Monday, February 16, 2009

What's in a Dream?

People that have known me for a while are aware that I suffer from extreme insomnia. On a good night, I may get 4 hours of actual sleep, while the rest of the night, I toss and turn or just rest and think about random things. It’s been going on for so long that I forget that it’s not normal to wake up more tired than when you went to bed. Now I’m not writing this to get sympathy, I just want to point out there is a benefit to having an active mind.

People often ask “are you worried? What do you think about?” Sometimes I worry, but mostly I just think about random nonsense. Usually, I forget about what I was thinking about, but last night, or should I say early this morning, I had such a ridiculous thought mulling through my mind that I decided to write it down just to get it out of my head.

This morning I looked at the paper, and I had written, “I don’t think about dying, but I do think about endive.” I case you aren’t aware, endive is a type of leafy vegetable you toss in a salad. I don’t even like endive, because it’s too bitter for my taste. So why the heck would I be thinking about dying and endive? This statement makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to me. Why something like this would go through my brain at 4 a.m., I have no idea, but you have to admit as strange as it might me, it’s quite hilarious. Hence, the benefit of insomnia.

I wonder, what would Carl Jung think of this statement? Any of you psychology majors or people gifted with interpretation of dreams have any clues as to what this might mean?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Conversations with a Texan Experiencing Winter in New England for the First Time

Last week I had a dear friend from Dallas visit me for a few days. This was her first winter experience anywhere north of Dallas, where temperatures seldom get below freezing and snow is a rarity. Even though I’m still re-adjusting to the climate myself, it was still fun to experience winter from her perspective. Below are a couple of snippets from our conversations.

Day 1 – While driving home from the airport

Tex: “OMG, there’s snow on the ground! I wasn’t expecting that.”
Yank: “That generally happens after it snows.”
Tex: “But there’s so much of it. It’s everywhere.”
Yank: “What were you expecting?”
Tex: “I don’t know. It didn’t occur to me that the snow wouldn’t melt. Snow doesn’t last in Texas.”
Yank: “I guess it wouldn’t.”
Tex: “What’s that brown stuff on the side of the road?”
Yank: “Dirty snow.”
Tex: “Why does it get like that?”
Yank: “From the dirty roads, cars and snow plows.”
Tex: “Oh.”

Day 2 – During a snowstorm in Mystic, CT

Tex: “Look how much snow there is. We’re in white out conditions.”
Yank: “No it’s not a white out. It’s just snowing and a little windy.”
Tex: “This isn’t a white out?”
Yank: “No, we can still see pretty far. We’re no where close to white out conditions.”
Tex: “We’re the only ones visiting Mystic Seaport right now. I haven’t seen anyone else except the people that work here.”
Yank: “I guess we’re the only ones that don’t have any common sense.”
Tex: “This is fun, isn’t it?”
Yank: “Yeah, it really is.”

Day 3 – While Shoveling and Sledding in the Woods

Yank: “Do you want to help me shovel a path on my patio?”
Tex: “Yes.”
Tex: “Why do you need to shovel a path on your patio?”
Yank: “So I don’t have to walk in the snow and get my shoes wet when I take the trash out.”
Tex: “Oh.”
Yank: “Great job on the patio. Do you want to help me shovel around my car?"
Tex: “No.”

…after shoveling

Yank: “Are you ready to go sledding?
Tex: “Yeah, what do we need to do?”
Yank: “Put on some snow gear.”

…a few minutes later

Tex: “My goodness, I got a workout just by putting on all the clothing. I’m tired already.”
Yank: “It’s a little more involved that grabbing a jacket and heading out the door, isn’t it?”
Tex: “What do we do now?”
Yank: “Grab the sled and go outside.”
Tex: “That’s it?”
Yank: “Yup. We can sled right here in the yard or if you’re game for it, we can hike into the woods and sled down a bigger hill.”
Tex: “Let’s do the bigger hill.”

…after our first run

Tex: “That was so much fun. I’ve never been sledding like that before.”
Yank: “Yeah, that time at Big Bear didn’t really count because the hill was only 10 feet long.”
Tex: “Phew, It’s a lot work walking back up the hill.”
Yank: “It’s the Connecticut version of going to the gym.”

Day 4 – Boston, MA, Sightseeing in 15-degree temperature with a wind chill factor of 3-degrees

Tex: “I think I have frost bite.”
Yank: “We haven’t been outside long enough for you to get frost bite.”
Tex: “I’m too cold to walk the freedom trail.”
Yank: “Me too.”
Tex: “I’m really cold. I really don’t have to see Boston today. I can come back in a couple of months when it’s warmer.”
Yank: “Are you ready to go home?”
Tex: “Yes please.”

Day 5 – New York City, Walking to the Met

Tex: “I don’t feel as cold as yesterday. This isn’t bad at all.”
Yank: “That’s because it’s twice as warm today. It’s in the 30’s.”
Tex: “I never thought I’d think the 30’s would feel warm.”

Thanks my friend, for a wonderful visit and allowing me to observe winter through southern eyes.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

You’re Never Too Old to Go Sledding

Last Saturday I saw my neighbor carrying his sled and heading to the small slope nearby. I politely asked him if he wouldn’t mind if I joined him. He nodded his head yes as he was only too eager to have a companion for this fun winter sport. After he gave me a brief introduction to the lay of the land and showed me the location of his newly constructed jump, I was ready to make my first run in over 30 years.

As I sat down on my sled a flood of childhood memories of sledding with my brother came to mind. The feel of the snow, the smell of the woods, the freshness of the cool air gave me the sensation of traveling back in time and being a kid again. Weeeeee, I was gaining speed and having fun. Aaaah…Oh no…I forgot about that darn jump…I can’t control my sled…suddenly I’m airborne…ouch…pain…is the sky really that blue?...oh good, I’m still alive…hysterical laughter.

