In the Storm: The More Serious-er Sharknado

Guest Post from our Loyal Reader, Mary reviewing the summer action flick Into The Storm which opened last weekend:

Yes. I spent money on this movie.  Yes. I spent money on this movie the weekend that it opened.  Yes. I spent money on this movie the weekend that it opened and pulled Cammy and a local friend into the funnel cloud of summer blockbuster cheese Read the rest of this entry »

Bike Lessons

After having a distinctly Dante-in-Clerks day on Friday (“I’m not even supposed to BE HERE today!”), I got home, looked at the Hoarders-esque state of the house and said “Fuck it.  I gotta do something else.”  Our weather here has been unseasonably fantastic (I’ve NEVER had the house open and the AC off in August for a day, let alone a whole week), and I didn’t want to waste it cleaning house.

So, I decided to finally got for a good ride on my bike.  Since I bought it earlier this year, it’s been out only twice–once to go pick up my car from the shop (the reason I bought the bike to start), and another very quick circle around the subdivision.

This time, I left the subdivision, and decided to finally explore a local trail around the lake–one I was never quite comfy exploring alone, on foot.  The bike seemed to be a great way to explore this and get some exercise (I’ve been trying to up that with more walking after work on the treadmill to augment what I do at work walking between buildings for meetings–unfortunately, working 12+ hours a day cuts into that time significantly).

First lesson: Biking on loose gravel, headed down a steep a slope takes more care than I thought.  Thankfully, there were few people on the trail to see me nearly wipe out like a 6-year-old who just got the training wheels off.  Of course, I’m posting this admission on the web, so now anyone could know.

Second lesson: Going up long hills is way harder when you’re old and outta shape.  I know I’m out of shape (remember the 12+ hour days I mentioned?).  I know that age is creeping in at an accelerated rate.  But knowledge on a logical level and knowledge in my functional reality finally met when I had to get off my bike just before the top of a long pull and walk the rest of the way.  Seriously.  It was that, or roll backwards.

Third lesson:  My ass-padding is useless.  I have a lard-butt.  And it is useless against the bike seat.  Cushioning attached to me is no match for that tiny, hard implement of pain someone laughingly chooses to call a “seat.”

Despite the screaming of my leg muscles during this ordeal (and my lungs, and my butt), I don’t really feel the ill effects (other than the bruises on my ass where the seat was less than kind).  I don’t actually think I’m completely hopeless here, but it’s going to take a few trips before I’m back in the game.

Time Vampires Blow!

I know it appears I have been neglecting my blog-y duties, but I would like to make it clear to everyone that it is not my fault I have missed two out of my last three posts. I really did try to write a post for Friday. In fact, I did write a post for Friday, it’s just I kept falling asleep while writing it. The third time I woke up in front of my computer and realized it was 3am, I decided no one was going to be up to read it anyway. I intended to get it posted early the next morning, but then there was cooking that needed done and…

Sunday, Downton Abbey kicked me in the shins. Hard. And I still posted. Sorta.

Tuesday, oh Tuesday. I know bad weather has been a time vampire before. I’m fairly sure tornado warnings have even made an appearance. What I don’t think we’ve talked about before is tornado warnings in fucking January! I was running late on writing my post, for various reasons, but I was just about to pour myself a glass of wine and sit down to write it when my phone starts making a godawful noise. My roommate came down to see what was going on and I checked it. It was a fucking tornado warning. I knew we were under a watch from the front coming through, but a warning is a different thing.

Now we know I have an underdeveloped self-preservation instinct. I’m not going to lie, my planned course of action was to bring my laptop downstairs, pour my wine, and write my post (way safer than doing it from my bed upstairs). But when I noticed roommate getting out the cat carriers I realized she had other plans. To my credit, I followed her lead seamlessly enough I think she didn’t notice I was not planning to run from the tornado.

We got the cats in the carriers, threw on some shoes, and went to the basement of the building next door. Said basement is composed of two rooms—the laundry room and the room full of storage lockers. Roommate decided that the latter was safer, so we trudged in there. There we discovered some neighbors we have never met and their kitty. Four humans, three cats, one narrow little passage. Nothing but a hard linoleum floor to sit on. And nothing to do but sit. And wait. Awkwardly. For the next hour. One hour of thinking, “Why didn’t I grab a sweater? Why was tonight the night I washed my hair? Uh oh… I think you can see my nips through my pajama top… Forget the sweater, why didn’t I grab the wine bottle?” And there we sat till 2am. Ugh.

