Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: March 18, 2018

Snowy selfie – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Oddballs. I have been taking a lot of strange pictures in the house. The outside has been difficult to negotiates. Garry, though, has been out there, frozen fingers and all. Kudos to him!

Although a lot of snow has melted, especially on areas that get a lot of sun, there’s still plenty around elsewhere.

Two happy dogs! Photo: Garry Armstrong

The woods is full of snow and along the road, there are huge piles of it created by the plows.

Recycling only please! Photo Garry Armstrong
Gibbs fully enjoying snowstorm

It’s a good time to follow Gibbs’ lead: enjoy the sofa. Have another cup of coffee!

Warm inside, snow outside



I sallied forth into the cold white world with the Olympus OMD. One lens, the 12-50mm telephoto. I left the camera bag and lens cap inside so I wouldn’t have to fiddle with them.

Home in the snow
Up the driveway. We had no idea how much we would hate this driveway when we bought the house.

I can’t shoot with gloves on and in that kind of cold, my hands go numb pretty quickly. Five minutes into shooting, I can no long adjust the lens.

More about Duke
Home, with tractor

I am not a big fan of snow, which is probably an odd thing for someone who has spent his entire adult life in New England. Not to mention having covered just about every blizzard that occurred in the region for 31 years.

Our road and the snow  – and a school bus
Another dangerous dog

There are a lot more pictures, but since Marilyn does the processing, these are the ones she had time to work on. More photographs to come but hopefully, no more snow!

Just under 28 inches.


I cannot begin to express how tired I am of winter. I was doing okay. Even through the last two nor’easters, I was alright. I figured after two big storms in less than a week and a half, we were done and spring was going to pop right out of the cold earth.

Not exactly.

This was a huge storm. We didn’t get the high winds that they got along the coast and down on the cape, but we got about two feet of snow and it’s pretty heavy. Because we didn’t get the wind, the snow is heavy in the trees and has not fallen off at all.

The trees are all bent over and I wonder how many of them are going to break. They are obviously stressed.


Photo: Garry Armstrong

The dogs — at least The Duke and Bonnie — have been enjoying it. Gibbs is not much of a weather dog. He’s a “lay in the sun all day” kind of dog. He has a spot on a rock in the front of the house and he has been known to just lay there for hours soaking up the sun. So snow and ice … he doesn’t hate it, but he isn’t thrilled about it either.

Gibbs enjoying the snow

Bonnie, though, loves snow. Always has. She was a Halloween puppy and her whole upbringing was during one of our worst winters. I think her earliest memories are bounding around the yard in the snow while mom stands there in her night-gown, boots, overcoat, gloves, and hat begging her to do her thing so mom can go back to bed. Three in the morning in a foot of snow with a howling wind was not the optimum time for puppy training. But it got done and Bonnie was left with a genuine passion for snow.

Digging out

Duke probably never saw snow until he moved here, but he has been having a lot of fun with it, finally. Once he decided that cold feet wasn’t such a big deal after all.

Meanwhile, it looks like another universe out there. I have never seen snow so heavy lying on the trees and not falling off. Usually, the snow falls within an hour after the snow stops, but when darkness fell, it was still up there in the trees.



They began talking about another big storm at the end of last week. I was trying to not listen because I’ve had it with winter. It has been pretty warm … well at least not bitterly cold. We’ve had two nor’easters in less than two weeks, so what were the odds of having another one?

Yesterday, the morning arrived with a brilliant blue sky. We already knew that there was a storm brewing and we hustled to try and get everything done before whatever it was that would hit us.

When we got home from the MVB and the doctor and the post office, the sky wasn’t blue. It was filling up with storm clouds.

Tuning in the weather on TV, we were assured we’re absolutely getting snow. A lot of snow. More than a foot  and possibly twice that. What happened to our tentative grasp on spring? The dawning hope of flowers?

And there’s twice this amount by now …

When I first got up this morning, I opened the insulated curtains and looked outside. About an inch and a half, I figured. Then I turned on the computer and realized … that was just the beginning. There was at least another foot, maybe a foot and a half still to come.

I went back to bed. I saw absolutely no point in getting up. When I finally poked my head out of the covers a couple of hours later, there was a lot more snow on the ground … on everything. I told the dogs to stop being ninnies and go on out, which they did. Complaining, then, suddenly delighted. They kept coming in, covered in snow, having me towel them down, then running right back out. They don’t need spring. This is great, right Ma?

Right kids.

Not spring quite yet.

Will this winter never end? Between the brutality of politics and the cruelty of weather, the news is giving me a headache.

Branches and snow – spring will be delayed until the tracks are cleared. Thank you for your patience.

Nor is there any guarantee this will be the last storm of the season.  It’s March. You just never know what’s coming next.

NOTE: Posts like this take a lot longer than you think. I have to take the pictures, process them, and finally post something. I apologize for being so slow, but all that takes time!


Today is my birthday.

It’s also the anniversary of the biggest, baddest blizzard to ever hit the east coast of the United States. The early part of March is frequently stormy. Blizzards are common, though usually the snow melts quickly in the spring.

