Monthly Archives: January 2012

Come Ski With Me…

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Thanks to Greg “Daddy-O Santa Claus” Goodman, I have a brand new helmet cam with which to record my Alpine Exploits.  The day held little promise, with a snow report of “Machine Groomed/Frozen Granular” (translation: pulverized ice, except where it’s just sheets of ice), but as I say, Any Skiing Is Better Than No Skiing, and off I went.  I was happy to find that the snow report had lied to us.  Unlike everyone else’s snow report, which lies to make conditions look better than they really are, the Mount Snow report today lied and promised shitty conditions, while the mountain actually delivered great ones.

The expectation: Ice

The reality: Packed powder and nice soft loose crud.

So here, brought to you courtesy of Daddy-O Goodman*, is a short ski vacation.

*As provider of the camera equipment, Daddy-O bears no responsibility whatsoever for the content of these videos.

A late edit.  It is astonishing how the videos make it look like I was skiing on slightly angled football fields.  Thus, here is a photograph of the main face with the trail from the first video pointed out in red.

Packed Powder, Trick Skis, and Caffeine Will Make You Feel Like A GOD*

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*Disclaimer:  This may not work if you are used to having caffeine.

Holy cow.  We were 100% starved of natural snow for the entire month of December, and most of January.  Now we’ve had three snowstorms.  One of them was a huge dump from a squall that parked itself over the MA and southern VT ski areas, and snowed until the sky turned blue.  The other two storms were this past week, and they were both totally dinky – not even enough snow to bring the city of Dallas to its knees (surprisingly easy to do) – BUT what small amounts of snow they laid down came entirely in the form of Champagne Powder.  Tiny crystalline dry flakes that pile up to make the lightest, fluffiest snow anywhere.

I should say that this kind of snow is relatively…foreign…to this region.  We’re more likely to have snowflakes the size of my hand, from hundreds of wet, sticky flakes glomming together until they drop from the clouds like fluffy cement.  And all too often our snowstorms start – and end – with a period of freezing rain, drizzle, or sleet.  Which means that any usable snow is typically sandwiched in between two thick layers of ice.  We hates that stuff, we does, My Precioussss.

We likes snow that sinks under our feet.  We likes snow that doesn’t hurt when it falls from the sky and lands on our head.  We likes snow that is capable of being blown about by the wind.  We likes snow that is soft.

We likes Powder, My Preciousss.

We got it Thursday night, and we skied it Friday morning until our legs were ready to fall off.  Which, because powder is much harder to ski than groomers, happened surprisingly quickly.  But we has the Precioussss, the Powder Skis.  And our Precioussss carried us all over the mountain on Friday, including into the terrain park, where our Preciousss tried to talk us into taking a jump or two, but we didn’t do it, did we?

No, because we are Fanatical Skiers, but we are not Insane.

That said, it’s clearly getting to be time to score a skiing lesson that involves How To Catch Air.  The skis wants it.

I’m pretty sure I’m good enough to take it, too.  On Friday, I skied whatever the heck I wanted to, with the exception of the North Face, because none of that had been groomed.  And powder and steeps = moguls the size of a VW bug = Get Tired Real Fast.  Also, Fall Down.  So I stayed off that, but I did blow out a couple of blues I hadn’t done, and then, there was the terrain park.  Good skiing over there, too.  Nice conditions, except for the 50 feet of MineShaft that was scraped down to the hardpack for some reason.

Then we got really lucky, and scored another blast of pure, crisp, white, fluffy, crystalline powder on Saturday.  Turned the streets to a mess for 10 hours, but it was worth it.  I took the Precioussss out to a different mountain this time, and blasted down run after run.  After skiing the fresh pow on Friday, it was a stunning relief to get back onto groomers, especially since these groomers were packed powder, my favorite surface ever.  My skis taught that hill a thing or two.  Taught me a thing or two as well, as they talked me into doing this fancy-antsy X-games hockey stop that involved swapping ends mid-way through.  So, hockey stop-kick up a sheet of dust-spin a 180-hockey stop again-kick up a sheet of dust.

And this was getting in to the lift line, which meant that everyone could see what a show-off awesome ripper I am.

