Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I'm Retiring As Irrigation Goddess--

What. the. heck.  It's always the week before you're trying to go relax somewhere that all hell breaks loose.  Literally...

After a longish break from worrying about our yard or how it looks, we finally got our front yard renovation started.  We were able to put down plastic and lovely bark on like half of the front, so it looks all grown-up-ish in front of the house, except where the beds extend out away from the house.  Then it looks like no one has lived here for about 8 years.  Seriously.  I can't even describe how bad it looks.

In putting down mulch we decided to get the bits and pieces we needed for the various sprinkler heads that have or have not worked for roughly seven 4-5 years, mostly because the last time we renovated, we used a skid steer to yank various trees out, and when we did that, we accidentally also hooked the underground water lines.  So to keep it simple, we just turned off those sprinkler zones.  Forever.

Until this year.

And of course, IT'S BEST TO WORK ON THIS STUFF RIGHT BEFORE YOU'RE TRYING TO GO CAMPING.  Because, the mom ALWAYS has a ton of free time to spend kneeling in the mud trying to fix irrigation, two days before you're leaving.

I should insert here that I am a freaking irrigation GODDESS after 15 years working on this yard.  I should start my own irrigation company, I've repaired so much of it.  

At first it seemed simple.  Assess.  Ok we need to replace two sprinkler heads.   Wait. Make that three heads.  Two that were broken, and the one that we hit with a pick ax while putting in the lovely new mulch.  No wait--another two at the road were broken off and shattered all the way down below the ground by the snow plow.  Again.  Add those to the list.

Because I am an irrigation goddess, I fixed the two at the driveway with parts that we already had, from 15 years of collecting random parts, but they were some off-brand sprinkler brand that I don't know how to work.  Still, I screwed them in and hoped that, even if they might blow water in the road and not on the actual lawn, at least they might not leak any more.  Plus, how hard can they be to figure out?

Unfortunately, these off-brand sprinkler heads can only be set to spray water in 90-degree or half circles or whatever, BY EFFING ALIENS because humans must not be allowed to decipher the code of arrows, circles, and X's on the top of those stupid heads.  Also, I don't have the brand-specific tool to adjust them, because it's special, so I promptly lost it.

So today, instead of making potato salad or cookies or putting our hot-dog-roasting sticks in the camper, I...went to the sprinkler supply store for new heads to replace the three sprinklers in the flower beds that were no good, and came home with parts, thinking, haha yeah, check this out.   Dug them up and replaced the first two, but the last one is the wrong size to screw onto the existing pipe, because WHY WOULD THEY USE THE SAME SIZE PIPE IN THE WHOLE YARD HAHAHAAAAAHAHAHAAAA.

After fixing what I could with the parts that WERE the right size, I felt pretty good about myself, so I turned on the water main, and immediately discovered that one of the previously working sprinkler heads in the lawn had been hit with the lawnmower since I assessed everything last, and it was obliterated.  I called our youngest, who had run the lawn mower last, to come start digging out this new problem sprinkler while I started on another head by the driveway that needed dug out further and probably replaced. While I was working to dig that one out, 6" down in solid clay and rock, I broke my trowel in half.  Threw the broken trowel for an almost 15-yard field goal and went in search of another trowel.

I tramped off to the garden shed, barefoot, but couldn't find any of my other trowels.  I DID manage to get tangled up in a 50x50 shade tarp that seemed to suddenly be big enough to cover the Titanic, and some random electric cords from pet water dishes that had found a life of their own.  Then I stepped barefoot on a dead mouse, among the staples on the floor.   Sweet.

I replaced the half-dug-out sprinkler with MORE parts that I found, and it did spray water. BUT, it didn't ROTATE.  Add that to the new and growing list of new parts I need to go buy.  Tomorrow.  Mental note to my mom-self that none of the camping stuff is getting done yet.

