April 2017

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Well, we got the big snow as promised. I don't know how much we got, but it was a lot. There was a lot of blowing and drifting last night, so it'd be hard to tell, even if I was willing to venture outside, which I have not so far. Schools were closed today after an early dismissal yesterday.

This was our back deck this morning. It's still snowing lightly, but we're not supposed to get more than a few more inches today.

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Bobby took these pictures of the Wilds last night; he took them out to play in the snow. They are both like little children and get giddy when we have fresh snow falling.

Lancelot.

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Guineweird.

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On a completely unrelated note, I have enough fannish stuff to report that I'm actually going to use a bulleted list. Whoa.

  • I wrote an essay for the B2MeM prompt "Analyze a Chapter or Passage." I chose to compare the death scenes of Fëanor and Fingolfin, looking particularly at the evidence those passages provide for historical bias. The result: The Deaths of Kings: Historical Bias in the Death Scenes of Fëanor and Fingolfin.


  • For the personal essay B2MeM prompt, I wrote a personal essay (duh) called Mountains between the Light and the World: On Walls and Greed and the Privilege of Isolation. Warning: It gets into my personal politics, particularly my musings on why I've always been so bothered by the hoarding of light in The Silmarillion and how contrary to my political and personal values that idea is.


  • There's a new SWG challenge up. We're explicitly encouraging participants to combine our prompt with one of the other challenges going on. There's lots of challenges going on in the next month.


  • Last week, I almost died when I was Googling for a link to Attainable Vistas and, in the process, stumbled on this review of the issue of JTR and my essay in particular. The review called it "one of the best -- if not the best -- article on Tolkien written this year." What?! The writer is a Tolkien scholar, so he liked the first half--about historical bias--more than the second about fandom. Which I'd agree: the historical bias stuff is more generally interesting and relevant to an audience familiar with Tolkien. The fandom stuff is more for the connoisseurs, as it were. :D One of the things I found about traditional publication versus fannish publication is that the relative silence that meets a traditionally published work makes me wonder sometimes if what I wrote is even being read. (There wasn't absolute silence around "Attainable Vistas," but the chatter all came from fandom--go figure!) I was pleased to know that my work was not only read but clearly appreciated. It was a really pleasant surprise.


  • Speaking of "Attainable Vistas," I will be presenting the unpublished parts of that paper at the Vermont Tolkien Conference in just a few weeks. I received official registration information a few days ago, so it's really happening. No fandom stuff this time--just historical bias!


  • I have most of the rest of my B2MeM path planned out or underway. Let me say again how nice it has been to participate in B2MeM this year. I almost never get to participate outside of volunteering. But I get to listen to people participating complain about participating, feeling like the kid whose family never goes on vacation listening to her friends gripe about having to spend a week in Paris. I've really enjoyed getting to focus on my research and writing; I usually need an excuse to do this, and B2MeM has been a great excuse. It's improved my mood toward B2MeM immensely as well. I will confess that this is the fandom project where I am always the closest to burning out--thank goodness for Indy taking the reins these past few years!


  • Not really related to fandom, but while Googling my article the other night, I found that my university has also published my thesis. So you can read it if you want to. Some people said they wanted to! It's been downloaded 21 times, which is pretty amazing in itself.


Well, report card grades are due today, and I still have a little left to do to make that happen, so off I go!
Like much of the East Coast, we are under a winter storm warning for tomorrow. Our supervisory union is already dismissing early tomorrow, to avoid the brunt of the blizzard-like conditions in the afternoon. We've already used four snow days this year, and people are starting to wig out over how late into the summer students will go to school. (It's a normal date to start summer vacation in Maryland, so it doesn't feel onerous to me.) I think the SU is trying to avoid using another snow day tomorrow when there is already a good chance that schools will be closed Wednesday.

As night fell, I schlepped the compost bucket down to the bin behind the barn. I have to admit that this is chore that I actively neglect because it's quite a slog in the snow, and prying open the partly frozen compost bin isn't fun either. But I knew that with two feet of snow on the ground, I'd want to do it even less. The sky was a flat white and the air utterly still, like the Earth was holding its breath. It was actually eerie how quiet it was and the way the trees stood like they were painted on the sky.

Bobby and I also hauled up seven bags of pellets from the barn. (Next year, we will clear out the shed alongside our house enough to hold all of our pellets; our yard is just steep enough to make carrying bags of pellets up from the barn a real pain in the ass, made worse when the snow is deep, which it is not right now.)

On a completely different note, we started our first indoor seeds a week ago and came home today to the first frail tomato stem curling out of the soil. We also ordered chicks on Saturday: ten pullets, five broilers, and three turkeys. Spring is taking hold, no matter how tenuous, blizzard notwithstanding.

