25 January 2009

What Happiness Looks Like

When it's 10 below zero outside.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

21 January 2009

Love/Hate Relationship

Just yesterday morning, I posted photos of our BIG DIG, and told you all about how it took us THREE LONG HOURS to move all that snow. I also pointed out that the worst part was the big, icy snow bank left at the end of the driveway by the town snowplow.

I must say that I'm very thankful for our local snowplows. They are always out there as soon as the snow begins to accumulate, clearing our roads and making it safe to continue moving around the area, in spite of the snow. I LOVE that. I lived in Washington, D.C. for seven years where they do not know how to handle snow. At all.

Having said that, something happened yesterday that made my blood boil.

It was a beautiful, sunny day and I was happily (ha) cleaning out our basement and watching the inauguration. At one point, I actually saw a snowplow go down our road and I thought, "How nice; they are removing any last remnants of yesterday's storm." I didn't leave the house at all until after dark. And then...

When I went to back out of our driveway, I saw in the rearview mirror that the ever-loving snowplow had pushed a LOT of snow into our driveway. Well, it couldn't be THAT much. I'd just push through it.

Uh, no.

I backed up and slammed into a three-foot high snow bank at the end of the driveway – that had NOT been there that morning. I pulled forward and got out to survey the damage. It seems the snowplow had been widening the road area and it dumped all the leftover snow in the driveways of residents along our road. Gee, thanks.

This while my husband was out of town for the night, so guess who got to drag out the snowblower in the dark and wrestle it through a bunch of very hard-packed snow? Well, I couldn’t leave it there. Temps were supposed to fall down below zero again and it would be as solid as a rock by morning.

So I removed more freakin snow from my driveway a full day-and-a-half AFTER the storm was over.

I'm just thankful the snowblower is so loud. That way the neighbors didn't hear me bringing down all kinds of curses on the snowplow driver, whomever he may be.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

20 January 2009

Viewing the Inauguration from Snowy Maine

I was thankful to be able to spend the day at home today. The only firewood that had to be brought in was from our connected garage; which means I brought wood in while wearing sandals. I did have a rude awakening over the weekend as I hauled wood while wearing sandals, but that is a story for another day.

Today, while cleaning my desk, paying bills, purging old school materials and generally trying to wade through all the stuff we've accumulated over the homeschooling years, I had the opportunity to watch the inaugural festivities all day. I had both televisions on, so when I walked upstairs, I could still listen to the events.

This is a very cool day in the history of our country. I'm not sure the enormity of it has hit me quite yet. My best friend Michelle, who passed away two years ago, was an African American. All day, I've wished she was here so we could share this historic day together.

I went to college in Texas only 20 short years ago, and I witnessed racial tension and oppression first hand. I've also heard stories from my parents who grew up in Texas in the 1940s and 1950s. My mom still painfully remembers seeing men and women spoken to harshly, and sent to the back of the bus. She remembers separate bathrooms and drinking fountains. I'm glad she remembers and is pained by it. We all should be.

I found myself in tears much of the day as I watched other African Americans marveling over how far we've come.

I watched as masses of people filled the Washington Mall. I remember going to a 4th of July celebration with the Beach Boys on that Mall back in the mid-80s, and I sat right next to the Washington Monument. Back then there were an estimated 200,000 - 400,000 people there. It was quite a party.

But today, there were an estimated million people. Or more. It reminded me of scenes I've seen in other countries around the world. I don't think I've ever seen a gathering like that in any American city in my lifetime. But then, my memory is shot (I have teenagers, remember?) so correct me if I'm wrong.

I also watched as all those folks in D.C., where the weather is usually milder than it is here in Maine, suffered a typical Maine winter day. Complete with wind. I don't envy them that. Still, people were warm with excitement. In fact, I'm not sure the weather bothered anyone but me.

