Monday, January 23, 2012

What Whine Goes Best With Snow? (Updated 1/25)


When writing a blog without an editor, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of whining in your posts.  I have to be especially vigilant, because whining is almost like my default mode.  Who wants to read that all of the time?  They say that admitting you have a problem is the first step in solving it, and I think I do reasonably well at keeping it in check, both here and in other parts of my life.

Well, screw that.  (At least for this post.)  I am going to whine.  Specifically, I am going to whine about winter.

I hate winter.  I loathe it.  I despise it.  It makes me miserable and uncomfortable.  And where I live in northern Maine, we get more than our share of it.  Kids here were trick-or-treating in the snow this past October, and will probably be hunting for Easter eggs in it.  It’s long.  It’s also harsh.  Just this morning, the temperature was 22 below zero Fahrenheit.  That is literally cold enough for snot to freeze your nostrils shut if you inhale too deeply. 

To keep my winter whine flag from flying too long, I am going to limit myself to the top five things I hate about it.

#5-Static shocks:  Mercifully, static shocks are only a serious problem when temperatures outside are below around ten degrees, which is not usually a long period of time.  In a house with wall-to-wall carpeting, static can really build up.  By way of example, I have stood up from my chair in the living room and gotten a shock from touching the aluminum soda can I am picking up.  On my way to the kitchen, the cat brushes by my leg and we both get zapped.  (I also get a bonus hiss from the cat, who is convinced that I have intentionally done something mean to him.)  Then, as I touch the light switch in the kitchen, another static zap.  I reach for the refrigerator door, and get another.  All of this takes place within about 20 seconds.  And these are not little tingles either.  I am talking voltage!  Taking off a sweater at this time of year can generate enough electricity to short out an aircraft carrier.  Needless to say, the cats, and all of us for that matter, tend to be very edgy on really cold days.

#4-Creaky joints: I’ll be 42 years old soon.  I don’t really feel like being in my forties qualifies me as old, but some oldish things have started to happen to me, like the onset of our family curse: arthritis.  With each passing year, I am better able to forecast whether there is a storm coming by the creakiness in my knees.  It gets even worse in the winter.  The worst part is the involuntary groan that escapes from my mouth whenever I stand up in the winter.  I think I am one step away from setting out a bowl of ribbon candy, watching Matlock, and yelling at those dadburn kids to get off my lawn.

#3- Dangerous driving:  I’ve driven in a LOT of winter weather since 1985, and have had some pretty scary close calls.  I’m am sure that, aside from the time I commented that one of my female friends was as big as a house when she was nine months pregnant, my winter driving exploits are the closest I have actually come to death.  You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a deer come flying across your hood in the midst of a driving snow at night, her rear hoof just barely clipping your side mirror as she clears your car by inches and disappears into the storm.  This is often the problem with winter driving.  You can be doing everything perfectly, and some other entity, like a deer or an idiot, can nearly cream you.  On the upside, this is my first winter with an all-wheel drive vehicle, so I am hopeful it won’t be as terrible.  Of course, all-wheel drive isn’t much help on glare ice, and this winter we’ve had more freezing rain and sleet than snow.  If you see a blue Hyundai in a tree during the next storm, just wave.  That’s me.

#2-Snow removal: Clearing snow is something I have to do for my home, the home of an elderly relative and my workplace.  It is important to me that these three places are clear of snow and ice, and therefore safe for the people who come and go there.  I take it very seriously, but getting all that snow and ice off the steps, walkways, driveways, parking lots, roofs, etc.  can be a chore of epic proportions sometimes. Over the years I have fallen off roofs, nearly been run over by a truck, literally blacked out from exhaustion, been buried in a mini-avalanche, taken more flips on the ice than can be counted, as well as experienced all manner of sprains, strains, and pains, all for the sake of snow removal.  I keep telling myself it’s good exercise.  Maybe if I say that for enough years, I might just believe it.

#1-Cold feet: One of my all-time biggest pet peeves is cold feet.  While I am descended of hearty Irish stock on both sides of my family, I think I must have a distant ancestor who hailed from Equatorial Guinea.  If so, I have inherited their cold-sensitive feet.  I’ve had the same pair of sandals for almost 20 years, because there are so few days in the entire year when it is actually warm enough where I live to wear them.  On the other hand, I’ve gone through dozens of pairs of wool socks and slippers during the same period.   I wear wool socks from October until May.  I’ve heard of electric socks, but clothing one has to plug in scares me a little.  Plus it would need a hell of a long extension cord.

End of whine.  I have wool socks to launder.

(1/25) UPDATE!: Add "spontaneous nosebleeds due to dry air" to this list of winter woes I have.  Especially those that come on unknowingly in the middle of the night while sleeping.  I woke up this morning in the middle of what looked like my own murder scene.  Why can't I have normal problems like everyone else?


  1. I don't live anywhere near as cold as where you are (22 below?! I would absolutely, positively D.I.E.). But I am originally from a place where it routinely reaches 115 at the height of summer, and the Christmases where one can be comfortable in a tshirt and shorts are frequent enough so as not to seem abnormal. (Louisiana /= Bayou, Louisiana = hell).

    And ya know what? I frickin' love it there. I was made for living in that kind of heat. I will happily sit outside in the hot, hot sun for hours, until I'm dragged inside - or I start to get unreasonably thirsty and/or sunburnt. (Properly attired, of course - I do not enjoy Louisiana summers in a business suit. Because you'd have to be crazy to enjoy that.)

    I have now voluntarily lived in the UK (which is cold and grey and raining - but mostly only sort of raining - something like 75% of every year) and here in DC, and I have complained about the winters in both places constantly. Now, DC actually gets pretty unreasonably hot summers, so there's a balance, but these winters are killing me.

    The skin on my hands gets dry and then cracks and then bleeds. No amount of lotion remedies this.

    All of my skin everywhere (including my face) is so dry that it itches and is painful. No amount of lotion remedies this.

    And oh, the shocks. They're probably not as bad as where you are, and honestly, I thought I was the only person who suffered from them. Every. Single. Time. I get out of the car, the damn thing shocks the hell out of me when I go to shut the door. Getting up from the couch (as you say), the next thing I touch - shockarama. Pulling the fleece blanket off my bed? Fuggeddaboutit. When the lights are off, you can see the sparks.

    Give me heat over a hundred, and humidity so high you have to swim through the air, any day, and I will be the happiest Jane imaginable. Cause these cold winters suck balls.

    Sorry to go on so long. Obviously, I share your hatred for the cold.

  2. Thanks for this. I was just in the midst of whining because our three weeks of what is ironically called Winter are over, we are well into Spring down here, and summer is only minutes away. Flowers are blooming, and it's rainy and 78. I guess eight months of either extreme will get on one's nerves, unless, like Jane, you were born to it. I grew up where each season was three months long, and I like it that way. I could give you the top things I love about winter, but I doubt it would resonate just now.