Archive for February, 2010

Recent adventures

February 28, 2010

We’ve had a few adventures lately (and the fact that these count as adventures tells you something about our lives).

A couple of weeks ago we went out exploring one evening: we picked a direction and drove until we saw a place that looked good for dinner. We ended up at a small seafood joint in Ipswich called the Clam Box. It’s a local dive not unlike Haraseeket in Freeport. I had fried clams and scallops, E. had fried haddock, and both were delicious. Definitely a place to go back to.

Also on the food front, we discovered another grocery store not too far away in the opposite direction from the one we have been frequenting (when not walking to the local store in Georgetown, which has a good selection but is slightly pricy for regular bulk shopping). It’s in the same chain as our previous store (Market Basket) and has much the same layout and selection, but it’s a little bigger and a little newer, so it has a slightly better selection and is a little cleaner and in better shape. The roads between here and there are also a bit better than the route to the old store. I think it may well become our new regular store.

We’ve had a number of winter storms come through, but the worst of them hit last Thursday. It was windy and rainy all day, but in the evening, starting around 9, the wind really picked up. I could hear the sound of limbs breaking and crashing down in the woods around us but I couldn’t see what was happening and didn’t fancy strolling into the woods to check it out. E. had to stop and clear some fallen branches out of the road to get home. After she came in, the power went out for a few seconds then came back on. We gathered up some candles and flashlights just in case and about a half hour later the power went out and stayed out. We went to bed by candlelight.

The next morning, things had calmed down but the power was still out. We walked around outside clearing away the biggest fallen limbs and branches. We found that two big old pines had come down– one in our back woods and one on the unbuilt land next door. If that one had fallen in a different direction, it could have come right through our bedroom window.

Limbs down in the woods

I've been worrying about this old dead pine since we moved into the house. Here's one trunk I don't have to worry about any more.

The good news is: our firewood problem is solved. The bad news is: here's your hatchet, start chopping.

We built a fire in the fireplace since the heat was out and E. settled down in blankets and three pairs of woolen socks while I headed for Salem. All the way through Georgetown to the highway I didn’t see any lights on and there were many places where trees had fallen by the side of the road or been cleared out of the road. Down by the water, somebody’s yacht had been blown ashore and stranded on the rocks.

Down in Peabody and Salem the lights were on, but I saw a number of trees and limbs down. Given the circumstances, I’m impressed with how many of my students made it to class. E. and I had agreed that she would call if and when the power came back on and that if I didn’t hear from her by the time I was leaving Salem, I should pick up some food to go since we couldn’t easily cook. (On a side note, I do miss having a wood stove for the heat and the cooking option, but we don’t really have a convenient place to put one, and my desire to have one is not so strong as to inspire me to try and fit one in somewhere, so I think even after this experience we will go on living without.) I had not heard from E. by the time I was pulling out of the faculty parking lot in the afternoon, so I figured I needed to hunt us up some food. I was just trying to decide between sushi and Italian when E. called, saying that the power had just come back on. By the time I got home, the house was nice and warm and we were able to microwave some lamb stew for dinner.

I gather we were among the lucky ones as parts of northeastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire are still without power. Living on a dead-end dirt road in a small town, I was afraid we might be among the last to get our lights back on, but at least this time we dodged that bullet.

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Lessons too-well learned

February 16, 2010

After the last major predicted snowstorm, which turned out to hardly amount to anything but which got classes at SSC canceled anyway, someone seems to have decided that they won’t make the same mistake again. The result, in accordance with the Wile E. Coyote Theory of Completely Foreseeable Unforeseen Consequences, is that today we did get a serious storm that made a dangerous mess of the roads, but classes were held anyway. That meant that I had to drive down to Salem in thick, blowing snow on roads covered with two to three inches of snow and slush for my evening grad class.

Only half of my class showed up, and I don’t blame those who stayed home one bit. Instead of holding a regular two and half hours of class, though, we just spent half an hour talking through some of the more difficult points of the reading and then wrapped it up. The issues before us today were fundamental ones that we will need to carry forward in the course, so since I’ll need to talk about them again later, I didn’t see any point in going into great depth when half the class wasn’t there.

On my way home, the roads were even worse. Plows were out all over the place doing their best to clear the roads, but it was coming down so hard and fast there just wasn’t much they could do. I decided to stay off the highway altogether and take a back-roads route that I sometimes use, and I’m glad I did. At one point, the route I took crosses over the highway, and glancing down form the bridge, all I could see in either direction was cars off the road and flashing emergency lights.

I made it home safe and managed to get through the three inches of snow on the driveway to get into the garage. E. is still at work and I hope she’ll be able to make it home and into the garage without any trouble (I have great confidence in her winter driving skills, but the snow is still accumulating out there and it’s only going to get worse).

A whiff of spring

February 11, 2010

Well, yesterday’s “Snowpocalypse of the century oh no hide the women and children we’re all going to be buried in snow and not be found until May” storm turned out to be more like a “mild dusting of snow that you’d better not sneeze on or it will all blow away.” The worst of it was that it left a film of black ice on the driveway that E. had to be careful of when coming home from work at night.

Today, the sun has come out strong and we’re getting a fair bit of melting. E. and I strolled into town to pick up a few things at the grocery store. The sun felt stronger than it has in the past few months and we could smell the muddy melting smells of early spring. I’m sure we’re in for more cold weather and probably more snow before this winter gives up, but it’s nice to get a little reminder that spring is on its way.

Snow? What snow?

February 10, 2010

Well, it started snowing shortly after I first posted in the morning.  It went on for a few hours, sometimes quite thick, but didn’t accumulate much on the ground.  After mid-afternoon it seems to have given up.  The storm is still churning away to the south and it looks like south of Boston is getting clobbered good, but it seems the storm is pretty much going to pass us by.  All day long the snow total predictions have kept sinking– last night it was 6-10 inches, now they’re saying less than an inch hereabouts.  Well, I certainly don’t mind having a day off from teaching and then not having to shovel snow.

Snow day

February 10, 2010

We’re expecting 6-10 inches of snow this afternoon and evening.  It hasn’t started coming down yet here, but the sky is definitely looking gray and ominous.  That amount of snow may be nothing compared to what’s been coming down in Charlottesville, for instance, but if it comes in as predicted it will be the biggest snowfall we’ve gotten all season.  SSC has canceled afternoon classes, so fortunately I don’t have to go anywhere, but E. will still have to go to work in the evening, so I see shoveling ahead.

Back in the grind

February 2, 2010

E. and I are both back at work. The aftereffects of the swine flu vaccine we got a few weeks back knocked E. out for a week, but she got better. My classes have been going for a couple of weeks now and we’re both getting back into the schedules and routines of work.
This semester I’m teaching three undergraduate classes during the afternoon on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and an evening graduate class on Tuesdays. On the one hand, having only three classes in a row as opposed to the four I was teaching last fall is much less exhausting. On the other hand, having to drive down to Salem four days a week instead of just three is more taxing. It’s a hard trade-off, but it’s made a lot easier by how great my classes are. I just came from my grad class this evening after having a wonderful two-hour discussion in which almost everyone had a lot to say.