Regardless of our politics, and let's face it, they're quite varied, today is a day to celebrate. We can worry about the politics another day. For now, let's support our new president and pray for him. He'll need it. I know I certainly wouldn't want his job.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

The Big Dig

I intended to post these photos yesterday, but I was just too tired after all the digging and plowing. It took my husband and me three hours to dig out our cars and driveway, not to mention the path to the meter and the path out back for our dog.

As always, the biggest job was at the end of the driveway where the snowplow (God love him) left a huge wall of hard-packed snow. Our faithful snowblower grunted, groaned, and threw two bolts, but it prevailed and the job is done.

Looking back now, it doesn't seem like much. 15 inches or so,... but 15 inches is 15 inches. Whew.

For me, digging out the cars (especially the pick-up) was the hardest part...

Getting through that snowplow wall...

A scene from our garden...

Lookin' out my back door...

Seems we got a two day break from the bitterly cold temperatures. The trade off was all that snow. Now the sky is clear again and the temps are falling.

Oh well. Only two months until Spring. Somehow that sentiment doesn't make me feel any warmer.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

18 January 2009

Snow Today

As luck would have it, last night our daughter was invited to a sleep-over at the home of a friend who lives 30 minutes away - on a good day. Today it took us quite a bit longer to get there, as most of the route took us down marginally plowed country roads.

Visibility was limited...

The only color was saw...

Always a welcome sight...

As to be expected, young daughter got very little sleep, but she took a nap on the way home. This shot looked cool with the snow swirling around the bed of the pick-up, but somehow it didn't carry over into the photo...

The snow came down hard ALL DAY and we ended up with just shy of a foot...

Our kitty had the right idea.

We joined her for the remainder of the day, napped, and watched football. A lovely, snowy Sunday. And the added bonus: no more sub-zero temps today. We had a high of nearly 15 degrees!

Tomorrow, however, begins the clean-up. Tonight I'm wishing that the magical snow-fairy will swoop in and clear all the snow from our driveway overnight.

Hey, I can dream.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

17 January 2009

Crying Uncle

We awakened to sub-zero temps again this morning, and I have friends all over Maine who are comparing not only the low temps, but also the status of their cars. According to my friend, Beth, who lives north of us, cars are dropping like flies.

Thankfully, (knock on wood) our cars started this morning. But they don't sound right. And the transmission in our van sometimes goes wonky at inopportune times - like when I'm pulling out into a busy intersection.

Today we will spend another day feeding the fire, but we will also have a family fun time of moving more firewood from outside into the garage and into the basement. I cannot tell you how thrilled my daughters are to be taking part in this event. They awakened early this morning and after making me breakfast in bed, they asked, "Dear Mother, when can we start stacking wood? Please make it soon? We love it so!"

And then I woke up.

Reality isn't nearly as pretty, so I'll spare you.

The really weird thing about this cold is that it warps my perspective of temperature in general. I mentioned yesterday about how the difference between -18 degrees outside and 2 degrees in the garage was so pronounced. But it gets better. After being outside in those low temperatures, and then spending most of the day working in the house, I finally went back out at 2:00 yesterday afternoon. I bundled up, of course, but when I walked outside, it felt - warm. Yes, warm! I thought, WOW, the cold snap has broken. Hurray!

But when I started up the car, the thermometer read 12 degrees. It had warmed up 30 degrees since the last time I was outside, which is significant, but 12 degrees? Warm? This time I didn't wake up. It was real.

That's just sick and wrong. So I say, "enough already." We need a bit of warmth here in Maine before we all start building igloos and looking over our shoulders for polar bears.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

16 January 2009

Frozen Morning

As of this writing, it is 0 (zero) degrees fahrenheit on the thermometer outside our kitchen, which means it has warmed up 18 degrees since sunrise.

Yes, we awakened to a frigid -18 degrees. Apparently, however, our area wasn't the coldest spot in Maine by a long shot. Many towns farther inland awakened to temps as low as 30 and 35 below zero. Here is what I saw when I looked out my kitchen window:

While seeing temperatures like that on the thermometer outside one's home is staggering, going out into that kind of cold is like venturing onto a foreign planet. Ok, for ME, anyway.

