snowmaggedon 2016, aka “storm jonas” & a decluttering project of major proportions :-)

Saturday, January 23:  Beginning at about 1:00 pm on Friday, the blizzard of 2016, dubbed “Snowmaggedon” and “Storm Jonas” by the TV stations and newspapers, began its assault.  Also known as “Snowzilla,” the storm dumped a record amount of snow on the mid-Atlantic region and the East Coast of the USA.  The storm was a media sensation.  You can read about it here, if you haven’t already heard about it through a million other sources:

Winter Storm Jonas Rivals Biggest East Coast Snowstorms on Record

Winter storm inundates the Mid-Atlantic and East Coast

The Blizzard of 2016 from space compared to other great Northeast snowstorms

The snow fell all Friday afternoon and through the night, and this is what we woke up to on Saturday morning when we opened the garage door.

view from our garage on Saturday morning - the Toyota RAV
view from our garage on Saturday morning – the Toyota RAV

The snow continued to fall throughout Saturday, but we still spent over an hour shoveling our driveway.  The snow continued to accumulate over the parts we shoveled, but I would have hated to see what it would have looked like on Sunday morning if we hadn’t done this initial shoveling.

I worked hard on shoveling a narrow path between the Toyota RAV and our bushes, while Mike shoveled the other side.

the path I shoveled Saturday
the path I shoveled Saturday

There was no chance of actually going anywhere in our cars, as the snow was almost two feet deep on the roads.  We didn’t see a plow all day Saturday, although we had seen one go by on Friday night.

After our shoveling session, we took a walk out the neighborhood to the main road, Vale Road, only one lane of which had been plowed.  A few trucks and SUVs were creeping along Vale Road, but most people stayed hunkered down in their warm homes.  I was thankful we didn’t lose power, as widespread power outages were predicted throughout the region.

Since we were going to be stuck inside for at least several days, I decided it was time to start tackling our major decluttering project, following the guidelines in Marie Kondo’s the life-changing magic of tidying up, aka The KonMari method.

The author advises to work by category, not by the location of clutter in your house.  She outlines a specific order to the categories, beginning with clothing, followed by “books, papers, komono (miscellany), and finally things with sentimental value.” Her first two categories, clothing and books, are the biggest categories of clutter in my house.  People who know me know I have a big weakness for both of these things: any kind of textiles and all kinds of books.

Her method involves touching every item in your house and only keeping those that “spark joy.”  This is very subjective, but I know exactly what she means.  I had gone through all my clothes when I returned home from China, tried many of them on and got rid of some things, but not nearly enough.  I was looking at them with my brand of selection criteria: are they still in style, do they fit now, are they likely to fit in the future, are they worn out and looking tired, will they come back into style in the future?

I started tackling the project with the question: “Does this spark joy?”  I am amazed at how much I have been able to part with.  I started with tops (Kondo’s first category of clothing), and it took me three days!  Mike has been doing the same, although he doesn’t have nearly as much as I do.  Just from the category of tops alone, I had 6 large garbage bags.  Don’t worry, I won’t be throwing these away.  I usually give all my belongings to one of the local charities like Purple Heart, AmVets or Big Brother Big Sister.

walk through the neighborhood
walk through the neighborhood

In the evening, I took a picture of our deck, which is very decrepit and about to collapse under normal conditions.  We’re going to be replacing this with a screened-in porch and a new deck in our upcoming renovation.  I hope it doesn’t fall under the weight of the snow!

Saturday evening - the grill on the deck
Saturday evening – the grill on the deck

In the evening, we made a big pot of Damn Delicious Cauliflower Chowder.  It was delicious!  Perfect food for a snowy night. 🙂

Sunday, January 24:  By Sunday morning, the snow had stopped falling and the skies were blue.  We had to shovel again to get rid of the extra snow that had fallen all Saturday afternoon and evening.  It took us over an hour.

I read somewhere that most people who died in this snowstorm died from shoveling snow.

the morning after
the morning after
buried
buried
our house
our house
our house
our house

When all was said and done, the blizzard left us with 24 inches of snow.

24 inches
24 inches

We cleared most of the driveway, but the roads were not plowed enough to get out, so we were stuck for another day.

finally - the driveway shoveled out
finally – the driveway shoveled out

As we were shoveling, we saw our neighbors congregating at the end of their driveway and we went to check it out.  They had a little bar set up on a snow bank and were drinking  bourbon and Scotch.  We went to join them for a drink.  This is one of the few times I’ve started drinking before noon! 🙂

step up to the bar!
step up to the bar!
having drinks with the neighbors
having drinks with the neighbors

After our drinks, Mike and I took a brief walk through the neighborhood, but it was difficult walking through the deep snow on the roads.

aftermath of Snowmaggedon - in the sunshine
aftermath of Snowmaggedon – in the sunshine
our neighborhood after the blizzard
our neighborhood after the blizzard

We settled in with leftover soup (which we originally made Friday evening): Spark Recipes: Winter White Bean and Italian Sausage Soup.  Another perfect remedy to a cold snowy day.

