The Magic of Snow

Sunday, January 31, 2021. The last day of January. It’s 28 degrees outside, has just started snowing and is predicted to keep snowing until early Tuesday morning. Depending on where the heavy snow band sets up we can get anywhere from 8 to 14 inches. That’s a big storm for us! Whenever we get a snow storm like this it always makes me feel like a kid getting a snow day. I was going to wax poetic about it all and remembered that I have written about snow a few times in the past. This post was from two years ago and sums up how I’m feeling. Except for the first sentence, it all applies.

If you are getting this storm, stay safe. Do you have favorite snow memories?

If you are reading this in a warm and sunny place enjoy a little winter. And thanks for stopping by!

As I wait for the third snow storm in three days I was feeling a bit done with it all. For some reason I began to reminisce about how I felt about snow as a kid. I wrote down a bunch of memories and by the end of it I realized that snow really is amazing and how sad it is that as adults all we worry about is the shoveling, trying to drive and lost work time. It’s been a very gloomy, long winter around here and since I felt cheered up by the end of reliving my childhood memories of snow, I thought I would share some of them here and maybe you too can remember the magic of snow. (There’s no promise that I will enjoy shoveling later!)

In trying to remember my earliest memories of snow the first thing that comes to mind is looking out the window and seeing white snowflakes falling from the sky. How amazing is that? If you’ve never seen that before it is a beautiful sight. Or waking in the morning to a white and softened world? Did my parents know it was going to snow and didn’t tell me so it was a wonderful surprise? I am still surprised by how the world is transformed by snow.

As a kid the excitement burst throughout my whole body. Snow! Running to the kitchen and eating something quickly so I could start the long process of dressing for hours of playing in the snow.

Putting on the warmest pants or maybe two pairs. A turtleneck sweater and shirt over that. Two pairs of socks. Snow pants which made a loud swishing noise when you walked because they were so thick the legs rubbed against each other. A thick snow coat which made it hard to bend your arms. A hat and mittens that Mom had knitted. They were thick and warm and quickly got heavy and soggy wet, but she always had another dry pair waiting to switch out. Boots. They were rubber boots that had a flap you pulled over to the side with an elastic loop to put over the big button to hold them shut. They never kept the snow from getting inside and melting but they were the best we had. And when they leaked, we would put plastic bags over our socks to keep our feet dry longer. Dressed in all of that, we were ready to go outside.

The excitement of those first steps in the snow. How deep was it? Was it dry and light or heavy and wet? We liked the heavier kind as kids because you could make anything out of it. Snowmen, snowballs, snow forts and one year I made a whole snow village with a bunch of simple rectangular houses all around a half a foot high and probably a foot long. Small roads connected them all. Working on them for so long I remember being so cold that even my knees felt frozen from crawling on the ground.

I remember feeling like I could make anything out of snow. Being lost in the moment and not feeling the cold until eventually my body was screaming that I had to go in and get warm. Then suddenly feeling it and going inside for lunch which hopefully included hot chocolate. Toes numb and then tingly and then incredibly itchy as they thawed. After being inside long enough to feel toasty again, we would bundle up and do it all over again.

Another huge thrill was going sledding somewhere. The first sleds we had were the traditional Flexible Flyer. Metal runners with wooden slats to sit or lie on. A rope was tied to the cross-piece and you could steer it by pulling on one side or the other. Those sleds were fast in the right conditions and if you were really daring you would lie on your stomach, head first and feel like you were going a million miles an hour! They were very heavy to pull back up the hill. Later we had plastic sleds in a variety of configurations. The saucer which was wicked fast and no way to steer it. Then the thin sheet of plastic sleds which you pulled the front up by holding the handle giving it a toboggan shape. That was super fast too and you felt every bump, rock or stick as you slid over it. Eventually we had the molded plastic sleds which were a bit thicker and more comfortable to ride in with handles to hold onto. Steering involved leaning in the direction you wanted to go. It was never a guarantee. You always hoped you ended up where you wanted to.

We became experts of snow conditions and which sled worked best. Heavy, icy snow; the Flexible Flyer. Light dry snow of only an inch or two, the plastic sheet sled. A few inches of almost any kind of snow, the molded plastic sled. And the saucer was best for the soft powdery kind because you always had to bail out of it to prevent crashing into someone or something.

I remember going to a golf course where there were a lot of people sledding. The thrill of sitting at the top of a steep hill on that sled, being pushed really hard by my dad. It wasn’t just a push. It was the back and forward to build up power and excitement. The one, two, three! And I was heading downhill like a rocket!

