Our “historic” Massachusetts snow report

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We haven’t been here at the blog much – we’re still in the B bus all the time, but now that the girls are in middle school, our use of social media has changed dramatically. While I still love the WordPress platform, blogs are actually becoming sort of old school. I’m experimenting with Twitter (@theotherpamela and @pamelaJCHS), and GHB and LHB are very active Instagrammers. Also, they are operating in a comprehensive online Google-world that is fully integrated with their school curriculum and assignments. But once in a while it’s nice to use the blog format to post a bunch of pictures or tell a particular story.


This month, the story is EPIC SNOW.  The kind of snow that is commonplace in Canada and parts of the Midwest, but that, over a short span of weeks, is literally paralyzing the high-density metro region in which we live. I loved it when my favorite local weather guy blogged about the snow stats and history, and took us back to the journals of Cotton Mather, to find so much snow falling on Boston in so little time!

snow day

looking outside during the beginning of the first blizzard, January 24

I have worked at Harvard for over 20 years and this past week was the first time ever in that time that the university was closed/classes cancelled for two days in a row. Our beloved “T” system has been laid low. Travel and parking bans and many many days of missed school.  My commute time is more than doubled, with traffic into and out of Cambridge forced to inch and crawl along the narrowed streets.

Claustrophobic driving: can you find the parking meter?

Claustrophobic driving: can you find the parking meter?


Sidewalk in front of the house, looking towards crosswalk


photo (2)

a screen shot from my Instagram on Wednesday

Everyone constantly comparing notes about the state of their driveways, ice dams on their roofs, and salt snakes.  We’ve been taking lots of photos, and thought we’d share some as we hunker down for what is, I think, the 4th major storm in 3 weeks, set to begin this afternoon. We’ve been outside every day trying to hack away at the frozen drifts to widen our driveway access enough to keep using it even if/when we get more snow.


GHB out with the shovel

Good news for today is that the sun is shining this morning and the girls will spend a couple of hours outdoors on a snowshoe walk with the girl scouts, before we get snowbound again.


In between storms, at the beginning of the week I had to go to Washington, DC for work. I took some pictures of our epic snow from the air, as we made the approach to Logan. It was dramatic how heavy the blanket of snow looked from the air, erasing all color from the landscape so that the photos look black and white even though they’re not.

7 6 5

Oh, it’s also Valentine’s Day – happy heart day!!



“a magical unicorn, flown by david ortiz…”

We keep thinking we’ve read the best, funniest, most hyperbolic column or blog post on the subject of the Sox in the 2013 series. Worst to first. On the brink of the biggest win at Fenway since 1918. Etc.

As we await Game 6, I ran across this piece of epic sportswriting in today’s old-school hard-copy Wall Street Journal over lunch in the conference room at my office. Where, needless to say, most of my co-workers are more than a little distracted by looking out the window and assessing the rain clouds. (Said clouds, of course, scheduled to depart on cue in time for tonight’s game at Fenway.)

Posting Jason Gay’s wonderful piece, via wsj.com, in new-school online form – but just as much fun to read. I mean really, didn’t I start talking about Red Sox history in light of the 10-year-old fans, sometime last week? 😉


Also this incredibly cute photo of my nephew, GHB and LHB’s cousin Ollie (age 6), from 2005, when he played for a Little League team called the Red Sox. At least I think that was why he’s wearing red socks. He’s 14 now, and a starting pitcher. Time flies. But I hear he’s rooting for our Sox!


another B: a pumpkin in honor of the pick off


In honor of the incredible game-ending play by Koji last night (Game 4 in St. Louis), a seasonal holiday decoration from the annual Spooky Walk in Arlington, courtesy of friend and neighbor ATC who snapped the pic.

Go Sox!!


growing up red sox


Watching Game 6 of the ALCS after a busy Saturday here of soccer, dance, and assembling gear for Science Camp next week. The girls are intensely focused on the game, calling out the pitch count to each other if someone has to leave the room for a minute. Maybe it’s GHB’s softball experience, maybe just growing up, but they can really follow the game now, and it’s much more fun to watch with them! We dug around to find some “historic” photos of LHB and GHB showing their colors as Red Sox believers.


