Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas giving and weather matters

Christmas Day was spent sharing a great meal of prime rib, exchanging gifts, and tuning in to watch "A Christmas Story" on TBS (No doubt, one of the greatest Christmas movies of all time. Would you believe I actually saw it in a theater when it came out in 1983?)

And Christmas was especially kind to me. I received a lot of clever, thoughtful gifts, such as some books on Minnesota landmarks and history, clothing, Jelly Belly jellybeans (yum!), and other food-related items.

The envy of every NASCAR fan

Other items of note, I got a small, 1.3 gallon keg of Bell's Two Hearted Ale, a craft brew out of Michigan, from my brother and sister-in law. And, my Mom (an extraordinary quilter) hunted down some fabric with NASCAR print and made me this one-of-a-kind cooking apron (which is reversible and has numbers on the pockets for the great Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart on the side pictured, as well as Carl Edwards and Kasey Kahne on the other). Nice! What NASCAR fan wouldn't fantasize about this combination of gifts? :)

But that is not all; Mom also made me a quilt with a collage of wildlife prints. Honest to goodness, I wasn't expecting to receive such a precious, handmade gift. What an honor! As Ralphie from "A Christmas Story" said of his Daisy Red Ryder BB gun, "One of the greatest Christmas presents I ever received, or ever would receive." It is absolutely gorgeous, and it now serves as the blanket for my bed. Thanks, Mom!

My beautiful quilt

OK, now I need to talk about the weather. Over the past weekend, the North Shore was supposed to experience a big snowstorm, with the worst of it hitting the easternmost tip of the Arrowhead. Dad is a volunteer snow spotter for the National Weather Circus (as I call it), so he regularly reports snow totals to the office in Duluth.

The area where my parents live was predicted to get upwards of 14 inches of snow by Sunday. Sunday morning, the freezing rain started, and shortly thereafter it changed over to all snow. While there was a brief burst of snow, it never seemed to really get going. They ended up with barely 2 inches. It turns out the storm track went a LOT further west, so Duluth absolutely got clobbered.

Later on Sunday, the phone rings. It was a guy from the National Weather Circus calling Dad to find out what is going on up in our area! Of course, I found this hilarious. The guys with the high-powered "Super Doppler" radar and all the scientific equipment can't figure out what is happening, so they have to call my Dad! Unreal. I think Dad knows more than they do anyhow, so this was probably a good thing.

But there is more; Tuesday night we watched the local weather on the news and all signed pointed to a relatively decent travel day for me on Wednesday, with Northern Wisconsin being the only area under the gun for a chance of snow. Wednesday morning, I awaken to a northeast wind and the dreaded "lake effect" snow, which gave me the wonderful treats of snow-packed roads, occasional white-out conditions, as well as an unbelievably slippery stretch on the outskirts of Duluth (the exact same area where I experienced difficult driving at Thanksgiving). A positively miserable drive, with over 200 miles of it being driven at well below the speed limits. It took me forever to get home, but thankfully I arrived in one piece.

My folks actually got more snow out of this unpredicted lake effect snow than they did from the "big storm" that was predicted for the weekend. It goes to show that you can't believe anything you hear about the weather in Minnesota. It is just so unpredictable.

And despite any grumblings I might have about my drive home, there is nowhere I would rather live. This state is awesome! :)

So that is my Christmas weekend. Great food, family, and a whole lot of fun; how could it not be the best ever?

Until next time,

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