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31 October 2011

"In time the Rockies may crumble / Gibraltar may tumble / they're only made of clay / but our love is here to stay" -- Ira Gershwin

Click image to enlarge.

Hiya Hiya M & J*****!

Yeah, we got wholloped but good. I guess there were two components to the whollop -- first, the authentic snow whollop and its attendant damage, tree limbs down, electric power out all over the place, cars can't get out; but then the psychological whollop of a Halloween Blizzard. 
I mean, in your whole life, do you ever recall Trick-or-Treating through a foot of snow? I haven't heard any native New Englanders remembering a big snow whollop this early either, it was freaky. I'll bet a lot of migratory birds were having a leisurely autumn picnic when the whollop reminded them to get the hell out of here and head for Central America.

We had a couple of days of warning, so we were as prepared as we could be for the worst, which started Saturday midday. S.W.M.B.O.'s a weather obsessive and is linked to every emergency weather gizmo manufactured on Earth, including a radio that's perfectly silent for months at a time, until ye Apocalypse Is Nigh, and then wakes us up with a screaming banshee alarm at 03:17 and makes us poop ourselves. 

The town also has this automated phone notification service, they call it Reverse 911. This time the phone call warned all potential sickos to drive to Northampton and rent a motel room now, because after the snow hit the fan, ambulance response time was going to be very iffy. So we were well warned that this was going to be Large & Nasty.

And it was. The big problem was that the beautiful autumn leaves were still on the trees, and the snow was wet and heavy, so inevitably big limbs and branches were going to bend and break, and take the electric power lines down with them. 

By Saturday evening we lost power -- but Bob's Amazing Emergency Propane-Fueled Generator instantly kicked in, and all our critical needs worked. Everything goes black, the generator makes a scream, the engine starts purring, and 10 seconds later you're back in business and can microwave oatmeal.

Truth to tell, the biggest annoyance we face in a power blackout is boredom -- no TV, no computer. But we can cook and read, and the phones -- landline and cel -- worked.

Astonishingly, they restored our power 11 hours later. The snowplow guy doesn't go into action until the streetlights work, but by Sunday morning if we could dig the cars out, we could drive away. But trying to drive anywhere, even with the Hilltowner's Best Friend, 4-Wheel-Drive, is just not a very wise or safe idea.

So much of the area lost power that if you run low on gasoline, no gas station pumps work, so you're skrood and stranded far from home. 

So we've stayed comfy and cozy -- we cranked up the wood stove, a real charming delight -- thru the big mess.

The cats -- the 3 seniors, and our 2 new kittens, William and Spike -- are all horrified at this Winter Horrorland outside the door. As always, they look up at us piteously and demand to know why we have manufactured this Outrage. The seniors had dim memories of nasty white stuff, but this was the first time the kittens had ever seen snow, and reacted with confusion and terror.

The Short Version: We survived very comfortably and nicely, and just for safety and caution ain't driving nowhere until tomorrow (Tuesday).

I will totally plotz tonight if the doorbell rings and there are Trick or Treaters on the porch. Even in good autumn weather there haven't been any yet -- would you let your kids dodge coyotes and bears and porcupines for a bag of unhealthy crap? -- and I think the town throws a very supervised well-lit Halloween at the main intersection, which is largely free of child-mauling predatory beasts. I don't think Chesterfield has lost a Trick-or-Treater since the late 1980s.

Where the hell have I let her talk me into moving to? The only wilderness experience we haven't had yet has been an attack from hostile First Peoples, and if/when that happens, I won't be entirely surprised. I think some of the neighbors still keep a loaded rifle above the fireplace or front door. (Chesterfield was settled as farmland awards for veterans -- mostly Germans, whose last names still grace lots of mailboxes -- of the French & Indian War.)

Civilization: If it doesn't work, go down to the basement and flick a switch, or phone somebody. In less than a day, it works again. If you want pastry or ice cream or Marlboros at 3 a.m., there's a joint a mile away that sells pastry or ice cream or milk or diet soda or coffee at 3 a.m.

Cynthia's most outraged crisis in Northampton was that a few times a year, the water turned brown, and you can't do the laundry when the water's brown (unless brown undies are okay with you). The Water Department phones melt off the hook when the water turns brown.

When we bought this joint, I talked to our insurance lady (in Northampton) on the phone, and she asked how far the nearest fire hydrant was, and I laughed heartily, and explained that the FD pumper truck dumps one end of a long hose into the Beaver Pond, and puts out the fire with the other end of the hose. Hydrants? We don' need no steenkin' hydrants!

She was also heartily amused to learn our new house had no locks on the doors. Amused, but not at all sympathetic. We had to have locks installed or she wouldn't cover the place.

M**** I am sorry youse got Respiratory Cooties again, and I hope the new Wonderful Drugs (I think that's what Mammy Yoakum or Snuffy Smith called them) make short work of the Cooties. You sounded great and hale and hearty.

I had this Plan for Sunday 
"Nothing is so doomed as a scheme for mirth." 
-- Samuel Johnson
in the works for weeks -- we were going to meet W**** and J******* and their two girls at Mount Washington, New Hampshire, and ride to the summit on the famous Cog Railway.

Mount Washington has the worst recorded weather on Earth and has killed 37 hikers -- frozen corpses in short pants and t-shirts and tank tops. At the foot of the mountain it's all springtimey and butterflies and birdies singing and sunscreen, and then halfway up you get whomped with a blizzard like the one that caused the unhappy Donner Party so much distress, the Surprise Changeover takes about 10 minutes.

I went there about two years ago all eager to get cinders in my eye from the wonderful coal steam engine, but to my amazement they'd just replaced it with a spankin' new John Deere engine that burns recycled French Fry vegetable oil. Oh brave new world, that has such gizmos in it!

Love to you both, and smooth sailing through all Weather and Earthquake Surprises that come your way. I went to school in DC and like all geometry and physics students I know that the Washington Monument is 555 feet 5 and 1/8 inches tall. (Or used to be until recently.) Ya need that in metric?


PS. Oh here's [see top] another Wonder of the White Mountains. For millennia, it was New Hampshire's natural symbol for Permanence, Reliability, Dependability, Eternity. 

Then one night in 2003 ...

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