Saturday, December 9, 2017

Graupel Strikes Again!

I posted this on Facebook:

You know I’m still enthralled with snow and almost all winter precipitation in Maine. You can keep the ice but then again how would I have ever met graupel if I hadn’t moved here. Yesterday morning there was a brief bit of precipitation. It looked like graupel to me until I looked more closely. Check out the Star of David-shaped bits of frozen water!

And got this cool reply from a friend:

These photos made me think of this verse:
 Job 38:22
“Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail,”

Friday, March 18, 2016

What is that wintry precipitation??

This is the weirdest precipitation. It consists of tiny little white balls that melt pretty much on contact but are very cold. They look like Styrofoam pellets. Is this miniature hail? (Very elusive; hard to photograph. Ignore the dirty car in the background and look at the bottom of the window. I took the picture from inside my car looking at the stuff on the outside ledge of my car with the dirty car in the parking spot next to me.)

I really wanted to know what it was so I went to the ultimate source: Facebook. Here's the ensuing conversation:

From a friend in Colorado: We get those here too. I know, they are weird.
From my cousin in Florida: Looks like hail to me?
I reply: It's softer than hail. It's like a tiny snow ball. 
From a friend here in Farmington: Sleet
I reply: It doesn't look like any sleet I've ever seen before. Too dry...sleet is icier and wetter in my experience. Now I'm going to have to look up the science of sleet to see how one word can encapsulate two such different things!
From a friend in Texas: This is why Scandinavian countries have a dozen different words for all the different types of snow.
Tomorrow, I leave for Galveston with the Butterfly Friends. One of them replies: Galveston is going to feel so good!   
Next comes a URL from a Farmington friend: The pic isn't good, but from your description and photo - and they aren't that unusual here. smile emoticon 

From that website:
When you think of wintry precipitation, you probably think of snow first. Then sleet, and maybe freezing rain. But it’s likely that the word “graupel” doesn’t come to mind.

Graupel, which is a kind of hybrid frozen precipitation, is sometimes referred to as “snow pellets.” The National Weather Service defines graupel as small pellets of ice created when super-cooled water droplets coat, or rime, a snowflake.

Graupel pellets are cloudy or white — not clear like sleet — and often are mistaken for small hail. The most critical necessity for the formation of graupel is extremely cold air at the cloud level. This creates the super-cooled water (liquid water that exists below the freezing point), which adheres to the snowflakes.

Then she posted this photo which looks just like what I saw:

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

How to know if ice is safe

As a Texan, I'm used to warnings, procedures, and tips about safety when it comes to tornadoes. After all, Texas has more tornadoes strike than any other state. The injuries and damage are devastating and even more so when you realize that most of the time, there was nothing that could be done to prevent it. And then there are always those that don't heed the warnings and do foolish things and suffer their own consequences. And if you're not from Texas (or any other tornado state), this all seems rather foreign. Today, the shoe was on the other foot as I read an article in this month's Franklin Focus called "Ice: Is It Safe?" The article opens with "Each year about this time, the Maine Warden Service urges us to use extreme caution before venturing out onto any ice that may be covering Maine's waterways." Those wardens must be as frustrated as Texas Department of Public Safety officials who get the message out year after year only to have a few who ignore the information. Alas. Humans will be human.

Meanwhile, did you know there was such a thing as an Ice Strength Table? Check it out! The directions say "Never guess the thickness of the ice. Check it! Check the ice in several different places using an auger or some other means to make a test hole and determine the thickness. Make several, beginning at the shore, and continuing as you go out. Check the ice with a partner so if something does happen, someone is there to help you. If you are doing it alone, wear a life jacket."

Here's where it should start to be obvious, even if you aren't from Maine or didn't grow up in places that have ice over bodies of water: "If ice at the shoreline is cracked or squishy, stay off!" I also liked this piece of advice: "Parents should alert children of unsafe ice in their area, and make sure that they stay off the ice. If they insist on using their new skates, suggest an indoor skating rink."

Modified from the Northeast Logger Magazine, 1968.

Inches of Ice
Permissible Load for Clear Blue Ice
Unsafe for humans
One person on foot
Group in a single file
Snowmobiles & ATV’s
Passenger car (2 tons)
Light truck (2.5 tons)
Note: The above table is for clear blue ice on lakes and ponds.

Here's some interesting math: "Reduce the strength values by 15% for clear blue river ice." So 2" is safe for 85% of one person on foot? Maybe it's 2.33" to be safe for one person on foot?

And I'm not sure what this means, but I'm fascinated: "Slush ice is only 50%  the strength of blue ice."

There's no mention of what to do when the ice is covered by snow.

It turns out, I don't really have to worry about any of this. My motto is: "Stay off the ice unless ice fishing and then trust the people you're with to know if it's safe." And only go ice fishing with someone who does it all the time without consuming adult beverages.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

After the Fest

How can you top a day of fun and frivolity at the Summerfest? Go to Sue's for "tea on the porch"! Lovely tuna salad sandwiches and several yummy deserts to choose from. Lots more great conversation and good times with really good friends.