GHB first game @ Fenway 2009


LHB first game @ Fenway, 2009


Welcoming cousins O & P to Boston, ca. 2007.


Grade 3 with special guest

Grade 3 with special guest Tim Wakefield, 2012



a decade of big papi


The excitement continues here for the B Bus gals and everyone else in Red Sox nation. Game 4 tonight in Detroit, after the last 2 incredible, nail-biting, games. We were in the car after volleyball and dance, listening on the radio last night when Napoli homered to put the winning – and only – run on the scoreboard for the game. It was so much fun to see the kids really “get” the magic of baseball on the radio for the first time. Quiet listening to the pitch count and daunting strikeout stats for our team in this series, and then suddenly a huge hit and happy shrieking in the B Bus.

GHB is wearing her Big Papi shirt as she heads off to school – he has been playing for the Sox since 2003, which is the year the girls were born, and she has had a #34 shirt in teeny, then tiny, and then smallish but increasingly larger sizes, for her entire life. This one is a treasured World Series champions shirt from 2007, worn for luck today. I remember the 2004 team so clearly – it’s hard for me to believe he is the only one left from the historic curse-reversing year. LHB & GHB were asleep near midnight on Sunday night when his grand slam HR made Fenway history, but we hope to see more Big Papi moments this week!

the B is for… the RED SOX!


Minutes away from the first pitch of Game 1 of the ALCS at Fenway and we are inspired to post some of our best ‘B’ photos. (Or at least some of the ones I can find, since we are mid-transition to our new iMac and the photo stream is sort of out of control right now). There is more excitement in Red Sox Nation now than in any other time since we started blogging. We’re hoping that Sox-tober will get even more exciting in the coming days. Go Sox!!


At Fenway in August

road13 Ohio Turnpike


Seneca Falls, NY

FerryB4 Saco, Maine


the mighty Mississippi


meet the new B (remnants of the 2007 B still stuck to the car)


reluctant soccer mom


This is kind of an unusual theme for a post for me, but the B Bus gals have been busy with sports this week!


I really try hard to avoid focusing on the whole soccer-mom-with-minivan thing, even as I chauffeur kids to the field in the B Bus and cheer from my dorky collapsible chair on the sidelines. It’s not pretty.

But this weekend here we were at last night’s Boston Breakers game! This is our hometown team in the newly (re)formed National Women’s Soccer League, and their home games are played at Dilboy Field, which is just across the Alewife Brook from East Arlington.


We were THRILLED to be in the stands with 500+ other soccer fans from the Arlington Soccer Club, for a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Red Stars.  This was also the girls’ first experience with an authentically epic tailgate scene — ASC took over half the parking lot to serve soft tacos, quesadillas, and churros.  U10 Girls (4th grade) were well represented, and we ran into many friends in addition to Green teammates Annika, Anoushka, Frances, and Lucy. Hard to believe we were huddled in our down coats, under blankets, on May 4th, but it was a windy 45 degrees and well worth the ridiculousness of hauling out the winter coats I had just put away last week.


Icing on the cake was the incredible autograph scene after the game, when members of both teams came out to greet fans while signing everything from soccer balls to shirts, programs, and tickets.



The crowd was massive and it was a daunting prospect, but GHB and LHB, ASC practice shirts clutched high, persevered. You can see GHB’s Red Sox cap, lower right, and LHB was right in front of her.



But the best part of the weekend by far was watching the girls with their own teams.  This is the first season since Kindergarten that they are not playing soccer together.  GHB has decided to play softball instead, and is now playing with several Peirce friends as a member of the Alabama minors team.

Here she is – her very first at bat (since T ball!), and huddling with the team. Roll Tide, Roll!

softball2 softball1


That was a chilly Friday night, we didn’t win the game, and GHB didn’t get on base.  But she is learning fast, and she’s determined!