We had to help shovel snow too which wasn’t as much fun but it was all part of a snow day. And again, if the conditions were right we would build snow forts from the snow piled next to the driveway. Digging holes and tunnels, stopping to eat the snow every now and then looking over our snow kingdom. After the forts were done, the snowball fights. I usually got laughing too hard to be very good at aiming.

And even as a kid, just sitting and listening to the blanket of silence that only comes from a good snow fall. If it was still snowing and nobody else was outside, feeling like the world was contained in that moment of crisp cold air and snowflakes melting on your face.

The world and nature were amazing.

I need to hold on to that feeling later today and tonight when I’m out shoveling. Maybe I can catch some of that magic again.

End of 2020

Finally! Its the end of this year. We will all be glad to see it go.

There are so many things that I could reflect on about this past year but I really want to try to focus on the positive. That’s not to say that I haven’t had really rough days like everyone else. I tend to feel things deeply and have had times of fears and tears. Yet there is always something positive. This year we just needed to look harder.

I worked on my novel steadily until just before Thanksgiving. That is a huge accomplishment for me and I’m very happy with the work I got done. I finished two complete drafts. Then in November I realized that I have a huge flaw in the story and need to fix it. With the holidays coming and after working on it nonstop for the year, I realized that for the first time since NaNoWriMo 2019 that I didn’t have the energy or the drive to work on it. I also felt that I’ve been looking at it so closely for so long that I didn’t have a good perspective on it anymore. So I’ve taken a break. Which has been a good thing because just last week I finally have an idea of how to fix the problem. I think I came up with this idea because even though I wasn’t physically writing, I was still mulling over the story. So now I’m debating about working on it or just giving it to beta readers and see what they have to say about it first and then dive in again. I’m leaning that way because I’m sure they will find things I don’t see and then I can tackle it all at once with renewed energy.

I discovered that working on this book has been a wonderful escape from the world this year and that has been a gift.

Surprisingly there have been some good things from this year.

-To know that I need to get outside and enjoy nature more. I got to do quite a bit of camping this year which was really a sanity saver for me. It was amazing to see how many people have discovered camping this year because it was one of the few things we can do safely. I have never seen the campgrounds as full as they were this year. And most of the places I went did a fantastic job of keeping people safe.

-This year gave us more time to focus on things that make us happy at home. For me that’s organizing more, digging out old hobbies and projects and working on them. Really focusing on my home.

-I discovered that there are good things about wearing masks; like you don’t need to worry about pimples, stray whiskers or food in your teeth.

-I have learned so many new programs and apps for both work and home. Who knew we would become such experts at video chatting with people? That we would need to think about things like lighting, sound and background noise. How cute has it been to see all the cats and dogs peeking at everyone? Or one of my favorites was the disembodied arm that appeared to float behind one person in their virtual background?

-I appreciate what is important to me more than ever, like family and friends, and to never take any of them for granted.

-To be caring and considerate to others because everyone has different comfort levels. And on top of that despite how much time we have been dealing with this virus, we still have good days and bad days which I for one, never expected to still be happening.

-To respect each other.

-To always be as kind as we can be.

Now that this year is at an end, I think we can all agree that it has been full of learning opportunities. I remember thinking before the year began how interesting it would be to live in the year 2020. 20/20 is perfect eyesight. I thought it would be a good year to focus on clarity. Who knew that we would be forced into seeing things we never wanted to see? But I think in many ways it’s been a year of clarity. As a world we have all learned to see many things clearly, whether we wanted to or not. But I also think it has been an amazing opportunity to look with open eyes at what is really important in our lives. Not just individually but as a world.

Hindsight is 20/20. Time will tell how true that is.

I wish you all a good 2021. I wish everyone good health, good family and friends. I wish continued growth and happiness for all of us.

Happy New Year!

Pensieve

You know when you have so many thoughts bottled up in your head that you feel overwhelmed and scattered? You have a hard time concentrating and sleeping? Trying to focus on one thing at a time becomes a challenge and eventually you feel edgy and cranky?

Me too.

So the first time I read about a Pensieve in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire I wished that it was real.

