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

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

spring sky

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Still light in the sky after 6:00pm.  In spite of the persistent piles of frozen snow, we can feel the turn of the year towards spring.  Evening traffic on Summer Street, heading out in the B bus to pick up the dance team gals.  Took this through the windshield. Not the most spring-y image, but something about the light gave me that first gut-level sense that change is in the air.

-PHB

delightfully unexpected bully

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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! 

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

– PHB

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snow adventures part 2

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NOTE: The B Bus has been offline since last Thursday, due to our school vacation week trip!  It’s ironic to be sitting in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California at Auntie Lizzie’s house as I post part 2 of the Nemo adventure so belatedly! There’s already fresh snow back in A-town — will we have to dig the B Bus out when we get home…..?

Sadly, the beautiful and epic snowfall is already a dingy mess.  It’s hard to believe this pile at the driveway, which is still waist high, is much diminished by rain and 40-ish temperatures.

nemo10GHB and LHB and Allyson did such a fantastic job (with some help from the plow guy) getting walkways cleared around the house.  A lot of melting has already occurred here, but many sidewalks and crosswalks continue to be nearly impassable. Kids just went back to school Tuesday.

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But while they were snowbound at home, LHB and GHB had two full days of nonstop snowy fun!

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As I navigated around the drift-narrowed streets of Arlington over a week after the storm, the parking lot piles and poor driving conditions were almost the same as two winters ago when we had record snowfall from many major storms.  Hard to believe this was all from one storm over the one weekend I had to be away from home!

– PHB

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GHB + LHB snow adventures part 1

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What GHB and LHB found when they went outside today after Nemo blew through New England.  The drift is as high as an elephant’s eye –

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In summer that eye is about as tall as PHB!

Trying to climb over the drift to get in the back yard.

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And first look out the front door… WOW moment.

– PHB, LHB, GHB, with thanks to Allyson for the cool photographs!