Sunday, December 23, 2007

Snow Day

I was planning to travel today, but there was snow and wind, and it was worse where I was headed, so I put it off til tomorrow. But I dug out the driveway, including the huge pile left by the city plow, and now my back's tight in that ucky snow-digging way.

On the news during winter, they always talk about snow shoveling heart attacks. Do people really get heart attacks shoveling, or is that just a snowcountry myth? The snowplow leavings are really heavy and slow to shovel, and it was cold. Brrr!

I turned in grades yesterday, and the consulate isn't open to call and find out about my visa, so what to do?

During the semester, sometimes friends recommend books. So I read one of those, Catherine Friend's Hit by a Farm: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Barn. It was a good end of the semester book with some laugh out loud bits. It's an autobiographical account of Friend and her partner, Melissa, buying a farm and starting to farm in Minnesota. But not Lake Wobegon. The two raise sheep, chickens, some grapes, and an assortment of other animals, including a couple guard llamas.

I was reminded, reading of the llamas, of one of the farms I ride by on my bike during the summer where I see llamas in pastures.

But there's something missing in the book, a sense of bigger things, perhaps? Friend touches on raising organic broilers and such, but doesn't get very deeply into questions of economics or such. It's like she's not that into the farm (which becomes pretty clear through the whole text), but finds it a good pretext for writing (which is also clear).

So, it's a good read for an evening, especially if you live in the midwest. I'd guess it's less interesting if you actually know anything about farms, but if your knowledge of farms comes from riding a bike along midwestern country roads, then this is a pretty amusing read.

Now I'm starting to read The Golden Compass. So far, the prose is a little clunky, but I'm getting into it.


  1. I read that book last summer (Hit by a Farm, that is)--definitely a nice midwestern read (although I ended up not liking the narrator very much as the book went on, which was a disappointment).

    I love snow days--such a gift of time. Enjoy (and safe travels when the weather clears).

  2. Yep, people do have heart attacks from shoveling snow. It raises the blood pressure, so if a person is already hypertensive and if that person usually doesn't exercise, the strain of shoveling snow can be dangerous. It is one of the most intensive forms of "everyday work" exercises out there. Serious opportunities for calorie-burning with snow shoveling.

    I can see how the start of The Golden Compass could feel clunky - a lot of the early part of the first book is setting up the story. But, you've gotta love the how it mirrors The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, especially considering how Pullman feels about Lewis (if you don't already know, he doesn't like Lewis at all and has many of the same complaints about The Last Battle as many feminist scholars do).

  3. Also, the cold causes vessels to constrict - which worsens angina into a heart attack a lot of the time. Netter, the famous medical illustrator, has a picture of "Heart Attack" and it is in the snow. See here:

    I tried the Golden Compass a while back and just could not get into it at all. Let us know if it is worth trying again.

    Of course, I never liked the Narnia ones as a kid either...