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There’s more to life than weather

The nor'easters that hit NJ this month, remember? Most in many areas of my state were living in the dark without heat, electricity, The Bachelor, and our beloved WiFi for a week. We were cranky as we donned a hat, then gloves, then long underwear, then a scarf, then started searching for furniture to burn.

Since we were without power, I was dressed for a fun day of skiing without the fun and without the skiing. I was beginning to sound a bit shrill over not having a generator so my husband decided it would be safer (for him) to get us to my mother's house.

I texted my mother to say we were coming over and she texted back:

Oh, what fun! One big pajama party. Beds are ready.

Wine is flowing and the larder is full!

Larder? What the hell is a larder? But you get the picture. Her happy meter was a 15 out of 10.

So, in other words, while everybody was cold, miserable, and thinking of ways to exact revenge on JCP&L, my mother (the 85-year-old, 4'8" Italian, jumping for joy in front of her stove, wearing an apron and holding a wooden spoon to stir the gravy) was wishing for a nor'easter every week. I hadn't seen her so ecstatic since I left for college.

"Come on over! There's more to life than weather," she gleefully said.

And so, it days at Mom's b&b.

As I walked in the door she had already taken out 5 pots, 4 pans and 18 dishes. She asked what I wanted to eat. After a shower I told her I would make a hard-boiled egg. I came into the kitchen to find egg salad. She asked me if I wanted dip. I said no. Spreading dip on a cracker, she handed it to me. I could feel my waistline expanding. I was afraid if I asked for a sweater she would start knitting. My father walked in with a case of wine. OK, so maybe a nor'easter could work out.

The phone rang. I thought it must be my brother since the only time my mother smiles so broadly, is for him. I'm not bitter. But I can see it's actually my sister calling and my mother NEVER smiles like this when it's either one of us. What's up I wonder. My sister is without power and they too are heading over.

She drops the cracker with dip she's been feeding me and heads for the larder. More are coming and its dinner time. I've noticed she's taken out 3 more pans, 12 more dishes, water goblets and wine glasses. And what would a table be without gold charger plates? My mother is clearly on the verge of putting up balloons and plugging in a confetti machine. I'm waiting for her to invite her neighbors.

So, while my husband is worrying about cracked pipes and my brother-in-law is worrying about falling trees, my mother is the happiest person on planet Earth. "Nor'easter, Smor'easter," she says, grabbing 4 more serving trays and additional serving utensils.

Somehow, she whips up a fantastic Italian dinner for 10 with no planning, complete with cloth napkins and tulips on the table. Tulips? Where the hell did she get tulips? We're in the middle of a f***ing nor'easter! Forgetting my paleo diet, I've taken my 5th piece of bread to eat with lasagna, my third fried meatball, and added cheese to everything. Paleo shmaleo. Salude!

Eating, to Italians, is a varsity sport. Just when we are done with dessert, out come the fruit and nuts…in separate bowls…one for each person.

After scrubbing and drying 167 dishes, pots, pans, glasses, trays, and bowls, my sister and I see the light at the end of the entertaining tunnel. We are full of fantastic food. All of us are warm and happy to be together. We are grateful. Contemplative. My mother is right...there's more to life than weather.

And then, like glass shattering into a million pieces, my mother asks, "what shall I make for breakfast?

-Tracy Buckner

Tracy Buckner writes for The Observer Tribune of Chester, N.J., and blogs for the New Jersey Hills family of newspapers, which serve Madison, Chatham and Chester, New Jersey. She enjoys writing about the slow decline and vows to go down kicking and screaming. You can read more of her musings on her blog: "Aging, Kids, Family and Why We Self-Medicate."

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