I dressed warmly (yes, I put on layers!) and went out before sunrise to start both our cars. This is what I found on the garage window...

Our cars are more than 10-years-old, so I wasn't sure if they would actually wake up. They groaned and complained a bit, but finally sparked to life. Of course I ran back in to get my camera because it was just so beautiful out there. This photo doesn't really capture the starkness of it all, but to me, the sky looked incredibly cold.

I also took a picture of the thermometer inside the car, because I am officially obsessed with this cold weather.

I was only out there a few moments before the cold really hit me and actually made breathing hard. When I turned to go back into the house, I saw this...

Not that I needed convincing, but this just goes to show that today is a day where it's much better to be indoors than out.

The funniest part, however, was going back into our garage and feeling warmth, although the thermometer on the garage wall read 2 degrees. I always figured that once you get below about 10 degrees, it all pretty much feels the same. Not so. Those two degrees were balmy compared to what was going on outside.

Stay warm, friends.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

15 January 2009

Baby, it's cold outside.

Too cold to write today. My fingers are frozen.

Here's why.

I think the arctic chill has arrived.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

14 January 2009

Better than going to the gym

This morning I was supposed to go to the gym with my friend, Becky; something we try to do regularly. I wasn’t feeling up to it, plus it was cold and windy outside, so I cancelled. Sometimes we end up canceling or postponing more than we end up going, but hey, we try.

But moments before I text messaged my friend to tell her I couldn’t go, I went out into the garage for an armful of firewood – and it was nearly empty.

This doesn’t mean we’re out of firewood. What it means is that we need to bring more wood from the outdoor pile into the garage. It works for us to do it in stages like this, since it all won’t fit in our basement or our garage.

But the ugly truth for me on this morning of not feeling up to par was that I needed to bring in wood. A lot of wood. There is an arctic chill coming our way, according to the weather people. Oddly enough, I was already under the impression that we were IN an arctic chill. Ten degrees and windy today – doesn’t that classify? But they say it will only get colder. A lot colder. Dang.

I got the kids off to school, bundled up, and begrudgingly went out into the cold. The not-yet-arctic-chill cold. To add to the fun, yesterday we had a tropical moment, and at 7:30 last night it was 35 degrees and raining. The rain fell on top of our already icy driveway and then froze (of course) overnight, so today we have the makings of a glacier. My path from the garage to the woodpile includes walking across the driveway. This, unless I open the big garage door, which won’t open because it is still broken.

But it gets even better!

We are out of ice-melt!

We had about a half-cup left in the bag in the garage (who is in charge of replenishing these things, anyway?) so I threw that down on the glacier and commenced to making my way to the woodpile. Within minutes, the little bit of ice-melt I put down began to melt the ice. But with a three-inch layer of ice, it only melted the top paper-thin layer, which meant now I had slimy water on top of the ice. It made for interesting walking while carrying armfuls of firewood.

After a few slips and near-misses, I got out the ice chipper and began to chip away the ice so I could make a relatively safe path for walking to and from the woodpile. But after a few minutes of this, my arms were sore and I hadn’t made much progress. I did manage to chip up enough of the ice on top to make it chunky, which meant less slippage, though I never did find the driveway underneath it all.

With the path less treacherous, I went back to carrying wood. And amazingly, after about 45 minutes, I realized something. I needn’t go to the gym on days such as this. It was positively lovely outside. Sure, my chin was numb (one of the only body parts exposed to the elements) but I was getting cardio-vascular exercise, I was building body strength, I was learning balance (remember, the ice) and best of all, I wasn’t breathing anyone’s sweat. Rather, I was out in the cold, clean, fresh Maine air, and when I finished, I was already home.

