Monday, February 18, 2013

In The Throes Of Winter's Discontent: SAD Is Making Me Crabby

Like the proud people at Maker's Mark distilleries, I was unwilling to dilute my content here at the Dept. just to satisfy demand.  Although it has been a long time between postings, and I know that I am retired and should be posting something far more often since I have loads of time and something to say about everything, I didn't want to throw any old thing together. 

Then I thought, Oh hell.  If I wait for something erudite or wonderful, it might be April before I hit Publish again.

So in my severe and advanced state of Seasonal Affective Disorder, I have brought together this Flotsam And Jetsam from my winter-numbed brain, encased as it is in polar fleece and cat hair. 

=*= How Hard Is It?  A few days ago, the Walgreens near me, which is astonishingly busy at all hours of the day, advertised this on its electronic sign:  WHOPPING COUGH SHOTS.  This is the same store that I called regularly to correct when it advertised DEODERANT.  You have the label!  Look at it! 

Similarly, the Catholic church has been running a recruiting ad in our area.  Sponsored by the diocese, it features a woman who has decided to return to the faith.  At the end of the ad, it had a graphic that included the phrase "at your Catholic CHRUCH."  That ad ran with that misspelled graphic for weeks.  I went to the website to contact them and tell them--as a polite and helpful person--but there was nowhere to do it.  The ad on the website had been corrected.  Eventually, it got corrected on air.  Boy, first the Catholics' proofreader quits, then the Pope. They can't catch a break!

=*= Will You Visit Me At The Home?  My sister Susan, my mom St. Patsy, and I had another game night Saturday night.  It was a marathon, and let me tell you why.  It's because we are old and pathetic women.  Naturally, we had to play THE GAME.  (Memory Game, the nostalgic wayback machine Susan bought for $50 on Ebay that is like Concentration.) Well, Susan, whose memory is sharp, was distracted because she had one teenager due home from work on a snowy night and the other at home entertaining two friends;  I have Menopause Mind and am working through a bit of stress at the moment; and St. Patsy is 82.5 and on some new pain meds for her hip.  St. Patsy turned over one, same card ON EVERY SINGLE TURN.  And she was surprised every single time.  I kept forgetting where one of a pair was as soon as it was turned back over.  Only Susan was drinking.  And she won.

=*= I Hope They Donate Their Bodies To Science.  While I was cowering under a fleece blanket in my fleece pants and fleece slippers, some yahoo on television was blathering about Cleveland winter weather.  All I heard was "blah blah blah Well, what do you expect in Cleveland in February?  But I love the snow!"  and then I picked up my space heater and heaved it at the tv.  Okay, so I didn't do that last part, but what I did do is start in on a rant about People Who Say They Love Snow (aka People Who Are Stupid/People Who Shouldn't Be Allowed To Speak Aloud/People Who Make Me Forget That I Am Against Assault Rifle Ownership).  People Who Love Snow are also These People, then:
1.  People Who Love Shovelling
2.  People Who Love Sitting In Traffic Due To Slippery/Snow-Covered Highways
3.  People Who Love Cleaning Off Snowy Windshields
4.  People Who Love Walking Like Penguins On Icy Surfaces
5.  People Who Love Hideous Looking Salt-Marked Cars, Shoes, Pants, Coats
6.  People Who Love Wearing Bulky Garments
7.  People Who Love Dry Skin And Hair
8.  People Who Love Chapped Lips
9.  People Who Love Getting Bundled Up To Simply Take Out Trash
10. People Who Are Sadists And Masochists, Obviously

I got spoiled last winter, The Winter That Never Was.  This year, I feel put-upon and ill-used.  And all those other negative, hyphenated adjectives.  And crabby!  Really, really crabby.  So, commiserate with me in Comments, and don't you dare try to Cheer Me Up.  Let's crank around first.  You know me:  Right now, I just need to wallow.


