Category: maine

The Eleven Types of Snow

There’s a (wrong) saying out there that the Inuit have a hundred words for snow. They don’t (and for a full explanation, see here), but having lived in Maine for 15 years now, and cleaned up after plenty of snow storms, I can testify that there really are many, many different types of snow. Scientifically, it comes down to what temperature it is when the snow comes down, but when you’re trying to shovel or blow it out of your driveway, you don’t care about any of that. You just care about how long it takes.

So I thought I’d take a minute to codify the different types of snow I have dealt with. (Hey. It’s Friday. You got anything better you’re doing?) Ready?

  1. Dusting: Sometimes you just don’t get enough snow to do anything with it at all. It’s not really snow, but people farther south seem to think it is. If making a snowman ends up with your lawn bare and your snowman covered in grass and leaves, then you had something closer to a dusting than a real snow storm. For me, anything an inch or less is pretty much this. Chances are, I won’t even bother snow blowing my driveway, though I’ll likely make sure my steps are shoveled.
  2. Powder: This is probably snow in its purest form. No taint from rain at all. All it’s good for is looking pretty and being fun to ski or snowmobile through. It’s light. It’s fluffy. It doesn’t pack down into anything, so good luck having snowball fights or making a snowman. You could make a killer snow angel, however. The best news is that it’s really easy to shovel.
  3. Snowman Snow: This is my personal ideal form of snow. It’s not soggy by any stretch, but it’s got enough moisture in it that you can pack it down with very little effort, and it keeps its shape. Great for snowmen and snowball fights and snow forts and anything else you might want to do out in the white stuff. This is the journeyman form of snow.
  4. Concrete Snow: When the white stuff gets a little carried away, it turns into an almost solid mass of dense material. It weighs a ton. It’s hard to walk through. It’s a killer to shovel. The one plus is it can make snowmen, but it’s really hard to get it done.
  5. Sleet: Pretty much worthless. It’s not hail, but it’s generally frozen rain drops that hit the ground as tiny pellets. You can’t do anything with it. It’s probably going to melt soon after it’s fallen. It doesn’t look pretty. The only thing that can be said for it is that it’s better than freezing rain.
  6. Freezing Rain: Yuck. That’s pretty much all this is. It may look gorgeous after it’s done (all the trees coated in crystal), but it weighs down tree limbs, causes power outages, makes for deadly driving, and just is nasty in general. You can’t do anything fun in it, and it will cause way more trouble than anything else. And besides: it’s not snow. It’s rain pretending to be snow.
  7. Hail: This is not snow. It might look white and cover the ground, but that’s the only relation it has to the real thing. It’s also dangerous. Bad.
  8. Slush: This is what I took off my driveway today. We got four inches of snow in the night, and then it rained on top of that. It’s like someone dumped a huge half-melted icee in your driveway, and then you have to clean it up. You get drenched, it looks muddy and yucky, and it’s no fun at all.
  9. Old Snow: When snow first comes down form the sky, it can be very pretty. White. Pure. Fun. But after it’s been on the ground for a while, the snow changes. It gets hard. Bitter. Gray. It mixes with dirt and salt and who knows what. It’s slow to melt, so it hangs on like grim death. This is usually what you end up with at the end of each season.
  10. Bad Snow: This can really be any type of snow, but it’s what happens when it snows and you don’t want it to be doing that. Typically, I love snow. I want it to snow. But every now and then, I have to drive somewhere, or I have to get something done, and snow is a real pain. True, for some people all snow is bad snow, but if you live in a place where it snows regularly, my advice would be to try to get into the mindset that’s most likely to minimize the bad snow in your life. For me, that meant getting a snow blower and snow tires for my car. The more you struggle to clean up the snow or drive through it, the more bad snow there will be in your life. Bad snow = bad.
  11. Yellow Snow: Undoubtedly the Worst Kind of Snow. I don’t think I need to add any more to that.

So those are the types of snow I can think of, but I’m betting I’m missing some. Any suggestions for things to be added to the list?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

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Temperature Free Fall

I just got back from a brief walk outside. It’s 60 degrees at the moment, which for Maine is pretty darned incredible for February 23rd. I was out in short sleeves, and it felt lovely. Of course, tonight it’s supposed to get down to 9 degrees. A 51 degree drop in about 12 hours. And as nice as 60 degrees feels when you’re used to temperatures in the teens, that brief respite can make the return to normal feel that much colder.

Another issue with temperatures like this? We’ve got a fair bit of snow on the ground. When it gets warm, snow melts. If you’re a fan of winter, that in and of itself is an issue, but even if you aren’t, you have to remember that what melts can also freeze. This morning I had to walk down a hill just off campus. It hasn’t been kept clear over the winter, and so between the freezing raining last night and the melt off this morning, it’s a miracle I was able to make my way down that hill without breaking something. I was literally ice skating downhill at points, unable to stop and just hoping I kept my balance.

Tonight, when all that runoff completely freezes again on that hill? Let’s just say I don’t think I’ll be using it anytime soon. Thankfully my driveway is clear, so I don’t think I’ll have that issue this time. (There have been some winters where my driveway turns into a skating rink.)

