If We Were Having Coffee… 12/18/16

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Welcome, friend! Hurry on in so I can shut the door. Brrrrrr. With the wind chill it is below zero today so I am so glad you could make it. Let’s get some piping hot drinks, pronto!

Can you believe Christmas is next Sunday?! In just seven short days it will be here. I have so much work to do. My shopping is done but I have some assembly and wrapping to do. I only work four days this week… actually three and a half. I am leaving early one day for a dentist appointment. I am off work Wednesday for my younger daughter’s school holiday program. This is a big event every year. It is a big musical and the kids dress up as various characters and they get so excited about it.

What are your plans for Christmas? Are you traveling or staying home? Will it be a small or large gathering? We will be staying home and it will just be our immediate family. Whatever your plans, I hope you have a wonderful holiday full of love from family and friends.

Even more surprising than the proximity of Christmas is the fact that two weeks from now will be the dawn of 2017. How can that be possible? I’ve never been one for resolutions but I feel like I would like to set some goals for 2017. I want to set more of a writing schedule. I would like to get back to bullet journaling. I would like to be more mindful and present in my parenting. I will have to think about this during the next two weeks.

If we were having coffee, we would surely talk about Friday’s ice storm. Friday afternoon an unexpected band of freezing rain came through and turned every surface in the region to solid ice. It paralyzed travel. I left work at 3:30pm and didn’t get home until about 1am… but I spent 5 hours at a McDonald’s after I decided to pull over and wait out the conditions. It probably sounds like a miserable night but I wrote about it here and it turned out to not be the worst thing ever.

Catch me up. What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

Have a wonderful week, everyone! Until our next coffee date.

Thanks to Diana at Part-time monster for hosting this weekly coffee chat! Join in by posting your own coffee post with the tag #weekendcoffee share and/or adding your link to the linkup here.

Port in a Storm

What I thought would be a normal trip home from work turned into anything but.

The freezing rain – the rain that the weather folks told us wouldn’t freeze – threw a wrench into an otherwise decent Friday afternoon commute. As I got further south in the city, the traffic grew heavier and slower. The roads got slicker. By the time I got out of the city proper, everything ground to a halt. I could see the northbound lanes on the other side of the wall and there were cars everywhere they shouldn’t be – against the wall, in the median, slid off on the shoulder. There were more accidents than there were emergency crews to deal with them.

After white-knuckling it for two hours (a part of my trip that normally took 30 minutes), I was exhausted and still 50 miles from home. Worried that I would either slide off the road or get slid into by another vehicle, I decided to take the next exit and wait it out. The temperatures were supposed to climb through the evening and travel would be safer later. The ramp was slippery and I felt my tires slide. Turn into the skid. Turn into the skid. Not too much brake. Easy does it.

At the bottom of the ramp was a gas station, a McDonald’s and a Super 8 hotel. Stopping for the night was probably the safest decision, but I wasn’t too hopeful when I saw the packed hotel parking lot. One quick call to the front desk confirmed my suspicions. No vacancy. I weighed my other two choices, knowing it was going to be a long night.

McDonald’s it was. Any port in a storm.

I quickly realized that many others had the same idea. The restaurant was busy. The stranded travelers were easy to spot. We were the ones huddled in the back, looking out the big glass windows at the interstate up the hill, frantically talking or typing into phones. It was 6pm, though, so others just decided to order food and sit and eat before making a plan.

It didn’t take long before people started to talk. To commiserate. To share stories. Where did you come from? Where you headed? North or South? How long did it take you to get here? How many accidents did you see? Every time someone new came in, we would get more stories. More information. Between the apps and word of mouth, we knew which highways were shut down and where. One person would share their destination and the group would share their collective data on how bad the route was and possible alternatives. There was a group of four truck drivers who were particularly helpful. They settled in for the evening and got comfortable – a sure sign that travel was a lost cause. If anyone knew a way out of this hell it would be them. The whole region was paralyzed.

Everyone had a story the night the ice shut down the city. Some were like me and just trying to get home from work. Another woman was trying to get to a town even farther south than my destination for a concert. She was an elementary music teacher. I talked to her for hours. It turned out she knew my middle/high school band teacher. She knew she couldn’t get all the way to the concert so she was going to turn around and go back home. But that required her to go North and the northbound lanes of the interstate were closed (and would wind up being closed the rest of the evening). An older man (who resembled Richard Dreyfuss, in my opinion) was trying to get home to his wife who was babysitting their grandchildren. He lamented about missing time with the little boys. A family was travelling to a wedding. Another family was passing through the region from Memphis, unsure whether to keep going or to turn back and head toward home. A couple was heading south to their rural home after spending the day in the city attending medical appointments. A young couple was heading home after the girl had just picked up the boy from the airport.

