ASK FOR RAIN, GET RAIN – Marilyn Armstrong

We needed rain. The river was low and I had to assume so was our aquifer — which means our well was also low. Not low enough to affect us yet because we have a 475 foot deep well. That’s about three times deeper than most people have. It must have cost a fortune to dig it, but it means we have more water in it than most people.

So on Saturday, it rained. We had about 2 or 3 hours of heavy rain and yesterday, most of the day was sunny. But around 3 in the afternoon, the sun disappeared and by dinner time, it was as dark as midnight. We could hear the thunder rolling almost continuously in the background. We were watching the news and the lights were flickering, so Owen came upstairs and we lit candles in each room because it looked like we were going to lose power any time.

Then there was the hail, so heavy is started coming in through the dog’s door.

Our back porch garden was flattened. They don’t look broken, but they are seriously bent and will need staking to prop them up. There was a lot worse in this storm, but fortunately for us, the storm turned sharply eastward and moved off to the coast and the Islands.

That’s what you get when you ask for rain, You get rain. Then you get hail. Then you get wind and torrential rain with so much lightening it looks like the clouds are lit from behind.

Well, I asked for rain. We got rain and a few other things, too.

FUCHSIA BLOOMING – MARILYN ARMSTRONG

FOTD – June 7 – FUCHSIA ON THE DECK


Just as well I took pictures yesterday when it was sunny because today we had pretty much every kind of weather minus tornados and a blizzard.

Close up — Looking better without the Doves nesting in them

I woke up to a dark, humid world. The sky was that greenish-gray color that sometimes means tornadoes, but around here usually means very heavy rain. A little sun came out, followed by rain so heavy you could not see out the window. That was followed immediately by some serious hail. Which was followed by winds and more rain until the sun came out.

Poor Owen discovered his driver’s side window wouldn’t work, so he came home covered in ice from the hail, soaking wet, and he had to seal up his window with plastic bags. What a fun day!

But all the plants got watered. We had a waterfall in the front yard which isn’t even hilly.

I took the pictures yesterday and they are perfect for today, wind, rain, hail, humidity and all.

THE GREAT WHITE HURRICANE OF MARCH 11, 1888 – Marilyn Armstrong

Today is my birthday. It’s also the 132nd anniversary of the worst blizzard to ever hit the east coast of the United States. Early March is frequently stormy and snowy. Blizzards are not unusual, though typically, snow melts quickly in the spring.

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 before I was born. They called me “the blizzard baby” and everyone still talked about it. It was memorable.

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.

Boston’s downtown crossing right after the 1978 blizzard – 28 inches

It was the worst blizzard to ever hit the city of New York. It 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 a single storm in my life was 34 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 amount of snow can paralyze us today.

It’s more snow than any infrastructure can handle. Did I mention snow is heavy? 50 inches on a standard roof might cause it to cave in.

It wasn’t merely a snowstorm. The superstorm 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 high. 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 Atlantic 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. My special storm!

WINTER BLUES – SWO8 BLUES JAZZ AND WINTER IN NEW ENGLAND – Marilyn Armstrong

JANUARY! WE’VE GOT THE WINTER BLUES!


First published Feb 15, 2015 – YouTube

My collaborator, Leslie Martel of swo8 Blues Jazz did the work. She composed the music and wrote the words. She also put the video together. Posted it to YouTube. I think that’s all the work. I merely supplied photographs.

It hasn’t been a memorable winter except for it being mostly warmer than usual with sudden patches of very cold weather. A little snow, a lot of rain. One day it’s springtime warm and the next? Zero and a lot lower than that. You think the climate is changing? Nah.

This video is called Winter Blues, a unique, fun collaboration between me and composer-musician swo8 Blues Jazz.

Cardinal in the snowy branches

Up to the rail having jumped from the tree

Before this longest yet, ironically, shortest (by the length of day) month is finished, I hope to have more winter photographs. It’s not that I love snow. I just want my seasons back where they belong.

