I can not tell a lie. I LOVED December in New England. Oh, not because it was winter–just the opposite in fact. Christmas Eve it was nearly 70F! I don’t ever remember that happening in my lifetime. But there was no hoping it could continue. But to make myself feel better, I thought I’d share with you some facts about snow. I’m not sure how the guys snuck in there. But try to suffer through the pictures if you don’t mind.

1. Almost 15.5 feet (475 cm) fell in Alaska over a 7 day period in 1957. (Well, with weather like that, you might as well crawl in bed and stay there.)

2. Snowflakes start as ice crystals that are the size of a speck of dust. When the crystals fall they join up with other crystals to form a snowflake which usually has six sides. (And six well-defined abdominal muscles is also a very pretty arrangement.)

3. In the early 1900s, skiers created their own terminology to describe types of snow, including the terms “fluffy snow,” “powder snow,” and “sticky snow.” Later, the terminology expanded to include descriptive terms such as “champagne powder,” “corduroy,” and “mashed potatoes.” (And I’m sure they’d name this one “yuuuummmy”.)

4. Each year an average of 105 snow-producing storms affect the continental United States. A typical storm will have a snow-producing lifetime of two to five days and will bring snow to portions of several states. (I don’t know ladies, do you think there’s enough of this guy to spread around?)

5. Snow at the North and South Pole reflect heat into space!! That happens because the ice acts like a mirror with the heat of the sun, and the heat bounces off the ice and into space. (Mirrors always seem to bounce spectacular views.)

6. Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is the only permanent snowcap within sight of the equator. (Of course if you’re looking really close, you may find something even more appealing within sight of the equator.)

7. There is NOT a law of nature that prohibits 2 snowflakes from being identical. (This is also true of humans.)

8. The largest piece of ice to fall to earth was an ice block 6 meters (20 ft) across that fell in Scotland on 13 August 1849. (If this guy was around … it would have melted quickly!)

9. Practically every location in the United States has seen snowfall. Even most portions of southern Florida have seen a few snow flurries. (This poor darling seems to be in desperate need of some ice … come visit me pretty boy.)

10. In Australia, snowfalls are common above 1,500m in the Alps during the winter, but there are no permanent snowfields anywhere on the continent. (It’s probably better if these gentlemen don’t worry about cold weather anyway.)

11. I heard once that snowflakes were pieces of clouds shaken loose when the angels danced with God. (Well, if that’s who’s dancing, who am I to be upset about some snow?)

12. Snow can be further classified into six basic patterns called: Needles, columns, plates, columns capped with plates, dendrites, and stars. (And these gentlemen can be classified as tall, dark, and dangerous.)

13. When cloud temperatures are at the freezing point or below, and there is an ample supply of moisture in the air, ice crystals form around a core particle. As water vapor condenses and freezes, the complex pattern of a snowflake is born, one molecule at a time. A snowflake’s hexagonal shape is born at the atomic level. It is here that water molecules bond together into … (Yeah, yeah whatever … bring on the eye candy!)

This isn’t the first time I’ve technically been in the path of a hurricane.

Twice while I lived in Maine hurricanes were scheduled to hit the coast. They shut down the city of Portland right on the coast and warned people inland to get ready. Mr. Nina and I did … we bought extra beer and pizza. Seriously. That night, despite dire warnings against it, we had a party with the other young people in our building complex. In the end, there was a lot of wind. I don’t think there was any rain, because I only remember standing outside in the balmy September night. I suspect the fuzziness of my memories has to do with the extra supplies we’d picked up. LOL!

But Irene is looking like the real deal and this time … I’m really nervous. Of course it doesn’t help that I won’t be here. I’m heading to northern Maine to gather up Baby Girl and get her moved down here with me. (Happy dance!)

So today I’m working to rain proof my apartment as best I can. (I’m worried the windows could blow in.) We’ve got plenty of water and canned food. So I’m not worried about any of that. But my three kitties will be here all by themselves. There’s nothing I can do about it. Hopefully I’m worried over nothing.

What about you? Have you ever been through a big weather event? How did you get through it?

