Sunday, January 25, 2009

Snow in the South

It's a pretty well known fact that the wonderful folks of North Carolina are not really "snow-savvy." The salt trucks get used maybe 2 or 3 times every year, usually for ice. Snow is just now seen very much in these parts and when it is, we really don't know how to act. There is a running joke that at the start of a winter weather advisory, North Carolinian's crave french toast... we all run to the store to buy bread, eggs and milk.

Four years ago, we had about an inch of snow hit in the afternoon during a weekday. The schools closed and everyone rushed from work to pick up their kids. Unfortunately, we were all on the roads before the salt trucks had a chance to run and every bit of road turned to ice. The Triangle experienced the biggest gridlock that was ever seen - roads were lined for over 10 hours with cars going nowhere. (It took me 5 hours to travel a normal 40 minute commute!)

Last week, the Triangle was hit with a snow storm - the biggest in 5 years! Luckily, we saw it coming and the salt trucks treated the roads before the storm hit. Schools closed the night before so kids had all day to enjoy the 5 inches of snow that fell blissfully from the frosty sky.

Despite growing up in Pennsylvania, I am in love with snow. Perhaps it's because I haven't seen it as often as I used to, but I d
elight in big, soft snowflakes swirling like feathers after a pillow fight - slow and dreamy with nowhere to go but right in my front yard.

Last year we were supposed to have a big snow storm but it never materialized. I was on pins and needles waiting for it and was hugely disappointed that it didn't come. But this year was a dream come true! The snow fell for almost 10 hours. Even though I was at the computer working from home, I could watch the snow fall and fall and fall. It was fantastic!

I was especially happy for my daughter and the kids in the neighborhood. They found a new sledding hill and frolicked in the snow until they were practically frozen. My dryer was on all day long as my daughter would come in ever
y couple of hours to exchange wet hats and gloves for dry, warm ones. What a joy to hear their laughter and see their excitement. I, too, took some time to walk around in the winter wonderland - well worth the 5 year wait!

See more photos of our beautiful snow at Sunniviews!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Exploring the NC Flea Market

There is an extraordinary flea market held every weekend at the Fairgrounds in Raleigh. Vendors, antique dealers and junk peddlers from all over the country come to sell their wares at the outdoor venue. We've been going to the flea market periodically for years. The ornate iron pieces framing a large picture in our kitchen came from a woman who calls herself the "Iron Maiden" and travels all over country rescuing gorgeous iron from deteriorating old buildings. We've purchased bamboo wind chimes, bits of jewelry, skeleton keys, old postcards, stained glass and, my favorite find, the elusive monkey coconut.

Last weekend, we visited the flea market again. My husband found an antique chef's tasting spoon, I found an adorable miniature porcelain doggie and, after careful consideration of many tables, my daughter decided on an antique tin ray gun (just like the movies!) It was amusing to listen to the conversations among the vendors: one asked another to look for a certain type of knife with a particular stamp on it, one called to a rather large man named "Tiny" and said he saw a friend of his at a show in Texas, yet another couple argued over the purchase of an antique toy ("I told you not to spend that much on it - we'll never sell the dang thing.")

My husband bought some of his favorite boiled peanuts to eat while we wandered. I prefer the fresh popcorn and my daughter likes the whole pickles. This time, the woman at the counter called her the "Pickle Princess."

Wandering around in the brisk January air and searching for unusual trinkets is such a relaxing Sunday activity. The NC Flea Market is a gem its own!

View more photos of flea market treasures at Sunniviews.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I Choose The Jeep

In a world filled with grueling traffic, aggressive drivers, flat tires and cracked windshields, it's nice to see a positive message on the road every once in a while.

Last week, as I was driving to Qdoba's for "Dollar Taco Tuesday" day with my friends from work, I noticed a bumper sticker on a bright yellow jeep that said "The Meaning of Life is to LIVE IT." Below the sticker, the license place said "NJYLIFE"... Enjoy life!

When I saw "NJYLIVE", it reminded me of two others I noticed on the highways recently, "HGURKDS" (Hug Your Kids) and "PEACENU" (Peace In You.) It's interesting how these inspiring messages can refocus your attention to more important things in life, instead of grumbling about the guy who doesn't use a turn signal or the chic who just ran a red light while talking on a cell phone. These three license plates remind me of the importance of my family and make me thankful for the abundance of blessings in my life.

What a stark difference that peaceful feeling was to the one I felt when a monstrous, black truck with shaded windows and jacked up tires came barreling through traffic the other day, it's 6-foot long antennae swinging wildly. The truck was plastered with confederate flags, deer-hunter symbols, profane stickers about guns and country, and threats of violence for getting too close to it's bumper.

Theories of an apocalypse-type of event occurring in the year 2012 are starting to emerge and I can't help but wonder, "what if". What if all communication ceased, what if grocery stores were completely out of food, what if we were the survivors of a catastrophic world event? Amidst all the scenarios that run through my mind, I keep coming back to the yellow jeep and the black truck. If we did survive, it is my great hope that I survive with the yellow jeep folks.

On my own car, I have a bumper sticker that says "Breathe Deeply." One day, after dropping my daughter off at school, the gym coach who directs traffic stopped me and said, "I love your bumper sticker! I always tell my kids that it's so important to breathe deeply, to keep breathing - it helps us stay calm and resolve conflict. I love seeing your car in the morning, it's a great reminder!"

I truly believe that our actions and words have a chain reaction in this life. A kind word, a smile, an act of assistance to another can help create a more positive world. I'm so grateful for the yellow jeep and all the cars that spread peace and joy among us. We need it!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Door Decoration Winners Announced

Every year, the organization that I work for holds several holiday events. Among the Christmas party and potluck lunches, we have a door decorating competition. You may remember my post from last year about my design based on a quote I found: "A single candle can light a thousand and not be diminished... Happiness never dwindles when it is shared." I created a cardboard cutout Christmas tree, poked Christmas lights through the back and made strands of little cutout people decorated with glitter hearts to use as garland for the tree.

This year was a little different because I'm no longer in a cubicle. My team and I have moved into an office togeth
er (formerly a conference room) so our door decoration was a 3-person effort. My friend Maxine found a huge cardboard Santa that we used as the central focus. We thought we'd incorporate all of our kids in the design and opted for using their faces peeking out of the window of a house nearby. We created a winter-wonderland snow scene and left cookies by the door.

The winners were announced at our holiday party and we were shocked to learn that we had won first prize! What an honor! (It must have been because of those adorable kids!)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Rest In Peace, Sweet One

Just a follow up to my post from earlier this summer, Irresistable Pets, our sweet little Pumpkin-cat crossed over to cat heaven in September of last year. Pumpkin was a surprise birthday present from my husband in 1995 when we lived in San Francisco. We thought our big baby Johnny Walker Black (our first pet we acquired in Key West in 1994, who also passed away 3 years ago from liver failure, of all things) needed a friend to play with. They were indeed the best of friends, often heard playing "Cat-Olympics" in the middle of the night.

We are blessed to still have Paprika and Dasher but miss both Pumpkin and Johnny Black terribly. We are certain they are happily playing Cat-Olympics once again somewhere in the vast expance of the universe.