Friday, February 26, 2010

The Storm

The rain came in torrents yesterday afternoon and the wind blew from the east. It was so nasty that I actually drove right up in front of the door at Stop & Shop when I picked up 'A' from work so that she wouldn't get soaked. For once the weather forecasters were correct unfortunately, and the wind speed continued an upward trend well in to the night. I snuggled under the covers watching the Olympics and cringing every time the roar of the wind drowned out the audio on the TV. My bed would shake and the wind in the window screening screeched. There were thumps and bangs. As I gave up trying to stay awake long enough to watch all the skating, and turned off the lights, the wind seemed to calm down. I wondered what our yard would look like come daylight.

After the wild winds of nightfall, I was totally surprised in the morning to see only a littering of small branches and twigs in the yard. Then I looked across the back road to my neighbor's and saw that their moderately large pine tree had fallen atop his pick up truck and her nearly new sedan. A big mess for them with damage to both vehicles. Further down the street a small apple tree had toppled near another neighbor's shed. After breakfast, and the realization that our cable TV wasn't working, I headed for my package shippers. I was hoping that I had missed yesterdays pick up and I could slip a receipt inside a box of keys that I had left there for shipping. As I traveled out Main Street there were several trees fallen across driveways and in yards. There was the top only of a large pine tree hanging upright amid the power lines. As I neared my destination there was a lot more debris to avoid. Huge sections of wooden fencing from a condo complex were strewn across the road and nearby a row of 25 foot tall arborvitae - ish trees were a tangled mess, some of them had taken down power lines and lay across a driveway. Traffic was backed up as far as I could see and I wondered why. I arrived at the shippers to discover that the entire shopping area was without power and realized that the traffic back up was probably due to the traffic lights not functioning a half mile ahead . ( I found out later that there had also been an accident involving an 18 wheeler at the lights five minutes prior to my travels) My aging hippy shipping clerk opened the door when he saw me pull up and I told him what I needed to do and was let in the store. Unfortunately the box had already been picked up the previous day. While I was there chatting, the owner of the shop showed up. With no power, he decided not to open and 'my' hippy asked me for a lift home.

The drive back was uneventful. I noticed that two overly large, skinny, and top heavy pines in a Main Street front yard had survived the wind storm. By a couple hours later, one of those trees had toppled, miraculously missing a house, and totally blocking the drive and entrance to the house!

I spent the majority of the day either picking up our little bits of tree debris or working on keys in the shop. We drove to Ace Hardware to pick up a few things and found out that power was out all along Railroad Avenue...and at Ace! They were running a little generator to power some emergency lights and one cash register. We were escorted by a flashlight toting clerk to find the items we needed. My mom went out to grocery shop and when she got home commented that a utility pole near Stop & Shop was leaning very precariously. When I drove 'A' to work for 3 p.m. I took a look. It has at least a 33° list and a few of the lines are resting against a sign post further down the street.

After finishing work, my mom and I had an early dinner and then went in to town to check on a friend's house that we are babysitting for 6 weeks. All was fine there including the cable TV so we stayed and watched the news. Things are a mess around here! About 8,000 on the island of about 30,000 are still without electricity. Some roads are still impassable because of downed wires and trees. Several trees along Thatcher Road fell and took out 3 utility poles. The road along Pebble Beach was washed out (always does in a storm!) and even the road at Back Beach was closed. Two motels along Gloucester's back shore lost their roofs. The roof from the motel section of the Ocean View Inn is totally gone...all of it, not just the shingles. During the worst of the storm last night, a huge fire raged at Hampton Beach, NH., destroying an entire block including hotels, apartments, and the arcade. It's hard to get a fire controlled during winds of over 70 mph. There has been much beach erosion all along the eastern coast of Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Tonight as I drove to Stop & Shop to pick up 'A', I noticed that the entire 4 mile route was in darkness. I had a hard time finding my turn at Barn Lane without the lights of the Shaw's shopping center to illuminate the corner. The leaning utility pole is still there, still with it's threatening angle. A half dozen power company trucks were congregated with floodlights shining around one intersection along my route. The pine tree top is still hanging, entangled in the power lines not far from our street. Our neighbor has cut the fallen tree off of his truck and car and just an enormous section of trunk along with it's unearthed root ball remains.

We still have no TV, which is an annoyance. I had wanted to watch Apolo Ohno's final speed skating race. But, we do have power and the light and warmth that it brings. We had no damage to our property and no major clean-up. We were fortunate.