Snowtography

Dec. 12th, 2016 04:42 pm
dawn_felagund: (newgrange)
Last night we got quite a dumping of snow. There was about a foot (30 cm) piled up on the patio chairs this morning, although it's impossible to tell what of that was new and what was old--but most of it was new. The snow was also powder, that elusive substance so beloved by skiers and snowboarders.

The result of this was that schools were closed! Bobby and I both anticipated a delay, but an all-out closure?? The outcome of this: I got to sleep in, Bobby got a powder day, and I went snowshoeing for the first time this year.

I did not post my photo-a-day yesterday because I had an immensely productive day, which tend to look boring from the outside. I did not leave the house or take off my pajamas all day, most of which was spent in front of the computer. I got a bunch of fannish stuff done and worked through about half of a Drupal 8 course that I found on YouTube. (My Drupal textbook finally foiled me. It is for Drupal 7, so I was wasting so much time trying to find modules that were integrated into the core Drupal 8 software or that haven't been completed for Drupal 8 yet. I also didn't like that the book dived right into projects, thus presenting topics rather willy-nilly, to use the technical term for it. I like to see the big picture of how things are organized first; all that happens when I dive into things at random is that I can never find it again or figure out what exactly I did back when. I have a very taxonomic brain that likes a place for everything and everything in its place and to see how things relate and connect.) None of that stuff exactly provides inspiration for any photos that I think anyone wants to see. (Me in my pajamas staring zombie-like at a Drupal tutorial on YouTube?)

Anyway, I hope to make up for yesterday's lack of photo by posting lots from my snowshoeing jaunt today. It felt good to get my legs under me again. The Nordic Center wasn't really open but they told Bobby over the phone that they didn't care if I went out as long as I didn't mind if the trails weren't groomed. As it was, one of the staff showed me a brand-new not-even-on-the-map-yet trail that he isn't even finished blazing yet, so I did that one. It took about an hour--not a long walk at all given some of my past outings--but with a foot of fresh powder and ungroomed terrain, it was quite a workout!

Snowshoeing at Jay Peak )
I took a photo for yesterday but didn't post it, so today I have two (okay, actually three) photos, plus a very annoying unsolved mystery.

Last night, we went out for dinner at the Thai restaurant in Newport. They also have sushi--and a phenomenal sushi chef--and I have been fiending for sushi something fierce. Twice, I have gone to places with great sushi, and they haven't had it at that particular moment for whatever reason. Thankfully, as the saying goes, three is a charm, and I succeeded in getting my sushi! At last!

Dusit Thai is a beautiful restaurant in addition to having incredible food. It's my favorite restaurant in Vermont, hands down, and there is some pretty steep competition for that title.

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Their portions are huge, so Bobby and I shared a spicy eggplant stirfry that we'd never tried before and will definitely have again. I've never tried anything off of their stirfry menu because I tend to hear "stirfry" and think "boring," but this was far from boring. Then we shared three sushi rolls.

Bobby had rented a movie for us for the night, and this is where the annoying unsolved mystery comes in. When he picked me up from school, he told me that he rented a DVD, and I saw it on the floor behind my feet, sitting on a pile of bungee cords. Somewhere between that time and our return from the Thai restaurant, the DVD disappeared.

In between, we went to the Thai restaurant and, after that, shopping at the natural market, so I got out of the car just once after he picked me up from school. All the same, given where it was placed--behind my feet--and how high off the ground our car is, it is unlikely that it fell out of the car. We tore apart the house and car--looking in and under things, including many places where it could not possibly be--and even drove back to Newport and checked where we parked the car, in case it had fallen out. NOTHING. We came up with multiple theories that were shot down one by one. It's so frustrating! Our house is small, and it's pretty impossible to lose things here. I am hoping that when we return to the video store to cop to losing the movie that the owner will tell us that someone found it in Newport and turned it in. But I highly doubt that it could have fallen out of the car.

My best theory at this point? That there was some kind of anomaly in the universe and it simply disappeared!

Today, Bobby went to Jay Peak to snowboard. Since the Yaris isn't appropriate for driving in the snow--we intend to replace it as soon as we can sell our house in Maryland--then we are sharing the Subaru, so I went with him, had breakfast with him, then drove back to Newport to run errands. One of which was getting my library card at the Newport Library! An actual library that is open every day except Sunday and has a lot of books for all audiences! Maybe because I look like someone who would avail herself of this or maybe because she tells everyone, the young woman who helped me informed me without my asking that I would be able to use interlibrary loan after three months in good standing.

I of course visited the fantasy section and was delighted to find a pretty nice selection. I was amused by the arrangement of genres, however.