The people came and went for the most part. There was a group of us – the music teacher, the four truckers and me – who stayed all evening. Others came in for an hour or two and then left again to take their chances in the traffic. And everyone who came was welcomed into the fold. We watched the overworked crews clear accident after accident on the interstate above. The traffic was neverending, thick with volume and backed up for hours from accidents. About 10pm a volunteer firefigher came in exhausted to grab a quick meal before heading out again. He had been helping clear accidents all night. We paid for his food.

The truckers finally left around 10:30pm. The restaurant was clearing out by that point. I stayed until about 11:15pm. The southbound traffic had eased by then and the temperatures had risen above freezing. My MODOT app was telling me that the roads that would take me home were mostly clear. The northbound lanes were still closed so my teacher friend stayed.

Five hours. Five hours of my life were spent unexpectedly at the little McDonald’s just south of the city. I met countless people. We shared more than just routes and destinations and travel headaches that night. I heard a little slice of their life story. Connecting with strangers like this can be very uplifting. There are still good people – many good people – who are willing to help others, to reassure and support them when they are scared and frustrated.

I am thankful that I spent five hours of my life with some of those people Friday night.

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True Story. Friday, December 16 an unexpected ice storm moved through the St. Louis area causing massive accidents and crippling travel. The temperatures got just a bit colder than expected and by the evening rush hour the rain turned into an ice event of epic proportions.

If We Were Having Coffee… 12/10/16

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I am ecstatic that we were able to find time to get together on this busy Saturday just 15 days from Christmas. With so much activity it is nice to just slow down and sit and have a chat over coffee.

We finally got our Christmas tree up today and it is beautiful. It has helped to put me in the Christmas spirit. Our younger cat, Charlie, loves the tree and keeps climbing it. She can get to the top, batting ornaments and chewing pine cones all the way. Every time I walk in the room, several ornaments are laying on the floor, victims of her playfulness. Luckily we have carpeting so they don’t break.

I also got out and fought the crowds and did some Christmas shopping today. I made good progress on my list and I should finish tomorrow. In the middle of the hustle and bustle, a woman – a complete stranger – asked me and my mom for help with an idea for her boyfriend’s gift. She explained that she is getting him Chiefs tickets and she wanted to put them in a box and make the inside of the box like a football field. She just needed some encouragement that she had a good idea, she was so nice but was doubting herself. We talked to her for several minutes and gave her some tips. The crowded stores are often filled with rudeness so it was inspiring to have a positive interaction with someone on a personal level.

Last weekend I got a new phone! I have a Samsung Galaxy s7. I gave my old Galaxy s5 to my daughter. I love the s7! I always forget how amazing the battery life is in new phones. A fully charged battery can last close to two days. I am enjoying the new, updated system. I still need to get it synced to the bluetooth in my car.

Catch me up on your week. What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

Thanks to Part Time Monster for hosting Weekend Coffee Share. Join in by creating your own coffee share post with the tag #weekendcoffeeshare and/or add your link to the linkup here.

If We Were Having Coffee… 12/3/16

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If we were meeting up today it would definitely be a coffee day – or other hot beverage day – because it is cold and cloudy. I may try hot chocolate today. I’ve heard the new Starbucks snickerdoodle hot chocolate is amazing. I’m sure we can find a Starbucks…

It’s another busy weekend for us. My younger daughter is at a birthday party this afternoon so it’s a good time to grab a cup and chat. We have Girl Scouts tomorrow and we are doing our investiture/rededication ceremony. I also need to get some work done and some housework. And of course there’s the Walking Dead tomorrow night. I need to fit in some Christmas shopping also. I think I will do most of it online this year.

I’ve been battling a cough since last week and it has turned into a full blown mess of congestion in the last two days. I alternate between being stuffy (and not being able to breathe) and being a faucet of snot (and blowing my nose constantly). I didn’t sleep well last night as a result. I took some Mucinex today and I’m hoping that will help. I hate being sick. My younger daughter also still has ringworm. It takes forever to get rid of. The one ring is fading a little. There is an area close to it, though, where there are some red dots that look suspiciously like they are forming a circle. So another ring may be organizing itself. The battle continues.

We are going to try to get our Christmas tree up this weekend (if we have time). I love it when it’s up, I love the lights. I just don’t like the work of putting it up or taking it down. We need to put it up, though. It may help me get into the Christmas spirit. It is just hard for me to believe it is already that time of year. Time is going so fast, I feel like I will blink and it will be the 25th.  I was also hoping to skip the Elf on the Shelf headache this year but the girls are asking when the elf will return. I often wish I had never started with the stupid Elf, it is just one more thing to have to remember to do every day. Or make up excuses why our Elf was too lazy or sick to move from day to day.

Catch me up. What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

Thanks to Part Time Monster for hosting Weekend Coffee Share. Join in by creating your own coffee share post with the tag #weekendcoffeeshare and/or add your link to the linkup here.