Monday, January 25:  This morning I woke up to a beautiful sunset.  One lane of our neighborhood had been plowed overnight, and Mike decided to venture out to work for a half-day.  All the area schools were closed and so were the government offices, so he didn’t have to contend with much traffic.  It was lucky that not many folks were on the roads that were narrower versions of their normal selves. Piles of snow banks on either sides of the road created a dilemma for the Virginia Department of Transportation: there was nowhere to put all the snow!

Monday sunrise
Monday sunrise
sunrise after the blizzard
sunrise after the blizzard
Monday morning whites
Monday morning whites
sunrise in the neighborhood
sunrise in the neighborhood
mountains of snow
mountains of snow
our house hunkered down in the snow
our house hunkered down in the snow
sunrise
sunrise

Today, I was finally able to move on from the “tops” category in my KonMari method of decluttering.  I began work on bottoms, including jeans, hiking pants, exercise pants, work pants, and skirts.  This occupied me today and Tuesday!  I ended up with four garbage bags of bottoms!  This was probably my easiest category because I had been holding on to so many pairs of pants and skirts that will NEVER fit me again.  I had been holding out hope that I would lose weight enough to wear them, but I finally accepted the fact I will never be that thin again. I realized when touching all of these bottoms that they certainly did not spark joy. In fact, they always stressed me out because when I saw them, they made me wish for younger and skinnier days.  GONE!

heading out for a walk
heading out for a walk
afternoon delight
afternoon delight

I didn’t have to shovel my driveway today, but I put on my snow boots and took a two-mile walk in the neighborhood.  It was slow going and I slipped and fell once on an icy patch.  When I returned home, one of my neighbors, who is a nurse at Fairfax Hospital, had returned home after staying at the hospital for the storm’s duration, and found she had nowhere to park her car.  She was outside shoveling her long driveway by herself.  I spent about 45 minutes helping her to carve out a spot for her car; another neighbor joined and helped too.

Saturday, January 30: Wednesday and Thursday, I was able to walk 3 miles as the snow remaining on the roads had melted enough that the pavement was showing.  There was still too much snow on the paths to walk through the woods.  I moved on Wednesday to decluttering suits and coats and jackets, and on Thursday to dresses.  By Thursday, I finally drove out in my car to run a couple of errands.  On Friday, I was able to drive out to my contractor’s office, Northwood Construction, to work with him on our plans for our big renovation.  He had presented some plans to us on Wednesday evening before the storm, January 20, and we wanted some changes to be made. I spent about 2 hours going over some ideas with him in his office.

Last night, Friday, I drove to Tyson’s Corner and met Mike at Seasons 52.  It felt so good to get out for happy hour and dinner.  It seemed everyone in the world was out at the cluster of restaurants at that end of the mall — all the snowbound people finally released into the world!

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26 thoughts on “snowmaggedon 2016, aka “storm jonas” & a decluttering project of major proportions :-)

  1. Any excuse to get the tops off the bottles. That was great, drinking out in your front garden. Kat, I don’t know if you intentionaled this but you wrote ‘This morning I woke up to a beautiful sunset’ Was it the drink or did you mean it ? Smiling here.

  2. It’s beautiful. . . But. I recently read about Marie Kondo – going through closets and drawers is something I need to do. Maybe I’ll start today. Maybe.

  3. This is what you would have been looking forward to when you were hot and humid in China, Cathy. Well, maybe not THIS much! 🙂 Looks gorgeous with blue skies and what great neighbours! Cheers for the recipes- both sound good 🙂 I can believe how many bags, Cathy. Bet you’re nowhere near yet 🙂 🙂

  4. What magical photos Cathy and what a difference it made to the feel when the sky was blue and the sun shining. The grey days were quite sad looking but suddenly turn on the sun and they spark returns. Wow when you have finished all your decluttering you will be able to move to a smaller house…

  5. You had cocktail hour without us!

    Your wardrobe must look amazing now you’ve cleared all that excess clothing out. Well done. The snow looks so pretty. Perhaps the weight of it might cause the deck to collapse and save you the effort of dismantling it. How exciting to have a renovation to look forward to.

    Glad you came through the storms unscathed, Cathy.