I’m sure the recent 4th grade trip to Fenway Park has nothing to do with it…

DSC_0246Saturday morning we started our Awesome Day of Soccer at LHB’s game, in which she scored not one, but TWO goals!  Wow.  Normally on defense, she hasn’t scored a goal since last year. Spring soccer sees the ranks of 9 and 10 year old girls really start to thin, and there aren’t always enough players at the game — in fact, with 6 girls they only just managed to avoid a forfeit, and they all had to stay in for the entire game. This time they played a great clutch game!

It’s been a couple of weeks since the shocking events that put Boston in the news, and made Boston Strong a meme and a mantra.  We’re all slowly getting back to normal, and the school year and sports calendar marches on. I’m still not sleeping well, but I do feel restored by being in community, which can be as simple as the playground when school’s getting out, or as exciting as a pro soccer game.  I felt it in the powerful stillness of an entire stadium observing a very long minute of silence Saturday night.  This was just a minor moment, not broadcast around the nation like the Fenway Sweet Caroline/Big Papi moment or the national anthem at the Bruins game. But no one was restless or disrespectful, or haphazardly still trying to find their seat. The bleachers were packed but completely motionless and quiet; it was a moment of unity and strength.  


And so was this – Chicago and Boston players together (with baby!) with fans of all ages. Girl power.



B strong


It’s still school vacation week, and it’s warm out, and sunnier than expected. But we are all inside.  It’s hard to know where to begin, but once again I had to send a message out to extended family, regarding this unbelievable situation in our greater Boston community.

Dear ones –  Thanks for the messages reaching out with love and support this morning. It is very freaky. I have been receiving alerts from Harvard police all night, since the shooting of the MIT officer after midnight. Arlington borders the towns that are on lockdown, and we can’t travel in to Cambridge (Harvard is closed anyway) so we are effectively on lockdown as well. The subway is locked down. I had to tell the girls I wasn’t going to work today and figure out how to explain that the bad guys who did the marathon bombs are going to be caught but people have to stay indoors to make it easier for the police to find them….  This is unlike anything I have ever experienced.  It is just an awful tragedy now expanding in worse ways for the communities of Cambridge, Watertown, and the MIT community, where I have many friends.  But the girls and I are OK.  xoxo PHB

I finally had to start watching television, feeling so isolated and in need of real-time news. With the help of a computer and the iPad, I had to resort to full-on unlimited screen time for the girls.  For a while, they are distracted and (with headphones on) not hearing the tv, nor my phone conversations with friends, colleagues, other parents as we struggle to figure out how to structure this most disorienting lockdown day with and for our kids. I have an awful suspicion that the kids are actually more OK with the lockdown concept than we are, since they have to do these drills every year in school, and every time I hear about the customary routine where they huddle in the corners and closets of the classroom, it makes me feel sad and sick.

The idea that sometimes you have to stay indoors and lock your doors to evil is something they have learned to live with.  The only bad part for them at this point is that I didn’t go to work, so their fun babysitter didn’t come over, and they are starting to bicker in the usual way.  Meanwhile, I am reeling with the effort of processing all the information that is coming out about the crimes and the manhunt and the politics and the context.  But without exposing the girls to the glut of images and details.  They tell me they are “quite familiar” with the concept of a manhunt.  Y’know, mom, when Sirius Black escaped from Azkaban, he was the subject of a manhunt. Of course Sirius was one of the good guys, but I don’t think it helps anything to make ugly clarifications for them.

The apartment in Cambridge where these bomber brothers lived is less than a dozen blocks from my office, and basically around the corner from where I lived as a graduate student.  The Target on Arsenal Street in Watertown is where we shop. And to see the images of a deserted downtown Boston may be the most disorienting sight of all.

The carpool moms and I are conferring — soccer practice and dance team are scheduled for later this afternoon, but is it too close to Cambridge, or will it be cancelled anyway? Right now, like people all over Boston and our neighbor towns, the B bus is staying home.


**Updated to add:  Right after I posted this the girls decided to play outside, and info started to come in from the town recreation department and dance studio.  Activities are going forward, and I’m relieved.  It’s awful to be in this time warp of waiting for things to be over, but if we are not banned from travel within our town, it’s so important for the kids to be doing their regular stuff.  Looks like I will be able to drive some carpool after all, even as we wait anxiously for news of an end to the standoff.

