[ThisDay] Caught In A Snowstorm!

It is a beautiful, snowy day as I write this. Large, puffy snowflakes drift quietly to the ground, piling higher and higher—much to the Campbell children’s delight! Apparently this time of year is a snowy time of year! Two separate posts on January 23rds over the past decade have been about notable amounts of snow. Below is the story some unexpected fun while attempting a walk to the library on one of these snowy occasions. (If you’d prefer a topic on “going to church”, see the links at the bottom!) Enjoy!


Caught In A Snowstorm!

January 23rd, 2008

Last night I took our four kids up to the library to return some books, and to pick up a few new ones. The library is only half-way around the block, so we bundled up for a nice winter walk. It was even lightly snowing, so it was more fun than usual!

We even sang a song on the way there:

“Going for a walk in the snow to the library,
Going for a walk in the snow
Going for a walk in the snow to the library,
Going for a walk in the snow!”

It was perfect, and the kids did pretty well in the library. We got the books we wanted, and some stamps from the nice librarian. We bundled back up and headed out the door.

What we discovered was astonishing.

Swirling, blowing, blinding SNOW! Where did this come from?!? I just laughed! It was like a joke! What happened to our light flurries??? Well, we had no other way home, so I made sure faces were as covered as they could be and we set out into the storm.

And this was a storm! The wind was a constant 10-15 mph I’d guess, with stronger gusts. And the snow was collecting on the ground – and on us! – at an alarming rate. The worst part was, a third of our trip was heading west, directly into the wind! At one point during that stretch I turned around and pulled Julia in the stroller backwards (which helped a lot I think) and saw poor little Kirstie just closing her eyes and leaning into the wind as she pressed ahead into the blizzard!

It was crazy!!

Once we were able to turn south, and find a bit of shelter behind a giant brick church building, it got a little better. We laughed all the way home through the still rapidly falling snow.

Red cheeks, faces, and other exposed skin greeted Mom when we got home. Mom actually met us in the driveway, as she had seen the fierce winter storm and was coming to get us. But we managed to brave the elements and make it back home safely.

I told the kids as we were fighting the storm that we’d have hot cocoa and hot baths when we got home! And we’d also read a couple of the library books we just worked so hard to get.

And we did. 🙂


  1. This post was also very interesting, and discussion-worthy, if you’ve the time. It refers to a podcast posted in late 2012, or early 2013, regarding the trend toward not attending weekend worship gatherings by many who would definitely align themselves with Jesus. So, if that’s more your cup of tea…

Feelin’ Gloomy


It’s been a wet and rainy spring here in Upstate New York. And though it’s been a while since we’ve dealt with this, we’ve had a bout with a flooded basement. (And probably a recurrence today!)

It’s dark, wet, and even cooler than usual…


But most of the folks we know are not in that “Love” boat with me.

For some reason, I really enjoy darker, cooler, days. Rain is very relaxing to me. (I am grateful for that, because the rest of my life is currently not feeling very “relaxful”…)

Most of the human race seems to disagree with me, however. (A quick glance at the Twitter hashtag “#rain” will reveal some very grumpy dispositions.)

A friend was recently extolling the benefits and wonders of Vitamin D, which is aided by exposure to sunlight. That’s not happening right now, so… that apparently can affect moods.

(What do people in Seattle do? That’s a real question.)

When things beyond our control (like the weather) get us down, it can sometimes help to make a list of the good things. A “thankful” list. The “silver lining”. Whatever you call it, it’s good to focus on the brighter side of things.

So let’s look at these rainy Spring days:

Looking for the Silver Lining on these Dark Clouds

  • The garden is well-watered, and you don’t have the accompanying larger water bill!
  • All of these indoor days allow for much more reading time!
  • Darker days are easier on the eyes?
  • The air smells wonderful when it rains.
  • We’ll miss these days when it’s a sweltering 90 degrees a few weeks from now?
  • At least it’s not as bad as what Noah had to endure?
  • You can always work on your rendition of “Singing in the rain”…

There are probably more, but hopefully that gets you started.

