romancing the snow

St. Patrick's Day Storm of 2014
St. Patrick’s Day Storm of 2014

I’ve had a thing for snow since I was a little kid. I was excited as an eleven-year old to move from California to Maine where I’d get to experience white Christmases, hot chocolate by the fire and days off from school. Except living in Maine, we rarely had “snow days.” Instead I made the trek through the field in front of my house to my friend Debbie’s house and then together we walked the remaining hundred feet or so to our high school. We rarely got rides (poor us) and at some point, I realized no one else was wearing snow pants BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT COOL when you’re a teenager so we often arrived with wet jeans and feet, but youth is immune to a certain level of discomfort.

Fast forward to adulthood, living in the MidAtlantic is frustrating for a snow lover. We’re caught in snowstorm purgatory; dramatic weather forecasts and wild variability often turn a six-to-nine inch snow prediction into an inch of slushiness. We’ve come to expect the letdown (and the accompanying mind boggling school delays) but it doesn’t make busted snow totals easier to accept.

The most recent storm to ravage the northeast is a prime example of how my heart got set up for disappointment. While my sister in New Hampshire was frolicking in two feet of snow, we got a dusting, nowhere near the two-to-four inches we expected.

I fully admit I’ve romanticized the idea of snow the same way I have vote-a-rama nights in the Senate when staff stay until the wee hours and members take stacked votes one after the other. That is to say, I don’t really want to go back to the Hill, I just miss the camaraderie. I don’t want to lose power, be evacuated from my home because of storm surge, or get stranded without eggs, bread and milk. I do want to have enough snow to legitimately shut down the city, but not lose electricity in the process, and have my friends with four wheel drive over for a roaring fire and delicious wine. I long for the bonding of snowmaggedon without the inconveniences my New England loved ones faced this week. I want the St. Patrick’s Day snow storm of last year, when we huddled over the fire pit, Guinness kept cold in a snow bank.

While the upper Atlantic regions dig out, I have my eyes glued to the snowflakes sprinkled over the Weather Channel’s Sunday forecast. If only this time, we are the ones who get ravaged.


to cut my hair or not to cut my hair

Coinciding with the angst over what to wear to Kaitlan’s wedding is a healthy internal debate over whether to grow out or cut my hair. It is not an unfamiliar conversation. I’ve been on this cut my hair short, grow it long roller coaster since Snowmaggedon 2010.

In February 2010, after toying with the idea for a year and getting progressively shorter in the process, I finally took the plunge. The very day Mickey, owner/stylist of Michael Anthony Salon and my long-time hair stylist (not to mention longest DC relationship) finally indulged my pixie-request, the second of too-many-to-count snowstorms ravaged DC. While I left his salon loving my cut and felt totally chic out at a bar later that night, I woke up the next morning to two feet of snow on the ground, horrible bedhead, and no power. No power meant, aside from no heat, no ability to style my new hair. By day three of no electricity, I couldn’t walk by a mirror without crying. Once power was restored, it was too late; the storm had robbed me of those critical first few days of playing with the hairdryer and bonding with my new short do.

Once enough snow was cleared for me to make way back to his salon (sadly on the eve of yet another storm) Mickey came to the rescue. He reshaped the cut, which had the effect of providing me a redo of those first few days of practice. I was happy. But then, on my next regularly scheduled visit, he wouldn’t even trim it. I had scarred him with my reaction to the first cut more than I had scarred myself. In fact, it took an entire year for me to convince Mickey that I really did want short hair. I came to his salon armed with pictures of Selma Blair and Michelle Williams. He looked me in the eyes and made sure I was serious. Then we did it. And it was awesome.

With short hair I feel more stylish, even though most models have waist-length locks. With short hair, I feel more sassy, even though my bed head is a fright. With short hair, I feel more sexy, even though I’m constantly told (by women) that guys prefer long hair. But I think I disagree. I love my hair on the shorter side in spite of the drawbacks. And there are downsides. For example, there’s no pulling it back into a ponytail for the gym, the soccer field or post-pool lounging. You have to wash and blow dry it everyday, no exceptions. No loose and messy buns for those of us with short locks. I started to think a few months ago that perhaps, for summer, I should grow it a few inches.

Thus longer hair became my goal, but then I saw a recent picture of myself and I think I want it short again. I’m tempted by this gorgeous hair style (and the sunglasses they highlight). But then again, if I cut my hair short, I can’t dream of carrying off this perfect poolside hat by Helen Kaminski.  Of course, ever since contemplating a dramatic change, I’ve had a number of good hair days in a row. I’m conflicted. I’m also plagued by the age old question: which length is more 40s soccer-mom-ish?

As Mickey knows all too well, I fear soccer mom hair almost as much as I fear mom jeans.

I am a warrior people belong to book club. I’ve heard of dinner club, cookbook club and wine club. But one thing I had never heard of until I made friends in Cheverly is Weekend Warriors.

I’m not sure whose conception it was exactly as I’m a recent inductee into this esteemed group, but several years ago my friends created the book club equivalent for home improvement projects. Think of it as a modern interpretation of barn raising. Ten families over 12 months come to one family’s house on the second Saturday of each month (except December and January) for half a day’s worth of work. Your month is predetermined at the beginning of the year and you are supposed to make eight out of ten months. Projects I’ve seen so far include building a greenhouse, landscaping, deck staining, painting (there’s lots of painting), plumbing work, tile grouting and of course, someone has to herd the children.

I don’t officially have a slot in Warriors until the 2012 cycle begins, but I still participated in a couple of projects over the summer and fall.  Since I had helped in the 2011 cycle, and I drew August 2012 as my month for the next round, a couple of Warriors members suggested that if I had some small projects that I send a note around over winter break for a mini-unofficial Warriors gathering.

Do I have projects? I had some ceiling tiles that needed replacing in my basement (a constant reminder of the pipe bursting incident Inaugural weekend when temps were in the single digits) and I needed electrical work in the basement bathroom my brother renovated but was not comfortable doing the wiring on. These were two projects I could not do on my own.

I was overwhelmed by the number of families who came to help what were really two one-man projects. I could have called last night’s gathering “borrow a husband” instead of Warriors since really it was the Don and Rob show while their wives and I drank champagne in the kitchen, and the children ran amok until someone wisely turned on the TV. (A very rainy day prevented outdoor play.) In all, five families came over to enjoy homemade pizza, leftover Christmas cookies, champagne, Bell’s Winter White and the merriment that fifteen children (only four of which were girls) confined to the indoors can make.

And now, my ceiling tiles are replaced. I have power in my bathroom, though I need to take a trip to Home Depot before we can actually install lighting, but Don promises me this is a 15-minute job once I get the parts I need. We even got to do a little advance work on what my August 2012 project(s) should be. Do I want to rip out the carpet in the playroom/mommy cave and replace with wood or faux-wood flooring? Build a wine closet? The more we drank, the bigger the ideas seemed to get. But whatever project ends up being, it’s the spirit involved that means the most.