As I sat up, spitting snow out of my mouth and digging it out from underneath my clothing, my sledding partner walked up to me and said “you didn’t make it all the way down the hill.” “Yeah, I know, but that was a spectacular wipeout, don’t you think?” I replied. “How old are you?” he wanted to know. After I told him, he informed me that he was 5-1/2 and in kindergarten. Next he wanted to know if I was using my kid’s sled. I told him, “No, it’s my sled.” He looked confused. “But you’re not a kid,” he said. “Yeah, but my mind still thinks I am, is that okay with you?” He shrugged his shoulders and we proceeded back up the hill for more sledding.

Disappointed I didn’t make it through the course on my first attempt, I was determined to stay on my sled. My sledding partner challenged me to a race and it was ‘on’. Kid or no kid, I was going to win this race. He started off in the lead, but because of my size and paddling strength I quickly caught up to him. Ha, ha, we were neck and neck. Oh no, not that dreaded jump again…ouch…more pain. Well, at least I managed to stay on my sled this time. I was still short of the finish line though. “Ha, ha, I won!” he taunted me. “Yes you did, but I managed to stay on my sled this time, do I get a prize for that?” “No, he shook his head. Let’s go again.” “Okay, but I’m going to go around the jump this time. I don’t think my back can handle any more jumps.”

Again we raced. “What is it with that @#$#! jump and my sled? That jump is like a sled magnet. Try as I might, I can’t seem to go around that blasted thing!” After about ½ dozen more races all with the same result, I decided to give my back a rest and eat some snow because I was thirsty. My sledding partner joined me for a snow snack and we had a delightful conversation on why it’s not okay to eat yellow snow even though you can if you want to.

Then to my surprise he threw a snowball at me. “Are you sure, you want to do this?” I asked. “I’m a lot bigger than you and I can throw the snowball much farther,” I said jokingly. He spent the next several minutes chasing me around the yard with a snowball before his dad came to my rescue with hot chocolates for the both of us. Now mind you, I’m probably 15 years older than his dad, but he seemed grateful that his son found a playmate/babysitter while he and his one year old watched us play from inside.

Shortly after finishing our hot chocolates I told my sledding partner I needed to go inside. “Why?” he wanted to know. “I’m kinda in a lot of pain and need to take some Advil right now. But, I had a wonderful time and want to do it again some time.” I thanked him for letting me sled with him and then went inside, popped a few Advil and layed on a heating pad for the rest of the afternoon.

Who said sledding is a kid sport?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Winter Woes

Since I’ve moved back to New England I’ve been blamed by friends and family as being the reason we’ve been experiencing an abnormally cold winter. Every really cold day or snow day I usually receive a phone call reminding me of my cold weather charm. I usually don’t say anything in response, I just let them think I can control the weather.

I’ll let you in on a little secret; I met the one true, supreme weatherman this October. We became friendly and he keeps me informed about what the weather will be like the rest of this winter.

Happy Groundhog Day 2009!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Essex Ed, Wake Up!

Living in the country has its privileges, one of which is being able to attend unique small town festivals. This past Saturday I attended and actually participated in a groundhog parade in Essex, CT.

Essex is a quaint New England village nestled along side the Connecticut River and is comprised of three towns: Essex, Ivorytown (which once made ivory piano keys), and Centerbrook all of which encompass about 12 square miles with a total population of roughly 7,000 people. The area was once known for its shipbuilding and rope making during the Revolutionary War and up through the time of the Civil War.

Today, the town boasts the title of ‘#1 Best Small Town in America’ as listed in Norman Crampton’s book “100 Best Small Towns in America.” It’s a typical old New England town with a green in the town center, a couple of old steeple churches and a bunch of century-old colonial houses.

The parade is an annual tradition that is held each year on the Saturday preceding Groundhog Day. From what I’ve been able to find out, the parade was originally established for children by a grammar school teacher who wanted to “perk up” the dullness that winter can bring. When this tradition actually started, I do not know, but I can confidently say that it’s been “as long as anyone can remember”, which makes me believe that no one really knows. I get the feeling that this isn’t really an organized event as much as it is a local gathering for the children.

The parade consisted of a fire truck, a handful of senior citizens playing the fife and drums while wearing groundhog hats, another group of senior citizens wearing groundhog hats and carrying a sign that read ‘Long Island Clam Shuckers Groundhog Assoc’, an antique car carrying the Grand Marshall (who I think was the town selectman), and last but not least, an antique truck pulling a trailer holding Essex Ed.

Essex Ed is an 8-foot, 200 lb Groundhog constructed of foam and fiberglass. Each year Ed wears a different costume. This year he was dressed as a Beatle, although it wasn’t obvious to me if he was supposed to be John, Paul, George or Ringo.

Once Essex Ed passes by, the townsfolk follow him up Main Street banging pots and pans. So not only do the townsfolk get to see the parade but they also become part of the parade. The parade continues the few blocks up Main Street until Essex Ed reaches the rotary that is at the entrance of the roads leading into and out of the town center. Ed is then ceremoniously lifted off the trailer and placed atop the town rotary. People stand in a circle around the rotary banging pots and pans for a couple of minutes and then eventually take their picture with Ed. The noise the pots and pans make is supposed to wake up Ed so he’ll come out from hiding to see if he can see his shadow.

Now this parade might seem a little cheesy to you, but I have to tell you it was really quite fun. The children as well as the adults were all having a wonderful time despite the frigid temperatures. If anything, the silliness of it all is guaranteed to make you laugh.