So no, after all that I didn’t write a blog post. Truth be told I chugged my wine and went to bed.

Changing Weather…Changing Drinks

I left town for literally one day and came back to a 40 degree drop in temperature.  Good times.

Among the other things that have to change with this temperature drop?  My drink preferences.

The evening before my short trip, I looked at my bottle o’ rum, looked at the internet, looked back at my bottle o’rum and contemplated what kind of cool and refreshing beverage I could concoct (I was lamenting my lack of Ginger Beer that would have allowed for a Dark & Stormy).  My quest led me past more than a few hot-rum drinks which, in the midst of weather that felt–in the words of a friend of mine–“like armpit”, sounded disgusting.

Tonight however?  Bring on the Hot Buttered Rum, y’all.

This is actually my first attempt at this particular drink.  Usually, I resort to hot rum drinks to alleviate the results of a close, personal encounter with the rhino-virus, and “butter” + “snot” is not really what I’m after.  Tonight, for once, I don’t care if the dairy element generates additional phlegm.  So I combined a few recipes and ad-hoc’d the rest.  1 T Butter, 1.25 tsp Cloves, 1.25 tsp cinnamon, dash of nutmeg, dash of all spice, 2 T brown sugar, 2 oz rum and hot water to fill the mug.   I think I should have cut back slightly on the cloves and added just a touch more butter, but otherwise, this is quite tasty.

Is this healthy?  Hell no.

Is it keeping me warm as this first legitimate winter blast sets in?  Yup.

WTF Weather?!?!?

I’m sure most of you, gentle readers, have probably been having the same kind of completely out-of-regular-character weather episodes we’ve had around here.  If Kristy hadn’t already assured me that the Mayans say the world is going to end in earthquakes, I’d assume the whole 2012 apocalypse was getting a jump start.

Thursday night, I went for a walk to burn some of the quantities of pissed-off tension I’ve been carrying around.  I had on a sleeveless shirt and a thin, 3/4 sleeve cotton cardigan that I put on less for warmth than to hide my fat arms.  I didn’t need a jacked at all.

Thursday evening walk, no jacket necessary.

I was out for an hour.  It was mostly dark when I returned, but I wasn’t cold.  It was nice.  I snapped a few pictures and came back relatively not pissed off.

Friday, I was home, doing laundry and trying to recover the state of the house before the TV crew from Hoarders showed up.  I came out of the laundry room and happened to glance out the window and see, well, this:

Um, where did this come from?

Really?  REALLY?  From no jacket to a good 35 minutes of steady, heavy snowfall?!?!?

Changing it Up

We got a noticeable cold front through here this past week.  Obviously not freezing, but it marked the beginning of hoodie-season.  If my own donning of my W&M hoodie was not enough evidence, the fact that 3 other co-workers showed up for casual Friday with their own university hoodies was definitely a deal-sealer.

I decided this would be a good time to go ahead and make my migration back upstairs for the winter.  I live a nomadic life even within this house (which belongs to my parents–I’m doing some long-term house sitting for them) for energy efficiency reasons.  For the summer, I sleep downstairs in what would normally be my parents room.  For those of you that missed elementary school science, cold air is denser and sinks.  So, rather than fight that fact by running the AC longer and harder to keep my bedroom (which is on the West side of the house) comfortable, I move downstairs for the hot season.

Now that it’s cooling off, it’s time to reverse.  My room goes from uncomfortably warm to nice and toasty.  And the smaller bathrooms with lower ceilings here on the upper floor mean I don’t risk hypothermia like I do downstairs.  I still have to cook down there, but I’m pretty good at eating fast, or bringing it up here.  I’m thinking of bringing up a dedicated TV tray and chair and calling this the dining area.  And I keep an electric kettle and a stash of tea bags up here as well.

This change coincided with the end of my satellite TV and tomorrow’s end of Netflix.  I realized that the TVs in the house were no longer tethered to that coax-connection on the wall.  Suddenly, the TV from my old apartment can move out of the sewing room to any bloody place I feel like putting it.  So I decided with all these changes, I’d do one more.  Something that I realized–to my great surprise–I’d not done in the nearly 10 years we’ve had this house:

Fully rearrange my room.