Definition:

A Pensieve is a wide and shallow dish made of metal or stone, often elaborately decorated or inlaid with precious stones, and carrying powerful and complex enchantments. Pensieves are rare, because only the most advanced wizards ever use them, and because the majority of wizardkind is afraid of doing so.

https://www.wizardingworld.com/writing-by-jk-rowling/pensieve

At times, when one’s head is so full of thoughts that one cannot hear oneself think, it is useful to be able to take some of those thoughts and literally set them aside. The practiced Wizard can extract a thought from his head and store it in a phial or in the Pensieve for another time. If it is in the Pensieve, it is possible to stir the thoughts stored there together and look for patterns. It appears that the wizard has the choice of extracting an entire memory, leaving no trace of it in his head, as Professor Snape does in Harry Potter and the order of the Phoenix or extracting a copy of a memory, retaining the original, as Professor Slughorn does in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It is also apparently possible to edit these extracted memories, though it is a difficult task and one which is often not done well. https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Muggles%27_Guide_to_Harry_Potter/Magic/Pensieve

How wonderful would it be to have a device in which to place thoughts and memories? Those many early mornings when you wake from a deep sleep and stay awake because of all the thoughts fighting for your attention at 3:00AM? How wonderful would it be to take those and place them safely in a Pensieve to look at or take care of later?

After giving this some thought (at 4:00AM) I realized that we have a few ways to deal with those things here in the real world. Nothing as cool as a Pensieve though.

Lists: When I need to remember something I make a list. I am a list person! I have shopping lists and to-do lists. I have main lists and sub-lists. It has become a running joke about me but I’m okay with that. Lists help me relax because as long as I have put something on a list I don’t have to worry about remembering it. I get it out of my head. I can look at that list at anytime, secure in knowing that I haven’t lost that thought.

The Reminder app on my phone is the digital version of lists and I use it constantly. I love that I can write what I want to remember and then select a date and time to get it done by. Wonderful! Any time I hear myself saying that I have to remember to do something, it goes in that app.

Writing/Journals: Writing in my journal works too. I always have too much to say and think about. Writing it all out is a great relief. And I’m sure my family and friends appreciate not having to listen to me endlessly.

Trusted Friends/Family: My favorite way of dealing with too many things on my mind is to spend time with a trusted friend or family member sharing our many ideas. Spending sometimes hours with both of us, or all of us, talking. Each person listens carefully to the others and each gets to talk. As long as it doesn’t turn into a toxic and negative discussion that feeds on itself. That isn’t healthy for anyone. But positive discussions and helpful ideas are wonderful.

After using any of these methods of getting too much clutter out of my brain leaves me feeling calm and focused again.

A friend who knows my love of the Harry Potter universe and who knows me well enough to know that I wish a Pensieve was

real, gave me one.

It’s fun to figure out ways to make the real world a little more magical.   

Pensieve Case

Open case

What I Did This Summer

As you can tell I didn’t write any blog posts this summer. In fact I haven’t written an original post since March 3rd. Sometimes I go through dry spells with writing and I used to really worry about it. I don’t anymore. I always come back to the writing.

I was also delayed when my laptop decided to stop working. Something in the BIOS went crazy and luckily I only lost a couple of months worth of writing and photos. Most of the photos I’ve been able to piece together from my camera, phone and places like Facebook or family and friends.

Even luckier is that most of the writing was done in notebooks first. I have been doing a lot of writing by hand and now I’m very happy that I did. I’m also back to making regular back-ups.

The beginning of this summer was really stormy and we had some interesting storms and saw amazing clouds in the sky. Luckily we didn’t get anything too serious like a lot of other people.

This was a warm and humid summer but it seemed pretty normal. Whatever normal weather is anymore. Sometimes I think we forget that summer is supposed to be hot and humid.

We did some camping which was great.  We love spending time outside and around other campers. Everyone is happy and relaxed. I love being around trees and all the greenery. It recharges me.

Curtains and kitties as a bonus!

Something I did this summer was to pull my sewing machine out of the closet. I haven’t sewn in years! I decided to make curtains for our new little mini camper. I found fun camping-themed material and proceeded to make new curtains for all the windows. I had forgotten how much I enjoy sewing. It felt so good to be working with material and my hands again.

Even though I haven’t posted here I have been writing. Lots of ideas, a few poems and journaling. I’m hoping some of it ends up here and may even be of interest to you.

This has been a summer of deep thinking. Hopefully some growth. Both good things.

Now at the end of summer, the sounds of the cicadas are loud, the crickets are soft and the katydids are somewhere in between. True sounds of late summer.