If only I could convince my friend, Becky, to come do this with me. It would be a lot more fun to do it with a friend, and I’d move twice the wood. Somehow, I don’t think she’d see it that way.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

13 January 2009

Winter Birthday

Today is my youngest daughter's birthday - she is turning 15. Both our girls have winter birthdays. The older one turned 16 three weeks ago, on Christmas Eve. Yes, we had them three weeks apart. Ok, three weeks and one year. Either way, it was a big year for us. Of course we planned it that way. Yeah.

Our girls spent their first couple of birthdays in Southern California. We have photos of their birthday parties at local parks or in the backyard. We did everything outside. All year. And the worst part is that they remember it.

Each and every year since then, they both have complained that winter is a lousy time to have a birthday. I'm afraid they will forever associate birthdays with being outside, having cookouts, and such. Their brother and their dad and I all have summer birthdays. They got jipped. And like I said, we planned it all that way - just to torture them.

This year is momentous because not only is my youngest daughter having her annual winter birthday, this is also the first time she will have spent her birthday at school. When we homeschooled, nobody had to do school on his or her birthday. I told her she could take the day off, but she informed me once again that she HAS to go to school. My other daughter volunteered to take the day off for her, but I'm too quick for her - I knew that today is not her birthday. I'm smart like that.

This morning I offered to take the girls out to breakfast in honor of the birthday. They chose McDonald's. Drive thru. Ok, the truth is, I LIKE McDonald's breakfasts, but I would have taken them anywhere. And we could have gone inside! Though, I have to admit that since it's only 2 degrees outside, staying in the car that took 20 minutes to warm up didn't seem like a bad idea.

Here is a photo op of our birthday morning in the dead of winter. It was well past 7:00, but still hardly light out. Yes, I know, we aren't in Alaska, but I still marvel at the amount (or lack thereof) of light in the winter, as well as the single digit temps. I still find it hard to believe that things can LIVE in this weather.

And just so you know, I let the birthday girl have the camera. The following shots are hers...

The bright moon - seems like our only source of light much of the time.

Frozen windows, sleepy sister. This photo was not touched up in any way - looks kind of cool, doesn't it?

Frozen morning ride.

Emo picture. Don't know what "emo" means? Look it up.

Birthday breakfast. And a bit of pout after I took my camera back.

The following are just a few for posterity. And rememberances of warmer times...



Ok, it was last summer. When birthdays should be.

Happy Birthday, Pumpkin! :)

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

11 January 2009

Snow Today

The really great thing about snow is that it makes ordinary things look pretty. It also makes ugly things look nice. Amazing how that works.

A few days after each snow, the sides of the roads always start looking dirty and dingy. What with all the sand and plowing, the once-lovely snowbanks along the sides of the roads become brown and ugly. But six inches of fresh snow changes all that and everything is now pretty once again.

The trees are another example. While the evergreens looks the same all year, when they are surrounded by a zillion other grey trees without any leaves, they too, start to look dingy. Fresh snow on their boughs makes everything better.

I thought I'd share a photo of our back patio, too. This is where we spend a lot of time in the summer. You can see the table and chairs that we neglected to pack up in the shed. The big snow-covered bulk in the foreground is our grill, which we still use from time to time on nice winter days. The big piles of snow close to the house are results of roof-raking.

One thing these photos don't show is the cold temperatures we're having. Lovely as it all may look, it is currently four degrees at our house. And windy. Seems it can't be cold without a nice, frigid windchill to make it more interesting.

But it is pretty. At least there's that.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

10 January 2009

Just in time for more snow...

Our garage door broke. It’s not broken in the big sense, thankfully; for some reason, it just won’t move, meaning, the automatic opener isn’t working. Yes, we can open it by hand, but who wants to do that when you are used to just pushing a button? Especially at this time of the year when all the parts are made of frozen metal.

It stopped working last night just after dark and it was about 10 degrees outside. Our son pushed the button to open the door so he could pack his car and go back to school. The door went halfway up and then stopped. The motor kept running, but obviously something is no longer hooked up as it should be. Although it was making noise, nothing was happening.

