Strange What We Take Pride In

Snow - Syracuse, New York - Jan. 2014By Judy Berman

Snow is often the backdrop for terror or for light-hearted comedy in the movies. But, in real life, it can be a constant grueling battle with the elements.

Digging out and piling it on. Among five Central New York cities, my former home of Syracuse is now the setting for the dubious honor of winning the Golden Snowball Award.

My former neighbors are having a tough winter. Their claim to fame, as of Feb. 18th, is 100 inches of snow.

Snow - Mark Bialczak

I recall a record year when we had nearly twice that at 192.1 inches in 1992-93. That’s when I had a round-trip commute to work of 110 miles a day. It’s the year when Syracuse was the “Snow King in the Blizzard of 1993.” It beat out 1966’s record snowfall for one storm with 42.9 inches – just six-tenths of an inch more than 1966.

All the city did for that distinction was just sit quietly and get dumped on over one weekend in March. When all was unsaid and done, we were buried under 3-feet of snow – on top of what we already had.

The Syracuse Post-Standard boasted in its 1993 editorial page: “You have to pity the denizens of boring Southern California, or arid Arizona, or dusty Nevada, where the forecast is always the same: sunny, dry and mild. They’ll never experience the thrill of being caught in the grip of a rock-‘em, sock-‘em, knock and block’em snow storm like we had – unless they come here, to Central New York.”

I mean – you can’t buy an attitude like that.

Here are the bragging rights that no one talks about:

1)      the longest number of uninterrupted days of no sunshine

2)      the bitterest battle for the last bottle of antifreeze

3)      the tallest snow mound – piled high in our driveway.

This does get deeper. Hang on.

4)      The world’s longest and loudest recorded wail held by my husband, Dave, when he realized that he’d have to remove the white stuff.

5)      Dave also tied the record for holding his breath and turning blue during the same dramatic meltdown scene.

Fortunately, Dave got a last-minute reprieve when a couple of independent snowplow boys cruised into our neighborhood. They plowed us out after they coaxed $20 out of Dave’s wallet.

Then, six of our neighbors ran up crying and waving money at them. Before the snowplow boys left our block, they were very rich and planning to flee to Florida.

Snowman - Diane H. McDowell Gray and Donna Cox Austin

Other areas measure their success by their year-round attractions. We measured ours with something that doesn’t stick around – thank heavens!

Here’s wishing my former neighbors have an early spring and that Mother Nature takes it easy on them for the rest of this winter.

Snow - cardinals in tree - provided by Roland Allen

So, what are we in Florida bragging about? The Sunshine State leads the world in shark attacks in 2013. Fortunately, no one was fatally injured.

Florida’s lightning strikes, however, are a greater hazard. It is the lightning capital of the U.S.  Four people died in Florida in 2013 as a result of lightning strikes.

What are the strange bragging rights where you live?

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-14. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A movie to avoid if you’re snowed in – “The Shining” (1980) with Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, the movie is based on Stephen King’s horror novel.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Cb3ik6zP2I 

A movie to cheer you no matter how much snow piles up – “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” (1987) with Steve Martin and John Candy. Directed by John Hughes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKtFIgmoqoI  

Best Snow Movies List – http://www.buzzsugar.com/Best-Snow-Movies-13219938

Main Photo – Snow – Syracuse – provided by Danielle and Keith Wallace

Photo – Snow piled in a Syracuse driveway – Mark Bialczak – http://markbialczak.com/2014/02/09/more-signs-of-syracuses-significant-snow/

Photo – Snowman hitchhiking to Florida  – a reader (see comments below) says that a family friend, John Santiago, made the snowman in Andover, N.H. on Beach Hill Road. (It was provided by Diane H. McDowell Gray.)

Photo: Snow – cardinals in tree – provided by Roland Allen

“Blizzard of ’93: Why Was it the Storm of the Century? Accuweather  http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/blizzard-of-93-the-storm-of-th/62671

Detours On a Holiday Journey

Steve Martin and John Candy in the odd-couple road trip buddy movie, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.”

By Judy Berman

Crowds jamming the airports and train stations to get home for the holidays. For a real traveler’s nightmare, throw in some snowstorms, flight delays, sleeping on your luggage at the airport, and stress about catching a connecting flight or train.

One year, on our way to see my folks in Vegas, the snow began flying fast and furious. Our flight from New York had an unscheduled layover in Chicago. It looked like we’d be spending an overnight with our two small children at O’Hare International Airport.

Snow plows trying to clear an airport's runways.

Snow plows trying to clear an airport’s runways

Tantalizing thoughts of turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie vanished as I considered we might be dining on airport terminal – note the word “terminal” – food. Tasteless burgers, greasy pizza, stale pretzels and watered-down sodas.