The gardens all look tired and some yellow leaves are appearing. The lawns are muted and burnt from the heat. The birds don’t sing as much but are just as busy looking for food.

The days are slowly getting shorter.

And despite knowing that we will have some more hot days ahead, summer is ending.

For now I will enjoy the cooler weather and enjoy the many offerings of Autumn.

The Magic of Snow

As I wait for the third snow storm in three days I was feeling a bit done with it all. For some reason I began to reminisce about how I felt about snow as a kid. I wrote down a bunch of memories and by the end of it I realized that snow really is amazing and how sad it is that as adults all we worry about is the shoveling, trying to drive and lost work time. It’s been a very gloomy, long winter around here and since I felt cheered up by the end of reliving my childhood memories of snow, I thought I would share some of them here and maybe you too can remember the magic of snow. (There’s no promise that I will enjoy shoveling later!)

In trying to remember my earliest memories of snow the first thing that comes to mind is looking out the window and seeing white snowflakes falling from the sky. How amazing is that? If you’ve never seen that before it is a beautiful sight. Or waking in the morning to a white and softened world? Did my parents know it was going to snow and didn’t tell me so it was a wonderful surprise? I am still surprised by how the world is transformed by snow.

As a kid the excitement burst throughout my whole body. Snow! Running to the kitchen and eating something quickly so I could start the long process of dressing for hours of playing in the snow.

Putting on the warmest pants or maybe two pairs. A turtleneck sweater and shirt over that. Two pairs of socks. Snow pants which made a loud swishing noise when you walked because they were so thick the legs rubbed against each other. A thick snow coat which made it hard to bend your arms. A hat and mittens that Mom had knitted. They were thick and warm and quickly got heavy and soggy wet, but she always had another dry pair waiting to switch out. Boots. They were rubber boots that had a flap you pulled over to the side with an elastic loop to put over the big button to hold them shut. They never kept the snow from getting inside and melting but they were the best we had. And when they leaked, we would put plastic bags over our socks to keep our feet dry longer. Dressed in all of that, we were ready to go outside.

The excitement of those first steps in the snow. How deep was it? Was it dry and light or heavy and wet? We liked the heavier kind as kids because you could make anything out of it. Snowmen, snowballs, snow forts and one year I made a whole snow village with a bunch of simple rectangular houses all around a half a foot high and probably a foot long. Small roads connected them all. Working on them for so long I remember being so cold that even my knees felt frozen from crawling on the ground.

I remember feeling like I could make anything out of snow. Being lost in the moment and not feeling the cold until eventually my body was screaming that I had to go in and get warm. Then suddenly feeling it and going inside for lunch which hopefully included hot chocolate. Toes numb and then tingly and then incredibly itchy as they thawed. After being inside long enough to feel toasty again, we would bundle up and do it all over again.

Another huge thrill was going sledding somewhere. The first sleds we had were the traditional Flexible Flyer. Metal runners with wooden slats to sit or lie on. A rope was tied to the cross-piece and you could steer it by pulling on one side or the other. Those sleds were fast in the right conditions and if you were really daring you would lie on your stomach, head first and feel like you were going a million miles an hour! They were very heavy to pull back up the hill. Later we had plastic sleds in a variety of configurations. The saucer which was wicked fast and no way to steer it. Then the thin sheet of plastic sleds which you pulled the front up by holding the handle giving it a toboggan shape. That was super fast too and you felt every bump, rock or stick as you slid over it. Eventually we had the molded plastic sleds which were a bit thicker and more comfortable to ride in with handles to hold onto. Steering involved leaning in the direction you wanted to go. It was never a guarantee. You always hoped you ended up where you wanted to.

We became experts of snow conditions and which sled worked best. Heavy, icy snow; the Flexible Flyer. Light dry snow of only an inch or two, the plastic sheet sled. A few inches of almost any kind of snow, the molded plastic sled. And the saucer was best for the soft powdery kind because you always had to bail out of it to prevent crashing into someone or something.

I remember going to a golf course where there were a lot of people sledding. The thrill of sitting at the top of a steep hill on that sled, being pushed really hard by my dad. It wasn’t just a push. It was the back and forward to build up power and excitement. The one, two, three! And I was heading downhill like a rocket!

We had to help shovel snow too which wasn’t as much fun but it was all part of a snow day. And again, if the conditions were right we would build snow forts from the snow piled next to the driveway. Digging holes and tunnels, stopping to eat the snow every now and then looking over our snow kingdom. After the forts were done, the snowball fights. I usually got laughing too hard to be very good at aiming.