An update: The TV is back on and I heard that Apolo was disqualified in his last individual race. Relay still to go. Also, the Sandy Bay Yacht Club (Rockport) recorded winds, last night, of between 70 and 80 mph with one gust at 87 mph. The photo at the top of this post is credited to the GDT staff photographer.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Blue In The Face

We had snow this past Tuesday. Not a lot, but enough for some heavy duty shoveling (wet snow) and a couple passes on the roads with plows and sand/salt trucks. I went out to my back PRIVATE drive to finish up cleaning the plow-in snow from behind my truck and silently screamed. Now, in reality, they are not supposed to be plowing that drive. Nor the neighbor's connecting drive. They are not public roads or public right-of-ways. We have kept moderately silent about it realizing that our neighbors are enjoying the benefit of not having to hand shovel a very long drive. We did, if you remember, post PRIVATE DRIVE signs at each end of the back drive.

So, why was I upset? Well, the plow dug up the granite pavers all along the edge of my parking area. Even though I had placed reflectors to keep them well away from the edge. The plow driver scooped a swath well inside of my markers. THEN he managed to break off the end of the paved drive and added insult to injury by plowing up hill TOWARDS the damaged edge and removing all the broken pavement. I found several hunks of it half a block away! Add to that the enormous amount of dirt that was then scooped out with the plow and now there's a 10 inch drop at the end of the drive.

Wednesday I went to the DPW (Department of Public Works) with photos in hand. First they tried to claim that there was no pavement involved. Wrong. Then they claimed that if it was a private drive, they weren't the ones plowing it. Wrong. Then they tried to scare me by saying that if it WERE found to be private (it is) that they would no longer plow it. "Fine with me," I said. "But what about fixing the damage to private property?" The head guy made a quick phone call to his man in the field. I met him back at the house. He tried to tell me that there wasn't any pavement damaged. That it was ground asphalt filler. Wrong and I demonstrated that I could carry a large hunk of it in one piece...not ground filler. Then he said that the town really shouldn't be plowing the drive. Once again, "Fine with me!". I showed him where the drive used to end, a near four feet from it's present broken end.He assured me he'd have it fixed in the Spring. (That should be a fun experience). Meanwhile more snow is expected Tuesday, Wednesday, and maybe Thursday. By the time Winter ends, there'll be no drive left!

Maybe it won't get plowed this time!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My Third Career

Will be as a meteorologist. Tell me, at what other job can you routinely be wrong 75% of the time and keep your job along with a hefty salary? Over a foot of snow? Try less than a quarter of an inch!

Just before 2 p.m., when I was driving 'A' to work, it had flurried but not stuck to anything. By 4 p.m. it was still the same. As I sat in my truck in the parking lot prior to 6 p.m., I was being jostled by strong wind gusts from the east nearing 45 mph. In the distance, I could see the blue light flashing atop Gloucester City Hall warning everyone that it was a snow emergency and there would be no on-street parking. Hah! Temperatures were dropping and the parking lot was starting to get a slightly slippery glazing. There were still flurries but next to no accumulation.

A non-blizzard.

I'm not complaining.

Well, at least not about the weather.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Has It Really Been That Long?

Wow! I haven't written here in quite some time. I guess that's because while nothing of particular note is happening here, neither have I managed to find time to sit and write about all the nothing. I'm fed up with winter.We haven't had all the snow that some areas south of us have seen. It doesn't make sense that one needs to head south for snow, does it? Anyway, our lack of snow is partially due to the extremely cold temperatures that we have been having. Add to those a brisk breeze and it's cold. Very cold. Just so that we don't feel left out, temperatures are supposed to moderate mid-week and allow us 6-8 inches of white stuff.

So, the nothing stuff...I've started working on all our income tax forms. I've actually made out quite well, tax-wise, this year! Refunds will be coming to me from both the Feds and the State. This is the first time in eight years. Yippeeeeeeee! Of course doing the taxes is not without the irritation factor. For the second year in a row the government has failed to send tax forms and instruction books for each of us. I got my federal booklet, with forms, over a month ago. My mom and 'A' haven't gotten any. We've all gotten our state stuff. I ended up printing a pile of forms from online so I could get things started. So, pencil drafts are finished for each of us. Just a double check of the math and then filling out the forms that will be sent in.

Key work has slowed down and I've been working on the Indian harmonium. I fixed all the contracted work and decided to put a bit more into it. The bellows seemed weak so I've delved deeper in to the workings to make sure that everything is as sealed up as possible. Tomorrow will be two tunings. Tuesday I'll be tuning and replacing some strings on that Helpinstiehl (sp?) electronic piano.

Finally, I've read a couple more books. The only one worth mentioning in the sidebar is The Lost City of Z, by David Grann. (If it's not in the sidebar yet, it will be soon. Don't forget that whenever possible a link to the book/author's website is accessible by clicking on the book cover.) Do you see a little trend in subject matter here? These abandoned, mysterious places are getting to me. Anyway, an outstanding narrative of Percy Fawcett's obsession with finding the lost city of El Dorado in the early 20th century Amazon, his disappearance, and the numerous, failed attempts to find him (or his remains) over the subsequent three quarters of a century.