Actually, I did have two guys immediately go “Hey! Those are rockered and reverse cambered, aren’t they?” (yes) and at the other end of the lift ride, a further couple of guys go “Wow! Look at those boards!” as I blew past them.

Because I was blowing past everyone today.  And doing it with bloody big Grand Slalom carved turns…or short snappy Slalom carved turns…depending on the width of the run.

I felt like Pikabo Street and Lindsey Vonn all rolled into one.

And that was before I hit the black diamond.  I’d checked out the main face black and decided that I could do it, but only if I swapped my trick skis for something a lot more rigid and sharp-edged, like the pair of Volkl Tierras I’d brought with me and left in the rack.  Thus launched an extensive cost-benefit analysis involving the question of whether it was worth it to spend time changing skis just to do that black run…which got derailed by the sight of a previously undiscovered lift.  Who could resist this Mystery?  Not I.  So I boarded, and off we went.  I figured, what the heck, if it drops me into a black diamond zone, I already know I can do that.

Because today, I was a GOD.

There were diamonds, but not as interesting as the simple blue square, because I wasn’t in a mood to be cautious.  I wanted to carve my powder skis and bag major Style Points while doing so.  And ain’t nobody going to grant me Style Points when I take my fatties onto a black run.

Except for the diamond on the other side of the mountain, that I discovered while taking a short break by cruising a green.  Lo, here’s a black diamond.  This time “No” was not a viable answer.  Off we went.  And, just as I had decided that the run must be Saving The Worst For Last, expecting some kind of hideous and terrifying drop-off, what I saw instead was the bright orange “SLOW ZONE” sign, indicating that I was rejoining the rest of the world.

“WTF?” I said.  “That was a black diamond?”

Yes.  I ripped a black diamond today and hardly noticed it.  So I did it five more times.

And that, friends, is what packed powder, trick skis, and a shot of caffeine will do for you.

One Of Those Days That Makes The Others Worthwhile…

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Who needs heroin when you have bluebird skies, a mountain covered in packed powder, and a hard-core rockin’ awesome pair of skis?

Yep, today was The Day.  All season we’ve been skiing on a quarter, maybe a third of the mountain, covered with the best snow man can make.  But it’s still a small number of trails, and it’s still man-made snow.  Any skiing is better than no skiing, and this has not, by any stretch been just “any” skiing.  It’s been good skiing.  Occasionally it’s been very good skiing.  But it’s also been crowded skiing.

Crowded slopes are not where I’ve been “at” lately, either.  Some of this has to do with the fact that I’ve been religiously riding my Godamighty Goth Girl skis, aka the Rossignol S7Ws, intensely rockered, reverse cambered, powder skis.  Yes.  I’ve been riding fatties on the hills of New England.  And yes, it’s awesome.  Mostly because of that “rocker” thing, which makes my skis twirl flick effortlessly from side to side, while floating like a surfboard on a sea of crud, pow, and crust.  And that “reverse camber” thing which means that – with a little extra effort, yes – I can pop those suckers up on their edges and carve and carve and carve.  Granted, the turning radius is 14.8 meters, which means that if I drift a carved turn (i.e., let the ski do all the turning for me) I wind up 80 feet down the slope from where I started, just on the basis of one turn.  The major-league rocker, though, lets me pop some fairly snappy turns, on edge, without full carving.

In short, my skis mean that I want to cover rather more of the slope than if I were riding a more conventional New England ski.

The rest of my issue with the crowds is that this year, I’m learning to deal with speed.  Last year, I looked like the World’s Slowest Ski Instructor, going down some pretty steep hills, in good form, at a snail’s pace.  Or, maybe, the pace of a slow-moving dog.  Unless I’m on a green, I’m used to being the slowest person on the hill.

We’re past that now.  This year, it’s about speed.  It’s about learning – in my bones – that sometimes the safest thing to do is to go fast.  I don’t mean “blasting down the hill out of control in a straight line” fast.  That’s dangerous and I think people who do that kind of thing ought to get a choice between taking 3 days of lessons or getting exiled from the hill, all for the safety of others.   No, I’m talking about the narrow-track snappy-turn popping straightish line down the hill.  Closest thing you get to a zipper line without skiing the bumps.  I’m there.  Fast enough to hear the wind blow past my ears.