  1. Your post touched me deeply as a person who hates, hates, hates, winter. It also touched me as a person who, for the last 11 years, lived in the desert Southwest (AZ and TX) before moving to South Korea, where (as far as I can tell) they INVENTED cold. I realize it's not Siberia, but we've had snow on the ground since November, daily highs of -11C/11F (and lower, but that was about the average) for weeks, what seems like METERS of snow, and every part of my body has dried up and turned to dust, thanks to the dry air and aggressively heated buildings. We live in an apartment building, so at least I don't have to shovel, but I have bought myself four different types of boots this winter, all in the desperate attempt to keep my feet from freezing while standing at the bus stop (the Koreans aren't real big on shoveling sidewalks, so you do a lot of trekking through snow, even in the city.) There's just enough sun during the day that the snow melts a bit and then re-freezes to create horrible ice patches all over the sidewalks, and yes, I went out and bought crampons to put over my boots after I fell the 3rd time. I spent all last winter (my first in Korea) writing whining blog posts about the miserable, awful COLD winter, only to get the equivalent of a cruel practical joke this year when we were hit with the coldest winter on record in a bazillion years. Apparently there's some Siberian air mass (this is a real thing, cross my heart) that causes these bitterly cold winters, so I'm completely justified in my whining. Let me hasten to add that I suffered from SAD for years until we moved to AZ and then was amazed to discover how pleasant I could be in January, February, and March when the sun shone consistently. Moving here was like getting punched in the gut. I'm old enough now that I'm aware that this, too, will pass, but it doesn't help much at all when your face hurts if you're outside for more than 30 seconds. (Let me hasten to add that I'm not suggesting that my suffering is somehow worse than yours just because you're in OH and I'm in Korea: I'm willing to bet you're every bit as miserable as I am, if not more so.) The only positive thing about all this winter suffering has been that I now understand all those old M.A.S.H. episodes where they were always freezing in the winter. When I saw them on late-night TV, I always assumed that the show's writers were just enjoying a certain amount of artistic license by exaggerating the cold in order to write in some good jokes. I can now tell you with utter certainty - they weren't.
    I really have no words of comfort, but please know that I commiserate fully.

  2. Nance, I'll keep this short as I am one of those people who shouldn't be allowed to speak: I like winter. However, I also like fall and spring and summer. The only thing I don't like is the dry skin bit... I notice that this year more than ever. The rest? I simply don't give a rip because I don't have to do so. Retired, you know? We don't have to go into the fretful stir any longer, so I don't. I stay inside and watch the snow and the rain and the whatnot, and I am very happy. I do miss swimming at our condo pool, but those days will come. For now, I love not having to do anything. (I haven't washed my car for two years: I don't give a rip about that either.) Sorry you're SAD, Lady Pal. Really.

  3. I have a whopping cough - obviously I need some of that!

    We've had some sunny days and I amnow waking up in daylight, mostly, and watching the sun set as I start supper. SAD days will soon be over. Hang in!

    I like snow in its place. If it would only fall gently on the fields and create pretty views, things would be fine. But it insists on clobbering up the roads, bending trees and heaping up on the roof.

    Proofreading is a lost art and you know it. I just missed two bloopers in my own post. How bad is that.

  4. Mary G--For pretty views, I can search Bing or Google. LOL.

    I'm sorry about your cough, but in today's newspaper, I read the recipe for an old home remedy. Slice up an onion and cover the slices with sugar. Once the sugar has drawn out the moisture of the onion and created a syrup, take as needed for your cough. The person offering the remedy said that it has the taste of caramelized onions and is "almost pleasant." More importantly, it cleared her cough and lungs in just a day or two.

    There you go! No charge. And as far as errors in Comments, I don't charge those against you, either. I'm just pleased that you (and others) are here to chat.

    Bookster--Oh, thank you. I hate being cooped up in my house and not doing things because the snow and cold have me trapped. I like just getting in my car and going, not having to warm it up or bundle up or worry about bad weather. And don't you miss fresh vegetables from roadside stands? I do. Winter serves no purpose, and snow is the proof of that. Let's try and get together soon. IF this weather gives me a headache-free week, ever.

    MsCaroline--Well, holy crap. We get Alberta Clippers from Canada, but a SIBERIAN air mass sounds downright punitive. I mean, people were sent to Siberia for exile. Everyone knows how horrid it is there. You poor thing. STOP GOING OUTSIDE. Honestly, it sounds pointless, and surely there is some sort of Korean Service wherein you can have all the necessities of life delivered to you by a polite and deferential Korean Person. STAY IN AND WAIT FOR SPRING. Or, failing that, take a trip back to AZ, lose the return ticket for a little while, and thaw out.

    Ugh. Isn't winter the absolute WORST? Don't we hate its GUTS? The only way it could be worse is if it brought about an additional side effect of poor grammar and rampant misspellings beyond what we already abide.