Since Leslie ran her copy of this today, I thought I’d run this tomorrow. Wait, this IS tomorrow!

WINTER BLUES – SWO8 BLUES JAZZ AND A NORTH AMERICAN WINTER – Marilyn Armstrong

 IT’S JANUARY AND WE’VE GOT THE WINTER BLUES!


First published Feb 15, 2015 – YouTube

My collaborator, Leslie Martel of swo8 Blues Jazz did the work. She composed the music and wrote the words. She also put the video together. Posted it to YouTube. I think that’s all the work. I merely supplied photographs.

This video is called Winter Blues, a unique, fun collaboration between me and composer-musician swo8 Blues Jazz.

Mrs. Cardinal

As Aldrich breaks off from Route 146A

Before this longest yet, ironically, shortest (by the length of day) month is finished, I hope to have more winter photographs. It’s not that I love snow. I just want my seasons back where they belong.

WINTER YET TO COME – Rich Paschall

Winter In The Air, Rich Paschall

It’s not in the air now. It was, but not now. Back in late October winter arrived before we could even rake up all the leaves. In fact, many of the trees still had their leaves. There was no chance to clean up. And snow appeared in time for Halloween.

The problem with early snow is that the Streets and Sanitation Department takes that as the sign to put away the street sweepers and bring out the snowplows. November remained cold, but little additional snow was ever sighted. The leaves came down throughout the month.

Then December brought warmer temperatures. We actually had several days in the ’60s and expect at least one more warm day. I raked leaves December 22 and 23rd in the pleasant fall weather.

No worries about Winter, however.  He will be here soon. You will feel it in the air.

ICE ART – BY ELLIN CURLEY

We recently had an ice storm where I live, which knocked out our satellite dish and made the roads hazardous to drive on for a while. But the next day, the ice-covered trees and bushes around the house created a fantasy winter scape, which I want to share with you.

 

THE “OLD PERSON” WEATHER REPORT – Marilyn Armstrong

These days, watching television and seeing even the finest meteorologist give a forecast that is everything other than summer would be a lot funnier if it didn’t mean that climate change is hitting this area — New England —  harder than it is hitting other places in the world.

Nobody ever said it would hit every place equally at the same time, although somehow that’s how I imagined it.

This idea came to me as I commented to Garry that my sinuses were throbbing, my lower back felt a little better than it had earlier, but both hips were pulsing in pain. also, I have a massive headache and both eyes feel like someone poured sand into them. Translated into meteorologist-ese, it means:

Chipping Sparrow

Humidity is rising, barometric pressure is dropping, probably fast. Temperature is falling quicker than my head can handle and the air, for the moment, is very dry (eyes), probably because I ticked up the heat by a couple of degrees.

I suddenly foresaw a new kind of weather report. Traditional and “old person” weather.

First, the modern, up-to-date scientific meteorologist gives his report. Maps, stats, wind directions, where it’s coming from, going to. When we’ll get sleet, freezing rain, blinding snow, less blinding snow, total amounts from Connecticut through Maine. How much of whatever falls will fall on us?

How long will it last?

Next snow?

By the time he’s done, he has forecast every possible form of winter weather and all anyone knows it that is will be cold, wet, and ugly. I better make a new doctor’s appointment in the morning. No matter how good a driver Garry is, he isn’t the only one on the road. There are an awful lot of people who don’t “get” that simply slowing down would prevent a lot of weather-related accidents. Four-wheel-drive doesn’t help on ice or sleet.

The weather report’s not over yet. Winter weather reports take up at least half our news broadcast, just as — when one of our teams is winning — sports takes up at least half the report. Especially baseball and football.

Photo: Garry Armstrong –Winter at home

Part two of the report has no stats, numbers, or maps. There’s an old person, male or female —  both? — in comfy chairs, rambling on a bit. Local color. “Remember that 24 inches we got on April 1st in the 1990s? That was some storm … and it all melted in three days. Lots of flooding,” she says.