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It seems like this would be controversial in a lot of places in the U.S. to have these two side by side! I imagine little church ladies glowering at ... well, people like me!

Then I went back to Jay Peak to meet Bobby for lunch and wait for him to go home. Jay Peak has received four feet of snow so far this year. It has received more snow than Breckenridge in Colorado and Jackson Hole in Wyoming. According to Bobby, "The goods are in the woods," and it was a very good day. The mountain will be all open very soon; the only reason it is not already (with four feet of snow!) is that the famed tramway needed a special part for a repair, which has arrived and was being done this weekend. Parts of the mountain are only accessible via the tramway, so they have been unable to get all open because of that.

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All of this snow is much needed. Jay Peak (and Burke Mountain in the southern NEK) became embroiled last year in a financial scandal due to the crooked dealings of their owner, who is now under federal investigation. It's a long and convoluted story, but the gist was that major expansions at Jay Peak that were done using local labor and businesses went unpaid-for. And this is not, as anyone who reads here knows, a wealthy area. The Northeast Kingdom is very low-income. These were contractors and workers who did work on the resort and were never paid for it. The threat that the resort would close (or be temporarily shut down) added an element of distress because so many people depend on the resort for their employment. And again, this is not an area that can weather a lot of economic distress.

To add insult to injury, last year, the snowfall in Vermont was exceedingly low--the NEK didn't even have a white Christmas--and the resort suffered even further from that. So the snowfall this year--among the best the resort has ever had--could not come at a better, more-needed time.
We had our first snowfall last night. Around nine o'clock, we began to spot the first fat snowflakes among the rain, and by eleven o'clock, it had changed over to all wet snow. It was sticking a little on the ground by the time we went to bed around 1 AM, but when I eagerly peeked out the window this morning, I was disappointed because it had all melted already.

In the mountains, however, there is quite a bit on the ground. Bobby is currently pacing around the house waiting to be picked up by a friend to go up to Jay Peak, where it's estimated they got about 6 to 7 inches (15 to 17 cm). They'll "earn their turns" by hiking the mountain and snowboarding down. Power to them! That sounds like a lot of work, but Bobby is over the moon.

At his colleague's house about 15 minutes north of us, she posted a picture on Facespace with about two inches (5 cm) on the ground, so it seems we just missed it being cold enough to stick, which isn't particularly surprising, since we tend to be a couple degrees warmer here in the valley than in the surrounding areas.

Yesterday, we went to the matinee show of Vermont Vaudeville. We loved it. The show was held in the beautiful still-undergoing-restoration Hardwick Town House. It was hilarious. I think they cross-pollinate a lot with Bread and Puppet; I recognized some of the actors from B&P shows.

It was a really miserable day yesterday: in the mid-40s F (about 4C) and this constant, omnipresent, drizzly rain. We decided to pack it in for the evening. We'd had a stupendous and large lunch at Positive Pie in Hardwick, so we grabbed some Chinese food at the Wok 'N' Roll in Newport and rented three movies from the video store.

We moved up here for a variety of big reasons related to lifestyle, ideals, and emotional health, but we constantly discover little things that we love and never expected. Having a video store is one of them. An old-school, locally owned video store, not a Blockbuster, certainly not a RedBox. Bobby and I love movies, and one of our favorite ways to spend an evening is seeing a movie in a theater or renting one at home. Yet neither of us are particularly wild about streaming movies. The reality is that we live in the middle of nowhere and have satellite Internet, and the nights when you most want to watch a movie at home--when it is raining or snowing--are the nights when the satellite Internet is least reliable or, during storms, may not work at all. We also like having the cases to hold in hand, to read the reviews and the blurbs, look at the cover and the stills that have been chosen, see if the movie was presented at any festivals or won any awards, etc. Discovering we had a video store up here was an amazing find for us.

During October, we rent mostly-to-all "scary" movies. New England Video has a special where you can rent three non-new releases on Saturday night for three bucks and keep them for three days. Since we're expecting poor weather this weekend and three bucks for three movies is an amazing deal, then we rented three scary movies. Last night, we watched one called Frozen--no, not THAT Frozen--about a trio of college kids who get stuck on a high ski lift after hours. It was the stupidest thing ever! It appeared they were citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (I will avoid using the term that Vermonters use for this particular type of tourist from that particular state), skiing/riding at a fictional resort in Massachusetts, but there managed to be man-eating wolves? It was awful! But of course, the awfulness is part of the fun for scary movies a lot of the time. All the same, this wasn't the kind of awful that I recommend watching.

