Digression: Happy Spring 2018 (waiting for the 4th Nor’Easter, March 2018)

Happy Spring!
We’re getting there…
Hoping for the best with this next/upcoming storm,
per the sorry state of our seawall.
Enclosed is a poem by
William Carlos Williams
The May sun–whom 
all things imitate– 

that glues small leaves to 

the wooden trees 

shone from the sky 

through bluegauze clouds 

upon the ground. 

Under the leafy trees 

where the suburban streets 

lay crossed, 

with houses on each corner, 

tangled shadows had begun 

to join 

the roadway and the lawns. 

With excellent precision 

the tulip bed 

inside the iron fence 

upreared its gaudy 

yellow, white and red, 

rimmed round with grass, 


Digression: My own — “Six inches deep in mud” — part two — March 4, 2018.

Facing a multiple day nor’easter (a storm that rages in from that direction) is never a good thing, especially if you live on the water and don’t have a seawall.

And so: “What would Jane Austen do?”

Not sure she could really fathom this — legal issues, red tape, and facing the dangerous combination of wind and water plus rising tides via Climate Change from Boston Harbor,* coupled with what suspect was her apparent general distaste toward Americans (just casually referencing Mansfield Park), not really sure what there would be to say.

Find it difficult myself.

Our next storm is forecasted to arrive in a few days.

*Our bay is part of Boston’s inner harbor across from a Logan Airport runway.

Digression: On my own–“Six inches deep in mud,” & climate change: death by red tape.

Photo above, flood tide, Winthrop, Mass., USA., Tues. January 20, 2018.

To say I need a manicure would probably be kind.  Between work on the seawall, the floods and cleaning of debris (that floats in because we don’t have a fence any more)  plus the usual wear and tear on my hands at work — paper cuts from lots of hand-sanitzer, ink from the bates and other stamps, wrestling with toner — my hands are not in great shape.

Then again, was never a manicure kind of girl.

Don’t think would be considered presentable despite my best efforts, tonight I’m planning on more scrubbing, trimming and a layer of clear polish protector or something.

After January 4, 2018, we were out of a washer and dryer — I spent this weekend catching up on loads of laundry.  Our new machines were delivered last week, platforms built by a friend/handyman to protect us from future floods.

Tuesday, I spent cleaning up from the flood in our yard, dragging large pieces of lumber up our drive way.  The fire chief stopped taking pictures for the state disaster relief agency, and so we had a little chat.

Also on Tues., via my permitting engineers, the Mass. Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) a state agency, informed me I three (3) choices regarding my request for a seawall permit: 1) be denied, 2) withdraw, & 3) amend and request a variance.

My permitting engineers and I are going for option #3 but were duly told the clock will be reset as it will take from 180-360 days/one(1) year for a response, because the legal department must review the variance request.

This has been a long and painful process trying to rebuild this seawall legal, but as the photo shows — we are in a dire situation.

And it would have been nice back in June 2017, when my permitting folks reached out to DEP — if they had advised that mostly like with a pre-1984 former seawall I wasn’t going to meet the reg. requirements and would need to do the non-water compliant application and would also need the variance request.

Yes that would have been helpful.

In December 2017, I had a conference call with four (4) agencies, three (3) state and one(1) federal and they all declined my request for a site visit.  (And I have a confirmation/documentation of their denials in email by the woman from the agency that organized the call.)

This is permitting site — unseen.

During that December conference call, the DEP Waterways chief had no idea I had even filed for a new seawall permit.  Insert eye roll, heavy sigh, any combination here.

The fact is — we’re not going to be here in a year without a seawall.

So I’m reaching out for help.  Going to the mattresses if you will.

We’re also adjacent to our town’s evacuation route so if there is a major storm like a Sandy or a Katrina — this is a public safety issue as our house will be destroyed but so will the major road. Our town is a former island so there are only two (2) ways out of town and the other route historically floods as well.

My elderly, widowed, cancer survivor with many heart conditions mother would like to speak to whoever will listen — she is very afraid of our destruction.

If you know of an environmental reporter/public interest reporter that would like to do a climate change story on death by red tape?  Please let me know.



Dinner with Mr. Darcy by Pen Vogler

Sharing a wonderful Christmas present I received this year, the book Dinner with Mr. Darcy,  is an interesting compilation of modern adaptations of Regency-era recipes along side reprints of the originals from their sources all noted in the bibliography.