I can’t believe it’s been this long.  I used to be the kid that couldn’t keep my bed in the same place for 2 months running.  Off the top of my head, I can think of at least 4 different configurations I had in my room in Virginia (which was far more limited on options for arrangement).  Even my apartment had multiple iterations of arrangement.  But not here.  I’ve moved some of the smaller shelves a little this way, or a little that way.  And some items were confiscated for other rooms.  But the major pieces?  No movement more than a few inches.  My bed has been in the same position the whole time, unless you count shoving bed-risers under the legs for a time.

So, even though I have a shit-ton of housework I should be doing, I decided it was time to change things.  I felt guilty at first.  Shouldn’t I be doing dishes, or putting away laundry?  But as it came together, I’ve finally put order to some long standing chaos.  I even pulled out the picture hanging paraphernalia and got one of my prints put in place.

Apparently, I really needed this cold front to get me revved for a change.

Heat: Mother Nature’s Latest Torture Device

Okay, I’m a good southern girl.  One of my DEA nicknames was “Swamp Rat”.* Summer heat and humidity, bring it on.  Hell of a lot better than the bitter winter dryness.  But even I have to call enough at some point.  I imagine most of our readers are probably sick of hearing complaints about the heat; from what I understand if you live in North American you’re probably getting hammered with recockulous heat and have been for some time.

I really shouldn’t complain too much.  Where I am we’ve only cracked 100 a couple times and I know it’s a lot worse in other places.  My Aunt in Dallas has been nearly convinced to brave Virginia winters for the rest of her life just to avoid summers like this.  For me it’s not so much the height of the mercury as the fact it won’t quit.  Where I live it’s not unusual to have hot weather, but it usually cools off at night.  Mornings are usually temperate.  But lately when I leave my not really air conditioned apartment to go to my only slightly more air conditioned office I’m already dripping with sweat.  How am I supposed to look like a dignified editor when I’m soaking wet and stinky?

And here’s what really gets me: it’s that Mother Nature is doing this to us after a bitter Winter full of snow and ice and a Spring full of tornados.  Aren’t we entitled to at least one non-record breaking season?  Can I please, please beg for a reasonable Fall?  You people keep telling me that Mother Nature doesn’t really hate me, but the evidence seems to suggest otherwise.  (I repeat:  If it’s just that she has kinky ways of showing her affection can I please have a safe word?)  Yes, yes, I know this is just her revenge for all the crap we do to the environment, but I didn’t do it!  Please, Mother Nature, I’ll be good.  I’ll campaign to make my county start recycling.  I’ll do anything, just give us a break!


*If you’re wondering why I have a DEA nickname you’ll have to check out the tell all book I’m not actually writing I’m Not that Kind of Intern and Other Useful Spanish Phrases.

Tornado Respect

On Saturday night, for some inexplicable reason, I felt an overwhelming sense of dread at an impending thunderstorm.  Enough that I opted to move immediately down to my parent’s room where I would be sure I’d hear the weather radio go off.  I’ve done this before.  Outside of my stint in Virginia, I’ve spent my entire life in tornado alley.  My elementary school had more tornado drills than fire drills.  I have a very, very healthy respect for mother nature during the spring.

The difference this time was that it wasn’t just respect.  I was really scared.  The paralyzing, irrationally stupid kind of scared like I haven’t been since I was 7 and would bring blankets and pillows and dolls and curl up in our hallway, pleading with the rest of the family to join me lest we all be ripped to shreds by a tornado.  This used to happen every time a thunderstorm came up, and batten down the hatches if that little cartoon tornado showed up in the lower part of the TV screen to indicated a “Tornado Watch.”  Complete Cammy melt down.  My fear of tornadoes was matched only by my fear of snakes, and that “bad guys” were destined to break into our home at night and use my bedroom window as the primary point of entry (honestly, it was the best option–accessible, yet not easily visible).

Some how, some way, after a lot of nights spent awake and terrified, I got a grip.  I still fear tornadoes, but all of those school drills and the visits from the local meteorologist  eventually paid off, and I feel I know how to handle it.  And moving back to this particularly active part of tornado alley has only improved things because, unlike in Texas, we have a basement (which we were all taught was the BEST place to be….but which didn’t exist anywhere in our Texas town except that half-basement under the Lutheran church).  I also have the most impressive meteorologists of any place I’ve ever lived before (Dallas/Ft. Worth might be a larger media market, but their weather forecasts are a total joke) who are not afraid to interrupt anything in prime time to show me that hook-echo on the map.

