INSTIGATE A PERSONAL SEARCH FOR WEATHER-RELATED HOME DAMAGE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Instigate

I don’t have much time today — heart doctor followup in a few hours.

This has been an exceptionally busy week with doctor appointments for either Garry or me for every day, not counting Labor Day. Plus, I’m still trying to figure out what to do with our house.

Damaged gutters from falling branches

As we drove to the doctor yesterday, I was looking at all the houses as we passed and realized that every vinyl-sided house appeared — on one or more walls — like ours. Even houses that began the year in near-perfect condition were obviously rain-damaged. Even cedar shakes are soaked through, dark and wet looking — which means the walls behind them are wet too.

The whole house looks kind of like this. The green mold is dampness and rain

We are not going to be alone trying to get our so-called insurance companies to pay for the damage. There has been a calamitous amount of storm damage this year. Are ALL the insurance companies going to claim it’s “just” normal wear and tear? Even homes that were normally perfectly maintained look beaten.

This looks exactly like our house. Same color vinyl and everything

From as far away as Alberta (Canada) to Arizona (where it doesn’t rain!), to parts of southern California, reports are coming in that this has been the rainiest period anyone can remember — and most of the people saying that are not kids. They are our age, a little more or less.

Foundations break apart from the never-ending rain

I got a letter from the insurance company promising to send an adjuster one day soon. Except the adjuster came and went last Friday. Good to know MAPFRE is right up to date! If they don’t even know they already sent an adjuster, I can be pretty sure they haven’t even looked at our claim, much less done anything with it.

When the trunks of the trees and the earth are wet enough, trees fall

The good news? The adjuster said that the damage is confined to just that wall and is NOT spreading to the rest of the house — and that he was able to measure for actual water which means damage is very recent.

For all of you who haven’t yet taken a good look at your houses, maybe this is a good time to do it. Instigate a family investigation of every part of your house, from the roof to foundation. Look closely at everything.

The weather isn’t going to improve and I wonder if any place is going to be safe after a while. When you get down to it, our houses are only permanent for as long as they want to be. If the weather keeps getting crazier, no one’s house is going to be secure unless it’s on top of a hill and built from natural stone. Even castles have rooves, siding, and foundations that can be water-damaged. Many already have been.

Then, there are plagues of insects that appear. We have never had a plague (two, actually) of lethal virus-bearing mosquitoes until this year. We’ve had a few bad ones that came up on vegetable trucks or cars, but not like this summer. They too are part of the changing climate.

When the trees get sufficiently soaked through trunk and root, they collapse. It’s all mud with nothing to hold them firmly in the ground. Crops won’t grow in mud, either.

Hard not to notice something bad is going on underneath, but insurance can’t see it

And now, as they track Dorian up the coast, so far they are predicting it will mangle parts of the Carolinas. With a little bit of luck, most of the worst of it will miss our area — except (naturally) a lot of rain, wind, thunder, and lightning. What a shock! We haven’t seen (sarcasm font start here) much of that.

Climate change.

Is it legal to yearn that Mara Lago will blowdown or sink during a category 5 hurricane? Can we at least hope that he who has brought so much trouble on us will reap the whirlwind? Surely something wet with howling wind is bound to hit him.

I get a little thrill merely thinking about it.

SHARING MY VERY DAMP WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World 9-3-19

From Melanie: Wow. September. Where did the summer go?  I’m not at all sure…anyway.  This week finds us with some more questions, but this week they’re all ‘deep’ ones requiring a little thought. Enjoy!”

I know where MY summer went and I hope I can forget it ASAP.

Spring was long, nasty, cold, and full of hard-driving rainstorms with lots of wind. We didn’t get a real winter. No real snow at all, so we got our first blizzard (the only blizzard, actually) around my birthday in early March.

Finally, it started to warm up, but mostly, it rained. And rained. The wind howled and sometimes it was raining so hard and for so long the house sounded like a loud faucet was running somewhere. Now that Garry can hear, he was amazed at how loud rain can be. It reminded me why I didn’t spend the extra money on a steel roof … and why I wish I had — at the same time.

Raiin on the window

A steel roof is forever, or at least as close to forever as any roof can get. It’s also noisy. Rain, sleet, hale … it’s like a million little beasties racing madly around your roof. Not to mention that they cost at least four times what a standard asphalt roof costs. But they never leak and they don’t grow lichens or other greenery, either. Win some, lose some. You take your best guess and hope it works out.

