The Library Lady: Keeping Your Sanity When Old Man Winter Comes To Town


If you lived  in Monmouth County during the winter of 2011, you’ll remember that approximately 45 inches of snow were dumped on us between December 25th and April 1st. A few of the storms were quite treacherous and made driving either difficult or downright impossible. You may also recall how that snow sat for what seemed like forever- turning dirty, icy and grey. And lets not  forget the panic which ensued each time a storm was in the forecast… remember wrestling that granny to the  floor for the last loaf of Wonder Bread at your local market only to make it home with some dented cans, People magazine and a bottle of Yoo-Hoo (you missed the last of the milk by at least an hour)?  Upon returning home and getting cozy, you may have wished and prayed the cable wouldn’t go out. And the heat and electricity would stay on. And the children would magically keep themselves amused while snowbound. We’ve been lucky so far this winter. But as the Punxatawney Phil predicted, we’ve got six more weeks of winter ahead of us. It’s a little like living on a sleeping volcano. You just never know when it’s going to blow. So while  I can’t help you with heat, cable or electricity,here are some suggestions to ensure you keep your sanity when old Man Winter keeps you house-bound!


Boggle, Apples to Apples, Bananagrams and Scrabble for wordsmiths, Jenga, Legos  and Mousetrap for the architecturally-driven and chess, checkers and backgammon for  classic-game players. To kill the most time, Life, Monopoly and Clue will keep you busy for hours. And hours. Pictionary, Pictureka  and Cranium games fit the bill for our inner artists. For those who love trivia and stretching their brains to remember various bits of mental ephemera,,Trivial Pursuit comes in a variety of interests, including The Wizard of Oz, Disney Trivia and, for the brainiacs amongst us,Trivial  Pursuit Master Edition. I-Pad has some great apps for many of these games if you don’t feel like using the old cardboard and plastic versions. Boggle is particularly addictive in its e-form.


Break out of your reading rut. Try some new authors: Kate Atkinson’s excellent Jackson Brodie series, Camilla Lackberg’s Swedish mysteries, Ken Bruen’s gritty Irish cop stories, Interested in a metaphysical Western?  Pick up ´The Drop Edge of Yonder by Rudolph Wurlitzer. Have you heard of Lionel Shriver?  Her novel So Much For That portrays what many of us have experienced with healthcare in the U.S. (her uber disturbing book We Need to Talk About Kevin has been made into a film and was released in September).  A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan and Swamplandia by Karen Russell are two you may have overlooked.  Revisit some books you?ve already read…Is Lolita as crazily excellent as you remember?  The Grapes of Wrath will surely make you feel better about your current predicament. Read some non-fiction: Say Her Name, a fictionalized memoir by Francisco Goldman, will capture, then break, your heart.  Nim Chimsky takes you on the journey of a chimpanzee slated by scientists to learn language- ending with disastrous results. Does what we remember define who we are?  Yes, according to Joshua Foer in his Moonwalking With Einstein. Gabrielle Hamilton has written Blood, Bones & Butter…The Inadvertent Education of A Reluctant Chef. Top that title! Or give a razor-sharp Jersey Girl some attention and read Patti Smith’s Just Kids.

Read to your Kids:  Read aloud a book which may be beyond your children’s reading level but that they’ll enjoy hearing as they snuggle up with you. Silly –The Origami Yoda,  exciting –Gregor the Overlander series, classic- Charlotte’s Web. Weepy-Sounder or the mind-bending A Wrinkle in Time.  The Little House series is the ultimate in winter: .How did Half-Pint not go mad snowed in with her family in the middle of nowhere?  It will make your little lovies appreciate the nice warm home with electricity and indoor plumbing you so nicely provide them with.

Get Crafty

While you’re attempting to stay happy, sane and content while house bound, make something!  Blow the dust from those cookbooks which looked so pretty when you saw them in Williams Sonoma. (hint:keep your pantry stocked.  If you’re planning on creating masterful dishes in the kitchen during winter, hit the stores before snow is even a twinkle in the weatherman’s eye.)  Dig out those crochet needles you bought when you were certain you would be crotcheting every gift you were ever going to give. Youtube has phenomenal tutorials for nearly everything…knitting, crotcheting, sewing, painting, playing guitar.


This one is a stretch for me, but why not be industrious during the time you’re snowed in :  Organize your house. Use this nature-imposed sentence to get some things done!  Grab a junk drawer and start dumping.  Hike your paper trail.  And for crying out loud, lose that basket of socks you think you’ll find the mates to.  They’re long gone, sacrificed to the God of Smelly Footwear ages ago.  Don’t make me remind you of your veggie bin in the fridge. You don’t have to do them all, of course: accomplishing one little task will make you feel much better.


Between Netflix, Cable, Redbox and  your local library offering DVDs, settle in and watch a movie!  Catch up on the series everyone seems to be talking about: Boardwalk Empire, Nurse Jackie, Weeds, the Tudors, Spartacus, Mad Men and Dennis Leary’s excellent fireman drama Rescue Me. Scare yourself with The Orphanage or Paranormal Activity¡.Laugh through The Hangover I and II¡ BridesmaidsOur Idiot Brother or  Death at a Funeral. Thrill yourself with the thrillers Hanna, Limitless, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo or Source Code. Or cheer yourself up: You think your family is dysfuntional?  The Aussie movie Animal Kingdom will have you feeling like you grew up on Walton’s Mountain. Or go for art-house quality with the sublime Poetryor  fantastic Bill Cunningham’s New York about New York Times “On the Street” scribe Bill Cunningham, his quiet genius and his love for Manhattan. For family fare, pop in Toy Story 3, Gnomeo and Juliet, Rango  or the Harry Potter masterpieces.  And, if all else fails, toss the cushions from the furniture in the living room, make a fort, crawl in with a cup of hot cocoa and relax.  The snow will melt eventually. It always does.





Tara Burke Sullivan, The Two River Times, The Library LadyTara Burke Sullivan works at a local public library and, while she loathes the shoveling/de-icing/salt and sanding associated with this time of year, she certainly enjoys the reading and DVD time afforded by lousy Jersey winters.  She is married to Mark Sullivan and the mother of their three awesome teen aged daughters, with whom she’s shared many special snow days. 







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