I did the logical thing – I went and found my husband so he could fix it. He went out, raised the door the rest of the way by hand (what a manly man!) and moved the car out. Then he closed it by hand and said it was too cold to fix it just then. But he got the car out for me and I should be happy. He said he’d fix it in the morning when it would be warmer. Yeah, maybe three degrees warmer.

This morning he didn’t fix it, but he did drive up to Starbucks for coffee. Does that count?

We were out all day and now it is dark again. And although I haven’t inquired, I imagine it’s again too cold to fix the garage door.

And it’s supposed to snow tonight. 3-6 inches.

The good news is that now without the car in the garage, there is a bunch of room out there to put all the junk in my house I want to get rid of. There is also more room for all the junk that’s already there to be rearranged so we can now walk a straight path to the woodpile on the far garage wall.

Really, it’s the little things like that that make life grand. Broken garage door - who needs it anyway? More storage space. Hurray!

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

09 January 2009

Wearing Layers

Many years ago as we celebrated our first anniversary after moving to Maine, my husband and I decided to drive up to a local pizza place for a casual dinner. It was a cold night - a few degrees below zero - so we dressed warmly.

For my husband, that means layers. LOTS of layers. After spending several of his high school years in Iceland, he is the king of dressing warmly. In fact, half of one of our dressers is dedicated to his very extensive collection of thermal underwear.

I'm not talking out of turn here, because he is very proud of his collection. He has bought thermals from all the best Maine has to offer - L.L. Bean, Reny's, and of course now, Cabela's. He has everything from cotton to polypropylene to silk. Suffice it to say, being warm is very important to him.

This is a man who wears jeans all summer long - even on the hottest days. He begins wearing the layers in early October, as soon as the temperature drops below 40 degrees. And this isn't an outdoorsy guy. He wears his layers indoors. By the fire. While enjoying hot drinks.

I have my own collection of layers, but the reality is, I HATE wearing layers. Don't get me wrong, layers have their place, but I really only wear them if I'm going skiing, sledding, or sometimes if I have to shovel snow. And then, only if it's very windy. Maybe it's a touch of claustrophobia; I'm not sure. Either way, layers make me feel confined. As long as I have outer wear, such as a coat, gloves and such, I just dress in regular clothing.

But back to the story. On that fateful, cold anniversary, many Januarys ago, we left the pizza place to come home, and we saw that the thermometer on the local bank was reading -5 degrees fahrenheit. And it was windy. Our old jeep (which has long since died and gone to the boneyard) had marginal heat at best, so we took our two-wheel drive Ford Explorer. I might add here that we bought that SUV pariah in southern California, where such monstrosities are created. We weren't surprised when no one here would buy it - why would they? A two-wheel drive SUV? Why bother?

Anyway, on the way home, we decided to go for a little joy ride. We drove down a local dirt road next to a pond to - you know - see the reflection of the stars. It was too cold to get out of the car or stop for long, so we turned around to go home. But it was a narrow dirt road. As we did about a seven-point turn, trying to get going around the other way, we backed up too far into the ditch next to the road. It was full of snow and ice, and in only moments, we were stuck fast.

We tried all the usual tactics of putting towels, boards, and anything else we could find, behind the back wheels, but nothing worked. Soon, an ATV showed up, carrying two mildly drunk guys. They got a big laugh when they saw us, but they were also very kind and wanted to help. We had some rope in the back of our car, so they hooked it up and tried to tow us out. Didn't work. They laughed some more. They kept trying, but long after we knew it wouldn't work, they still wanted to try. It was pretty funny, but it was also very cold. And did I mention, windy?

Finally, we decided to walk home and bring our old jeep back. Maybe it was strong enough to tow out the wimpy, two-wheel drive Explorer. This whole drama was taking place only about 3/4 of a mile from our house, but as I said, it was cold. We had coats, hats, gloves, and such, but guess who was wearing layers and who was not? Yeah. Shut up.