Time to move on.  Next I replaced an old solenoid on one sprinkler zone with a new one (even though they SAID the old one wasn't bad).  I wired the new one in, and  HA! -- it worked!  Except that where I screwed it on... it leaked.  So, I re-tightened all 6 bolts on the valve with a wrench, and... managed to BREAK a bolt completely off.  So, now the sprinklers in that zone aren't on 24/7, but the solenoid assembly is leaking, which I guess is an improvement over a unit that doesn't leak but also doesn't work.

To fix THAT properly, we'll have to cut into 3" water mains and re-join a whole new valve, which unless you've ever worked on this stuff, you can't even imagine the pain in the level of nuisance this is.  For the love...

Long story shorter, I still have to buy at least 5 more heads, dig them all out, and replace them.  And they'll be some new brand I'm not familiar with, so yay.

In the meantime, I'm also supposed to be loading our camper for the five of us, so it will be ready to go for this weekend, wash all the laundry, and figure out what to do with my entire garden of starts that are INside under lights, which will die while we're gone unless the sprinklers can be fixed.  Circle of life stuff, guys.

So, today was pretty sucky.  The margarita is helping, though.  Thanks for listening.

Friday, May 8, 2015

More Stuff Overheard Around Here

I'm in full garden/summer/outside mode, which means that the story-teller part of my brain is off, and I can't find the "on" switch, but I still find funny things to jot down now and then.

- - - -

The other night I was in the living room, our oldest was in the kitchen, and Shane was in the dining room, searching through Spotify for a music channel that we could all agree to listen to. 

 (so basically:  nothing)

A country song started up, and it was one of those songs that must have been the "it" song one year recently, because I heard our oldest call from the kitchen.  

"Ahh! Dad!  I've heard that song SO OFTEN that I could literally play it right now, on a banjo, by ear."

Yep.  That's all for now.
I know.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Say Anything

I know, if you can't say something nice...  but what if you can't say something interesting?

Just say anything, I guess.

my whole weekend so far--

I'd say something interesting, but I'm not into baring my soul to the world at large, especially when my "world at large" includes...pretty much everyone I know.  I mean, I'd possibly be more comfortable if I didn't know most of you, because who cares what strangers think, right? ME

And I'd try to say something funny, but I think all my funny is used up for now, and that would also require concentration and making words fit together, which is a skill I seem to have depleted lately.  This also explains why I have several tabs open on my computer right now that are unfinished things that need to be finished before lunch and it's 11:48 a.m.  And I just remember I have a 1:30 chiropractic appointment, and I haven't showered yet...

So, that explains my state of mind today.  Hey, I did say something, right there...

Since it's Good Friday and a special holiday weekend for us, and I don't have any deep thoughts about candy flavors or shoes or tips for driving, dressing, or using Facebook, and I'm out of fun family stories, I thought I'd just share our weekend menu ideas here, instead of on Pinterest.  Because everyone knows Pinterest is where entire days of nonrefundable time go to die.

This is also a shout out to any of my vegan friends, because our youngest has been more or less vegan for about 6 weeks, and I'm trying to create dishes she can or will eat, while still including the dyed-in-the-wool dishes we always eat.  And, since butter, cream, wheat and meat are very central to our special occasion meals, I'm somewhat stumped.  I go completely all Paula Deen for holiday meals.  BECAUSE BUTTER Y'ALL.

For some reason, I also haven't started on any of our food yet.  Not like I haven't started baking yet...like, I haven't even been to the grocery store yet.  Which also means tomorrow I will be in the kitchen freaking out going WHY DIDN'T I START ALL THIS ON WEDNESDAY??

Procrastinating.  Procrastinating is why I didn't start all this on Wednesday.  That, and a lot of knitting.  And my nails are wet.  And because DOG.    It's a busy life, OK?

Without further ado, here's the bar I've set for my holiday Martha/Paula alter ego this weekend.  Bearing in mind that it's just the three of us...so, picture SMALL amounts of everything, except I'm also trying to use up about about 7 dozen extra eggs from our chickens, who must have heard our youngest's new vegan rule and decided they had something to prove.

