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February 11, 2010

The Chair

The Chair

by Nancy    Go to fullsize image

When I was a kid, our house stood on a windswept knoll on the edge of the Allegheny National Forest.  The windswept aspect of that spectacular location became a total pain in the neck every February when the winter winds whipped up and covered our long, steep driveway with a fresh couple of feet of snow every morning

One winter, my dad became deathly ill, and he and my mother spent weeks at Johns-Hopkins hospital in Baltimore.  While the doctors tried to figure out what was wrong with his heart (it turned out to be nothing more serious than a hiatal hernia, but for months everybody thought he was dying) my brother and sister and I were looked after by my mother's sister---my Aunt Nancy.

Does every family have an Aunt Nancy?

Aunt Nancy was--and still is--A Character.  That winter, in her twenties and single, she was just back from teaching early child development at Oxford and was preparing to go off to Native American reservations to make films about child rearing, but she jumped into the family emergency by offering to babysit us until the crisis was past. A globe-trotter who always had a snag in her pantyhose, she came roaring up our driveway in her black VW bug--which she had shipped across the Atlantic from England because she loved it so much.  (She had driven it all over Europe with her best friend. Two young American girls on a big adventure. That car is more memorable to me, however, because that winter my sister--prone to car sickness--once upchucked into the gear box, and Aunt Nancy ordered me to take off my petticoat so she could clean up the mess.  I did not feel like Miss Melly after Scarlett shot the Yankee, believe me--just mad that it was my unmentionables requested to clean up after my sister!)  For all her child development expertise, Aunt Nancy allowed us to have pancakes for dinner and to play Parchesi late into the night. Because she liked to sleep late, she also permitted us to tiptoe into the TV room and watch Tarzan Theater at 6:30 on Saturday mornings, so ask me anything about Johnny Weismuller or Maureen O'Sullivan.

But I digress.  For the duration of the family crisis, Aunt Nancy parked her VW alongside our house. That particular aerodynamic change triggered a totally new weather pattern on our knoll. A gigantic snowdrift formed in our backyard.  I mean a snowdrift that was taller than the house.  It was TITANIC.

The huge snowdrift was ideal playground for kids--especially kids whose responsible parents were far away.  While Aunt Nancy waved from the kitchen window, we dug tunnels which miraculously did not collapse and smother us, and we created bobsled runs that were so fast we could barrel down the side yard, across the long slope of the front lawn and onto our country road where, miraculously, nobody ran over us with a milk truck. When we came into the house hours later, wet and frozen and wonderfully exhausted, Aunt Nancy had hot chocolate (with marshmallows!) ready for us.

While Aunt Nancy was our temporary mother, I do not remember a single moment spent shoveling our driveway.

Upon the return of our parents, however, that winter and for every winter thereafter, the family obsession was:  Keeping the Driveway Clear.  A Sisyphean chore.

I am reminded of The Drift and the family mantra this week because here in Pittsburgh---a city that spends most winters slopping around in slush and a few inches of dirty snow--we have been hammered by heavy snowstorms.  We got 21 inches of snow over the weekend, and another 6 inches yesterday, maybe another couple last night. Out in the western Pennsylvania countryside where I grew up, this amount of snow is no big deal, but here in the city, with all the hills and many cobblestone streets and idiots who think they must leave the house even when the governor has declared a state of emergency, a couple of feet of snow is a total pain. 

This is the first year we've lived here when the snow has been so deep, so my husband and I are having a totally new urban experience. Our daughter, the ICU nurse, couldn't get home to her suburban house on Friday night after work, so she stayed here in the city but had to get up at 5 to return her to 7am shift at the hospital.  She has an all-wheel drive Jeep, and she broke her own trail through city streets that morning.  She reports her biggest problem getting back to the hospital---she's a country girl who can handle a truck when she needs to--was dodging all the cars other drivers had abandoned in the middle of the streets. Abandoning a car--any car, anywhere--is inexplicable to us. (Remember, Aunt Nancy brought her VW all the way from England rather than abandon it.)

Nine years ago when my husband and I left the country and moved here to our "empty nester" house (translation: much, much smaller than the McMansion with the pool and an acre of grass to mow) we jettisoned many possessions we wish we still owned, but none is missed as much as the heavy duty snowblower and our Cub Cadet tractor with the detachable plow. Now we are forced like other mere mortals to use shovels. But we still have the same obsession (as does our neighbor Chris, fortunately, with whom we share the driveway) of keeping the driveway clear. So we're out day and night, pitching snow into ever higher and higher heaps around the house. 

