Nor’easter, vaccine, safe Christmas put travelers-huggers at COVID crux

After a shout out to the FDA for allowing emergency use for a second COVID vaccine, I’ll also offer a definite thumbs up to the Re-cyclery here in Charlotte. On a shiny, pre-Christmas, Carolina-blue day in America, I don’t care if my front wheel is orange and the fork red while rest of bike is dark gray, physically getting my 30-year old Miyata back on the road constitutes my ‘essential worker’ for these coming, button-down times.

No, this isn’t how things rolled this year, but I did a fine job with a 3-tree potted palm.

I am safe this Christmas week, as is Mom at Carmel Hills, and the New York brother expressed no discomfort in getting out from under a legendary 34″ snowfall, while I ride Clyde a couple miles on a cool, just 50-ish afternoon.

After nine months of being hunkered down with brother Mike, we know its just us for Christmas, although we’ll get to visit Mom on Sunday. They only allow one visit a week, and Steve said she talked strong and well in 30-minutes with her yesterday, as Joyful a message we can have and give thanks for this season.

I’ll start the sauce, a killer meat sauce instead of meatballs, for using on my first lasagna-making in a while. Turkey, ham have been good, I think Mike wants lasagna before he starts dieting – he mentioned needing to use current freezer space.

That’s going to be our Reality Christmas 2020, classic lasagna, maybe bump some elbows at church Thursday night, where I’ll be on lot patrol, but mostly watching football, knocking out a blog with a terrific slab of leftover lasagna Friday-Saturday afternoon, but I won’t be traveling.

There can’t be anything ‘more smarter’ for Americans to swallow hard on and change, because what so many on the move from now till New Year’s will statistically become, is part of some serious negatives, even as we hear the first million people have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Brian Williams, Snow day, Campbell’s Soup

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2019 Men’s Club ‘Singing Christmas Tree’ and kid singers.

At the end of a challenging 2020, that massive, classic snowstorm working its way https://www.cbsnews.com/news/snow-storm-weather-blizzard-northeast-noreaster/ through New England last week didn’t seem to cause much bitchin’ and moanin’. That’s because in Schenectady, NY and beyond, we’ve all lived through similar poundings before. Nothing crazy, no Hugo Chavez accusations, no Flynn reappearing on the radar, just snow, lots of it.

Got just the thing for it, say people with teenagers, or who do this often every year. Doesn’t happen that often, say Charlotteans and others not living in the mountains.

Snow isn’t an unseen COVID-19 virus, its dealing with something known and handled before, like clearing the porch 4-5 times instead of trying to walk the dog.

The highlight to what some might grumble was more bad news was totally offset by Brian Williams at the end of 11th Hour, when he read Dr. Bondy Shay Gibson’s official snow day letter to the Jefferson County School Dist., and saluted every person who makes decisions in favor of family memory making. An official snow day included no remote learning, and making a snowperson as suggestions.

As a mom, Keri Rodrigues’ captured the moment. “The first time we get a really big snow, you are crazy if you think I’m going to be able to get them to concentrate on remote learning. We will catch up on what needs to be in their brains the day after.” https://www.bigrapidsnews.com/news/article/Another-casualty-of-2020-The-magic-of-the-snow-15810168.php

I was moved to send a note to a Campbell’s soup spokesperson who liked my comment about the good-good thinking of every person to make such a declaration in favor of kid-ness. I sure dipped a LOT of grilled cheese sandwiches in Campbells tomato after a couple hours working a shovel, or watching ‘Wild Kingdom.’

Snowstorm memories include $$$

While the saucering and tobogganning and snowman-making from that story were legitimate, our family going to the golf course after church or many a cold night, spending hours going up and down always got better later, after lots of people got it packed down for better speed.

That Dad tossed brother David away from our full toboggan just before a couple college guys t-boned into us is a memory that’s obviously never gone away. College days, where I was one of only two guys who could steer a ‘boggan among Nu Yawk-types brings a smile.

Snow shoveling was the best thing for young muscles and money during all those years, always beginning with Dad – doing his impression of Sgt. Schultz on ‘Hogans Heroes’ – rousting us at 6 a.m. if necessary, to shovel at least a path on 150 feet of driveway so he could go to work.

