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Ripples from Canandaigua Lake: Linda's blog


How a blizzard bought me a house

Boston had a big blizzard this weekend, and the news shows compared it to other historic storms in that area, including the Blizzard of '78. We had our own wintry weekend here in western New York, but all the snow talk reminded me of how the Blizzard of '78 treated me.

I stayed at home with my children from the time my son David was born in October 1971. Before that I was in college, and had never really had a job other than part-time as a high school or college student; and of course summer work. My second son Luke was born in June of 1973. Around the end of 1977, he was three and a half and I was eager to get a job that could be a first step toward a career. My husband Tom and I decided that I wouldn't be able to earn enough to afford child care, so I'd look for a weekend job. 

Tom, my sister, and my brother-in-law all worked at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Tom read the job postings and saw a job for a weekend unit secretary. He brought me home an application, and I was offered an interview on January 20, '78.

I bundled up the boys and we took the bus in to North Station from our apartment in Lynn, north of Boston, and walked over to the Mass General. Tom met us and looked after the kids while I had my interview. In those days we were not so tuned in to the weather forecast so I really had no idea what was coming...but the weather had already turned nasty. I was interviewed by the man who would be my boss, whose name was Ron, and he offered me the job. We talked about when I would start and he said, well, if you can't get out of the city today, come on in tomorrow, otherwise better make it next Saturday. I laughed, but ... it wasn't ridiculous. (By the way, I was never to see Ron again. He only worked weekdays, and I never did.)

I got the boys from Tom and we scuttled over to North Station, which is a train and bus hub. It was snowing hard ... and ... the buses didn't seem to be running. There was no notice or announcement, just hordes of people and no buses. We saw a woman from the town next to Lynn--Swampscott--whom I knew from volunteer work I did at the Museum of Science l;  she was in charge of the Snake House there and the boys adored her. She said, we'll never get home on the bus, but I bet the trains are running, let's go see. So we did, and we DID get a train to the Swampscott station, though the ride took forever and the train was jammed.

The train station was further from our house than the bus stop -- about three quarters of a mile. Not a problem in good weather, but this was NOT good weather. Only the main roads had been cleared at all, but cleared too narrowly to safely walk on with children. So we were wading through snow that was nearly up to my knees, in high wind and with heavy snow still falling. I carried Luke some of the way -- a three year old in a one-piece slick snowsuit is NOT a fun burden! -- but mostly he walked, and David walked all the way. They were champion walkers , thank goodness. It took us over an hour to get home in the wind and snow, and by then it was mid afternoon. Their cheeks were red as apples and their boots were stuffed with snow, their little hands so cold they felt hot. I stripped them and bundled them onto the couch under a pile of blankets and made hot cocoa all around.

Tom didn't make it home until Sunday. In those days they didn't have all those little ride-on snow blowers, and a place like Mass General, with all the courtyards and walkways, would put any staff to work with shovels at a time like that and he eventually brought home a paycheck with a hefty amount of overtime pay. The storm dropped something like 20 inches on Friday and Saturday. Please note: this was NOT the Blizzard of '78!

So I went for my first weekend of work on Saturday Jan 28, and my second weekend on Feb 4-5. The actual Blizzard of '78 started on Monday the 6th. So many cars were stranded on the highways that I-95 and 128 were like parking lots. There was a driving ban, not that you could have driven anywhere if you wanted to. I would not have remembered exactly, but I guess it was 27 inches of snow. They say the storm got stuck in New England and couldn't move along northeast, as it usually would have, because of a high-pressure mass in eastern Canada that blocked its route. So it snowed, and blew, and blew, and snowed. 

Tom had gone to work on Monday morning--he commuted by bus or train--and didn't come home until Friday night. I think he could have gotten a lift home on Wednesday, when the hospital was sending the National Guard to pick up a doctor in Swampscott to relieve in the Emergency Department, but he stayed instead. I hunkered down with the boys. We had plenty of provisions in the house and I don't think we ventured out to the market, even, until about Thursday. Tom had a much more massive amount of time on the clock that week, and when he got the big paycheck, we felt rich. But wait, there is more.

For some reason, even though I signed my time sheet every weekend, there was a snafu about getting me actually paid. The payroll was weekly, and every weekend I'd have a note from my boss apologizing and saying next week for sure there would be a check for me. By the time a check finally turned up, it was for five weekends of work. My pay was by no means huge, but five weekends? added to Tom's extra for the two storms? Well it was a blessing, because we were going to have to move from the building where we were living, since the new owners wanted to do up the apartment. Our rent had been low because the previous owners had left us in charge and gone overseas and a move would mean a serious rent hike. So we hit the real estate ads and found our sweet little house in Brockton--for sale with a low down payment since it had been a HUD house. We moved in late spring, just before Memorial Day.