Homemade hand-dipped chocolates with coconut and peanut-butter
Homemade peeps.  ain't nobody got time for that
Iced sugar cookies  (and by "iced", I mean, I may take a butter knife to them with some icing on it)
Angel food cake with raspberry-current preserves from the garden
Breakfast crepes with apricot preserves
Organic ham from our own pigs
Steamed asparagus (we grow it, but Lord knows it's sure not ready YET, because we live in Narnia)
Homemade pickles
Mashed potatoes
Spinach salad with feta, dried cranberries, almonds and raspberry vinaigrette
  OR - pea salad, because spring
Paska - Ukrainian Easter bread
Creme caramel (and no, we don't have a milk cow.  I heard that.)
Hard-boiled eggs (did I even need to say that?)

*ponders a moment*

Yeah....Not much of this ties in with our vegan OR  plant-based, wheat-free diet idea.  *shrugs*

Have a beautiful weekend!  Hopefully next time I'll have something more interesting to say.

 Feel free to chime in if you have vegan substitutions that non-vegans would also love...

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

My Kind of Protest--

time to trim the list down

I just remembered that I had promised to write a post about flavors that shouldn't be flavors awhile ago, along with my "No Blue Candy" rule.  Call me a dark-haired patriot with flashing eyes if you must, but...sometimes you gotta take a stand.

What reminded me of this pressing issue that gets no coverage? Well, for now-- Taffy.  Last night we were sitting around eating a bag of random salt water taffy from Seaside, Oregon, one of the best places to get salt water taffy in the history of the world ever. Part of the "fun" of salt water taffy is that they are wrapped in special wax paper that can be molecularly bonded to the actual candy, so by the time you open it, you no longer care what flavor it is.  You're starving.

They're conveniently not labeled, either, so in a mixed bag, you're really just on your own.  Go ahead and pop that red taffy in your mouth.  It could be lovely cherry.  Or blazing hot cinnamon.  At least Jelly Belly jelly beans have a handy color-coding chart on the bag, so if you don't rip the bag in half opening it, you can sort of match up your candy and see what hand you've been dealt.  Like this:
I guess I'd rather know, but I don't see any flavor here I would EAT

Oh, sure.  Salt water taffy is color coded.  SORT OF.  But when you're dealing with like 10,000 flavors of candy, you tend to run out of color combos.  So the candy-coloring folks just start making stuff up, like, "Hey, let's just leave this one white with a few flecks of green in it.  See if they can guess what THAT is. HAHAHAHAHAAAAAA, it's 'hot dog bun'!"  *high five*

Pretty soon they'll be like Willy Wonka and start actually doing that.  Or maybe they have.  Isn't there bacon-flavored gum or something now?  Will we be able to buy a bag of "Steak Dinner" jelly bellies someday?  digressing

It's a sad truth that there are candy flavors that just don't need to exist. Call it discrimination, but some things should only be that flavor when they're the actual thing.  Like green apple.  The ONLY thing that should ever taste like green apple IS A GREEN APPLE.  Buttered popcorn.  Wait- what??

Briefly, let me clarify some flavors that we should stand up to and demand (with protests and flags and signs and stuff) that they be removed from circulation and not forced upon us any more forever and ever amen.

Apple.  Green, red, golden delish, I don't even care. Just  NO.  Leave these where they belong: As fruit, juice, or sauce.  Or pie.

Anything blue.  There are no blue fruits, but still you'd think maybe blue..berry, right?  No.  Raspberry.  Go figure.

Banana.  Come ON.  This is so gross.  I like bananas, but "banana flavor" is just - wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.  Lose it.  (Also too easy to mistake the color for lemon and get a nasty surprise).

Black licorice.  We can all guess what the black ones are.  Unless you were born in 1903, does anyone even still eat black licorice any more?  They're always the last ones left in the bag, so there's your sign.

Bubblegum.  What?  No.  Take three steps to your left and BUY SOME GUM.

Buttered popcorn.  Who the HECK thought of this?  The great thing about popcorn is that it's crunchy, warm, and CORNish.  This doesn't translate to taffy OR jelly beans.  Gross.

