Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Cheap Therapy Of Snow Shovelling

Many of us are locked in the latest Polar Vortex--or one of them, now that there are actually three daughter vortices--and the extreme cold and waves of snow are forcing us to stay indoors, avoiding much travel. I'm also playing Nurse to Rick, who had spinal surgery on 18 January. He's a Very Good Patient, but until he is allowed to bend, twist, lift, or basically do Normal Life Things again completely, I am pretty much Everything Person. (Assisted very ably now and again by Sam, who stops by and is On Call, should we need anything, like the Good Boy he is. Jared, who lives farther away, is the Backup.)

I just came in from finishing up the latest round of snow shovelling, which is my best source of real physical activity these days. I have to say that I am always surprised and gratified at just how much any outdoor exercise improves my overall mood and sense of wellbeing almost automatically.

And I especially do like shovelling snow, oddly enough, and this comes from a longtime Hater Of Winter. Maybe it's because it gives me power over two things I so dislike, Winter and Being Cold. These things often hold sway over me, both physically and emotionally. But when I go outside and shovel, it's like I'm bossing them around; I'm refusing to succumb to Winter and the Cold.

I also think a great deal of it is that I can see steady progress as I work. The shovel leaves clear swaths of driveway and sidewalk. It's obvious where I've been and how much I have yet to do. There's also a definite end, an absolute finish to the work. When the driveway and sidewalk are clear, I'm done!  I can put away my shovel and go in.  In my career as a teacher, that wasn't the case. Even when I was done teaching a particular novel or unit and gave the final test, I still had stragglers--kids who were absent and had to make up assignments, quizzes, projects, and tests. They had deadlines, hypothetically, but you'd be surprised at how much leeway there was, especially if parents got involved.  I was forever hauling out folders of answer keys, makeup versions of tests, moving backwards into my gradebook, trying always in vain to get everyone (for once) at the same starting/ending point. I even had kids trying to make stuff up after the final grades were in and the school year had ended! Trust me, even when the Fat Lady sang, it was never really over.

The rewards of snow shovelling are so tangible. A clear driveway, obviously; a job done; that feeling of accomplishment as I look down that stretch of clear concrete; stepping into the house and feeling the warmth envelop me and see it steam up my sunglasses; the satisfaction of shedding each layer of coat, mittens, headband, boots; and finally, sitting down with the contentment of a job well done and done all by myself.

I hate winter with a Passion, believe me. Actually, more accurately, I hate Snow with a passion. I could live with Winter were it not for Snow. I never find it pretty, ever. It's dangerous at its worst and an inconvenience at its best. But I try to make the best of it.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Offering Some Perspective (And A New Cooking Show Idea?) For 2019

The Long-Suffering Zydrunas
One of the last conversations I had in 2018, via telephone with my eldest, Jared.

Jared: Ma. Got any ideas for a killer sauce or something for salmon? Decided to stay in tonight for New Year's Eve, so she's bringing stuff over and we're making salmon for dinner.

Nance: Ugh. You know I detest all fish, and salmon tops the list. But I have a teriyaki glaze recipe for it from back when I thought you all liked it.

Jared: I've always liked it. You know that. I can do an Asian thing. I don't need a recipe.

Nance: You could do a traditional lemon-dill-butter thing.

Jared: Yeah, that sounds good, too. The pressure's on. I've never cooked for her before.

Nance: Well, then the two of you could just cook together. That way, there's no pressure, and it's more of a fun situation.

Jared: Here's the second problem: I usually cook with my shirt off. You know, I put on some music, take off my shirt, and dance around, throwing shit together. Then, when I sit down to dinner, I complain to the dog when I find a hair in my food.

Nance: Oh, Jared.

Jared: I hold up the forkful or the hair or whatever, and I look him straight in the eye. I say, "Zydrunas, this is unacceptable. I've found a hair in my food. I expect better quality from this establishment."

Nance: What does he say?

Jared: The usual. He huffs and rolls his eyes. He's so tired of all my bullshit.

Happy New Year, everyone.  We might all be Tired Of The Bullshit, but let's have some Laughs!
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