Saturday, December 13, 2008

In our last exciting episode ...

I realize I haven't said much about my life since I landed here in New Hampshire. Since we've made the news with our weather, I guess this is as good a time as any to catch things up.

To begin with, my view has gone from the above to the below. You'll see that the lake isn't entirely frozen over, but it has been. But about the time a skim of ice forms, a front comes through and there is a night of wind that breaks it up again.

The lake is about four miles long by a little over half a mile wide, so when a north-south wind strikes up, it gets rolling pretty well. And my house is right at the receiving end, so I've taken down the wind chimes which I'm sure are charming during the summer but, as the first good winter storm rolled in, were kind of a constant annoyance all night long, as if they were in a dryer. Incidentally, those X's are a marker where there is about a 15 foot drop off to the lake. I suspect I'll have a pretty good buildup of ice jam and snow down there by the time winter is truly over.

So, about that storm: It pretty much passed us by in the immediate sense. I didn't know how bad it was until I got to the office and people started calling in to say they'd be working from home. I never lost power and, while the roads weren't good, they weren't surprisingly bad. However, I was in a fairly narrow window of safety -- there were significant outages to the north and to the south of us.

I took this picture at the local airport, where even the birches weren't getting off the ground. (Our photographer began snickering at that line and accused me of spending more time thinking up cutlines than shooting photos. And she's right.) But the planes -- little Cessnas -- were back in the air by mid-morning.

When I went back up that afternoon to confirm that they were getting planes off the ground, I spotted this chain link fence. The sun had begun to melt the ice and I caught it at the time when the ice had melted back off the fence itself but hadn't broken up.

Cool, huh?

They opened up the gym at the high school in Gabe's school district as a shelter (he teaches at the middle school), and had I think five families the first night. The next day, they picked up that many families again from a fire which burned them out of their building -- which isn't the same as losing power but is very likely traceable to the storm, though the Red Cross is going to have to find them some place else to stay while they come up with a more permanent plan, because I think everyone else will be going home soon.

For the most part, I think power is back on to most of the homes in our area. The aforementioned photographer and I spent most of Friday driving around looking for dramatic shots and didn't find much -- I think most of the outages were from branches over individual powerlines. We didn't find any downed powerpoles or anything that visually astonishing. Gabe had lost power at some point in the night but it came back, and I never lost it at all. We lost it overnight at the office but, when I got in, it was back up, though our office manager, copy editor and general jack-of-all-trades was trying to restore a critical computer program (which she did).

The job is good, the people are good. I'd seen the paper and recognized a lot of need for improvement, and I was really afraid I'd come into a situation where nobody else felt that way, but the staff was eager for some direction. This is largely a first-job shop and I'm doing a fair amount of mentoring, but when people want to learn, that's fun. I've also got the support not only of the boss/owner/publisher but of the rest of the management team, which makes a tremendous difference. And people are seeing a difference since I got here, though it's a gradual process. We're not where we need to be, but we're doing a lot better and it's recognized.

The town is a city compared to Farmington -- about four times the population -- but I'm able to go home at night and have a lot of quiet, so it's more than acceptable, and it's fun to have Gabe, Sarah and Johanna in town -- and they will be adding a grandson in the next week or two. That's more fun close up than at a distance.

And there is a rail trail for me and the dogs to take our constitutional. Life is good.


Ronnie said...

Glad to have the update. Only news I get speaks of "New Hampshire" with no specifics. I was hoping your river valley status might make it enough warmer to minimize ice.

Had no idea about that dropoff. The picture just looks like an ordinary shoreline. Cool.


Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you missed the worst of it. The chain link fence shot is great.

Sis in Sleepy Hollow

Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

The ice on the fence is a great shot, and so are those wonderfully flexible little trees!

Sherwood Harrington said...

Too bad the trees are birch, not beech, or you could have come up with a truly horrid cutline involving Beechcraft.

Very nice pictures and a "me too" to the other three comments thus far on all counts.

Congrats on the upcoming event and your proximity to it!

Neurotic Chic said...

but, as the first good winter storm rolled in, were kind of a constant annoyance all night long, as if they were in a dryer.

LOVE that! Conjures up quite a picture - or sound?

I hadn't realized Gabe and Sarah's baby would be here so soon! Yay! I don't think I knew they were having a boy either. Very cool.

Kim in WV

ronnie said...

Nice update - I only saw a detailed news story about the NE ice storms last night and was appalled at how bad it was so I had planned to email and see how you are doing. Glad to hear you missed the most of it. I read 400,000 in NH without power? Yikes!

Brian Fies said...

Nice, all of it.

It's raining lightly in northern California today. Temps in the low 40s. I am prepared to accept your sympathy.

Sherwood Harrington said...

Oh, you think you've got it bad, Mr. Fies? It's raining moderately here in the Santa Cruz mountains today, none of this wussy "lightly" stuff.

Carmel said...

Hello Mike, this is Carmel from North Wind Media in Farmington, ME. I still have some CD's that you left here at the office and am wondering how I might be able to get them to you. I was surprised to hear that you had moved to NH. Enjoyed the pictures in your blog. Please contact me if you would like these CD's back. Thanks.