This is not OK to do on crowded slopes.  Too many haphazard skiers, for one, making peculiar turns, suddenly changing direction into a traverse across the slope, stopping, sitting, standing around to have a chat.  It’s dangerous to ski with any real speed in those conditions.  So I’ve been hitting the hill early, and bailing out before lunchtime, when all the people come out of the woodwork.

This all changed last week, when we got our first real snowstorm of the year.  The hill received 17 inches of powder over 48 hours.  And then I left it to them to ski up and groom and ski up and groom, and make the runs nice and flat, the way I like it.  And up we went at the crack of dawn this morning.

When the car thermometer registered -5.  That’s not Celsius, people.  It’s Fahrenheit.  Five below zero, F.

Our drive up to the mountain takes us through some of the loveliest countryside invented by the gods or imagined by the painters.  And now that there’s a thick blanket of snow covering the massive scars to the landscape left by the hurricane and flood in August, it’s back to its normal Spectacular Beauty.  There are hills.  There are little red clapboard barns.  There are cows and fields.  There are little white New England churches with tall steeples, nestled into valleys.  There are three-hundred-year-old farmhouses, with fairy lights on the trees and curtains in the windows.  There are seamy, disgusting mobile homes with small-scale junkyards in the front lawn.  There are sweeping rivers.  There are covered bridges (2 of them on the trip).  There is a charming small city with blocks of three- and four-story red brick buildings.  There are woods, and more woods.  There are winding, noisy brooks, tinkling along under a coating of ice and snow.  It’s a drive to make the heart smile.

This morning, at 5-below (and, in places, seven-below) I noticed something interesting.

First, the smoke coming up out of the chimneys wasn’t going “up”.  It came up and dribbled out, went horizontal for a bit, and then started sinking to the ground.  All of them were doing this. Why would smoke be heavy?  I do not know.

Second, the big river was steaming.  Parts of it were frozen, and the rest had big chunks of ice in it – in the midst of freezing – and it was steaming.  Steaming enough that in some places, where the trees grew close to the water, the trees were covered in a frosty rime of ice, and sparkling in the morning sun.  How can water that is this cold steam?  I do not know.

What I do know is that temperatures this cold make for amazing skiing.  Roy dropped me off at the hill and hared off for his own adventure: the first cross-country ski of the year.  Touring centers (what you call a cross-country ski area) don’t usually make snow.  They have to wait for it to fall from the sky, and to do so in sufficient amounts to handle the traffic from a groomer (not a big snowcat like on the hill, but more like a harrow getting pulled by a snowmobile).  This means they need about 6 inches of snow on the ground or so to open.  Saturday was the first day where that was true, and Roy hit it like a shot.  I would say that he feels the same way about XC skiing as I do about downhill, but that’s not true.  He feels the same way about the Yankees and Baseball that I feel about downhill skiing.  But he was very excited to hit the trails at last.

Nearly as excited as I was to launch myself up on the lift.  My ski area let me know, personally, late last week that they were opening my favorite area of the hill – the side that faces the sun.  No, really, they did, and they called me by name when they did it.  Talk about your Customer Service.  Thank heavens for Facebook.

Plan A: lift up to the summit, ski into Sunbrook, play there for hours.

I executed Phase 1 and 2, and found myself sailing down the big Sunbrook run, wondering what was up with the idiot behind me shrieking out “WOO” the whole way.  Oops.  I guess that was me.

The Sunbrook lift is the slowest on the hill, taking a very leisurely 10+ minutes to ascent from the bottom of the bowl to the top.  It stopped three times, giving me plenty of opportunity to admire the sun, the snow-covered evergreens, the fresh corduroy under the lift-line, and to contemplate a revision to my plan.

The conditions were so good and the mountain so uncrowded at that hour that I thought it would be a good idea to hit the blue runs on the main face, and get in some licks there before they got skied up.  And then – maybe, just maybe – if the conditions on the main face were right, I might, just possibly might, head for the North Face.  Here Be Blacks.  I thought I remembered reading that Fallen Timbers, my pet Black, had been groomed.

