Spwinter*

The first week of spring has come and gone. As have the last days of winter. I think. We hit 70 early on; it snowed Friday night. I was driving in it. Nothing major here, not like my friends out east, who’ve had more than enough of snow, just flurries. I was driving an unfamiliar car, though. My Friday evening wine tasting got a bit more interesting than it usually does. One of the regulars had a friend, who she sees only occasionally, pop in. We enjoyed the rest of the evening at the wine tasting – there was an amazing roasted cauliflower dish the chef had made; I have the recipe† – then while our mutual friend finished her shopping and went home, we went out to dinner. She was already a bit unsteady. How, I don’t know, unless she slammed four glasses when I wasn’t looking. Maybe she came in that way. The restaurant was just across the parking lot; Flipdaddy’s, which has burgers and craft beer. That made me a little sad since I don’t drink beer anymore. Something about the aftertaste. There was a lovely Sam Adams cream stout I tried a couple weeks ago, though. We had a Sam Adams‡ rep at our wine tasting, in observance of that great Irish holiday, St. Patrick’s Day◊. Our stand was poorly attended that week and the next, which I guessed might have to do with spring break, but the regulars still showed up. I’d like to say I’m the Norm of the group, but I’m not; I’m probably more like Cliff Claven, but less annoying. And more often correct.

Eden Bloom_0351a
Spring 2014; hopefully these’ll be available in the next week or so.

Less than 200 words to derail! I’m a little impressed.

We went across the parking lot to Flipdaddy’s and had some food. I had a lovely burger with fried onion straws and boursin cheese, and she had a salad with ranch, which she shared with the bar. Not the people, the physical bar. Most of it got into her mouth, though. We also had some traditional hot wings. They were hot, but tolerable. I doubt I could eat more than three without something in between, but they actually had flavor, not just heat. It was nice. There was a man next to her who kept hitting on her, and she kept pestering him to buy us a drink. I had my Long Island and I was content. I’d be drinking water the rest of the night. I’d asked the bartender, and she’d said they were good. I took a chance and ordered. Well-mixed drink. Those are very easy to screw up. I’m not sure what she ordered, a beer I think. we’d reached critical mass – she was done for the evening. She did at least finish off with water, and didn’t order another drink. Not that the bartender would have served her. We had occasion to chat. Anyway, she was also aware enough to realize she was going to need help getting home. Apparently, she was a bit of a regular, and had someone who usually took her home. He wasn’t available, had to close, so we were looking at calling her a cab. Because of where she lives, that wasn’t really feasible. So, the bartender who made that fabulous Long Island volunteered to take her home, and I drove her Jeep. That was entertaining. The first thing I had to do was figure out how to get the clutch off the floor. Fortunately, one of the other bartenders used to have one and knew what to do. The headlights were on high-beam, and I couldn’t figure out how to turn them back to regular. Whatever, we were moving.

It’s been nearly 20 years since I’ve owned an automatic transmission, thankfully, so I was able to adjust pretty quickly to driving this thing, but I was also grateful that the Kings Chrysler Dodge Jeep dealership was so obnoxiously rude and disrespectful to me when I was last car shopping. I was ignored for a good ten minutes while the salesmen stood clustered near the dealership, then they sent me some kid who’d been working there for maybe a couple days. I was more than a little irate. If they had treated me better, though, I’d likely have bought a Wrangler, and while I’d have been very familiar with the workings of said vehicle, I’d probably have regretted that purchase in a matter of a couple years. Of course, being in Colorado, it would have been pretty easy to sell and replace, but I’ve no idea what would have happened if I’d done that just before I got laid off. I still have the car I bought at a dealership that no longer exists, and that saddens me. They had a reputation for respect. I didn’t get that slimy used-car-salesman vibe there. Pity.