Okay, so it’s snowing again in Maine. UGH! The world around me is cancelled. Well, except for the university where Baby Girl goes to school. What, are college kids so smart they can maneuver safely through blizzards that most sane people wouldn’t navigate? Oy Vay!

With this snow fall we should reach 13+ feet (4 meters) of snow. At the beginning of January we were having the 8th snowiest winter since records were being kept. Now, I think we’re only a foot from the record. The residents of my town are laughing and saying “bring it on”. Little Boy Blue has missed so much school he’ll be going until the end of June. (And he starts school mid-August… another blog for another time.) Poor thing will have no summer to speak of.

Since we’re on the verge of beating our all-time snowfall record I thought I would take this cold, winter day to share some interesting records I found through google.

1) HIGHEST TIGHTROPE WALK: Frenchman Michael Menin walked a 3,150 metre-high tightrope in 1989. (I can’t walk a straight line from the computer to the coffee pot…)

2) LONGEST ATTACK OF HICCUPS: Charles Osborne of the USA – 1922 to 1990. (Excuse me?)

3) FASTEST TALKER: In 1995, Canadian Sean Shannon recited Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy, 260 words, in 23.8secs. (I’m pretty sure I could give him a run for his money!)

4) MOST FEET SNIFFED: In a 15-year career, Madeline Albrecht sniffed 5,600 feet while working for footcare experts Dr Scholl in the USA. (That job stinks!)

5) MOST WATCHES EATEN: Kim Seung Do from Seoul, South Korea, ate five in 1hr 34mins in 1998. (Time to eat?)

6) LONGEST JOKE-TELLING MARATHON: In 1992, Mike Heeman of the USA cracked 12,682 in 24hrs. (That’s not even funny.)

7) MOST PEOPLE CRAMMED INTO A SMART CAR: 13 girls in Munich, Germany, in 1999. (Sneaking into the drive-in?)

8 LONGEST TIME WITH A NAIL IN THE HEAD: Robin Hanshaw of Stoke Poges, Bucks, had a one-inch rusty nail stuck between his ear and eye for 22 years. (Not tonight honey… I have a headache.)

9) MOST LIGHTNING STRIKES SURVIVED: Roy C Sullivan from Virginia, USA, was struck for the seventh time in 1977. (“Sent jolts of current to my fingers and toes” takes on new meaning.)

10) TALLEST LIVING WOMAN: Sandy Allen of the USA, at 7ft 7ins. (But even she would be buried under the snow in my back yard!)

So with those silly records and another being broken out my window… I’m off to do something productive with the rest of my day. Hope yours is peaceful and a happy one to put in the record books!

This is sooo not happening! Oh, but it is! Life in northern Maine is cancelled… AGAIN! The white stuff just keeps coming and coming and coming. It’s unbelievable!

As of yesterday we’ve had 9 feet of snow this winter. That’s 8 feet MORE than this time last year. Look up at your ceiling. Chances are it’s only 8 or 9 feet high. THAT’S how much snow we’ve had and another foot is expected today!!!

Granted, not all of it is on the ground. We did have a January thaw that melted a couple feet. But really… my driveway literally has a four foot wall of snow around it. The snowmobiles are covered under the foot we had the other day and I have to throw the snow UP to get it off my back steps.

Come on! I want to see this…

NOT this…

Is that really too much to ask? I just don’t think so.

Please don’t tell me to suck it up because it’s only February and there’s still lots of winter left… because another 2 months of this and we may just be buried until NEXT winter.

Oh, well, at least Peter and Meghan continue to scorch the pages of my manuscript. At least I have them to keep me warm! 

It is our right to complain and I exercise that right freely. I also realize for everything wrong in my life there is someone who has it so much worse. But my little rant yesterday about the snow in Maine seems so petty in light of the tornadoes that ripped through the south and tore homes and lives apart in a matter of minutes.

I just couldn’t let this day go by without letting people know my heart and prayers go out to the families affected by the horrible winter tornadoes.

Okay, Mother Nature. Enough is enough. Yesterday we got another foot of snow dumped on us. I’d like to say this picture is what I’m looking at out my window, but I have to thank Google for providing this image. But it’s so close to my back yard I couldn’t resist posting it here.

Beautiful? Yeah.

