AN ICONIC SNOW SHOVEL

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By midday yesterday, the kid had finished shoveling the roof. Of course, all that snow had to go somewhere. As he worked, I could see huge piles of it falling off the roof in a veritable avalanche.

snow shovel in oil

Our already mostly buried deck lost any semblance of a pathway. One had recently been dug so the kid with the shovel could get up onto the roof to shovel it. Now, with our ladder stuck in a snowdrift until spring and the shovel, like a pennant, at the top of the big drift … I hope we don’t need to get out of the house via the deck. Because it’s impassable.

snow shove solarized

Yet, somehow, I loved the image made by that big yellow shovel stuck in the snow. And of course, I had to take a few pictures.

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A final note. The ice dams are melting. Slowly, I admit, but there is a steady dripping from all of them. I am taking this as a harbinger of better days to come.

A COLD DAY

It was bitterly cold outside and downright nippy inside when I got up yesterday morning. The temperature was below zero, so I figured our aging heating system had been over-matched. I slipped into sweatpants. Added heavy socks and a pair of house booties. Warm sweater. Poncho over sweater. I was still cold.

ice dams february

Cruelly, I forced the poor doggies to go outside. I apologized with biscuits and wrapped them in blankets when they came back. They brought winter with them. Damn. The house was cold. I looked at the thermostat. It read 64, but it felt colder.

ice dam februrary 2015

I got a cup of coffee. Drank it. Got another cup. Drank it, too. Still not warm. Especially my hands.

Owen got back from work and came up to tell me the boiler wasn’t working. Which explained the lack of heat. It’s a testament to how good our insulation is the house remained as warm as it did. Meanwhile, I realized my bathroom window was sealed tight by a thick layer of ice in the window. On the screen. In the frame itself. That in addition to the ice dams along the eaves.

72-One-More-Blizzard_09Owen had found a kid to come over and get the snow off the roof. He and the boiler repair guy showed up at the same time. The kid couldn’t move the ice dams at all and he’ll be back today to finish the snow. He was late getting started. Suddenly, it was too dark to work.

ice dam February 2015

Nothing but warmer temps and sunshine is going to melt that ice. At least it won’t get worse if the roof is clear of snow. Today’s storm is supposed to be tiny, just a couple of fluffy inches. I hope they are right. We have had more than enough.

Last night, I heard the funniest weather report. The meteorologist said there would be snow “somewhere in northern New England, probably New Hampshire or Maine. It will be very cold.” He wasn’t sure how much snow, or exactly when it would start, but he was sure there would be snow. Somewhere in New England.

You could give that forecast anytime during January or February in New England. You would always be right. You don’t need a weatherman to know which way that wind blows.

Next weekend? We’ll cross that storm when we come to it.

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Winter is ending. A glance at the calendar screams “spring is just around the corner,” even though it looks like winter in Siberia. It’s warm again, inside. Our boiler is chugging away. The cold spell won’t last forever.

Although I have no empirical evidence to support my opinion, I firmly believe spring will come.

WORLD SHARING – WEEK 6

Share Your World – 2015 Week #6

What was the last time you went to a new place?

Last October. Skowhegan (Maine), which we had previously only passed through. Peachum (VT), which I had heard of, but never visited. Mexico, Maine, who knew there was such a place? And so many other places in between. New England is a beautiful place … even when we’re buried neck-deep in snow.

Morning in Peachum, Vermont, October 2014
Morning in Peachum, Vermont, October 2014

If you were or are a writer do you prefer writing short stories, poems or novels, other? And what type of genre would you prefer?

Well I am a writer and blogging is my game. I used to say that writing letters was my best way of communicating. But now, blogging is a lot like letter-writing. I like short form writing. I love the freedom to write something different every time I sit down at the computer. I spent my whole adult life writing long-form pieces. Huge books, full of technical material. This is like getting to eat dessert without having to first finish my mashed potatoes.

Out of your five senses (touch, taste, sight, smell, hearing) which is your favorite?

That is not really fair. I am a photographer, writer, and used-to-be musician. I can’t imagine functioning without at least pieces of all of them.

winter light through french doors

If 100 people your age were chosen at random, how many do you think you’d find leading a more satisfying life than yours?

It really depends on how you define “satisfying.” There are things I miss which I used to do when I was younger. Horses. Casual time with friends, just hanging out, laughing and talking. Playing bridge.

winter snow deck

But really, I have what I need and what I most care about. Maybe there are people happier with their lives than I am, but seriously, how happy can you be? I think I’m pretty maxed out.

WHAT A SURPRISE! MORE SNOW!

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I know. You’re shocked. We are in the middle of another snowstorm. We missed yesterday’s storm, but we aren’t missing today’s and we probably won’t miss tomorrow’s, either. It’s past the point of ridiculous and moved into funny. It is the weather equivalent of a siege.

