Look at All That Snow

I live in Northeast Ohio, and I have to say that I find That Certain Social Media Site exceptionally tedious when we are experiencing winter weather.

I am not a big fan of winter. I am not a big fan of snow. We shovel our driveway by hand, we shovel our sidewalks by hand, and our hundred-year-old house gets chilly when it’s cold out. I get very nervous about driving in snow, slush, and ice; and I live in an inner-ring suburb that is locally infamous for being slow in getting around to plowing and salting. This is supposedly because we don’t have a lot of industry OR the tax base that goes with it, to pay for plow trucks.

So then, cheery little posts about all the pretty snow falling? Don’t want to hear it. Chirpy little photos of adorable dogs playing in the snow? Save them for someone who cares. Smug little posts from people who can work from home and just need to sit back by the fireside and watch the flakes come down while they wait for their plow service to clear the driveway? Please just stop. Please.

Why, yes, I am being grouchy and bitter. That’s what this blog and this pseudonym are for. In real life, I quietly scroll through these kinds of posts, not liking them, definitely not commenting on them, just lurking about and being mildly irritated. This blog is where I vent, when it all just becomes too much.

To continue, I notice that pretty snowscapes seem to bring out the amateur photographer in an awful lot of people. You all probably are not being as artistic as you think you are, guys. I can see it all outside my window, without any help from you. Thanks anyway.

Finally, and possibly most irritating of all, are the people who make an event out of second-guessing school districts who decided to close the schools, or decided to keep the schools open, or decided on, Horror of Horrors! a two-hour late start. The superintendent isn’t going to change her mind just because you people are moaning about her decisions on social media, people. Yes, it is inconvenient to have your day disrupted, but being a parent means figuring it out on the fly sometimes. You may also want to consider the possibility that what is going on with plowing on your street may not be representative of the plowing that has taken place in other parts of your school district.

Man, I really dislike winter a whole heaping lot. As heaping as those two giant banks of snow on either side of my driveway. I can’t wait to heave new shovelfuls of heavy snow up to my shoulders to clear my driveway the next time around. Hooray.

Also, I hate it that we live in a walking community, and most people don’t shovel their sidewalks.

Well, I guess that’s it. You can see why I have the pseudonym, can’t you?

Love you & leave you,

Hobbie DeHoy

Ring It In

Well, here it is, the very last day of the very first month of the new year, and I’m getting in a new blog post, just under the wire. Happy 2015 to everyone!

It’s about time to be writing something, anyway, especially as I may as well finally accept that I will not, in fact,  be sending out any holiday greeting cards to friends and family this year. I bought the cards, and I even asked my husband to stop and buy holiday stamps; but yet, I could not make myself send cards out this holiday season. Possibly because it’s been kind of a difficult year. We had a death in the family, and I was very unhappy at work. I guess my joy was at a low ebb, back there in December.

But! I got kind of a terrific Christmas present this year: a job offer two days before Christmas! Yes! I have had the undiluted pleasure of submitting a resignation letter for a job in a truly toxic workplace, the frustrating yet affirming experience of being treated like dirt during the period of my two weeks’ notice (affirming, you ask? Yes, every moment affirmed my decision to get the hell out of there), and the happiness *and* the stress of starting a lovely new job, where I am working alongside kind, helpful people in a nice, busy library.

Still, all that change is kind of distracting, you know? It makes me twitter-pated (name that Disney movie!) and a little less on top of it than usual. I’ve been late to two volunteer shifts, and I didn’t send out any Christmas cards.

Well. Deep breath. As of January 20, the two people in our household who work are fairly happy at work. As of this past September, the two people in our household who go to school are fairly happy at school. Could it be that 2015 might be a year when we can just coast along in the status quo without making any big, life-changing decisions? Knock on wood…

The only thing is, and I suppose there is no harm in admitting it now that I have received my final paycheck: I used to write this blog on work time. Oh, yes. I was so frustrated and unhappy at work that I was blogging on company time. I can’t do that now that I am happy and busy at work; also, I respect the people around me and my current library enough that I wouldn’t do that anymore. Unless I get to contribute to a blog on the library website or something. But that wouldn’t be with my super-secret pseudonymous identity, believe you me.

