Winter came like a postcard a long time ago. The snow drifted down in slow motion, the big, fat flakes parachuting in and accumulating gently on the frosted earth. There was a lot, all at once, and in the morning the birdhouse wore a pope’s hat, and the birdbath was a cheesecake. The sun shone and the trees wore their coat of flakes like ermine.
Then the rain came. It turned the pope’s hat to a drunkard’s fedora, and the cheesecake to a dog’s breakfast. It came down mechanically, at an angle that could be measured anywhere along its route, as methodical as a secret policeman; the icicles on the eaves turned from a little fringe to dragon’s teeth. The trees threw their coats on the ground with their shivering, and left craters like the moon in the slumping snow.
Then it did it all again. Snow fell on top of the icy film over the styrofoam snow, and brought Currier and Ives back to town. Then the ice came and put Currier and Ives in the stocks in the town square for the crime of being jolly out of turn, and pelted them with everything handy. The roads turned to suggestions. The pavement was just the bottom layer of an arctic lasagne of sand and ice and mud and snow and general corruption. My wife’s car and my truck told me to shove it more than once when I turned their keys.
Then the thermometer began a truth or dare phase. It had been ten degrees below normal for months, but now it wanted to impress people. Pinch the unwary. Show you who’s in charge around here. Twice it showed me twenty below and kept going, and days ticked off the calendar, one after another, without ever reaching the number one. The ladder to spring had been drawn up into the calendar’s treehouse. We’d have to set a spell and wait for it.
There is no heat but what we can make. I shoveled the logs into the stove like a man in the belly of some great, dripping, iron ship, while icebergs passed by the portholes in first class. Nothing you could do could touch twenty below. You could set your house itself on fire and not raise the temperature in the living room ninety degrees. What chance do you and your disassembled birches and beeches have? But one bails a leaky rowboat whether you have a bucket or a teaspoon.
Sippi lives in Rumford, Maine, where they have serious winters and he’s not yearning for places without seasons where it never snows.
[C]old as a concept is not as bad as many make it. It is a fact, here. It will be below zero, day and night, for three days in a row. It will be ten, fifteen, maybe push twenty below zero at night. Winter is not fooling around anymore. So what.
Winter is a full time job in Maine, E. B. White said. But he lived Downeast, where it’s warm compared to here. But he understood. You have to look it straight in the face, and deal with it. You can’t go out in your socks and scrape the frost from your windshield with a credit card. I’ve made over 500 fires already, and I’ve only used one match, once, to do it. You have to prepare yourself for winter. It reminds you that you’re mortal, and that there are seasons, and those seasons have meaning. It shows you that your life will pass you by if you’re not careful. Winter is useful that way.
I see a great number of people talking about how they’re going to deal with a coming apocalypse. They’re going to hoard this and grow that. They’re going to be the Omega Man crossed with Johnny Appleseed. Forgive me, but life is plenty hard here, and I can’t help but notice you’re not moving in next door to me before the apocalypse. I doubt you will the day after. If winter is too much for you, I doubt you’re prepared for an army of zombie Robespierres or whatever it is you’re planning for.
I can’t say I like the winter. I’ve always been cold. Poor people are often cold, and I have been poor in my life. I’m not a fool and I don’t like misery. But I respect the winter here. It’s a worthy adversary, and so, goddamn it, am I. Bring it on.
The Politico reports that, in the State of Maine, one candidate’s World of Warcraft gaming hobby has become a campaign issue.
In an unusual press release issued Thursday, the Maine GOP attacked Lachowicz for a “bizarre double life” in which she’s a devotee of the hugely popular online role-playing game World of Warcraft. In the game, she’s “Santiaga,” an “orc assassination rogue” with green skin, fangs, a Mohawk and pointy ears.
Lachowicz is a Democrat running against incumbent state Sen. Tom Martin in south-central Maine, a heavily Democratic district of about 80,000 people. Martin, elected in 2010, is the first Republican to hold the seat since the 1960s, and his seat is one Democrats are eager to flip back.
Lachowicz has blogged under her own name about her World of Warcraft achievements as well as left-wing politics in a dedicated section of the liberal DailyKos.Com. The Maine GOP excerpted several provocative lines form her posts including one on tax policy that concludes, “Now if you’ll excuse me, I may have to go and hunt down Grover Norquist and drown him in my bathtub.”