When we got home, after thawing out for a bit, I re-dressed myself - in multi-layers this time - and we drove back to the scene of the drama with our jeep. The ATV guys were waiting for us, still laughing, and still offering their help. Just about the time we got it hooked up with a chain, a police car came driving slowly down the road. Apparently, someone in a house nearby had seen (and heard) all the commotion and wanted the local law enforcement to check it out. With all the laughter of the ATV guys (not to mention the revving of their ATV motor), I'm sure the neighbors thought there was a serious party going on down by the pond.

The cop soon saw the reality of the situation. He noted our California plates, discovered that our SUV was only two-wheel drive, and chuckled. He offered to help out, but it wasn't a very enthusiastic offer, as I think he was quite entertained by watching our struggle. Amazingly, the jeep pulled the Explorer right out of the ditch, and we soon drove home to live happily ever after.

But I still hate wearing layers.

The end.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

08 January 2009

Morning Views

In the whole big scheme of things, these aren't examples of great photography - not in the least. But the colors this morning really caught my eye. In just a 20 minutes period, the color of the view outside our windows went from purple to lavender to pink to orange. It was incredibly beautiful - and a fresh layer of snow to boot!

Stay warm, friends.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

07 January 2009

Justification for WANTING it to Snow

In the Christmas song, "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas," there is a line that says, "...and Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again."

I never liked that line. I was first annoyed by it in my early, rabid homeschooling days when I thought no kid should have to go to the evil, government schools. I imagined these poor little kids being sent off by cruel parents who didn't want them around.

Then, a few years ago, there was that T.V. ad (Staples, I think) where parents are singing the song while buying school supplies, looking forward to the day their kids go back to school in the fall.

"How sad!" I used to say. "How wrong!" "How unjust!" Those poor, little, unloved kids!

Then I sent my own kids to public school – the thing so many homeschooling parents say they will never do. I crossed over to the dark side and in the process, found that there really ARE two camps of homeschoolers... those who will stand with you no matter what you do... and those who will stand in judgment.

But I digress.

When my kids were homeschooled, we had a very definite schedule which included school time, chores, errands, and everything else. Now that they are gone all day, everything is different. What that means is, I have to clean the house and shovel snow all by myself, unless I am fortunate enough for them to get a snow day (yay!) or have a snowstorm on a weekend.

This most recent Christmas vacation, which was much too short, in my opinion, was our first since my kids started going to "real school." When we were homeschooling, other than doing school work, we pretty much kept on schedule during Christmas break. This time, however, my kids were suddenly on a vacation from doing anything at all. They slept, they ate, they played, and they made a mess. It was the toddler years all over again! But bigger messes! And they eat more now!

A couple of days after Christmas, I was flipping through the Christmas song list on my ipod and heard "It's beginning to Look a lot like Christmas." This time, when the line came I actually sang along...


Yes, I sang it loudly. I sang it with gusto. I sang it with a smile. I truly have crossed over to the dark side.

But of course, I rationalized it. I needed order. I needed to be back on a schedule – and so did they.

So on Monday, they went back to school and I started getting the house back in order.

On Tuesday, I missed them, but enjoyed the concept of having a clean kitchen once again.

On Tuesday evening, I helped them with their homework until late into the night, and I once again lamented the whole concept of homework.

Later Tuesday night, I heard about an impending ice storm and I secretly prayed that school would be cancelled the next day.

Today, Wednesday, miracle of miracles, a snow day has been called.

May the force be with you.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

06 January 2009

Back-Handed Compliment?

A couple of days ago, I made a pot roast for supper. I usually cook pot roasts in the crock pot, but this time, I cooked it in the oven. I figured I could cook dinner and heat the house at the same time (yeah, our oven is old and it leaks). We make do here in Maine.

Anyway, the roast was different, having been cooked in the oven. Better.

When I asked my husband if he liked it, he gave me a very enthusiastic "yes." He then went on to say that he hates how the potatoes taste when they come out of the crock pot. He said that it was much better this time because... and this is what he REALLY said,... "because the taste didn't make me want to vomit."

