Saturday, December 21, 2013

Effects of Snowmageddon will melt into July

It’s not often that I’m made to sit still for days on end, save a bout of pneumonia or bed rest. The rest of the time I can be a little Type A. (Okay, a lot Type A.)

That’s why this recent snowstorm threw me for a loop, forcing me to stay home for a solid 60 hours.

Let me say up front that as my friends and family in Ohio read this, I know they are scoffing at how soft I’ve become. I posted a picture on Facebook of our street, a hill which had iced over, and wrote this caption: “This is the ice rink that is our road this morning.”

My friend Chuck in the Midwest commented: “Do you know what we call that here? Winter.”

So I know I’ve become a winter wimp over the last few decades. After 17 years in the mild Pacific Northwest, I don’t even own a snow shovel … or a sled …or snow pants ... or mittens. If the end of the world occurs via snowstorm, I’ll be the first to go down.

But my kids were raised in Oregon where snow is a uncommon, so they were ecstatic to have a snow day on Friday. Our youngest went outside to sled with the neighbor kids and didn’t show up again until dark, showing off her bruise she earned on a wicked ride down the hill across the street from our house. She was in heaven.

Our oldest son pretty much wore the same sweatpants for the entirety of Snowmageddon, which was heaven – for him at least.

My husband and I both worked on Friday, but then settled in for a good 60-hour hibernation period after that. I can’t tell you the last time our family has all been home with nothing to do but hunker down and spend time together, and I have to say, I kind of liked it.

I re-discovered how relaxing it is to sit at the table and do a puzzle for hours.

We napped whenever we felt like it.

We listened to hours of Christmas music while we made pots of homemade soup, cookies and hot cocoa.

We sat in front of the fire and watched more movies than I can count.

We cleaned the house from top to bottom (see Type A above. Well, I couldn’t just SIT there for 60 hours!)

In retrospect, the 60-hour forced house arrest was the most relaxing time we’ve spent in a long time.

Have you ever noticed how quiet it is after a snowfall? Almost like it’s tamped down all the noise and activity, leaving behind a tangible calm. I felt the same peace after those 60 hours.

As I drove home from work on Monday the snow was already melting and I must admit I was a little bit sad.

Sure enough, we’re back into the swing of a busy schedule: meetings, school concerts, shopping for Christmas. But one thing I’ve learned: Snow or no snow, we need to take more “snow days” any time of year.

Eileen Burmeister is a Winchester-based freelance writer. She can be reached at or you can follow her on Twitter at EBurmeister.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Taking a businesslike approach to CEO Claus and Co.

Last year, I asked our kids to write a letter to Santa, and this was what our then 16-year-old son wrote. It came too late to publish last year, so I saved it for this holiday season. I hope you enjoy it as much as his father and I did. -EB

Dear Mr. Claus,

Let me start off by saying I am a huge fan. I’m very familiar with your work; you pull off your duties somehow, year after year. I very much so appreciate the previous two years in terms of my gross present-able income via your workshop, and I’m pleased to inform you that I intend to do business with you yet again, as opposed to your competitor (Steve Jobs).

Before I place any orders, I do have a few questions about your form of evaluations. “Naughty” or “nice?” Are you sure that a mere two classifications prove effective enough to distinguishing individuals in today’s complex society? Have you ever considered adding a few more possibilities, like “generally obedient,” “average,” or “disturbed?” How does your grading system work? Is it on a point scale? Do you use a common numbering system, or perhaps letters? Have you ever considered that some extremely “naughty” fossil fuel CEOS might, indeed, be pleased to receive a stocking full of coal? I mean, sure, your reindeer fall under that “green” category, but your carbon footprint must be caked with coal dust by now.

But that is mere food for thought: I am but a simple high school student, and your product in the last 17 years of our joint operations has proved to be above and beyond the CALL OF DUTY. I, myself, have been exceedingly “nice” this year, and therefore it’s time for me to balance my moral checkbook and send in my order form.

I’ve organized my list in an orderly, easy-to-read format, and I’ve taken the liberty of listing the average market price. I hope you’ll be pleased to hear that instead of purchasing a new iPhone from your competitors, I’m instead inheriting my father’s old one. I know you and Steve Jobs never did get along, even towards the end of his life. (P.S. Did you do that? Never mind, it’s none of my business.)

Always a pleasure,

Nathaniel Burmeister

Christmas order form

Nintendo DS
Average price: $75-150 USD
To pass the time. Can be a used model, I have no preference, and you must already have a recycling program. If not, you might consider adding one.
iTunes card
Average price: $15-100 USD
I know, it’s an Apple product. Just think of it as a piece of plastic. Send an elf.

Fuzzy dice
Average price: $1-5 USD
Simply for the added SWAG factor in my car.

Assassin’s Creed III (Xbox 360)
Average price: $50 USD
Fantastic game, fantastic franchise. Keep in mind, this game takes place in colonial times, making it educational. I know it’s probably confusing for you in your advanced age, but you’ve done well so far.

Total (approx.)
$175-385 USD
+ 15% gratuity
$442.75 (high approx.)
$201.25 (low approx.)

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