Flowers in the Snow

Not the Blizzard of 1888, but they say the Northeast got a lot of snow. We got three or four more inches last night and into the morning. More than in January or February, and enough to catch the back yard croci in early blossom.

Flowers in the Snow 2017They’re hardy flowers. I’m sure they’ll survive the day or two of snow cover.

The snow’s already mostly melted off the streets and driveways and sidewalks, so it hardly counts as a nuisance. Still, it’s hard to believe the view from the back door will look like this in three months.

Recent Wind Incidents

During most of the day yesterday, and especially late into the evening, brisk winds blew around here. I fell asleep listening to the strong wind, and while that can be a soothing sound, it’s much better if you’re in rental property.

In the morning, when calm air had returned, there was no visible damage. Some items outside on the deck had been moved around, and a few small branches had fallen. It all made me wonder: if the rotation of the Earth ultimately moves the atmosphere, how is it that the wind isn’t always like that? Or worse, like it is on the gas giants, with their perma-storms? What makes a calm day on any part of the Earth?

When returning from Texas Sunday before last, the wind was up as the plane came in for its landing at Midway, making one of the bumpier approaches I’ve experienced lately. About two minutes before touchdown, when even the flight attendants had buckled down, suddenly one of them got up, wetted a towel, and dashed past me — I was on row six or seven — and helped clean up a few rows back, where a woman had thrown up. Then the flight attendant, navigating her way as the plane bumped around, made it back to her seat for the landing. Expert moves, clearly.

On Sunday, February 19, a few days before we arrived in the city, a handful of tornados hit San Antonio. According to the Express-News on the 21st: “The National Weather Service confirmed late Monday morning an EF-1 strength tornado with 105 mph and a path length of 4.5 miles touched down on Linda Drive near the Quarry shopping center.”
That’s a few blocks from my mother’s house.

Fortunately, an EF-1 is a weak tornado, or I’d be writing a very different post. As it was, she lost power for a while, and it looked like a neighbor’s fence had been damaged, though it’s possible the fence had already partly fallen through neglect. Otherwise my mother’s house wasn’t damaged.

A few days after the hit, we noticed some damage to a small shopping center a few blocks north of her house — bits of missing signage, broken tree limbs and roof problems, mostly. Also, some workmen were taking down a damaged ornamental brick wall at a nearby apartment complex. Better to have no tornadoes, but if you have to have one, a weak one is what you want.

Thursday Residuum

Remarkably rainy January so far. Even when it hasn’t been raining these past weeks or so, the skies have looked pregnant with rain. So it’s been a wet January, not an icy one. That was the case at UIUC, as the last of clinging frozen matter thawed, as it might in a normal northern March.

UIUC January 15, 2017

Blame it on climate change? I’d be tempted, but weather isn’t climate. Besides, there’s a blizzard lurking out there in the near future, or at least heavy snow. Winter will not be denied.

A few days ago, I approached a four-way stop to make a left turn. Directly across the intersection another car arrived to make a left turn. To my left, a third car arrived to make a right turn. We all got there at about the same moment. We all made our respective turns concurrently. Can’t remember when that happened before. Had a fourth car to my right wanted to make a right turn, it would have been truly remarkable, but we had to settle for a three-way synch.

At a World Market last week, I saw bottles of Tito’s Handmade Vodka for sale. I couldn’t ever remember actually seeing any before, as opposed to hearing about it, though I don’t go to a lot of liquor stores.

Last month, I heard Tito himself on the radio, pitching his creation. He didn’t quite sound like his high school self, no one would, but it was him all right. I was pretty sure I hadn’t ever heard advertising for Tito’s beyond sponsorships on public radio (the ad I heard was on a commercial station). Maybe Tito’s needed to up his ad budget in the face of competition.

I’m most of my way through the book River of Doubt, about the Roosevelt-Rondon expedition into the deep Brazilian rainforest. Reading it, you think, how did anyone survive that trip? They faced untreatable diseases, looming starvation, dangerous animals, venomous bugs, an extremely hazardous river, a murderer among their crew, and the potential for Indians to attack at any time and wipe them all out. At one point, a very sick Theodore Roosevelt seriously contemplated overdosing on morphine. Not too end his pain, but to avoid being an impediment to the rest of the expedition. His son Kermit wouldn’t allow it.

Amazing how close TR’s bio came to ending with, “Led expedition down the River of Doubt in Brazil, 1914. Never seen again.”

Enjoying the Snows of Yesteryear

Light rain fell early Thursday morning — I heard it during the wee hours — but by morning, the ground was lightly touched by snow. That ultrathin coat of snow lasted until Saturday and then vanished. For now, we’ve got a brown winter.

Not so most Januaries. Such as in mid-January 2012, when I happened to catch Lilly in the back yard enjoying the snow.
Jan 17 12Jan 17 12Jan 17 12I might be wrong, but I don’t think she took that hat off to college.

The Ambassador in His Salad Days

Today was about as foul a day as can be, marked by cold rain that varied unpredictably from drizzle to downpours. Strong winds blew nearly all the time. As much as 60 MPH, the National Weather Service said. At least it was warm for January, above freezing, or it might have been a blizzard.

Did a short item about Bill Hagerty recently, who will probably be the next U.S. ambassador to Japan. A little research told me that he went to Vanderbilt. A little more research told me he was Class of ’81, or two years ahead of me. I didn’t know him, and he certainly didn’t know me, unless it was as one of those characters who wrote for the student magazine Versus. Which he wouldn’t have, because no one pays attention to bylines, even if they read the articles.