Here's Jeff in full snow-removal gear.(How many people actually own snow-removal gear?  You see? We're totally nuts about keeping the stupid driveway clear.)  DSC00672

Until this year, I've never seen a particular Pittsburgh phenomenon, but now it's all over the city.  It's The Chair.  (Take a look at the picture.  My friend Ruth took it.) I'm told The Chair appears in other tough, snowy cities like Boston and Chicago. (I can't imagine it's in Minneapolis for reasons I will explain shortly.) Apparently, when you dig out the parking space in front of your house, your labor entitles you to lay claim to that space until spring.  But to prevent claim jumping, you plunk an old kitchen chair in the spot to hold your space while you're at the grocery buying milk and bread and toilet paper. (The standard blizzard shopping list.  In Hawaii the standard hurricane shopping list is rice and toilet paper--a fascinating cultural difference.) The chair protects against parking space thieves--otherwise known as lazy jagoffs who can't get their butts out of bed to shovel their own snow.

This strikes me as fair, and yet also not a terribly Christian act. (This is why I can't imagine The Chair in a nice place like Minneapolis. Debrasue, are you there? Help me out.  People in Minneapolis seem too nice to use a chair to hold their parking space. Is that true?) I mean, where's your concern for your fellow man?  I guess if you're popping Advil every 4 hours for muscle strain, your fellow man should fend for himself or risk a bust in the nose.

The chair must be a crummy chair, by the way.  Otherwise, some less than law-abiding city resident might steal it.  A chair with a broken leg, or some other decorating dinosaur is best for the reservation of parking spaces.  The most common chair I've seen is the metal dinette chair with torn vinyl upholstery.  Next is the plastic deck chair, the kind that stacks and you buy at the Rite-Aid for $6.

The thing about snow removal is that it often brings out the best and worst in people. (Maybe the California equivalent is mudslides? The Texas equivalent is---I dunno--tumbleweeds? Substitute your region's weather-induced trauma.)  My husband is the guy who shovels for all the old folks in the neighborhood. Chris is the man who will roll out of bed at 11pm when he hears you spinning your wheels in the snow in front of his house.  He'll dig, push your car, even get behind the wheel and drive it out himself if necessary.  Me, I'm not as nice as those two. If I am stuck for a transition between chapters or a good synonym for a word like "snow," I might mosey out with big sheets of cardboard to put under your wheels to get you moving again, but I'd really rather be inside, drinking hot chocolate and watching Johnny Weismuller in black and white.

But there's one neighbor who insisted upon leaving our street when the snow was at its worst, getting stuck half a dozen times on our 3 blocks, so that a small army of neighbors endangered themselves getting this particular moron dug out and pushed. The return trip was the same--high drama and near heart attacks by guys who really shouldn't be digging at all, let alone pushing a Sonata for blocks in heavy snow. Thing is, she did it a second time later the same day. She's the type who gives women drivers a bad name, know what I mean? And you don't see her outside shoveling snow from her own walk or helping anyone else dig out their car. Next time we hear her spinning her wheels, I say let her call AAA.

Not a good Christian attitude, but human, right? Who can be a perfect neighbor all the time? Well, probably people in Minneapolis.

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Comments

I am ASTOUNDED that no one moves that chair and parks anyway. Other than keying a car that takes your spot, what's the recourse?

With Memphis being the more northern city I've ever lived in, I don't know how y'all survive. I'm complaining tonight because we are getting down to the 40's or so tonight.

And your Aunt Nancy - I've always wanted to be the "Aunt Nancy" to my sister's kids. However, after I took my niece to RT in 2006 and they found out that my writing is somewhat far removed from inspirational fiction and in my sex scenes, not only are the doors NOT closed but the reader is encouraged to watch, I think they all pray for my soul now. :)

I have always ben fascinated by snowstorm stories, since I'm a native of the California Central Valley. In my entire 56 years, we've had maybe 4 inches of snow.

My friends on the east coast often regale me with stories of everyone nutting up and buying truckloads of toilet paper and such. Out here, that doesn't happen because earthquakes and floods and fires don't give much warning.

