And the Rain Rain Rain Came Down Down Down

Finally. It’s been ages since Mother Nature’s had a drink around here. Not that the lawns are turning brown already or anything – but the brush fire danger is high. In fact, we had some IDIOT flick a cig out his or her window between exits 4 and 3 westbound on the Pike and voila – brush fire extraordinaire!  The day started off overcast, then cleared up with sunny skies. Late this afternoon it got that dark charcoal look. Downpour imminent.  No thunderboomer though. Just a cataclysmic waterfall from the sky – and right when I was leaving work for the day. I had to crank up the defogger to the max, as well as peg out the windshield wipers.

Didja ever notice that the road gets kind of greasy during the first rain after a long dry spell?  Believe me, I could see miniature rainbows in the runoff on the pavement. Not that it slowed me down any on the Mass Pike.  😉  Speed Demon – that’s me.  AKA Masshole Driver.  Muahahahaha!  Despite the flood I drove faster than I probably needed to. Strangely I don’t usually listen to music on the way to and from work. I’m too busy inside my head figuring out my day, and on the way back – my evening.

Anyhoo-I decided to be a good wife and pick up The Viking at work. Normally he rides his mountain bike back and forth every day (its a 2 mile trip one way). We’ve downsized to one car for the two of us and so far its working out OK. Those days where its bad weather I always try to make sure I offer to bring him to work or pick him up. 9/10 times he’s already got a ride – but I always offer.  I have the (much) longer commute so kind of got the vehicle privileges by default.  I had texted him as I left work, but he was unable to respond, nor did he pick up when  I called so I just figured to swing by on the way home. Good thing I did. The downpour followed me from Chicopee. And The Viking was glad to see me!   I made sure to park right next to the bike.

He got the bike loaded and we  took off towards home. Traffic wasn’t too bad – considering.  Clay Hill was awash with runoff and there was minor flooding at the bottom at the corner of Notre Dame by Mestek. The rain lasted till about an hour after we got home, and has subsided for the moment. Its still overcast, but” pink and grey” -ly so. The light is ethereal right now, and the grass has a neon green glow to it.  The mockingbird is kicking up a fuss down the street and the air smells of petrichor.  That wonderful, strangely melancholic, fresh after the rain smell that means green; and growing.

I’m thinking Mayhem will have a  date with the lawnmower this weekend, as she wants to earn some spending money for Anime Boston at the end of the month. Chaos’ cat – Guy Walworth aka Sir aka Sir Guy  – is hanging out with me in the porch window. So far, I have no allergic or asthmatic complaints – and I fully own up to the fact that I am a complete SAP and can’t say no when an animal needs rescuing. (Long story – but suffice to say that I do not recommend getting a pet with one’s boyfriend – pets are for long term, live together, stable relationships)  Anyway,  I’m hoping we get some more of the wet stuff tonight. The sound of rain on my roof will be lovely as I drift off to la-la land. But, I hope it clears up in time for the weekend.  I want to get out and about with my camera.

I also strangely feel the need to find our old VHS copy of “Winnie the Pooh and The Blustery Day”  The kids used to love watching that.  Mayhem’s favorite toy when she was very little was “Heppa”.  It was a Puff-a-Lump that she renamed after the song  “Heffalumps and Woozles”  I’m very confu-zzled…. ;).   Anyway, it still smells awesome outside, and I am so grateful to be able  to smell it. (normally I have no sense of smell due to chronic sinus problems). I’m enjoying my second glass of moscato white wine, and trying to decide what to have for dinner.  Here’s hoping for a pleasantly relaxing evening – listening to the rain on the roof.   Hugs to all.

Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day

Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Afternoon Meanderings

IMG_7940 copy2 watermarkedEarly Spring Water Meadow along Rte 23  Blandford, MA

IMG_7953 copywatermarkedView from the Blandford Country Club. North Street Blandford MA  Looking down into Springfield….