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Underneath that hump, there is a table … was a table … will be a table … when spring comes …

And yet … spring is not far. Five weeks by the calendar. In between, there’s a lot of melting and mud coming. I hope we won’t flood. We deserve a break. All of New England deserves a break.

snow falling front trees

LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW

Just because … a look at the snow today. More tomorrow (and more and more) …

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Done with antique toning … but it is very now. The sun is beginning to set, so I guess I’ll see the rest of the story tomorrow morning.

SNOWY CRYSTAL MORNINGS

Picture window snow morning analog

It snows and then snows some more. It has been snowing almost every day for a couple of weeks and there is no end in sight. Well, that’s not true. There is an end. Almost in sight. We call it spring. About 6 weeks away, in the future. We can see it on the calendar. We hold it in our hearts.

snow picture window poster

In the meantime, we live in a land of white and snow. Deep snow and drifts. Icicles that hang 20 feet down from the roof. If I was to pick the moment when even I — tired though I am of snow and utterly weary of cold — stop and catch my breath from the sheer beauty of snow, it’s early in the morning after a storm.

Not a blizzard. Blizzards have wind that keep flakes from settling gently on every surface.

Picture window snowy world poster

A quiet snow where the flakes fall straight out of the sky and stick to every twig and branch leaving a frosted world. It’s the perfect picture of a New England winter. Elegant. Ephemeral. Gone in an hour — or less — as the sun melts the thin coating away. But for that brief interval …

BETTE A. STEVENS, AUTHOR – PURE TRASH AND DOG BONE SOUP

dog bone soupAnd now, there’s the rest of the story. DOGBONE SOUP is the long-awaited “rest of the story”of Shawn Daniels and his brother. Bette Stevens novel is now available for your reading pleasure. And it is a pleasure.

Bette has the purest, freshest writing style I’ve read in many a long year. Reading her prose is like peering into an exceptionally clear, deep pool. It looks like the bottom is close enough to touch, but watch out. Those waters run deep.

This author knows how to tell a story. Her style and the story are a perfect blend. Like the clear water, this author runs deep.

If I hadn’t come down with the flu, I’d be writing my review. In the meantime, here’s a good one from Barbara Ann Mojica’s Blog, GROWING UP MUCH TOO SOON.

DOG BONE SOUP is a wonderful story. It’s a coming of in a hardscrabble world, armed only with courage, determination, intelligence, and grit. Sometimes, that’s enough.


PURE TRASH: BETTE STEVENS – The Prequel

There are so many television shows and movies, not to mention sappy posts on Facebook and other social media sites about “the good old days” … kind of makes me a trifle queasy. As someone who grew up in those good old days, I can attest to their not being all that great. There were good things about them, but it was by no means all roses.

Good is a relative term, after all. If you were white, Christian and middle class … preferably male and not (for example) a woman with professional ambitions … the world was something resembling your oyster. A family could live on one salary. If you were “regular folk” and didn’t stand out in any particular way, life could be gentle and sweet.

The thing is, an awful lot of people aren’t and weren’t people who could blend in. If you were poor, anything but white or Christian, or a woman who wanted to be more than a mother and homemaker, the world was a far rougher place.

Bette Stevens
Bette Stevens

Pure Trash: The Story: Shawn Daniels in a Poor Boy’s Adventure: 1950s Rural New England is set in rural New England in the mid 1950s. It’s a sharp reminder how brutal our society could be to those deemed different or inferior. Not only was bullying common, it wasn’t considered wrong.

I remember how badly the poor kids in my class were treated when I was going through elementary school. How the teachers took every opportunity to humiliate kids whose clothing was tattered and whose shoes were worn. I remember feeling awful for those little girls and boys.

Not merely bullied by their classmates (who oddly, didn’t much notice the differences until the teachers pointed them out), but tormented by those who were supposed to care for and protect them. Bad enough for me and the handful of Jewish kids as Christmas rolled around. For them, it was the wrong time of year all year round.

In this short story, Shawn and Willie Daniels set off one Saturday in search of whatever they can find that they can turn into money. One man’s trash can be a poor child’s treasure. Bottles that people throw away could be collected and turned into ice cream and soda pop. Shawn is excited. It’s going to be a terrific day. Until the real world intrudes and Shawn is sharply and painfully reminded that he’s different … and not in a good way.

The story is about bullying, but more important, it’s about being different and being judged without compassion, without understanding or love.

It’s a very fast read. Only 21 pages, the story flies by. I was left wanting more. I want to know how the boys grow up. I want them to become CEOs of big corporations so they can thumb their noses at their whole miserable society. An excellent short story leaving plenty of room for thought.

Though set in 1955, the story is entirely relevant today. Despite much-touted progress, we still judge each other harshly based on appearance and assumptions. Everything changes … but maybe not so much.

For lots more information about the book and its author, stop by the authors’ website: 4 Writers and Readers. Pure Trash is available on Kindle and as a paperback from Amazon.