Coconut.  Iffy.  I'm all for lovely coconut candy like Mounds because they have actual coconut, but make it a jelly bean and I'm out.  Too fake.

Coffee.  Jelly beans?  Seriously?  Don't we get enough of this at all those java huts on every corner?  I can deal with it as ice cream, but a brown coffee jelly bean is just a shock to the palate.  Also especially nice if you just ate a lime jelly bean.  Just sayin'.

Cotton candy.  Again, why flavor a candy with the flavor of another candy?  Move further down the counter and get the real thing.

Grape.  At least it's purple, but still.  These usually taste like cough medicine, but we eat them anyway, because they're all that's left at the bottom of the bag with the black licorice taffies.

Marshmallow.  Disqualified, because they're already a candy.  Plus, they're too easy to mistake for Vanilla; see below.  

Peach.  This only belongs in the actual fruit.  The kind you eat standing over the sink on August 10th with the juice running down your arm.

Pear.  For the longest time, I couldn't for the life of me figure this flavor out.  The only thing I could come up with was..."stink bug".  They smell like stink bugs.  Then I checked the bag.  "Oh, riiiight.  PEAR.  That makes it much better."

Peppermint/spearmint/wintergreen.  These need to be ONE flavor.  Come ON.  Just go with "mint" K?

Pineapple.  Oh my gosh, so much NO.  Pineapple belongs at a luau as a fruit, or sauteed in rum and caramel.  Nowhere else. These are also another pale color that gets mistaken for something yummier.

Root Beer.  I can't even stand the drink, so why would I want it in a jelly bean??

Strawberry.  Too many red things.  The only red thing should be cherry.  Or a well-coded cinnamon.

Tangerine.  Ew.  Do people still eat these?

Tropical fruit.  No.  Some fruits we only pretend to like, like mangos and papayas, because we think Hey, they come from the islands, so eating them will make us feel like natives and forget that we live in Narnia where it is winter forever except August 10th and 11th.  It's a lie.  No one likes these fruits, not even the natives.  Pretty sure they're just decorative, you guys.  Quit pretending to eat them.

Vanilla.  Well DUH.  White taffy.  White jelly beans.  Wonder what this one is.  Nice palate cleanser after the coffee jelly bean, though, so they can stay.

Watermelon.  Another flavor that should only be found inside AN ACTUAL MELON.    EW.  And WHY is it always green?  I mean, yeah, the outside is green, but when you think of "watermelon" the color...you think of red or pink.  If it has to stay, at least make it pink.  On second thought--no.  It can't stay.  And don't even get me started on "honeydew".

To sum up, here is a handy color chart that clearly shows what everything should be:

Red = cherry.  Green = lime.  Yellow = lemon.  Orange = orange.  White = vanilla.

Feel free to add on from there.  I'll be over here, sorting my jelly beans.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How To Get What You Want As a Customer

As a business owner for about 14 years now, and having simultaneously spent about 12 of those years running a wedding cake business, I have probably heard (or been subjected to) about every kind of customer input you can imagine, good and bad.  Between Shane and I, we have over 100 years' combined business experience, so you can rest assured that what follows is gospel truth.

I thought I'd jot down a short list of how get what you want, as a consumer, because I'm helpful like that.  And...why let all my interactions go to waste, right?

Loosely based on my experience--here goes:

1.  When making a complaint, claim the moral high ground in any conversation.  You are the offended party.  Don't allow anyone to imply that your complaint isn't justified.  EVERY complaint is justified, especially yours, no matter how insignificant the details.  Like those muddy tire tracks on your driveway after the delivery truck leaves?  DEFINITELY you should make a phone call about that, and expect someone to "come do something about it."  If no one answers, follow up with several voice-mails.  And emails.

2.  Go ahead and freely use entirely subjective complaints about consumable products, long after they've been consumed.  This makes your complaint impossible to verify and leaves the business owner in a no-win situation.  See below:

Exhibit A:
You:  That was the dryest cake I've ever eaten! How can you call yourself a cake decorator?  Everyone complained about it and my daughter's whole wedding was pretty much ruined and they're possibly getting an annulment because of your cake.  Your feeble excuse that it was eaten while still freezing cold out of the refrigerator is worthless.  I want a full refund right this second! And you should have to pay for our dry-cleaning and unlimited wi-fi for a YEAR.   