Annoying? You betcha!

The snowbanks are so tall (6-10 feet depending on how it’s piled) no one can see around them. Pulling out of a road is like a house of horror… you never know what’s coming at you. The towns are essentially running out of money, sand, and salt… so plowing isn’t done until the last flake falls. The roads have become a permanant white ribbon of hard packed ice, perfect for a horse drawn sleigh ride, not so hospitable for my little Honda.

Poor DH worked his usual 12 hours yesterday, schlepped home and spent about 3 hours snowblowing the drive. And of course, I can’t do anything more than stand in the window and cheer him on.

We have 4-5 feet of snow on the ground. More snow than we’ve had in the last 3 years combined. And… oh, fun! more snow is coming in all weekend (as in 3 days worth). I’m going to be buried until June!

Snow, snow disappear
Don’t come back for another year!
You’re cold and wet and not much fun,
I’d rather be basking in the sun!

But enough about the weather. This whole thing has made me wonder about the location of my stories. 5 novels into my career I realize I’ve set all but one of my stories in Maine. Why wouldn’t I? It’s what I know.

I did have one editor reject my novella saying that the story was good but the location didn’t pull her in. Huh. Got me to thinking. Do I read a book and pay attention to where I am or do I get so wrapped up in the characters that the location doesn’t matter? I didn’t used to read that way… now I do.

Now I understand that some stories like Sandra Brown’s Fat Tuesday (which is the first story that turned me on to her writing) need to be set in a specific locale. Her novel takes place in New Orleans and the location becomes another character. The heat and party atomosphere of Mardi Gras affect the story. It matters where they are. The plot is driven by the characters including the location.

But take Nicholas Spark’s The Notebook. Another winner. Love the book, love the movie… but I couldn’t tell you exactly where it all took place other than somewhere in the south.

So, do you care where the story is? Reading (especially romance) is a fantasy… I get that. It’s an opportunity to be drawn away from your world into some place new, exciting, perhaps a little scary. When you pick up a book do you want to be carried away to exotic places or is it the people that draw you in? Perhaps a balance of the two?

Because now, I’m curious.

I’m not very shy about voicing my displeasure with Maine winters. They’re cold, messy, and loooong. But I gotta tell you. There are some days, like last Saturday that even a cynic can enjoy.

The sun was out, casting blue shadows on the pristine snow. It was practically balmy at a very comfortable 25 degrees farenheit. So daughter, hubby, and I donned our very warm winter gear and climbed on the snowmobiles (called sleds here in northern Maine) and headed out into the woods.

Now, let me explain. Where I live, winter begins somewhere around the end of September and ends about a week before Memorial Day. Winter sports are a religion here (that and basketball… but that’s a blog for another day). Snowmobile trails are highways often times maintained better than some roads. They come complete with stop signs, curve ahead markers, route numbers, and signs pointing the way to local eateries. People can go most anywhere on a sled in northern Maine. One is just as likely to pull up behind a sled at the gas pump as a vehicle.

Needless to say, the ride was fabulous. Green firs weighed down with snow and deciduous trees with the last remnants of copper leaves hanging on their branches surrounded us. I was enjoying the solitude and the beauty… until of course we got lost. Lost men on sleds aren’t any better at asking for directions than men in cars. Now, in fairness to DH, the number of gas stations with bathroom facilities and friendly service attendants (both of which I could have used) are few and far between, but still… when you know you’re lost… stop, turn around, and go back to where you lost your way. Don’t keep driving into the depths of the northern woods hoping you’ll recognize some landmark. (That’s the stuff of news headlines!) Thankfully, we happened upon a lovely woman on snowshoes walking her dog, who smiled kindly and directed us off her property and back onto the trails.

So the answer is no, I didn’t pack up Santa and my Christmas tree, but I did manage to plot Meghan’s story. You see, it’s not exactly quiet on a sled, but there’s really nothing to clutter your mind, no television, no music, no voices calling my name (not real ones anyway), just me and my characters working to tell a story. So, like the nice lady on the snowshoes, Meghan showed me where I’d taken a wrong turn, pointed out some plot holes and now I’m working to find my way back and finish up her story.

Sometimes I actually enjoy winter!