Personally, for as nice as it felt to have it be so warm on my walk today, I’d rather it stay around 20 degrees the whole winter. Cold enough that the snow doesn’t go anywhere and that any precipitation comes as snow, but not so cold that your forehead complains. It’s the yo-yoing back and forth that I really don’t like. And freezing rain is terrible. It leads to car crashes and downed power lines.

Thankfully, we’re supposed to get another 6 inches or so of snow on Friday, so we’ll at least have a bit of the wintry atmosphere back in its proper place in two days. (Except now some of that snow will be covering glare ice, so you’ll never know which footstep you take will be good, and which footstep will make you want to fall down.)

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

When Can You Complain about the Cold?

Living in Maine, I’m fairly used to the cold. By this time, I know how to handle most of it. I dress in layers, and my wardrobe has plenty of thick, warm clothes to keep me toasty. Generally speaking, I’d rather be too cold than too hot. My house is mostly set up for the cold, with plenty of insulation. So the cold doesn’t usually bother me.

With a couple of exceptions.

The first big one is frozen pipes. There are two spots in my house where the pipes can freeze if it gets below zero at night. The first is where the pipes head to the upstairs bathroom. As long as we remember to leave the water dripping at night, that usually isn’t a problem, but if it gets cold enough, they’ll freeze anyway. We hope to fix that when we renovate the bathroom in March. More insulation, and sending the pipes in a different route should take care of it, along with ensuring we have no drafts.

The second place we thought we’d fixed when we renovated the kitchen. The dishwasher line sometimes froze. Even with all the insulation we added, it still froze, but we’ve added some more to stop the drafts, and that seems to have taken care of the issue. (Drafts = frozen pipes. They’re much worse for the pipes than just cold.)

The other issue I have is when it gets extremely cold. For me, that’s in the 15 below or more range. The other morning, it was -22F while I was walking into work. (I park at the far end of campus on purpose: I like to get some forced exercise each day, and it helps to clear my head before and after work.) How cold is -22F? It’s so cold, I realized my forehead was cold.

My forehead is not a part of my body that gets much attention. Usually it’s just there. Sitting around. Doing it’s thing. Covering my skull. It doesn’t complain, and it doesn’t really do anything positive. I take it for granted. So you know things have to be going seriously wrong when suddenly my forehead is putting in notices like, “Excuse me? Could I get a little coverage here?”

So that’s my new bar for “too cold.” I see if my forehead cares about it. If not, then we’re good. If so, then people can complain freely about the temperature.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Sea Glass Hunting on Monhegan Island

It’s interesting that sometimes it takes someone coming from hours away to get you to do the touristy things people do when they come to your state. Denisa and I have lived here for 14 years now, and we had yet to venture to any of the islands off the coast of Maine, despite the fact that many people come here to do just that. For the first while, it was because of the expense ($38 for a ferry ticket?), and then it was because we had kids of ages that didn’t really line up right to do the outing, and then it was because we were busy, and then . . .

There comes a point when you begin to convince yourself that if you haven’t done something all this time, then there must be a good reason you haven’t done it, and you stop even considering doing it anymore.

Thankfully, a friend from high school came up to visit for the weekend, and one of the things he was planning on doing was taking the ferry out to Monhegan Island, famous for its artist colony and beautiful landscape. If that had been all it was, maybe I might not have decided to go, but he also likes to go looking for sea glass, and that’s been something I’ve been curious about enough that I decided it would be fun to tag along and see how it was done. Denisa and MC came on the journey as well. (Tomas had to work, and Daniela had drama camp.)

To get out to the island, we first had to get to the ferry. We took the one out of Port Clyde, which was about a two hour drive for us. Once we arrived, I was surprised to see the range of car license plates arrayed on the dock: Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and more. People were coming from all around to go to this place I’d just ignored the whole time. It took an hour to get out to the island on the ferry, though the company did fill some of that time talking about the history of the island and the surrounding area, and the lobster industry. The ride was choppy enough that by the time we arrived, my stomach was very glad we were about to get off. I had expected a large ferry without too many people on it. Instead, it was a small ferry that was pretty packed, leading me to wonder just how busy the island would be.

Monhegan is only 1.75 miles long and .75 miles wide. In my head, this was a place we’d pretty much be able to completely explore in a couple of hours. No cars are allowed over onto the island, though some of the people there do have trucks they use for transportation. There’s a small village there, with quite a few houses, though many of them seemed like they were probably rentals for people coming out to stay. Cell coverage was spotty, but existent. Restaurants were few and far between, and prices were what you’d expect on a remote island. If you’re looking to come and check out stores, this is not the place to go.

However, the island is criss-crossed with plenty of hiking trails. We set off right away into the middle of the island. I had been expecting wide trails with plenty of visibility, like most of Maine’s hiking. These trails were very narrow, and the forest in places was incredibly thick. It reminded us more of the rain forest at times than of most of the other places we’ve explored in Maine. The trails were generally easy to see, though markings were few and far between. In most places, the trail was maybe a foot wide. Some mud, because it had just rained, but the real obstacles were tree roots and rocks. It wasn’t easy hiking, by any means, but it was absolutely gorgeous.

