17 March 2007


That's the only word I can think of to describe the driving conditions on Interstate 95 through Maine at 7:00 this morning.

Our daughter had a basketball tournament and it was the only event in the entire state that hadn't been cancelled. Consequently, other than the hard-working snowplows and the other tournament attendees, we had the roads all to ourselves. But it was a scary thing. A drive that would normally take about 45 minutes took us nearly an hour and 1/2.

Several inches of snow had fallen overnight, but that wasn't the problem. The snow was being removed quickly and efficiently, as it always is by Maine's superior snow removal experts. The problem was the ice and freezing rain. I'll never truly understand why it can be 25 degrees and raining ice, rather than just snowing, but that's what was happening. Ice was pelting the windshield of our ancient jeep, building up on the wipers, and even the four-wheel drive was struggling. All the way there, we kept asking ourselves who was crazier - the tournament officials for not cancelling, or us for actually showing up?

But it doesn't end there. The snow ended and then the rain picked up and helped clear the roads. When we broke for lunch and headed to the local mall for a break between games, there was only a light drizzle and just a distant memory of the frighteningly icy drive from hours before.

Yet, when we left the mall, our jeep creaked and groaned as it always does. It shuddered and sputtered as it always does. But this time, it did something more. As we drove around an on-ramp, smoke began pouring out of the driver-side door. It seemed to be coming from the line of buttons for the automatic windows and locks (which hardly work anyway). As we were exclaiming about the smoke and looking for a place amidst all the ice to pull over, small flames began shooting out of the same area.

A small panic ensued among the girls in the car, including myself and one of my daughter's teammates. Thankfully, my husband kept his cool, pulled over, and turned off the car. The rest of us promptly began to bail out. The flames died down on their own while my hubby was looking for the fire extinguisher and in the end, he simply took out the fuses for the lock and window buttons, and we saw no more flames.

You know, to me, there's nothing sexier than a man who keeps his cool during a potential crisis - especially when all the girls are screaming fire and offering to throw their water bottles on the electrical fire. Yeah, like THAT would have helped.

All in all it was an eventful day. Back at the tournament, one of the other parents asked me what we were doing to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. I looked at her, looked around, and said, "This."

We came home this evening, and in honor of St. Patrick's Day, I cooked Mexican food for the second night in a row. Ok, I AM quite a bit Irish, but the only GREAT meals I know how to cook are Mexican.

Besides, I think St. Patrick would understand. :)

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

16 March 2007

Ok, one more today...

These are my son's size 13 boot prints that walked into our house only about 40 minutes ago, and they're already getting covered. The snow flakes are tiny and sharp and they make me think of something my husband often says, "Big flakes, little snow. Little flakes, big snow." I'm not sure if that's ALWAYS the case, but it seems to be the norm. Tonight the flakes are small, but they're plentiful.

And I've realized something about myself this winter. Snowstorms always inspire me to do two things: to cook and to write. I've spent much of the day writing, so this afternoon, after my lengthy supermarket run, I came home and decided to do something in honor of St. Patrick's Day tomorrow. I wanted to make something green or Irish, and I'd already made the mistake of trying to do green eggs and ham several years ago when my kids were young. It was pretty disgusting because I used too much green food coloring. Everything was soppy, wet, and green.

So today, I ventured over to my friend Barb's site, My Sister's Kitchen because I knew she'd have something tasty to share. Sure enough, I found Irish Soda Bread, something I've never made before. I followed Barb's instructions to the letter, and it turned out heavenly!

By the time the bread came out of the oven, it was time to cook dinner. I pondered over my recipes for Irish Stew and Corned Beef and Cabbage, but in the end, I made one of our family favorites - Tequila Lime Chicken with Mexican Rice and Beans. No, not very Irish, but hey, I've spent so much time in the Southwest that Mexican recipes are quite familiar to me.

Maybe tomorrow I'll post that Tequila Lime recipe. After all, with all this snow, I'll need something to write about and I'll still be cooking...

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

The Snow Rush

Buy at Art.comThis afternoon, I had to run to the supermarket to pick up some medicine for my daughter, and a few other things. It hadn't occured to me that not only was it Friday, which is payday for many people around here, but that we also have a big winter storm bearing down on us. Those two variables make for a busy and crowded supermarket experience, even in small-town Maine.

I navigated through the frantic shoppers, most of whom had small children who were tired from a long day at school. I found what I needed and then found that the express check-out lane was a mile long. I got in one of the regular lines and picked up a copy of the Gardening Farmer's Almanac to pass the time. When I looked up again and spotted the clock on the wall, 15 minutes had passed and my line had barely moved. The lines were growing longer, the children louder, and people were beginning to complain.

Finally, my turn was up and I was out in a flash, with my 5 items, amidst all the huge baskets loaded with goods that would get people through the next 12 hours of the storm.

And then I walked outside to find that the snow had, indeed, begun. Regardless of what I wrote earlier about being ready for Spring, nothing can soothe my soul like the sight of a snowfall that makes the cars and the people quieter, and covers up all the mud and muck from this week's big melt. Maybe we do need one more week of winter...

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

I thought Spring was here...

Ok, I'm getting a bit tired of this weather that's such a tease. Yeah, I know its still winter for another week, but this winter HAS been a weird one. Plus, when the temps shot up into the 50s here in Maine and the snow started melting a LOT this week, I made the mistake of succombing to Spring Fever. I actually started thinking about gardening and I looked longingly at the green grass that was peeking out from under the melting snow.

My kids and I chuckled yesterday as we drove past the local skating pond and saw that it was closed and half-melted. We cheered when we saw indications that the local seasonal ice cream shops were preparing to open. Its odd because we really do love winter, and we really did have a mild, short winter this year.

Maybe it was that winter didn't really show up until January was over. By that time, we all sort of thought we were off the hook and wouldn't have to dig out our driveways this year. When we finally did have to break out the snow shovels and feed our wood-burning stoves, many of us grumbled. (Not me, of course!)

Next year, someone please remind me that I live in Maine, not California, and that THIS is what winter is in Maine.

And as for this St. Patrick's Day storm that's forecasted for tomorrow? Well, like I said, techically, it IS still winter for about another week.

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

02 March 2007

Early March Snow

Most of Maine awakened to snow falling this morning. School children all over the state watched the television set, bleary-eyed and hopeful, wishing for the all-important snow day. Most of them were not disappointed. The closure list this morning seemed never-ending.

After a leisurely morning, snow days always put me in the mood to bake, so after taking a few photos of the beautiful snow, we baked Soft Molasses Cookies. Although I can't share the cookies over the internet, I can share our photos. Enjoy!

This is the view outside one of our bedroom windows...

If you look closely, you can see the white bench outside our front door, buried in snow... and of course, our fake tree still up from Christmas!

The tool shed outside our back door...

Now that dark is on its way, we need to venture out and start the plowing and shoveling, but in spite of all the work it causes, you have to admit, it sure is pretty!

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes