rivka: (her majesty)
Yesterday it was 105 degrees in Baltimore. Today's high was 104. At nearly midnight, it's cooled down to 96 degrees.

It's hot.

But really it goes beyond hot. It's punishing. We live in an elderly three-story brick rowhouse without central air. When we turn on the cold tap, the water trickles out at blood temperature. When I hold the banister coming downstairs, my hand comes away hot. The hardwood floors soak up the heat and radiate it unpleasantly to our feet. The rooms we air condition - the living room during the day, the study in the evening, the bedrooms at night - eventually become tolerable, but when we step out into the hall the heat immediately encloses and stifles us. It is tangible, like being slapped in the face by cotton candy.

The kitchen becomes intolerable after ten in the morning. Cooking is barely to be thought of. No one is hungry except Colin, anyway.

It is hard to drink enough to keep up with the fluid loss. Nothing is cold enough for me. I drink down a pint of water and still feel thirsty.

Last night, without warning, we lost power to almost half the house. A strange assortment: our bedroom had lights but no AC. Our bathroom and hall had no lights, but Colin's room, also on the third floor, had lights and AC. The study, lights but no AC and no power to our computer network. No lights in the kitchen, pantry, Alex's bathroom. Alex's room had AC and the ceiling light but no night light.

Michael spent an hour or more trying to track down the problem. None of the breakers appeared to have been tripped. Fiddling with them produced no effect. We finally dragged the futon from the playroom into the living room, which still had AC, and slept on the floor there.

This morning the landlord's handyman got the power back on in 15 seconds. It turns out that we have two breaker boxes in the basement, in two different rooms. Michael knew the location of one of them and I knew the location of the other. Neither one of us knew that there were two.

Even with all our AC units available, it is still ungodly hot. We have to be stingy about how we run them, because of the power overload. Also they are not very efficient, and the house is not well-insulated, and the rooms which don't have AC units are vast reservoirs of intolerable heat and humidity.

Alex was up past 11 tonight. She complains that her throat is scratchy and dry, but I think it's just too damn hot to sleep.

How's the weather by you?
rivka: (christmas penguins)
A Blizzard Warning remains in effect until 7 PM EST this evening.

* Precipitation type... snow and blowing snow.

* Accumulations... 10 to 20 inches. Drifts of 2 to 4 ft possible.

* Timing... snow will continue through the afternoon. Gusty winds
will continue into this evening.

* Temperatures... mid and upper 20s.

* Winds... 25 to 35 mph with gusts around 55 mph. Blowing and
drifting snow will reduce visibilities to a quarter mile or less
at times... producing blizzard conditions.

Precautionary/preparedness actions...

A Blizzard Warning means severe winter weather conditions are
occurring. Do not venture outside. This is a life threatening
situation for anyone who becomes stranded.


I read Alex a couple of chapters of Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Long Winter - not the scary part where they're starving to death and burning hay for heat, but an early blizzard. It helped for atmosphere and a sense of perspective. We are warm and cozy inside our food-filled, well-insulated house.
rivka: (christmas penguins)
We had above-freezing temperatures and sun for a while today, and some of the snow melted. But they're still predicting 10-20 inches of snow starting late this afternoon, as well as "near-blizzard conditions." A few light flakes have started to fall. The public schools have just given up and closed for the rest of the week. My university was closed yesterday and today - I can't think of any other time that's ever happened. I expect that it will close tomorrow as well. And Michael's office will be closed tomorrow, which his boss said has never happened because of weather before.

I took the kids out today, cautiously picking my way through the snowdrifts with Colin in a front carrier. We went back to the neighborhood grocery to see if the milk truck had arrived (nope) and hit the art store for some emergency keeping-Alex-busy supplies. She's doing remarkably well with being cooped up, poor kid. To help keep us pleasantly occupied we're doing some advance homeschooling, which you can follow on my other blog if you wish.

I have never experienced weather like this in my life. And I've lived in both upstate New York and Iowa.
rivka: (WTF?!)
The National Weather Service in Sterling Virginia has issued a
Winter Storm Warning for... which is in effect from noon Tuesday
to 7 PM EST Wednesday. The Winter Storm Watch is no longer in
effect.

* Precipitation type... snow.

* Accumulations... 10 to 20 inches.

* Timing... mid-afternoon Tuesday through Wednesday.

* Temperatures... temperatures near freezing at the onset Tuesday
afternoon. Temperatures will drop into the upper 20s Tuesday
night and Wednesday.


This is no joke, guys.

