Thursday, January 29, 2015

Have a good stahm or Why New England is not for the weak - Weston, MA

My view out the patio door 7 am
This past Sunday I learned about Winter Storm Juno. As those who remember their mythology, Juno is the Roman name for the Greek goddess Hera. Hera was always my least favorite goddess--she's married to her brother Zeus (err, what?) and he is a pain in the butt always turning girlfriends into swans so she won't smite them because somehow she was always smiting the girl and not her trampy husband. Yes, trampy. Anyway, apparently Hera (Juno) eyeballed eastern Massachusetts and said "wench! you must die for looking at my husband-brother!!" 

Juno was the perfect storm. Please don't ask me to try to remember everything the weather dudes said but it was something about warm wet air coming from the south hitting Canadian winds (blame Canada when it doubt) and doing some kind of samba, or maybe it was cool air from New York (second choice on blame) hitting warm air from Canada--wait, what warm air from Canada? See how easy it is to blame Canada?  

Whatever. All the factors were together for a storm that would drop 24-37 inches on Boston and its metro west suburbs. Think about it, 37 inches!! That's the size of a four year old child...just swallowed up in the 20 hours of the storm. Fortunately my kids are around four feet tall so I could see them above the neck. Mostly screaming with laughter.

Anyway, check out this Weather Channel photo of the storm obliterating New England. Where is Boston? I dunno, but the satellite equivalent of a finger over the lens is up there too. What is that? The wing? Check out the link below the photo for cool other swirly stuff photos.

Photo credit:

Now, if you remember my last blog, I am all about embracing winter. So when BH left me to face Snowmaggedon or Snowcapalype by myself (he got out of town on Sunday night), I thought okay...let's do it! I had a snowplower guy named Joe, who was all set up to have a good "stahm" as all the plow guys  kept wishing each other in their Boston accents "have a good stahm, Georgie..." and I am all fit from my Kung Fu Fit and ready for battle. 

Having lived in Miami for six years, I am a pretty good pro on the getting ready for a weather emergency. Here, in no particular order, is how I went about it on Monday:

1. Firewood. BH brought a bunch in for me and a good thing too. All supermarkets were sold out on Monday. Fortunately I had had to cut down two ash trees in the fall (well, unfortunately for them, but they would have crashed my house during the winds). Of course my puppy ate about two of the largest logs while I was out shoveling on Tuesday, but I was still ready for power out as I now had chips to start the fire.

2. Emergency power. First I identified all neighbors with generators and brought them cookies. No, just kidding on the cookies--I can't bake. I do have three neighbors with generators and all are incredibly nice about saying "come on over" in case of lost power. We did not lose power for even a second, fortunately, in spite of some pretty nice wind gusts and snowy pine trees wanting to drop onto the power lines. Nice work, NStar. The only bad show on NStar is they are about to change their name to "Eversource." I am about to obliterate their marketing agency on my other website. Wait for it. What would you rather be? A star or a source? Weird. I digress.

3. Emergency light. Three flashlights, check! Went to REI to return a ski helmet and bought an emergency lantern that plugs into USB and also charges your electronics. And possibly bakes cookies. I never had to figure that part out. As an aside, the line at REI was HUGE--bigger than all supermarkets. Number one purchase of those in line: gloves. Number 2: snow shoes. Number 3: cool lighting like mine. I wanted the snow shoes but I'm waiting for post season and used ones. I am cheap.

4. Food. We have tons of food and none would go bad like in Miami. As in, oops, you lost your power, stick the milk in the snow drift. Of course, when the snow was coming down three inches an hour like at the height of the storm, you'd find the milk in maybe April. But in spite of tons of food, I could not resist the urge to go buy Campbell's chicken noodle soup (almost sold out) and beer. And shelf-stable milk. What can I say? I didnt' want to find the milk in April. I found the Lincoln supermarket to be pretty not lines.

5. Water. I found myself filling bathtubs with water like I did in Miami until one of my neighbors said to me "if you need to, just melt the snow." (I think she might have added "idiot-brain" but I chose not to hear it). We have a gas stovetop so power outage would not stop the cooking...also see fireplace (I have four of those) above. I drained the bathtubs again but left the five pitchers of water around. Old habits die hard.

6. Electronics. I charged everything. EVERYTHING. A DVD player we haven't used in 10 years so we could watch Toy Story or whatever. Ipads, Ipods, Imacs, Iphones, name it, it was plugged in. They're still plugged in. 