Sunbrook is never crowded – the adrenaline junkies don’t like the snail’s pace of the lift, and it’s not on the way to anywhere.  You have to take a lift to get out of it.  This makes it unattractive to shredding snowboarders looking for park time.  And every one of the runs is blue, which keeps the noobs away.  It’s heavenly.  And I knew it would still be great later on in the morning.  So I debarked the lift and headed for the main face.  Or where I thought the main face was.  The signage in that area isn’t great, and even so, it was still obscured by snow and ice from the storm.

I found myself, holy cow, laying first tracks on some backwoods groomed trail. Fresh cord.  Unmarked by any other individual.  The idiot behind me hollered “WOO!” again.

Then I received a Sign.  A sign and a Sign.  The sign said “Fallen Timbers” and the Sign said “Your second run today can be your first Black of the season!”  I mean, what kind of feeble, insipid individual would I have had to be to say “Oh, no thank you” to this?

And I did not.  Say “no,” that is.  I said “YES! MY SECOND RUN TODAY IS A BLACK DIAMOND! I’M GONNA DO IT!!!” and I did.

It was not without excitement.  I’d never used that particular access point to the run, and I was unaware that it started off with a short drop in excess of 50 degrees.  That, this morning, was covered with ice.  And I don’t mean boilerplate or hardpack or frozen granular.  I mean ice, like a glacier, ice.  Shiny ice. I hit that stuff, and naturally, down I went.  Incredibly I didn’t go far – “incredibly” because of the pitch of the hill and I didn’t injure myself in the least and I only lost one ski and it was right there with me – no need to hike – and it was my uphill ski (this is the ski that gets put on last – if it had been the downhill ski, I’d have had to take the other ski off before putting them both back on, or turn around 180 degrees) and I got the ski on no trouble and I sailed right down that run.

Here is a picture of my Black:

Here it is in October with no snow on.

Here it is with snow on. This is not from today, but the ice cliff would be to the back of the person taking the photo. That is why I am surprised I didn't slide very far down the hill. The tiny specs on the snow are skiers. They are halfway down the hill.

And then here, because it’s awesome, is a video of someone else’s trip down.  I don’t have the helmet mount for my cam yet, or you’d get to see my run down.  Including the wipe-out.  This dude skis way faster than I do, because it looks like it takes him only a minute and a half to get down.  I think it takes me five minutes.   At 1:24 the guy looks back behind him, and you can see the run stretching all the way up to heaven.

fallen-timbers

He, clearly, does not have an idiot to shriek “WOO!” riding behind him, like I do.

It rocked.  It rocked so hard, I don’t have words for it.

What I did do next was to bomb down the blue (from Plan A).  Three times.  And then, back to Sunbrook, where life was good and living was easy, right up to the point where my fingers started to get cold, even with the hand-warmers in the glove.  Because it was, like 18 degrees at the base, still.

That, and a cold beer and a hot meat sandwich, and I’m in heaven, heaven.  The fix has to to last me, too, because school starts tomorrow, and there’s no buzz kill like teaching accounting for bonds until 9pm on the first day of the term.  But for right now, I’m in heaven…

 

Learn Something New Every Day…

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What I have learned this week:

I learned to canter!!!

I learned that I get extremely cranky when I can’t ski in the winter, and that goes double for not being able to ski because I have a cold.  Clearly there are some kind of brain chemicals involved when I ski.  Probably the same ones that get released when a junkie shoots up a fresh load of smack.

I learned that I hate the college textbook publishing industry.  They ought not to be releasing new editions unless there is something substantive that has changed.  “Needing to update the year from 2009 to 2012 in the homework problems” does not constitute a “substantive change”.  These books are absurdly expensive – no more so now than when I was in school, after you take changes in the CPI into consideration – but when I was a student, I just had to pretend I was paying for my books with Monopoly Money, because if I stopped to think about the opportunity costs of my textbook bill…all of the other things that money could buy, like an entire month’s rent on my apartment, for example…I just wanted to faint.  Or vomit.  Or buy a hatchet and go on a rampage.  Or, maybe, just burst into tears and jump up and down screaming.  Now, at least, there’s a slightly cheaper option for students who are willing to read the book online.  And I mean “slightly” cheaper.  It’s still an affront.