In our three hour hike around the island, we probably saw about 5 other groups total. It was a much bigger place than I expected, and it generally felt like we were alone. If you want peaceful, secluded beauty, this is definitely a good place to go.

The sea glass hunting was less than overwhelming. We headed to Pebble Beach, which we’d heard had the best offerings on the island. We got there as the tide was coming in, which wasn’t ideal, so perhaps there was better hunting farther out, but where we were, to find any sea glass took an awful lot of combing through the boulders and pebbles. The pieces we did find were generally small: tinier than the tip of my pinky. On the other hand, we had a great time doing it. MC loved the sense of exploration, and it was fun to have something to do together. The beach was nothing like a place where I’d want to go swim. Far too rocky. (And it was only 65 degrees that day, anyway.)

(We did try one other spot I’d heard had sea glass: Fish Beach. It was very small, but it had quite a lot more glass. Unfortunately, almost all of it was pretty new. New enough that it was another place I don’t think I’d want to swim, even though it was sandier. There was just too much glass. Go figure.)

We had lunch at a small cafe. Nothing extravagant: some pizza ($3.50/slice) and wraps ($8.00/each). The food was fine. We might have gone to some of the other restaurants, but finding out where they were was a struggle. (Remember: bad internet), and the prices seemed like more than we were really up for at the moment. One of the best things I bought the whole time was the $1 map of the island that included all the hiking trails. We used that a ton, and I’m sure we would have gotten hopelessly lost without it. (We’d also considered bringing Ferris on the trip, but I’m very glad we didn’t. He would have been far too hyper on the ferry, and he would have gone crazy on the island. We’d tried taking him on a short hike a few days before. It was sensory overload for the puppers.)

In the end, we stayed five hours, and I think that was about right. I’d considered coming out to stay with the family on the island at some point, but I don’t know that I will, having been there. I loved the outing, but I think I’d likely get bored if I were there for too long. (Though maybe some boredom and internet-free time would be just the thing. I’ll keep thinking about that.) I’m sure it would have gorgeous night skies if we were to stay over, though it was foggy and overcast the entire time we were there. (Luck of the draw.)

Overall, it was a terrific outing, and a great change of pace. If you haven’t been, I’d definitely recommend it, and it’s got me thinking about other outings we might do in the future . . .

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Origin Factory Tour

The local chamber of commerce had arranged for the public to go on a tour of the Origin USA factory this morning, and I’m always a sucker for a good factory tour, so I walked down the street (5 minutes away) to check it out. I’m glad I went.

For those of you who might not be aware, Origin USA started out as a manufacturer of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gi tops. I learned this morning that they’re actually the only gi manufacturer in North America. The closest other one is in Brazil. Most of the American companies that sell gis import them from Pakistan, which is where Origin had originally outsourced its production. Then they discovered that the Pakistani company that was assembling its gis was also using the same pattern (the pattern Origin had supplied them with) to sell to other companies, just embroidering a different logo on them. After that discovery, they decided to move their manufacturing line to Maine.

That move was a fascinating process. They knew next to nothing about the actual creation of the clothing–how the machines work. How it’s done on a large scale. But they decided that they wanted to do things the old fashioned way. Manufacturing used to be huge in Maine, and they went around to old factories, buying the old machines that haven’t been used in years and years. In some cases, those machines didn’t exist in America any more, so they’d buy them from abroad and ship them back to Maine. (Ironically, one such machine they purchased arrived, and when they looked at it, they discovered it had “Made in Maine” stamped on it. It had been made in Maine, shipped to Europe, and now finally made the return trip years later.)

These days, they’ve branched out to making gi tops and bottoms, t-shirts, jeans, and boots. All of it is locally sourced. They bought looms and weave their fabric on-site with American cotton. They buy leather and dye it locally. They’ve taught themselves and their team how to service the old machines. It’s a knowledge base that was on its way out in America, and they’re working on bringing it back in a big way.

I had a vague idea they were in town, but I had no idea just how much business they’re actually doing here. They’ve got 50-60 employees, they’ve bought multiple buildings across the area, and they’re shipping a whole slew of orders world wide. It’s a compelling story, and it made me want to find out more about them and what they do. They strive to make products that are built to last. Their jeans are made with rugged material throughout (even the pocket linings), so they won’t wear out. I might try getting a pair the next time I need jeans, since I’m sick of my jeans always wearing out at the knees too easily.

Anyway, it was a great tour, and I’m glad I got to go on it. It’s wonderful to see a manufacturing success story right here in Western Maine, where so many businesses have closed over the years. I’m willing to pay more for something that goes to help local workers in such an immediate way, and I wanted to pass the information on to all of you, in case any of you feel the same. I’m not sure how often they offer tours, or if they will again, but it’s worth the time to go on one. Check them out!

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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