  5. Misspellings in public should be punished by flogging is not corrected immediately by the misspeller!

    As an aside, I have been judging 40 entries in the Amazon ABNA (Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award)contest. (I'm a really low-ranked Amazon reviewer; "low-ranked" is good, as opposed to "high-ranked") and I have suffered through 38 of the most egregious examples of bad writing out there. Each excerpt was worse than the last. Now, I am not a writer - like the character in "Garp", I'm a reader, not a writer - but the bad and grotesque writing of the entrants is difficult to stomach. I had to read and "critique" these excerpts and not be mean about it to the entrants. Do you have any idea how difficult that is????

    And I like winter. Better than sweating in the summer.

  6. Anonymous10:20 AM

    This is a very well-reasoned and lucid post. I like your crabby thinking. I, too, am anti-typo and pro-Polartec.

    I especially like your take on people who like snow. Pretty snow in mountains, yes. But gray dirty Ohio snow, no. People who claim to like the latter are their own kind of whacked.

    Spring can't arrive here too soon. IMHO.

  7. Anonymous11:19 AM

    I walked past a Thai restaurant yesterday, and on their specials board out front was listed "Pumkin Curry." Twice. Once on both sides. It made me very sad. Unfortunately, I was running late and couldn't stop to tell them it was wrong.

    As far as liking snow, I like that it snows in Tahoe. I can get there in a few hours and spend a day or a weekend there, but i don't have to deal with most of the things you listed.

    - Mikey G.

  8. Ohio winters make me question the wisdom of having two dogs, especially the young, exuberant one. It's not the cold so much as the precarious footing.

    I, too, am a chronic proofreader. There is a Plain Dealer columnist who constantly uses "peak" when she means "peek". This drives me nuts. Auto-correct and spellcheck don't do the job. Another pet peeve: the use of the phrase "I had a pit in my stomach", when what is meant is, say, "a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach". What sort of pit? Peach? Avocado?

  9. Chicago winter is the EXACT reason I now live in California. The last winter I was in the deep freeze (1984) there was a two-week period when it did not get above zero degrees (F) and one of the weekends it was minus 26 degrees. Real temperature—not the wind chill. You had to go out and start your car every few hours to make sure the engine block didn’t freeze, and if your front door had glass in it, you had to be very careful about how you closed it behind you. Glass that cold is very brittle, so too much jarring would shatter it. I visited a college friend in Long Beach the following spring and he told me that if I was interested, I could stay with him until I got a job and found a place to live. SOLD! I packed up my cats and have never looked back.

    California has my idea of winter. You can go to the mountains on purpose if you MUST see actual snow, but we usually just have lows in the 50’s and rain for the winter, with the occasional warm-up of a Santa Ana event. This year, winter has been cold for us, no Santa Anas and routine frost advisories, with lows in the 30’s and even in the 20’s once or twice. The horses are enjoying it, but me—not so much.

    When you start a grammar hit squad, we will be your southern California contacts. My daughter and I see grammar atrocities all the time and can hardly stand it. Please make this an official sub-dept of the main Dept.

    I feel your pain about old and pathetic. I too am there and it’s not pretty.

  10. Caroline wins! I'm not sure what she wins, but by golly she gets the prize, whatever it is.

    My dad is retired & enjoys snow now because they just don't go anywhere when it snows. But he retired from UPS, so you know he had some choice words to say about it back in the day. Of course, he lives in NC where snow is mostly a novelty.

    I myself find myself praying for snow and grinning like a little kid when it comes & then going "what the %*&^ was I THINKING WHEN I ORDERED THE SNOW!!" Apparently I haven't lost the NC mindset of snow days even after nearly 16 years in Ohio.

    I think I've given up on the publicly written word. It's just too exhausting to care anymore. Not that I don't notice, but I just don't have the energy to get out there & fight for the right words.

    Oh, and I am TERRIBLE at Concentration now. Ugh. My memory is not just Swiss cheese anymore - it's more like a cheese sandwich where someone ate the middle of the sandwich & just left the edges...

  11. Bug--I know! MsCaroline is the winner of our Pity Prize, hands down. And I'm not being snarky in the least.

    Aha! So it's YOU! YOU are the one to blame for snow in Ohio! Cut out the prayers already. Or at least start praying for Spring. ;-)

    LaFF--I need a Friend like that in California or the Southwest right now. "Come on out and stay with me for a month" the Friend will say. "Bring your cats, too!" There goes March, at least, and I can then tough out April back in NEO while May awaits.

