January and Snow – Imagine That

StormTotalSnowFcstHere it is early on a Saturday morning.  As usual, the girls are asleep and I’ve been up for a bit.  Early Saturday is my prime time for getting things done.  Food shopping, dry cleaner and other errands generally fall to the time between 7:30 and 10 Saturday mornings.  Today, its January and snow – imagine that on a Saturday morning.

If you’re all geeked up about the weather, check out my friend and meteorologist Joe Cioffi’s weather page – it has all of the information you could ever want and presented in a usable way even to non-weather geeks like me.

I’ve decided to kind of live blog the snow storm today and all the twists and turns.


I just realized I’m really hungry.  I did a bunch today (including the fire see?) and really have not eaten since around 11 this morning – outside sampling what I was making.  So it’s dinner time.

The pulled pork is done as are the plantains.

Took a quick peek outside, the snow is still ripping pretty good and the winds have picked up again.  The reality is, not making the trip to Brooklyn for the Islanders game is a good thing – so thanks to the NHL for preventing a mistake.  15.5 and I were just talking about all the games we saw at the Coliseum on blizzard nights – some of the best games.

The crowds were sparse (5000 tops), but loud and the home team always won which was amazing.  It made the slip and slide on the ice and snow home kind of enjoyable.  I guess those days are done and now if the LIRR is down so are the Islanders.  Such is progress I guess.


fire placeDone with the cooking portion of this blizzard.  Made a banana bread with marshmallow icing (you work with what you have), roasted cauliflower, cauliflower burgers and a pork butt that is about to become pulled pork with plantains for dinner.

Since some things never change in my house, while cooking the smoke alarm went off, and true to form none of my kids even flinched.  It makes me feel good that nothing will ever happen.

On the upside of this snow day, the freezer has 10 cauliflower burgers in it for meals when I get hung up in an office somewhere and we’ll have a yummy pulled pork for dinner tonight – there is that.

I also have to get the fire going, once I do I’ll add a picture of that.

Otherwise, the Sick Day beers are really pretty good.


Shoveling done – at least a path to my car.  As I was pushing through the snow drifts I wasA lot of snow wondering why I was doing all this.  Afterall, I have a Jeep and I’ll just drive over the snow at the end of the driveway.  Then I remembered.

There was a period of time when Risa was doing chemo over a weekend there was a better than 50/50 chance I’d have to get her to a hospital – either by driving her or by ambulance – so I would always have a path to the front door.  I guess old habits die hard sometimes, right?

On a brighter note, I almost forgot my purchase of a beer called Sick Day from Long Trail Brewing.  It’s pretty good.  Going to have a few of those, stoke a fire in the fireplace and work on some roasted cauliflower for the girls.


Going to try to dig out at least a path from the front door to the car – just in case.  As I mentioned earlier, the snow drifts pretty high in the front of the house and it will take a bit to get through the piles.  It’s better now, than in case there is some kind of an emergency later tonight.  Out I go, back into the frozen tundra.


road signWorkout done, and I feel better.  I’ve written about it in the past, I am one of those people who just feels better after working out, and I feel better during the day.  And I think I’m a better person.  I did the exercise routine I outlined at 11:15 – a nice 45 minute Tabata workout.

Even doing short intervals, working out gives me time to think, and given the “historic” designation this storm is getting – I thought back to hurricane Sandy.  So many of the issues we faced here were due to a crumbling infrastructure – that is largely the same.

Last night when 13.0 and I went out to dinner there we long lines at the gas stations.  On some of the Facebook groups there were reports of stations being out of gas.  There is only one reason for that – the lessons of Sandy and the reality that nothing is different so it’s on us to make sure our cars are filled, the generator cans (if you have one) are filled etc.

Then there is this gem of social media.  One of the variable message boards from either the Long Island Expressway or Northern State Parkway.  They are there in theory to convey important information.  How many times do you pass one that looks like the one in the picture though?  Yeah, its funny – but it’s no joke.  These are the problems that were here years ago and remain unchanged.

Enough of the soapbox.  Now back to your blizzard conditions.


As is usually the case on the weekend, come the crack of noon both girls are up now. what-should-you-be-binge-watching-on-netflix-righ-1-22956-1374011179-42_big The usual weekend pattern has me coming home from the gym at this point, and 15.5 would be asking me for a ride to the gym (generally she does not like to be there when I am there).

Instead, I just took a banana bread out of the oven and I’m about to head downstairs to burn off some energy.

I’m looking over at the fireplace and I think after I take a shower it’s time to light that up.  I was just reading on Facebook a story about a family near our house that had a fire in their chimney last night, a solid reminder to get my chimney swept out.

At some point I’m going to put a pork shoulder in the oven for dinner tonight.  In the meantime, I’ve been watching Netflix for so long this morning it actually stopped to ask me if I wanted to continue watching.  That seems a little strange, but I guess bandwidth is bandwidth.