And even as a kid, just sitting and listening to the blanket of silence that only comes from a good snow fall. If it was still snowing and nobody else was outside, feeling like the world was contained in that moment of crisp cold air and snowflakes melting on your face.

The world and nature were amazing.

I need to hold on to that feeling later today and tonight when I’m out shoveling. Maybe I can catch some of that magic again.

Today’s Perfect Day

What Today’s Perfect Day Looks Like?

For me a perfect day is one that is completely of my making.

Full of promise and possibility.

I wake when I want to and sleep when I want to, never worrying about it being too early or too late.

Having some goals in mind but being loose about whether I do them or not.

A balance of getting the practical, responsible things done with the creative, fun or decadent.

Getting to the things I crave to do.

The wonderful feeling of never being rushed or pushed or pulled in any direction by myself or others.

The amazement of how good I feel and how much energy I have to accomplish so much

because I’m not fighting the tension and friction of obligations.

Of moving easily and effortlessly.

Of going with the flow.

Of checking in with myself and feeling what is right.

Time to myself.

In silence.

To hear and feel clearly what I need to do.

What I want to do.

Of deep, contented sighs

of satisfaction.

 

Summer afternoon—summer afternoon

A beautiful post from David Kanigan’s blog.

Live & Learn

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon,” Henry James wrote late in his life, repeating the phrase with evident relish, as if to squeeze the full pleasure out of it, “to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” It’s easy to see his point, to follow him into the meadowland that those two words conjure effortlessly. Surely “summer afternoon” suggests a lovely aimlessness, with time as a friendly spirit guide, not a haunting, hectoring ghost. Lemonade, ice beading the glass, comes to mind, and a fat 19th-century novel that you’ll never actually finish but can drift into, and then let fall open on the grass, as you get lost (you’re in a hammock under a big shade tree) in a drift of clouds passing overhead, shaping and reshaping themselves. That’s “summer afternoon” for you. It gathers you up, paradoxically, when you give up hunting for it. Keep…

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Mud Sale

What is a mud sale? I had never heard of a mud sale either until I moved to Lancaster County.

Mud sales are a way for communities to raise funds for local fire houses which are run by volunteers. Since the annual sales begin in early March and are held inside and outside, the ground is often muddy; mud sale.

There are numerous auctions going on at the same time both inside and out. There are also vendors that you can make purchases without bidding. 

You can buy almost anything during a mud sale. Furniture, new and used, quilts, crafts, farm equipment, plants and the list goes on and on.

It’s exciting how this tiny village comes to life for the mud sale! There are even games being played, like corner ball. 

We walked up and were amazed with all the sights and sounds. And more Amish than I had ever seen in one place before. 

So much excitement in the air. People greeting others they knew, the smell of delicious food cooking (and I mean delicious food!) and so much to look at!

There are great bargains to be had and knowing that anything you buy helps the community makes it even better. If you need help getting your purchases home, there are endless young men with their wagons to give you a hand. 

My words can’t seem to do it justice so I’m thrilled to be able to share the amazing photography of Bob Devonshire. I’ve only shared a few of his photos here. Visit his sites linked below for more. He very nicely gave me permission to share with you. His photos capture the day beautifully.

Please visit his site here: Bob Devonshire

and his Facebook page here: Photo-5 Imagery

Rainy Sunday Morning

It’s a dark, wet morning. The sound of a downpour of rain on the roof and tapping on the windows makes me feel extra warm and cozy in bed. Knowing it’s Sunday morning lets me pull the covers up and breathe in happy contentment. The experience of being warm, cozy and relaxed with no reason to have to get up. What a wonderful way to start the day.

Soon the Possibilities of the day start nudging me. “Hey!,” they whisper, “You can write, read, draw, play with the cats and more today!”

Oh yeah! I say to myself, stretching, waking up more.

Then the Shoulds speak up. “You need to dust, vacuum, pay bills and more today.”

Ugh! I curl back up and hide under the covers.

Then Common Sense and Logic step up. “How about if you get up now? Then you’ll have time to do a little of each? In fact, let’s start with something nice. You know, ease into the day.”

That does it. I’m awake with my head full of all this day can hold.

Now I’m sitting with a hot cup of green tea, a book, the occasional raindrop running down the window, birds on the feeder outside, the cats watching eagerly with tails twitching, a notebook, favorite pen and these words.

A day full of possibilities.

I hope you have one too.