I hauled out my copy of the ’81 VU yearbook, The Commodore. The spine cracked a little. Grumble. Anyway, Bill Hagerty’s with the other SAEs on p. 301 and his senior picture is on p. 396, which lists him as William Francis Hagerty IV, econ.

Bill Hagerty at Vanderbilt 1981

The girl immediately to his left — who presumably had nothing to do with him except for alphabetical placement — is a sad story I don’t know, and didn’t know then. Her caption reads, “Haberman, Harriett Susan, elem ed. May 20, 1959 — January 23, 1981.”

Sierra Mist Goes Missing

Temps dropped into the subzero kill-you-if-it-could range beginning on Sunday night and continuing through early Monday morning, though they moderated to the balmy teens above zero F. during the day today. The temps didn’t get to me, this being an age of central heating and Gore-Tex, but it did lay waste to some cans of soda in the garage.

Mist Twst

This isn’t the first time we’d forgotten some cans in the garage, only to have them become a chemistry demonstration: solids tend to take up more space than liquids.

We probably forgot them because “Diet Mist Twst” brand isn’t all that memorable. (Where’s the missing i?) We acquired the cans as part of a 12-can package, though I don’t remember why we bought that particular brand. Probably because they were temporarily cheap and represented something different. Worth a try. As a drink, it’s OK. Basic unmemorable lemon-lime.

A year ago, E.J. Shultz wrote in Ad Age that “Sierra Mist is about to the leave the mountains behind. The PepsiCo-owned brand is removing the word Sierra from its name as it becomes “Mist Twst” as part of a major branding overhaul that will put more emphasis on taste…. The change is the latest makeover for the lemon-lime-flavored soda brand, which has undergone multiple overhauls since launching in 2000.”

Ah, it used to be Sierra Mist. I didn’t notice the change. Or any of the “multiple overhauls.” As brands go, it’s no Coca-Cola. Or even Pepsi. But what is?

Brobdingnagian

Bitter cold days ahead, especially after weekend snow. These things happen in December — this far north, anyway — but it still seems a little early. This is like late January. Are we going to get a break in late January? I have a feeling we won’t.
At least an ice storm isn’t being predicted for this weekend any more.

As an old writing pro, I don’t use too many words that I know the readers won’t understand, just to show off. That’s the mark of an amateur, or even a dilettante. Still, I occasionally float something to my editors to see if it will pass, knowing it won’t. This week, for instance, I wrote a sentence that ended this way:

… an investment firm that does nothing but manage the Brobdingnagian funds of X and his family.

A completely accurate way to describe that particular fortune, believe me. Moreover, Brobdingnagian is a fine word that needs more currency. After all, no one would think twice about using Lilliputian in a sentence.

But I knew it wouldn’t survive the final cut. I was right.

… an investment firm that does nothing but manage the enormous funds of X and his family.

I would have substituted “vast,” but that’s just a personal preference. Probably should have used that in the first place.

More on Swiftian coinages here. I never knew that Yahoo, as in the search engine and related tech-ness, is supposedly an acronym: “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.” I too am suspicious that it’s really a backronym.

RIP, Susan Disenhouse. I never met her in person, but she was a professional acquaintance via phone and email.

It Flings a Crystal Veil

The other day, I thought to look at NOAA’s forecast for the winter. It seems to be a La Niña year.

“The current seasonal outlook for… 2016-17 favors above-average temperatures and below-median precipitation across much of the southern tier of the U.S., and below-average temperatures and above-median precipitation in portions of the northern tier of the U.S.”

Snowfall Schaumburg Dec 11 2016Uh-oh. Looks like that’s already under way. Snow fell Saturday and Sunday, pretty much straight down. No major storm, but ’tis enough, ’twill do.

Nearly six inches all together, according to my wooden ruler measuring snow on a flat surface. Ann went off on Sunday to go sledding with her friends, something I never did at 13, and reports having a fine time.

That’s not bad, but the days ahead are supposed to be pit-of-winter cold.

Which can make for nice clear-light twilight. Looking east.

Moon Over Schaumburg

And looking west (both pictures taken December 12, about 42 degrees North).

Schaumburg Dusk Dec 12, 2016No more snow pics this year unless there’s a real corker of a blizzard, something along the lines of 2011. I might post dogs or daughters in the snow, though.

Ordinary Snow

Sunday’s snow would have been an unremarkable event, a few inches quickly brushed from streets and walking paths, and partly melted by Monday anyway. But it was the season’s first. Winter doesn’t wait for the solstice. Winter is here.
Dec 4, 2016 SnowNot the prettiest snow, but it does make the bushes and trees look better.

Dog in Snow Dec 5, 2016The dog doesn’t mind taking a romp in the snow. In fact she positively seems to enjoy it.

Christmas Lights, Mañana

A foot of snow isn’t expected tomorrow — as we got on December 1, 2006 — but we are experiencing sliding temps. Feels about like winter now.

Also, the Christmas-industrial complex has revved into high gear, as usual. I was going to do my little (very little) part by stringing lights on one of the bushes in the front yard, though not lighting them for a week or more. On Monday, it rained all today, so I didn’t do it. Yesterday was relatively warm, but I forgot to do it. Today, I thought about it, but temps just above freezing put me off.

Tomorrow? Well, maybe. Depends on whether I feel like doing it tomorrow, or whether I feel like doing it mañana.