So now the proof is in the pudding: Do I have the self-discipline to keep going with this on my own time?

Time will tell.

Love you & leave you,

Hobbie DeHoy

The Dark Month

I bought a copy of Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little Women for my daughter a couple years ago. Because if you’re a literary mother, it’s the kind of thing that you do. Before I gave it to her, I read over the first chapter, and I was kind of surprised at how not-very-engaging it is. Basically, the four March sisters are hanging around the house, whining about Christmas and how crummy it’s going to be.

Tell me, again, how did this book get to be a classic of American girlhood? How does anyone even make it to Chapter Two?

I mean, clearly I loved it enough that I made sure to pass it down to my daughter. She tells me she’s even read it. And I know I’ve read it more times than I can count. It’s one of those cultural literacy things, I think. In Jean Webster’s book, Daddy-Long-Legs, Judy shows up at college with no knowledge of Little Women, and is forced to read it in her spare time so that she knows what her friends are talking about when they mention pickled limes.

You know what, I don’t think we own a copy of Daddy-Long-Legs. Must fix that, and soon.

I don’t know, maybe hanging around the house and whining during the dark month of December is so central to the human condition that we can all relate to it. I know that’s where I am myself right now. I don’t feel like cooking dinner at night.  I don’t feel like being cheerful. Neither did the March sisters, and believe me, I get it.

Unfortunately for me, I’m no longer a teenage girl who gets to hang around whining and refusing to knit stockings. At my time of life, I’m supposed to be Marmee, whose brisk and cheery presence pulls the girls out of the abyss of bitching and moaning about how awful their lives are.

Man, I don’t know. Marmee sets the bar kind of high, you know? Do I have that in me? The ability to pull myself together and be an adult and not whine when the weather is dark and the days are short?

Well, I’ll tell you what, that’s going to involve some teeth-gritting on my part. But you know what might actually help? I think my family should go out and get our Christmas tree this Saturday. Having a tree with lights on it in the house always cheers me up.

All right, Marmee. Even though you are a fictional character, I accept your challenge.

Dark December, get out of the way. We’re getting our Christmas tree.

Also, how do you pronounce Marmee?

Love you & leave you,

Hobbie DeHoy

Gobble, Gobble

Oh, it’s the season of Advice from the Turkey People. The people who buy a fresh turkey, the people who brine the turkey, the people who make all kinds of fancy stuffings and dressings and other accoutrements to the traditional holiday dinner.

Well, I buy a frozen turkey from our local grocery store. I’ve been roasting turkeys long enough that I usually remember to start thawing it in the fridge on Monday. I do cut my own bread cubes, I do simmer the neck and the giblets to make bread stuffing from scratch. My daughter always bakes corn bread and I put my son in charge of the pumpkin pie a couple of years ago. He actually found this online recipe that makes it really easy to make homemade pie crust. I know, I couldn’t believe it either. And every year I give thanks for that green bean dish with the crispy onions on top, which is traditional and easy enough to make that I can assign it to my mother who can’t cook but always wants to “bring something.”

I began the tradition of cooking the traditional turkey dinner about ten years ago, when I must have gotten completely fed up with driving to relatives’ houses and just started making Thanksgiving dinner on my own. I think it was the year that my daughter was three, my son was one, and my good friend was going through a divorce. I know she came to dinner that year, and I was very happy to have her. I remember hovering helplessly above the turkey with a meat thermometer, which I had never used before, wondering where to shove it into the bird; and then just handing it over to Pen, who stabbed it into the turkey with considerable authority. I remember the awe I felt at her decisive action, even though she had never roasted a turkey before either.

