The Upside of a Polar Vortex

Funny how inspiration comes from the unlikeliest of places at times.

Today was that kind of day.

Actually, the last few days were that kind of day. A “Polar Vortex” had hit Wisconsin and the whole state kind of shut down over the span of three days.

Oh, we fought it though.

We kept going out, clearing our driveways and sidewalks, running errands, continuing life as we know it. I did it, too.

On the first day we got about a foot of snow. I decided it wasn’t worth it to try and get to work, since I would need to clear the driveway and that would take some time. Oh, how right I was!

I called in to work to tell them I wasn’t coming, then got dressed to do some work in below zero weather.

That took some time in itself, as there were many layers involved. Once outside, I had to shovel an area big enough to pull my car out into, since the snowblower is located at the back of the garage. A teeny, tiny garage that holds everything it needs to, but only because I’m a ninja at using space efficiently.

My motorcycle is snuggled up against the left side of the garage, and my kayak is strapped sideways to the right side. My bicycle hangs from the ceiling. Everything has just a few inches of clearance, but it works, by God.

Once I got a car length of the driveway cleared, I pulled the car out and then the snowblower.

I hooked up my brand new extension cord with the nifty lighted end, pulled the idle handle up to the drawing of the rabbit, and pointed the choke to the lightning bolt symbol. I primed the engine and pressed the start button, and although it seemed to be trying hard, it just wouldn’t start. I did this a handful of times, flooding the engine at one point, letting it rest, and trying again. Then I tried starting it by hand, since that worked last time, but it wasn’t having it this time around.

Of course I was staying plenty warm with all this physical activity. But after about a half hour, I decided to just remove the snow with Paula Power.

It took three hours.

It took three hours because even though the snow was a very light powder, there was so much of it that I had to keep taking breaks to catch my breath. I could see a couple of strapping young men a few blocks down helping another man with a snowblower and wondered why they couldn’t see a woman without a machine struggling to clear her sidewalk. No amount of staring at them while trying to use my psychic powers could make them look over and take notice. Mind you, I don’t have any psychic powers that I know of, but I try once in awhile just to make sure.

I kept shoveling.

Once I finished everything, I figured while I was all bundled up, I should walk the dog. Weirdly enough, while shoveling it was snowing, but somehow the sun was shining too. It cheered me up, and spurred me on. So by the time the dog walk rolled around, I was tired but happy that I was having fun spending time with my dog, and she was happy too.

It was funny to watch her sniff the snow, and like a detective, paw into it and sniff again, and paw and sniff again, until she was satisfied, pulling her head out of a snowbank with snow all over her face. It made me laugh. Yep, out in minus zero degree weather and wind chill on a Monday with my best friend in the sunshine was much better than sitting at my windowless desk in a dark hallway at work. Exponentially better! Bonus number one.

However, I got a bit of a sinus headache after all the shoveling, so I took some meds and laid down and slept most of the afternoon. Still, taking a nap is always welcome and a good thing, so bonus number two.

On the second day of the Polar Vortex, I went to work early, and the roads weren’t nice. But due to the weather, some of my coworkers stayed home, and the office was quiet and peaceful, like the roads on the way in, and I got a lot done since there were much fewer interruptions. The roads going home were much better, and because it was much too cold for a dog walk, I stayed in and enjoyed the evening taking care of a lot of little niggly things that needed to get done. Bonus numbers three, four and five!

On the third day of the Polar Vortex, I got up early again and went to work. Even more people stayed home, so the people that did make it in were considered heroes and treated to a free lunch and told to leave early enough to get home before dark, and not to worry about losing pay, because they wouldn’t. Bonus numbers six, seven and eight!

When I got home, I wasn’t particularly hungry, so after a few bites of dinner, and since it was once again too cold for a dog walk, I made one of my favorite teas instead. It’s a bit of work, but worth it. It’s called Warm Grapefruit Tea, and you have to squeeze three grapefruits to get the juice which is a little rough on arthritic hands. Still worth it.

I hadn’t made it in awhile, so took my time and added the spices and honey, and warmed it all up on the stove. The kitchen filled with the lovely sweet smell of it, and it was ready in just a few minutes. I pulled out my great big soup mug with the sheep on it (with just a *bit* of ceremony), and filled it with the luscious elixir. I felt all warm and tingly and happy, and then decided to sit down at my computer and tell you all about it.

If it weren’t for the Polar Vortex, there would still be all of us trying to get life done at the speed we are used to. The vortex slowed us down, forced us to do things differently, and if we were lucky, we saw that it was good.

Funny how inspiration comes from the unlikeliest of places at times.

If we’re paying attention.


Warm Grapefruit Tea
Serves 4 – Prep Time, 10 minutes
All grapefruits vary in sweetness, so adjust the honey accordingly.

2 cups fresh Ruby Red grapefruit juice (squeezed from 3 grapefruits)
2-4 tablespoons honey
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice berries

In a medium pot, combine juice, honey, cinnamon, allspice, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil over high heat; strain and discard solids. Serve with a grapefruit segment or strip of zest. (Too fancy, I just stick the cinnamon stick back in.)

Per Serving: 113 calories; 1g protein; 0g fat; 29g carb, 0g fiber.


Note: I cut this out of a magazine eons ago, so I Googled it. Turns out to be a Martha Stewart recipe. The only thing I changed was the number of grapefruit, because try as I might, I just can’t seem to get 2 cups of juice out of 2 grapefruit, so I use 3 and it’s perfect. Enjoy!

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