We've rented a few this month that I've really liked. Dawn's 2016 Haunted October Movie Recommendations )

So speaking of Haunted October, my own Haunted October is going well and so not-so-well at the same time. It's going well because I am still hooked on the story and write at least a little of it every day. I don't think I've had a 5000+-word day, but I've had a handful of occasions where I manage a few thousand in a sitting, which is good. But it's nowhere near being done, which looks like it won't be ready to post even part of on Halloween (since I don't like to post unfinished work), and at this point, it also threatens my NaNoWriMo aspirations, since I'm not going to put it on hold to start something new. So at this point, I probably need to just call it "Tamlin" and forget about the Haunted October piece. I can't bring myself to be disappointed in myself, however, for missing a self-imposed deadline because of my enthusiasm for a story that has been in my head for years.

Last night, I finally got to some sinister supernatural monkey business. Yes, JUST LAST NIGHT. I still have a lot of story to tell.
Baltimore officially broke the record for the most snowfall out of a single storm, so this was officially The Most Epic Snowstorm EverTM Or At Least Since Records of Such Have Been Kept Because I'm Pretty Sure More Epic Snowstorms Happened Before But Just Weren't Written Down. Here in Manchester, the National Weather Service tells us that we received 32 in/81 cm of white powdery goodness. However, I can speak from experience that snowfall numbers from this storm are going to be unreliable because of the wind. When I checked NWS snowfall totals yesterday, Lineboro--a town five minutes away that shares our zip code--supposedly had 4 in/10 cm more than we did, which is unlikely. The wind was just blowing it around, so an accurate measure was difficult to impossible.

Let's just settle for saying we got a lot of snow.

Read more... )
First of all, before I post the beautiful pictures garnered from that 10K of snowshoeing, to all who have been asking about Lancie: He is home! He was released last night from the vet hospital but spent the day with my inlaws so that he could be monitored all day today. He is about a foot away from me now. He is doing much better: the vomiting and diarrhea are gone, and he has his appetite back. We need to get his weight back up, which means extra canned dog food, which I don't think he's going to protest.

Okay, now as to the reason I am writing this post! Come take a 10K walk with me in the snow ... )

And that may be sooner rather than later. It seems we brought it back with us. Maybe the Ullr Fest worked! We are due to get as much as three feet (a meter or so) of snow over the weekend and are presently under a blizzard warning for Friday night into Sunday morning. Schools are already closed for tomorrow.
We left Liberty at around 12:30 today. Bobby had been talking with our friend Dawn, who lives in town and was watching the Goldens, for the two days while we were gone. Last night, she informed him that the town had run out of salt and so wasn't able to salt the streets. We live within town limits (barely), so the town does our street. We also live at the top of a huge hill; continue up our street past our house, and you look out at the mountains from the highest point in Carroll County. So getting home with the Yaris if the roads were not salted could prove treacherous. Given that, we decided to wait till later in the day, to let the town hopefully get their hands on some salt and, at the very least, let the sun do its work.

Once we were off Route 140, the roads weren't great: still snow-covered in places and a slushy mess in others. This seems to be the MO lately. I don't know what's going on and why it is lately taking so long to clear big roads after a snowfall. Bobby saw something online where a lot of plow drivers were commenting that they hadn't even been called out for this storm; apparently, the state is trying to save money. Wonderful ... because Marylanders aren't perilous enough on the roads when it snows. Ironically, for all of our worry about Manchester, once we crossed into town, the roads were beautiful. I guess they got a hold of some salt. They always do a good job on the roads, and this is definitely one of the perks of living in town. (They also vacuum up the leaves in the fall and pick up Christmas trees, brush, and bulk trash for free.)

Our driveway was, of course, completely inaccessible, since it had a foot of snow as well as a nice pile from the plow at the bottom of it. We parked in Neighbor Bob's driveway while Bobby went to get the snowblower going. And guess what wouldn't start? It is not our luck, it seems, to have motorized things start as they should when we need them in inclement weather. Bah. So we both grabbed shovels and went to work. Luckily, it was a light, powdery snow, and we quickly cleared enough space to park the car and a path to the front door.

Of course, once we were inside, Bobby went to start the truck, and naturally, now that we don't need it, it started right away. And today is much colder than it was on Wednesday; my only hypothesis is that it wouldn't start because of the rain. I don't know enough about cars to know what might be affected by rain that would cause a car not to start, but it's the only thing different between Wednesday and today that makes any inkling of sense.

The official snowfall for Manchester was 11.8 inches/30 cm. Bobby showed me a chart from the National Weather Service last night that ranked the reported snowfall in various locations. Check out who's sitting pretty at #6.