    1. I know, Carol! I’m sorry about having cocktail hour without everyone. I really do need to have one soon. Maybe I can do one this upcoming weekend, although I have to study for the real estate exam over the weekend as my course is coming to an end.

      I have so much clothing, Carol, that even after getting rid of, so far, about 13 huge garbage bags, I still have a lot! It does feel a lot cleaner now though, and more organized.

      Well, the snow is melting now and the deck hasn’t collapsed, but to tell you the truth, I’m afraid to walk on it. If it fell it would certainly save us the trouble of dismantling it! I am very excited about our renovation, especially now that I’ve seen the preliminary plans and can now start to envision it.

      I’m glad the storm is over, and I can get outside now. I’m hoping some pathways are clear enough to walk on today; I’m going to venture out soon to check them out. I need a walk in the woods, in the fresh air. xxx

      1. Yes, Carol, tonight is our last class, and we have the exam next Tuesday. That exam just tells us whether we pass the class, then we have to take the Virginia State Licensing Exam. It’s so much material. I hope I can remember it all! I’m still on the fence about whether to actually try to sell real estate. I’ll get the license first, talk to brokers, and then decide! 🙂

  6. Beautiful sunrise, Cathy. Well done with the decluttering. I’m going to have start this week, sorting through all my stuff too. 😳 Sad about the people who died shoveling snow. I believe it happens every year.

    1. You have good reason to get busy with decluttering, Sylvia, as you’re moving soon. You may have to just throw everything into boxes and sort when you get to your new place.

      Yes, I’m sure people don’t expect to die when they go out to shovel. In the past, Mike has done most of our shoveling, but I wanted the exercise so went out to help him each day. It is very hard work and really gets your heart pounding. I loved the exercise, but I guess it could have happened to any of us!

  7. It’s funny how this storm behaved so differently – here in the VA mountains we actually got LESS snow than you did in DC (usually it’s the other way around). However, Shepherdstown, WV, got 40 inches….go figure! I, too, tried the KonMari method and got as far as 8 bags of clothes and 6 boxes of books removed for donation. With the books, I improvised and placed stacks of them on my table, then closed my eyes and touched each one asking Yes or No. It was amazing, when I looked at the “rejects” afterwards, there were very few I ended up keeping from that pile (even though they were selected blindly). Clothes were easily and quickly separated with her question “Does it spark joy?” My criticism of her approach is about her paperwork suggestions – she clearly is too young to have accumulated the kind of stuff I have, both personal and professional papers – oh, and tax papers going back at least 6 yrs (thanks, IRS). But, we’ll have a few more snowstorms, so the paperwork will have to be sorted out then. 🙂

    1. It is very strange how we got so much snow and you all got so little in the mountains! Strange indeed. I’ve only just started on the books (finally finished clothing after about 19 bags including shoes, accessories, coats, everything – Mike and I both). The paper work is something I don’t look forward to going through and I think you’re right, it’s quite a bit more complicated than she makes it seem! We’ll keep plugging away though. 🙂

  8. I’m way behind, as usual – but boy, what a snow you all had! I don’t miss the shoveling at all, but I COULD miss – just a little bit – the beauty. The peacefulness and quiet of it. And then the crazy things a major storm makes people do, like the neighbor’s bar – funny! Well, happy spring! Soon…

    1. I’m also way behind, Lynn, so no worries! That snow was crazy but at least it’s all behind us now. It was quite beautiful in its first days, while it was all pristine and unsullied. 🙂 The neighbors’ bar was quite funny and has become a bit of a tradition during our major snowstorms. 🙂 Happy spring to you! I just know it’s right around the corner.

  9. Missed this (and I was looking out for your snow post too!) but it was worth tracking it down. The snow looks gorgeous when it is deep and crisp like that – I hate it when it turns to grey slush 😦
    You look very happy shovelling away there 🙂

    Have bookmarked the soup recipes. I love soup. And I shall follow your example about the decluttering.. What comes after clothes then? I don’t actually have many clothes but like you I have hung on to some that I know I shall never fit into again 😦

    1. You’re right, Jude, the snow is so wonderful when it’s all pristine, but when it gets sludgy it’s so ugly. Those soups were good, so I hope you’ve had time to try them. After clothes in the KonMari decluttering method come books. We’re in the process of sorting through those now. The next category is papers. That will be a pain in the butt! I don’t look forward to that. 🙂

      1. Books sorted. Two crates to go to the Oxfam shop. Paperwork gone through too (I usually do that each year anyway). Next stop is the furniture charity warehouse to take some furniture we don’t want (too big) in the new place. At this rate we shouldn’t have anything left, so why is there so many boxes?

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