IMG_7983 watermarkedSpring Stream. Algerie Road, North Blandford MA

IMG_8093watermarked IMG_8098 copywatermarkedStone Walls along the Roadway near Long Pond Conservation Area.  Algerie Road North Blandford MA

IMG_8028 watermarkedIMG_8040 watermarkedCanadian Goose in its element, and Remnants of a Beaver Dam, Long Pond Conservation Area.  Algerie Road North Blandford, MA

And last but by no means least, my traveling companion and chauffeur for the afternoon – The Viking – patiently waiting pondside while I trekked in and got pictures. And no, I didn’t fall in, or get muddy!

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It was really wonderful to meander those back roads today. I grew up there and nostalgia waxed large as I noted how much had changed – and how much had stayed the same.  The afternoon light is becoming more and more spring-like even though there’s still plenty of snow on the ground up in the hills.  The sounds of water cascading over the rocky stream beds, the wind rushing through the pines and dry reed beds, the honking chatter of the geese and ducks – all made for a peaceful backdrop to my self-imposed photo assignment.  Hell, I’ll call it what it was -THERAPY.    I came home with numb fingers and ears, but quite contented. Best of all, I got to spend the afternoon with my guy!

 

Emerging

Spring has been slow in arriving to New England this year. It’s been a long, cold,and damp March. But the last few days have given me hope. Bluebird Skies, Birdsong, Brisk Breezes. Yesterday I really felt like we were starting to emerge from winter. We opened the windows and let the fresh air blow through the house. Outside, I noted my day lilies are starting to peek up above ground; and the daffodils have started sending their shoots up for their April debut.

We opened up all the windows again this morning; and The Viking and I (who are child-free today) took our canine kids on a long walk. The wind was cold, but the sunshine felt so good on our faces. We walked on the dike along the Westfield River. There have been a lot of changes over the winter. Smaller islands, new channels. We saw Canadian geese and Mallard ducks on the water for the first time. The Viking informs me that a Bald Eagle has been spotted on the river recently – but we didn’t see it this time out. Liberty the Red-Tailed Hawk is still hanging around, but we didn’t see her either. I must remember to bring my DSLR camera on these meanderings!

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Sophie and Chewy had a marvelous time exploring along the walkway. Lots of new scents to investigate, and we noted glimpses of fresh green popping up here and there beneath the dry browns and beiges of the winter that doesn’t want to relinquish its grip on us entirely. In addition to the waterfowl, we also saw some cardinals, a few chickadees and a finch (I think it was a finch, anyway). Off in the distance we heard a woodpecker; who was busily looking for his lunch. We also saw quite a few robins. Does anyone remember that song “when the red red robin comes bob-bob-bobbin along”? I can’t get it out of my head now – hahaha!

Now I’m not a big fan of March. Its brown, dreary, drab, muddy, dirty and cold. But I do love seeing all that give way to the green and glorious spring. Especially after the beating we took from Old Man Winter this year. But we are slowly and surely emerging into the warmth of April. I could see it on the faces of the folks we passed on our travels today. Smiling, heads up, and facing into the wind (not hunkered down against it). The Viking didn’t even bring a coat – which he regretted before too long -this is New England after all… 😉

The sun seems to linger in the sky today. The neighborhood kids are out on their bikes. Their happy voices carry on the breeze thats vigorously moving my curtains. The mockingbird in the pine tree is chattering away and sounding like a cat at the moment. Two tired puppies are sprawled, snoring, at my feet. It feels good to emerge today. “Live, Love, Laugh, and Be Happy”. Time for a glass of wine.

Pictures from the Blizzard: Blizzard Blog…

This was the February Nor’Easter from start to finish in my neck of the woods.  First, a “gratuitious” not very well photographed self portrait.  The iPhones are a bit heavy to hold out at the focal length required to get a clear picture. But I do like the two faced camera so that self portraits, however badly shot, are possible.  I just won’t tweet or instagram the bad ones, promise! 😉

Anyway, this is about 9:15 am.  on Friday Feb 8.