“My right shoulder is bad,” he says. “Suppose that means cold with snow.”

“My spine hurts bottom to top. Rain first. Likely sleet, then snow. The boiler is in overdrive, so temps are dropping. Bad day tomorrow. Coming from the west. so it’s packing a lot of water. Unless we get lucky, we’ll have a nor’easter along the coast. Good thing we don’t live on the coast anymore, eh?”

“We’ll get twice as much snow as they get along the coast, but at least we won’t flood.” says the old guy.

“Not yet,” she points out. “When it melts, it’ll be dicey.”

“Figure six inches at least, depending on how much sleet and freezing rain we get before the snow. With the falling temps? Gonna be black ice under the snow. Time to cancel that appointment with the doctor.”

Everybody over fifty will relate. Anyone who plays sports will get it. What’s more, we will be accurate — at least locally. Can’t do national forecasts, but we can tell you how it’s gonna be right here in the lower Massachusetts section of the Blackstone Valley.

A heating pad really helps.

WINTER’S BACK – BY ELLIN CURLEY

After last week’s big snow, my back and front yards looked like a lacy, white wonderland. So, from north-central Connecticut, more pieces of the same huge snowstorm!

The stream in my backyard

Another view of the stream

Front yard from the family room window

Artistic view of the front yard

Backyard again

MORE OF GARRY’S WORLD IN WHITE – Garry Armstrong

I took a lot of pictures and each day Marilyn processes a few. Then I post them. This is mostly Aldrich Street, down the road from the house — and then, our house. With bushels of snow.

Down by the bar at the end of the road

As Aldrich breaks off from Route 146A

A bench on the Common with snow

Our 1928 Fordson tractor

Looking for work?

Home sweet home with our mailbox and our across the street neighbor’s mailbox

Oh, look! Mail!

Home. With snow.

We’re expected warm weather, rain, very cold weather, a bit of snow, a bit of sleet, more warm weather. These days, a forecast is everything you can think of that isn’t summer in one ten minute narration on television.

And if you wait until the end of the news, they will have revised it. Completely. Isn’t it great that there’s no such thing as climate change?

IN THE WHITE OF THE WORLD – Garry Armstrong

Marilyn gave me her small Leica as a Christmas gift, but not before her getting a small pocketbook camera for herself. Is it a bit early? Absolutely. She never waits for the holiday.

The Episcopal rectory on the Common.

She knew I wanted it and now, I have it. Thus armed with a camera in my bag, I went to the grocery store because after three days of being locked inside with snow blocking our driveway … and with a couple of hundred feet of downhill driveway (you could use it as the Bunny Slope), you cannot get out of here without a plow first clearing it.

Unitarian Church (empty) on the Common.

Meanwhile, not only were we running short of food (though we have enough dog food, birdseed, soup, and bread to keep us going for a while), we were almost out of half-and-half. What, no coffee? Oh NO!

1888 Library across the Common

Marilyn was also running out of some prescriptions and they do not deliver in this town. They don’t deliver anything. Contain your shock: they don’t even deliver pizza. Our salvation is frozen pizza which, coincidentally fits into our small counter oven.

1770 Quaker Meetinghouse

And, since I had that little Leica packed in my bag, I took pictures. It turns out she was right. If you have a camera, you just never know when a picture might turn up. There are more to come.

THE THREE SEASON YEAR – Marilyn Armstrong

We don’t get four seasons. We get three. Summer — hot, sticky, and buggy, but at least it’s warm. Okay, a lot of humidity, but you have to take the good with the bad.

I had been hoping we’d more Autumn, and we did. It was short — just about a week — but glorious for that week. Which is good because it’s only the first week in November and they are predicting snow. I don’t think we’ll get any here, but it would not be a surprise. I can remember many years when it snowed before Thanksgiving and stayed snowy until Summer showed up.

Sometimes we get a second Autumn in November that lasts until after Christmas. Last year, it lasted until March, at which point we had three blizzards in a row. The snow hung around until the trees began to bloom after which we got two months of heavy rains and wind. No climate change here!