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Boo-yah, Manchester, in the top ten! I did see an unofficial report from the NWS with a report of 12.5" from Lineboro, which is the next town east of us, although they share our zip code. I'm not sure if they weren't included because of that or because the report came via CoCoRaHS and not from an NWS-trained spotter. (I am an NWS-trained spotter, yo. Although I haven't actually done anything with that for a couple of years now. After my MA, yaddayadda.) But then there's our friends in Westminster in eighth place! (I don't know where Funkstown is except that it is west of us--in Frederick or Washington County, I think; I used to know when I still assigned parole retake warrants and could tell you where every one-horse town in Maryland was located but that knowledge faded pretty fast--but I always imagine everyone there walks around in bellbottoms and platform shoes.)

My dad swears that Manchester is the coldest place in central Maryland. He insists that when Manchester [rarely] gets a spot on the evening news' weather map, it is always the coldest. I don't watch the evening news, but Manchester does have something of a microclimate. It is colder here, and we do get (and keep) more snow as a result. Not only are we pretty much as far north as one can go in Maryland--I like to joke that I can stand on my front porch and spit into PA--but we have a high elevation relative to the surrounding area. Our house stands at 1040 feet/317 meters above sea level. As noted above, the highest point in Carroll County is just up the road from us; to offer a point of comparison, my parents also live adjacent to the highest point in Baltimore County (the next county east of us), which is 505 feet/154 meters above sea level. Driving west on I-70, you have to go quite a ways into the mountains before the elevation signs show that you're above where our house sits. So it is not unusual, when driving from the bottom of the hill to our house near the top, to watch the thermometer in the car click down 2-3 degrees F as we drive.

With the driveway clear, we enjoyed the nicely cleared town roads as we drove into town to pick up the Goldens. We had a pristine backyard to let them out into; I took a video because they're funny in the snow. Apologies for the jiggly camera work; I was very often looking at something other than the camera.




In summary, these past two days have been awesome, despite first the truck and then the snowblower not starting. I was a good girl the other day and did download the syllabus for my next class, and I got one book read (Frankenstein) and two pages of notes typed up on it. I also got to play around a lot online, so it has not been all work and no play (for which I would get in trouble with a few people around these parts). And Bobby snowboarded for literally 15 hours, which seems ridiculous to me but makes him so very happy.
Bobby is a bona fide meteorology nerd as well as a snowboarder, which means that he starts tracking winter storms sometimes a week or more out. I don't remember when he first told me about the developing possibility of a storm today; he updates me more or less daily, and they all run together after a while. Some fritter away, some come to pass (but usually tend toward the more modest accumulations), and the rare one comes to full, spectacular-as-in-major-accumulation fruition.

As the week progressed, this storm looked more and more promising. Bobby watches all of the different models (although, like an meteorologist, he has his favorites), and what was interesting in this case was that all of the models were in agreement, which is uncommon.

Tuesday night, we were eating supper (spectacular fried pork chops, garlic-cheddar mashed potatoes, and sauteed Brussels sprouts) and Bobby said, "If the storm is still looking good by tomorrow afternoon, I think we should hedge our bets in a major way."

We have a tradition several years running of staying up to watch cheesy '80s dance movies the night before we think we are going to get a snow day. Sometimes the school system calls it the night before; other times, we "hedge our bets" and trust that a storm is not only going to come to pass but that the school system will have the good sense to close if it does. If we think we might get a snow day, we'll start asking each other in the afternoon, "Do you think we ought to hedge tonight?" We watch (in this order) Footloose, Dirty Dancing, and Flashdance, one per night, so that our progress through the lineup becomes an odd metric of the severity of the season's winter weather. Last year, we ran through our cheesy '80s dance movie collection very quickly and had to come up with alternate plans.

So far this year, we have watched Footloose and Dirty Dancing (the latter was our Sunday-night fare before Monday's closure). I thought Bobby was going to suggest that we watch Flashdance. Instead, he said, "If the storm is still coming by Wednesday afternoon, then I'm thinking about reserving us a room at Liberty so that I can have a powder day on Thursday."

More and Photos beneath the Cut )
Last week, when Bobby and I were sitting at the bar in Pie-casso, there was a giant slalom event on the television. I told him that it looked cool. "Oh, that's giant slalom," he said.

"Funny, the people look like they are of ordinary stature to me, not giants at all."

"No, it doesn't mean that giants participate, it just refers to the kind of event it is."

Well, this was timely, as we returned from Vermont to discover that Bobby had a chance to participate in a giant slalom event today at Liberty, the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge. He wasn't initially sure that employees of the mountain would be allowed, but it was decided they were. He is tall (6'2") but not a giant.

