Monday, January 1, 2018

Cabin Fever


South Dakotans are a practical, innovative people. Take today, for example: It’s -23 degrees here this morning. That’s REAL temp, folks (the wind chill was -35 when I woke up). The dogs went out this morning and tried to pee standing on one foot. The outdoor thermometer froze at -10 and refused to budge. Needless to say, there’s no going out in cold like this—in under 10 minutes, frostbite can turn skin to blue glass.


When you’re stuck in the house for a few days, cabin fever is an ever-looming possibility. And unless you live alone, two or more of you are facing a WHOLE LOT of togetherness. The novice will experience the typical stages of cabin fever: Stage 1: You’re delighted to be able to reconnect with each other. You have conversations. Stage 2: You enjoy some “us” time, then you each wander off on your own for a while. Stage 3: You avoid a room with anyone else in it and only grunt if you pass someone in the hall. Stage 4: Nerves are like stripped wires. Sparks fly. Fires start. There is no Stage 5.


But because cabin fever is an annual risk for prairie people, we’ve come up with ingenious ways to hold it off until help (temps above -5) arrives:


1. Nap. Several times a day. In fact, since it’s hard to tell day from night when you’re snowed/frozen in the “cabin,” all your sleep should now be naps. If you’re not actually napping, pretend. Make snoring sounds.

2. Eat. This is a favorite strategy for Midwesterners. Bake. Cook. Eat. Experiment with what you have on hand: red hot candies, marshmallows, potato chips, Jell-O, 5 jars of mayonnaise, 2 power bars, cheese, pickles, dark chocolate, frozen hotdog buns, canned jalapenos, garam masala, truffle salt, croutons. Eat some more.

3. Make an elaborate hanging, moveable swing for your African grey parrot, because on Day 3 of this, you binged documentaries, one of which was Bird Brain, and now you NEED to move your parrot from room to room with you.

4. Go through the bin in which you’ve been saving makeup you’ve collected since 1975 (including the ice-white, sparkly Pot ‘O Gloss lip gloss you bought when you were 15). Throw out at least 3 things (but not the Pot ‘O Gloss).

5. Clean/organize your fridge. Clean/organize your pantry. Clean/organize your cupboards. Then see #2.

6. Wash every rug in the house.

7. Sort out your yarn and knitting projects. Shelve 17 half-finished projects, individually bagged and including patterns and appropriate needles. Shelve your yarn stash, organized by weight, color, and fiber content. File extra patterns in a 3-ring binder with transparent sleeves.

8. Start a NEW knitting project, and knit while you binge-watch British cop shows or documentaries on whales, birds, or elephants.

9. Take a shower at least once. Don’t bother with shaving, nail-trimming, chin-hair plucking, etc. You can do that someday when you can leave the house again.

10. Start a new batch of kombucha. In fact, turn your dining room table into a kombucha factory. Start a batch with each of the 23 scobies in your scoby hotel. Spend an hour or two making adorable labels for kombucha bottles, with cute names like Stir Crazy Strawberry and Gone Bonkers Blueberry.

11. Stay hydrated. Water is good, but Bailey’s and coffee is more practical: It will keep you awake to tackle projects, and it will soften those unfortunate run-ins you have with other humans. Also, see #10.

12. Build a new set of shelves out of an old plank table and some crown molding. See #7.

13. Blog.


These are just a few ideas to get you started. One last tip: If the weather doesn’t break by, say, Day 7 or 8, put on EVERY stitch of clothing you own, wrap your feet in plastic bread bags under fur mukluks, and make a break for it. Because any more togetherness than that, and it won’t end well…

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