Owner:  No problem.  Just bring back the uneaten portion, and we will happily refund you the difference, even though it was perfectly good and just needed to sit out at room temperature before you all bellied up to the cake table, as I clearly stated, and you signed IN INK, right on the "cake instructions" page that you took with you when you picked it UP.   

You:  Oh, there's no cake left.  We ate it all.  But we still hate you and are going to tell everyone what a terrible baker you are.  And you're rude, too!

3.  Don't allow us to answer or defend ourselves on the phone or through emails--we are just trying to overthrow your reign of control and condescension.  You can't let that happen.  If we stand up for ourselves in even the slightest way, flare up with something like, "WHAT did you just say to me?"  No business owner should be allowed to take control of the situation by halting you, mid-tirade.

4.  If nothing else works, and you think we might have a point, play the trump card of age.  You're older than me; hence, you automatically have more wisdom.  Condescendingly ask "How old are you?" Immediately age yourself 20+ years beyond me. This puts you securely back in the driver's seat.

5.  Start any emails or phone calls with the phrase "You people".   This is condescension at its finest and allows you to immediately assert your dominance.  Spend the whole conversation talking to us as if you can't believe you're having to waste your precious time telling us how to do our jobs.  Act surprised that we've survived in business as long as we have.  We appreciate your validation and look forward to feeling like you approve of our business plan.

6.  Threaten to tell both all of your friends how unhappy you are with our services, and convince them not to do business with people like us. This allows you to assert your dominance on the lives of at least one person other person everyone around you, which subsequently improves your life.

7.  Repeatedly tell us that we have failed to make you happy and have possibly ruined your future happiness, while striking down any offers we might make to rectify the situation.  Even if we don't agree with you, we're obligated by law to listen.  Remind yourself this as you repeatedly demand the impossible, and don't let us get a word in edgewise.  When we do...tell us we're being SO RUDE.

8.  Expect free stuff.  If you voice your complaint forcefully enough, expect us to drop everything and deliver you more of our products, at no charge, based on your word alone.  We don't need proof.  Are we calling you a liar?

9.  Ask to "speak to the owner".  Act surprised when the woman who just answered the phone turns out to BE the owner.  Do not let the situation be diffused, though.  Demand to speak to a man.  What could she know?

10.  Feel free to hang up on us.  Nothing says "I'm in control of this situation" better than just hanging up on someone.  Granted, there's no satisfying "slam" to it, with cell phones, but you can make it more gratifying by calling us names before pressing <end>.  Just be careful we don't call you right back in a cheerful voice and say, "I'm sorry, we got cut off.  I wasn't finished."  Because we probably will.

11.  Claim to have had more years' experience as a business owner, than you actually have been alive.  This impresses us to no end, because anyone who's had "300 years' combined business experience" sure as heck knows what they're talking about.  We're all ears.

12.  Pretend to avidly stay abreast of facts, price trends, profit margins, and safety issues relating to our business.  Lord knows we sure don't.

13.  Setting prices and profit margins should NOT be limited to individuals who actually run the business. Everyone knows this.  You should definitely let us know if we're charging too much.  Feel free to tell us what you *will* pay, and don't be embarrassed to offer us less than half our retail prices, "or possibly a little higher".  We will appreciate your savvy negotiating skills and probably offer to just GIVE you this stuff for free.

14.  Make your fight personal.  When emailing your unhappy thoughts, it's helpful if you point out that you resent the owner's having mentioned the fact that she personally delivered your messy bundles of FREE kindling to your house in her brand-new BMW X-5, causing her to get a trunk-full of stupid sawdust and wasting the better part of an hour vacuuming out her car because of YOU.  Her car-keeping troubles are not your concern.  And she didn't bring enough kindling, anyway.

