New Year and a Winter’s Birthday

The new year continues to take New England by storm, as below. Every few days more snow arrives, a few inches with each fall. While it might warm slightly and possibly mix with rain or dangerous ice, the few new inches continue to insure that we are never without a proper, downy, winter blanket.

Cars to Clean   More Snow in the Neighborhood

Smiles for the Camera

This weekend marked the celebration of my birthday. It is the kind of birthday observed scenario that MLK gets to ensure that everyone gets a Monday holiday. Since mine, this year, falls on a Tuesday, it seemed best to engage in the traditional eating of Italian beef sandwiches when my lovely wife, Ali, and her sister Keri (otherwise now known as Aunt “E!”) could both be present to share in the imported succulence of that Chicago delicacy. Of course we also had a traditional ice-cream cake. Hadley certainly enjoys that newer tradition perhaps most of all.

Preparing the Beef   Preparing the Sandwich   Get a Load of That Beef   Help from Hadley

As one might expect of Daddy’s girl, she is rather fond of the ice-cream. I think it would be safe to say we have discovered that eggnog flavor might be her favorite, but she was more than willing to knock down more than a fair share of the chocolate and vanilla layers of my birthday dish.

Ice-Cream Cake   Presentation of Birthday CakeBlowing Candles   Mmmm - Hadley Enjoying Ice-Cream Cake

The women in my life were wonderful to me, also presenting me with an array of wonderful gifts. My lovely Aunt sent me a shirt and some sweets, ingeniously wrapped in a puppy print paper. It was as if she knew that would keep Hadley interested. My wife and daughter gave me some great DVDs and my sister-in-law provided the Red Sox garb. All fantastic! The whole evening was great.

Opening Gifts from Afar   Daddy, Puppies!   Gift - Shirt   Gift - Red Sox

Winter Arrives: Hadley’s First Real Snow

So Autumn departed with haste as Winter chased her away a couple of days early. Within the last couple of weeks New England has taken a weather beating, to be sure.

Fallen Limbs   Some Neighbor's Damage

Just over a week ago the worst ice storm in years ravaged central Massachusetts with vengeance, knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of homes, ours included. Ali and I routinely awoke during the night of the storm to the sound of snapping tree limbs. It wasn’t until daylight that we could truly see the devastation. Our neighborhood looked as though it had been hit by a hurricane. While what trees that were left standing were beautiful, it was a dangerous beauty. As limbs continued to fall most of the morning, smashing into whatever lay in their way, most our cul-de-sac was plunged into the powerless.

Split Trees - Backyard   Hazardous Travel

No electricity and no heat resulted in our having to pack up the baby and vacate, seeking safe harbor at the in-laws for a spell, but not before our basement filled with five inches of seeping water. With no functioning sump pump, there was little we could do. Fortunately, we didn’t lose much. We were pretty well prepared to battle the occasional water in the basement. It has never been as bad as that, however.

Digging Out

Less than week later, while many in the area are still without power, the first major snow storm struck, and it had a mean streak. The snow arrived on Friday afternoon around 2:00PM and did not leave until 6:00PM Sunday. There is easily over a foot of white powder covering everything.

Mischief   Ready for the Elements

I Don't Know About This   Playing in the Snow - 1

As we headed out for one of our shoveling episodes, Hadley got to enjoy her first real look at the snow. She wasn’t completely sure what to make of it, but she was clearly fascinated. She has taken quite a liking to watching the snowplow trucks clear the street. As soon as she hears them rumbling down the street, she runs to the windows to catch a glimpse. It is quite cute, really.

Maybe this is fun!   Playing in the Snow - 2

Also During the Last Month

Considering there was about a month between the last two postings, a fair amount happened. In some ways the problem was it was all kind of happening at the same time and interfering with the updates. Between trying to wrap up the school year, short trips, visiting peoples, holiday celebrations, wedding preparations, and, of course, the World Cup, it seems like there has been nary a moment to craft any witty, or not so witty, postings.

Photo: Me and Davey in Rockport

One of the cooler things that happened in this time was that my brother David made his first trip to Boston. As part of a sales related job that he will be endeavoring to do over the summer, he arrived and spent most of the time in Quincy hotel for a couple of days, but made sure that he stuck around on the weekend so we could get together. Of course, all it did was rain! It seems like that has been the curse for anyone visiting us, buckets and buckets of rain. Still, we were able to run up the North Shore and show him some of the regular sites, despite the weather and limited time. It was a pretty nice time all things considered.

Photo: Me and Davey in Gloucester

Also during the last month, I made a return trip to perhaps my all-time favorite local event, the Scooper Bowl. Fortunately, I went on the best day of the run. The weather broke for a day or so and it was nothing but blue skies, sun, and dairy deliciousness. I hopped the train and raced downtown for all the ice cream I could inhale. As expected, it was absolutely fantastic! With a new personal best, I knocked down seventeen scoops in the span of a about a half an hour, an impressive increase over last year. This achievement filled me with a new found pride and exuberance. Yet, I have to mention that I felt like anything after a baker’s dozen was consumed by sheer force of will. This fact left me even more devastated when I was informed that Ali and her co-worker, Marlena, took this feat as a kind of throwing down the gauntlet. Thus, they ventured to Government Center, site of the event, during a springtime noreaster, to eclipse my newly established record. First, Ali reached for and consumed an impressive twenty scoops, only to be outdone by Marlena, who bested everyone by racking up a stack of twenty-one cups filled with all the cool creamy goodness that the vendor creameries could provide. In a word, impressive!

Photo: Ali and Dave at Scooper Bowl

Photo: Marlena at Scooper Bowl

So, my tenure as ice cream champ was brief, but there is always next year. Plus, with an arch-nemesis, namely Marlena, I am confident I will be prepared for the challenge.