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Signs of Spring

March 8th, 2011 (10:56 am)

Finally things are looking up.  Amazingly, a good portion of the snow in the yard is melting away and there is actually green grass peeking through.  There are even early spring flowers poking shoots up towards the sun.  By the end of the month crocuses and hyacinths may even begin to bloom.  The sun is coming up earlier and setting later and it is getting gradually warmer.  And the true, if unofficial, "first sign of spring" is the skunks are coming back out at night.  Talk about a mixed blessing.  But after this past winter, I'll take whatever I can get! :)

Finally a break....

February 17th, 2011 (01:53 pm)

current mood: cheerful

Today I actually have hope that winter is finally on the wane.  I know we still have about 6-8 weeks where significant snow fall is a possibility.  One year we got 36 inches of snow on April first.  But today the sun is out, birds are squabbling at the bird feeder, squirrels are scampering across the yard and it just hit 50 degrees outside! 

So while the snow shovels and ice melt are still stationed out on the back porch just in case, I will be grateful for today's sunshine and (relatively) warm weather.  And now I'm off to have a cup of coffee on the porch and maybe even read a book on my Kindle while I have the chance...

This is getting ridiculous...

January 27th, 2011 (02:14 pm)

current mood: exhausted

Just finished digging out after yet another snowstorm.  This one dumped about 12-15 additional inches of snow.  That's bad enough on its own, but this was part of a winter nor'easter so we also had a lot of wind.  Some areas even had thunder-snows!  The wind meant that there was a LOT of drifting.  My little electric snowblower was giving it all it had and did a decent job clearing the back walkway from the porch to the driveway which is somewhat protected from the wind.  When I got to the end of the driveway, the gate and front sidewalk were buried under a 3 foot high drift.  I could hear the little snowblower begging me not to make it go out there, and I wasn't looking forward to it myself.  I knew that was more than the snowblower could handle so I was going to have to shovel.  My back and arms started aching at the mere thought.

Then I heard the dulcet tones of a gas powered machine.  It was my neighbor, from here on out known as Saint Tom, and his big monster blower making his way down my sidewalk clearing a 36 inch wide path!  In less time than it took for me and Little Electric to finish clearing the back walk and around the truck St. Tom and his Sacred Snowblower had no only cleared my sidewalk but had chewed half way through the snowdrift AND the snow berm thrown up by the city's plows!  What would have taken me 2 days to dig through by myself (hubby had to go out of town for work this week)  the Sacred Snowblower knocked out in just under 30 minutes! 

When hubby gets back home we're going to take St. Tom and his wife out to dinner.  And I don't care what it costs, next year, we're getting a gas powered snowblower of our own.

So far, the official measurement for this season is 60.3 inches.  And if that's not bad enough, the remainder of the winter season, from February to March, the greater Boston area averages an additional 23-26 inches!  Here are some pictures of the yard so far: January 2011.  Needless to say I am so ready for spring...

On the up side, this is the last we should be seeing for a few days at least and it is currently a balmy 33 degrees outside.  The ice melt is doing its job and the sun is warm enough to be drying off the back porch.  And now, I'm going to fix a nice hot bowl of soup and then later I'm going to take a nice long, hot shower.

Weatherman blew it....again.

January 18th, 2011 (11:54 am)

Predicted for today:  Near 40 degrees by noon and an inch of rain

Actual weather: high of 28 so far (11:47am) and 3 more inches of snow!  AND it's starting to snow harder so I'm betting on 5-6 inches by the time it's all done.  They're still calling for "heavy downpours" of rain for Boston later today, but I'm not sure I believe it.

Gotta love winter in New England!

Edit:  Well... an hour after my initial post the temp has actually risen to 32 degrees and it is starting to sleet now.  Freezing rain is falling in other areas.  This is going to be a particularly nasty day.

Blessed New Year!

January 1st, 2011 (05:08 pm)

Hope everyone has a happy, healthy, and bountiful 2011!