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Here’s his Mama’s snowy  boy!  Chewy loves to be outdoors with us, We have to check him carefully and limit his time outside because the snow tends to ball up and stick to the fur between his footpads. And that hurts.
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Below, puppies on patrol.  The top of the dike is paved and gets a lot of foot traffic.  Sophie (back at the fence) and Chewy (mid pic) make sure to greet all pedestrians, cyclists and fellow pooches as they walk past.  Theres about an inch on the ground, approx 10:30 am Feb 8

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An afternoon culinary project  for Jillian and me.  Homemade Mac and Cheese with Ham. Recipe is easy:  2lbs elbow mac. Cook in salted water for 7-8 mins until al dente. Drain. Bechamel Sauce:  1 stick unsalted butter, melted  1/4 to 1/2 c flour add to butter and mix. cook on med until roux turns golden brown ( maybe 3-4 mins)   add 4 cups milk and stir with whisk over med heat.  Whisk constantly till sauce begins to thicken, add 1 tsp pepper., 1 tblspn brown mustard, 1 tsp grated nutmeg , then add 4-5 cups grated cheese (we use a gruyere/cheddar/monterey jack mix) and continue whisking until cheese has melted.  Add the elbow macaroni and diced ham and stir till combined.  Spray a nonstick coating (Pam) into a 9X13 casserole dish (or butter it) and pour the mixture in, spreading it around evenly.  Sprinkle more grated cheese and bread crumbs on top. Cover with tin foil and bake at 325 for at least one hour –  or until bubbly.  Uncover and bake for 15-20 minutes more until the top becomes golden brown and crispy.  Remove from oven, and dig in.

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Below, our street at what passed for twilight – about 5:00 pm.  Wind had kicked up and it started snowing moderately.

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Our backyard about 9:30 pm – at least 6 inches of snow piling up, wind howling.

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10:30 pm  Whiteout conditions – taken with iPhone with flash on. Wind definitely out of the Northeast.

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Below, a view from my bedroom window (it faces NNE) 11:30pm (ish) Please note that  is NOT fog or mist surrounding the streetlight.  Despite it being an iPhone pic I think its one of the better ones I took during this event.  Snow was heaviest between 10pm and 3am.  At this point we had at least 10-12 inches on the ground. The wind made it hard to tell. In fact, the NOAA later classified this storm as a blizzard for Westfield – we had sustained winds 30 mph or more for at least 3 hours.

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Aftermath.  We measured in 4 different places and averaged to get 23″ at our house.  Some spots were drifted to at least 4 ft.

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Oh hey – THERE’S  my car!

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This is the south side of the house. Small kitchen window with those thick glass blocks. LOVE how they let the light in – especially in summer. But look at these killer icicles!  By Monday the melt had created a small ice dam and the roof started leaking through the canister light directly into our shower. Fortunately the girls and I were home because another storm came through (sleet and freezing rain this time) and our roads were a MESS! (They remained a mess through Wednesday the 12th)  I got up on a ladder and raked more snow off the roof. When the Viking got home, he broke up the ice dams and Voila – no more leaks.

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Oh snap!  iPhone screenshot from our local newsstation website:

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Can you find Nemo?  Hahaha!

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My older daughter was “stranded” with her boyfriend and his family during the storm.  They had quite a scare with power surges that literally melted many of their electronics, caused some minor soot damage and the Hatfield Fire Dept had to come out and check their walls for hot spots.  A transformer blew right outside their house.  She told me that their lights started flickering and glowing brighter and she felt like she was in an episode of “Supernatural”.  Other houses on the street were doing the same.  Then she heard a “pop” and smelled something burning.  They were all very fortunate not to have had a fire. Sadly, there were also some tragic but completely preventable deaths in the area.

Storm Safety Tips:  NEVER run a generator inside your  house, EVER. Run it outside, ALWAYS.  Several people (Darwin Award Nominees for 2013) died of CO poisoning in Springfield because they fired up their gennie inside their house.  “Ladies and Gentlemen – the city of Springfield regrets to inform you that your family members are dead because they were stupid”.  NEVER sit inside a vehicle whose engine is running  to “warm up” unless it is parked in a cleared street or driveway and the exhaust pipe is COMPLETELY UNOBSTRUCTED.  An 11 yr old from Boston died from this during the storm. Completely shut down and unplug any valuable electrical equipment, game consoles, computers, etc . If your lights flicker, dim, or brighten: Shut off what you can,and monitor your walls for hot spots. Call your FD immediately if you smell smoke or anything burning. Take the usual storm related steps and precautions. Batteries,flashlights, blankets.  Make sure you have enough of any medications you take for at least 3 days. Keep important papers etc on hand and ready to take with you if you have to go to a shelter.  Keep a roof rake handy and make sure you clear off your roof – or get someone to do it for you.  Leaks are no fun, and costly. Roof collapses – even less fun, more dangerous and wayyy more expensive.   Winters not over yet here – so stay prepared my friends.  That’s all the news fit to print for now….. Love and Hugs from the Great White Northeast!

