Wednesday, December 22, 2010

On The Bright Side

'Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the house
Not a swear-word was brewing, not even a grouse
When "sssss-tzzzzsssst" and "pop" and a bad smell, besides
Our fridge in the kitchen just fizzled and died.

Quick, 'tis Advent --- think an On The Bright Side (OTBS) thought!
Er..... let's see.... got it! Thank goodness it's 15 below tonight, so we can use our garage as a temporary freezer and save the food! Hurrah for Minnesota winters!

Yesterday, the kids and I headed off to the Megamall (what we call the Mall of America) for a day out. We'd been snowed in for days and days, and we were itching for a big dose of Bad Christmas Commercialism. Plus, we had free Mystery Tickets to redeem on the rides at the amusement park by the end of December.

And just as we were getting dressed in our unfashionable ski-jacket-and-multi fleece layers, we discovered the snow plough had just driven past. If you live in these parts, you will know the worship-curse relationship we have with the snow ploughs - they clear the roads but leave a fabulous wall of impacted snow/ice at the bottom of one's driveway that needs to be shoveled away before anyone can leave the house.

So out goes Mum in her sporty but unfashionable ski-boots and all the shovels we own, to attack the wall. It is more than half a yard high and more than a yard wide. But, by gum, we are Going.To.The.Mall even if my arm is hanging from its socket by the time I'm done moving this wall of snow. Yes, we will.

Quick, 'tis Advent - think another OTBS thought!
Er........... um............. this is hard...... OK - at least I'm getting some exercise! Hurrah for Minnesota winters!

Half an hour later, I've cleared half the driveway - just enough so our car can get out. I will have to finish moving the other half of the snow wall when we get home from the mall. Yes, I cheat. I declare that people who live in Minnesota are allowed to cheat with snow shoveling. It is not a sin.

So back I go into the house, finish the multi-layered dressing of the children, and we head out to our car.

And there, at the bottom of our driveway, is our neighbor from across the street, with his SNOW BLOWER, clearing the rest of that snow wall! I did a dance of joy out on our driveway, as elegantly as ice on the asphalt will allow, and thanked him. Over the noise of the snowblower, he tipped his head, smiled and shouted back by way of explanation, "This is heavy stuff!" Didn't I know it - I hadn't any feeling in my arm by then.

When he was done, he moved off to do the next driveway down the street. Emily said, "we must bake some cookies for him, Mum." Indeed. Or krumkake.

No need to try very hard for an OTBS thought for this one! I cannot count the number of times our neighbors have helped out with their snowblowers. They come quietly out of their winter hibernation, many times without our even realizing it, and remove feet upon feet of snow from our driveways so our cars can get in after returning from Christmas away from home. Or so manic mothers can drive to the mall. We love our neighbors and it's fun to visit with them in the summer when we actually leave our houses, but it's in the winter time that we are thankful for their wonderful neighborliness. Hurrah for Minnesota winters.

One last Bright Side thought - when we redeemed our ride tickets at the mall, we found that one of them allowed us to ride all day for free. So we tried all the rides, and even Kate, previously averse to anything with motion and music, became a convert by the end of the afternoon. When we were ready to leave, we accosted an unsuspecting couple standing in line at the ticket booth, and gave them our ticket, so they could continue the fun.

Today we are staying in, packing for our trip up north and maybe opening some presents tonight. It's hard to know when to open gifts when Christmas Eve/Day is spent away from home, and when some of those gifts are from family in Singapore. So today it is.

One last OTBS tale:

Emily has been asking for a purse/handbag for a while now. I've unfairly deprioritized this as a sewing project because
  1. I loathed handbags myself as a child.
  2. She already has numerous fabric receptacles for carrying vanity items/dolls.

But she was earnest, and turned in this design:

and kept offering to make it herself if I would only give her some fabric.
Who has purple and green fabric that looks like that already in their stash? Not a lot of people - most of us would have to go shopping for something that fashionable.

She wore me down two days ago, so we compromised and let Emily pick out two colors of felt, and we used a zipper poached from an old jacket, and no lining and no pockets.

"But you said pockets aren't hard, Mum!" said Emily. "And can I have a matching coin purse?"
"No, honey, pockets are easy. But I need to cook supper now (why don't I have a house elf? Why????). So we'll have to whip this one up with no pockets."


and the very whimsical strap.

I had to sew all of it, while she stood by and offered guidance. And dinner was very late that day. But she was very pleased with her new purse. And I marveled at how different my girls are from me-as-a-girl. She took it with her to the mall today, looking very grown-up and posh. At lunch in the cafe, she extracted from it her disposable camera, and snapped photos of her sisters enjoying a grand day out with her. Lots of OTBS thoughts there!

Three more days till Christmas! May your advent continue to be merry and bright!


  1. I moved to MN last winter and I'm amazed at the snow removal tools there are here.
    Thanks for such a useful and entertaining blog! Have a wonderful Christmas. Niki

  2. I knew you'd end up with designer daughters! Great job!

    Yeah, gotta love MN winters.... ;)

  3. Oh its a sweet little bag! The snow sounds horrendous!!! I am struggling with 5 inches, but I'm an English wuss.

  4. The purse looks wonderful, just as she drew it!

  5. Hooray for neighbours!

    That purse is pretty amazing - I'd love to know what kind of guidance Emily offered you as you sewed!

    Glad your mystery ticket turned out to be so good - I'm surprised Kate wasn't into rides before. Not that I really know her but she seemed like that kind of girl.

  6. Such a cute bag!!!!!
    Love the design!


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