As soon as it warmed up, we grew a million daylilies and that was great, but we’d get one day of sun or at least gray skies followed by three days of howling winds and torrential rain. It was mud city. You couldn’t even mow your lawn because it was sodden.

That was followed — finally — in August, with lovely, cool dry weather. And Eastern Equine Encephalitis mosquitoes and all the nice autumn fairs got canceled because the killer mosquitoes were out.

Aw, c’mon! Really?

This was approximately when I realized something was wrong on the south-west side of the house. All that rain, you know? The climate change that hasn’t arrived seems to indeed have arrived. At least here it has.

Now, we need to strip off the vinyl, remove the mush that’s underneath it, and replace the wall, or at least most of the lower level with a new wall. Get rid of the rotting door and replace it with a window (we never use the door anyway) and get a carpenter to repair the wooden doors to the shop.

Rainy morning squirrel shaking rain off his coat

I’m wishing we’d had time to powerwash the house because it’s green with mold. Did you know vinyl can grow green mold? It’s not lethal or poisonous. It actually looks like green pollen that got stuck. It just isn’t attractive.

It made me realize for all the years we’ve been paying insurance on our houses — since 1965 — they have yet to actually pay for any damage to any house in any state. Talk about being taken over by corporations. You know all those advertisements about how insurance companies are protecting you? They aren’t.

It’s a lie. The only thing they are protecting is the value of the property owned by the mortgage company. I can’t even calculate how many years we’ve paid home insurance and it never crossed my mind that they don’t cover anything except a tree falling on the house (unless they decide you should have taken down the tree in which case it’s your fault anyway), and fire. They might cover home invasion, but I’m not sure.

I’m still thinking about the post I will write about this, how we are forced — absolutely required — to pay for home insurance or we can’t get a mortgage. Why don’t we read all the little tiny print on the policy? Because we have to have insurance, so no matter what it says, we will sign it.

It’s just like accepting the terms of your operating system for your PC or Mac. Sign or don’t use your computer. There is no option to argue about the terms, so you sign. Nobody reads them.

The most common lie everyone everywhere tells is that they read and understand the terms of that contract. NO ONE reads it and if we did understand it, what difference would it make? We can’t NOT sign it.

And now, on to the questions.

QUESTIONS:

When you’re 90 years old, what do you suppose will matter most to you?

Breathing.

What’s the best way to spend a rainy afternoon?

Brooding on how we used to sometimes have sunshine and playing bridge on the computer.

What is one thing you don’t understand about yourself?

How I lived long enough to see the world change into this bizarre, hate-filled mess.

When was the last time you tried something to look ‘cool’ (hip), but it ended in utter embarrassment?  Details?

About a year ago, my granddaughter dyed my hair to get the yellow out of it. It wasn’t utter embarrassment. It actually looked pretty good.

We have a lot of iron in our well water and it turns everything pink or yellow — Including my white hair. I bought some more of the same dye. I hope I don’t make a total mess of the project.

BISHKEK ANYONE? – RICH PASCHALL

 Where in the world is … ?  by Rich Paschall

One of many things that surprises me about “modern” education is the absence of geography as part of the school curriculums. When I’ve asked any young person during the last two decades if they’ve taken geography in school, the answer is usually the same.  “Geography?  What’s that?”

When I was in school, we studied geography.  We had geography books.  The classroom had maps so we could understand where in the world we were and where the rest of the world was.  These were huge maps that rolled up like a window shade.  There were pictures pinned to a bulletin board of various places we could study.

Geography courses were our window to the rest of the world, our introduction to other people and cultures. I always found it interesting, although I did not know at the time just how useful it would become.

Earth

There were many things about geography that I did not find so interesting.  The topography was lost on someone who lived in an area that is completely flat.  Information about crops and commerce held no delight at the grade school level.  The local currency meant nothing to a boy with a tiny allowance.

Climate was interesting, however, to someone who had experienced the severity of all four seasons.  I could not imagine living somewhere that had a colder climate then we have in winter.  I did imagine that places with warmer weather throughout the year would be great to visit, especially in winter.  Pictures of green mountains or long, sandy beaches fueled my imagination.  I did not think I would ever get to travel much, but the views of great scenery and different types of structures were the joys of my young fantasy vacations.

