Category Archives: strangeness

Snow, snow, thunder, rain, and yet more snow.

snow

2/13/14 – It snowed. A lot. Again. The above photo was taken sometime after breakfast yesterday morning. Rex seems to be enjoying this winter, and if I had a coat like his I’m sure I wouldn’t mind half as much. My other dog, Loki, on the other hand, is not built for this weather and had little interest in being outdoors. Can’t say that I blame him. And this photo was taken a few hours later, during a lull in the storm. Note the patio table and the railing from one photo to the next.  One day’s snow, and the day, and the snow, are far from over.  We’re expecting another 6 inches before dawn, then another round of 4-6″ from Friday night to Saturday morning.

yet more snow

And me? I just spent the last two hours clearing the latest layer from the driveway and walk. Now, if you’ll all excuse me, I’m curling up in my favorite arm chair with a nice glass of brandy while I watch the Olympics. Which, ironically, was held in Russia rather than New York City, in part because, well, you know. It’s the Winter Olympics, and for that you need a whole lot of top quality snow and ice.  Maybe we could ship some of this white stuff to balmy Sochi — I’m sure they could put it to good use, and I for one, would be happy to see it go.

2/14/14 –  It snowed/sleeted/rained/thundered/sleeted/snowed most of the night. The snow is saturated through and through, and heavy enough that it’s caved in rooftops on some buildings. It’s clearing out now, for a few hours at least, but should return tonight for another round. Meanwhile, my table continues to disappear.

snowsun

When trees attack…

Trick or Treat! And for this year’s costume…I’m a Sandy Victim!

I’d love to report that my boat has survived Hurricane Sandy unscathed. But as of this posting, I still don’t know. This massive storm was one for the history books, and the toll it took on the east coast is still being tallied, and around here, we’re still digging our way out of the damage it left behind. The winds that hit my area go beyond anything the region has ever weathered, and coupled with a record storm surge, much of the surrounding infrastructure sustained massive damage. Many of the marinas in my home waters have been devastated, and very few boats, either in the water or on land, came through unharmed. I’m hoping that due to her position at the highest point in the yard, protected by an old but reasonably solid shed, Annabel Lee is one of the fortunate survivors. But at this time, that remains to be seen.

As I type this, there’s a tree in my kitchen. And my spare bedroom/office. And I don’t mean a bonsai. No, I’m talking about a 100+ foot oak, formerly tall and majestic, but now uprooted and lying diagonal, balanced precariously between my yard and rooftop. It came down just as Sandy made landfall to the south and winds shifted from merely unnerving to downright terrifying. It came down with an impact that shook the house, knocking books and cups from shelves and turning pictures on the walls sideways. Several larger limbs tore instant skylights through the ceiling, sending sheetrock and shingles, leaves and splinters flying across my kitchen floor.

Fortunately, no one, human, canine or feline, was hurt, though we were all severely rattled, and we hastily rounded everyone into the relative safety of the basement. I’m grateful that whoever originally built this house seemed to construct it of doubled beams and excessively thick lumber. We’d often joked about the house’s inexplicable, almost ‘bomb-shelter’ like qualities, but as we rode out the remainder of the night, we truly came to appreciate it.

After a long and sleepless night, dawn allowed us to inspect the full extent of the damage. The weight of the tree still balanced upon the peak of the roof, with shattered limbs ripping into the roof through various points. Half our chimney was gone, beams and vents crushed. Upsetting as it was, compared to the reports coming in over the news radio, filled with horrifying and heartbreaking stories of damage and death, we considered ourselves reasonably lucky. The house can be repaired, and the only casualties we’d encountered included a vintage kit-kat clock, an old piggy-bank that crashed down from a shelf, and ironically, a weather glass that had all night been vividly displaying the dropping air pressure.

Bands of rain continued to arrive, as they had all night, and in the daylight we went onto the roof to cut away the outer limbs so we could nail a tarp down over the roof and finally dry up inside. Cars and people slowed as they passed, and neighbors came to offer any assistance they could. Thursday morning we’re scheduled for a tree service with a crane to lift the massive oak from the roof – by the way it is balanced cutting it free would cause more damage, and once that is done and the roof patched, we’ll finally be able to turn our attention to checking the boat. I can only hope Sandy has left me no other unpleasant surprises.

Me? Strange?

After reading yesterday’s post, my dad called and informed me, “Now everyone is going to think you’re strange.”

I would have figured anyone reading my blog would have reached that conclusion long ago.  I wouldn’t say ‘strange’ so much as ‘different’. Okay, maybe strange works just as well. I have a dark streak, a warped sense of humor, and a skewed way of looking at things. Personally, I don’t think that makes me a bad person, though I’m sure there are a few people out there who might hold differing opinions. Oh, yeah, and I don’t give a damn what people think of me. Including the many strangers I held up when I parked my car sideways in the middle of a busy road in Paramus the other day, blocking traffic in both directions so I could herd a garbage-lid sized snapping turtle safely through the traffic he’d happily wandered directly into. A massive snapping turtle is a creature to be reckoned with, and he ambled along with that attitude, but I suspect if it came down to turtle vs inattentive Escalade driver, the Caddy would have won. So yes, that was me, standing in the road just clear of any retaliatory snaps as I waved my arms and shouted “Get out of the road!” while my fellow drivers, unable to pass, likely were yelling the same at me. And more, I suspect.

Yeah, I might be strange, but I’m perfectly happy that way.

Darwin in Metropolis..