I learned that the Agony of the New Edition isn’t something that just affects students and their wallets.  I just had to go through my entire course, item by item, reading the entire bloody book again from start to finish – and let me tell you, Intermediate Accounting doesn’t yield a light or enjoyable “read” – to make sure that my notes, examples, etc. still jive with the book.  At least, thanks to the URI from Hell, I didn’t have to miss out on any skiing to do it.  The truly annoying thing about all this is that I knew 1) that there cannot have been any substantive changes, because the Financial Accounting Standards Board hasn’t released any new important updates that affect the course content – so any changes I did meet were going to be 100% superficial, and 2) that the Financial Accounting Standards Board is sitting on an important update that is definitely going to affect the course content, and as soon as they get their act together, it’s going to mean another damned edition.  And that one is just going to emphasize that this one was totally pointless.  So the students have to shuck out bucks for a brand-new textbook instead of a used one, and there’s not any really good point to it, other than greed.  Blasted idiots.

I learned that not being able to ski makes me cranky, that goes double for a wicked bad head cold being the reason, and it goes TRIPLE for adding pointless, useless major work projects on top of it.

That takes care of what I learned Sunday through Thursday.

On Friday,

I learned that horses know who is supposed to be on the farm, and when.  The drive hadn’t yet been plowed out when I arrived to meet the Farrier of the Gods.  I drove down the road to a pull-out and hiked back in.  The horses that have runouts on their stalls were all outside, and gave me deeply suspicious looks.  If they had been dogs, they’d have been barking.  And, like dogs, once I called them by name and let them sniff my hand, they remembered that I am a Known Individual, and that my presence there at that hour was not a Threat, just an Irregularity.

I learned that Huey the Wonder Horse wakes up in a good mood.  The barn was still dark when I slipped in, and I left it that way.  Huey knew I was there, and while he knew that this was not a normal time for me to be there, he was happy about it anyway.  God, I love that horse.  He came and stood by the stable wall so I could give him a great big long lovely scratch on the neck.  Then he let me play with his lips and his nose, which he usually doesn’t do.  But I loved it.  I got to tickle his lip and make it pointy without him deciding that my fingers might be carrots and that he needed to investigate with his teeth.  We just hung out for about a half hour like that.  It was the best half-hour of the week, and that includes the bit later on where I got to go skiing, and that says A Lot.

I learned that Huey’s feet are in very good condition, and that the Farrier of the Gods has a more sophisticated understanding of the angles on his right front hoof.  He thinks that the angle issue is suspensory, not intrinsic to the hoof.  This is good and it is not good.  If he were showing lame, it would be very bad. I also learned that the shoes he had on before were far too small, although the FOTG said he could understand the temptation to make them that way given the configuration of Huey’s feet.  Action Plan A is to put on shoes of the proper size in the spring, and see how that goes, before tinkering with anything.

I also learned that dogs think Hoof Shavings are a Super Tasty Treat.

I learned that my instincts not to drive into a snow squall or to get a lift ticket when there’s a high wind advisory are good. And I learned this the Easy Way, by going with them rather than the Hard Way, by ignoring them and Coming To Grief.

On Saturday,

I learned that I can lunge my horse in the snow, if it’s the right kind of snow.

I learned that my horse, while being lunged on the snow, can maintain a working trot while dragging his muzzle through the snow in order to scoop it up and eat it.  When I learned that, I started to laugh, and said “Huey!” and he stopped, raised his head to look at me like “What?” and had his muzzle totally coated with snow.  It was so silly I nearly fell over, I was laughing so hard.  So I also learned that my horse likes to eat snow.

I learned that the suspensory thing the FOTG noted is probably right, since the equine chiropractor noted it too (and gave me some good stretches to do with him to improve it).