The roads are bad enough that even though Michael dug the car out with the help of a passing entrepreneur-with-shovel, I'm not comfortable with the idea of taking the kids out tomorrow morning to forage for groceries. So when he got home from work today (he walked, with difficulty), I walked (with difficulty) to our little neighborhood grocery store to see what they might have still on the shelves, knowing that they wouldn't have gotten a delivery yet.

No milk, no eggs, not much fruit or fresh vegetables, no artisanal bread or whole wheat sandwich bread. I got the last loaf of decent-quality sandwich white; after that, all that was left was those long loaves of cheap squishy white. They did have some meat. I got chicken breasts, a small piece of beef, bacon, chicken apple sausages. I was able to restock our supply of pasta and buy supplies for baking cookies. (Fortunately, we already had eggs. And butter.)

The main roads have been plowed, at least in our immediate neighborhood. The secondary roads haven't. I have no idea when I'm going to be able to get back to work or when Alex is going to be able to get back to school. I have no idea when we'll be able to go to church or the library or, well, anywhere but the house and garden, with occasional forays to the drugstore or neighborhood grocery.

While I was waiting to check out at the grocery store, I heard the owner ask an older man who came up to the customer service window:

"You lived in Baltimore all your life?"

"Yeah."

"Is this the worst you've ever seen?"

"Yeah."

Ten to twenty more inches, guys. Ten to twenty more inches.
rivka: (christmas penguins)
My mothering skillz: Let me show U them.

snow_fort

The picture I took of the antechamber/courtyard didn't turn out as well. This is a hollowed-out but roofless section of snowdrift. Alex is reclining on a little snow bench.

snow_fort2

She has taken to shouting out from time to time, "It's the SNOWPOCALYPSE!" I'm glad we've raised her well.
rivka: (christmas penguins)
24 inches of snow in the garden, drifting in places to more than 36. Even the semi-protected walkway between our house and next door has 20 inches of snow in it.

It's still falling.

garden

more pics )
rivka: (Christmas hat me)
It's not supposed to snow like this in Maryland. And yet here we are, waiting for our second two-foot snowfall of the season. (Michael has dubbed it Snowpocalypse II: Electric Boogaloo.)

I am at work, but not for long. Our nanny came for a few hours this morning, but both of us agreed that we'd like to be home before the blizzard conditions start. Baltimore City schools are closing at 11:40, so she'll have to pick up her kid by then, so I'll have to get home to my kids before that. (Why did I come in to work at all? If you had ever been snowed in for the weekend with two vocal and demanding small children, you wouldn't have to ask. A couple of hours of quiet and self-directed adult activities = priceless.)

I went to the grocery store yesterday morning, before the panicked rush. We have bread and milk and eggs and toilet paper (French toast emergency!), as well as plenty of fruit, various staples, diapers and baby wipes, and enough meat for 5 days of dinners. We have a bag of salt for the front steps, shovels, snow gear, hot cocoa mix. I have laid in a stock of trashy mystery novels from the library. We have plenty of household tasks to keep us occupied, like moving into our new study.

Let it snow.
rivka: (christmas penguins)
Holy crap! They've been predicting a snowstorm for a few days now, but now the NWS prediction is for 10 to 20 inches of snow. In Maryland. Starting tonight.

The city is going to completely and utterly grind to a halt. Baltimore is not at all capable of dealing with a snowstorm like that.

I fear for my Christmas pageant! There's no way that the kids are going to make it to church Sunday morning.

Also, we have now slipped from "good luck trying to get anyone at work to get anything done early next week" to "there isn't a chance in hell that anyone at work is going to even be there to get anything done early next week."

At least I have finished my Christmas shopping and gotten packages into the mail, and we have food in the refrigerator. And Alex is going to be in seventh freaking heaven. The past two years have only ever seen a dusting of winter snow in Baltimore. Four years old and almost two feet of snow at Christmas!
rivka: (her majesty)
This morning I walked into the Institute and was not met by the customary blast of cold air in the lobby.

The air conditioning is out. So is the water. We have no working bathrooms and no cooling. It is August in Baltimore. This is a research facility in which people need to be able to, at a minimum, wash their hands.

Have they closed the Institute? No, of course not. Why would you think that? "Please use the restrooms in the Allied Health building."

I could go spend the morning in the library, and then the afternoon in the clinic. Except that I have to pump three times a day. When I'm at the clinic I pump in the room we use to see research subjects, which opens on to the waiting room and has no lock for the door. I put up a bunch of "do not enter" signs and pray, and I try not to have to pump there more than once a day. There's no private place to pump in the library, except maybe a bathroom stall. If bathroom stalls even have electrical outlets.