Lost Dutchman now found

With the news of the world more available than ever, you would think that geography would be an important field of study to more than the CIA.  Perhaps those in charge of various school boards around the country do not think so.  Can you match these cities recently in the news with their countries?


Match the city with the country to which it belongs:

City                              Country
Mogadishu                United States
Castañer                    Israel
Bishkek                      Turkey
Ankara                       Kyrgyzstan
Tiberias                     Somalia


When I was first working in freight forwarding, a young person was trying to pronounce the name written on one of the folders. She may have been filing items by destination. To just look at it, you would not think it a mystery, but this uneducated person was lost.

“Tell a, Tayla, tellavi…”

At that, a very annoyed supervisor in another group yelled over to our area, “Tel Aviv! Tel Aviv! It’s in the news sometimes.”

It was the capital of Israel at the time, and it is the only international airport in the country. I guess we are always stunned by people who do not know the capital cities or the largest airports of any country.

Do they know their own state’s capital?

By the way, the supervisor shouting the name of the city across the office remains one of our favorite air freight stories. It also points to the deficiency in our education on geography.

Another part of Earth

When I got a job in air freight, I think I already had a good idea of the capitals and major cities of most countries, and now I have come to learn their airport codes as well. The locations of major hubs of commerce and the airlines that fly there are key to our success.

You could put Asian freight on Lufthansa, who makes its first stop in Frankfurt, but it may make more sense to put it on a carrier going west to Asia.  It really depends where you are. If you are on the east coast, for example, it might be better to send it east.  Lufthansa does go to most places in the world.  If you are in Chicago, west is usually better.

Oh, come on … take a wild guess!

We can send your Shanghai freight from Chicago on a European carrier, but the distance will be greater to fly east, the cost will likely be more and the time of travel will be greater. No plane would have the range to go nonstop.  However, there are Chinese carriers, as well as American Airlines, who fly nonstop from ORD (Chicago, O’Hare) to PVG (Shanghai, China).

Because of competition, you are likely to get a good rate for the faster transit.  In freight forwarding, it is important to have an idea where everything is located in order to make the best routing decisions.

This is true for your vacation trip as well.  When I tell people I have gone to Alsace, France, they usually conclude I must have flown to Paris.  The truth is, I usually fly to Frankfurt, Germany which is about the same distance from Strasbourg and is usually cheaper.  I have also considered the Euro-Airport at Mulhouse, France which is closer, and the airport at Zürich, Switzerland.

Strasbourg, France

Grab a map and discover the world.

Here are the answers, although I am tempted to tell you to grab a Geography book or just Google it.

1 – Mogadishu is the capital of war-torn Somalia.
2 – Bishkek is the capital of Kyrgyzstan.
3 – Ankara is the capital of the Republic of Turkey.  You probably thought it was Istanbul.
4 – You can swim in the Sea of Galilee from Tiberias, a favorite city of the Roman Emporer who originally built the city.
5 – Castaner is a mountain community in Puerto Rico that was devastated by the hurricane.  Yes, it is part of the US.  But there is a city (town) of the same name in the United Kingdom.
6 – Can you find Ouagadougou on a map?
7 – Do you own a map?

SHARE MY WORLD ASSUMING WORD PRESS DOESN’T CRUMBLE – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World – 8-20-19

QUESTIONS:   

What would be your solution to the overpopulation of the earth?  Earth has finite resources and humanity seems to be breeding themselves to extinction.   Some countries have tried restricting the number of children a couple or a person can have, with little success.  So what other viable options are there for reducing the number of people? 

Let me start out by pointing out that I don’t have answers. I mostly have fears.

Although overpopulation is a major part of our problems of surviving on Earth — especially in places like China and India where over-population has been an issue for centuries — the even bigger problem is over-building and mindless destruction of our natural environment. Water and earth pollution, as well as the poisons we use to “protect” our vegetables and other plants.

The fundamental combination of ingredients we use to increase nutrients in the soil — nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium — although they are essential to healthy plant growth, fertilizer needs to be used in moderation based on the rain for the region. More rain means the soil gets “washed.” In arid regions, such”fertilizers” are poison.

Weed poisons — Monsanto seems to make a lot of them — not only poison our water, but also kill the birds. A few years ago, we had robins nesting on our porch and all over the woods until one neighbor decided to use Monsanto weed poison.