There were 700-some participants overall and 28 in his category (male snowboarders ages 25-35; as he noted, there were some "pretty young dudes" he was up against). He texted me when he was getting into line, and I wrapped up in my cold-weather gear and schlepped out to the end of the course in my inappropriate-for-snow shoes. It was snowing quite hard; we are under a winter storm warning in north-central Maryland today. I arrived right as he was coming down and got to see the end of his run.

This was his first competition, and I don't think either of us knew what to expect, but at 2:30, we stood to hear the winners announced ... and he took bronze in his category! Which means that he is now eligible to race in the finals at the end of March, at Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire. It is a televised event! So it looks like we will be back on the Vermonter and headed northward again sooner rather than later.

Photos and Snoooow! )
I can't exactly say "winter" since it is still autumn for almost a month yet. I dithered when deciding where to put the picture of the snow in my files: chronologically correct (the Autumn 2014 folder) or where I'd be more likely to find it (the Winter 2014-2015 folder). I went with Winter 2014-2015, which is also where I put the pictures of the inch or so that we got the other week.

This was the view out the back door about two hours ago:

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It was still snowing like crazy at the time, which is hard to see in the picture.

We had a kinda sorta snow day at school: a three-hour early dismissal, which meant that the kids left at 11 AM, which officially made it one of the easiest days of my teaching career. I put on Home Alone and fed all comers leftover ice cream that I'd made for yesterday's Thanksgiving lunch. Get 'em nice and hyper and then send them home. >:^) The snow started mid-morning and, by the time I left school at 11:15, was already starting to stick on the roads.

The drive home was the worst close to school. Up our way, they did a good job of getting the roads salted, but there is one hill about five minutes from the school, and I did question if I would make it to the top and wondered what I'd do if I got stuck five minutes from the school and almost an hour yet from home. By the time we got home, we had about 4 inches/10 cm of snow already; the predicted accumulation for us is supposed to be around 8 inches/20 cm. I haven't looked to see what it is currently.

The last time we had a Thanksgiving snowstorm was in 1989. Bobby and I were eight years old; we both remember it. I feel sorry for people traveling today; this storm is going to create a major mess for them. I am grateful that it will be over and the roads will be clear in time for our guests to come out to our house tomorrow.
Whenever I imagine the polar vortex, I imagine it as one of those men whose head sits directly on his shoulders, arms unable to touch his sides, and walks with the top of his head pointed forward. That's how I imagine him trundling down into the U.S., pulling cold air behind him like walking into a warm house and drawing the cold outside air in behind you.

This afternoon, when I walked out the side door to my classroom and into the parking lot, I thought, "Winter is here." It wasn't terribly cold--44F/7C when I set off north on Liberty Road--but it was raw and spitting this fine, cold rain. By the time I had picked up Bobby and we were heading home, the rain changed into that infamous-from-my-childhood "bag of wintry mix." By the time we were driving north on 795, it had changed to all snow.

So we've had the first snowfall of the year. By the time we were in Carroll County, it was starting to stick to the bare earth; by the time we were in Manchester, it was dusting the grass, and the temperature had dropped to 34F/1C. I just looked and it's stopped now (although NOAA warns for the possibility of snow showers throughout the night) but we got a decent amount of coverage for a mid-November snowfall in central Maryland.

Pictures! )


For anyone following the Saga of My Pulled Piriformis, I have returned to work (yesterday) and can walk again. I am still stiff and have been banished from the gym for three weeks by Bobby (who is at the gym now), at which I literally whined; blame the lingering pain for my regression back to the behavior of a seven-year-old. It's just that inactivity doesn't help with the stiffness at all, even though I know that I need to give myself time off from anything strenuous. But stiffness is better than feeling like someone is stabbing you with an ice pick at the top of your thigh every time you take a step. And I'll have dance twice next week, so that will help.
It has been pouring rain all weekend, miserable and nasty. Throughout it all, my refrain has been, "At least it's not snow!" Lol. *cry*

About 45 minutes ago, Bobby and I left to go to the gym. It was pouring rain with a little sleet mixed in. The temperature was 38F/3C. Forty-five minutes later, this is our front yard.

Photos beneath the Cut )
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Bobby and I went to Ocean City again this weekend. We took the Goldens again and also met my parents this time. We had a great time. We took a half-day from work on Friday and made really good time getting there; the traffic over the Bay Bridge can be hell. We arrived 15 minutes after my parents and, after getting unpacked, headed to the beach. The shelling was really good again this time, and we found several sand dollars as well as a number of pretty shells.

