It may not be officially winter yet, but it's just around the corner. Lest we get complacent with the warmer weather, this Southerner on the move gives Tommy and the rest of you New England folk a reason to double-check your Winter Preparedness List.
Hank: I'm moving from the South to the Northeast for work. I know you're a Boston guy, so I'm curious to know what I need to be prepared for in terms of the Winter. Maybe give me the top 3 things I should be thinking about in terms of surviving a New England winter.
Tommy: Welcome to New England!
1) Four wheel drive. I used to get around without it until it snowed like crazy or got really icy, then you were stuck. Now I have a truck and I wouldn't do it any other way. At least have front wheel drive. But personally I find that having four wheel drive is a must. And if you don't have a reliable car, make sure you've packed extra clothing in the car in case it breaks down.
2) Long underwear. I go with Carhartt. Maybe it's because I'm used to wearing it as a kid. I've been caught outdoors without it before and let me tell you, it's not worth it. Sometimes when you first go outside it may seem warm, but cold weather creeps up on you. Inside 15 minutes, you're going to feel it.
3) Warm jacket. Again, I may go with Carhartt, although some people don't think they're the prettiest. A lot depends on what you're doing. If you're going to be outside for an extended period of time, you'll want a heavier jacket. And make sure you're layered. I always have turtlenecks.
Besides that, you'll definitely want good boots and socks. And lastly, be prepared for it to get dark after 4PM. That's going to be an adjustment!
From all of us here at Renovate Your World, have a great 4th of July! Whatever you do today, be sure to say a little word of thanks to our forefathers for their fight for our Independence. Also be sure to follow these Safe Grilling Guidelines if you are planning on firing up the gas or charcoal grill (which we hope you do). It should go without saying that caution should be taken if handling fireworks today, but it never hurts to remind. Here are some Fourth of July Firework Safety Tips that we sent around on a year passed. Take a quick look and make sure you're minimizing risk this Independence Day.
July 4th is here again. It's one holiday without an ethnic, religious or specific hobby for existing. It is just a celebration of this fine country. March with the parades, sing the patriotic songs, go to the beach, enjoy time with family and friends.
But it does stand for something, which most of us know by heart. "All men are created equal with certain inalienable rights - life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." The pledge of allegiance adds "with liberty and justice for all." We can be grateful that this is a place where law and order prevails. I can walk or drive and expect to get home without bloodshed. Or I can drive to visit friends in Oregon and expect to get there safely. Think of Iraq, Syria and Egypt where one can't attend a funeral, or just go out, without danger of being shot or blown up.
Law and order prevails only where each citizen believes in it and acts responsibly. Lack of morality in terrorist organizations undermines all civilization.
English Common Law, which is our heritage, began a thousand years ago with the Magna Carta. More recently, in America, our founding fathers promulgated the philosophy of freedom that has guided this country. Not always perfectly followed, or even honestly, but the ideal always remains.
We also have a civilized, modern country. I started to think: what are my essential needs and where do those services come from? After food and shelter, my choices, in order of importance, are electricity, clean water (and sewerage), passable roads (plowed in winter), emergency, fire and ambulance services, even garbage disposal. My grandfather had to burn his in the backyard.
The most interesting thing about these essential services is that they are all supplied by our local town government. Police, fire, highway, electric and water departments. We can call on them for help and they keep our civilization functioning. We all pay taxes and usage fees, but the alternative is an undeveloped country.
Think of Africa. Unpaved roads, Little or no fire protection. Robbery and high jacked cars. Overwhelmed or bad police. I don't even want to mention garbage or "night soil" fertilizer for vegetables.
Our town also has lots of non-essential but desired services that contribute to our "pursuit of happiness." Schools, sports fields, playgrounds, street lights, libraries, woods and meadows, tree planting, town beautification, community centers, health and veterans services and cemeteries. Again, all these are supplied by local town departments. Not by the squabbling politicians who monopolize radio, TV, newspapers and the web. Democracy may be a messy system of government with different groups always vying for their own advantage, or for power or for money, but the locals keep things functioning. Not just the town, but even our food and shelter is mostly supplied by local stores, farms and repairmen.
So enjoy our town's amenities and the good folks who give them to us. It's probably not what Thomas Jefferson had in mind, but then he had lots of slaves for his needs and amenities. And on this Independence Day, let's all celebrate our civilized, modern society with its "liberty and justice for all." How lucky we are.
Ruth S. Foster is a landscape consultant and arborist. More gardening information can be found on her website: www.mothersgarden.net.
The CPSC recently published a three-step list of ways homeowners can ensure a safe Halloween celebration.
The main steps involve fire prevention through costume choices; increased visibility by using reflective tape and flashlights; and costume safety.
You can also check out the CPSC Halloween Safety page for additional safety steps to take, like clearing your lawn of potential obstacles or hazards to trick-or-treaters, being smart about candle placement and examining treats before your child or children eat them.
About 1,500 Sno-Tek snowblowers were recalled due to a laceration hazard. The snow blower's engine is missing a safety shield above the electric starter, which poses a laceration hazard to the user's fingers.
Thankfully there have been no reports of lost fingers.
The units were sold at Home Depot and Ariens for around $700 to $800. If you own one of these snowblowers, stop using it immediately and get in touch with the importer, Liquid Combustion Technology, about a free repair kit or free repair. Their toll free number is (800) 558-5402.
Up here on the frozen Vermont tundra, backyard hockey season has officially kicked off. With just about all of Mallets Bay frozen (and most of Lake Champlain the same), the goals were dusted off and a fresh, 2011 rink shoveled out. The ice underneath what snow had fallen was decent -- not true hockey rink quality or even pond hockey quality for that matter, mind you. But it would serve for an evening of night hockey, enjoyed under the 1000 Watt Cooper Halogen standlight and two 500 Watt Halogen portable work lights.
As the image indicates, the four combined lights left a little to be desired, but we made the most of it.
Followers of this blog will recall last year's Backyard Hockey Rink Saga, which saw the neighbor competing and Mother Nature spoiling.
Already two snowstorms have forestalled additional hockey sessions, with the weight of the snow pushing water up through cracks and causing slush to form. This is going to be another project.
Any tips on launching a successful backyard hockey campaign?