The Day the Sky Fell and Hell Froze Over

blizzard of 78

In case you haven’t heard, seen, or felt (or you’ve been in a coma), we—as in those of us living in most of the Midwest—had a little snowstorm on Sunday.  Then, to remind us of Who is really in charge, the temperature dropped like it was hot—except that it wasn’t.  It has been freakishly cold. 

What more can be said about this latest development in our weather that hasn’t already been said?  Well, nothing really.  Folks who are stuck at home (or people like me who are constantly online) have resorted to posting status updates on Facebook that read, “Went to CVS today!  Yea me!”  or “The roads are still bad, but I’m totally out of Pinot Grigio!  LOL!” or “Do you think CPS will find out that I beat my kids today?  I’m going craaaazzzzy!  When will this end?  Wink!” 

That last one wasn’t really on Facebook; I just made it up.

I’ve seen worse, though.  Some of us remember the big one—the blizzard of 1978.  I was living at home in northwestern Pennsylvania and was just about to turn 15 when the big one dropped about 30” of snow right smack dab on top of our house.  We were out of school for a whopping six weeks.  It was in those six weeks that my now brother-in-law began wooing and courting my sister and the two of them tied up the telephone line all day long, where I learned that I was rather proficient at Jeopardy! but no one was around to witness my question-providing acumen, and when I discovered that boxed Dream Whip, when mixed with congealed bacon fat, tastes worse than the chewed-up-and-spit-back-out cheddar cheese that Becky also tricked me into eating.  We were obviously without any adult supervision; thus, I suffered some of my worst days under Becky’s cruelty lo’ those many years ago.  My brother Jamie was away enjoying his freshman year at Westminster College, but really, he wouldn’t have been much help.  She bullied him, too.

I pray that no child has been subjected to such indignities during these past three days. 

The last time that it was this cold, though, was in January 1994.  I was a new mother with two not yet crawling baby girls, and I remember that Tim and the twins and I were hunkered down in the family room of our newly built house enjoying the warmth of a roaring fire in our new fireplace.  Once the fire was out, I made Tim clean out the fireplace so it would look pretty for the next fire.  Doesn’t everyone do that?  Since we were in a new neighborhood, there was a lot of new construction, and new construction equals a plethora of Dumpsters, one of which happened to be parked right across from our new house.  Tim, always a forward thinker, braved the frigid temperatures and deposited the contents of the fireplace in the Dumpster, threw in four or five shovelfuls of snow over it for good measure, and returned to our pretty, new house, proud of his manly and husband-like achievement. 

Soon we heard the wail of sirens. 

Perplexed, we curiously peeked out of the sidelights of our newly installed front door and found, to our initial shock, and then to our mind-numbing horror, what appeared to be the entire Lawrence Township fire department, complete with a ladder truck.  The firefighters were furiously fighting a roaring blaze in the aforementioned Dumpster.  This was the same Dumpster that had been the happy repository of the ashes of a newlywed couple’s first fire cozy in their new home. 

Fearing imminent arrest and eventual prosecution (Tim wouldn’t have fared well in prison), we dropped to the floor and made our way, commando-like, to the front window, where we took turns monitoring the situation by peaking over the window seat and out the frosty glass like two mongooses hunting for cobras.  At one point, I think Tim mentioned something about hiding in the attic if the authorities were to come a knockin’, but we were still newly married, and he hadn’t yet learned how easy it was to throw me under the bus.  Holding our breaths, we watched as the stalwart firefighters fought the good fight.  Soon the fire was out, and Tim has lived these past twenty years in abject fear that I would someday reveal his secret. 

That day has come. 

Oh, and Becky?  I was listening in on the extension the whole time you were making lovey-dovey on the phone with Randy.  So there.  I should have told Dad on you.


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Following my years as an elementary and middle school teacher, I decided I wanted to spend the second half of my life just writing. Currently, I work as a technical writer for a software company, fulfilling my passion for writing and editing, and in between the times I'm trying to figure out how to put really complicated ideas into words the rest of the world can understand, I write novels. The Gym Show, published in March 2014, is my first novel. I'm already half-way through with my second novel--a title soon to be revealed. The creative side of me loves to write, but the teacher in me loves to edit, so let me help you craft your message, write your articles, mend your prose, and get people to read what you've written. Contact me at

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