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A winter without snow (finally)

dog in snowFor the first time in six years (minus the year in Alabama, where we did actually get a dusting), I’m not anticipating any snow for winter. Nor any below-zero, ice-particle-blowing, freeze-your-face-windy, shovel-till-you-can’t-lift-a-mug-of-tea days.

winter collage

I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty excited about it.

I prefer to visit the snow on my terms, and if I get the urge, Tahoe is only a few hours, some tire chains, and about 6000 vertical feet away. Yosemite, Shasta, and Mammoth are all fairly close too.

As much as I (yes, still) want to live closer to the coast, Sacramento’s location in the upper Central Valley is great because it has four distinct, but relatively mild, seasons. Summer gets pretty blazing hot without lasting too long, fall brings plenty of glorious, tree-turning color, and we can enjoy frosty nights and cool days in winter without having to turn out in twenty pounds of gear to stay warm.

And while the multitudes of deciduous trees are busy dropping their leaves, the fall and winter rains turn the wild grass emerald green.

red tree

No rush, but I’m looking forward to seeing everything blooming and unfurling in spring, even as the grasses fade to summer gold again.

Of the two countries, nine States, and 14 metro areas I’ve lived in, everyone of them has had a perfect time of year. What’s your favorite season where you are?

Snow: From beautiful to stressful

House in snowSnow is beautiful. It can also create stress.

I’m listening to an interesting book called Brain Rules by John Medina. One of the chapters deals with the effects of stress on the brain. Short version: it’s generally not good!

And while I was tromping through the white, fluffy stuff with my dog—we’ve had about a foot of new snowfall every Sunday like clockwork for the last three weekends—I realized that the snow has gone from something neat and fun, to a stressor. Why? Because one key cause of stress is the feeling that you have no control over the situation.

Bingo. That’s me.

neighborhood in snow

Our neighborhood is buried

After the first storm, we were fine. We cleared the snow into the yard, building a nice mound. After the second storm, we had to get more creative with our piles, but it still worked.

The third storm last weekend broke us. Our yard is so full of snow that we have no more room to clear the driveway. The piles are so tall that when I try to add new snow to them, it just rolls back down. The cities are using “snow farms” to collect snow that’s being cleared from the streets and parking lots, but I don’t have that option.

snow farm

A nearby snow farm, like a trash dump for snow

If we still lived in a house with a nice big yard like we had in Virginia, we’d be fine. But in Massachusetts we’re living in a quadriplex (kind of like a townhome) with a very small front yard that we share with our neighbor. We have about two feet of space between our driveway and that of the neighbor on the other side of us, so if we shovel to that side we’ll block their driveway.

My husband’s car is now stuck in the garage behind a mound of snow because I moved it from my side of the driveway to his while he was out of town. In my defense, he told me to. 😉 Not ideal at all, but I had to be able to leave the house.

house in snow

My office window is behind all that snow on the second floor

When we had the space to deal with it, the snow was fun. It’s pretty, and it’s been exciting to see so much pile up. But now that we’re quite literally out of room, I hear that another big storm is coming this weekend and I want to cry.

Helplessness. Stress!

But, hey, it’ll make for a memorable first winter in Boston, right? I’m already trying to look back and laugh. I will as soon as the tears stop.

(For more images from our life under snow, see my My first Nor'easter.)

My first Nor’easter

This week's blizzard (aka Storm Juno) was my first Nor'easter. And boy was it a good one! Sometimes pictures are better than words, so I'll turn this post over to the visual media…

(click on any photo to enlarge)

Snow and showdowns

Snow on field and bare trees

We had our first “sticky” snow of the season overnight. It didn’t last long, and I know it’s just the beginning, but it still made me smile. Especially since the sun came out.

If you’re working on NaNoWriMo this year, let me know how it’s going.

I have my own goal for November—to finish book two in my Men of Steele series—and I’m really close. I’m struggling with the final showdown, but I keep reminding myself that I just have to get something down on the page so my brain can start figuring out how to make it better. It helps.

Whatever you’re working on this month, good luck!

Snow and synopses

I have snow and synopses on the brain today. The DC area got about eight inches yesterday afternoon/evening. My kids got a snow day, and my husband had a five-hour commute home that culminated with his bus getting stuck at the offramp and him walking about two-and-a-half miles home because his car was socked in at the park-n-ride. (Holy run-on-sentence…)

Poor guy. All I did was shovel the driveway.

As far as synopses go, while my handy outline complete with turning points has made writing a synopsis easier, it’s still difficult to abbreviate the story into 675 words without losing some sparkle. I started with an 1800-word synopsis that I had written for another contest. It was perfectly serviceable.

I spent hours trimming and trimming in an iterative process that slowly weeded out more and more of my must-have events. It was downright painful, and the end result was a hack job.

I finally gave up and started over from scratch. Two hours later, I had something that got the gist of the story across, met the required word count, and didn’t suck too horribly. I hope.

One of the contests actually judges the synopsis, so I guess I’ll get some feedback eventually.

For now, I’m going to get my sparkle from the snow.


Okay, so the only thing on my mind right now is snow. We’re finally getting a real blanket of it in Northern Virginia. Several inches so far.

It’s pretty, but annoying when you have to be out in it. Maybe even downright unsafe. School was let out early today, and I ended up slipping quite a bit on the roads when I went to pick up my youngest. The worst was that I couldn’t get back up my (apparently steep) driveway.

My son volunteered to shovel (gotta love that kid), but it was still too slick. We tried wood pellets in lieu of sand or salt, since I had neither on hand. Epic fail. I finally just burned rubber until I got some purchase and got the car in the garage.

It was time for new tires anyway, right honey? 😉

Taz shovels while Zoe looks on