Whatever else we did for our regular customers, that driveway, sidewalks, and walking into house had to be fully cleared when he returned at five.

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Dave says that’s 2-ft. level, got 34″ overall

Dad telling us to disengage the propeller and TURN OFF the machine before attempting to clear the chute when we finally got a decent sized snowblower, was never less than gospel, but apparently some guys I know didn’t get the same safety talk.

The optimal snowfall was like ten inches of the powder that nor’easter showed up with last week – easy to move out, significant enough to charge a premium. A corner house became a $12 job for a ‘regular,’ those people who knew you’d come.

Driveways were a test of strength to shovel, a definite kick upwards in economics of more-faster when you had the snowblower. If there was ice to be chopped, it was a point of pride to clear a place *real well*. Customer service was prized, and no problem negotiating, but we learned early that “Whatever its worth to you” and relying on kindness wasn’t a good business model.

That the city changed fairly quickly from older, maybe 10-foot concrete street lights to much taller green metal ones, came as a result of piling more plentiful than usual snow on the islands in many streets. That put inquiring youngsters within easy reach of globes, and the possibility of someone sliding off that snow and into the path of a vehicle on a main thoroughfare, or perhaps passing through many neighborhoods, became a factor.

The optimal snowfall was like ten inches of the powder that nor’easter showed up with last week –

easy to move out, significant enough to charge a premium.

The problem isn’t that lots of people just dug in, took that big nor’easter in stride during a challenging 2020. The fact we are going to have a truly terrible winter of death, that goes directly to seeing just how many people in America are on the move, poised to possibly infect or be infected by our closest, most huggable loved ones.

The snow and time of year memories, these will need to suffice this dark winter of extra intense hunkering down.

Its my fondest hope that the single day I sold Christmas trees for a church – our’s didn’t do it for first time in 34 years – and saw all those young families, searching in Chamber of Commerce weather that Saturday after Thanksgiving, if they remember that tree as any part of a great Christmas 2020 together, that’s *still* the good stuff. It was also THE best all-masked, people enjoying talking to others event I could have asked for after eight months. ‘Uplifting’ is the word I’d use.

Beyond the fact that $100 day was within reach during a 14-year olds snow day, circa 1971– compared to $1.65/hr. working at McDonalds at 16 (and who is FICA?), I’m still humbled by the fact my Dad made the princely sum of $5 a DAY during the Depression with his red Coca-Cola wagon, selling beaucoup drinks in the Watervliet Arsenal across the street from his house during the summer. Dad had polio as a kid, always had a smaller left leg, but served in the Navy, and I’m going to use his drink wagon story somewhere in my writing career.

I wonder how many kids like me still roam the streets, willing to put their backs into making their own spending money in this economy?

If all 85 million people on the move this holiday are as absolutely SURE of *nothing* negative happening as I was selling trees…well, they’re not.

Christmas – Of course ‘We want!’

One year, when the folks flew up from Tampa, there was actually enough snow in Charlotte to mostly cover the grass. Mom was thrilled at their first white Christmas in over twenty years, Dad stayed wrapped in a Panther blanket I got him for Christmas and said, “I’m cold, I’m cold.”

That’s also the year I arrived with my date just in time to stop Mom from hacking the meat off a drumstick. Dad was resisting, because he knew it was a tradition for me. Turns out Mom hated me chewing a drumstick since the early days, strange stuff to overhear after almost fifty years.

The two feet of snow, actually Thanksgiving weekend, which I recall coming the year Nebraska and Oklahoma met in a huge football battle, was the start of my mother and Mrs. Kline alternating making dinner for major holidays. I’m still not sure how Mom let us watch it during dinner – with her, dinner on-TV off was almost always the deal.

That I went back to school over semester break in ’77-’78, when it snowed *every*single*day,* and Buffalo eventually sent a VERY long trainload of snow to Charlotte is a little foggy, but the Khohtetec Blizzard, which was supposed to be the worst of the century, never showed up in Rochester.

Hearing it was coming – “Over three feet and 60+ mph winds, with drifts to 9 feet, you should have three days of groceries” – set off panic buying in Wegman’s, people with carts front and behind. You get that kind of reaction in Charlotte for the THREAT of snow.