    I wish you and I (and your daughter, apparently) could adopt Bug's attitude and not be so devastated by public grammar and spelling atrocities. Or simply become inured enough to merely be wounded rather than completely undone. Let's look into a therapy program.

    fauxprof--Yesterday, on the NBC NIGHTLY NEWS!, there was a graphic which used "roll" rather than the correct "role." I gave a good five minutes to that, and I thought Rick would never stop laughing. And on MSNBC, someone said "the proof is in the pudding." Sigh. So hurtful.

    On another note, you be careful out there in the snow with your dogs! The cold, dry air does something to them, I know. They get barky and wild, and next thing you know, you end up on your derriere.

  12. Mikey--I guess we should be grateful that it wasn't PUNKIN curry. Sigh. I'll bet it was a lovely dish, too, but I would not eat it on principle.

    I completely subscribe to just the sort of winter you sensible Californians seem to have, which is a Winter Which Stays Put In One Location. That way, one can go and view it or step into it at will, rather than have it forced upon one. Like a museum or a show. What a very intelligent and foreward-thinking way to manage it all.

    Ally--Oh, thank you very much. That I managed to be lucid is astonishing, truly.

    I am a fan of the fleece, no matter what the brand. It is the warmest stuff in the world. The one severe and regrettable drawback to it is its proclivity to clench on to cat hair. I've never seen anything like it.

    And while grey and dirty OH snow is awful to look at, I dislike the so-called "pretty, picture postcard snow" as well. To me, snow is snow. And all snow is cold and inconvenient. Take it. Please!

    phoebes in santa fe--Bless your heart, of course I know how hard that is. I taught highschool creative writing for almost 30 years. THAT WAS MY LIFE. While I did have some inspiringly talented writers, I also had some very bad writers who I could not devastate by being brutally honest; yet, I had to be somewhat frank in order to help them improve and succeed. It is very difficult, so I understand your dilemma. Be kind.

    On another note, how do you like Santa Fe? Is NM worth a look when I relocate to someplace warmer?

  13. Santa Fe is the coolest place around - very welcoming to newcomers, whether they're married or not - but it is NOT warm here in the winter. There are definitely four seasons here, which I love. I hate/loathe hot/humid weather and the nice thing about SF is that it can be 90 during the day, but 50 at night.

  14. Oh, how I do NOT miss those cold winters of my childhood in upper state New York. My deepest sympathies. This is not to say that I loved the summer before last when we had over 70 days straight of temperatures over 100 degrees, but AC helps most of the time, and the heat doesn't make driving a nightmare like snow and ice. The rare times when we get icy roads I am petrified of driving and refuse to even go near an overpass on a freeway. Which begs the question: When are you going to relocate?! Those "plans" have been on your blog for yonks, lol. (Yeah, I know, you both probably need to be retired for that to happen.)

    Spellers Behaving Badly:
    Oh, gawd. I hate that. My personal passion is going after all the hideous signs in Spanish written by half-literate heritage speakers (some of them are my students.) And equally ignorant gringos who think the wavy line over the "n" (= ñ) is just a decoration. Like the decoration on a cake I once saw that said "Feliz Cumpleanos", or "Happy Anus Day." Yep, there's a "year's" difference between an año and an ano.

    As far as the Catholic CHRUCH... I guess they don't have the funds for proofreaders with all the payouts they have to make to victims of pedophile priests. (I was raised Catholic, so I'm allowed to say that, lol.) And, really, instead of asking the laity to come to confession, how about some true confessions from the clergy?

  15. Being a sensible Californian, winter doesn't bother me. I do, however, resent the hell out of summer. I hate sitting in my home office with that stupid idiot sun beating down on my window. I hate central air, because I have to pay to cool down the entire house, when I'm just sitting here sweating in one room, and no one else is home. I guess I could take my computer downstairs, but it's not a laptop and all of my work files are here, blah blah blah. I hate wondering if I can go outside for a walk, or if the sun will fry my head off should I try to do so. I hate looking at the computer and seeing idiocy like "High today: 102. Current temp: 115" I shouldn't complain, because the last two summers have been quite mild, with very few days over 100, and it is a dry heat. But you got me started.