That's the story about how the Blizzard of '78 bought me my first house.




This evening I was looking around the "forum" on Ravelry, the awesome website for knitters and crocheters. I dropped a few comments into a few discussion threads but there was nothing going on that really engaged my interest, until I found a slightly sad story from a woman across the country from me. She had knitted two woolen hats and given them as gifts, and later found them in a Goodwill store, obviously never worn. 

There were over 150 posts, mostly sympathetic. Knitters have an adjective for people who are suitably happy to receive knitted gifts: "knit-worthy." Many of the people writing in the thread had stories of friends and family who were NOT "knit-worthy" and who could count on getting Starbucks gift cards for Christmas instead of warm handmade cowls, mittens, and socks. 

I have my own happy story of a knitted gift that was given with love and received with appreciation. Early last year my niece had a very, very tiny preemie baby, weighing less than two pounds. We all prayed for months for this tiny girl, so fragile. I knitted her a very tiny sweater and hat, even though I knew she might never wear them because she was in the hospital. I was OK with that, wanted her parents to have the clothes anyway.

The baby got stronger and bigger, and they started putting clothes on her at the hospital. One day my niece posted a picture of the baby, still very tiny and still in the hospital, wearing the sweater I had made for her. It made my heart sing.

Well, the baby continued to thrive, and eventually went home. When she made her very first outing to a family “do,” weighing over five pounds and with chipmunk cheeks and sausage thighs -- yes, my niece had squeezed her into the tiny sweater! It was so funny and cute, and I’ll never, ever forget my first view of this little angel (who is still thriving).

My niece -- knit-worthy in the extreme.


NOTE: I'll have to think about renaming this page: the ripples in my life are now from Canandaigua Lake in New York State. I never move far from water, it seems.



An early start for the white stuff

November 6 is pretty early for this kind of thing, but Mother Nature gave us this wake-up call today in Avon, Maine.  

We don't let a bit of slush on the roads keep us at home, so here I am on my way to work. Got the coffee, the car keys, and the brush to clear snow off the windshield. Ready to go! 

Of course the snow was mostly melted by the end of the day but it felt like an early warning of a very snowy winter.  

 Our granddaughters from Australia will be here in February and they've never played in the snow, so I'm hoping we have plenty of the white stuff for them.   

Snow is so pretty and fresh at the beginning of the winter, but by February we're usually tired of it. This year I expect it will be pretty and fresh again for us in February when we see it for the first time through their eyes.

Linda in Maine



Autumn is here, it's time to knit

Now that the leaves are falling and we've had our first little bit of snow here in Maine, it's time to settle down to some serious knitting. What a piece of good luck that one of our favorite knitters has made it so very tempting! Jared Flood's knitting blog, Brooklyn Tweed, showcases his love for good yarn and pleasing design, with gorgeous photography and authoritative writing. Jared's own designs are often seen in knitting books and magazines. Now in partnership with Classic Elite yarns, Jared has produced Made in Brooklyn, a booklet featuring thirteen projects worked in Classic Elite yarn, all named after streets in Brooklyn, designed and photographed by Jared. In an unusual marketing strategy, the patterns will all be available individually for download from the crazy-popular knitters' hangout site, ravelry dot com. 

Like every other knitter out here, I'm rushing to finish my current projects (or ... maybe not all of them) so I can play with some of the patterns included here. 

The collection features four hats. The star is Quincy, a unisex creation that has Jared all over it, in the garter stitch and the simple but (in typical Jared-speak) "non-traditional" twisted construction. If the temperature dips where you live, you WILL be seeing this hat everywhere this winter.

There is also Laurel, a cabled beret, and the colorwork Beaumont in tam or beanie version. Yummy, that one, especially with the slight angora halo. 

There are two sweaters for men, full of classic style: a spectacular stranded colorwork hooded cardigan that's knit in the round and steeked -- that means cut up the middle with scissors after the body is knit; and a pullover with stranded yoke design. For women there is a henley neck pullover, a collared vest with cap sleeves that looks great for layering, and a wonderful solid-colored pullover with sideways cables winding around the yoke and cuffs. This is Seneca, definitely an object of desire!  

 Jared's unique way with lace gives us a laceweight rectangle and a truly luxurious cashmere stole in a heavier gauge. It's all in the blocking, he claims but something tells me there's a bit of knitting to be done first. 
The collection finishes up with a pair of ornate twisted-stitch mittens and a pair of quirky but super-practical crocheted earmuffs. 

There you have it--thirteen designs from a designer known for great lines and meticulous patterns; and all done in satisfying quality yarns. I'm ready for winter, bring it on!