Thursday, December 27, 2007

A heads up on one of winter's little-known perils.

Nanook here, with a cautionary tale for those suffering from winter naivete. (Bear with me as I set up the story. Trust me. This is stuff you need to know).

My Nana used to take the bus to work at the Minneapolis YMCA, where she was in charge of babysitting while moms and dads exercised. You can see from this photo that she really loved those kids.

The gig was a good fit for her and a blast for my sister and me, who got to go with her once in awhile.

It was an old-school gym, with contraptions like this:

The idea was to sit on the rollers, flip the switch, and the butt fat would magically vanish. Regrettably, the gizmo didn't work, but it was no less effective than the treadmill-laundry rack in the corner of the family room.

They also had one of these:

(Equally lame, results-wise.)

So back to my story. Nana rode the bus through bad neighborhoods to work in a place which housed many deadly-looking devices. The bus ride was especially tricky in the winter, and because she was afraid of slipping on the ice, she wore rubber overshoes to give her traction on the treacherous Minneapolis streets.

But one fateful January day, as she cautiously made her way from the bus stop to the Y, she was randomly attacked.

By one of these:

It knocked her out cold. The doorman at the Y saw it happen, and Nana was rushed to Hennepin County General Hospital, where she was stitched up and sent home.

The moral of this story is that you never know. If you worry about your feet slipping on the ice, you will probably be impaled by an icicle from overhead.

I relearned this lesson last fall. When my son got a new housemate, I worried this stranger might be a pothead or a bounder.

After a few weeks, I asked how the new guy was working out. Danny squirmed a little as he told me. "He's a gun enthusiast."

Didn't see that coming.

Incidentally, you can find another example of misplaced anxiety in the national consciousness. While we're worrying about our country being attacked by terrorists, our Constitution might be eviscerated by war mongers. Didn't see that coming, either.

A postscript to the icicle story: Nana was happy when the snow melted that year, knowing she would neither slip on the ice nor be an icicle target. But one day that spring, she was looking in her purse for bus fare after work and once again got clobbered.

By one of these:

Like I said. You never know.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Excuse me. I'm having a moment.

It's Back to the Future around here.

The boys (men, actually) spent the night here. I hadn't realized how I've missed the too-loud tv and the accidentally-slammed front door while I'm trying to sleep.

Danny noted the shift in attitude...from "I can't wait to see what I got" to "I can't wait for them to see what I got them." I think they all spent too much, given that we all have everything humans could possibly need. Still, I'm enjoying my fancy white tea, my Foo Dog (a spirit who guards Chinese temples from evil spirits), and my soft "couch blankie."

And as if it weren't enough like old times, with the usual suspects dropping by for a drink (everybody's almost legal now) and a smoke, we're running a continuous loop of VHS home movies as we transfer them to DVD.

Right now Danny's snoozing on the couch (well, 3/4 on the couch--he's too tall to stretch out there) while up on the TV screen he's gumming his first cracker.

It's gone fast. And though I looked younger back in those days, I looked really tired, too. The boys were 3 months, 2, and 3 in the tape we're watching now. The performer gene is revealed as John and Joey, duded up in cowboy boots and hats with their skivvies in between, do the Three Amigos dance and "Put Down the Duckie."

Our parents make cameo appearances, too, and this is comforting as we're learning to take over as the primary holiday headquarters for at least this little twig on the family tree.

I miss the journeys to Minnesota. I don't miss the black ice and blowing snow. I miss waiting for all the travelers to arrive at my mom's house, everyone on edge a bit until the last car pulled into the driveway. We had a taste of that memory this year. Joey worked until 8:30, and it didn't feel like Christmas till we were all together.

Presents, carols, cookies. Naps, spats, laughs. Family, memories, love.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Try this holiday cocktail I just invented.

1 shot Kahlua + 1 mugful of hot Ovaltine + 1 spritz Reddi Whip =
The Naughty Ralphie.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Whatever happened to Minnesota Me?

We're looking at a potentially dreadful major ice storm in KC. I'm a bundle of contingency plans, a whirlwind of warning phone calls to adult children, a marathon of watching The Weather Channel and praying the temperature will creep up over freezing and I won't break my neck on the sidewalk.

What fun is that? Where's my sense of adventure? I used to see Oklahomans or Texans in the ditch and assume they just needed a few hours of behind-the-wheel at Molly's Winter Driving School. Now I stand in line with all the other cowards, hoarding bottled water and soup fixin's and waiting till the salt trucks go by.

Minnesota Me went ice fishing for hours on end, made snow angels until there was no snow left in the yard, skated until her nose hairs froze, and walked across the Mississippi River bridge at dawn to get to class at the University. She drank brandy and tobogganed on cafeteria trays with fast men when it was zero degrees (not recommended).

Minnesota Me drove a tiny Honda Civic with a lousy heater to a perfect attendance record at my job in the Twin Cities. Ice, snow, forty below. Didn't matter. I was brave. And hardy. And there was no attached (or separate) garage, either. I swaddled the engine block with an electric blanket, I scraped my windows twice a day. And I liked it. Okay, I never liked it.

But still. I don't like that I've gone soft, either. Taking a precious day off to avoid doing battle with Old Man Winter. What kind of Girl from the North Country does that? I make me sick.

Where's the little rosy-cheeked (some would say frostbitten) girl who trudged to the bus stop when it was still dark outside in the days when little girls weren't allowed to wear slacks to school? Hmm? Where? I'll tell you where. She's wrapped in an afghan on the couch drinking cocoa. That's where.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Elf yourself!

If you haven't done this,
do it now!

Get some pictures ready to upload, head over to Elf Yourself!, turn up the sound, and settle in for a few minutes of silly dancing fun.

Oh yeah. I have some moves.
Bet you do, too.