I do feel a bit more peaceful taking a moment to enjoy the dark, rainy day. I think I’d be OK in Seattle. If you are one of those who needs sunny days to survive, I hope you can hang in there for a little while longer. (And I hope you don’t live in Seattle, or Rochester for that matter…)

Do you like rainy, cloudy, darker days, too? (I can’t be alone here!) If not, how do you cope with these long stretches of “gloomy”?

If you’re feeling gloomy because of the weather, please remember, some of us are actually enjoying this (remember Empathy? Thinking of Others?) and if nothing else, it’s always good to have a chance to deal with and handle things beyond our control. Right?


Backyard Ice Rink: Update 2013

Backyard ice rinkIt was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

Well, actually, this year it has not been the worst of times. Sure, we’ve had our travails, but nothing like last year.

This year’s version of the backyard ice rink has been much more successful thanks to wisdom gained from past experience (read: failures) and thanks in larger part to the weather actually cooperating this winter!

(Ice rinks will always fail when the temperature is rarely below freezing.)

In that we’ve had a much more normal winter, temperature-wise, we’ve been able to actually use our rink, and I think learn a bit more for next year, too. For example, we’ve been able to experiment with resurfacing the ice, keeping it cleaned off, and even learned that snow blowers are NOT an ice rink’s friend.

If you’ll recall, last year we (meaning, I) forgot to re-measure the rink dimensions after we extended it… leaving us very short with the pre-measured plastic! Oh boy! Then there was the 14-inch plus difference from one end of the rink to the other, leaving us with no water in one end of the rink.

Wow. We had plenty of issues last year.

There were some things we learned and improved this year, though.


What Worked Well

We had plenty of lumber, a three-year supply of good quality plastic liner, and we moved the rink to a flatter section of our back yard. (Unfortunately that flatter section is a little smaller, so the rink measures roughly 20′ x 34′ this year. Last year it was more like 30′ x 42′, I believe.)

We were able to fill the flatter, smaller rink in less than a day (much shorter than last time) and we got it filled just before a string of sub-freezing days. And so, as you can see, we’ve been able to use our back yard ice rink this year! Fantastic!


What Has NOT Worked…

Like last year, we’ve had our share of failures—though thankfully smaller. Failures are of course the best way to learn, so we’re reminding ourselves of the proverbial silver lining. In this case, I do believe it’s working. (Already looking forward to version 3.0 next winter!)

One thing we’ve learned is that, thought the flatter ground was great, it also happens to be under several trees. This is not a good idea. Throughout the winter so far, leaves and branches have regularly fallen down into the rink. The leaves are certainly unattractive; they are also trouble when they freeze into the ice near the surface. That leaves rough spots at least, and even cracked spots or bumps. Not good.

Also, when the rink was initally freezing, we got nearly two feet of snow dumped on us, all at once. This was good, except that the snow blower had to throw the snow somewhere …

You don’t want to throw it on your rink!!!

We had bumpy ice there for a month! Couldn’t get the ice smoothed out on the side where the snowblower had blown its snow. Definitely be careful with your snow blowing!

Lastly, when first setting up the rink, we have been using the plastic as a sort of “binding” for all the boards. This works fine once the water is in, but then you just have a strange, shallow pool in your backyard until the temperature gets below freezing. (And this allows for more leaves and sticks to collect on the bottom of your strange, shallow pool.) For some reason, I never considered not putting the plastic liner down until it was time to fill the rink! (Which can be done even after the temperature drops below freezing. (Might even be better that way?)

We have been able to use the hose to add layers of water, smoothing out the used and/or bumpy ice surface. That part is good… the bad part is when the hose gets left outside in sub-zero temperatures! Oops! We recovered the hose at the next thaw, but it was lost for a few weeks there.


Live (Do) and Learn

That’s a funny phrase, “Live and learn” … it’s not actually true unless your “living” includes doing. So, we’ve been “doing” for a couple years now, and we have a fun winter of ice-capades to show for it, and several noggins full of backyard-ice-rink knowledge to put to good use next winter. We should have a fantastic rink in year three! Look out!