6a00d83452920069e20168e5b7589e970c-800wiOne decision made – the NHL actually cancelled the Islanders’ game tonight, so 13.0 and I don’t have to venture out into the snow, and I don’t have to keep on top of the trains to make sure we don’t get stranded in Brooklyn.

In lieu of getting out and shoveling the drive way, I’ve decided sitting on the couch and binge watching Netflix is a better plan (for now).  I do have a banana bread in the oven, so there is that to look forward to I suppose.

At some point in the next hour or so, I’ll head downstairs and do this workout:

Set a timer for 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off
Go through this 6x:
1. push ups
2. dips
3. alternating t-rotations
4. supermans
5. glute bridge
6. flutter kicks
rest 1 min

To be honest, this is pretty much the plan I was going to use at the gym today, so not going isn’t the worst thing.  I find I’m more motivated when I trek out and go to the gym (or head out to a trail for a run) than when I workout in the basement.  But in these trying times of Snowmagedden ’16 we all do what we have to.


So my plans to hit the gym are scuttled.  Just found out my gym closed (shortly after maxresdefaultopening) an hour ago.  I get it – it’s not safe on the roads and it’s not safe to keep employees in place.  But it is a service industry.

So, I’ll get a little workout shoveling snow today.  At our house in snows like this, we get a HUGE snow drift against the garage door.  It should be a solid workout knocking that down.

It will also give me time to think about a trip to Brooklyn to see the Islanders later.  As of now I’m thinking no, but that’s a decision that is still six hours or so away.

Despite the snow and the behest of many TV and radio reporters (who I did not even tune in to see or hear) I ventured out for my Saturday errands.   All in all its about 50 miles round trip to get produce, meat and staples from Trader Joe’s.

(As an aside, I never knew the mileage round trip until today, that seems like a lot for food shopping, gas and dry cleaning).

A couple of observations, as the morning wore on conditions definitely got worse.  Visibility went down considerably.

I also noticed there is a part of the population who clearly believes traffic laws become optional in the snow.  It wasn’t bad enough driving around on packed snow, dodging people running red lights in limited visibility was not so easy.

Also, for the part of the population who are already afraid to drive on a clear day – you’re the ones who need to stay off the road.  I get it’s snowing, but less than 15 MPH on a four lane state highway – even in the snow is just dangerous.

Once home (it took me more than 90 minutes round trip) I discovered my BBQ actually blew over in the winds.  So back out I went to re-right the grill and make sure there was not a propane leak.

Check back throughout the day I’ll add more as things unfold.

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My Plan to Stop Planning

stop making plansAnyone that knows me, knows that planning is not my strong suit.  I tend to be a little last-minute and not anxious to commit way ahead of time.  So you would think those rare times I take the time to plan things should be smooth.  After this week, its my plan to stop planning – it just doesn’t work for me.

The plan for the week was a relatively quick business trip to Indianapolis and then home to get the girls and head to Vermont for the weekend to ski.  On paper it would have all worked out.  We missed out on skiing over Christmas break because it was so warm and the friends I knew who went skiing all came home early.

I found a place in Killington that was fairly cheap, booked discount lift tickets – and the plan was set.  Ferry after school, trip up to VT, get a good night’s sleep and hit the slopes for two full days.

Then 12.0 started feeling a cold coming on.  Nothing serious, but enough to make me think.  The same night of the onset of symptoms, 14.5 told me she was feeling really tired.  She is not one to complain about something like that, and she’s been doing track and some other after school stuff – so I could understand that.  With one chasing a cold and the other feeling wiped out maybe a quiet three-day weekend at home would be a better option than a long trip and two days of skiing.  So with input from the girls, I decided to cancel.

Not nearly as simple as it should be though.  The room is guaranteed, so I have to hope they re-sell it before I can get my money back on that.  The lift tickets they refunded, but I lost out on the booking and handling fees I paid.  So, assuming I get a refund on the room, not skiing this weekend ended up costing me more than $150.

The last time I tried to make plans for a school vacation was two years ago for winter break in February.  That was also the school year Hurricane Sandy swept through the Northeast.  The girls lost a week of school for that, and then more time in the early part of that winter to blizzards.

The school district announced it was taking away the winter break to make up for lost time.  That was also the year I booked travel plans to Florida.  So I promptly canceled the plans and broke it to the girls they would be going to school.  About two weeks later, the school district announced they would make up time a different way and winter break was on.

By that time I had already canceled the trip – and not going to Florida cost me nearly $500.

What all of this tells me is planning is not my strong suit.  So, lets see how it goes as I plan not to stop making plans.  It certainly wouldn’t cost me as much.