This book includes interesting anecdotes about the origins of some of the foods or recipes, as well as essays about the connections these foods have in Austen’s time period  as shown through her work via references to her novels and her personal letters.

Chapters are are largely and charmingly Austen-themed:

Breakfast with General Tilney — Northanger Abbey,

Mrs. Bennett’s Dinner to Impress — Pride and Prejudice,

Pork and Apples:  An Autumn Dinner with the Bateses — Emma,

Jane’s Family Favorites — Letters of Jane Austen,

The Picnic Parade — Emma,

Tea and Cake — Mansfield Park,

The Ball at Netherfield — Pride and Prejudice,

An Old-Fashioned Supper for Mr. Woodhouse and His Guests — Emma,

Christmas with the Musgroves and Other Celebrations — Persuasion, and

Gifts, Drinks, and Preserves for Friends and the Sick at Heart — Sense and Sensibility.

This is a lovely addition to my growing collection of Jane Austen books in my small home library.




Digression: On coastal flooding & all things building a seawall.

This past storm on Thursday January 4, 2018 — turned out to be a record breaker in the worst of ways.  We live in a small town on the across the bay from Logan Airport, and the tide was the highest ever recorded in Boston Harbor, since they started recording tides.  The tide was actually higher than the massive storm in 1978 which still loomed in my mind as a the record breaker of all time, even though the snow record was broken years back.  We now have a new memory of chaos to take its place.

Actually braved this storm of storms with a failed seawall because of time and permits, and endless red tape.  Sparing most of the gory details I will just say, in December I had a conference call with three (3) state agencies and the army core of engineers.  Took over a month to organize this call, and not one them would agree to come out and see the state of my wall and yard with the dangers they continue to pose.  And yes I’ve got proof they said no via documentation in email.

A few doors down, my neighbor with a new seawall which I highly suspect isn’t completely legal was flooded as well. Actually all of us were.  In 1978, only we flooded, my dad could not get his car out and we lost it.

On Thursday, water came up so fast and in both sides of our cellar.  I tried to protect our furnace and my mother trooper that she is went out to save her car with the help of a couple of neighbors — they shoveled so she could pull it up into the curb cut/up onto the sidewalk or pavement.

The water on the beach next door, went over the town seawall newly built in 1999 and starting to break apart.  The water hit the street level fence.

We called 911 but they never came.  They had a fire to put out in another part of town, folks to evacuate, and one of the town fire trucks got stuck.

However, I heard and I truly hope my source is mistaken that our town did not call in everyone in the fire department to help because they did not want to pay overtime, even though they pay overtime to the Dept. of Public Works (DPW) folks plowing and the police officers that escort the plows during major storms. Update: Our electrician came yesterday 1/8/18–and said he had heard that as well but was listening to the fire dept. on the local scanner and heard the chief call everyone available into help.

In our town, we share 911 and emergency dispatch with another city–Metro North Regional Emergency Communications Center.  Every time we called they lied and said help was on the way.  We learned there was a list.  Day grew into night, they could not tell us where we were on the list and lied once.  We slept in our clothes thinking they might arrive overnight.

On Friday, after 24 hours — our Fire Chief called and left a mess. for my mum saying they were still coming to pump us out.  My mum called back to Metro North and told them to take us off the list.  They didn’t — Metro North called again Saturday morning — almost two (2) days after the storm again to ask if we still needed pumping out.  Which is bad communication/and organization all around.

Because we had no seawall and fence — giant ice flows from Boston Harbor are in the backyard and I’m not sure how much of the seawall and yard fell in, and I may not get down onto the beach and the flats for awhile.  The fierce winds were brutal after the storm and all weekend.  They died down today but it is still very frigid out there.  The high today being 18 degrees F.

Seawater melts at 28 degrees F — it’s supposed to hit 30 F tomorrow — so I’m hoping to be able to chop them and chuck them over the side — least they melt, flood and cause more damage. But our little pine tree — does somewhat look a like a snowman.

Update: We lost a washer and dryer, and a second refrigerator but there are families that lost their entire house so we are counting our blessings.  Today 1/9/18 — our landscaper is coming over to help me continue to shovel out and break up the ice flows/sea water ice.