Last week it was pretty warm, but right now, it’s cold. Very cold.

House in summer

Summer by the Blackstone

Autumn by the river and canal

Now those are Autumn specials! – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong –Winter at home

Junco atop the Toad

No pictures of spring because that’s a season we don’t really get. It’s winter, then summer. We always HOPE for spring, though. Even though we know it isn’t happening, we figure maybe one year it will.

You never know, right?

ALMOST THE END OF THE LINE – Marilyn Armstrong

ALMOST THE END OF THE LINE

Hard to imagine October is done. Finito. My favorite month. The only thing about it I don’t like is that winter is right behind it.

The cold is closing in quickly. I don’t have a good feeling about this winter. Last year, we had basically “late Autumn” until March. Then it snowed like mad for a few weeks. The rest of the season was not snowy. We had a lot of rain and mud and ice, but hardly any snow until my birthday.

Woods and fence blizzard

Welcome to my 72 birthday. It was a 15-inch blizzard. And there I was, thinking we were going to get through winter without snow. One year (during the past 20) we had a snow-free winter, but the following year we had so much snow we had to have our roof shoveled three times to keep it from caving in.

That’s the really bad part of really good attic insulation. The heat from the house never gets to your roof, so the tons of snow never melts. Each subsequent snow piles on top of earlier blizzards.

Farewell, October

The winters of 2015 and 2016 were both like living in Mongolia or maybe Antarctica. One of our cars (we had two back then) was literally buried. You literally could not see it. Driving down our narrow roads was like driving in a tunnel with the snow 10 feet high on both sides from the plowing. I remember when Kaity was very young and she asked if the giant piles of snow and ice were going to become glaciers which they were studying in school.

I explained that I didn’t think so, but who could tell anymore?

Nonetheless, this is still nominally October, so let’s think orange and pumpkin-flavored donuts.

TOO COLD FOR SEPTEMBER – Marilyn Armstrong

The forecasts have been promising weather in the low 80s tomorrow, so I’m refusing to turn on my boiler today … especially since I haven’t gotten a tank fill since I think May, but it might have been April. We aren’t out of fuel, but we don’t have much and until Wednesday, I don’t dare buy anything. We are in the hole we have every month during the week when I have to pay the mortgage.

If we are careful, we’ll be fine until the next social security check arrives. Meanwhile, our anniversary is tomorrow. We wanted to go out to dinner. Feeling as we do, that’s not a good idea anyway. I think we’ll wait until it will feel better. Right now, everything I eat makes me feel a little bit sick.

In fact, my granddaughter is having a birthday party today and we were invited, but with the way we feel, a pig roast does not sound alluring. To be fair a pig roast never sounds alluring. I like pigs. They are smarter than most animals including a lot of politicians.

I’m not a vegan or even a vegetarian. I sort of tried vegetarian. Then I had to go on a heavy round of iron pills and they really don’t agree with me. I don’t seem to absorb iron well. As my body craves it, red meat is where to find it.

Sunset through clouds

I feel guilty eating meat and ironically, it’s not to save the planet (though that would be a great sidebar) but because I like animals. I hate raising them so we can slice them up for lunch meat. For completely illogical reasons, I don’t have the same warm and cuddly feeling about fish. I also don’t worry about whether or not vegetables are unhappy when we cook them. We do have to eat something. If we exclude everything, I don’t think we’ll fare well.

We were created as omnivores and while I have had many a Vegan pal give me a heartfelt lecture on the benefits of the diet, all the Vegans I know are too thin and pale. They don’t look healthy to me.

So I stay on a basically well-rounded diet and it seems to work out okay, guilt and all. Besides, guilt is my primary emotion.

Meanwhile, it’s cold. Garry says it’s a little warmer outside, but it’s gray and dark and it looks like rain is on the way. What a shock. That never happens around here.

I wonder how heavy the rain will be this time.