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Welcome But Not Too Comfortable

Not Too ComfortableIt’s been about a month that my brother has been living with us – and largely its been quiet.  My goal has been to make him feel welcome but not too comfortable, because the objective is to have him move out sooner rather than later.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, we try to help when we can.  When our friends lost power during Hurricane Sandy – we opened our home.  When a friend needed help moving we made it work.   And when friends need advice on the road we’ve traveled, we share our experience.  So, when my brother needed some help – we (mostly I) decided to do what we could to help him get back on his feet.

So, we opened our house.  And truth be told, it has not been easy.  The girls and I have a rhythm to our days and weeks – and it’s not easy to add someone else to that beat.  Beyond that – since my objective is to have my brother move out, we want him to feel welcome in our house – but not comfortable enough to want to stay.

In the days when Risa was in hospice through her funeral and the weeks after, the one thing I did more than anything else was make sure the girls had a routine to follow that they could count on.  In a lot of ways it means sacrifice on my part to make sure they can count on the routine.  Adding another element to the routine is not easy – but we’re managing.

So, the welcome mat is out.  The hope is my brother can begin to put his life back together, put his family life back together – and meet the objective of moving out.  Until then, he’s welcome (and I hope) not too comfortable.

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Teaching the Good Neighbor Philosophy

In our house, I have long espoused the “treat others as you want to be treated” philosophy.  But rather than giving lip service to that, to the sometimes chagrin of one child or another I try to embody that philosophy and espouse it by example.

Looking back it’s easy to pick out last summer when parts of our town were victimized by Hurricane Irene.  Not only were we relatively unscathed (a small tree in the back lost a few limbs), we didn’t even lose power.  So we opened our house to friends who lost power-storing frozen stuff in our freezer and a spare freezer someone brought, sharing the AC and the TV.

Sometimes it means a mid-week sleepover when other parents in the area are child-care constrained.  It happens to me probably more than I want to admit and I rely on others to help me out last-minute, so I return the favor.

Other times, like last night, we open our doors to neighbors and share our background and invite them to celebrate a holiday with us.

Passover is a great holiday to allow this.  In fact, if you want to look at the story line, we open the door for the prophet Elijah to come in-perhaps this is a metaphor for opening our doors and sharing the story and the experience?  While I am not sure I completely concur with what I just typed, I do know that part of being a good neighbor is sharing experiences.

So last night, 9.0’s friend from across the street and his mom joined our seder and the celebration.  And to keep the “celebration” going (and to give my neighbor a night of downtime as I had on Thursday night) her son slept over.

It’s all good.

Both girls, fueled more by 11.5 have taken to watching My Name is Earl on Netflix.  For those who are like me who missed this great moment in TV (2005-2009), the main character after winning the lottery decides to work on his karma and creates a list of all the people in life he wronged in some way-and goes back to them to make amends.  Karma is the driving force his path on life.

Well, my name is not Earl.  I have not won the lottery.  But still I hope to do the right thing more often than not, and hopefully teach my kids to do the same.

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Earthquakes to Hurricanes

A week after the big storm is a chance to look back at a tumultuous week-and try to pick out some of the lessons.

It started in a  flat-out weird way with the earthquake in VA that shook up and down the east coast.  I’ve survived similar tremors and quakes while in CA, but in NYC it was a whole new experience.  When I got home, the girls were home with my mom and I asked them about the quake, and got a very tepid answer.  It wasn’t until later in the week-when the conversation turned to the impending hurricane that they said anything real about the earthquake.

As a dad, I was struck, it wasn’t really fear or concern-rather wanting to understand what had occurred.

Then came the storm.  I was very minimalist in my “preps.”  There is already bottled water in the garage, plenty of food is stored and even without power for days I was pretty sure we would be OK. The mother of one of 11.0’s good friends went in the opposite direction.  She was stocking up.

This prompted a lot of questions from 11.0 about why I was so relaxed compared to her friend’s mom.  Now, I have a lot of experience of being out in hurricanes-it was my job for a while to be the guy out in the storm saying it was dangerous, so perhaps I was a little cavalier about it, I don’t know.  But I also wanted to project calmness for the girls-no need to panic.  Know what you need to do and do it-a teaching moment perhaps.

On Sunday morning, as the storm came through 8.5 woke up early and was riveted to the storm coverage.  I was watching our local cable station (and my former employer) News 12 Long Island and it was a mix of good information wrapped around repetition-but  it was impactful  What 8.5 saw though was the impact of the storm far away from where we live and she got nervous.

As the morning rolled on and the rain stopped, I wanted to take a walk around our community to see what impact it had-afterall all we did not lose power, cable or phone service.  So 11.0 and I walked around some while 8.5 stayed behind-I think nervous about going out.

Two new experiences for the girls-the earthquake and the hurricane all in one week.  While it was interesting to see how they reacted to it, the broader take away is simple calm.  Just make it work.

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