A quick check of the 10-day forecast shows plenty of lows in the 20s, so there should be some more ice rink fun in our near future. Nice!

If you like ice sports … we Campbells highly recommend you try this project in your own back yard!


I Don’t Ever Check The Weather

It is not uncommon that I am surprised by the weather. Whether it is a giant snow storm named after an animated fish, or a “heat wave” in January, or just an afternoon rain storm: I am often in the dark.

I don’t recall what specific weather recently alerted me to this pattern in my life, but when I did take notice, I realized it was a quite frequent occurrence.

What does this say about me? Why do I not care to know what weather is coming our way?

Sometimes I do, of course. You’ll recall that we have an ice rink in our back yard, so leading up to that I am frequently looking ahead for below-freezing temperatures. AND, sometimes in the summertime I will check ahead to see if there’s any relief on the way (heat and I do not enjoy each other’s company…)

Winter storm snow on treesBut in general, things like the snow dump named Nemo (that is still coming down as I type this) often come as a pleasant surprise to me.

What I think is, this matches my personality—or perhaps, a learned pattern of behavior?—in other areas as well.

I do not wear a watch. I do not really own a cell phone. If I am late, it’s often because I am engaged with someone else (or for someone else) prior to the appointment to which I have now become late.

There is at the core of my being, a desire to be here and now. Not in the next place, or in a previous place… now.

I don’t think that checking the weather for next week means you’re not living in the now, but my habit of not thinking about checking, or forgetting to… is consistent with a life philosophy of being where I’m at.

Various things in life keep reminding me that we are finite beings. We are located to a time and place. We are here. We are now. We are capable of thinking of the future and the past, but sometimes that makes us less. Not always, of course, but sometimes. Usually it’s when the not-here is clouded by some fear. Worry about the future, or regret/shame/guilt from the past.

Thinking ahead can also be dreaming, though. Dreaming is good. It spurs us on, forward. And memories of the past can warm our hearts and encourage us in the now, as well. I love history! It’s wonderful to remember the good things that have been, even “reliving” them again in our hearts and minds.

Yet I think we are made for the now. Right there where you are. Right now. There must be something in our nature that is uncomfortable with that, no? We are so easily distracted by what is coming next (and sometimes by what we’ve been through).

But, oh, to be surprised by the now! That’s the joy of not checking the weather, or the clock, or the phone. It’s here, where you are, who you’re with. That is the richest experience we can have, I believe.

So, I do sometimes check the weather widget on my Mac OS X Dashboard. (Sometimes I’ll learn of a coming storm through friends who do check the weather on Facebook, and post some pithy comments about the impending… fun.) But I’m glad to still be surprised by what comes next in life. And I don’t think that will change.

I mean, who doesn’t love surprises? 🙂

Project: Backyard Ice Rink (Part 3)

Who knew that this project would have so many hurdles and barriers and pitfalls? I knew it would be work, but aside from our being novices in building an ice rink in our back yard, we have also faced plenty of challenges from the weather!

Check out the forecast: 50º right now, and not a freezing temp in sight!

When are we gonna catch a break?!

The good news is, the kids are still having a blast with it, and what I wrote in Part 2 of this saga will still greatly improve next year’s rink, if we do get to do that. For now, we are happy with our little less-than-perfect ice rink.

We finally got usable ice after about a day and a half of super-freezing temps (10s). And then it was only “usable” by the lightest in our family. The heavier boys (who coincidentally also love using the rink the most) were a bit too much for the weaker ice, and it cracked in a few places under their weight. Still, they would not be deterred and have even set up a makeshift hockey goal for when the cold weather finally does arrive.

For now, we once again gaze out our window at a green lawn, and a surprisingly quickly melting “ice” rink, yearning for much more seasonal temperatures.

We are glad for those who like warmer weather, but not-so-secretly, anxiously awaiting the arrival of real Western NY winter weather!

Bring it on Old Man Winter!

Our still quite imperfect ice, close up

Beautiful Skies

Darkened Fall Skies

I truly love the beauty of the fall season. This was the view out of my third-story window today. A very dark sky on the horizon, with fluffier white clouds above and blue sky (and sun) behind. And this was just minutes after a wet, heavy snow was showering down on us.