B for Boston

We’re on a mini road trip. Suddenly having the B for Boston on the car feels different, even though we haven’t traveled far from home.  Yesterday afternoon I had to send this email to our extended family in other parts of the country:

The news just keeps getting worse, but want you all to know that we are fine. We did not go in to the city today. My work friend who ran today finished the race before 12:30 and he and his family are fine.  So awful to think about those who are not.

Sent from my iPhone

And we are still fine. We hadn’t picked this year to experience Copley Square on Marathon Day. The girls are curious about what happened, and appropriately saddened, but it is not personal to them.  After losing a beloved teacher to a fatal accident last year (a DUI), they have what I can only feel is a healthy detachment from the violence we’ve all been subjected to this year, from Sandy Hook to yesterday’s horrific event at the Marathon.  I am the one who is upset and shaken — and of course I have kept them from seeing any media coverage, so it is much more abstract to them than it is to me. I think they feel safe, and I hope that’s what’s going on.  I hope it’s not that they have just seen so many unthinkably bad things happen, they are inured.

We’re so incredibly lucky. Again. One of the people who died yesterday lived in Arlington; she had grown up in Medford and moved to town recently. There are many friends of friends, from the Harvard community and elsewhere, who have been personally affected by grave loss or serious injury. I keep hearing stories from people who spent terrible hours trying to locate loved ones. But we are fine, and those we hold dear are fine.

It’s April school vacation week, and we usually “celebrate” Patriots Day with some history sightseeing — re-enactments of the battles at Lexington and Concord (and in Arlington), Paul Revere’s ride, or parades. Where we live, this is really the big holiday for commemorating the ideals and heroes of the American Revolution. It’s the day that honors heroic extraordinary actions of ordinary people.  Good holiday.6bbc276a881211e18bb812313804a181_7

This year we had a mini (2-day) road trip planned.  Decided to stick with the plan, so we headed out in the B Bus this morning, to central Massachusetts where we arrived at Old Sturbridge Village in time for lunch and a peaceful afternoon taking in the scenery and activities in a working rural New England village of the 1830s.


Sheep, and baby lambs. Stepping back in time to a “simpler” age was lovely.



But even here in the faux 1830’s, we were not completely transported away from the shock and grief. The girls noticed right away that as a 21st-century museum, the village’s flag was at half mast.  For Boston, and for all of us.  A simple symbol.  Powerful reminder there is more good than evil in our world, whatever the century.



delightfully unexpected bully


Today’s headline in the Boston Globe made us smile.  It’s true that yesterday’s huge and un-forecasted snowfall interfered with commutes and jobs and caused consternation throughout Arlington and all of metro Boston.  Due to a super-tricky forecast and tough decision about road conditions and snowfall rates, schools in our town had to open for the day even as families and teachers struggled to get out of their own driveways and sidewalks were impassable, buried under 15″ of snow that fell rapidly between 5am and midafternoon.  But look at this gorgeous snow creation taking shape in the yard today! 


Even though they had to climb over drifts to get to school yesterday, for the most part this significant late-season snowfall has been nothing but fun for GHB and LHB.  Although I could not get the B bus out of the driveway until late afternoon yesterday, because I was stuck working from home I was able to keep up with shoveling the sidewalks and saw neighbors I haven’t seen in months.

When released from school, kids were thrilled to get out and play even though it was still coming down, and the wind was pretty fierce. LHB and pal Megan crafted a sphinx-like snow tiger, about to pounce on Summer Street passersby.


Today, routine errands turned into a mountaineering expedition as LHB and GHB attempted a diagonal ascent of this humongous parking lot pile!


snow1 Victory!

It was so sunny and beautiful, this pile is melting fast.  Fortunately, we got the errands done in time to spend the balance of the afternoon working on the molded-brick fort.


We’re a little anxious about the warm temps and how long the fort will last, but as the sun is now setting and we’re headed back below freezing for tonight, I’m feeling pretty confident we’ll be able to enjoy it again tomorrow morning, before the sun warms things up again.


I think we’re pretty ready to Spring Forward (!) anyway.  Time to change the clocks….