As for having an Aunt Nancy, yep, I had one. Not a blood relative, but close enough. She was in the habit of baking vast amounts of cookies that she would then bring to our house. She also told some great stories of her youth (most of which included my mom). Those stories got even better after she had a glass of blackberry wine.

I agree, Nancy, every family has an "Auntie Mame" in it somewhere..:) Mine was Aunt Jewel, my father's second cousin's third wife (got that?).

As far as snow goes, yes, it's predicted down here. In Houston. Texas. It's 41 right now (I know, to some of you that's spring, but for us, that !@%&*$ cold). The weather has definitely gotten weird the past couple of years.

Nancy, I have to ask.... who is the Best Movie Tarzan of All Time????

Three quick thoughts:

Best Tarzan -- Johnny Weissmuller.

I will never complain about again about how hot it gets in Charleston, SC in the summer (it was 62 degrees and sunny Tuesday)

The best line of the week goes to Hunter Lovins: "Snowmageddon a sign of 'global weirding'"

http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/panelists/susan_brooks_thistlethwaite/2010/02/got_snow_maybe_its_climate_change.html

No Aunt Nancy, but I have done the chair thing...here in Boston, you don't mess with the chair! If you've shoveled a spot, it's yours....those spots may even be handed down amongst family members, they are so precious! Here in suburbia....shovel, shovel, pant...it's quite wonderful. My children think I'm crazy...it's the zen of shoveling...zen of knitting..ah...speaking of knitting...

Cyndi, as Nora says, you do NOT mess with anybody's chair. On Monday, somebody stole a chaired spot and returned to find their car completely encased in filthy snow. And yesterday, the person whose space was stolen used a garden hose to cover the offender's car entirely in ice. Talk about punishment!

Okay, I definitely want an aunt named "Jewel." Very cool! And Doc, I agree that one of the best things about aunts is that they can tell you stories of when your parent was a naughty kid!

Best Tarzan was definitely Johnny Weismuller, who was, BTW, also a yodeler. Here's a good example (and if you are working in a cubicle, please turn up the sound!)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwHWbsvgQUE

Best Tarzan movie, in my view, is Tarzan and His Mate (not the first one, which is Tarzan, the Ape Man, and is very racy--how they filmed some of those scenes without being stark naked is something I wondered about.)
T&HM includes the story of the elephant graveyard, which I loved, and one of the lovers-who-betray-each-other stories, which was delicious torment. Also, everybody being surrounded by terrifying lions they have to fight off with every tiny weapon they can scrabble out of the dirt--great Saturday morning fare!

But I must admit that I have a soft spot for Tarzan's New York Adventure (for a kid, it's a hoot to see him take a shower while wearing a suit) and next up is Tarzan Finds a Son, by which time the movies were pretty Hollywood-ized and the family lived in a cute Swiss Family Robinson-type treehouse (which Disney obviously copied years later for their SFR movie.)

Tarzan and the Amazons featured Mria Ouspenskaya as the Queen of the Amazons. (I remember my mother coming into the room and recognizing her from The Rains Came---another family fave--because my mother was big on Tyrone Power.) Ouspenskaya went on to play Mr. Spock's grandmother, I think, in the TV episode where Spock goes back to Vulcan to marry his old girlfriend and ends up "killing" Jim Kirk (who, thanks to a trick by Bones McCoy, is rescued.)

Have I sufficiently proved what I nerd I was? Or why I became a romance writer?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxSzcWLIhiQ&feature=related

OMG Nancy, LMAO about the ice-encased car and the dirty-snow encased car. Punishment indeed! I shall remember that if I should find myself thinking about moving a chair and parking in a snow-cleared area, I shall keep on moving.

Very funny.

That description of Aunt Nancy? Wonderful. A Character indeed!

And, yes, I love, love, love Johnny Weissmuller - Tanneryville, PA claims him as a native, though I think, in truth, he was born in Romania.

I love the Spock courtship/fight episode. Sexual frustration Vulcan style.

Great post!

Elaine will tell you that Pittsburgh stole "the chair" from St. Louis. And Cyndi, no one messes with your chair. The standard way neighbors in south St. Louis deal with such things is to baseball bat all of the glass in the offending car. The less violent method is to start calling City Hall. Grass a little long, report'em. It is after midnight and it is now the first of the month and the license plates have expired, report'em. Loud dog, report'em. Loud music, report'em.

One of the things my mother loves about her condo is she got to sell the snow blower and lawn mower.