It’s more than just the colors of the leaves. And the sky. The angle of the sunlight this time of year does wonders with just about anything it falls upon. The colors, the shadows, and of course the contrast against magnificent skies!

And if that wasn’t enough, have you seen the skies on a clear autumn night? Beautiful full moon for most of the night. (It even accompanied me on an early morning walk just after sunrise today!) Close beside the bright large orb in the black sky you’ll find a smaller one, though seemingly just as bright. Jupiter is doing a little dance with its larger partner these last few days in November.

Somehow the sky has always fascinated me. I am drawn to it. I love to just stare up at it, marvel at its visible beauty, as well as the beauty of what we know of how it is made and how it works. Magnificent. Beautiful. Majestic. Breathtaking.

There is certainly beauty in every season, but if I ever had to be stuck in just one, I’d most definitely choose autumn!

Note: The photo does not begin to capture the beauty of the sky I saw, but the iPhone camera was all I had with me at that moment… 🙂

The Perfect Temperature

Several things are broken on our trusty family minivan. Some more important than others (like our gas gauge) and some we can do without (our rear windshield wiper, and air conditioning) and then tons of little things, mostly electrical.

Including the temperature gauge in the little computer/data center.

At times, it will tell us that it’s 20ºF outside when it’s really 80ºF or 90ºF! Gives us a good laugh any time we see it!

So tonight, the thermometer was showing 24ºF, and we all laughed at the thought of the air temperature being 24ºF on September 30th (and with our windows down, no less!)

And then I smiled a little as I thought of the crisp feel of the air when it really is 24ºF. It’s been a long time since we’ve felt that, but it’s coming again relatively soon. I can’t wait!

I said to the kids, “You know… I think my favorite temperature is the 20s. I love it when it’s in the 20s!”

Ian chimed in, “Yeah, the snow is really crunchy…”

“Right,” I continued, “That’s why it’s so great. It’s cold enough to really be cold!”

Then I remembered that I actually do like temperatures in the 50s, too. (60ºF is OK… but not anything much past six-zero.) The 50s are nice because it’s still nice and cool, but warm enough to be outside and do outside things (like play football, go for a walk, read a book, etc…)

So I guess I realized tonight that the perfect temps are the 20s, and the 50s. Everything else is either too hot… or not cold enough. (The 10s and 0s are also great, but they are not really bearable for long enough to actually enjoy…)

Fall is here! 50s are great! Bring on winter and the 20s!!!

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

Snow!We have been getting snow the last few days here, and last night it finally turned into “real” snow! (The kind that comes down in big, fluffy flakes and starts piling up on everything quickly!) And it looks like there’s more where that came from!

I love snow! It just makes me smile, and even fairly giddy! 🙂 Not sure how it does that for me, since most folks my age seem to have lost the excitement and joy that slow-falling snow can bring. But somehow, it does! And it’s so fun to see the kids bubbly with excitement, too, as they stand at the door taking in the wonder of the new-fallen snow. So fun!

Not sure if we’ll have a “white Christmas”, but the current weather certainly helps it feel more like Christmas time! Time to play some Christmas music… 🙂


I am just a little bit afraid right now. As I type this, I am sitting on my porch in the middle of either the remnants of, or the after effects of hurricane Ike. Mind you, I live in western New York state. Hurricanes don’t usually affect us much more than a long, steady soaking.

It’s really amazing. I was writing an article for my Buffalo Bills site and kept hearing things falling outside. I remembered it was going to be windy, but didn’t realize the magnitude. I checked in on it every once in a while, but wanted to finish my article tonight, and head to bed.

As I was turning stuff off to head to bed, the sound of the wind blowing through the leaves picked up. Perhaps because I was shutting things down, or perhaps it really was picking up. Either way, I was drawn to it. I just wanted to sit on the porch and observe this amazing power that was sweeping over us.