I learned that wherever Huey the Wonder Horse was before, he got chiropractic adjustments.  The only bit he quibbled with was the neck adjustments, because he was tender there (and I knew he was).  I got to watch the chiro do an adjustment on a skittery horse (and I got to hold the lead rope to keep him from going nuts or backing into the wheelbarrow).  She didn’t push him, but managed to sneak it in around the edges until the penny dropped for him.  You could see something very like “Hey! Don’t do that! It’s uncom…oh, hey! That feels so much better! Do it again!” pass through his mind.  When I left him off in the paddock, he was curling himself around.  I had no experience at all with equine chiropractors (and I was fervently hoping I wouldn’t be subjected to some kind of snake oil thing) but I am impressed.  I’m impressed with the outcome – he was clearly moving better than he had been – and I’m impressed with the chiro herself, who did not make it all out to be skeletal and want to come 3x per week or something equally unsustainable.  No, she laid some things down to skeletal, some to muscular, recommended equine massage as a post-chiro treatment (said having it done before would make her job easier, but having it done after would be better for the horse), gave me a program of stretches to work on with him, and suggested hooking up again in 8 weeks.  Totally reasonable, I thought.

I learned that the little neighborhood ski area that is located a good 40 minutes away from any hotel isn’t crowded, even when it’s Saturday afternoon of MLK weekend and we’ve just had our first major snowstorm of the year and it’s powder.

I also learned that even though I’m totally used to skiing on powder skis, I don’t know a damned thing about skiing on actual powder.  It’s clear I’m going to have to take a lesson on that, but given the sparsity of Powder Days in New England, it may take a while.  In the meantime, I stick to the groomers.

I learned the size of the yawning gulf between the Skier I Am Today and the Skier of Yesteryear.  As in, this time, last year.  I went down a run that I distinctly remember totally intimidating me when I went to this ski area for the first time in mid-January of 2011.  I clearly remembered spending a lot of my time on that run thinking “Holy shit!! How am I going to do that?”  Only, yesterday, I couldn’t find those spots on the run.  And I was looking for them.  And the other run I did that day, a big sweeping drop-off to the base, that seemed like it was a mile long and straight down before? Yesterday, it was a nice sweeping expanse of badly-groomed packed powder (the grooming team at this ski area sucks) that would be perfect for doing some big GS carving turns on my powder skis (yes, they can, yes, I do.  It takes more effort than it would on an all-mountain or a carver, but it can still be done).  I bombed down it three times before departing for other territory.

And then, without a map, and without any more information than what I could get from a lift-buddy (the top of the run is in great condition, the bottom, after the cutoff, is kind of scraped up) I hared off onto runs that I didn’t know anything about.  Well, “anything other than that they’re not double-black diamonds and covered with icy moguls” that is, because I am Adventurous, not Insane.  It was a great run, too.  And I got to the cutoff, where I could go back to a big fat groomer…or I could go straight onto the part of the run described as “kind of scraped up”.  I regarded it.  There wasn’t a lot of potential for being badly scraped up, because this was obviously a difficult run, and “badly scraped up” is something that really only happens to easy runs that have a lot of novices on them.  And there was no way that a sane, sober novice would even have thought briefly about going down this run.  A drunk lunatic novice, yes, but fortunately, there aren’t many of those, and they tend to be Self-Limiting Phenomena anyway.\

This run just dropped right away under my feet.  It was marked a “blue” (intermediate difficulty for this particular hill) but it reminded me a lot of portions of the “black” (advanced/expert difficulty runs) back at my Home Mountain.  And I’ve taken those.  And conditions were good. And, in the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, “sometimes you gotta say what the f***.”  So I said “What the f***” and headed down.  Yeah, some portions were a little scraped off, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t deal with.  And the rest of it was great, and I did it in good style.

And that’s when I learned the best thing of Saturday:  I’m a very good skier.  Not a great skier.  Not an expert.  But I’m good enough to ski the mountain and not worry about what’s on the trail because I’ll be able to deal with it when I get there.   Bumps?  Hate them if they are huge, hard, and icy, love them if they’re soft and fluffy.  But I can deal either way.  Ice?  I hate it – I mean, I really hate it, but I can deal with it when it shows up.  Boilerplate?  Not a fan, but I know what to do.  And I know how to minimize any of that stuff by skiing the margin, and I don’t worry about running off into the trees or falling off the side. I don’t go unescorted down blacks, because steep and huge hard icy bumps is something I want to avoid entirely, but most of the mountains here are blues, and I rock the blues.  Time for another ski lesson, I think, because it only gets better from here.

