IT’S SOOO COLD AND THE BIRDS WERE HUNGRY! – Marilyn Armstrong

The meteorologists said it was going to get super cold and it got super cold! I woke up early this morning. My back and I were having an unfortunate relationship. There was no point in fighting to sleep anymore.

I wasn’t going to sleep. I couldn’t find any comfortable position, so I gave up and got up.

It wasn’t all bad, though.

Our frozen woods

The early birds were up — the ones I usually miss because I’m asleep when they are around.

A Junco and the Cardinal

I finally got pictures of the Cardinal. I’ve seen him often but hadn’t gotten any recent shots of him. Cardinals seem to be early feeders and they move around a lot. He is easy to see, though — the brightest, reddest bird in New England!

Air battle – two juncos fighting over the feeder. Why when there’s more than enough room for both?

One more little battle. After that, they settled down. I think the boys don’t like each other. They are okay with other birds, not other male Juncos.

There were also a bunch of lady Cardinals lurking around, but they were too shy to come to the feeder and though they settled briefly on the railing, I couldn’t get them in focus fast enough. They are, in their own way, as pretty as the scarlet males. Bright green with a red tail and other markings. Otherwise, they look identical to their more loudly dressed boyfriends.

Cardinals are hard to miss in the winter!

Chickadee coming in for a landing!

Meanwhile, every branch in my woods was covered by a thin, shiny layer of ice. The woods were as shiny as a diamond. If I went outside to shoot it (and I’d probably wind up with frostbite as a result AND all the birds would fly away), the pictures would be better. I had to settle from shots through the glass, but I think you can see the gleaming branches.

Another bright red boy! You’ll never see two red ones together. They are very territorial and if they stray into the other one’s area, they fight in the air, like WW I fighter planes.

Shining like diamonds

Lots of shots of birds today. They were quite feisty about who got the feeder this morning, but they settled down after a while.

MITIGATION? I SEEK IT! Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Mitigate

I went up the driveway to the car this morning. We are expecting a particularly ugly storm tomorrow and I needed to make sure the front of the car was well-wrapped. It is supposed to be snow followed by freezing rain and sleet. Then, a flash freeze.

All of my least favorite weather wrapped in one big mess.

The freeze means the ground will be covered by — as close as nature can come to it — frozen cement. We’ve parked the car at the top of the driveway so the plow can get through, assuming it’s deep enough to use a plow … and the plow doesn’t slide down the driveway and crash into the house.

Stranger events have been known to happen.

It’s also the day on which the Pats play the Chiefs in Kansas. That should be some kind of mitigation because they’ve been playing pretty well — but Kansas will have just gotten the same storm. The field will be bitterly cold and just icy enough to make staying upright problematic. Both teams are used to playing in bad weather so there’s no advantage for either side — and the Chiefs are the favored team. Usually, that just makes the Pats more competitive, but it’s the end of the season and everyone is damaged.

Football’s a rough game.

Our leaf-covered bunny slope — AKA our driveway.

I fell down on my way back down the driveway. Up is more difficult, but down is treacherous. Except — it wasn’t slippery. It’s the L.L.Bean boots I was wearing have a very hard sole which doesn’t grip the surface which is old and even in the summer is slippery. My feet came right out from under me.

For once, my back didn’t take the hit, but the back of my skull took a solid thwack. I’m still dizzy.

Meanwhile, to make this weird weekend even weirder, I discovered my dogs have ticks. How did they get ticks in January? I suppose the days warmed up just enough to make the ticks hungry … so I had to order tick collars for all of them  — a pretty penny for three dogs. Bonnie is the one on whom I found the ticks, but I have to assume where one dog has ticks, so do the other two.

Overall, I’m not seeing much mitigation to the complexities of life right now. It is what it is.

If we at least win the game tomorrow, that will help. A bit. I think I’ll go take some Tylenol. Drink more coffee. Eat a few cookies. If you can’t mitigate circumstances, have coffee and something crunchy which tastes strongly of cinnamon.

WEATHER BE US

ALMOST

The oil company’s owner came by to actually look at the condition of the ground this morning. He wasn’t wowed by how terrible it was. I could see him shaking his head as he drove off. We almost have oil.

Wait for it!

Most of our driveway is clear to the pavement with a patches of snow. If this is too terrifying to manage, the driver is going to have problems with at least half the valley residents. I have an evil driveway, but I am by no means the worst … the longest … or the iciest.

If you live in New England, you understand weather. We get a lot of it moving rapidly from steamy, hot, and humid in summer, to bitter, freezing cold with-and-without blizzards in winter. Sometimes, on a really good year, we get a few hurricanes in the fall and one or more nor’easters when the air is bored and wants to do something fun.

Add to that the infertility of the soil and the millions of tons of rocks and roots. We have more boulders per field than anywhere. Why so many people chose this region to settle (or more likely, invade), I have yet to understand. Maybe they had no choice. The boats landed and they were too tired, hungry, and frazzled to go further. Still, if they were looking for a rich and fertile region to co-opt, this isn’t it.

Considering this area is and has always been, a farming community, it’s a strange choice. Beneath the soil, lie rocks, some the size of a small planets. This is where our rock fences came from. Everyone had piles of stones when they cleared a field. What can you do with rocks? Build fences, of course.

We have old stone fences running through areas that haven’t been farmed in more than 100 years and never will be again. At some point, they must have been farmed because the rock fences prove it. But, to no one’s surprise, they gave up and moved on, probably to somewhere with better dirt, flatter ground, and presumably, improved weather.

Light snow falling

It wouldn’t take much to improve the weather.

Just saying.

Final Note


The oil truck arrived and oil is poured into our nearly empty tank. Three barking creatures went into a frenzy because SOMETHING WAS GOING ON AND THEY WERE NOT ON HAND TO SUPERVISE. Soon soothed by a cookie.

We needed 192 gallons — the most oil we ever needed in a single pumping except for the two times they forgot to deliver anything. We would not have made it to Tuesday.

WINTER BLUES – SWO8 BLUES JAZZ

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


First published Feb 15, 2015 – YouTube

My collaborator, Leslie Martel of swo8 Blues Jazz did the work. 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.

300-medicine-wheel-glass-more-snow-090217_063

It’s that time of year again and we’ve had our first blizzard. The forecast is for snow every day for the next six days, so I guess the season just got serious. This seems a good time to run this one again.

300-backyard-more-snow-090217_060

Before this longest yet, ironically, shortest month is finished, I expect to have many more winter photographs. But it will end. It always has. So far!

It’s sort of almost spring … right?

ICE DAMS

A Photo a Week Challenge: Ice, Ice, Baby


No ice this year, but we have had some astounding, huge, ice dams in past winters. This was shot from inside through the ice. It was the winter when we didn’t have any snow until the very end of January, but managed to accumulate more than 12 feet by mid-March. After it began snowing, it forgot to stop.

The odd "grid" in the background is the screen which I should have removed before winter because that ice destroyed it.

The “grid” in the background is the window screen. I should have removed it before winter. The ice destroyed it.

Icicles look pretty, but they do a lot of damage to houses, especially roofs and eaves.  Ice weighs down tree branches, causing them to snap. Sometimes, ice will cause entire trees to fall. Ice dams can prove dangerous.

You can clearly see the screen on this one. By this time in the winter, the ice had adhered to the screen, forming a curtain of ice.

You can more clearly see the screen in this picture. By now, the ice had formed a curtain.

A big one can weigh several hundred pounds. I know people who have been seriously injured by falling ice.