The maple syrup is local, also from the farmers market.
The maple syrup is local, also from the farmers market.
I've been thinking about the extreme cold in much of the US and Canada, and about some of the discussion of that weather, and wind chill, and how best to report on this sort of extreme weather.
The thing about unusually cold weather is that people aren't used to it. We're used to whatever's normal for where we live; that includes the coldest weather of a typical winter, but not the coldest of a typical decade or more. I used to get a daily paper (Newsday) that ran feature articles every late fall or early winter on "what you need to know about a New York winter, in a page or less." Basic things like wearing gloves, keeping your feet dry, and how to shovel snow safely. The first year I saw that article it surprised me, and then I thought about it: those articles weren't (mostly) a reminder for natives, they were for people who had just moved there from warmer climates, who didn't know what questions to ask. "Where can I buy gloves?" assumes that the person knows they should.
And remembering that reminded me of a winter almost twenty years ago. I was visiting Jo in Swansea, as was fivemack. Jo's 11-year old son Sasha, fivemack, and I went for a walk along the beach, while Jo and rysmiel sat in a cafe. It was a cold day, but not bitterly cold, and I didn't worry about Sasha saying he was cold. Then he said he was too warm, and I said "we're going back now." Sasha and fivemack didn't argue, and we walked back into town. I led them into the first open shop, where we walked idly around, warming up, before going to the cafe where Jo and rysmiel were. Somewhere, I'd read about that feeling of being too hot as a warning sign of hypothermia, and knew what to do.
I was scheduled for PT this morning, but called the PT place yesterday afternoon to postpone. They may charge me $25 for the short notice, but I am hoping not: the buses are running, but everyone is saying "stay inside unless you have to travel," so the PT place may not even be open today.
I made us French toast for lunch, as is traditional—with challah, since I bought a loaf on Saturday at the Somerville Winter Farmers Market (which I heartily recommend: Saturday mornings at the Armory on Highland Avenue, through April 14), along with more Hudson's golden gem apples.
Getting there was fine, but I seem not to have taken sufficient precautions against the cold on the trip home. (It was close to freezing when I was out on Thursday, and something like -12 C when I was waiting for the bus, and walking the couple of blocks at this end, on Friday afternoon.) I thought I had—breathe either through my nose or, if I need or want to take a deep breath through my mouth, inhale through my gloved hand [or other fabric).
A few hours after I got home, I was coughing some, and noticed an ache in my chest in a place that feels like the bottom of my lungs. This suggests I aggravated old lung damage (from going out in weather that turned much worse in the short time I was out), which I hoped had healed more than it seems to have. I think I am going to skip my political activist meeting for this evening, and that it would be imprudent to go to a rally/vigil for immigrants tomorrow morning.
I have been outside, because we needed more stuff from the supermarket than cattitude can reasonably carry, but now that I'm home again, I don't even want to get out of this chair.
I am waiting until six o'clock to decide about this evening (that gives me time either to get there, or to tell the organizer I can't make it before the meeting starts). Regardless of that, I am taking a break from marching in the streets at least until Tuesday, and probably until after Boskone.
ETA: I emailed the organizer of this evening's meeting at about 5:30 to tell her I wouldn't be able to make it.
So I figured I might as well indulge that feeling of being back at home, and visit familiar places. I'd have done some of that anyhow, I think, like going back to Au Bulle en Carre for the crepes; I might even have gone to Kam Fung for dim sum by myself on Monday while rysmiel was at work. (Sure, there's less variety than with company, but more variety than in a lot of meals: their excellent sticky rice, a few seafood dumplings, and a stuffed crab claw.) I would have gone to Marche Atwater for fruit and yogurt anyhow, but any other visit I wouldn't have bought apples in July; this time I did, because one shop had the northeastern varieties I like, and a few stored Cortlandt apples (they looked better than the Macintoshes) appealed as much as the berries and champagne grapes and red plums—which I also bought. I eat a lot of fruit this time of year. Rysmiel and I went to Juliet et Chocolat for dessert twice, and I had the chocolate raspberry brownie with a balsamic reduction both times, because it was so good the first time. I may even try to figure out how to make the reduction, which I think would go well with any good chocolate brownie.
What I wasn't homesick for was heat waves, but I got one; Montreal averages cooler than New York City, and I think it was even hotter in New York that weekend, but this was humid and oppressive, and papersky and rysmiel have no air conditioning. During the worst of it, I was lying flat on a bed, wishing the fan was more effective and thinking "rule 1, stay hydrated," because I didn't have much focus for more than that. Fortunately, the Musee de Beaux Arts is air conditioned, and we'd wanted to see their Chihuly exhibit anyhow.