Historical Tour of Farmington

The highlight of Summerfest for us was the historical tour of downtown Farmington in a horse-drawn wagon with the amazing Paul Mills.

North Woods Law

Local celebrity, Kris MacCabe, a warden on the television show North Woods Law (and a real warden in real life) was at Summeriest signing autographs. Maggi was beside herself (and beside him in the photo).


Summerfest Entertainment

Demonstrations, music, food, dancers on stilts, crafts and wares for sale… Summerfest has it all!

Summerfest Fun

Today is Summerfest in Farmington. Maggy, Stephanie, and Margaret all met at my place and we walked into town (all .5 blocks). First stop: story telling at The Octagon House. But it wasn't any ordinary story. Jane Parker read from her newest children's book "Lily of the North" about Lillian Nordica, a famous opera singer of the 1800's/1900's who is from Farmington. 20+ years ago, UMF put on an operetta about Madame Nordica. Jane played Lillian (because she can really sing), Margaret played the Aunt, and Maggy was a dresser and helped Jane with all her costumes changes (8 of them). So today, they are reunited and we have officially kicked off our version of Summerfest which turns out to be just one big reunion…how many people can we run into that we know?

L to R: Maggy, Jane, Margaret

Saturday, July 11, 2015

A lazy Saturday

Ahh, it's a beautiful Saturday morning in Maine. The sun is shining, the high will only be in the lower 80's. Let's just go for a walk around town.

 At the County Court House parking lot, it's the Saturday Farmer's Market. It's not too big--it's Farmington-sized. This is our first food truck to come to the Farmer's Market. This one specializes in burritos with all natural and fresh ingredients...appropriate for our Farmer's Market.

Here's my friend Ashley putting on a cooking demonstration of yummy things that can be made with fresh ingredients available at today's market (including garlic scapes...I never know what to do with those garlic scapes when they show up in my farm share box...she made a pesto with them).

I bought one of those burritos and then walked over to Meetinghouse Park (directly across the street from the Court House and next to the Court House parking lot) and enjoyed some fresh summer air and beautiful greenery while eating my burrito.

A walk down Main Street delivers the good news that the empty shop left from Trask's closing (due to retirement) is going to be filled soon.

A stop to pick up my these original 1936 mailboxes.

Between the old Trask's and the Post Office is a great little grocery store. Tranten's is part of a "chain" of family-owned stores...all 2 of them.

The rider of this motorcycle felt safe enough to leave his/her backpack with the bike.

I stopped at Devaney, Doak & Garrett Booksellers to look at some books but also to buy a ticket to the children's theater camp production of Peter Pan, Jr. They just keep a box with the tickets and the cash under the counter and sell the tickets as a service to the community because that's what you do in a small town.

And all this action is less than 2 blocks from my apartment. I love living in Farmington!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Even Librarians Don't Know

This story has a Maine twist to it, but it's also about another state I love: New Mexico.

New Mexico is the only state in the country that has "USA" on its license plates. The reason being...there are many Americans who don't know New Mexico is a state. You think I'm kidding, but it's very true. I've witnessed it myself many times. In college, when I told people I was going to New Mexico for Christmas, I would get asked, "Do you have your passport?" I overheard a tourist at Old Town in Albuquerque say to a shop clerk, "I'm surprised how many people speak English in your country." This news story actually doesn't have anything to do with the fact that people don't know that New Mexico is a state, the story just reminded me how poor some people's understanding of geography is.

So here's the story from the Kennebec Journal/Morning Sentinel papers:
By Kaitlin Schroeder Staff Writer

"Twice this month, books bound for the Farmington Public Library have taken a wrong turn and ended up in Farmington, N.M.

"Assistant director Jen Scott said patrons frequently request books from other libraries through an interlibrary loan.

"The Farmington Public Library in New Mexico was accidentally sent books — twice — meant for Farmington Public Library in Maine, so the New Mexico library sent them on to Maine with the notes shown here.

"On April 9, a package arrived at the library from the library in Farmington, N.M. In it was a book that had inadvertently been returned to the southwestern state.

"'The package was from Farmington Public Library to Farmington Public Library, which was kind of comical,' said Scott.

"Later in April, a different library lending the Farmington library material made the same mistake and sent its package to Farmington, N.M.

"Scott said she isn’t sure what states the senders lived in.

"She said she sent an email to the New Mexico library to thank them for returning the books, and the staff wrote back saying they couldn’t remember this ever happening before.

(photo linked from

Saturday, April 25, 2015

I love snow but...