All this is to say, that while I’m still the first one in my family to heed the weather forecaster when she’s on TV berating anyone who is not taking cover in a tornado warning (yes, ladies and gentlemen, our weather forecasters scold us on live TV), I don’t melt down anymore.  And I don’t waste time worrying.

So it was doubly horrifying to have that feeling again, especially when there was nothing on the weather radio to justify it.

Of course, the next day, Joplin, Mo. got whacked.  A place I drove through repeatedly going to and from Dallas has been blitzed beyond recognition.

My irrational fear is feeling rationalized, and that’s not good.

I’m still maintaining some sense of logic.  I know that this tornado season seems scarier than usual since things are hitting population centers.  It’s not really any more tornadoes than usual, it’s just that they’re hitting the wrong places–towns instead of open corn fields, houses instead of empty hay-sheds.  I also know that while I use those fabulous weather casters as my safety net, some people have grown complacent.  With so much weather warning, they go numb and stop listening, so that when it’s really game-time, they’re not paying attention.

I also know that I have that basement, and that I’m not going to take those great warning systems for granted, and I sleep with shoes nearby (why shoes?  Do you want to be barefoot in the kind of debris you see post-tornado?).  I still have the kind of respect you need to have for this kind of weather.

But that’s not stopping me from two nights of fitful sleep interrupted by panic at the sound of thunder and heart-pounding at the thought of sleeping through the sirens, or not being able to find the cat in time to run downstairs.  I’ve found myself lying awake in bed, tense and waiting for the weather alarm to sound, and contemplating just picking up my pillows and blankets and the cat and going to sleep in the basement.

I’m all for reliving parts of my childhood, but this is not the part I wanted.

It’s Raining Time Vampires

Tis the season for the midwest to get its usual series of wolloping thunderstorms.  Actually, it’s been fairly mild so far this year (knock on wood).  However, tonight we’re getting a nice dose of thunder and lightening.

One of the first lessons I ever learned about severe weather safety (even before the tornado rule about interior widowless rooms on the lowest floor…hugging a toilet if possible) was “Do not take a bath during a lightening storm.”

Trouble is, it seems that these storms always want to kick up around the time I need to get in the shower.  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!  So I sit around wasting time waiting for it to clear off so I can get my shower and get to bed, OR I have to put it off until morning which introduces a whole new level of evil to the Time Vampire (and Time Vamps that results in me having to roust my lazy ass out of the bed any earlier is unacceptable.  Especially since I get up around 4:50-5ish these days).

And if it’s not the safety issue impacting my shower, it’s the impact on prime time TV.  Time set aside for Bones is spent with break ins to warn me about when to go to the basement.  I have to resort to next-day Hulu, which means more time out of my schedule.

Big plans to mow the yard?  Yeah, now you have to wait because mowing right after it’s rained is a bitch.

So, I’m off to a night of fitful sleep interrupted by the squawk of the weather radio and with the knowledge that I have to get up extra early for my shower/using the blow-dryer tomorrow.  *grumble*

Still Don’t Trust Mother Nature

Last week at this time it was so cold that the moisture in my eyes and nose froze while I was waiting for the bus.  Today it was warm enough I didn’t feel comfortable leaving a bottle of wine in my car for half an hour.  People talk as though this kind of sudden temperature shift is a southern Indiana peculiarity.  That might me true, but it’s hardly a unique one.  Spending a large chunk of my life in southeastern Virginia, I’m used to this.

Which is why I know better than to trust it.

My first winter in Virginia, which was more or less my first winter ever on account of before that time the furthest north I’d lived was Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, taught me better.  That winter everyone told us that Virginia winters weren’t that bad, didn’t include much snow, and were nothing to worry about.  Well it turned out that winter (not unlike this one) was one of the worst that area had experienced in recorded memory.  And February was the worst.

On February 17th (I remember the date because it was my sister’s birthday) it snowed for more than 24 hours straight and we got eighteen inches of snow.  The next weekend was 80 degrees.  The weekend after that we had an actual blizzard and another thirteen inches of snow.  And then I decided to move back to Florida.  Clearly that part didn’t work out.

So I can’t quite rejoice in this week’s balmy temperatures.  In the back of my head I know that next weekend could very easily be a blizzard.  I know that this could just be Mother Nature lulling me into a false sense of security.  But I won’t be fooled.  Uh uh.  Not this time.