Gee, when I look back on my life and remember the loving things my husband said to me, I'm sure this one's going to be in the top five.

"Honey, how did you like the dinner I just made?"

"Great - because the taste didn't make me want to vomit!"

Ah - the love.

We did have a very long laugh about the whole thing, and I assured him that his response was, if nothing else, blog-worthy.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

05 January 2009

High School Sports in Small Town Maine

Ok, the ugly truth is that I came here to rant on Saturday evening about something that doesn't need to be addressed on this blog. I was annoyed about something, so I vented to my favorite friend - the internet. But then my husband read it and set me straight about keeping some things private... or at least off the internet. :)

So instead of reading about my latest complaint, I will instead tell you about a neat experience we had on Saturday.

My daugher is on the basketball team at our local public school and on Saturday, an all-day tournament was held between our school and it's biggest rival. Each school basketball team played - freshmen, JV, and varsity - both boys and girls.

The tournament was held at the Old Brunswick High School. This was one of the last events to take place in the old school, which will be torn down later this year, in order to make way for a new elementary school.

Since we moved to the area many years ago, we have spent time at the Old Brunswick High School (OBHS) for various reasons. While the Brunswick Library was being renovated, the books were moved to OBHS, so my children and I spent many days there during our early homeschooling years. Each year the Brunswick Library holds a used book sale which is held in one of the rooms of the OBHS. And local recreational basketball teams have often held games in the old gym.

The gym is what I will miss the most about this old school. It is old-fashioned, has mediocre lighting, an old wood floor, and yellowed windows. If you've ever seen the movie, Hoosiers, then you'll know what kind of a gym I'm talking about. It has character.

On Saturday, we spent the entire day there, enjoying the basketball games between two small town rivals. People in the stands were wearing the school colors. Parents were there. Students were there. Townspeople who had no kids playing in the games were there. It was a community event, and it was something right out of the past. Change the uniforms and styles around a bit, and it could have been 1969 rather than 2009.

As an added bonus, there is a rivalry between these two schools that goes deep - but it is also friendly. Many of the kids play in competitive sports leagues that go all year - and kids from both schools end up being on the same regional team. Friendships and bonds are formed that make for an interesting time on the court when they are pitted against one another as high school rivals. They know the strengths and weaknesses of their rivals. They even know some of the plays. But the best part of all - they like each other. They respect each other.

After the games, when the kids walk in a line to do the perfunctory hand-shake with each member of the other team, the hand-shakes and high fives are real. They stop and chat. They give hugs, the congratulate each other and they mean it.

There won't be any more games at the Old Brunswick High School, but hopefully, the spirit that has been created in these two small towns will go on.

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

02 January 2009

New Year's Resolutions

I don't have any specific resolutions - other than the usual... exercise more, eat healthier foods, be nicer to those I love the most. Then I found this survey which I thought would help me narrow down a list of resolutions.

But all it did was backfire and pretty much annoy me...

You Should Make 1 Resolution

Reduce Stress Overall

Uh, yeah - good advice, you stupid survey. Is this like a no-brainer for us all or what?

Or maybe the fact that it annoyed me so much is indicative of the resolutions I actually do need to make. I think the first one will be to avoid surveys such as this in the future.

So what are YOUR resolutions? Care to share?

Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes

01 January 2009

The New Year Came in Like a Lion

Or something like that.

A couple of hours ago, I was sitting here on the sofa in our sunny living room, enjoying our Christmas tree for one last day, and watching the trees through the window swaying in the wind. The freezing cold, frigid wind. Major wind today.

Then I heard a BIG truck lumbering down our road. We live on a slow, quiet road, and a big truck would have no business going THAT fast down our road. I actually jumped up to look outside and it kept getting louder.

But there was no truck at all.

It was the wind sweeping down our street. And it was THAT loud.


But the snow never came. Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut got plenty, but we got nary a flake. It always feels a little weird when the snowstorm goes south of us. Like we're on the last outpost before the arctic.

Not that I'm complaining. About the snow, I mean.

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