Cabin fever and experiments | Mark’s Remarks - Republic-Times | News

Cabin fever and experiments | Mark’s Remarks

By on January 22, 2014 at 9:21 am

marksIt’s rather amazing what happens when you are forced to just stay home. Inside. For several hours. Days.

I think first you feel a great surge of energy. You are excited to have extra time. So, you think of monumental tasks to take care of and forge ahead with gusto.

I set about making preparations for the storm, which I found out later even had a name: Ion. That was funny in itself.

My second grade teacher read “The Long Winter” to us and all the boys protested that it was a girly book. I remember joining in the protest, but I also remember that a couple of guys, secure in their second grade manliness, proclaimed it a good book. I also remember all of us mesmerized by the content of the book. There was a scene in which the parents were away, and the pioneer girls, thinking a freak winter storm would set in, carried the entire woodpile into the house.

Now that I think about it, that may be the wrong title of the book. I know it’s a Laura Ingalls Wilder book, and I know that after that, boys began thinking they were cool books to read, too.

Anyway, as usual, I digress.  In preparation for the storm, I set about carrying in a large amount of firewood to stoke up the fireplaces, just like Mary and Laura (manly, huh?).  It’s at times like these I am thankful for my upstairs and downstairs fireplaces. By the time I was finished, I’d carried in a large amount and it looked a little funny. I was prepared.

Church was canceled for our first official snow day. My guilty pleasure, Sunday Morning (the TV show) was preempted by the newscast covering the weather.  An opportunity to miss church without guilt and I don’t even get my guilty pleasure.

We got all of our Christmas decorations down on that first snow day, even though it’s not good to work on Sundays. We swept up the needles that artificial trees still drop. We stacked the tubs of holiday cheer out in the garage, ready to be hoisted into the garage attic on a brighter, warmer day. The house looked pretty nice; a little sad after all the holiday hoo-hah, but nonetheless clean and tidy.

Now that we had a fairly clean house and our heat sources were running nicely, there was a certain amount of sitting around to do. It seems I must sit and ponder for a while. What will I do?

Our school cancelation notice came through during the late afternoon, and I decided it might be a good idea to nap. After that, and after we had decided what we would eat for the rest of the day, Michelle and I watched a great movie we had DVRed. Christmas vacation expanded.

I thought I’d just zip right on out of my garage earlier that evening, plowing right through the snow drifts as if my car were a semi-truck. My car spent the night on the driveway and I had to dig it out Monday morning.

My boys had been earning a little money at the neighbor’s driveway the day before, and although they had already told me they would help me shovel our own driveway, I decided to splurge and pay a friend from church to grade off our driveway.

Guilt really did set in when I looked out and saw the friend with his snow removal equipment. He also had a couple of buddies to help, including his father. The whole lot of them were shoveling and sweeping my driveway clean. They even ventured up the sidewalk.

I’ll admit, I was too embarrassed to answer the door and I made Michelle hand them the check. Next time, subzero temperatures or not, my kids and I will be out there shoveling our hearts out.

I mean, gee whiz, I had pictured our church friend just driving up in his big truck with a scoop on the front, plowing off our driveway in a few swipes, and happily driving off into the sunset with a check.

I stand at the door now and look at the beautiful job they did. I feel like a lazy, fat slob.  But I smile.

You guessed it, I decided to venture out. I was amazed at how the roads looked. I suppose you could compare it to the luge event at the winter Olympics.  I took it fairly slow. I don’t believe any grocery store in town had bread.  Milk was hard to come by too, as were a few other items.

I felt it a personal victory that I came out of there with eggs, a package of hoagie rolls and hotdog buns, and some donuts. There were stores that were simply closed.  They were not open.  One sign said “No heat. Closed.” It was interesting to drive around, going about 20 miles per hour.  No one was out.  Things were shut down.

So with the house warm and pantry stocked, the driveway cleared and the mail brought in, I thought I may as well start thinking about working on something.

Since I was finished with my schoolwork before Christmas vacation, there was little to do there.

Why not think of ideas for this column? Okay. I usually surf the internet for awhile or check my “ideas for columns” list before trying to knock a few out. As I perused the internet, there was a great YouTube video I saw in which a man built a small heater out of two flowerpots, some tea lights and a bread pan. I was fascinated as I watched. He talked about the idea and showed his little office. He assured viewers that the little flowerpot heater worked nicely and made his small office cozy.

I thought about trudging down to the basement where my little office alcove is. It’s not always comfortable down there. I often cover my lap when I’m typing. You guessed it. I opened the window leading out to the deck and retrieved a few flower pots that were tucked in a corner and covered up.

I took all the materials down to the “office” area and lit the tea lights. As I write this, the little heater is letting off a reasonable amount of heat. However, I still wouldn’t mind having my lap blanket.

It’s amazing what one will do for entertainment on a snow day.


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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a “slice of life” style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.