WEATHER’S COMING!

I live in the Blackstone Valley where no one tells you nothing. When weather people stand in the studio and do their predicting, they position themselves so you can see the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Except where we live because that’s where they stand.

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I asked our friend, the trustworthy meteorologist (there is one and he is it) about this. He said, “Well, we have to stand somewhere.” But on his next broadcast, he moved aside for a few seconds so that I could see the map. Thanks!

When anyone mentions the valley at all, it’s Worcester. The rest of our towns don’t exist. I have learned to read weather maps because I’m not going to get information any other way. Dinosaurs could be roaming the Valley, and no one would notice unless one of them ate a tourist.

t-rex

Now that we’re turning the corner to warm weather, I can take a deep breath and relax. It’s a quiet weather period, usually.

The past couple of months gave us a big dose of weather frenzy. Most of it was on the money, unlike previous winters when the frenzy exceeded reality by 100%, give or take a few points. I was numb from the hyperbole of previous years, so I ignored the warnings. When the first, huge blizzard hit at the end of January, we were unprepared. I hadn’t even bought extra groceries.

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The frenzy isn’t harmless.

Weather sells. It pulls in viewers. When hurricanes or blizzards threaten, people who normally don’t watch the news tune in. Higher ratings, lots of teasers.

“Seven feet of snow on the way!! Will you be buried tomorrow? Story at 11!” It’s money in the bank. Doom is a perennial best-seller.

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TV stations like to whip everyone into a frenzy. It’s good business. Weather predictions don’t carry issues of journalistic responsibility. No one can call you to task for being wrong because, after all, it’s the weather.

The frenzy is not harmless. Every weather event is presented as if it’s the end of the world. It’s impossible to figure out if this next thing is serious or more of the same.

Should we lay in supplies? Ignore it? Plan to evacuate? Fill all the water containers? Cancel travel plans? Make travel plans? Head for public shelters?

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Hysteria is exhausting and worse, it’s numbing. Some of us worry about the possibility of weeks without electricity. Telling us our world is ending is upsetting if you believe it. It is even more dangerous if it’s serious, and we don’t believe it.

They shouldn’t say that stuff unless it’s true. Or might be true. At the least, it’s rude to scare us to death, and then say “Sorry folks.”

You can’t unring the bell. When the real deal occurs — as it did this winter — we don’t listen. Weather forecasting may not be legally subject to standards or accuracy, but maintaining credibility might be worthwhile. I’m just saying, you know?

NEW ENGLAND PANORAMA

Thursday’s Special: Panorama

Today the Thursday’s Special theme is Panorama. It does not to have to be a panorama of an ancient city, or city at all, nor does it have to be a photo stitched of multiple images as in my case of Venice. Show me your pictures of views that you found inspiring.

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I don’t stitch images. I don’t do HDR. I don’t have a panorama camera. I do, however, take vistas when I see them because they can be breathtaking. I can’t resist an amazing image.

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All of these are favorites. Mountains and valleys … and a city. Extra points if you can spot Fenway Park!

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AT NOON IN SUNSHINE

High Noon

I was up rather earlier this morning than I wanted to be. Noon seemed a rather long time away, but I got into editing a few photos and time just flew. Suddenly, it was 11:40 am … twenty minutes before noon. I grabbed the camera.

The sun was shining. We’ve had a lot of rain recently, so almost all the snow is gone except for a patch way back in the woods. You can see it, if you look carefully.

An hour and a half later, the sun is gone. The sky is gray and it’s cold, suddenly. Oh well.

LAST BIRDS OF WINTER

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Slowly, the ice and snow is melting. Very slowly. Huge piles of frozen slush. The birds are still hanging around and we have had a bit of additional fluffy snow.

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Nothing serious, not enough to cover the ground that is finally exposed. The birds have been pecking away at the ground.

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I’m sure they are very happy to find some live food, some green. Even if it is just moss.

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OUT MY WINDOW – WHAT DO YOU SEE?

I woke up at a little after six this morning and my fuzzy eyes were immediately caught by an incredible glow coming in my window. It was dawn, just before sunrise and the entire sky was blazing deep pink and gold. I had my camera just a hand grab away and took some pictures. My friends, the breakfast club juncos were out in force, too. Here are a few pictures of my morning.

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What do you see when you look out your window? My view is breathtaking.

There seems to be some kind of misunderstanding. We’ve had a very hard — if brief — winter. We’ve had a huge amount of snow during a rather short period. While it’s easy to not want to be buried up to ones lip in snow and ice, I wouldn’t swap life here in this beautiful valley for city sidewalks. Not again. Been there — for a very long time, including a decade overseas — and am done with that.

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Public transport is a wonderful thing. Throughout my New York city childhood and teens, I used the subway as a matter of course. I didn’t even think about it. I rode buses and subways. I was young, spry. And I had no choice.

In Jerusalem, I rode buses. Jerusalem is an old city with narrow roads. The price of petrol was high and parking was scarce, so I didn’t bring my car into the city, but I used is for lots of other things. When I got back to the States and moved to Boston, I never used the T. By the time I moved to Boston, I was done with hauling ass into smelly, noisy subway stations. Sitting in trains packed body-to-body. Moreover, buses have all the same issues as cars. They are subject to the same traffic and tie-ups.

Garry and I lived downtown, in the middle of the city. We could walk most places in halfway decent weather. I had great muscles in my Boston years. I was still agile enough to haul myself and the groceries uphill and not need to call an ambulance afterward. Later, we moved to Roxbury, at the edge of the city. There was plenty of parking on the street and in the parking lot of our condominium. Our doctor was in the suburbs. We did everything except grocery shopping in the suburbs. I was a wrong way commuter when I didn’t work at home.

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Garry worked at weird hours, so usually, traffic wasn’t a major issue. Then came The Big Dig, the gigantic public works project which tore Boston apart for more than 15 years. We fled to the country and we still live here.

Do I yearn for city life, with its restaurants and convenient public transport? Not really. I like an occasional jaunt into town, but I’ve no desire to live there. I certainly hope I’ve never conveyed that impression. Of course I’d definitely appreciate less brutal winters, but when you add up the columns … positive vs. negative… New England wins every time. I love the culture of the region. I love the natural beauty, the rivers, the valley. The birds. I love the farm around the corner.  The architecture. The intense blueness of state politics.

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I’m deeply grateful for the great, universal health care. Amazing health care and state-of-the-art, world-class facilities. And doctors, without whom I’d be dead thrice over.

Pity about the miserable winters … but I’m not going to trade living someplace I love for someplace with easier winters. Not in this life, but maybe next time.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.