If I go home, I won't get anything done, because the kids will be there. I'd either have to pay the nanny and send her home (it wouldn't be fair to ask her to lose a day of pay without warning), or have her stay and try to keep the kids away from me while I hole up in my bedroom. pumping while she gives Colin bottles. That makes no sense.

Wait, okay, while I was typing this an e-mail came through from the COO:

As you all know, we have no water to the building. Campus Facilities is now saying that it will likely be back on in an hour. Meanwhile, one thing that is clear is that there is no safety water pressure in the labs. Therefore until further notice, please suspend all lab work that could possibly require safety water in an emergency.

We are still assessing overall building impact based on Campus Facilities repair predictions and will send more communications re: that soon – please let me know if you have any questions.


Okay, an hour. That's not so bad. I am crossing my fingers and hoping that the air conditioning will come back when the water does.
rivka: (smite)
I almost never drive to work because parking is such an issue. But today I had my shrink appointment, so I drove. Came back and parked across the street from my office. This is a major thoroughfare, no rush hour parking allowed, and many's the time I've seen tow trucks lined up at the corner at 3:55, waiting to tow the unpunctual or unwary.

But I figured, no problem, I'd move my car by four. It was the only spot I could find, anyway.

I went in to work. Drama happened. Extensively. I did my best to negotiate around the drama without getting any stuck to me. I pumped. I did some work. At 4:30, I packed up my things and, as I always do, walked briskly to the light rail. I was a block away from the light rail stop when I remembered that I had driven to work, and where I had left my car.

Futilely, I turned around and walked all the way back, just on the tiniest million-to-one chance that it hadn't yet been towed. Of course it had. I trudged back to the light rail. Two trains roared past, one after the other, while I was a block or so away.

I stood on the platform, dejected. As I waited for the next train, the temperature dropped by about fifteen degrees. Black clouds rolled in on the chilly wind. Lightning flickered, first in the distance, then quite close up. The first drops of rain fell just as I got on the train. By the time I got off, lightning was flashing all around, thunder close at its heels, chilly needles of rain whipping in as I struggled to keep the wind from blowing the umbrella out of my hand.

Awfully convenient thunderstorm. If my life were a book, I would be rolling my eyes right now and muttering about the pathetic fallacy.
rivka: (her majesty)
It was 16 degrees F (-9 C) when I came to work today.

If I had enjoyed the weather in Iowa? I would have stayed in Iowa.
rivka: (family)
I was going to make a post complaining about how cold it is here - it was 14 F when I took Alex to school this morning, and has subsequently warmed up to a balmy 16. Then I read through my friends page and saw how cold it is where most of you live. So never mind.

Although I must say: I have an excellent coat for weather like this. It is the thigh-length parka I bought when I lived in Iowa. It is wool-lined and Polartec-filled and Gortex-topped, and the hood snaps across the lower face so that only the eyes are exposed.

There is no way in hell that it would zip over my belly.

I suppose I should be counting my blessings. It's fortunate that my standard winter coat (ankle-length double-breasted wool, although it only buttons down to the midriff) does close over my belly. It's fortunate that I have maternity tights I can wear under my slacks for additional warmth. And even more fortunately? The portable electric heater I bought for my office arrived earlier this week. Just in time.
rivka: (Baltimore)
I feel much differently about snow showers when I am wearing my ankle-length wool coat and gloves, and carrying a cup of hot tea in my hand.

Funny, that.

It's not supposed to stick, but... I know it's normal for many of you to see snow before the end of November, but this is totally bizarre for Baltimore.
rivka: (travel)
Michael came to pick me up from work, yay. The car thermometer said 39 degrees. Before I went to get Alex from nursery school, Michael got my long wool coat and scarf from the attic, and I brought Alex's winter coat with me to school as well. It really was much, much colder today than I expected it to be.

I used some of my cancelled-meeting time to book the mini vacation we've been planning. We're going to Williamsburg VA, a.k.a. Colonial Williamsburg, for Thanksgiving. Michael and I have never been there before. We recognize that we're not going to see all that much of it with a three-year-old, but I think it will be fun regardless.

For those who are unfamiliar, Colonial Williamsburg is a massive recreation of the town as it was in the 18th century, with hundreds of houses, stores, and other buildings rebuilt on their original foundations, furnished appropriately, and populated by costumed historical interpreters. You can watch blacksmiths and weavers at work, visit a plantation and talk to both the slaves and the "family," go into a coffeehouse or tavern and be swept into a debate about whether the Colonies should revolt. The farms have 18th century breeds of livestock and grow 18th century crops.