The robins fell over dead in their nests. Baby robins were never born.

Dry lake at Manchaug

It was horrible and really depressing. Although a few robins have returned, they are relatively rare now instead of (as they used to be) the most common summertime bird.

Dried out Mumford River in Uxbridge

Nitrogen, a major part of fertilizer, is only viable in areas that get plenty of rain. Without the rain, the nitrogen builds up in the soil, sinks down and poisons the aquifer. It happened in Israel while I lived there. I worked at the part of the university which monitored the condition of the country’s air and water. Israel is a dry country with a climate much like Arizona. Our people went from one Kibbutz to the next Kibbutz warning all of them that continuing to use nitrogen-based fertilizer would poison the aquifer by 1985.

We were wrong.

It poisoned the aquifer in 1982. Now, there is no aquifer in the country. All the water comes in tankers from Turkey or from the Sea of Galilee (called “The Galil – pronounced “Ga-leel”). In an arid climate, rainy and dry years are normal events. One always prayers for normal rain, but droughts are part of the climate pattern and can last for years.

This is why part of the annual prayer cycle includes the autumnal prayers for rain. On a good year, there will be rain clouds by late October or early November. On a bad year, you may see very little rain at all and not until December. Considering that spring starts in January, that doesn’t leave much time for rain.

Empty dam at Manchaug

A few years ago, The Galil was more than 13 meters lower than normal and I don’t know how it’s doing now. I understand they have added desalinization plants that are helping, but the population of the country has more than doubled (tripled?) since I left in 1987.

FYI, a meter is one yard plus 3 inches, so 13 meters is just under 120 feet below normal. Boats that sank during the time of Jesus were showing up because the water was so low.

We don’t merely overpopulate the world. We misuse it. The combination is lethal, at least for mammals, of which we are one. Between our enthusiasm for killing anything we think looks good stuffed and hanging on a wall and the natural destruction that farming and housing cause … the rate of destruction of large mammals is insane and with our current idiotic president, getting worse day-by-day.

There really isn’t a lot of time left to fix the climate to make this world livable for the next generations. We aren’t waiting for climate change. It has arrived. And when you live in cities like New York and Boston which actually lie below sea level, a rise in sea levels won’t take long to swamp our shorelines. East and west coast cities are in imminent danger and the flooding in the midwest is catastrophic.

Whatever we SHOULD be doing to fix our climate? We aren’t doing it.

What’s invisible but you wish people could see?

Roaring Dam: Photo: Garry Armstrong – Behind the dam is a mountain of poisonous soil from the factories and mills that used the Blackstone to dump their pollution over the years. They can’t take down the dams because it would release the poisoned soil.

The poisons in the soil, air, and water.

What’s the most ridiculous fact you know?

I think life is ridiculous, our government is idiotic, and an awful lot of our population is incredibly stupid. There’s no way I could pick out one part of that as the MOST ridiculous.

What are the unwritten rules of where you work? If you don’t work (retired or unemployed) what are the unwritten rules you live your life by?

Dogs eat first.

How do you feel about putting pineapple on pizza?

Pineapple is delicious on ham and I love fresh pineapple. It doesn’t belong on pizza. But other countries put even worse stuff on pizza like peas and corn. El yucko.

Toilet paper, over or under?

Over. Even the patent for the toilet paper roll shows it over, not under. The only reason for putting it underneath is that you have kittens who think unrolling the entire roll is tons of fun.

What’s the best type of cheese?

Remains of the feast
Cheese!

I’m torn between blue/Roquefort, strong cheddar, hard parmesan, and romano. But really, I just like cheese! Almost all cheese except whatever that yellow mushy stuff they call “American” cheese is. Whatever you call it, it ain’t cheese.

RAINDROPS KEEP FALLING ON MY HEAD, GARDEN, CAR, BIRDS, SQUIRRELS … Marilyn Armstrong

A Photo a Week Challenge: Raindrops

It has been raining more in the past few months than in any other months in the history of weather records, which is more than 200 years. April was the rainiest month ever recorded. Surprisingly, I don’t have a lot of rain pictures because I got pretty sulky about the rain and refused to go out unless it was a doctor’s appointment or grocery shopping. But I have a lot of pictures of birds and squirrels in the rain.

