Save Yourself (But maybe not)

Today is Day 04 following the Great Windstorm of 2017. Have they officially dubbed it a hurricane? To be honest, I have not been consuming much news this week, so if there’s a name for the storm that landed Sunday night, wreaking havoc across Northern New England, please clue me in.

We’re fortunate. I say “fortunate” because we didn’t have any trees land on our house or garage. We had a partial window shatter (the outer pane in a two-paned weather-resistant window facing the water), but no water invaded our domestic confines. Poor Lucy, our cat, slept about as well as I did Sunday night and early Monday morning, which means hardly at all. She’s been in recovery mode all week, sleeping during the day, rather than watching birds and squirrels from her usual perch in a window. Oh to be a cat like Lucy!

We have several trees lying on the ground. We had some water coming in around a vent above the garage and it’s leaking through the ceiling. This isn’t related to this storm, as we’ve had issues with this during prior heavy rains. Given that the summer and early fall have been bone dry, this hasn’t presented itself until re-surfacing a week ago. The property manager is dispensing his handyman to the house on Friday. Based on past practice, he’ll figure out what needs to be done while making an assessment about our window situation. I think the tree crew will be out next week, but that’s conjecture at this point.

We got electricity back Tuesday night. We were fortunate. Many CMP customers are still in the dark. Others are freaking out about their website. Perhaps technology can’t save us? It sure as hell can’t restore downed power lines. Continue reading

The Wind Howled and the Power Stopped

The Great Ice Storm of ’98 is something that’s nice to have in your back pocket, in a “I was without power for 08 days and learned to shit in the woods like a bear” sort of way. It’s nostalgic, something you can dust off and regale hipsters who maybe just moved to Maine, or just bought a house in the country after living on the West End for five years. However, I’m not really keen about re-living it, at least not this year.

I got about three hours sleep Sunday night. I was sure a tree was going to snap off and come through the roof of our bedroom. We live about 100 feet from a cove and the winds were gusting well above 60 miles per hour about 2:00 a.m.

Our gray Chartreaux, Lucy, was troubled all night. She came up to snuggle with us prior to the winds making a sound like a freight train outside our deck door. But, like me, she knew this wasn’t a normal night for sleep. Mary seemed to be okay, as she’s a much sounder sleeper than I am.

I heard a crash around 4:45. This was after I’d gotten up, watched some bad TV, charged my phone and crawled back under the covers at 4:30, just as the power flickered twice and went off. At this point, I wasn’t getting back up.

Dozing off fitfully until the first flickers of daylight shown into the room, I looked out and could see the carnage. Trees had snapped off and fortunately due to the wind driving from the south and southeast, pushed them away from the house. The crash was one of the panes shattering in our double-paned window that looks out from our kitchen nook onto Woodward Cove. At least pane #2 remained intact. Continue reading

Weather as Social Commentary

In the Northeast, the sky has forgotten how to cry (aka, rain). This year, our rainfall totals are 9 inches below normal. We’re in the midst of a significant drought in the region.

People like it to be sunny each and every day. However, farmers need rain to water their crops. Municipal water supplies that rely on rain and groundwater (basically, all of them) need rain to recharge aquifers. I’m no geologist, but being as historically dry as it is can’t be good for longterm water needs.

The weather puppets—those Tee Vee people who only want to tell you that it’s going to be sunny, each and every day—have started to hint at some “soaking” rain coming next weekend….maybe.

I shouldn’t blame the weatherman (or weatherwoman) for only wanting to say “sunny,” rather than “rain.” I’m sure they’re perfectly nice people. They’re simply one more subset of America that believes in the myth of unending progress. Why tell people something unpleasant and end up being unpopular. Just like in politics—where each side thinks their pathologically-flawed candidate is the “hope” for our future—it’s better to sugarcoat it and tell people what they want to hear. Or make it about an issue that’s not really what ails us in the moment. Continue reading

The Weather Forecast

Nothing jump-starts early mornings for me like a stellar weather forecast. A sunny forecast can carry me through the most challenging of days.

While weather and an accompanying forecast is a smartphone click away, I’m still somewhat beholden to the Tee Vee weather puppets. This habit likely dates back more than 30 years when my baseball star was on the rise at Lisbon High School. I’d check that day’s prediction to see if our game was going to take place that afternoon—or get washed out by spring showers or rain.

Interestingly, I’m once again seeking weather updates related to baseball games. Now, I’m an arbiter, better known as an umpire. With six to eight games on the docket each week during May, I’m checking weather first thing courtesy of Todd Guttner, and later, rechecking hourly specifics via websites like weather.com.

I’m back with Guttner after a falling-out period when he seemed to have a penchant for under-predicting snow totals during the rugged winter of 2014-15. For some reason, Mr. Guttner had a rough stretch, predicting flurries and then having to apologize after we’d get 10 inches dumped on us. After this happened several times, I abandoned WCSH-6 for the upbeat and personable (as well as more accurate) Matt Zidle and his equally sunny sidekick at WMTW-8, Mallory Brook.

