Christmas Greetings!

We slid right into the last couple of days before Christmas, with everything coated with ice yesterday morning. I spent most of the day scraping ice, doing last-minute shopping, and cooking up Fantasy Beef Stew* in preparation for Christmas dinner. (Today I’ll be cooking Spacetime Chicken Stew.**) This is so we can have a fine feast, but not spend all day Christmas cooking.

I probably won’t be online much until after Christmas (when we’ll be hosting my brother and his wife and two dogs, our daughters and their boyfriends, and a few other good friends in the bargain). So say I’ll Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone now! Merry Christmas!  Happy Holidays!

I thought of writing a rhetorical piece about “How did celebrating the birth of Jesus turn into such a frantic race to get everything done?”—not that that applies to us personally, no!—but I decided instead to take a dog’s eye view of the day. Here’s Captain Jack checking out the beautiful, icy pine tree.

*Named in homage to Diana Wynne Jones’s take on hearty stew in fantasy worlds, in The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: The Essential Guide to Fantasy Travel.

**Named in homage to Fantasy Beef Stew.

Love the Weather, Hate the Climate (Change)

I went out biking today with a glorious, record-breaking temperature of 72 degrees in Boston in February. I can’t deny it was wonderful, a great day for walking, biking, dogging. Here is a selfie of me out on the bike path, soaking up the wondrousness. At the same time, I had recurring visions of icepacks melting into the sea, polar bears on ice floes, and sea levels rising. And the thought: This can’t be right.

You listening, Pruitt?

Frozen Pipes!

Frozen pipes in Boston!

Cripes, here I am, reporting on our adventures in the tropics—while here in the Boston area, it is now -10 degrees Fahrenheit, and windy! (Real feel -41!) So much for our unseasonably warm weather. Unbeknownst to me, two windows in our basement had blown open, and the whole basement was a deep freeze. It was about 1 a.m. when I noticed no water from the faucet and went running down to discover this.

Two hours later, after screwing the windows shut, setting up space heaters, and running a heat gun over the pipes near where they come into the house, we have water flowing again in most of the taps (still just a trickle in the kitchen faucet). Thank God, we seem to have escaped without any burst pipes. Wow. Let this still be true in the morning. We gonna leave those taps trickling right through the night.

Next day: Everything good, sort of. The kitchen faucet wasn’t frozen; it was blocked by a slug of grit that must have been sent up the pipes when things released. Which probably also explains the slow-filling toilet tank, which I’ll have to look at tomorrow. And the water meter is dripping into the frozen sump area, so I’ll need to call the water department as soon as they’re open. But no burst pipes!

 

Ponce Chronicles Called Due to Snow

2016-02-05_house in snow_sm

Doesn’t look like much, but it was six inches of wet, gluey, sludgy, icy snow to move. It’s what I spent a good part of the day doing.

The Ponce Chronicles will resume tomorrow. Assuming we don’t get more of the same.

Here’s kind of an eerie view that I got while walking Captain Jack in the evening. The trees were cloaked with heavy layers of snow, a little unnerving to walk under.

2016-02-05_eerie snow on trees_sm

 

Braided Clouds, from Space

This NASA image caught my eye on The Atlantic’s website. (Click the link if this embed code doesn’t work. Ah, nope, it doesn’t. Click the link.) Cloud vortices off Heard Island, south Indian Ocean, from NASA’s Aqua satellite.

Cloud vortices off Heard Island, south Indian Ocean. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image of sea ice off Heard Island on Nov 2, 2015 at 5:02 AM EST (09:20 UTC). A cloud vortex- the circular pattern seen here- is produced by the flow of air in the atmosphere. Heard Island (visible in the lower right portion of the image) is located in the Indian Ocean, about two-thirds of the way from Madagascar to Antarctica. The island is uninhabited by humans, although it is home to many birds and seals. Heard Island is rugged and mountainous, and is mostly covered with ice. It is also home to an active volcano, Mawson Peak. The island has been a territory of Australia since 1947. Credit: NASA/Goddard/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Land Rapid Response Team #nasagoddard
A photo posted by NASA Goddard (@nasagoddard) on

Buried By Snow on a Snowy Evening

My friend Rich Bowker has been posting a series of snow poems by actual poets. I thought I would add my own stanza to the ouvre.

Whose woods these are I think I know
His house is in the snowdrift though
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods swall’w’d up by snow.

—Robert Frosty

The ground is down there somewhere. Way down.

Another foot or so predicted tonight and tomorrow, after the foot or so we’ve had over the last couple of days. It’s getting really hard to pile it any higher.

Captain Jack’s enjoying it.

Something interesting

My snow blower continues to work, off and on, coughing and sputtering. I believe it’s running way too rich on the bad carburetor (new one still en route from China), and after few hours it quits and I have to feed it a new spark plug because the old one is fouled with carbon. I only have so many new spark plugs on hand to feed it. (Like, that was my last.)

The bike path transformed

We will remember this winter, I think.

Not So Much, Where We Are

Even though I heard reports of fifteen inches of snow in nearby places, I don’t think we got more than eight, or ten at the most, here in Arlington. By the time I got out to walk Captain Jack, my downstairs neighbor had already thoughtfully shoveled the walk, the back deck, and a bit of the driveway. By the time I got back from walking Jack, my next door neighbor had thoughtfully shoveled out the driveway apron! I still had work to do with the snow blower, but a lot less than I expected. Good thing, because even without much wind chill, the six-degree temperature got my hands pretty cold.

Here’s the final result in the late afternoon sun.

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