December 30th, 2010 (04:24 pm)

Been sick for the last couple of days.  Coughing, stuffy head, over all feeling of blech.  Took us a little over 3 hours to dig out on Monday once the snow stopped.  And while the temps were cold (about 25F) ordinarily the work of digging out would have been sufficient to keep me warm.  But the freakin' wind was insane!  Trying to shovel show in 50mph winds is NOT fun.  We have a small electric snow blower which helped immensely, but it has plastic blades which means it is useless when dealing with the huge and heavy berms left behind by the snow plows.  That had to be dug out by hand and that was a bitch.  Here are a couple of pictures:

Looking off the back porch before shoveling and after shoveling which give you and idea of the 18 total inches of snow we got hit with, and the truck before we cleaned it off.

Unfortunately the snow proved to be too dry for packing so no new snow dragon this go-a-round.  But considering this lovely cold I have they's probably a good thing.  Guess we'll just have to wait and see what the new year brings....

Blizzard 2010

December 27th, 2010 (08:59 am)

Well, what did we expect?  This year started with wind and it seems determined to end with wind... and since this is New England that also means snow.  Put the two together and you have a blizzard.  Haven't gone out yet to shovel and count the inches in the back yard yet, but just looking out on the porch I'd say we have about 16-20 inches with drifts up to 3-5 feet.  Winds hitting the house last night during the height of the storm reached sustained winds of 45mph and gusts up to 60 mph.  Gale force, certainly, but short of qualifying for hurricane strength which I am thankful for.  At least we were spared the power outages and coastal flooding that other parts of Massachusetts has been left with. 

It's still early, though, and the snow isn't supposed to stop until about noon at which time we will break out the shovels, clear the bulkhead doors to the basement and haul out the snow blower.  If I'm lucky, this snow will be wet enough for snow sculpting!

Happy Solstice, Everyone!

December 21st, 2010 (12:18 pm)

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Repealed... FINALLY!

December 18th, 2010 (05:58 pm)

Finally, 65 senators found a little bit of backbone and joined the House in passing the repeal of the homophobic, disgraceful, and dishonorable piece of shit masquerading as legislation known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" which said gays could serve in the military, get shot at, disfigured, maimed, and killed in service to their country but they had to keep their nasty little faggoty tendencies quiet or risk a dishonorable discharge.

Sadly, 31 senators still chose to let their personal bigotry against homosexuals dictate their decision to try and prevent dedicated, capable, patriotic sons and daughters of the United States serve their country simply on the basis of their sexual orientation.  That forcing gays to keep quiet, to hide who they are and who they love a secret opened these people up to blackmail... a clear threat to homeland security to anyone with the ability to see... means nothing to these people as long as they get to push their anti gay agenda.

Fortunately... every great once in a while, the majority of federal politicians grow a spine and vote to do the right thing.  And in tis case, not only was repealing DODT the right thing to do, it was overwhelmingly the popular thing to do as repealing this shameful Act among the majority of the American people, civilian and military.

Now, I am not gay.  But I am a military veteran.  I may have been barred from serving my country in a combat capacity during "Desert Storm" in the early 90's due to gender bias, but at least those few remaining misogynistic bastards in the House and Senate who felt (and still feel) women had no place in the military AT ALL were unable to prevent me from serving in a support capacity at the very least.

Federally institutionalize bigotry at ANY level should NEVER be tolerated in the United States.  Repealing Don't Ask/Don't tell is another  small step in the right direction.  Now we need to start working on overturning the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

An interesting view on " religious prejudice"

December 18th, 2010 (09:18 am)

current mood: mellow

It's interesting how often any particular group who has historically held social and/or political dominance cries "foul" and starts making claims to targeted persecution when other groups start receiving the same rights and privileges that was once their's exclusively.  More and more countries are working to reduce the influence of any specific religious doctrine from public and political policy, becoming more secular and less sectarian.  In America and Europe minority religions/faiths are starting to be included in ranks of publicly recognized charities, non-profits, and religious institutions deserving equal protection under the law with the "big three." 