Woods in winter

I appear to have been destined for snowy climes. This is not only the story of a storm, but a cautionary tale to never forget winter isn’t over until the daffodils are in bloom. You can never overestimate how dangerous weather in this region can be, especially in the spring when wind patterns become unstable.

I was born in Brooklyn, New York on March 11. There had been a blizzard a few days before, but apparently it wasn’t a problem because I was safely born in Brooklyn Women’s Hospital. Nonetheless, throughout my childhood, no one in my family ever forgot to mention the blizzard that had hit right before I was born — they called me “the blizzard baby — and everyone still talked about my birthday storm from 1888.

Home in winter

Early March is a fine time for big snowstorms in the northeast. March 11, 1888 brought the biggest winter storm to ever hit the region. Known locally as the Brooklyn Blizzard of 1888 and up and down the east coast as the Great White Hurricane, it is my birthday blizzard, a foretaste of Marilyn to come. Or something like that.

Downtown crossing right after the 1978 blizzard

It was the worst blizzard to ever hit New York city and broke records from Virginia to Maine. It remains one of the worst — and most famous — storms in United States history. Accumulations of 40 to 50 inches were recorded. It’s hard to picture how much snow that is unless you’ve been through a few really big snowstorms. The deepest snow from one storm in my life so far was 28 inches. That’s only a bit more than half the amount of the 1888 blizzard. Despite all the changes and improvements to technology and infrastructure, that volume of snow would still paralyze us today. It’s more snow than any infrastructure can handle.

Did I mention snow is heavy? 50 inches on a standard roof will cause it to cave in. It would crush us.

It wasn’t merely a snow storm. The super storm included sub-zero temperatures and gale force winds. It was one of those occasions when people get put in their place, forcibly reminded of how strong Mother Nature is.

The storm blanketed areas of  New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut. It carried with it sustained winds of more than 45 miles per hour. It produced drifts in excess of 50 feet. My house, at its peak, is about 40 feet, so so we are talking about drifts as high as a three-story building.

All forms of transportation were stopped. Roads and railroads were unusable. People were trapped in their houses for up to a week.

The Great White Hurricane paralyzed the U.S. East Coast from the Chesapeake Bay to Maine. The storm extended all the way up into the Atlantic provinces of Canada. The telegraph went down, leaving  major cities including Montreal, New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Boston without communication for days to weeks. Because of the storm, New York began putting its telegraph and telephone wiring underground to protect it from future disasters.

The seas and coastlines were not spared. In total, from the Virginia coast to New England, more than 200 ships were grounded or wrecked and more than 100 seamen died.

130 years later, no winter storm has yet topped the big one of 1888.


We lost power in a big wind and rain storm a few weeks ago. Our power was out for 24 hours but we didn’t suffer much at all. We have a generator that powers most of the house. We had most of our lights and our heat was on, as was our refrigerator and freezer. The toilets all flushed. So we were in pretty good shape.

Except that our internet was out, which meant no phones, no texting, no emails. Our only means of communication was our fax machine phone, which is a land line not connected to the cloud. So I could let people know that we were okay but would be incommunicado for a while.

Everything should have been fine. But we were freaked out! We have become so dependent on the internet that we went into a mini withdrawal. The newspapers we read obsessively are all online. Facebook is a valued part of my day. I’m used to being in constant contact with friends and family.

It’s weird how discombobulated we felt during our 24 hours offline. I read actual books and played games on my phone a lot. Tom watched MSNBC 24/7. So we adapted.

Flash forward a few weeks. We were expecting a blizzard with high accumulations of snow. We got snow but nowhere near the amount expected. Great. We dodged a bullet.

Except that the snow was very heavy and coated the trees that are all around us. Tree limbs were cracking like twigs all over the county, and probably the state. Power lines went down right and left. We lost power again, as did 40% of our town. Our trusty generator kicked right in, but, as usual, we did lose internet and phones.

Initially we also lost our TV reception because the snow-covered our satellite dish. This was unacceptable to Tom. He could only take so much technology deprivation at one time. So he went outside, in the cold and dark, to try to McGyver the snow off our very tall roof. He decided he would use the garden hose to blast the snow off the satellite dish. It was a comedy of errors. One hose was broken. The other hose, that was on the wrong side of the house, was frozen to the house socket. He tried numerous other tactics, to no avail.

After an hour of freezing and lots of cursing, Tom gave up. He came back into the house, changed out of his cold and soaking wet clothes and sat down in his favorite chair. He was frustrated and defeated.

POOF! Suddenly the TV just came back on! The snow must have melted or fallen off of the satellite dish. We were back in business, TV wise. So Tom could get his news fix. But we still felt disconnected – literally and figuratively. We were going to have to hunker down and deal with it for up to two days before power was restored to our area.

But we were in much better shape than our friends a few streets away. They don’t have a generator. And my friend works from home so she can’t be without internet access. In addition, my friend’s mother has cancer and is on a feeding tube, which relies on power to work. Her power was also out. So my friend had to pack up her mom, with all her medications and medical equipment, and move to a hotel suite in a neighboring town. My friend could work there but the hotel doesn’t take dogs, so she had to put her dog in a kennel. What a mess!