I think the historical aspects of it (the Revolutionary War debates, the opportunity to speak to Thomas Jefferson) will be utterly uninteresting to Alex, which means that Michael and I will probably miss out on those aspects as well. But I know she'll enjoy visiting the farms and watching the artisans work, and we will too. And I know it will be lovely just to have several days to relax together as a family.

I've reserved us a room - well, sort of a cross between a room and a suite - at the Springhill Suites Hotel. It has an indoor pool and a hot tub, which I think all three of us will enjoy, and serves a free hot breakfast every day. We'll have Thanksgiving dinner at the Williamsburg Hospitality House, and we're planning to go to a seafood feast on Friday night. (Key phrases: "featuring sushi of the moment" and "children 5 and under are free." Little do they know what they're getting into.) Saturday night we may try a tavern in the historical area featuring period singing and games.

We have a whole series of contingency plans, depending on the weather. If it's cold and rainy we may not even wind up touring the historical area, but there are plenty of other attractions locally: the Mariner's Museum, for example, and the Virginia Living Museum, which seems to be a sort of a Biodome. If the weather is great, we may try to find an ocean beach so we can take a walk and look for shells. Alex has never seen the ocean, not for real. (She's seen the harbor, obviously.) If we love the historical area, we may spend two days there and not see any other attractions.

I think it will be wonderful.
rivka: (Baltimore)
HOLY FUCK, IT'S SNOWING IN BALTIMORE.

I am wearing a canvas field jacket over a thin cotton maternity shirt. The jacket can't be buttoned at the bottom. I have a six-block walk to the light rail when I leave work, followed by a three-block walk from the light rail stop to my house.

Updated to add: Okay, flurries have stopped, but still. That is ridiculous.
rivka: (smite)
Dear vehicular traffic,

If you are driving along a downtown street with heavy foot traffic, and it is raining hard, and there are massive puddles in the gutters, there is no law that says you must slow down to avoid throwing sheets of icy water up onto pedestrians.

However, if you don't do so? Then you are an asshole.

Sincerely,

Woman who is soaking wet up to the thighs despite carrying a golf umbrella.
rivka: (alex pensive)
I fell asleep on the couch at around 8:30 last night, just after putting Alex to bed. Woke up long enough to drink a bunch of water and take my medicine, and went upstairs to bed around 9:30.

Which was good, I guess, because it meant I'd had just about a full night's sleep when Alex woke up at 4:30am. Read more... )
rivka: (panda pile)
I'm a little embarrassed about how long this post is. But so much happened! Most of it good! Read more... )
rivka: (travel)
We're leaving in the morning for Montreal, by way of a visit to [livejournal.com profile] kcobweb in Williamstown MA. We're going to be spending New Year's with [livejournal.com profile] papersky, [livejournal.com profile] rysmiel and others. Yay!

We decided to rent a car for the trip. Our Corolla has been going through oil at a fairly alarming rate, and we figured that for a 1200-mile round trip, the peace of mind would be well worth the rental fees. Michael combed the internet for rental companies willing to let us take a car into Canada, and found us a nice deal at Alamo where they'd give us a full-sized car for the price of a mid-sized. When we got to the rental spot, the guy who showed me to the cars offered me a choice: they had two Chevy Malibus, or, although it wasn't technically in the class I had paid for, they could also put me in a Volvo. The Volvo in question turned out to be an S60, their "entry-level luxury" model. It's got everything from an electronic compass mounted in the rear-view mirror to heated seats. We're going to be riding in style.

I think we're going to be glad for the extra vehicle weight, too. It looks as though upstate New York and southern Quebec are expecting 3-5 inches of snow tomorrow night, which means we'll be driving through the Adirondacks on recently plowed roads. Given that we're taking the Interstate all the way to the border, through regions accustomed to dealing with snow, I don't think we'll have too much trouble as long as we don't try to get an early start leaving Williamstown on Saturday. But driving a larger, heavier car will probably be more comfortable than driving our lightweight little Toyota.

I'm really looking forward to the trip. I was so sorry to miss the Farthing parties this year and last year. Jo was absolutely wonderful to invite us for New Year's! And Alex has been making up stories about her visit to [livejournal.com profile] kcobweb's daughter Elena for days.
rivka: (travel)
We have arrived home safely from my parents' house, only 24 hours late. Yesterday the weather really was miserable. We didn't get the foot-plus of snow that had been forecast, but the two lesser snowfalls we did get were sandwiched around a lengthy episode of freezing rain.

Today the driving wasn't bad, except for a substantial amount of glare that made it hard to tell whether the road ahead was icy or just wet. So it was a little tense at times, but we made it home just fine.

Yay, home.

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