Funny enough, my Aunt Nancy fits the bill perfectly. She is a nudist, artist, and a world traveler with stories galore.

I can tell you that The Chair is alive and well in Baltimore, too. It's a long-standing tradition, despite our relatively small 18" total snow average per winter.

Here in Carroll County, Maryland, we've had more than 4 FEET of snow in the past week. It's a driveway neighborhood, so no chairs for us this year. But WOW is 4 feet a lot! Our 65# dog got stuck when she went outside, had to save her (back feet churning, a lot like a car's back tires, sinking deeper into the snow). The snow drifts halfway up the doors (courtesy of gusting winds). And it's kinda eerie looking out partially-obstructed windows, especially at night onto a shortened world (clothesline is half its height, tree branches start a foot above snow line, picnic table has disappeared, and fences are only 4" tall).

Now, I grew up in PA (Pittsburgh then central PA, near State College) so I've seen snow. But this still might be the most I've seen.

People around here have been really good, though. They seem in generally good spirits, more prone to can-you-believe-it (semi-hysterical?) laughter than to freaking out and cursing. The current season snowfall in Balto is 83", compared to that 18" season average - so any time someone smiles instead of cursing, it makes me smile too.

Listen, do not mess with the chair. It is SACROSANCT.

Here in Boston, if you dig out your space, you can put a chair (often a folding lawn chair), or, frankly, anything else that will telegraph IT'S MINE AND WATCH IT, BUB. People put--ironing borards. Trash cans. Orange cones. Whatever. And man, do not mess with them.

What's more the trash people (municipal employees) do not remove them. Oh, yes, they'll pick up a trash can with trash in it. Or junk in the guttter. But NOT the parking place holders. WHY???

Silly naive me decided--as a reporter and a human citizen of the world--that putting personal belongings in PUBLIC parking places was unfair, selfish, and probably illegal.

SO I did a TV story about it. Even, with much confidence that I was claiming the high ground, interviewed the mayor about it.

He said yeah, that's what people do. Yeah, it was probably breaking some trash ordinance. But no,he wasn't going to do anything about it.

It's hard to defend efforts to stop global warming when you're shoveling several feet of snow in the Mid Atlantic!

Yeah, but see..I think the deal is...the snow is moving south. And that's part of the problem.

I think Rod is right aobut global weirding. (And about so much more, of course.)

Disney may have stolen the look of the treehouse from Tarzan, but SFR, the Book, had a fabulous treehouse in it. A huge hollow tree with a staircase winding around the inside perimeter. One of my favorite books when I was a kid, although a bit much with the killing everything in sight now.

My friends in Burlington were complaining that they were robbed the snow that everyone else got -- Sarah, did Vermont eventually get some of the snow?

It's snowing in Dallas! When I woke about 5:30 there was snow on the ground and big fat flakes of snow are drifting down. Probably about 1 to 2 inches of accumulation but no shoveling for us. The streets and driveways are relatively clear thank goodness. And it's 32 degrees. Yep, William, I thought we lived in these parts of Texas to avoid snow and cold. When I have to leave for work soon, all the drivers on the road will scare the bejebbers out of me and trust me there will be a ton of them. A little snow and drivers here find their inner idiot.

Unfortunately I had no Aunt Nancy or Aunt Jewel. Only child of an only child. Sigh The joys I missed.

Oh, my heart bleeds for all of you snowbound sisters and brothers. I won't tell you, therefore, about the nice weather we're having in LA.

And I was the Aunt Nancy of our family, back in the day. In fact, way back in the day, I would sometimes smoke grass while taking care of the little ones, which made GOODNIGHT, MOON as endlessly fascinating to me as it was to the nieces and nephews. Now all those kids have kids of their own and a new generation of Aunt Nancys. By some miracle, when I had my own kids, GOODNIGHT, MOON was fascinating even without the grass.

I don't have an Aunt Nancy, but a few months back one of my nephews referred to me as "the Cool Aunt" and I almost wept with joy.

Right now, I'm pretty pleased with where I live. Our road has been in great shape. Of course, having a PennDOT salt mound a mile from our house doesn't hurt. Location, location, location.

I'm convinced that the world's axis has shifted. The poles are melting, but we're getting record snowfalls down here in the States. Too bizarre.

Has anyone heard from Kathy Sweeney lately? I hope she has power by now. She's had a rough winter, hasn't she?