  16. I am with Julie! As a native Southern Californian, I have seen snow possibly five times in my entire life, mostly due to a trip to Lake Tahoe one winter.

    I hated that trip.

    But, like Julie, I too loathe summer with the horrid heat and the inability to go outside. She even lives in NoCal, which is cooler than where I am!

  17. Having read most of the comments, I simply have to relate what annoys me the most. Misspellings on the little lines at the bottom of the news that nobody ever seems to catch or correct, so it just goes on and on. The "best" one I've seen was they wrote "retired" instead of "retried", and although I've forgotten the line, it actually worked as a sentence, so some criminal apparently is leading a life of leisure now.

  18. I will have to agree with my fellow Californians who are complaining about the summer heat as well. Because of the horses, we spend a LOT of time outside, so we live and die (as it were) by the weather forecast. Horses must be exercised every day if they are to stay in shape and you want to show, as we do, so finding the right time of day to do that work when it’s 104 in the middle of the day is a challenge. We do a lot of 6 am and 9 pm riding when it’s that hot. Our barn also has a covered arena (a godsend when the sun is beating down), so that gives us a bigger window of time to get all the rides done before and after the main heat of the day.

    Grammar atrocity of the day:
    I am on the board of a local horse show circuit and occasionally receive press invitations. I got one this morning from the latest edition of Cavalia, the horsey Cirque du Soleil. The description about the day when the horses arrive said that when each horse leaves the trailer lead by his trainer, you will hear antidotes about the horse, where he came from, and what he did before he came to be included in the show. Sigh…

    I would happily invite you and all cats to come to southern California if I had a place to put you. A tiny two-bedroom apartment precludes visitors, and even having my mother come for Christmas is a challenge. But we would love to show you around if you’re ever in the neighborhood, and guide you to the best avocado prices in town.

  19. LaFF--Your invitation is very kind, and I thank you. I hope I have occasion to take you up on it.

    RE: the press invitation. Grrr. First, it has the ubiquitous error of "lead" for "led." I really get irked by that. Then, the "antidotes" for "anecdotes" shows up. I would have almost forgiven it, but if it's a professional deal, and if it's a press release/invitation, I would imagine it's not some home-office Microsoft Word/Paint program printout. Why doesn't anyone care what their documents say about them?

    Finally, the weather issue. 104 degrees is indeed beastly for anyone, but to be honest, right now, I would rather have that. Sigh.

    Sillyak--Oh, I know. You are so right. Rick and I notice it too, and especially on the weekends. It's like all the smart people are off, and they bring in some doodahs off the street to do the graphics. Sometimes the errors turn out to be hilarious, but mostly, they are just sad.

    Gina--Hi! Hope you are totally over the flu at your house now. I so wish I could say I have only seen snow five times in my life. I have seen snow at least five times IN MAY in my life.

    I'm no fan of extreme heat when it comes with crushing humidity. That is what I cannot abide in the summer. If it's going to be really hot, then okay. I can take that. But I don't want to feel like I'm walking through a bowl of soup all day, you know?

  20. Ortizzle--Hello, dahling. I know, I know. The Grand cannot happen soon enough, let me assure you. Circumstances have arisen that may bring it to reality a bit sooner, but the housing market here is so prohibitive. I am thwarted at every turn. Phoebes in Santa Fe, above, says that place is nice, but it still gets cold. How cold? I must research.

    RE: Errors. LOL. Who knew the tilde was so incredibly crucial? Personally, as long as I get a piece of cake, I don't care what we are celebrating. J/K

    Oh, the Catholics. You went there. We recovering Catholics can't help but weigh in, can we? I thought the same thing, actually, and have said plenty. If anything, the Catholic Church has quite a bit to confess to me, rather than the other way around. We can start with some things as far back as the Crusades...!

    phoebes--but what about snow? how cold? LOL. It's like I don't know how to use The Google. ;-)


  21. Hi Nance,

    You haven't heard from me in a while because we have both been ill.

    The other night we were down at the water's edge enjoying the sunset and both of our illnesses kicked up.

    He had a low T attack and my whopping cough kicked in and we had to call 911 to help us get out of our bathtubs.

    Phew! Hope we can make it to chruch
    on Sunday......

  22. Nancy--LOL! Maybe you can clue all of us in as to how you get those bathtubs from place to place.

    Thanks for checking in. I'm thinking of you often.


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