Like last time, it was cold and windy when we arrived. Aside from the late-afternoon beach walk (which my parents skipped), we stuck indoors on Friday: went to dinner at Adolfo's, a lovely Italian restaurant on the Boardwalk, and went back to the hotel to hang around the pool. Saturday, though, the weather was gorgeous: 68F/20C, sunny, no wind, and not a cloud in the sky. Bobby and I took the Goldens down to the beach at about noon; within a few minutes, we had stripped down to summertime clothing and removed our shoes, the weather was so perfect. Not surprisingly, we were among the only people on the beach. I told Bobby that I thought it was fitting that we were probably among the first people of 2014 to sit on the OC beach in beach chairs! :D

We ended up staying for close to three hours and both of us ended up getting a little sun: not enough to hurt (and it's already faded, except for a very stark stripe across my right bicep) but enough to remind us that summer is coming. We went next to the Boardwalk. Poor Lance becomes frightened by too much excitement and noise, and this was the busiest we've ever had him on the Boardwalk. He is particularly frightened of people on skateboards, especially since, when we were there in February, there was a guy dressed in a blue Grateful Dead bear outfit that kept skateboarding past and terrified poor Lance. We had dinner reservations at 7 and so decided to have a snack while on the Boardwalk, so I held the Goldens on a bench, and Lance jumped up next to me and curled into a little ball as much behind my body as he could manage. People kept coming by, seeing Alex and exclaiming over him, followed immediately by, "Aww, there's another one!" when they saw Lance wedged in beside me.

Read more... )
Well, the predicted snowstorm has hit with a vengeance. We are currently in a lull (Bobby told me the technical meteorological term for it but I forgot what it was), but it is expected to pick back up tonight. (ETA ... it is actually freezing rain again out, which SUCKS.) Bobby estimates that we have gotten about 16 inches (41 cm) so far. We could get 6 additional inches (15 cm) tonight. It is hard to estimate the depth because it has also been very windy, so the snow is drifted quite high in places. We also had quite a bit on the ground from the storm last week. I'll be interested to see what the NWS reports as our official snowfall totals.

Thank goodness the ice was finally out of the trees before this hit. That could have been a disaster. Or maybe I spoke too soon! The power just flickered. It is really windy outside right now.

Bobby took some pictures out in the yard when he went out to clear the front steps.

Pictures Featuring Goldens and Freyja and Snow beneath the Cut )
The chickens started laying eggs again. Bobby got two eggs yesterday and two today--all greenish-blue from the Ameraucanas--out of the coop. However, since egg-laying is motivated by day-length, not by temperature or any magical!animal!intuition of impending spring, then this doesn't mean that we're due to experience spring-like weather anytime soon. And we haven't. It's barely cracked freezing all week--the warmest day in a week being the day of the effing ice storm--and we're due for more of the same this coming week. We got two more inches (5 cm) of snow today. I think I'm turning into a Northerner; I was all like "Two inches ... yaaaawn." This is what the NOAA weather forecast for Manchester looks like for the coming week:

Image )

This looks like our weather forecast for the past two months. A red "Hazardous Weather Outlook" at the top. Weather icons that look like a kid's arts-and-crafts project that involves making snowflakes out of coffee filters. And temperatures where the highs are our usual lows and lows are just OMGWTFthisisMarylanddammit.

I hate to keep talking about the ice storm, but I'm going to have to because our trees are still covered in freaking ice. Yes, a good bit has either melted or (more likely) fallen off. (Piles of ice pieces from the white pines turned the driveway lovingly cleared by Bobby into a miniature version of the Helcaraxë. I was mostly excited today about the snow today because it would cover up all the shards of ice on the ground.) The branches of the Japanese maple no longer point groundward, true, but the tree is still encased in ice, just somewhat less ice than it was a week ago. The annoying thing is that if we drive even five minutes south, most of the ice is gone. As of yesterday, people were still having their power restored. We went out to a late dinner on Friday and were talking to the restaurant owner, and she told us that she had a man come in earlier in the evening whose house was 35F and who was sleeping in his winter coat. :^|

But spring is coming, right? The long-range forecast apparently shows a rapid warm-up into an early spring by the end of the month. The chickens are laying again, we've started all of our indoor seeds, and we've ordered a package of bees ... spring better be coming.

As perhaps evidenced by the fact that I just spent a whole post talking about the weather, my weekend has been pretty dull. I spent most of the weekend working on my final essay for my Enlightenment class. It has to be 17-20 pages. Between yesterday and today, I wrote 13. Yay me. It's not due for a week, but I am taking the month of March off from grad school and starting back in April, so the sooner I finish, the sooner I can begin my break.
The narrative is here. The power was flickering really badly and Photobucket literally took hours and multiple tries to get all of the pictures uploaded, so I wanted to at least get the original post up.

Ice Storm Pictures )

Ice.