Other postings use curse words and make to the joy of “stab[bing] things,” joke about “being in a Socialist guild” and admit to “seriously slacking off at work.”
Actually, I think the Maine Republican Party has a point there.
I don’t personally see anything wrong with on-line fantasy gaming, but residents of that senatorial district ought to ask themselves: Do I want for my state senator the kind of person who chooses the identity of an Orc? Orcs are green-colored, unintelligent, primitives affiliated with the Horde, “a ravenous war machine fueled by demonic energy,” which is to say, the really, really bad guys.
Professionally, Ms. Lachowicz has chosen to have her avatar pursue the career of an assassination rogue.
WoW decribes the rogue class thusly:
For rogues, the only code is the contract, and their honor is purchased in gold. Free from the constraints of a conscience, these mercenaries rely on brutal and efficient tactics. Lethal assassins and masters of stealth, they will approach their marks from behind, piercing a vital organ and vanishing into the shadows before the victim hits the ground.
So, voters also need to ask themselves, is the kind of person who chooses for her avatar the conspicuously unethical class of rogue likely to be the kind of person we want making fiscal decisions for our state?
On the whole, I think one wants to be voting into public offices of trust and responsibility the kind of people who, when they play Warcraft, make their avatars humans, elves, or pandarens (Yoda types), and who adopt good guy professions like Paladin or Priest, or at least neutral professions like Hunter or Warlock.
Run around electing the kind of person whose avatar is a Level 68 Orc Assassination Rogue and you are going to be getting the likes of Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi.
You know that Spring is really here when young activist women march topless in Portland, Maine to protest discriminatory laws about exposing the upper body in public.
Tactically, the use of the sight of nubile female breasts with the object of punishing the phallocratic enemy might seem a bit ill-conceived and fundamentally ineffective, but the more sophisticated of us realize that demonstrations always have multiple and diverse goals and that, particularly in the Spring, some young women just enjoy flaunting their assets.
Some people’s jaws hit the ground, plenty of men showed up with cameras, and others – including parents with their children – were just plain offended, as almost two dozen topless women marched in Maine’s largest city.
The women drew a crowd of over 500 onlookers when they shed their shirts and marched in downtown Portland on Saturday to promote what they call “equal-opportunity public toplessness.”
Organizer Ty MacDowell said the point of the march was that a topless woman out in public shouldn’t attract any more attention than a man who walks around without a shirt.
Good luck with that.
According to The Portland Press Herald, by the end of the march more than 500 people had amassed – a mix of marchers, young men snapping photos, oglers and people just out enjoying a warm sunny day.
“We should be able to walk down the street and not have this many men taking pictures of us,” a participant shouted.
I was arguing last night with one of my snobbish Yale friends who, though conservative, has imbibed enough of the toxic perspective of the elect to view the Religious Right as a major problem.
I contended that coercion, these days, was typically coming from intolerant secularists determined to drive religious symbols out of public spaces, and eager to punish private individuals or groups (like the Boy Scouts) who differ with them on moral issues. My friend countered by alluding to a legislative proposal in some retarditaire fly-over state which would compel Reproductive Health clinics to notify parents before supplying birth control items to persons under 18.
My own view is that children are expensive and a lot of trouble. Their parents, not the state or Planned Parenthood, brought them into the world, fed them, housed them, clothed them, and sat up with them when they were sick. Parents have a right to bring their children up with their own values. And parents’ rights include, at least, the formal (even if only theoretical) right of deciding if Peggy Sue at age 17 can go on the pill. Practically, I expect lots of 17-year-old kids can, and do, go around their parents and make these kinds of decisions for themselves, but that’s their business. These are matters for individuals and families to decide, not for teachers or school administrators, and not for government or public interest groups.
The notion that “we know better, kids are going to have sex, and we’re going to give them the tools to have sex without consequences whether their parents like it or not” is arrogant, simplistic, and typical of the liberal elite which is universally ready, willing, and eager to intrude into everyone else’s private sphere in order to tell everyone just what’s best for him.