I was amused to learn that scientists have determined a unique and previously unrecognized species of Leopard Frog has been residing here in the tri-state region, “Croaking away in plain sight,” according to the New York Times.

Most times, when you hear about the discovery of a new species, it’s from somewhere remote and exotic, usually some mountain or rainforest on the far end of the globe. But this amphibian’s home territory falls in and around New York City. They’ve got ’em in Staten Island. They’ve got ’em in the Meadowlands, in Connecticut  — in fact, if you stuck a pin in the center of their limited range, it would fall not far from Yankee Stadium, though so far none have been spotted in the Bronx.  And these frogs are nothing new — they’ve been around for years, and I’m sure I probably caught my fair share as a kid — but they so closely resemble another species, the Southern Leopard Frog, that they were believed to be one and the same. It wasn’t until a scientist noticed that their vocalizations were quite distinct and different that they took a closer look and found the two frogs had completely different genetic lineages. Apparently, (thought not surprisingly for anyone who lives around here,) southern frogs have a different croak than ones living in commuting distance of NYC.  I guess we wouldn’t know the difference, that’s just what our frogs sound like. (Tri-State frog: “Accent? Whad’a you talkin’ about? I don’t got an accent. You got an accent!”)

Customer Service at its finest…

In case anyone missed it, yesterday at Write On The Water I blogged about the outstanding if somewhat unusual customer service I’ve received from my long-time boat insurance company, BoatUS. And apparently they have a good sense of humor as well — they actually posted my post on their Facebook page!

So, if you haven’t already read it:  Hello, BoatUS?

Spring has arrived… (whatever floats your corpse, revisited)

The following is a re-post of my post last Thursday at Write on the Water, where it received a resounding lack of comments. Perhaps the subject matter may have been a bit questionable. Judge for yourself… I felt it would be of interest.

 

While the calendar claims that it’s only the beginning of March, there’s no denying it’s been an unusually warm winter here in the northeast. Buds are swelling on the trees, the crocuses have been blooming for weeks, even hyacinths have been clawing their way through the dirt, reaching upward like green zombie fingers towards the sunlight, all well ahead of schedule. And this leaves me wondering: will Floater’s Week come early this year?

What is Floater’s Week? It’s a local event on the waters surrounding New York City. NYC and its neighboring communities hold the title as the nation’s largest metropolitan area, with roughly nineteen million people living in a region bordered by the Atlantic and laced with harbors, bays, vast rivers and hidden creeks. It’s a city of bridges and tunnels, over two thousand, in fact. Lots of people, lots of water, and lots of access to that water.

With those statistics, it’s a given that over time, a certain percentage of deceased bodies might eventually find their ways into said waters. Drowning victims, boating accidents, bridge jumpers, and unfortunate fatalities of criminal activity. As air in the lungs is replaced with water, a body will sink to the bottom, and so long as that water is cold, decomposition is slowed and the corpse will stay put, more or less. But once the days grow longer and water temperatures rise, bacterial activity and decomposition speed up, producing gases that make them buoyant, bringing these bloated bodies bobbing back to the surface in a synchronized resurrection.

So there you have it. Floater’s Week. Annually, that perfect mix of conditions usually arrives sometime around mid-April, though, like fishing, it varies based upon a number of factors including position of the body in question and whether or not they may have been additionally ‘weighted’, so to speak, as well as depth, current, hours of sunlight and so on. And yes, in case anyone is wondering, I have encountered a floater or three in my time on the Hudson. Around here, we see it as a sign of spring.

(And here’s a nice, upbeat song by Justin Townes Earle, titled ‘Harlem River Blues’, about taking a permanent swim in the Harlem River.)
 

Sometimes it can be the smallest of things…

I suppose I have to laugh. It is pretty funny, actually, how the strangest, most unexpected things can bring you to a halt, or at least pretty damned close.

Editor Dave and I have been working practically non-stop at wrapping up the edits on No Wake Zone, and we’re closing in on the finish, so Hooray! But Sunday afternoon I had to step away from the computer for a brief time to run some errands, one of which put me out on Route 80, cruising along in the fast lane, when all at once my dashboard lit up like it was Christmas. Specifically, the ‘Check Engine’ light, along with the glow plug indicator, which was blinking away insistently.

WTF??? Everything felt okay. Fortunately my exit was coming up, so I slowed and looped onto the Parkway, rolled through the EZpass lane, then downshifted to pull into the next exit, right after the tolls…. and…. meh. Worse than meh. We’re talking about my little turbocharged diesel Jetta with a sport-tuned suspension, which normally drives like a rocket, but the most it could do was putter along feebly with the anemic performance you’d expect from something that gets 45+ mpg, while traffic whizzed past. To say I was distressed would be a bit of an understatement.

Long story short, it was still under warranty, so straight back to the dealer it went, and was returned to me hours later in its proper, feisty, tire-smoking order. And the cause for this brief lapse into anemic performance? MICE! Apparently, still displeased about being evicted from my basement last summer, they decided the cozy warmth of the little diesel in the driveway would serve as housing, and while they were nestled in and keeping warm, one industrious rodent decided the wiring to my turbo seemed like a tasty snack.

Mice. Really. Now I have to figure out how to keep mice out from under the hood! Any ideas, anyone?

Okay, it’s back to work for me. In the coming weeks there will be a number of updates – things are starting to happen in a big way. But before I go, here’s a link to last Thursday’s Write On The Water post:
The K.I.S.S. approach to Cruising…