Winter weather -- 12/19/07

Eight entries in a row... And then I skipped ten days....
So I did great for the first eight Holidailies and then I was just too swamped with stuff to do that on the ninth day of Holidailies. I went grocery shopping and set up our Christmas tree and cooked dinner and put lights on the tree and worked on our family Christmas letter and never found time to write a journal entry. But that was okay because there was always the next day. When I was also too busy to write. And the next day and the next.... And here I am on December 19th having missed ten days in a row.

Ya know, the same thing happens to my physical fitness plans. I can ride a bike, lift weights, run, use an exercise DVD, whatever... every day... and then I miss a day... and then I miss the next one... and the next.

Hmmm, there is a definite pattern here.

So here is proof the tree is up and it has lights on it.

(All on Dec. 9th.)

Last Wednesday night we got together for dinner with some of the other people who also work as attendants at Kinney Bungalow (for weddings and similar events) at Shelter Harbor Inn. a lovely country inn, filled with antiques, with a number of dining rooms of various sizes.
The inn is outside of Westerly (RI), just off of U.S. Route 1. It is a few hundred feet from Quonochontaug Pond, a salt pond separated from the ocean by Quonochontaug Beach. There were ten of us and we ate in one of the smaller private dining rooms.

Nancy and I decided to share an appetizer -- Crab and salmon cakes with mustard rémoulade and mixed greens -- and we both ordered the same entree: Cranberry and Pecan Crusted Salmon with shallot mashed potatoes, and seasonal vegetables. Very tasty.

(Those of you who are X-Files fans will probably recall that Mulder's family had a summer house in Quonochontaug, RI. and the closing episode of season three was set there.)

Thursday is when it snowed and the Providence area roads and highways ended up in total gridlock.

You have to understand that Rhode Islanders are still traumatized by "The Great Blizzard of 1978" when a Nor'easter with blizzard force winds dumped huge amounts of snow on the state -- between just over two feet to more that three feet, depending on location -- and the entire state was brought to a halt for three days. Thus, any weather forecast of a winter storm can still empty supermarket shelves of bread and milk. The problem was the storm hit after the workday had already begun, so that when people realized how heavy the storm was becoming, businesses began to close and send employees home, all at about the same time. Highways filled with rush hour volumes of traffic. Snowplows could not get through the traffic to clear the snow. The snow got deeper and the winds blew it into deep drifts and cars became stuck in the snow. Many drivers, stuck in the gridlocked traffic, kept their engines running for warmth. Some ran out of gas. People began to abandon their cars and set out on foot, some walking the rest of the way home, some seeking shelter in hotels, the homes of friends, public buildings, bars and restaurants, anywhere out of the storm. The snow-clogged highways were blocked by hundreds upon hundreds of abandoned vehicles.

This past Thursday the snow didn't begin until after dawn -- people went to work, children went to school. Then, in early afternoon, just as some patches of especially heavy snowfall hit areas of the state, schools called their buses and dismissed students early... and businesses sent employees home, shifting the late afternoon rush hour to early afternoon.

Highways were clogged with traffic. Snowplows could not get through the traffic jams to clear the roads. A replay of 1978.
The view from our front porch on Thursday.
It took Jeremy two and a half hours to get home from school (from New England Tech in Warwick), a drive that usually takes him not too much longer than half an hour. He was fortunate in that he was headed away from the Providence area gridlock. Night comes early in December. It took hours for some students to get home from school in districts surrounding Providence, but early evening in Providence found more than sixty buses still trapped in snarled traffic. By eleven o'clock at night all but a handful of students had reached home. Only six or seven inches most places, but it brought the heavily populated metropolitan areas of the state to a standstill.

I had turned on the TV to for the eleven p.m. local news to catch the weather forecast and most of the program was taken up with the traffic gridlock. People were not happy. I turned to Nancy and said "Heads are going to roll."

The front page of this morning's Providence Journal carried the headline "Casualty of the storm" over a news report that the governor had just fired the Director of the state's Emergency Management Agency. That was the first head rolling but it won't be the last. The politicians are going to be throwing more management level employees out the window out of fear that the voters may decide to throw out some incumbent politicians next election cycle.

We had another storm on Sunday -- snow, sleet, freezing rain -- Jill had to be at work at five a.m. (to do the baking -- she works in the bakery dept. in a supermarket -- and Jeremy had to be at work (in a restaurant) by eight a.m. Everything was a frozen mess. Fortunately there were almost no other cars on the road at all then (although Jill said she was driving sideways for a while because of deer in the road).

And how's the weather been in your neighborhood?

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