15.  Be loud.  Use LOTS OF UNDERLINING AND HIGHLIGHTED ALL-CAPS IN YOUR EMAILS SO WE ARE SURE TO HEAR YOU YELLING.  Everyone knows the best approach in conflict resolution is to jump right to yelling.

16.  It's also helpful to tell us, when you're ordering, that you will be needing/expecting us to perform about four additional services, which we don't offer, at no charge.  Threaten not to pay for your merchandise if we don't meet your demands.  Act offended when we say we don't offer those services, and threaten to take your business elsewhere.

17.  When you threaten to "take your business elsewhere", rest assured that this will change the business owner's mind, on the spot, 100% of the time, possibly even more than 100% of the time.  Every time. We will always beg you not to take your rude self somewhere else. hashtag goaway

18.  If we actually do encourage you to please take your crazy, rude self somewhere else, act outraged.  It is your right to behave as rudely as you can imagine, and it is our job to put up with anything you want to dish out.  Forever and ever, amen.

19.  When paying in cash, make sure to hand it to the delivery driver as if you're possibly funding Oliver Twist's first real pair of new shoes.  He'll appreciate that you think he's needy and that your two crisp one-hundred-dollar bills might be the most money he's ever handled with his bare hands.

20.  Give expert business advice, even if you're living in your mom's/son's/ex-wife's basement and spending your life trolling comment boards, crafting carefully-worded snide remarks from the behind the safety of your computer screen and an anonymous user name.  We appreciate your input and your obviously higher understanding of our decision-making paradigms.

21.  If you have never worked at all as a business owner, it's just possible you don't have the first idea what it takes to run a thriving business.  To fill this loophole, you'll need to simply act even more condescending.  Learn the art of double-talk.  No one will know.  Or care.

22.  Profess your Christian morals to the owner, but remember to also call them names in the same email, while also pointing out that you're pretty positive that they are NOT Christians.  Your higher level of spirituality absolutely qualifies you to make those kinds of deep personal analyses via email.

23.  Threaten to go on Yelp and make sure everyone in town hears what kind of business we run.  Better yet, GO and post on Yelp and then send emails reminding us that we "really should check our reviews".  Act surprised and offended when you realize we've blocked your email address and phone numbers.

24.  Your negative input is absolutely always correct. We derive all of our personal validation from it and take it as a window into our souls.  Thank you.

25.  Enjoy the renewed sense of purpose that floods into your life as you realize that you've just caused a person you don't know to feel anxious, angry, or offended, without even leaving your couch.

This was going to be a list of ten, but then...I've got over 100 years' experience to pull from.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What Is This? Priceline??

Oh. My. Gosh.

Guys.  I'm literally laughing out freaking loud right now.  Here's a customer service laugh for all of you in retail.

We run a business selling retail firewood; we've been doing it for like 14 years.  Per cord, our firewood prices range from 165.00-265.00.  EACH.

I just received an email from an ex-customer, who hasn't ordered since 2006, because even then, he was SO CHEAP that he canceled an order over a $20.00 difference in price and asked us to take him off our mailing list because he "could find it cheaper somewhere else."

No problem.  Took him off the list and never heard from him again.  Until--

TODAY.  *bing*  An email shows up on my phone, which means it came through our website, where our prices are clearly LISTED.

He's ordering our top-priced wood, which is $265.00 PER CORD.  He wants THREE cords.  And here I quote:

Him:  Will pay $110 per cord if it is buckskin tamarack.  Prefer it above red fir, but might go $120 possibly.  Note: Have been a customer previously.


*doubled over laughing so hard*

Is this effing PRICELINE??  OH MY GOSH!  
hold up a sec-

*composes self and wipes tears of laughter*  Oh, my abs...!

I quit laughing long enough to politely write him back, still snorting with laughter but maintaining the professional restraint  to keep from instantly writing back--"You're kidding, right?"  or "How about if I make you a counter-offer, then you can see if that works for you, then you can counter my counter-offer??"  or "Yeah.  1965 was a good year."

What the actual HECK?!??