I’m not religious or particularly Puritanical, but even I find the story below, from Natural News (4/3/08), appalling.
A middle school in Portland, Maine is considering a proposal to provide birth control pills and patches to students as young as 11 years old. King Middle School launched a reproductive health program after five of the 135 students who visited the school’s health center in 2006 reported being sexually active. The program already provides condoms to students, but the new proposal would expand this to include prescriptions for birth control pills and patches (which would then have to be purchased at a pharmacy).
The contraceptives could be dispensed without the knowledge of parents, although written permission would be required for children to receive (unspecified) services from the health center.
The proposed program has attracted controversy, with some people accusing the schools of taking away parental power and encouraging children to have sex too early. But school officials dispute these claims.
“We do certainly sit down and speak with them about why [being sexually active] is not a good choice,” said Amanda Rowe, the school’s nurse coordinator. “But there are some who persist… and they need to be protected.”
Logan Levkoff, a sexologist and relationship expert, said that while the school may be stepping into a role that would better be filled by parents, many parents do not feel comfortable enough to do so. “Parents should be the sex educator for their children,” Levkoff said. “The problem is not every parent feels empowered [to do so].”
Parents interviewed by ABC News were split on their feelings about the proposal.
“I don’t think I would want my child in middle school to be getting birth control pills unless I had something to do with it,” one woman said.
But another woman, a mother, disagreed: “I think that education at that age is appropriate because our culture is saturated with messages about sex,” she said.
Natural News is running a story which really dates back to last Fall.
After an outbreak of pregnancies among middle school girls, education officials in this city have decided to allow a school health center to make birth control pills available to girls as young as 11.
Maine’s King Middle School is the first in the state to offer full range of contraceptives to 6th-8th graders.
King Middle School will become the first middle school in Maine to make a full range of contraception available, including birth control pills and patches. Condoms have been available at King’s health center since 2000.
Students need parental permission to access the school’s health center. But treatment is confidential under state law, which allows the students to decide whether to inform their parents about the services they receive.
There are no national figures on how many middle schools provide such services. Most middle schoolers range in age from 11 to 13.
“It’s very rare that middle schools do this,” said Divya Mohan, a spokeswoman for the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care.
Portland’s three middle schools reported 17 pregnancies during the last four years, not counting miscarriages or terminated pregnancies that weren’t reported to the school nurse.
The Portland School Committee approved the plan, offered by city health officials, on a 7-2 vote Wednesday night. Whether the prescriptions would be offered this school year or next wasn’t immediately clear.
King is the only one of the three schools with a health center, primarily because it has more students who get free or reduced-price lunch, said Lisa Belanger, who oversees Portland’s student health centers.
Five of the 134 students who visited King’s health center during the 2006-07 school year reported having sexual intercourse, said Amanda Rowe, lead nurse in Portland’s school health centers.
We want everyone to help curb Global warming. It truly means that the Earth is getting warmer. The ocean is warming at such an alarming rate that the continents are in danger.
Such a warming of the ocean is fuel for more severe hurricanes such as Katrina. Katrina was only a Category 1 storm when it crossed Florida. It became a monster storm by feeding off the extremely warm water in the Gulf of Mexico.
Not just the ocean temperature, but also the overall temperature on the planet is rising to dangerous levels.
The 10 “hottest” average years on record have occurred within the last 14 years. We continue to see record carbon dixoide (sic) levels in the atmosphere year after year. Just notice the strange weather around us this winter and spring and even summer-like days in March.
The United States is the leading contributor to the global- warming crisis, producing one-third of the total greenhouse gases in the world, more than South America, Africa, Asia and
Please think about what people are doing and what could happen if they do not stop.
4th graders are 9-11 years old. Who could be better qualified to judge just how unusual the weather was this year?
A sensible person living in Maine would be hoping and praying that Global Warming was taking place. With plenty of it and some luck, it might kill off those black flies.
A September 18, 2004 Lewiston Sun Journal article by Mark LaFlamme quotes reports going back to 1991 of a hyena-like creature in the woods of Androscoggin County, Maine, repulsive in appearance, making an unearthly howl, and powerful enough to kill large dogs.