My Aunt Rosie was my Aunt Nancy equivalent. She was amazing, could do anything, and lived with Uncle Red (yep, Red and Rosie) to live in very rural Argentina for five years, where she had to buy her meat at an outdoor butcher, and salt and pepper in tiny burlap drawstring sacks. When they left, in about 1960, they had to take a milk pasteurizer with them, for heaven's sake!

In 1978 we had a blizzard in Cincinnati, with temps as low as -35 with the wind chill. At the time I lived in town, one building away from the corner, where the two streets both ended in a low spot (Cincinnati is very hilly). Because of the cold the water main at that spot broke, twice, and of course the water froze into one solid mass at the intersection. It was a true mess. Then the road crews came along, twice, and plowed up the ice, which then stacked up all along the curbs. Or alongside of the cars that were parked on the street. Did I mention we also had about two feet of snow on the ground?

My neighbor across the street, whose car had been parked in front of her house, was unable to move her car for more than a month, it was so solidly encased in ice. Luckily we had a bus stop at that corner, or she would have had a rough time getting to her job downtown, as would a bunch of us. It was quite the winter, and makes this one look pretty tame.

The first winter we lived in this house (1985) we had such cold temps that the lake across the street was solidly frozen on Christmas, which hasn't been since, and we had ice on the INSIDE of the front door.

Johnny Weissmuller, hands down. We watched Tarzan movies after school when I was a kid, and he was a big crush. And Nancy, your avatar looks a little like Maureen Sullivan. Maybe a bit of unconscious relating there?

OMG, you guys are infinitely entertaining! Wish I could just listen in all day. Don't touch that chair!! Love the ice revenge story.
My Aunt Hattie was not a relative, just a wildly eccentric family friend who used to use the little fox faces on her one fur 'stole' to nip at our fascinated young noses. She taught me to wrap a fiercely perfect Christmas package without a single spare inch of paper, tape or ribbon.

Soooo....Being a tropical girl I only drive in palm trees.I was in a nor'easter in New York one time. That frozen rain coming straight at you at the speed of Jai-Alai balls is no fun. I do love the little flakes drifting down that melt on contact however. Sweet.
The only time I like to visit snow is in Boston when I visit my son and the snow is white and fluffy ON THE GROUND where it is supposed to be with the sun shining. Note the word >visit<.
Lucy has a line in You're a Good Man Charlie Brown where she's telling him that snow falls up. "The wind then swirls it around and it just looks like it is falling down. Snow falls up Charlie Brown." "Good Grief!"
I like my snow on Winter Wonderland postcards thank you.
Chairs to mark you're parking spot? In South Beach? They wouldn't last a minute unless you'd hire a man with a gun and an attitude to sit in it.
Johnny, oh Johnny. You were my heart throb at the Saturday Kid's Film Club until you morphed into Jungle Jim. Soon as you put on clothes and had lines you blew it honey!
I did pretend to be Jane one time and saying "Oh Tarzan Darling" swan dived out of a tree into one of the neighborhood boys arms. Damn near broke my arm.
Only in the movies I suppose.
Just saying.
Do you guys still get mail? E-me if you run out of TP.

My favorite word as a kid:

Umgawa.

Cold summers the past two years, abnormal snowfalls, can you say "glaciation and ice age". These past two storms may never melt away if we get the spring weather we've had in the past two years. Scientists say the cause of glaciation is not abnormally cold winters, but cold springs and summers. If the snow doesn't melt it compacts and forms ice as more snow falls on top. The massive snow pack then begins to influence the weather and feed upon itself making even more snow, more compaction and so on... You get the picture.

No Aunt Nancy in my life and my life is poorer for it.

Like Karen of Ohio, I lived in Cincinnati during the winter of 1978. It was so cold for so long the Ohio Friggin' River froze solid! You could, and many did, walk from Ohio to Kentucky without getting your feet wet.

http://www.wsaz.com/blogs/askjosh/80426717.html

While not Harley's LALA land, Charleston, SC will be in the mid-50s today and I'm sitting at my desk in shorts. No, Xena. Not commando.