Today's forecast-sunny!!

Today’s forecast-sunny!!

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A Winter Kind of Crazy

The winter of 2014-15 has been a host of things: late-arriving, cold, snowy, and while it’s only been four weeks since the snow began piling up—the length of it feels like 70 years—or that’s the sense for most.

When faced with difficulty, Americans, at least those of us bred for softness and an effete, technology-centric way of life, take to social media to bitch and complain about the cold, the snow, and people pushing snow back out into the road (on certain Facebook pages about knowing you’re from Lisbon). I’m taking a decidedly different tack with today’s blog post.

If I’m being brutally honest, I must admit that I have had my moments since the end of January. It really does seem like we’ve all been put in Mr. Peabody’s WABAC Machine and transported back to the Ice Storm of ’98, or perhaps, the winters of my childhood, when the snow was deep, and men still knew how to shovel. And not to get all patriarchal on you, the women in my world weren’t expected to, but that’s a post for another, more sociological kind of day.

All in all, the constant shoveling (I actually know how to throw the snow, having learned the skill from the “Winter Carnival King of 1951” most likely during that fateful winter of ’69, and the one following in 1970), gathering of wood, splitting it, and keeping a fire cranking has actually gotten me outdoors, away from the technology trap, and out into the brisk, cold, wintry fresh air. I think it’s actually helped improve my outlook, too, especially compared to last January and February. That’s when the walls felt like they were slowly closing in, ready to crush me. The real world will do that to you, as opposed to the virtual one (aka, the fake one).

Have headlamp, will travel.

Have headlamp, will travel.

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Charlie Baker’s War

For the last nine days it’s been snowing in New England. These haven’t been Alberta Clippers, either.

First, there was the Blizzard of 2015, which dumped upwards of 30 inches over Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Boston, New England’s urban hub, has been especially hard hit. The city’s received 73.9 inches of snow over the past two weeks. Compounding historic snows in a short period have been narrow streets, the need to get rid of the snow without a place to put it, drivers unaccustomed to snowfall totals of this magnitude, and epic public transportation failures. These have been vexing to newly elected governor of the Commonwealth, Charlie Baker.

Poor Charlie Baker; his term is off to a rough start.

Poor Charlie Baker; his term is off to a rough start.

Continue reading

Another Weather Event

Monday was so peaceful—the proverbial “calm before the storm.” Actually, the weather puppets were fear-fogging first thing, but since I was out the door at 4:30 am to go swimming, I paid them no mind.

In our age of social media, things like snow events, major storms, and certainly, blizzards of “historic proportions,” all have a tendency to go viral. I tried to steer clear of Twitter and Facebook, but I couldn’t help taking a peak at the Twitterverse late in the day, as I was wrapping up my workday from home.

Posting about snow and snowstorms is something I’ve done on several occasions. During Snowpocalype 2013, I actually took the JBE on the road and provided live storm reports out in the elements. I won’t be doing that during this storm. Being out on the roads with people who have no sense about how to drive in snow, with whiteout conditions, which are likely to occur, isn’t worth the trouble.

January is considered one of the winter months in Northern New England. It snows in the winter. And sometimes it snows more than a few inches. Continue reading

Hat Season

Back in 2009 when I lost nearly 60 pounds and went from being the typically overweight white guy approaching middle age, to a slimmer version of that guy, I’ve become “cold-blooded.” When I say, “cold-blooded,” I don’t mean in a Truman Capote, killer sort of way, either. I mean that when the weather turns cold—like it has in the last week—I’m always freezing.

I guess those 60 pounds of blubber helping me fend off the chill of winter in ways that being not quite svelte, but by no means a fatty, no provide me with that buffer. Last weekend’s falling back an hour and subsequent early snow was a premonition of what’s just around the bend. Thursday’s dampness and temperatures hovering all day in the low 40s forced me to face the inevitable—it’s time to break out the hat collection. For the next five months, I’ll be rocking a winter hat for most of my waking hours.

When I was a teenager and concerned about what the opposite sex thought of me, I didn’t like wearing hats. Mainly this was because it matted my dark locks. This, despite being told by old-timers that most of one’s body heat exits through the top of their head (this is not true, apparently, so go figure—I’d dispute the experts on this). Continue reading

Skating Away

On Saturday morning, the thermometer near our mudroom entrance read minus 20. That’s cold! On Monday afternoon that same thermometer was reading 50 degrees, a remarkable shift of 70 degrees in two and a half days.

We are experiencing greater extremes and fluctuations in our weather. Both sides on the issue of climate change attempt to use this to score points in their favor. If inclined to trust in science, the data indicates that something’s up with our weather. Continue reading