Our backyard in the snow

When I was a kid, losing power was an adventure involving lots of candles and cooking over the fire in the fireplace. We often had to move food from our frig and freezer to a friend’s house who had power. We also had to try to bring water in from the swimming pool so we could flush our toilets. It was a hardship, but somehow we made it into a fun time working with our family to survive the crisis.

Today, without power, we are in the lap of luxury compared to the old days of my childhood. Yet somehow it feels worse. It’s no fun. It’s not an exciting challenge. It’s just a kind of isolation that is very uncomfortable. This is one time when I do miss the good old days!



All that drenching rain came pouring out of the skies — and it wasn’t the first time in the past couple of weeks, either. What had remained of grass in the front of the house  was just dried or almost dried mud. When these rains came, it washed the mud down from the upper lawn and turned the sidewalk into a mess of oozy brown mud.

Many leaves will fall!

It’s pretty awful out there. Drying out as we speak, but what to do?

Between two old and broken backs and arthritis crawling into every part of two skeletons, it’s hard to figure how we will get it cleaned up. It’s not like the dogs … who think layers of dirt are just fine, thank you … are likely to help. Right now, the yard is exactly the way they like it. There are fallen branches and twigs everywhere plus all the leaves that fell after last fall’s cleanup.

Our leaves are a three-stage process. During the early Autumn days, the maple leaves fall first. As soon as the color fades, they come down like rain into giant leafy drifts. Owen usually cleans them up. He has a machine to do that and it helps.

The storm of yesterday

The next wave of falling leaves consist of half the oaks, as well as the sassafras, any remaining maples, and the few other deciduous trees such as the Catalpa. Owen gets them, too, or most of them. There are always a few which are missed.

Finally, there are the leaves we don’t collect because they hang on the limbs until winter. Some don’t fall until the following spring. The last, late oak leaves don’t drop until late November or December. No one cleans them up because there is usually snow on the ground by then. There are — I don’t think this is much of an exaggeration — millions of leaves every autumn. Anyone who wanted to live in a woods and thought it would be romantic was right — except that living in a woods gets complicated and often messy.

You can’t leave the sodden leaves rotting against your house because it’s unhealthy for the house. It keeps your foundation damp. Damp foundations are unhappy foundations.

The bed of leaves remaining in what we humorously call “the garden” goes to insulate flowers (and weeds) from the bitter cold. We certainly had a bitterly cold winter. January was one of the coldest months on record. It was so cold, we didn’t get nearly as much snow as usual because when it’s that cold, the air is too dry to make snow.

But then, we moved abruptly — in a matter of hours — from well below freezing into the extremely springlike, mild temperatures. All of February was punctuated by a couple of warm days followed by a couple of bitter days. A bit of snow, a bit more snow, more melting … and deluges of rain.

Window outward

It’s a mess around here and I feel I should shut up about it because however much of a mess we have got, a lot of other people have a lot worse with which to contend. We didn’t lose any trees. Our roof is intact. No cars or people were crushed. We have some small branches and a million twigs everywhere, but no larger life-threatening limbs fell. Something of a minor miracle considering what might well have occurred.

These are the times when being old is a significant deficit. If we had even a little more money — we got whacked last year by the door replacement (Thanks Bob, for the help or we’d never have made it!), the exploded hot water heater (third times the charm?) and adding a stair climber to the steps from the front door to the living room. But to use the climber requires a viable walkway from driveway to door … and right now, we don’t have one. Fortunately, I can still lumber my way up the extra steps from the basement. I notice that Garry is beginning to have trouble with the steps too, these days.

The long driveway when the leaves are (mostly) gone

The great truth is we are not getting younger. Garry is in good shape for a man turning 76, but he is turning 76. He was never handy around the house. That is a kind way of saying that he has never had either interest or aptitude for house stuff. For years, Owen took care of it, but Owen moved out and doesn’t have nearly enough time to take care of it … and Owen himself is eligible for AARP. How time flies!

Withe the failure of our government to support older people both in health care and generally in keeping them from falling below the poverty line, hiring others to do the work isn’t really in the cards. We got a 2% raise in Social Security last year — less than $5 per month per check and of course retirement funds never go up, so whatever you got last year, any inflation means you are that percentage poorer. It is fortunate we don’t eat a lot.

Meanwhile,  I’d like about two weeks of a strong young handy-person to help straighten up the mess. I thought I had one, but he seems to have vanished. It’s possible poverty forced him to look for a better deal elsewhere.

Yellow before red

In the midst of the deluge and hurricane winds of yesterday, the builder came by to look at the problems we are having. We have a window that has sagged and is under the vinyl, obviously rotted out. It will need to be replaced. Whether or not it’s just the window that need replacing or the wall around it also need replacing remains to be seen. Regardless, it has to be fixed. There’s no alternative. We cannot easily extract ourselves from this house. We can’t “keep it up” the way it should be and that saddens me … but we can at least make our best effort to keep it from falling down.

It’s not the “what” of the mess with which we deal. It’s the “how” that’s killing us. Now, I have to call my son and find out where the faucet is in the front of the house. I think it’s buried in leaves near the front door. I hope it is!