I haven’t started feeling better from the sinus surgery yet (12 weeks to a year), I have been able to breathe through my nose much better. I think that actually works against me in weather like this.

In short, I’m not going out again until time to head to work in the snow tonight. But feeling under the weather (heh) is something we all go through. It doesn’t keep me from today’s task, which is to go through our vast collection of photos to pick out pictures for the Indiana history humor book. It’s bicentennial year—time’s a-wasting.

 

 

ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)
( Jan. 10th, 2016 10:37 am)
The rain stopped ... well, turned into snow. But then the snow stopped ... well, turned into sleet.

But that's okay, the sleet didn't last long.

It's snowing again. Sideways.
In all the fuss about setting goals for 2016, I forgot to mention how things went for me in 2015.
Things sucked.
Well, okay, not totally. The last two months were so bad they kind of colored the rest of the year. November was full of family illnesses, injuries, and terrorist attacks. (The terrorist attacks weren’t family related.) December was full of surgical instruments in my sinuses. Still, my ENT mentioned in passing that the surgery would be getting particularly close to my eyes and brain, and since all were functioning at the same level afterward, I’d call it a win.
During the same period, I was of mixed feelings about the weather. It was unseasonably warm, but I was too sick/in recovery to go out and enjoy it As far as my heating bill is concerned, still a plus.
So, let’s review: We survived autumn, the weather was nice, and my gas bill was lower. I got outside a lot during summer, and even took my first horse ride in 35 years, and survived. Emily got a job working with horses, which she loves and which tells you how I ended up on one. I injured my back badly in June, which gave me more writing time (because I couldn’t do anything else). We saw several funnel clouds during a storm, but none caused damage (or swept us off to Oz).
Meanwhile, in 2015 I got two books published: Images of America: Albion and Noble County, which as far as I can tell is selling pretty well, and Slightly Off the Mark, which … isn’t, but there’s always next year. Excuse me, this year.
 
           Overall, I have to say most of 2015 held its own. Could 2016 be better? Well, my first work shift of the year was horrible, so maybe it's all downhill from there. But it’s a presidential election year … so don’t count on it.

I don’t have this peculiar, almost pathological hatred of New Year’s resolutions some people have. Maybe that’s because I haven’t made one since 1989, and so haven’t experienced the loathing that comes with breaking them.
Still, I do set goals. I’m not sure what the differences is, except that resolutions come with a party hat and a large cup of questionable liquid. Goals should never be made while under the influence of booze, parties, or trying to impress woman. (Or men.)
My first goal for 2016 is, in theory, an easy one: to get published at least twice. Since 2011 I’ve had seven books published, which works out to … um … well, less than two books a year. (Now that I think about it, my 1989 resolution was to get better at math.)
It’s an easy goal in theory, because I’m already shopping three completed novels to agents and editors. With two more almost done, I could switch to independent publishing and get two out this year. The problem comes with finding time to write more books. By my count, if I don’t produce more manuscripts, I’ll run out in … um … a few years. So the next goal is the hard one: complete at least the first drafts of two more books by 2017. It’s a good thing I dedicated myself to writing full time. It’s a bad thing I still have my day job, which I work at night.
My next goal is to lose 35 pounds by spring. I’m not doing this for me: I’m doing this because my doctor told me to and, more importantly, my wife found out my doctor told me to. So this is a selfless act, something I’m doing for them. You fans, stop sending chocolate and chips to my home. Send them to my workplace, care of me. My day job workplace.
My final goal is to declutter my life, which translates to decluttering my house. Like many people who grew up poor, I can’t stand to throw anything away. “This broken 8-track player could be repaired! Suppose I lost my job, and this was my only way to listen to music?”
There’s a certain irony that many lower middle class people have more stuff than rich people do. When something breaks for a rich person, they throw it away; when something breaks for a less than rich person, they put it in the garage “just in case”. I do this despite the fact that I have absolutely no ability to ever repair anything.
Here’s another way to put it: If you keep something because you might need it someday, but when you finally do need it you have so much stuff you can’t find it—keeping it was pointless.
So my goals for 2016 amount to more writing and less of everything else. See? I boiled it down to one sentence, and left the resolutions to the United Nations. You might say I decluttered already.
 


Another goal: Avoid snow
.

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