We brought more beers, bread, and burger meat in the last hour before that was supposed to hit, but those high winds blew the entire lake effect snow belt significantly north, clobbering Oswego. We had a great party after work called to tell me stay home, nobody was going to be moving.

The Khohtetec reference was a comet that came by around then, one particular cult thought it was their ‘ship’ to elsewhere, and like 26 people killed themselves when it didn’t mean a pickup for them.

Lessons learned in 2020?

Those comet-people and Jonestown used to be the standard for well, stupidity, for us Boomers. For any bloggers and/or trolls, accusing someone of “drinking the koo-laid” is a reference to about 960 people drinking cyanide-laced kool-aid in a mass suicide for a churchy-type ego-maniac name of Jim Jones.

Way back, way-way crazy, but compared to trumpies unwilling to mask-up when all applicable metrics are pinned in the red of overload, getting together enmasse and in close quarters? With the Spanish Flu pandemic of 100 years ago as a graphic case history? Wear a mask or die? Hmmm…

The dinosaurs didn’t die from stupidity, like continuing to smoke three packs a day – they didn’t have a choice about an asteroid that kicked up massive planetary dust, etcetra. A house-sized asteroid missed us around election time, just a 400-mile miss across the vastness of space, but staying hunkered down during a pandemic, that’s a smart, even if not happy, choice.

Dr. Fauci got out the word that he made sure Santa Claus got the vaccine. If that’s the best-reasoned lie I hear from anyone in trump’s realm of nutso about *everything,* we thankfully didn’t have to rely on any 2020 public relations from those lacking that humanity gene.

If you think, “It could be worse” while shoveling out from a nor-easter, people will share your estimation if they got extorted on the price for milk and bread at the only store they could reach back in the Blizzard of ’77, which was more a blizzard that just kept coming. Like hitting 100 degrees here in Charlotte, taking weather in stride is part of what makes us strong, and its hard to imagine worse for the thousands who lost all to rampaging fires out west, AND had to deal with COVID-19 and unemployment.

Okay, there’s something to be said for the smarts and survival instincts of the many State Dept. personnel who skipped Mr. Pompeo’s Christmas gathering. 900 invited, a couple dozen attended, that’s a lot of speaking with your feet. I’ve heard he and the wifey know how to entertain well, especially when somebody’s tax dollars are footing the bill.

With safety (maybe some luck), Christmas again in 2021

Christmas only comes once a year, but if you’re lucky, it comes again the next year is a lesson I hold dearly.

It wasn’t the same year as snow, but Dad wasn’t doing well (congestive heart), walking around at 5:30 am, my nephews were up, nurse friend they called said if Grandpa didn’t look good, call the paramedics. They came and packed Dad up; he spent three days in a hospital. Years later, when I was a realtor, as a more solid ‘Thank you’ than stopping by #14- Cotswold periodically, I served two fire stations my great spaghetti sauce and meatballs once a month for three months (to get all the shifts).

If once is Good, twice is Better, three times you’ve accomplished something, but those guys doing whatever meant that Christmas and another in 2012 with Dad, that’s all the motivation anyone should need. I saw paramedics work on a marginal homeless patient while doing an overnight for Room in the Inn – 20 full minutes in the truck, almost 3 a.m. – and she didn’t make it. It should be impossible not to think of protecting our loved ones to the max – and NOT hugging them now actually counts.

“It ain’t over till its over” is a well-honored athletic point of fact, and given the puke-worthy level of self-serving bastardization of prez power, meant for the righting of certain situations, but which trump has slopped around on a day to day basis, don’t expect relief until 12:01 on January 20, 2021.

Democracy took a whack with all this horses**t lawyering by GOP to invalidate 10 million votes, but both bike and the greater body politic are still sound vehicles, even if they’re being driven with a bit more caution.

The snow thing, we got that.

Me. December, 2020.

I appreciate how smoothly my bike handles, it *feels* like a new bike, although I do go across bridges MUCH more carefully now. Safety comes more naturally when you’ve taken some bad injuries, but even “getting tore up” in August crash, if a ventilator becomes a reality, it won’t be because I sucked in the wrong air, traveling with millions of others. Amen.