When I first sat down, the leaves of the trees were swirling and swaying and thrusting back and forth like crazy. The sound was just amazing. So loud. I could see the effects of the wind in the trees right above me (we have several very large trees on our property) and in the distance, in our neighbors’ yards across the way.

Either way it was impressive.

I noticed that I actually began humming a tune from the Chris Tomlin CD we recently purchased, “Hello Love”. The lyric goes something like the old hymn, “Holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, early in the morning we will sing…” I thought that was cool, and sort of odd. Certainly made sense that my brain would automatically pull that from the file. We all learn that bigness, and huge, visible power are equated with God. His majesty is awesome and terrifying. “Holy, holy, we bow down before Thee…” Sitting in the middle of this storm, it made sense to feel that, and to feel this tension that still quickens my pulse.

But almost in the same instant that I involuntarily sang that song, I also contemplated the way that I have come to know the One who made the wind. I know him as my Father. As the One who calls me his friend, his son. While he is still the same in his divine superiority to me, my relationship with him is different than it was a five or ten years ago, when I might have understood him more in a position of unworthiness and fear and trembling.

The image that comes to mind is that of my own children. In the middle of a heated moment, I can be fairly terrifying to them. Either because of my anger (which I wish was less directed at them) or because of their guilt and wrong-doing… either way, there is a “healthy” fear. I’m way bigger than they are. And I am the “law”, the “judge” and “jury”. Their fate rests in my hands. I am always surprised at how even when I am angered by something they have done, they can still stand right in front of me, not afraid of what might happen to them… and sometimes even reach out for a genuine, comforting hug.

It should not surprise me, though. The reason that I do not feel the need to confirm my fear of my Father is because he continues to reveal to me the depth of his love for me. And the more I understand his love for me, the more I can trust myself near him. Even if he is holy, awesome, terrifying, mighty, powerful, and all of those big, scary words.

His love – and my relationship to it – trumps the fear that I might otherwise have.

Another thought that comes to mind as I still am awed by this crazy display of “power” all around me (probably 30-40 mph gusts!) is the time when God to revealed himself to Elijah. Elijah was depressed, and God wanted to show him who he was, and how he works, so he said, “Go out and stand before me on the mountain.”

Here’s the section from 1 Kings:

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.
1 Kings 19:11-12

God was not in the things we think he would be in. He wasn’t in the stuff that we consider “powerful.” He was in the whisper. I don’t think Elijah still got in, because he just asked God the same thing. I’m certain that we still “don’t get it” because we keep thinking that God is distant, awe-inspiring (in the celestial, humongous way) and to be feared.

But who fears a whisper?

We don’t. Perhaps we should. There are plenty of references to people fearing God. And of course there are reasons to… until you know him. And then, even though there may be moments… when you really think about it, all you want to do is get a genuine, comforting hug from the One whom some would fear.

We see power very differently. I’m still in awe of this display of power tonight. This wind can knock down very large limbs. It already has. I’ll have some clean up to do tomorrow. I could definitely be hurt by flying, falling, heavy objects. There is reason to fear. (Though I am safely under the overhang of my porch…)

But as I learn to trust my Father, based on daily life lived with him, I do not fear him as I once may have. My fear has been “cast out” by his perfect love. And that love continues to deepen. I will never understand it fully, but the more I do, the more I can sit calmly in the presence of the Mighty, Fearsome, Terrifying Lord of Lords.

His power is not in his display of grandiose showmanship (though that can be cool!), but rather in his love for me, and his choosing to serve rather than be served. (Like we see Jesus doing for his disciples.)

I certainly don’t have any definitive answers. But these are my thoughts, in the middle of a wind storm, this late summer night.


It’s been really warm here the past week or so. Today promises to be a bit nicer (at least, by my standards) with a high around 62ºF. Mostly I don’t like spring – probably least of all four seasons – because it means the hot weather is coming, and usually with melting snow and even more rain, it’s just a muddy mess.

But today, as I was out for a quick morning walk, I was looking around at all the new growth – the “greening” of our town again – and I just thought it was cool. The new life is a very cool thing about spring.

See? You can find a “silver lining” just about anywhere… 😉