Frosty Day 048a
Rime frost, Colorado. This was gone by noon. It knew when it wasn’t wanted…

It sort of felt like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, although I did have a little more control. I was driving, so I should hope so. It had been snowing on and off all day, or at least since the middle of the day. Again, just flurries, and a bit of accumulation on my own car when I got back to it, but snow just the same. The bartender drove me back to the restaurant so I could drive myself home. I woke up Saturday morning extremely sore through the shoulders, to the point where the pain made me hyperventilate if I laid down a particular way. I have a fairly high tolerance for pain, so it was pretty severe. I still haven’t figured out what happened, other than another long, stressful week finally coming to an end. I tend to carry my stress in my shoulders, as many people do.

It wasn’t all bad, last week. Thursday morning I had a (verbal) communication seminar I attended. I thought it would be useful, so, even though it’s hard to find an hour to do something I want to do (Toastmasters), I signed up. It turned out to be a great idea. I hope, anyway. Aside from the class itself, which I thought was helpful, I had the director of one of the departments I’ve been trying to get into at my table. She’s out of the office next week, but we’re having lunch the week of the 13th. I’m both nervous and excited. Thursday ended on a high note. For me, anyway.

Literally; my choir rehearsal is on Thursdays, and I’m a soprano♥.

Ault Saturday 049a1
Early spring blooms, surviving a late frost in April 2013

These major weather shifts bring something to mind. Now, lots of people like to say that if you don’t like the weather here, wait a few minutes and it’ll change. As it happens, one group did some research about that. It turns out that as cities in general go, the Midwest♠ has the most unpredictable weather, particularly,  unsurprisingly, the Great Plains. It’s not a matter of who has the most violent weather, or the fiercest snowstorms or hottest summers, either. Phoenix has hot summers, but they’re consistently hot. Buffalo has heavy snow, but it’s consistently heavy. I would mention consistent tornadoes, but those are capricious; they can be a bit unpredictable. Fits well within the rankings.

The long and the short of it is among the 50 most-populated metro areas in the US, Cincinnati ranks 4th for unpredictability. Higher than Denver, which didn’t even crack the top 10. Overall, it’s also higher than Colorado Springs, so there. As I’ve mentioned, I lived both places; as weird as the weather in CS can get, it is worse here. Sure, not by much, but that’s beside the point. Spring is here, the weather is volatile, there’s more sun and more warmth, the plants in the soil are waking up, and so am I. It’s been a long week; I went dark for a while, there, at least a week without Facebook or Twitter. I just didn’t want anything to do with it. I suppose that could’ve been obvious in the last few posts I’ve made.

Still, it’s spring. Time to wake up, time to start over.

There was someone for whom Thursday didn’t end well at all. Fire Apparatus Operator Daryl Gordon died in the line of duty on Thursday, saving lives. He fell down an elevator shaft and didn’t recover. The fire was in an apartment building a couple miles from here. By 5:45, when I was up, I heard the sirens. I’m two blocks from my neighborhood firestation, and I daresay theirs were the sirens that woke me. The wind was blowing from the wrong direction, so I didn’t smell anything. Four-alarm fire in the end. And one firefighter fallen. I have friends who are first-responders, whose lives are on the line every time they go to work. Whenever something like this happens, I can’t help but think of them, and hope and pray they get to retire.

CFD Daryl Gordon lineofduty attr

_________________________

*Not to be confused with S’winter. Or wummer, if you’d prefer.

†When I say “recipe,” I mean an ingredient list and temperature to put the oven. She asked if I wanted measurements, but I said no. She agreed – recipes are only guidelines. Except when yeast is involved, then you really have to pay attention.

‡Sam Adams beer might have been born in Boston, but one of the founders was born in Cincinnati. He’s opened a brewery or two here, and bought Hudepohl back in ’97; probably helped save it. His father had apprenticed for them. It’s Cincinnati-owned again.

◊What we celebrate here in the US is about as Irish as something that’s really not at all Irish and a bit offensive. Drink up!

♥Like I could have passed that one up!

♠The broadest possible definition of Midwest, encompassing the area between Pennsylvania and Utah, Oklahoma and Canada. It overs three timezones. Probably needs a better designation.

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