Winter Blues

Well, the snow I feared ten days ago has arrived – twice – and I don’t know whether I should rejoice that it’s here, or hang my head in shame over the fact that my previous post seemed to summon it.

Last weekend was serious, but then again, not.  It came down fast and steady, and while I don’t remember how much we were expecting, I do know that there ended up being about three inches of fluffy white stuff on my car.  Now, most people believe that anyone involved in education has winter breaks to “do with as they will.”  We don’t.  There’s a lot of work that needs to be accomplished; work that does not necessitate my presence on campus.  You’d be surprised how much work you can get done when you actually have time to do it.  So I tell doubters to smirk and roll their eyes all they want – just because I haven’t been driving 75 minutes to my office to plant my rear in a chair to type lectures doesn’t mean that I haven’t done the same thing at home.  If anything, this allows me to spread eight hours of work out over a twelve hour schedule, and then some.

This is not an angry tangent, by the way.  I mention it because with the snow, I rarely have any place that I need to go, and as such, I rarely leave the house under these conditions.  Last year, I spent a week buried within the four walls of my abode, and the year before, I think it was nearly two weeks.  If I don’t have to leave, I don’t – it’s that simple.  Last week’s snow, therefore, actually melted off of my car before I drove it again.  Three days after that flash storm, my car had finally emerged from the snow and all was good.  I stocked up on food and drinks, and if I don’t have it now, then I probably don’t need it at all.  I doubt that I’ll have the same luck this week, as there has to be a good four inches on the car alone.  I shudder to think about the ice underneath.

A good friend of mine likes to get dressed as warmly as he can and go outside during a day like this.  He’s a WWII historian, and I’d guess that at least once a winter he’ll call me up and tell me how a day like this puts him in the mindset of some 24 year-old-soldier fighting in Bastogne in 1944, or a similarly-aged Marine, nestled in a foxhole near Chosun in 1950.  I’ve done this myself just once – gone outside to see how I fared in freezing temps with my warmest garments – and wondered how I’d have done living in those temps for weeks at a time, in the cheapest made crap the government was willing to purchase, with no relief in sight.  And while having someone shooting at them!  No four walls, no adjustable thermostat, no soft bed with a comforter.  It’s scary to think, sometimes, what men and women have gone through in the name of military service, and it makes me wonder where did they get that – what do you call it? – that strength, if you will, to survive to the very end.  Reading accounts of men who ate, slept, and lived in foxholes in -20ºF weather is mind-blowing and humbling.

Unfortunately, having developed my own bout of frostbite when I was in the service (thanks, Uncle Sam!) so many years ago, it’s now difficult for me sometimes to be in cool weather, let alone the frigid cold.  I’ve walked the five feet from my home to my car door and in that time, my hands and feet have gone from feeling normal to feeling as if they’re encased in ice – they’re that sensitive.  Even a very cool breeze can trigger a reaction that could result in issues.  Not being able to feel your hands, feet, or toes, is not fun.

So, yeah . . . sometimes it’s best to stay indoors, watch television, and make a cup of blueberry tea.

When I have downtime, I like to build models.  Sometimes I get into particular phases where I’ll build a certain type of item.  For example, about a year ago, I was reacquainted with my fascination with naval vessels, and in the span of about two months, I built an aircraft carrier, a couple of battle ships, a few submarines, and a few smaller vessels.  Our countertop resembled a naval station with this flotilla that was roughly all in the same scale.  Then, a fixation with American military vehicles from the Vietnam War, which was followed by 28mm miniature figures of various types.  Now, I’m working on a collection of 1/700 scale tall ships – the largest of which is about three or four inches long, and about four to five inches tall, because of the masts.

I never realized how much I enjoy creating things, whether we’re talking models, or food dishes, or some other type of product.  I don’t know why I feel this way; I just like doing it.  I do alright, although I’m hesitant to say that I’m a master of any of this – I just do it to have fun and occasionally relieve stress.  I used to sew, but I was never really good at that and I couldn’t find a good sewing class to enroll in to hone my skills.  Again, I did alright, but I’d love to be better.  The only bad thing is that when I get into something, I tend to jump in with both feet.  I’ve got about three dozen model kits that may or may not ever get finished – I just don’t have the room for much more – and I have three massive storage bins filled with fabric that was on sale or seemed ideal at one point, but now just sits.

Maybe I should focus on curbing my appetites first, before honing my skills.

Oh well.  Time to heat the kettle and make that glass of tea.

Stay warm out there, everyone!

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