How To Survive Washington Winter


I grew up in Washington state and, with the exception of the 10 years we spent trying to live in as many different cities as we possibly could in a decade, I have always called Washington home. There are many things I love about Washington, but winter is not one of them.

You see, for a small sliver of the year we get to experience a magical time called Washington Summer. Fleeting as it may be, Washington Summer is a bit surreal–the weather is divine (Unlike some places where the summer heat is so unbearable that you actually have to retreat indoors!) and the people are the happiest gosh-darn people who you’ve ever laid eyes on. And why, you might ask, is everyone so happy during Washington Summer? I’ve thought a lot about this, and I’ve decided that the only reasonable explanation is Survivor Syndrome: Summer Washingtonians are happy for the simple fact that they’ve already survived Washington Winter.

Washington Winter is one of the most depressing seasons imaginable. The nights are long and dark, and the days are short…and also dark. And when I say season, I mean half of the year. Between the months of October and May most days in Washington go a bit like this: wake up in the dark, trod through a dark gray day, welcome the return of the dark sometime between finishing lunch and thinking about making dinner. It’s also cold, but not cold enough to make snow which would actually be exciting. Yes, this is the time of year when I long to be anywhere but smack-dab in the middle of Washington Winter.

However, long as dark as Washington Winter may be, there is hope! Here are a few ways that I have found to help cope–and maybe even enjoy–Washington Winter.

Enjoy sleeping in
Since the sun doesn’t come up until after breakfast during Washington Winter, your internal clock will be all out of whack. If you’re lucky, your kids will be so confused about how late it is that they will actually sleep in, too. So enjoy the sleep-ins while you can–it may even make up for the fact that your kids woke you up at 5:30 every morning during Washington summer.

Buy a light with the same name as your mood
On the 4th day God created the Sun…and on the first day of Washington Winter, man created SAD lights. You see, there is this thing that depressed people in Washington get in the winter called SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder)–even the names of diseases caused by Washington Winter reflect the mood of everyone living through it. But no worries–if you have SAD you can hop over to your local Costco or Amazon Prime and, for around $40, you can buy a SAD light to set up your own mini-sun in your bedroom. After all, nothing says nirvana like staring into a desktop lightbulb!

Play flashlight tag…
…on your walk home from the school bus stop! When the sun sets before your kids amble off the big yellow bus, there is ample time for night games, even in the middle of the day! Other fun Washington Winter middle-of-the day-dark activities you might consider: snipe hunting, star gazing, glow stick waving, capture the flag, sleeping without an eye mask.

Catch up on everything you neglected all summer
During Washington Summer everyone basically lives outside and, even if you still have a 9-5, you’re living like you’re on summer vacation. Beside being exciting and exhausting, Washington Summer leaves plenty to catch up on during Washington Winter. Now is the time to clean your house, fold your laundry, organize those closets. And, once you’re done with all of that (since you’re stuck inside approximately 28 hours a day during Washington Winter) you’ll still have time to perfect a skill or take up a new hobby. Needlepoint, anyone?

Answer your toddler’s questions truthfully
When she asks you at 11AM if it’s time for bed, say yes.

Get outta here
Plan a vacation to somewhere not-Washington during Washington Winter. It doesn’t even really matter where you go, as long as it has daylight and *bonus points* some hope of warmth. Even Iceland with all of their hot springs and volcanoes would be an improvement in the warmth department. Seriously, though. If it is at all possible, just leave.

Sometimes you just have to get stuff out in the open so you can move past it. Don’t hide behind your hatred of Washington Winter–just get it out there! Rant to your friends about how much you miss your flip-flops and how you don’t even remember what skin pigmentation looks like any more. Complain about how your favorite shoes haven’t dried out since October and you’re pretty sure that new color is coming from the fungus that’s started to grow on them. And who knows–maybe after a good ranting you’ll even find camaraderie with another Washington-winter-weary friend who can’t remember where they put their sunglasses either.

Embrace it
If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Sometimes you just have to leave your hopes and dreams at the door and surrender to reality. Washington Winter is here, and it’s not leaving any time soon. So zip up your big girl parka and enjoy it for what it is!

After all, Washington Summer is coming…




Wasp Apocalypse


For the last several weeks we have been experiencing what I can only describe as the Wasp Apocalypse. It seems like every square inch of Ireland is covered in wasps–and they just won’t go away. It’s gotten to the point where I won’t even go into my own back yard without toting along my trusty fly swatter (or, if I’m feeling particularly feisty, a baseball bat). I open my kitchen window to let in some fresh air and, within minutes, the room is full of buzzing, flying, crawling, stinging wasps. And it’s the stinging part that really gets me.

I have, shall we say, an aversion to bees. When I was a little girl I accidentally jumped on top of an active beehive, and I paid the price. Ever since that incident I’ve been pretty wary of bees and their stingers.

I hadn’t actually been stung in over a decade until I entered the Irish Wasp Apocalypse. A couple of weeks ago we were walking through the Medieval Festival and, out of nowhere, a wasp stung me IN THE ARMPIT. That’s a sensitive area! I held it together pretty well, though, and I did survive (I’m still pretty ticked off that I wasp would just come up and sting me when I was minding my own business, thankyouverymuch).

But even getting my own sting didn’t set me off on a rampage. No, that happened when they attacked my offspring. My poor, sweet little boy–how dare they. We were playing an afternoon game of “wack-a-wasp” in our kitchen (David’s actually quite good at it), and he’d just downed his most recent target. David was so proud of his successful attack. He brought me over to show me the wasp that fell at his fly swatting skills. He went to pick up the wasp carcass for proper disposal. The wasp wasn’t completely gone yet. It stung him.

You should have seen the look of shock and confusion and pain on his tiny face. And then the screams came. And came. And came. Poor little thing had never felt a sting before, and he didn’t like it. Not one bit.

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After some quick first aid, an M&M, and a Pac Man band-aid he was on the road to recovery again. But I was angry. These wasps had not only infested our yard, our house and our lives, but now they were hurting our family. Enough is enough.

Thus launched my career as a wasp murderer. I tried to jimmy-rig my own diy wasp trap from an empty milk carton, but the dog drank all of the soapy sugar water that was supposed to attract, then kill, the little buggers. I tried setting out bowls of enticing foods to lure the wasps to a central location, but they must have sensed I was on to them and they flew right by.

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So, I’m back to the fly swatter. I keep it in my back pocket now. And to any wasp who dares come near me or mine: beware.

I’m after YOU.