A group of us were carpooling to Bangor this morning. We were just talking about how this semester has felt particularly long and grueling and were brainstorming the contributing factors. Just as we came up with the fact that "it's been such a long winter and even though it's spring on the calendar, it doesn't feel or look like spring at all," this started happening outside. Yep. That's snow coming down. April 25 and it's snowing. When we got to Bangor, we met up with some folks from Fort Kent  who told us they left home with 2" of snow on the ground. Welcome to Maine.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Sunrise Service

I love the Ecumenical Easter Sunrise Service! It's a 30-year tradition. The gathering is always in the same spot (a driveway of a family on Voter Hill....when the first family sold the house, the new owners inherited the privilege). Today started with clear but cold (22 degree) skies and a beautiful sunrise. Traditionally, there's a trumpeter for musical accompaniment and this year, we also had a bagpiper.

Each year, the local Christian congregations choose something for the service and lead it. It may be scripture, prayer, a relevant reading, music, etc. There is no 'overall' leader of the service. Each church will begin and lead their portion. "The pieces are unique but come together and make a truly moving ecumenical service." Just follow the program and the prayer and song magically happens.

There's the sun! Let the worship begin!

The opening song was presented by the "Easter Singers--an ecumenical chorus." That was new to me this year (I didn't make the last few years).

And after the service, we're all invited for light refreshments and fellowship inside the home of the family whose driveway we gather on. The family pretty much just lets the fellowship committee come in and take over the first floor of their home. By 8:00, everyone was gone and there was no sign that we had ever been there, due to a really good cleanup committee.

I met new people and chatted with some old friends. It was a glorious way to start Easter celebration!

...and then it snowed. As we were leaving around 7:45am, tiny snow flakes were starting to fall.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

"The End" of The Yellowstone Adventure

This blog entry is about one of my travels, so it goes in my travel blog. But it *ends* up in Maine with an adventure that could only happen in Maine and so it belongs in my Life with the Mainiacs blog, too. It's a double entry.

I had 36 hours in Denver and then it was time to pack it all back up and head out again. I acquired a lot of goodies in Albuquerque, so I borrowed a suitcase from my mom. I was able to stuff my purse into my usual carryon, so now I can check two (the black bag and the big orange bag) and take two on board... a carryon bag (the smaller orange bag) and a personal item (the orange striped bag. With enough wheels and straps and creativity and agility, I can actually make my way into the airport without any assistance. What a traveler!

On Dec. 18, when I left, I drove to Boston and Rodney and I did an amazing car swap. I picked him up at Logan's terminal C and he dropped me off at terminal E. Then he had the use of my car for the 9 days he was in town and parked my car at the Portland Transportation Center on Dec. 27. It saved me paying 9 days of parking and he got the use of a car. Pretty cush deal. This is the photo he sent me to show me where my car was parked.

This is what it looked like on Jan. 13 when I arrived in Portland. Can you tell that the holiday travel crunch is over? Can you tell that they had some snow after Rodney left and before I got back?

Check out the snow and ice on my car. Actually, if you're going to have ice on your car, this is what you hope for... a layer of soft fluffy snow first, then a layer of ice. I got the bonus of more fluffy snow on top of that. It made it sooo easy to get the ice off. It was like a reverse oreo...two layers of soft icing with a hard cookie on the inside. I was actually able to lift the ice off in sheet and just toss them on the ground. The top layer of snow went with the ice and didn't add any weight. A simple brush took off the rest. It took some time and in 7 degree weather, it was a little chilly, but all in all, it wasn't bad at all. Except for the part where my doors were frozen shut. I couldn't get into my car! It doesn't matter how clear the outside of your car is if you can't get in.

In desperation, I tried the trunk. Well, that opened. Uh oh. Was that really my only choice of solution? Hmmmm. I looked online using my phone to see if I could google any other ideas. There really weren't any good ones I hadn't tried except the one with the blow dryer and the one with boiling water, neither of which I had access to. I could call AAA, but I really didn't feel like waiting 30 minutes or more in the cold in the lonely parking lot. So I plucked up my courage, fought off a few thoughts of claustrophobia, and crawled in. I released the two back seat releases, pushed the seats down, and wiggled and crawled my way into the car where I was able to open the doors from the inside. I was so tempted to take a selfie, but it physically wasn't possible. So we will just have to use our imaginations. Does the picture that popped into your imagination make you laugh? I was laughing the whole time. Fortunately, my car started right up and after the very nice bus station employee let me back into the building to use the facilities and to pay the $4 rate instead of the $6 rate at the exit, I was on my way home.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Concert Band Concert

What a lineup of fun music for a Sunday afternoon. I was blown away by the trumpeter, especially on his chilling rendition of taps played from off stage at the beginning of the patriotic medley at the end. I came to see Daniel in his last performance with the community band and was delighted to see Nicole (whom I think I had seen in the band before) and Christopher (whom I had no idea played trombone).

Saturday, February 15, 2014

What holiday is next?

Today is February 15, the day after Valentine's Day. I stopped in at Reny's for some quick items. I'm always annoyed but not surprised to see Easter candy and decorations show up in retail aisles on this day, but patriotic decorations? We don't need those until Fourth of July. Maybe Memorial Day.