Last year, I decided I had roasted too many turkeys too many years in a row, and we went to my parents’ house instead. Yeah, mistake. Remember up above there, when I told you my mother can’t cook? Well, she bought pre-made stuffing from the prepared-food section of the grocery store, spooned it ready-made into the turkey, and that was our experience for the year. I mean, I wasn’t exactly expecting her to make it from scratch, but really? You can easily buy the kit with the bread cubes and herb mix and all that. I am totally taking back Thanksgiving dinner this year. If I have to go through the tradition, my grandmother’s way of making stuffing, and me eating it and floating on waves of heavenly homemade-stuffing bliss, is my reward. Darn it.

And it turned out that my husband was also mad, because after decades of being a vegetarian and not eating turkey, he turned forty and started eating some kinds of meat. And what did I do that year? Delegated the turkey to my non-cooking mother. So I guess I’m taking Thanksgiving back for both of us this year.

I’m trying to think of Thanksgiving this year as the very first year when my husband and I will be making and eating our very own turkey together. Of course, it’s also the very first year when my dad, who died in April, won’t be with us. I mean, judging from his general demeanor on the day, Thanksgiving wasn’t exactly my father’s favorite holiday, if he even had one. But, you know. It’s one of those firsts that you have to get through when you’re grieving from a loss.

So this is my Thanksgiving post, perhaps a little too early, but I can feel free to post about it again, or move on to some other topic, before or after the actual holiday. Because I can do whatever I want on my own blog.

Happy Turkey Day, everyone.

Love you & leave you,

Hobbie DeHoy

Falling Down

I live in the Midwest, and it seems like everybody loves fall. The leaves turning color! The crisp air! The pumpkins, the apples, the squash! Whatever weird autumn flavor Starbucks has come up with! Time to get the sweaters out!

Well, not me. My birthday is in September, and I always hated having a birthday close to the beginning of the school year. A birthday that has nothing to do with school? Now that would be a cause to celebrate!

Crisp air means dry air, which means I’m constantly rubbing lotion into my hands. My sinuses hurt all the time, and I’ve got this ongoing, mildly-distressing feeling that even though I’m not sick right this minute, some dread head cold is stalking me down. It’s only a matter of hours, or possibly days.

Crisp air also makes me sleepy. And cranky, too, because I feel like I should be out there hiking around, glorying in the changing leaves, soaking in some of the last remaining sunshine as the year is waning. But I’m too sleepy to get excited about undue amounts of hiking around. I just want to nap the autumn away. Except I don’t really, because all too soon the sky will be gray and the sidewalks will be slushy and possibly snowy and I won’t be *able* to take nice long walks. And then I’ll regret all those sunshiny autumn afternoons that I spent napping, because crisp air makes me sleepy. This is the very definition of a no-win situation.

My family does go apple-picking every autumn, and that I do enjoy. Pick-your-own apples are crispier and sweeter and an altogether more optimal experience than store-bought apples. But, you know. That’s one afternoon out of a season that lasts for months.

Pumpkins are pretty. Mums are pretty. Gourds are pretty. Some people are very imaginative with their Halloween lawn decor. There are, of course, plenty of things to like about the fall.

But you know what fall really is? It’s the tunnel that leads to winter. It’s the season when the days get shorter and flowers and leaves are dying everywhere you look. It’s the season that inspired a holy day called the Day of the Dead.

Yes, I view the fall as a melancholy time of year. And it’s even more melancholy because I feel alone in my low spirits. All my Midwestern neighbors are reveling in this annual frenzy of hay mazes, hay rides, apple butter festivals, and haunted houses. I just feel sort of sad all the time.

Well, there’s nothing actually morally wrong about hunkering down a little early. Give me a cardigan, a quilt, and a whole stack of library books to enjoy.

And, since it’s that time of year, maybe some hot apple cider to go along with that.

Love you & leave you,

Hobbie DeHoy