My husband and myself grew up in Canada and clearing the driveway was always a contest when in the late evening he would use the snowblower to clear the driveway before going to bed. Just as our heads hit the pillow the city snowblowwer would blow the street snow back into the driveway. Those were the days!
Ice storms became treacherous and one year my husband came to rescue me with snow cleats for my boots so I could walk home from the bus stop. Some people crawled on their hand and knees to get home that night.
Skating on the outdoor rink with beautiful music a la the Doris Day Movie, On Moonlight Bay was glorious. My wet mittnes would shrink and my mother would unravel them reknit them for me.
Making snow tunnels was my husband's childhood pasttime.
Ecentric French Canadian relatives qualified as my Aunt Nancies. Card games would occupy family visits and curse words that made my mother crazy would rise from the front room.
One of these relatives would swoop into a Christmas celebration and somehow all the kids would stop whining when she gave THE WORD.
We didn't have television when I was really young so Johnny was not there for me. I wanted to marry Tyrone Power..who didn't?
Robin Hood finally appeared with Richard Green and Wild Bill Hickock was my western hero.
I am so old that we used to watch the tv screen pattern while waiting for the first evening broadcast. Peter Jennings was my teenaged crush. He had a local news broadcast. Before his nightly news gig Peter cashed my first paycheck when he had a summer job at a local bank. He was stunning and resembled Robert Wagner and rose to the heights of broadcasting on ABC News. Good memories all around.
Now my favorite person is my daughter's mother-in-law with stories of Queen's New York!

!

We have a version of "The Chair" in St. Charles. Every august we have a festival celebrating the founding of St. Chuck. The Festival of the Little Hills (Le Petit Cotes, literally The Little Hills from the Frenchman Louis Blanchette) is on South Main street in the historical district where the first state capitol is.

People still live around the area and use folding lawn chairs to hold the parking spaces in front of their houses. I've known of some people holding a couple of spots to reserve them for paying customers. We have a shuttle bus service from all over town to get to this festival but people still want to drive their car & fight for the very few parking spaces.

And you really don't want to mess with the chair.

Lol, being from Minneapolis, no we never used a chair. The snow removal system of the city is so fine-tuned that the streets get quickly plowed and then you park where you want. When the snow builds way up, there are restrictions on which side of the street you can park on (so emergency vehicles can get through), but it is fairly easy to navigate, and everyone pitches in. Having owned a corner lot for 25 years, my biggest issue was with the plows: I would work for a good couple of hours to clear the corner, then get plowed in by the city's finest--only to have to reshovel out the corner again so people could leave the block! Always a PITA... A snowblower was a must and I loved mine. Now living down here just east of St. Louis, on the IL side of the river, I am blown away by what they consider "winter storms" down here! My daughter and I laughed ourselves silly as the news channels touted "storm warn forecasts" for 3-5 inches on Monday night into Tuesday, and that SCHOOLS were Closed! In Minneapolis there would BE no school if we closed for every few inches of snowfall!

I feel for the easterners who are experiencing something new and foreign. I can only imagine how SW IL would cope with what we considered "normal" back home...

Thanks for the chuckle today! BTW no Aunt Nancy, but I had an Aunt Aili who I remember fondly taking us kids (my dad was the Minister) outside on a beautiful spring day in the mid 1960's--she sat under a tree in her Sunday best, pillbox hat and all, singing at the top of her lungs with the organ (my mom was the organist), while my brothers and I enjoyed delicious freedom playing on the church lawn instead of confined to the first pew under the parent's watchful eyes. And I too adored Tarzan! Especially some of the "scandalous" movies!

As the world probably knows right now, Vancouver does not get a lot of snow . . .
When it does, we don't have "The Chair", although it sounds like a great idea.
When they are predicting snow, I go and buy 2 weeks of groceries and park my car and leave it. I take the bus to work anyways.

I was probably my sisters kids Aunt Nancy, would show up, behave like a fool, bring presents, cook fun food. I also did laundry, housecleaned . . . so my sister appreciated the visits as well.

**HIJACK**

Anyone interested in official Olympic stuff but doesn't want to pay extravagant shipping and handling?? If you want something small and mailable (think mittens or pins, lanyards etc), let me know on Facebook (send a message, don't post it on the wall). I will pick it up and send it to you. The Olympic store is 2 blocks from my office. For Olympic gear look here:

http://store.hbc.com/

A good friend of mine, Jenn, and her husband just had Bristol five months ago. Bristol goes everywhere with her mom, including the coffee shop where Mom meets her Writer Friends.