Feb. 5th, 2014 02:27 pm
dawn_felagund: (mother nature bats last)
This post has a soundtrack to go with it!

Ice Soundtrack )

We were predicted to get an ice storm last night into tomorrow morning, and we did. Oh we did. We were confident enough that schools would at least be delayed this morning, so we stayed up later than usual last night and watched the last of our snow day movies. (We have a tradition of watching 80's dance movies on nights when we know schools will be closed or delayed the next day for winter weather. We've already worked through Dirty Dancing and Footloose, so that left Flashdance as the only one remaining in our collection. If we get any additional snow days--and if we get the monstrous storm predicted for this weekend, there is a good chance we will--then we will have to settle for something else.) We went to bed just after midnight and, around 12:15, heard the start of the distinctive and disturbing tick tick tick of ice hitting the windows.

The Rest below the Cut! )

ETA ... pictures are up here.
I woke up this morning at 2:30 AM ... to pouring rain. 2 AM was the time the National Weather Service had predicted the temperature would drop low enough to turn yesterday evening's drizzly rain (observed by anyone who watched the Super Bowl!) into all snow. A lifetime of fighting insomnia has taught me little tricks to get myself back to sleep, one of which is to get up and get a drink of water and "reset my brain" so that whatever is niggling at me will leave me alone. While I was up, I checked our weather station. 37F/3C. Grrr. That was still quite far from the predicted 30F/-1C low.

We're going to get screwed out of our snow! I thought. This would mean a full day of rain in near-freezing temperatures, to say nothing of the fact that I was really looking forward to a day off to get ahead on my paper.

And then my little trick to get back to sleep didn't work. Every time I'd start to drift off, the rain would come pounding down in earnest or one of the dogs would start scratching or something small to wake me up. So I was up all night listening to my much-anticipated snow pouring down as rain!

One good thing did come of it: I finished The Social Contract and downloaded Discourses on Inequality and am presently halfway through that. (Don't be impressed. They're both really short.)

I fell asleep shortly before the alarm went off at 6:15. By now, the pouring rain had been replaced by a sharp tick tick tick sound at the window: It was starting to ice. The temperature had dropped to the brink of freezing. The winter storm warning was still in effect; it was just going to get rolling later than predicted. Carroll County Public Schools were on a two-hour delay and closed not long after. Baltimore County did the same with their northernmost district but not the rest, so we were due into work. Bobby texted our principal to let him know that we were going to wait a bit before coming in on account of the ice. And it had begun to snow: giant, wet flakes that were already sticking to the ground.

I went back to sleep. When I next woke up, Bobby was on the phone with our principal to let him know we would not be in. That's weird, I thought. I could hear water running in the gutter, so it was above freezing; I hoped we weren't blowing a day of leave on something stupid. Then I heard the snowplow come down the road, so I looked out the window and saw that, in that short time, 3 inches (7.5 cm) had already fallen, and the road was completely covered.

It is still snowing, and I'm going to be conservative and say that we have 6 inches (15 cm) so far. It's the big, pretty flakes that look like the inside of a snowglobe.

We've still potentially got an ice storm coming on Wednesday and the big snow this weekend. The local meteorologists are already making unsmiling jokes that the kids won't have school for two more weeks.
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Mother Nature held out on me for two whole years in the snow day department. One of the perks of being a Maryland teacher (especially a north-central Maryland teacher) is the snow day: We don't get enough snow around here to actually be able to cope with it, but we do get enough to shut down schools at least a few times each winter. Well, my first two years teaching and one snow day--pathetic! This year, though, it has all caught up with me: We've had three snow days prior to today already. Today, we had a major winter storm. Another snow day. And ... Baltimore County has already announced schools are closed for tomorrow! \0/

The funny thing is that today was a professional development day ... or was supposed to be, but our director went through the onerous process with the Department of Ed to have our calendar changed to have the students come to school so that we could make up one of the three snow days we've had so far this year. And it ended up being another snow day.

She likes to try to make the rest of us down on snow days because the school loses money, since it can't bill that day for students who are discharged before the snow day is made up. She likes to put the specter of making up the snow days during our summer break in front of us. Hogwash. The students get an extra week off than we do, and they make up the snow days from that (and professional development days). Honestly, I'd rather have the students in school for those days; if they left us the hell alone on professional development days, I might mind, but they overschedule us with training and meetings, and I get less done planning-wise than if the kids were there.

In the meantime, I've gotten a ton done. I was off on Friday because of my eye, had the weekend, Monday was a holiday (Martin Luther King Day), and now two snow days. It's like a second Christmas break. I'm not complaining. I got caught up on various things that I'd been putting off for a while.
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