They don’t seem to mind. Or maybe having no choice in the matter, rain is just there, like the wind and the trees. It’s life in the big woods. Like snow and heat. When outside is home, the weather is life.

This squirrel is actually shaking off the raindrops.
Rain on Election day. Probably should have known it wasn’t going our way.
Rain on the window
Rain on the feeder’s roof
Rain on the Cowbirds

THE CHANGING SEASONS: FEBRUARY 2019 – Marilyn and Garry Armstrong

The Changing Seasons: February 2019

This has been a very strange winter. Instead of what we usually get — mountains of snow accompanied by very cold weather — we got a tiny bit of snow, a fair amount of sleet, and a lot of rain and wind.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – House and some snow
Aldrich Street – Photo: Garry Armstrong

In a lot of ways, this is a good summary of this winter. A little snow, a lot of sleet, and when this picture was taken, 60 mph winds were blowing.

And of course, there were the birds. Two bird feeders, about 100 pounds of birdseed … and one Panasonic 4/3 telephoto 100-300 mm lens later …

And of course, our Christmas cactus that has been in more or less continuous bloom since Thanksgiving ..

And more pictures from Garry.

Photo: Garry Armstrong
If you look beyond the fence, you’ll see Gibbs and the Duke by the front steps
Photo: Garry Armstrong

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

    • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
    • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
    • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them
Bonnie and living room

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

    • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
    • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
    • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.
Three bright birds

If you do a ping-back to this post, Su-Leslie will update it with links to all the other photographers.

WEATHER AND WINTER – Marilyn Armstrong

Our weather is weird. In the past decade, we’ve had winters where we are buried in 12 feet (about three meters) of snow next to winters where we don’t get any snow — or so little, we never need to shovel. Or this winter where mostly, it has been so warm with a day or two of cold, then more warm weather. We’ve had the rainiest spring, fall, and winter ever recorded or remembered. It’s pouring right now.

Cold Cardinal Monday

It’s late January — and our dogs are picking up ticks. The ground has not frozen.

Two days ago it was -4 Fahrenheit (-20 Celsius) and today, it’s 50 Fahrenheit (10 Celsius) and it’s pouring rain. Three days ago, we got snow and then freezing rain, winding up with an inch of solid ice on everything. It was like cement. Immovable.

Today is Thursday. It’s warm, raining hard, and blowing a gale.  Everything is washing away. Not a bird in sight because the wind is too strong and they dare not fly. The wind is so powerful our 150-foot (46-meter) oak trees are swaying in the wind like grass. Kind of scary because should one of them fall we are underneath the trees. Big trees. Very big.

An early January morning

Germany used to be a cold country. So was Switzerland. Now they get spring and summer before us. Although New England has always had erratic weather patterns, we had seasonal winds and water temperature that was typical year-to-year. We knew where the weather came from and what it meant. Now, we know nothing. The northern storms are not coming down. Our storms are coming up from the south or the west. No more “Montreal Express” to bring down the arctic weather.

How come ticks are alive in January? We’re going to have massive invasions of insects because of how warm it has been through much of what ought to be winter. Parts of our house are damp and beginning to rot from the rain.

The sun from the east

We get cold days, but just a day or two at a time. Then, it warms up overnight and it’s sort of spring again. I don’t mind not having icy roads, but I mind not having seasons! I never thought I’d hear myself say it, but I actually miss the snow.

We’ve always been weak on Spring. We used to laugh that we got exactly enough time to race down to the local department store — when we had department stores — and buy a bathing suit between the last snow and the first daffodils.

This year, we also missed Autumn, the one really good season we get around here.

Are we getting climate change? It would appear we are in the middle of it. The winds are not blowing from the same directions they used to. The ocean is too warm. Birds are not migrating. Bears aren’t hibernating.

What is our world doing about it? Not much.

And eastern morning …

As for the depression that comes with winter darkness, that’s the only thing that hasn’t changed. I write my way through it. I take pictures of birds. It helps.

Writing helps most. It gets dreary in the winter. Dark until well into the morning and dark again long before dinner. We may change the weather, but so far, we have not managed to change the rotation of the earth or how it circles the sun — or tilts towards or away from the burning orb in the middle.

Last March!

Even among the many who believe in climate change, no one has any idea what to do about it. It’s such a big thing and we are little tiny people living in a damaged world.