7. Fill'er up. Yes, I filled up both cars with gas. There is no chance I am taking out the hooptie (my 2003 train station car with 112K miles) in snow but like I said, I am trained from Miami days. I could always siphon off the gas for the generator I don't have which would run the oxygenator for the carp pond which I also don't have. Yes, that was my neighbors in Miami in 2005. I am clearly traumatized by a hurricane named Wilma (Flintstones vs. Greek mythology--which would you rather?) It was a scene at the gas stations--lines in both places, all polite, all filled with snowplow guys wishing each other "a good stahm".

And so the snow started at around 2 pm on Monday--the kids activities got canceled (not sure why, this was just flurries) and we bunkered in. Here is how things looked at 7 pm on Monday. Why yes, my bunker does have white wine and a Harry Potter book. Doesn't yours?

At 3 am, I woke up to the noise of the town snowplow. I looked outside and could not believe the huge blanket of snow already down. I checked the house and everything looked okay so I headed back to bed where the kids had somehow noted the empty warm spot and moved in. Sneaky suckers. 

At 7 am, I woke up to a patio backdoor that looked like the first photo. Yep, that looks scary. Very scary. Not all of that was snowfall--the winds tend to blow everything there but it is the door the dogs go out to do their stuff. Now what? I looked out the kitchen door--drifted up to 1 1/2 feet of snow. Garage doors: forget it. Office door: nope. Front door: aha! Only about eight inches near the door, none of it looking like it was going to fall in.

Once the kids woke up, we ate up, geared up and then Lalo and I hit the front walkway. Nico suited up but then turned back: Brazilian boy. We decided to shovel out to the street so my old labrador could get out to do her stuff. All around us was the sweet sound of snowblowers. I hate the sound of snowblowers but I do get their usage in this much snow--I am still sore today from all the snow shoveling. Joe the snowplow dude showed up with his massive Ford pickup truck with the yellow blinky siren on top and made a giant hill in about 10 minutes and then pulled up, rolled down the window and said "just doing a first run...back latah" (or however you do that Bahston accent).

Height of the storm: 8 am and Lalo is kicking it! 1/3 of way to curb...
An hour into the front walkway, Lalo gave up and started tunneling into the hills left by the plow. I suggested that the next plow to pass might bury him forever, so he went over to our own garage hill and tunneled there. Me, I shoveled. And shoveled and shoveled. I cleared the garage door, the path to the kitchen door and the front walkway every hour and a half. Three inches every hour, folks. I think it was a total of 24 inches in our area, which means I was out there about six times (the nighttime accumulation I did only once).

Garage snowplow hill in front of unused garage (thank God)
New England is not for the weak. Even snowblowing ain't easy, kids. Those machines are big. Fortunately I have great neighbors, one of whom came over around 11 am and said "let's sled!" and we all trooped up the dead-end street with the hill and sledded down the road. The middle of the road. And screamed with laughter as we bowled each other over. And jumped out of the way of snow plows. And dogs. Oh, the dogs. Later we let the dogs romp in the two feet of snow, and it is just like all the youtube videos show...bounding up and down with little hills of snow on their snouts. Really good fun.

Come here, Tennessee doggie! Let's romp!
After clearing up some more in the afternoon and watching too much TV and half-heartedly doing homework, we again headed over to the neighbor's for dinner. And wine. And story-telling. And sledding (for the kids). Then we walked home through the enormous mountains of snow and went to bed. 

So, Juno, you may be one pissed off lady but I'm no swan.
Still embracing it...though the arms are just a tiny bit sore...


  1. Good luck, it looks like you are coping pretty well and I'm sure the kids are having a blast!

    Here in London we had a light dusting of snow that was enough for schools to close and public transport to stop running. Now we are expecting the Beast from the East (when in doubt, blame it on the Russians) which, if experience serves me right, will drop a full centimeter of snow on my doorstep.

    Anyway, are you familiar with the apocryphal story of a Brazilian in Pennsylvania?

    I'm wondering if that kind of frustration is going to hit you at some point. :-)

  2. Oh my gosh, I laughed my butt off. Loved that story--"merda branca caindo de novo." I'm very close to we are getting a most beautiful snow, 2-4 inches (sorry, you have to convert), gaily floating down, warmish (for winter). I mentioned to my neighbor that I would be in love with it except that we have around 54 inches (conversion) already on the ground. Actually, what ground? I haven't seen it since the beginning of January. There are bushes we won't see until April. And dog toys. And possibly a soccer ball. And we are supposed to get another blizzard on Monday. I think I've had enough. Still love snow, but not this much of it!

  3. I love the "merda branca". The best thing is that you could change the details and the basic story of initial excitement, turning into mild frustration, then sheer incredulity and finally total outrage would still ring true anywhere in the world (although maybe not as funny).

    I'm actually hoping for some decent snow just to make the cold worthwhile. It's funny that we're further north than you yet our winters are much milder than yours.