Day 22 – Snow day

When you’re an adult, winter snows are more hassle than magic. You find yourself thinking about things like shoveling the sidewalks and how much of a pain it’s going to be to put on your boots and coat to drag the garbage cans out to the curb. You dread driving, knowing that if school and work aren’t canceled, you’re probably going to count on your commute being doubled if you want to navigate the partially-plowed streets and get where you need to go safely.

Today, we got a rare snow day here in Lincoln, and without the usual pressure of actually having to go out and try to drive on the freshly-zambonied streets, I had a moment to look outside and appreciate the stark beauty of the freshly falling snow.

What always strikes me about a good snowfall is the silence–how the whole world seems to pause and hold its breath for those few hours, fat white flakes drifting down lazily from gray skies.

As kids, we lived for snow days. I remember how intently we used to watch the accumulation, how many nights we used to go to sleep quietly praying for classes to be canceled so we could spend the day out in it doing what kids do. The best years were when we still lived in Bird City, Kansas. The town was small enough that a healthy level of shenanigans were often tolerated. Packs of errant children traveled from house to house, building snowmen and forts, hurling snowballs at each other, and leaving snow angels in our wake.

The streets in Bird City were so wide that the snow was often plowed and piled high in the middle of the streets. Those looming piles served as sledding hills. They also became launching pads when we rounded up sleds and inner tubes and tied ski ropes to the back of someone’s pickup truck. One year, our babysitter Kaylee and some of her friends pulled us all the way out the Thresher Show grounds. The kids piled in the cab of the truck to thaw while some high school boy took his turn on the inner tube. I remember us all laughing as the driver spun doughnuts in the big empty field, the boy on the tube holding on for dear life as the tube slid and bounced and occasionally took flight.

I remember one year, when my family was still living in a small bungalow on Bird Avenue, the snow fell and blew and drifted so high that it reached the eaves of the house and garage. Lindy and I had finally reached the age where Mom was letting us stay home alone without a babysitter. My friend Mandy came over mid-morning, and we were having a blast trying to build a snow fort when I noticed a few of the drifts had gotten so high against an old outbuilding behind our garage that you couldn’t even tell where the tin roof ended and the snowdrift began. We could reach the edge of the roof by climbing the the gate of the dog pen and hoisting ourselves up over the edge. We spent an hour or so carving out a winding track from the peak of the roof to the edge, where we piled and packed a large wall of snow which we thought would keep us from flying off the edge.

I climbed to the peak of the roof, set my inner tube in the track, and launched myself down, screaming in delight as I picked up speed. It was the closest to an Olympic luge I will likely ever get and I loved every second of it, even when I hit the wall of snow at the roof’s edge and flew, inner tube and all, into the air. The snow below was so deep and powdery that it absorbed the shock from my less-than-graceful landing. I emerged from the snowdrift howling with laughter and scrambling, fast as I could, back up onto the roof to try it again.

We had a good hour or two of uninterrupted fun until my parents showed up to put a stop to it. Of course one of the neighbors had called them at work to give a full report of what we were up to. Typical small town for ya–doesn’t matter what you’re doing, good or bad, your parents are bound to find out about it within the hour.

And that was the end of it. I was banished to the house for the rest of the day and lectured on how I better just stay away from that old building from now on. It was bad enough that we’d spent the better part of the morning climbing up to the peak of what was probably a 20-foot roof. But worse was the fact that the building belonged to a gentleman named Edgar, who just happened to manage the bank where my mom and Mandy’s dad worked. like to think Edgar was amused by our ingenuity. He never came out and said anything to us, but he would always smile and wave a finger at us when we stopped by the bank after school to beg our parents for snack money. And he let us spend a lot of afternoons there, pounding away on the old typewriters in empty offices or sorting loose change in the old hand cranked coin counter.

Even now, that was probably my favorite snow day ever. Staring out the window today, I still smile just thinking about it. And you know what? I have zero regrets.

365 Project – Day 229 – Birthday Eve

Remember when you were a kid, and you spent days, weeks, even months counting down to your birthday? Back then, it was such a big deal. There were parties to plan, friends to invite over, cake and ice cream to eat until you were so jacked up on sugar your parents threatened to sell you to gypsies or lock you in the garage. Back then, you spent those last agonizing hours leading up to your birthday watching the seconds tick by so slowly that you swore someone had rubber cemented the hands of the clock in place.

My go-to party plans usually involved some of my best girlfriends, a bunch of rented movies (usually horror flicks with a couple of comedies thrown in for good measure), pizza, soda, cake, ice cream and a whole lot of laughing. Once or twice while living in Bird City, Kansas, Mom let me invite my entire class (all of 12 or 13 students, depending on the year) to go to the bowling alley in St. Francis for pizza, bowling, and all the arcade games we could play with the quarters begged from our parents’ pockets. It was grand.

These days, birthdays are not nearly as exciting…well, at least not in the pizza-party-bowling-movie-watching-extravaganza way of my youth. These days, my birthdays tend to be much simpler, laidback affairs, and that is perfectly fine by me. I don’t need fanfare or binge drinking or surprise parties (for the love of all that is holy, please no surprise parties. I hate surprise parties).  I am perfectly content to lounge around in my pajamas until well after noon, drink an extra cup of coffee, watch one of my favorite movies, and maybe head out for a bite to eat.

All I really ask for my birthday is to be able to hang out with the people I love the most. So, in honor of me turning the big three-one tomorrow, I am going to spend my day hanging out with Cadence and do absolutely nothing that resembles work. Then, when Steven gets off work, the three of us are going to head to the Haymarket to have a little dinner. Afterward, we are going to mosey on over to Memorial Stadium to check out the Cornhusker Marching Band Exhibition Show. Everyone knows that Steven and I are big band geeks, and as much as Cadence likes music, we think she is going to really dig it, so it should shape up to be a really fun evening.

So, maybe I am feeling a bit of that giddy excitement about my birthday tomorrow. After all, you only turn 31 once, right?

Tonight’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to…well…me, and to everyone who shares my August 19th birthday! Let’s make it a great one!

And for your viewing pleasure, here are some photos from birthdays past. I apologize in advance for the fact that my scanner is apparently inebriated. I don’t know how else to explain the cockeyed photos. But, I thought I’d leave them that way to make the birthday post a bit more fun! Enjoy!

Ahh! The messy 1st birthday photo! Gotta love it!
Lindy and I celebrating our August birthdays with Mom & Dad
Celebrating with Brenda and Kathy Michl and some children I don't remember
We are really celebrating Mom & Dad's birthdays with the Michl's, but Lindy and I are more excited about the cake than anyone
Celebrating Lindy & my birthdays at Johnson Lake in 1983. Look at the size of my head!!!
Celebrating our birthdays in McCook with our grandparents and Tommy & Lynn Roland 1984
Celebrating birthdays at Grandma & Grandpa Luethje's cabin 1984. And my head is still huge!
Birthdays at Johnson Lake 1986. I don't know what was so cool about the Get In Shape Girl workout accessories, but I was rockin' that headband aaaaaaaaaallllll day!
Get In Shape Girl! It came with legwarmers too. Yeah baby!
Celebrating August birthdays at Grandma & Grandpa Luethje's cabin at Johnson Lake
Lindy, Grandma Luethje, and me.
My 16th birthday, celebrated with my best high school friends Jenny and Howie. I got my driver's license, and 11 days later I was in a 3-car pile up that made the front page of the local paper. Ouch.