Regarding religious displays on public property, municipalities are increasingly required by law to either make room for any faith whose members choose to make use of it, or to refrain from placing any.  No longer is any specific group or small handful of groups being allowed special, exclusive usage.  Public meetings in the U.S. from the Senate down to local city council meetings are allowing a rotating benediction from all faiths who choose to sign up for it and those who refuse anything other than a particular flavor of Christian are choosing to eliminate the benediction altogether... cutting off their nose to spite their faith, as it were.

I find it very interesting how the once dominant cries discrimination when genuine equality starts to rear its "ugly" head...

Re-posted from the Wild Hunt Blog:

Two articles from the Reuters newswire yesterday struck me as highlighting the difference in perceptions between religious groups who hold power, and those that don’t. First, Pope Benedict XVI, in a message for the Roman Catholic Church’s World Day of Peace, took time to place special emphasis on the “hostility and prejudice” towards Christians in Europe.

“… he reserved his strongest words for Europe, where the Church says it is under assault by some national governments and European institutions over issues such as gay marriage, abortion and the use of Christian religious symbols in public places. [...] The Pope put what the Vatican has termed “aggressive secularism”, such as gay marriage and restrictions on religious symbols such as crucifixes, nativity scenes and other traditions, on the same level as religious fanaticism. [...] “It should be clear that religious fundamentalism and secularism are alike in that both represent extreme forms of a rejection of legitimate pluralism and the principle of secularity.”

That Benedict would put gay marriage on the same plane as terrorism says a lot about how much a post-Christian Europe, specifically a post-Catholic Europe, scares him. Confusing a slip from utter social dominance with persecution and prejudice. Meanwhile, in Russia, the Russian Orthodox Church, in alliance with the government, is using laws against “extremism” to target religious minorities.

When armed Russian security officers forced their way into Alexander Kalistratov’s home, he hardly imagined they were after his books. The local leader of a congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Siberia now faces up to two years in prison if found guilty this week of inciting religious hatred for distributing literature about his beliefs. [...] In the case against Kalistratov, activists say local authorities are really aiming at cracking down on groups that are frowned upon by the Russian Orthodox Church.

Nor are Jehovah’s Witnesses the only group to feel the sting of this deepening collusion between church and state, Pagan groups in Russia, including the Mari Traditional Faith, are increasingly finding themselves accused of extremism for even mild criticisms of Christianity.

In response to an appeal by the local state prosecutor, Yoshkar-Ola Municipal Court found Vitaly Tanakov guilty of religious and ethnic hatred in 2006, sentencing him to 120 hours’ forced labour. In 2009, Mari El Supreme Court ruled that his leaflet – “A Priest Speaks” – contained religious and other extremism. It is now banned throughout Russia.

Peoples influenced by the Bible and Koran “have lost harmony between the individual and the people,” argues Tanakov, in what is actually one of only a few references to other faiths in his leaflet. “Morality has gone to seed, there is no pity, charity, mutual aid; everyone and everything are infected by falsehood.” By contrast, he boasts, the Mari traditional faith will be “in demand by the whole world for many millennia.”

One can only wonder what Benedict thinks of his Orthodox counterparts in Russia, does he envy them their power? Does he wish he could “suggest” raids on “secularists” and religious minorities that displease him? Does he long for a time when heads of state hung on his words and depended on the Church for social control? It seems obvious to those who are religious minorities that his attack on secularism is really an attack on the freedoms of non-Christians to live without the shadow of the Catholic Church hanging over every aspect of their lives. Why else would he care about crosses in the public square, or if gay couple were allowed to marry? “Christianophobia” is about control, the kind of control the Russian Orthodox Church seems to be enjoying once again in post-Soviet Russia.