Bristol now knows about Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin. With a little assistance, she loves dancing to "Mack the Knife" or "Gyp the Cat." She has taken table dancing to a new high.

At one point, when Bristol was Dancing on the Table, she broke out in an ear to ear grin. Jenn rolled her eyes and groaned. I said "Ah, the Next Generation... my job here is done!"

We won't talk about me teaching Mason to shoot his cuffs and say "Bond.... James Bond...." He's only four, but the boy is a quick study....

Gaylin, not that I have a need for them, or expect to have a need for them ever again, but can you get some condoms?

In Wilmington, saving spaces is de rigueur, and you don't take someone else's saved space. When all we had was on-street parking, I used trash cans to save our spaces. In 12 years, no one ever took one of our spaces.

Josh, I will be going by the Olympic Village tomorrow, if I can acquire some "Olympic" condoms I will let you know!

Nancy, regarding having an Aunt Jewel, my dad had a great aunt named Jewel and two of his sisters were named Ruby and Pearl. Aunt Ruby was a social climbing bitch who later became a religious nut. Aunt Pearl was a big, loud Texas Rose who wore a bit too much makeup and had a slightly shady past. I have vivid memories of nearly being smothered by her bosomy, overly perfumed bearhugs.

I was a huge fan of Johnny Weismuller as Tarzan and spent many a Saturday morning watching his adventures. My mom swears I caused her first grey hairs by swinging from rope to rope 30 feet up in our ancient oak tree. To this day, I can do a very close approximation of his Tarzan yell.

Ack! Have lost power here twice today. I thought we'd avoided that catastrophe!

I loved your Aunt Nancy story, and I'm sorry for all the trouble with snow, and lack of power, etc. When I lived in Pennsylvania (north of Philly) we had more ice storms than snow which were no fun, but nothing like what is going on now. I'm in California now, but it is cool 50's-boohoo, right. Gaylin, how neat and exciting to be in Vancouver right now. Will be watching...hope you get snow!

I'm originally from Syracuse, so I know snow. I've seen snow like this there, but never here (northwest of Philly) in the 13 years we've been here. My sister emailed me yesterday and suggested I come to Syracuse to get away from the snow. She thinks she's very funny.

They do the chair thing here, too. Most people seem to adhere to the chair rule. And to be honest, if I worked to dig my car out of this much snow, it's every man for himself.

Our neighbors are great - everyone helps everyone else, and the kids have all the snowbanks to play on - they use them as huge slides to slide into the street (we're on a culdesac). Yesterday, with tons of snow still falling, there was a big football game in the middle of our circle. It's fun to watch them.

I didn't have an Aunt Nancy, unfortunately. I did have an Uncle Bill, who was childless, so he came to our house to, as my mother put it, "rile all the kids up and then go home".

Rod dearest, I am comforted to know you have the boys covered. I'm speculating you own a kilt however. Won any blue ribbons lately?
Warmest kisses!

If anyone wants to keep tabs on the weather for the Olympic venues, you can go here:

http://weatheroffice.gc.ca/city/pages/bc-20106_metric_e.html

and yes, you can change it celsius to farenheit if you want to

If anyone is going to be near Jackson Hole this weekend, my eldest daughter, Carrie, has informed me many of the Women Olympic Slalom and Giant Slalom competitors will be on her mountain Sunday and Monday. As a proud father, Carrie is the Executive Director of Wyoming’s oldest non-profit – Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club. JHSSC provides multi-levels of age group training – beginner to Olympian -- in the Mountain West. http://www.jhskiclub.org/

The women will compete in two Giant Slalom races on Sunday, February 14th and two Slalom races on Monday, February 15th. Both days will begin at 9am and conclude between 2pm and 4pm.

Following Monday’s race join the US Women’s Team for autograph session which will be held in the Snow King Lodge Room at the base of the Snow King Ski Area.

Carrie is a terminal smart ass – must have gotten it from her mother’s side of the family – she thinks the “Snow” in the East is hilarious. In Jackson, they consider any winter with less than 50 FEET of the white stuff a drought and any overnight temperature not in negative numbers balmy.

A friend wrote me on FB:
"My brother who lives in Maryland broke his leg yesterday while shoveling out his drive. It took two hours for the rescue service to arrive. They had to bring in a plow truck to get to him and even then, they had to carry him down the block to the ambulance. They neighbors all sent gifts, thanking him for getting their cul-de-sac plowed before anyone else's in _____"

Where I live they have outlawed the chair. I'm so glad that we have a driveway and don't have to park on the street.

