Thursday, January 20, 2011

January Grouse

After something of a hiatus, our fearless leader Marty Duane Scott has resurrected and reinvigorated Pleasantly Disturbed Thursdays, those blog posts with no particular purpose or point unless you want to have one.

I have a bunch. Well, at least two.

January has been something of a grouse month around the homestead. Winter has gotten very old, with more snow – and lots of it – coming down as I’m writing this at 11:05 on Wednesday night; even more is due tomorrow. With a temperature plunge to below 10. Shoveling the driveway is always more fun when the temperature pushes down toward zero with a nice stiff wind to punch the point home that it’s cold.

I was born and raised in New Orleans. I remember once (once!) when the temperature went below 32 and the water pipes in the attic burst. I also remember when it snowed – I was seven and the half-inch snowfall paralyzed the city.

OK, so winter will pass, eventually. Then we have the YMCA.

I’ve been a member of our local Y since 1998. We’ve had something of a ritual for years – hit the Y in the evening on Sundays for our workouts. It worked fine -- we could do things (or nap) in the afternoon and then head to the Y.

They changed the Sunday hours, wrecking the ritual. And they did it precisely when attendance explodes – in January when the New Year’s resolutions crowd shows up (they always arrive by the beginning of the second week of January and are gone sometime in early March – you can set your watch by the immigration and emigration). So the hours are shortened, our entire Sunday afternoon now has to be managed to accommodate the Y, and the crowds are awful.

We complained. Loudly. We pointed out that the place is deserted on Friday nights and that would be the perfect time to shorten hours. We filled out complaint cards. We made remarks to the staff. My wife has now had phone calls from three staff managers, all commiserating but none promising any change. So we’re starting to look at alternatives.

Grouse. Grouse. Grouse. I feel like I’m learning how to be an irritated (irritating), crotchety old man.

The snow and the cold has meant one good thing – lots of reading this month. I just finished Monsieur Monde Vanishes by Georges Simenon. It is not an Inspector Maigret mystery novel; it is something more akin to Albert Camus’ The Stranger or something Jean Paul Sartre would have written (and the novel is roughly contemporary with them). It is very – French, early 1950s French, when plot tended to be overlooked or considered unimportant in books and movies.

Simenon was born in Belgium in 1903. He became famous as a hack writer who had an affair with Josephine Baker, invented Inspector Maigret and became famous all over Europe and the world, stayed in Paris during the German occupation, was said to have been a collaborator (he wasn’t but left Paris after the war and lived in the United States), moved back to France, and by the time he died in 1989 had written more than 400 books. I suppose he didn’t need much plot in his books; he had plenty in his real life.

Next up on the reading list: One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and The Wolf of Tebron by C.S. Lakin. I’ve read an advance copy of Lakin’s The Map Across Time, the second novel in her Gates of Heaven series. It’s due to be published in March. I don’t read fairy tales or fantasy, but these novels of Lakin’s are something else again. I was mesmerized by The Map Across Time, so much so that I bought the first book in the series to read.

One additional benefit to reading: it keeps the grousing from getting out of hand.

To read more Pleasantly Disturbed Thursday posts, please visit Marty Duane Scott’s site, Scribing the Journey.


Sheila Siler said...

We've had more snow (earlier than usual) here than we are used to. Actually had snow on Christmas Day - first time in 40 years (North Carolina). Most of our snow usually comes in January and February - so I know we're not done. But I can't complain, especially when I hear what the Northeast is getting. At least you are reading - just keep the stack high, and the coffee hot.

Corbie said...

I am also tired of winter, it doesn't last long yet it seems to last forever! Winter seems to bring out the "grouch" in everyone. I had a customer yesterday that no matter what I did, she huffed and puffed in frustration. It was really the fact that we were doing everything correctly at the register, she just kept putting in the wrong pin number. As for the Y, that is awful to hear. From a management standpoint, it would make sense to cut from times that are lagging. I wish you luck in either staying with the YMCA or finding another alternative. I'll look into the author you mentioned as I do like a good fantasy book from time to time. Reading is one of the best things to do during the winter. Take care. ~Corbie Sinclair

Louise Gallagher said...

See-- even in your 'grousing' you're entertaining!

And yup -- winter will pass... just not soon enough to keep me from disliking it.

David Rupert said...

"Idle hands"....

Keep hitting the books!My copy of 1,000 Gifts shoudl be here tomorrow and will start this weekend.

Helen said...

I was born and raised in Chicago, and I don't like the snow either. It reminds me too much of when mom was healthy enough to go out, but had to stay in because she couldn't maneuver the ice and snow. She could have enjoyed being out with people more when she was capable if not for the snow.
Now that she is gone, I can't help but feel for other elderly people who are hindered by snow.

Cassandra Frear said...


Ah, I say, GO FOR IT !!

Feel better? Bet you do!

Anonymous said...

pleasantly disturbing...and disturbingly pleasant.

Anonymous said...

I know all about the snow. We just got dumped on last night and I was very stuck! Like you said, it'll pass. I'd just like to be on a cruise until it does. :) Thanks Glynn.

Wendy said...

Clearly the Y is out to get you. Clearly.

If you'd like to take some of that snow of yours and ship it up here, I'd be happy to take it from you. I'm a giver. Uh. Okay, maybe in this case I'm a taker. Whatever.

Duane Scott said...

Oh my.

I loved how optimistic you were about the whole "shoveling snow" thing. It seems like if you carried that same attitude to the Y, they'd probably listen to you.

Carry on, grouchy man. :)

S. Etole said...

All of the "grouse" here like to roost high in the trees this time of year ... makes no sense to me. Just another disturbing observance.

This is what our weather report is saying:

Partly cloudy. A 20 percent chance of light snow after midnight. Lows 30 to 35 below. Light winds.

H. Gillham said...

Grouse -- great word for the mood.

There's lot of winter left, my friend.

Shovel on. :)