Ridin’ the Storm Out

As my friend Kelly would say:  Here’s the song reference:

REO Speedwagon – Ridin’ The Storm Out – Live
I decided to keep a weather blog of sorts and keep a record of my musings during this historic event.  In Western MA we aren’t supposed to get hit with the worst of it, but we are expecting power outages due to high winds, and I’m thinking some flooding in this area as the Westfield River serves as drainage for the southern east face of the Berkshires. And of course Westfield holds the United States record for the most rainfall in a 24 hour period, 13 inches,  & most rainfall in a storm Hurricane Diane 19.75 inches  – and please,  note below that Westfield is on this list no less than 3 times…..  GAH!

Wettest tropical cyclones and their remnants in Massachusetts
Highest known recorded totals
Precipitation Storm Location Ref
Rank mm Inches
1 501.7 19.75 Diane 1955 Westfield [4]
2 324.4 12.77 New England Hurricane of 1938 Gardner [2]
3 317.5 12.50 Carrie 1972 Tashmoo [19]
4 312.4 12.3 1933 Outer Banks hurricane Provincetown [4]
5 251.0 9.88 Eloise 1975 Westfield [19]
6 236.7 9.32 Connie 1955 Plainfield [19]
7 231.1 9.10 Irene 2011 Savoy [20]
8 213.36 8.40 Lee 2011 Worthington [55]
9 179.3 7.06 Bob 1991 Westfield [19]
10 175.5 6.91 Donna 1960 Great Barrington [19]

Anyway, woke up this morning to misty drizzle and a brisk northeast breeze, gusting up to maybe 20 mph.  Work for me and classes for both the girls were cancelled last night, so I had planned on a bit of a sleep in. The Viking had other plans for me though  – calling about 9am to see if I could run up to  Blandford and pick up Sophie’s seizure medication. She won’t run out till the weekend -but who knows if we will be able to get up there by then. So Jill and I were off on a quick adventure, stopping at Dunkin for “coffee and” and also topping off the gas tank on the Saturn before the prices skyrocket again. Great to see that the utility companies and the Emergency Response personnel were (and are) already out in force.

As I left the house, I noticed that UPS had made a delivery.  It was from my dear friend Barney http://mountainperspective.wordpress.com in California- who sent me one of his handcrafted cutting  boards made of black walnut maple and cherry wood. It literally made my day – and I called him to thank him and chat after Jill and I got back from our errands. An expatriated New Englander, Barney is extremely concerned about how things are going, so I told him I would keep him posted.  Then, I thought I would do this weather blog  thing too.  This will help me I’m sure when my future grandchildren ask me what I was doing during Frankenstorm -the “Nor’easter-cane” of 2012.

The Viking came home for lunch at noontime, the wind is really picking up and my Dad’s windchimes are making music in very accelerated time. Jill and I decided to put together clothes and necessary equipment and get the animals stuff ready in case we do eventually need to leave.  I’m not overly concerned with that part of it right now per se; but better to be prepared to get gone than not.  Last year’s fiasco served as a lesson to everyone.

Mother Nature certainly seems to have it in for the Northeast lately. The tornado last year (which began in Westfield btw…) Hurricane Irene, the October “Snowpocalypse” at this exact time last year (that’s the weirdest thing, isn’t it?),  the minor earthquakes of last summer and again just last week up in Maine. I think she needs to get back on her HRT – and soon. Anyway, at the moment the wind is steady and the trees are swirling moderately; no real rain to speak of -just scattered here and there.   Going to sign off for now.  Will update with part 2 later (by phone if the power goes out) . Batten Down the Hatches! Full Speed Ahead, and Get the Whiners Below Deck!

For those of you not directly affected by this storm, but are interested in following whats going on here,  I recommend checking out  WWLP.com  They’re our local station and fairly accurate when it comes to weather stuff.