On the way back from lunch after the museum, we stopped at Camellia Sinensis so I could buy some green Darjeeling tea, which they hadn't had in at least two years. I knew from their website that they had gotten it, but I wanted to at least smell the tea before buying. I have now brewed a cup, and it is good. I don't think I can really compare this Happy Valley green Darjeeling [yes, I know, I didn't name the tea garden] with the Selimbong I got years ago, even though I still have little bit I'd been hoarding, just because of the age difference. On the other hand, I might try brewing a cup of each, rather than just tossing the Selimbong or letting it continue to age in my cupboard.
One morning while rysmiel was at work, before the weather got horrible, I made tea and then sat on the balcony with a book, reading and thinking fondly of sitting out there the previous summer, with cattitude, papersky, and rysmiel.
( some travel details )
But this is not a normal warning for late October in New York City:
HEAVY BANDS OF WET SNOW WILL CONTINUE TO AFFECT THE AREA THROUGH 5 PM...WITH SNOW FALL RATES OF 1 TO POSSIBLY 2 INCHES PER HOUR. EMBEDDED THUNDER WILL ALSO BE POSSIBLE. THIS WILL RESULT IN DANGEROUS TRAVEL CONDITIONS WITH SNOW AND SLUSH COVERED ROADS AND VISIBILITIES REDUCED TO 1/4 MILE OR LESS AT TIMES.
It could be worse: this could be happening on a weekday. I don't mind so much sitting home and baking (the oven heat is welcome right now, though the building heat is on).
Other than that, my cut finger is healing, but I should probably go bandage it again in a little bit. I had a nice workout with Emilie on Thursday, and the rest of life is going along in its usual quiet way.
kate_nepveu's post about the storm confirms we did well to stay home, because her power is out, and she lives near the people we had been planning to visit this weekend.
ETA: We have been out for a walk, and saw no significant damage (small branches down). The water level in the bit of the Harlem River across the street looked like a very high tide; this was at about 1:00, which I think was well after the astronomical high tide (though it's a complicated harbor; high tide at 8 at the Battery can be 11 elsewhere in the city). The wrack/high tide line was far enough from the river that we missed it at first, from not looking that far (we have an idea of where to expect it after very high tides, even storm-driven ones, but I'm guessing the storm surge made the difference). The "line" is a straggling mess, clumps of mud and leaves and such.
We also saw a rather large turtle, sitting on a bit of board that we guessed she washed ashore on. I took some photos, and we worried a little that she didn't seem to be trying to escape human attention, but when we passed by 20 minutes later she was a bit closer to the water, and facing toward it, so I'm guessing she'll be all right. Some people also pointed out jellyfish that had washed up on the path, presumably either dead or dying.
I think the local governments are overreacting. Being prepared to shut down transit because of a hurricane is one thing. Announcing a day in advance that all trains will be shutting down at noon tomorrow seems excessive, and not just because I'm used to them keeping at least some service running through blizzard, hurricane, and northeaster.
We were going to go up to Schenectady this weekend, but we canceled that plan this morning. While we didn't know the MTA would be shutting the subway down, it seemed that Amtrak might get us up to Schenectady tomorrow, but the return trip Sunday was iffy.
I suspect I'm going to finish all my library books (I have another one waiting for me), and play a lot of Scrabble. We will go for a walk tomorrow morning, even though the Greenmarket, our usual Saturday destination, is closed. (So are all the zoos, live theater, beaches, etc. Beaches are obvious, and some of it I think is a consequence of not having transit.)
ETA: Just as well we'd already decided to stay home: Amtrak is running fewer trains Saturday, and none in the Northeast on Sunday, according to their Facebook page, which I was pointed to by the Washington Post; amtrak.com is still displaying yesterday afternoon's bit about trains canceled from DC south with further cancellations to come.
It felt like a long week somehow; various things didn't quite go right, so a couple of different small problems at the gym yesterday felt like a big deal. But I pulled myself together, did a little walking on a treadmill and then got a cardio bike, and got more settled. I hadn't even realized how many different things there had been until I was talking to Emilie and she put it that way. (One of them was that I'd changed my time to see her to Friday in order to do something else on Thursday, which then fell through.) But I still think the gym needs more cardio bikes; they're down to four, two of which were out of order yesterday, and only one of them labeled as such.
