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.

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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!

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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?

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Sidewalk in front of the house, looking towards crosswalk

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

– PHB

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frozen february

TOO MUCH SNOW!! The house is growing icebergs. Well, today it was finally warm enough to start melting some of the ice, but this month has been a challenge, with snow on top of snow, and too many days below freezing for us to get outdoors very much.

A strangely attired penguin did appear in the yard today to brighten things up.

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And the girls have been very successful selling lots of Girl Scout cookies, especially to hungry homebound commuters.

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It’s been a pretty quiet February staycation. Sleepovers, ice skating, tubing @ Nashoba, cookie booths, and SNOW.

– PHB

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winter coat

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Everyone’s talking about the cold. We’ve had some snow this winter but the weather headline is the freezing temps. After a temporary thaw and some rain, we are headed back into the deep freeze tonight. I took this photo of the creek at Whipple Hill yesterday.

It’s not the super extreme school-canceling Midwestern freeze, but it’s bitter and sharp, especially without pretty blankets of snow. What’s left is actually pretty gray. The girls and I have really noticed how hoary and ancient the B bus is looking, in its winter coat of salty grime.

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Definitely looking less spiffy than on the summer road trip! But the B bus is hardy, as are we.

– PHB

all that remains

all that remains

This year’s January thaw has been quite dramatic. Just a week or so ago I posted the pics of our arctic adventure and we had well over a foot of snow on the ground. I got the flu, and New England got a crazy warm spell, with temperatures nearly reaching 60 degrees yesterday, and accompanied by torrential downpours and even some thunder.

Today was seasonably chilly, windy and sunny. The Christmas trees littering the curbs all over Arlington started to blow over and into the road. Weird, ungainly tumbleweeds. We pulled ours back away from the street to wait for the pickup (delayed by the storm, they are supposed to be picked up for chipping/mulching this week). The last patch of snow out there where the B bus lives is filthy and grimy. When most of it melted, we also found Halloween remnants: the pumpkins I meant to chop up for foraging wildlife. I actually don’t know if that’s a good idea or not (would be nice if a bunny wants a nibble, but we wouldn’t want to make a buffet for raccoons…), so I suppose it’s just as well they’re just sitting there thawing.

xmas endThe light in January feels a bit harsh at times. It’s not that I’m not refreshed by seeing a little more daylight every day. But it can shed a daunting glare on all the undone post-holiday chores. The tree is out but the Ghost of Christmas past is still haunting the house with bits and pieces and bins. I rather like not having to primp or decorate our space for anything at the moment – we’re just living in it, taking 2014 one day at a time.

– PHB

happy new year from the intrepid explorers

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Last night it was below zero in Arlington and the snow had been blowing all day. With two extra vacation days brought to us courtesy of this new year nor’easter, it was prime time for sleepovers, so we walked GHB down Summer Street and around the corner to a pal’s house. LHB and her pal sherpa’ed, and the snow was as dry and diamond bright as I have ever seen it.

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There was talk of exploring the Yukon, even though we waited for the walk signal at the intersection. It just felt that fun and adventurous.

This morning we shoveled and did some makeshift yard-sledding. It’s really still too cold (it’s 9, I think) to head over to the windy sledding hill at McLennen. Fortunately, the whole weekend still lies ahead!

Happy New Year from the frozen north.

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– PHB

christmas lights

tree2We’ve had such a busy time since Thanksgiving, and not much bandwidth for blogging. But we have been decking the halls, dancing in the jazzy Dance Place Nutcracker, and dealing with SNOW. Here’s a look at some bright lights of our holiday season…from the B Bus view in the driveway, to the Chevalier Theater and travels beyond.

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GHB dancing up a storm of flurries, in the land of the snow queen… and both of the girls in the Waltz of the Flowers

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Tree shopping shenanigans…

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Snowbound lights and our main road is blanketed

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Plow going by Santaland next door…
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Giant wreath @ Union Station, Washington DC

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and Fenway Park on the Christmas tree!

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– PHB

champions

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Well, they did it. People often say that Red Sox & New England fans are sort of “scary” fanatical, when we talk about growing up here and growing up as citizens of Red Sox Nation.  There’s no two ways about it — if you are like GHB and LHB and you grow up here, the Sox are an integral part of the infrastructure of your everyday world.  Here’s yet another B pumpkin — this one we spotted while trick or treating on Mt. Gilboa on the night after the big win, and two days before we’d see the World Series trophy placed in homage on the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

On Monday I stopped by GHB’s classroom at the end of the day and noticed this corner for the first time:

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That’s the front page of the Globe from the 2004 World Series win, along with the front page of the sports section from the same edition and a mini shrine of Fenway memorabilia and ephemera. We have that same front page stashed somewhere in a file cabinet in the basement, and we’ve got a fridge magnet of it, too.You can tell the newspapers have been up there for a decade – they’re yellow and faded and tired looking (our magnet’s pretty faded too). But the corner is not dusty and a lot of the items are new.  It’s an active, living, continually curated permanent collection that is equal parts tribute and inspiration and fun for the kids who sit in this classroom every day.  I don’t really think they are blase’ about a third World Series championship in their 10- or 11-year-old lifetimes. I think they see this kind of thing, and the way parents and teachers talk about the Sox, and they know they are part of an epic tradition, rooting for a worst-to-first kind of legendary baseball team.

– PHB

another B: a pumpkin in honor of the pick off

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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!!

– PHB

chilly / spooky

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A non-Red Sox post, as we await Game 3 in St. Louis tonight. Last year heading into Halloween was so warm, SUNNY / SPOOKY was our theme. This year we are feeling the bite of the first hard frost, and breaking out the hats and mittens for night hikes at Science Camp (GHB & LHB) and sitting sideline at weekend soccer games (PHB).

And our favorite iconic town center tree is bare, wearing its winter guise already. We documented the change by snapping pics when we could from the windows of the B Bus on our way by every day, starting in late September:

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We’ve got costumes to finish and treats to bake. The girls are rehearsing with their friends for the dance place Nutcracker show, and with the arrival of Halloween week I feel the year ebbing and dimming as we flow steadily towards the bright loud blare of holiday season. Living in New England makes these juxtapositions acute and compelling.

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the Center from under the 1st Parish tree

(our tree seen from underneath, wore more yellow, less orange, last fall)

– PHB