In the darkness before dawn on a cool autumn morning, Martha David and her husband were wakened by the scream of a beast. The shriek rose from outside their bedroom window, and all but paralyzed the couple in their bed.
“It sent a chill up my spine. There was a creature out there and it was making a sound I can’t describe as earthly,” said the 59-year-old David. “We were too terrified to get up and go see what it was.”
It was Litchfield in 1991. The Davids never found out what lurked outside their mobile home. They sold the place soon after and moved to Minot.
Thirteen years later, dozens of people say they have recently seen or heard an unidentifiable creature in area woods. It began in mid-August when a Wales man reported that an unknown animal crept out of the woods behind his house and mauled his Doberman pinscher.
The animal that killed Duchess the Doberman was never identified.
Since that attack, people from Wales, Litchfield, Sabattus, Greene, Turner, Lewiston and Auburn have come forward to speak of a mystery creature.
What is it?
“I was out on the deck having a cigarette and coffee when this thing came up over the bank,” said 70-year-old Leo Doyon, who lives on Perkins Ridge Road in Auburn. “I said, ‘What the hell is this?’”
Doyon has been hunting in the Maine woods for more than 50 years. He thought he had seen all animals great and small until the middle of August. The creature that emerged in his yard was nothing he could identify.
“It was no wolf. It sure as hell wasn’t a fisher and it wasn’t a coy dog,” Doyon said. “To tell you the truth, I don’t know what it was.”
An animal control officer spotted the creature along Sawyer Road in Greene. Despite his experience with critters, he could not identify it. He could only say that it looked like a hyena, just as more than a dozen others have described it.
Another dog attacked was reported in the same paper, November 18, 2005, quoted in Cryptozoo News.
AP reports that a mystery animal was killed last Saturday along Route 4 by an automobile while chasing a cat bearing a striking resemblance to the animal described in previous accounts.
Residents are wondering if an animal found dead over the weekend may be the mysterious creature that has mauled dogs, frightened residents and been the subject of local legend for half a generation.
The animal was found near power lines along Route 4 on Saturday, apparently struck by a car while chasing a cat. The carcass was photographed and inspected by several people who live in the area, but nobody is sure exactly what it is.
Michelle O’Donnell of Turner spotted the animal near her yard about a week before it was killed. She called it a “hybrid mutant of something.”
“It was evil, evil looking. And it had a horrible stench I will never forget,” she told the Sun Journal of Lewiston. “We locked eyes for a few seconds and then it took off. I’ve lived in Maine my whole life and I’ve never seen anything like it.”
For the past 15 years, residents across Androscoggin County have reported seeing and hearing a mysterious animal with chilling monstrous cries and eyes that glow in the night. The animal has been blamed for attacking and killing a Doberman pinscher and a Rottweiler the past couple of years.
People from Litchfield, Sabattus, Greene, Turner, Lewiston and Auburn have come forward to speak of a mystery monster that roams the woods. Nobody knows for sure what it is, and theories have ranged from a hyena or dingo to a fisher or coydog, an offspring of a coyote and a wild dog.
Now, people are asking if the mystery beast and the animal killed over the weekend are one and the same.
Wildlife officials and animal control officers declined to go to Turner to examine the remains. By Tuesday, the carcass had been picked clean by vultures and there was not much left of the dead animal.
Loren Coleman, a Portland author and cryptozoologist, said it’s unlikely that the animal was anybody’s pet.
After reviewing photos of the carcass, Coleman said he was bothered by the animal’s ears and snout. It reminded him of a case years ago in northern Maine in which an animal shot by a hunter could not be identified. In the end, wildlife officials got a DNA analysis that showed the animal was a rare wolf-dog hybrid, he said.
Mike O’Donnell, who is married to Michelle O’Donnell, said the animal looked “half-rodent, half-dog” to him.
It was charcoal gray, weighed between 40 and 50 pounds and had a bushy tail, a short snout, short ears and curled fangs hanging over its lips, he said. It looked like “something out of a Stephen King story.”
“This is something I’ve never seen before. It’s an evil-looking thing,” he said.
It looks like a dog to me, an ugly dog, but a dog. Still, I do think the state wildlife people should have taken the trouble to go out there, and collected some DNA samples, just for the record.
—————————————Hat tip to Karen Myers.