I felt like I was running a bit late after the workout, so changed quickly, got downstairs, and saw a very intense thunderstorm. I didn't walk out into the storm, because the hotel exit I normally use leads into a covered arcade/driveway/road that connects 48th and 49th Streets, but I walked toward the street before I realized that I didn't want to go out into that: heavy rain, winds driving it at an angle, and frequent nearby lightning and thunder. I called cattitude to let him know that I wasn't going anywhere for a little while; I saw Emilie calling her husband to say much the same, and then we talked for 15 or 20 minutes until the rain eased enough that I was willing to walk to the nearest subway station. (I had an umbrella. That's okay for rain; not for lightning.) Cattitude, at home several miles away, was looking at a similar storm. When we went for a walk in the park today, there was a lot of mud, and deeper puddles than usual.
I was wearing a Bronx Zoo shirt, with otters on it; I think it was the members' freebie a few years ago. The organization that runs the zoo is now identifying itself as the "Wildlife Conservation Society," which is what it says on the shirt . As I was heading home, some people looked at us and one of them said something like "Wildlife conservation, you're probably a good person to tell us what we want to know" and then asked some questions about the park. I handed them off to Cattitude, who has a better sense of direction, and he suggested they go uphill and then west.
( workout details )
 Legally it's still the New York Zoological Society, but our old souvenir shirts don't say that, they say "Bronx Zoo."
Along with this, my office has a delayed opening at noon, with the strong suggestion to work from home if possible instead. Thumb drives mean I can easily tuck my current project in a pants pocket, so it's definitely possible.
A bit later, I need to call my trainer and see whether we can reschedule for tomorrow or even Saturday, rather than me schlepping downtown just for that. Or, alternatively, ask her, if I do make it downtown, will she be available as scheduled? (This depends on how I'm feeling in a bit; the air is close to freezing, and I can grab a larger daypack, carry my gym shoes, and wear boots. Though these aren't boots for deep snow; they're good against cold and slush, and a few inches of snow at a time.
cattitude, who has much higher boots, has gone in, so it's just me and julian_tiger here. The little cafe downstairs is open, and has baked, so I will be having a blueberry muffin for second breakfast. (I expected they'd be open, because the owner lives in this building, but I was less confident of the baking.)
This is looking like a pattern, albeit a weird one: last winter, two or three times I came up here, with massive amounts of snow in Philly, Baltimore, and/or Washington, and maybe some in New York, with not a flake here. Not so absolute this time: I went to sleep, and woke up, to the sound of snowplows, and there's enough snow for the wind to be blowing around. But I have boots, and warm clothes, and no real need to go out today.
Wednesday I head north; I believe there is some snow on the ground in Quebec. (If not, I will be wearing my boots anyhow, having decided to save weight and not bring other outdoor shoes.)
I hope the rest of you are managing to stay warm and dry.
And then, on the way in to work, I encountered mixed precipitation: sleet, rain, and snow. All of it light, but I was not pleased. On the other hand, it's my birthday in two days and we haven't had a frost yet. Sleet, yes. Freezing temperatures, no. I'm hoping for sunny and a high around 12 C/55 F for Wednesday.
I have finally gotten to go back to working on one of the books from our normal schedule. Which left me looking at a file last touched on 27 September and wondering, literally, "What was I thinking?" I'd forgotten to include identifying information, and couldn't find the material I wanted to use (by hand or with Google desktop), so I had to come up with a different approach. Ah, well. With a bit of luck, this will go out on time, or at worst a day late, not two weeks late. This is at the cost of pushing back editing on another book, but production is backlogged, and our writers may have other things on their schedules, so my boss agrees that this is the right way to do it. I don't think decisions on the schedule beyond that have been made yet; I have plenty of work to do, though.
I am also drinking green Darjeeling tea, as an extra not-very-caffeinated hot drink, because I coughed up enough phlegm to have me afraid I am getting a cold, possibly the one Cattitude just had. (And that's another reason to be glad I stayed home: the basic reasoning was that it would be easy enough to get downtown, but unpleasant if not dangerous to come home in late afternoon. (The city schools were closed preemptively.)
On the other hand, important things are still running: not only is the Sanitation Department plowing the streets, we had a knock an hour ago from a city housing inspector, asking if the heat was okay. Apparently they got an anonymous complaint, so instead of going to a specific apartment, he was going door to door. I told him ours was fine, and he reminded me of their phone number in case of any problems.