My father was a competitive swimmer in high school and once swam in competition against Johnny Weismuller--Dad always claimed that he came in second and JW was an entire length of the pool ahead of him and all the rest of the swimmers--JW was that FAST.

The plow just came!

I live in Idaho which you would think gets lots of snow. Not this year. It's been a very dry and warm winter. It's supposed to be in the 60's next week.

Gaylin, how can I find you on Facebook? I really want a pair of mittens. They are so cute.

"...and idiots who think they must leave the house even when the governor has declared a state of emergency..."

I would amend that to "...and people with idiot bosses who think they must leave the house even when the governor has declared a state of emergency..." The winter of 2008, Portland had a horrible two weeks of snow and ice. Our biggest work deadline is December 31 (why, I do not know), so we HAVE to be here in December. The first week of the storms I made it in. The second week, my boss picked us all up in the mornings in his Suburban and drove us home in the evenings. It was the only way we were getting in. Made for some interesting four-wheeling adventures!

Love The Chair. There is a fast growing group on Facebook all about the Pittsburgh Parking Chair. I put up a couple more photos of chairs around the neighborhood. And mine was up BEFORE the article in the Post-Gazette!

Linking to you on my blog.

Sorry -- late to the party on this one. I was home with a child who was having bronchial spasms so she was having trouble breathing. I'll leave her alone if it's just a cold, but not being able to breathe concerns me. She's better now and it isn't pneumonia.

Anyway -- Nancy, you are correct, the chair doesn't happen here and it isn't necessarily because people are so nice. I think it might have something to do with that wonderful concept called "Snow Emergency", which is when a city declares that starting at a particular time -- usually later evening -- all vehicles on Snow Emergency routes must be removed so the streets can be plowed curb to curb. Then you can park on the odd side for a day and then the even side.

If it sounds extremely complicated, it is, which is why a major source of income for the city is the impound lot and towing fees if your car is where is shouldn't be. Last I heard it was $200 cash to get your vehicle back.

The curb to curb plowing is a noble idea, but really hard to pull off. We've had so much snow and rain and ice and snow this year that in the city of Mpls, you can only park on the odd side of the street until April 1 or the snow totally melts. The streets are too narrow for emergency vehicles to get thru when there are cars parked on both sides of the street.

Lucky me, I live in the suburbs and have a garage to keep the van in. I also have a 20 year old whose job it is to shovel the driveway. Snow blower is too hard for her to handle (she is 4'11+") and hubby had shoulder surgery so can push snow, but not lift.

Probably more than anyone really wanted to know, but it's fun to share.

I am late to this party as well.

I never had an Aunt Nancy type, but my maternal grandmother sounds like she would have fit the description. Loved to travel and bring back treats from all over the world.

The Chair. I have personally never had to deal with using the chair, but I have seen it in action. Today, actually, on my drive in to work after the campus was closed for two days due to the snow. I think that I recall somebody actually starting a fight over a moved chair in Philadelphia, and it involved guns. *sigh*

It's been awhile since I have experienced this kind of snow, and it has confirmed for me my decision to move back to town. Any town. LOL!!! Preferably within walking distance to my friends, who all live within a few blocks of each other...the lucky ducks!

P.S. Gaylin? Dont have your facebook, but would love a games pin or two. :)

Theres nothing like a good chair.

Nancy - LOVE your post! Couldn't have said it better myself, as I sit gazing outward at my 'tacky lawn chair' proudly purchased at CVS 'Buy1get1free' covered in snow-just sitting on the sidewalk waiting to be placed in my "SAVED" parking spot when I drive to work tommorow AM. Respect the chair - we all know how to do it :-) I found your comments via my "Aunt Nancy" aka "Aunt Betty Jo" who is eighty'something (she'd kill me if I revealed her true age but this chick is up there AND is still groovy - she can text and email!). She lives on Cape Cod & I was complaining about this Pgh winter to her when she sent me your comments - laughter makes the world go round! Hang in there, spring WILL spring eventually even here in the 'burgh and thank you and your hubby for being such kind-hearted people/neighbors! Stay warm, Shoveling Single Susan

As usual great and interesting post. I pretty much agree on everything you said above.

@nancy martin great observation:)

@Karen in Ohio what means Umgawa?

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