Still, our experience pales next to Steve Martin’s plight (as Neal Page) as he tries desperately to find a way home for Thanksgiving in John Hughes’ 1987 movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Neal’s plans are doomed from the start. Missed cabs, a canceled flight and a stranger he just can’t seem to shake: John Candy (as Del Griffith).

Neal, an uptight ad rep, wants to be left alone. Del, a jocular shower curtain salesman, comes off as an annoying blabbermouth. This odd couple’s road trip begins when a storm forces their plane to be rerouted to Wichita, Kansas. They are forced to hunker down in a fly-by-night hotel and are robbed as they sleep.

A few more hitches and Neal decides they should go their separate ways. He  heads to a car-rental parking lot. But his car is not there and he has a meltdown.

After a 3-mile walk back to the terminal, Neal is seething, and rips into the Marathon Car Rental Agent (played by Edie McClurg). His one-minute, profanity-laced tirade and McClurg’s response are hysterical (and earned the movie its “R” rating).

Who comes to Neal’s rescue as he is about to hail a cab? Del.

On the road again, Del gets into the music while Neal sleeps. At one point, his car spins out of control. They wind up driving the wrong way on a highway and into the path of two semis. Miraculously, they escape unscathed … until they set down on their luggage in the road and realize that their car just burst into flames.

It’s not the end of the mishaps or of the hilarity. When they part, Neal begins to laugh about their adventures. He realizes Del is the “real article,” and recognizes a deeper truth.

When Neal does get home for Thanksgiving, he’s not alone when he walks in the door.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-14. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Main Photo – Planes, Trains and Automobiles starring Steve Martin and John Candy

Movie Clip – “You’re Going the Wrong Way” scene in Planes, Trains and Automobiles, with Steve Martin and John Candy.   

Photo: Travel – airport – snow removal – Heavy Oshkosh trucks are removing tons of snow from the airfield runways, taxiways and parking ramps after a snow storm dumped 12 to 18 inches of snow in the area. At Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.. Taken Feb. 12, 2010 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/dd/Oshkosh_snow_removal_vehicle.JPG/640px-Oshkosh_snow_removal_vehicle.JPG

Love Is All Around

By Judy Berman

A wedding ring. There is no beginning. There is no end. Just like the song, “Love Is All Around.”

Well, before the ring, there was a beginning. Just what is it that draws people together?

“It was a million, tiny little things that, when you add them all up, it just meant that we were supposed to be together.” In the movie, “Sleepless in Seattle,” that’s the explanation Sam Baldwin (played by Tom Hanks), a widower, gave about how he knew he loved his wife.

“I was just taking her hand, to help her out of a car, and I knew it. It was like magic,” Baldwin (Hanks) said.

Love is in the air during the dating stage. But the real test is whether that spell will last after the knot is tied.

Before Dave and I married, I used to kid him about his limited skills in the kitchen. He could sure microwave a mean pizza. Now, he helps me make meals that might be the envy of the Food Network gurus. (Jamie Oliver, Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse – move on over.)

I love the tenderness and caring he gives to our cats – brushing them each morning before their breakfast. It’s also a joy to see him play ball with our grandkids, and how he laughs as he reads to them – changing his voice with each character and really getting into the stories.

I love the tender moments when we’re out for our nightly stroll. I love how he cheered me on when I went back to college, even though it meant he’d be the only breadwinner for about a year.

I’d like to think that he’d feel as strongly about me as Steve Martin did about his true love (his real-life wife at the time, Victoria Tennant) in “L.A. Story.”

Victoria asked Steve, who played a weather forecaster in the movie, what would he do if she were to leave L.A. and return to England.

“All I know is … if I had the power, I would turn the winds around. I would roll in the fog. I would bring in storms. I would change the polarity of the Earth so compasses couldn’t work, so your plane couldn’t take off.”

A powerful and romantic moment to be sure. But that was Hollywood.

All I have to say is, “Dave. I’m so glad you took the plunge with me into the deep end of the matrimonial pool 28 years ago.”

As they say in the song, “You know I love you. I always will. There’s no beginning, There’ll be no end.”

Happy Anniversary.

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COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-14. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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* Main Photo: Love – heart – There is a lot to love about astronomy, and … photographer Julien Girard offers a “heartfelt” example in this image. A bright pink symbol of love appears to float ethereally against the backdrop of the night sky over ESO’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile. Girard drew the heart in the air by shining a tiny flashlight keychain at the camera during a 25-second exposure with a tripod. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/53/Heart_of_the_Milky_Way_-_Valentine%27s_Day.jpg/640px-Heart_of_the_Milky_Way_-_Valentine%27s_Day.jpg

* Photo: our wedding rings

* LA story – fog scene (Steve Martin and Victoria Tennant) – video clip

When Harry Met Sally – (Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan) – video clip

Love is all around, by The Troggs (1967) (music video)