I wrote back:
Me:  Hi *priceline-type customer*,  Our current prices are available online.  Unfortunately, we don't offer anything in that price range, but thanks for inquiring.

Best regards, yours truly, sincerely...  etc., etc.

Seriously, you guys--we haven't had anything under $140.00, even for our economy wood, since before 2005.  What decade is he writing from?  What response was he expecting?? Do you go the Home Depot counter with your cart and say, "I'll give you $50.00 for this whole cart full, maybe $75, but that's as high as I can go"?

I got such a kick out of this email that I couldn't even delete it, and it's too special to simply "save", so guess what?  I made him his very own folder in my email folder list.  It's called Things Worth Laughing At.  And it now has one email in it.   


whew.  I just had to share that.  Thanks for listening.  

hashtag crazy customers whattheheck  

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Time Traveler--Midnight Sledding Parties

If you've been following my Time Traveler posts about growing up in north Idaho in the 70s with no power or water, you know they're really just me telling some stories from my childhood, which usually wasn't normal at all.  They're mostly for my kids, but since not many people had a childhood like this, you're welcome to come along.

Stay with the class, though, OK?

One thing I remember very fondly is midnight sledding parties.  Where I grew up, we all lived in the hills, usually down long, steep driveways that were inaccessible in winter except on foot or by sled, so we took advantage of the snow and the hills and the large community of other hippie-ish folk in our area, and we'd all get together at one or another's property and go sledding at night or to celebrate New Year's Eve.  I have random memories of these nights.
Us with Mom around Christmas one year, c. 1978-9

It was magic.  A lot of stuff I did growing up wasn't "normal", but those nights were pure, unadulterated, brittle-cold, sparkling magic.  Like frozen crystals in time--I have memories of the sound of laughter with friends on clear dark winter nights.

Breath showing like puffs of smoke.  No noise but our voices in the air.

No electric lights, no car headlights, no flashlights.  Just moonlight glinting on the snow, casting the blackest shadows in a silent forest that stretched for miles around us in every direction.  Glittering frozen air, tiny sparkles floating.

The sound of our snow suits going zhip-zhip-zhip as we dragged our runner sleds and toboggans up the hill for another long run down, to land with an "umph" at the bottom.

Struggling with that crazy Flying Carpet blue plastic toboggan that we always got for Christmas.  It came rolled in a tight tube, and never wanted to assume any other shape but a tube.
Image result for flying carpet sled
'member these??

Trying to get up the nerve to take the hill on a saucer sled--that death-defying, sometimes-backwards, sometimes-forward, out-of-control daredevil ride.  Only the serious sledders did that.

Flopping down backwards, full-force with a whoosh, into a snow bank with a friend, to gaze up smiling into an inky sky filled with a million tiny hard-edged stars that seemed to go on forever.  Catching snowflakes on our tongues.

Wondering out loud those age-old childhood questions:

Do you think there's anyone else out there?  

Naaahhh.  Well, maybe somewhere...

If I was Han Solo, I'd take Chewbacca and go visit that bright star, right....there.  I bet there could be someone there.  See it?  



Wanna go again? 

In a minute.

Whoever's house we were at, there would be hot chocolate when we were done and a fire to warm our hands.  It usually wasn't long before we'd get that dreaded frozen crack of doom between the end of our coat sleeves and the cuff of our mittens.  No matter how careful we were at getting dressed, we always  had that frozen red gap of wrist showing, and the snow always got in there.  If you layered your socks, long-johns, pants, boots, and snowpants right, you could avoid the snow getting to your ankles, but I never did get the mitten/shirt/coat thing mastered.

So we'd warm up and go some more.  Say good-night to everyone, wish them Happy New Year, and head back to our various homes, warm from the cocoa and the joy of friendship and shared life.

I don't have any pictures, mainly because probably no one was taking any (because hello--it was NIGHT), but I *did* find this lovely picture that for some reason someone took, of our sledding hill on the property we bought next to ours, called The Meadow.
Imagine this with snow, by moonlight, and full of people...

Good times, you guys.  Good times.