I remember when this was all snow. Oh, wait. It IS all snow now. Better get back out to the hill...as soon as the windchills rise above zero, that is.

Some Things Just Really PISS Me Off.

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OK.  First, if you’re one of my students, go read something else.  And if you keep reading this after that warning, I don’t want to hear about it on the evaluations.  I’m a living, breathing, irritable human being, just like your dad.  Or your mom, or grandparent.  Pick the crankiest person in your family, and sometimes I’m like that.  The following has nothing to do with you.

The rest of you people, I’m pissed off, and I don’t care who knows.  Actually, that’s not true.  I want some people to know.  In particular, I want the guys who have received $1,560 from us so far to know how pissed off I am.

I live in a Victorian row-house.  It’s old mill-worker housing. And, first, let me tell you, Back In The Day, mill-workers were treated WAY the hell better than they are now.  Now they are lucky to 1) have a job at all, 2) have minimal health benefits, and 3) make $0.03 more than the minimum wage.  Back in 1895, they got a four-story 2,300 square foot row house with wide-plant hardwood floors, molding on all windows, doors, and apertures on the ground floor, plumbing on the second and third floors, and a small garden plot out back.  Plus, evidently, a living wage.

So, as long as I’m feeling totally pissed off, let me start with how pissed off I am that 1) there is no more industrial manufacturing to absorb the talents of the non-college-bound, and 2) what there is, wouldn’t pay for an 800-square-foot mobile home, let alone a house that will stand, in good condition, for over 100 years.  Blow me, captains of industry, you greedy, selfish, incompetent bastards, you.

Hmm.  Back to the topic at hand, if I can remember what that was.  OH YEAH.  The mountains of “frozen stuff” (thank you, Herb Stevens, The Skiing Weatherman, for that Technical Term) that we have been “experiencing” all day long here.  My Home Mountain, which I am obviously NOT at (curse the eyes of every living thing) was predicted, by NOAA, Wundergound, and Weather.com to experience a similar attack of “Frozen stuff” but instead got six inches of powder AND spent all day long posting status updates to Facebook about how stupefyingly awesome the conditions have been all day long.

This, by the way, is a fine sample of the smug propaganda they’ve been tossing at us all day, the bastards:

This, by the way, I recognize perfectly well as clips from Cascade/Canyon and Ridge, the runs I bomb down on a regular basis, damn their eyes.

I drive a low-slung sports car, and I love it.  But it does not handle well in marginal conditions, and three to four inches of “frozen stuff” on the driving surfaces definitely counts as “marginal conditions”.  So all day long I’ve been getting tortured by the Mass Media.  I mean, we have not had a decent snowfall here since fucking Halloween.  (Students, I meant it when I said “stop reading now”. I’m going to cuss and keep cussing.  This is not setting a Good Example for you.).  And here we are getting one, and I am stuck in Northampton, looking out at inches of “frozen stuff” accumulating on my drive and sidewalks, and there is no fucking way  that I can get up to my totally free lift ticket (‘cuz I am a season pass holder) in Vermont on not just the first big snow day but an actual powder day at my ski hill?

Just with that, I want to go out back and shoot myself in the head out of Pure Misery.  AND, on top of it all, every time I look at one of Mount Snow’s Powder Pictures or videos, and think “SHIT! I haven’t been skiing in a WEEK!” (OK, I’ve been sick as a dog, but that doesn’t really matter) I can hear a whimpering noise downstairs.

You know what that is?

It’s my powder skis, the Rossi S7Ws, the Smokin’ Hot Goth Girl Freestyle TwinTips.  The coolest pair of skis ever invented.

And you know what they’ve been doing all day?

Where I can hear them?

They’ve been crying.

Yes. My skis know that there is a Classic New England Powder Day (aka, any day with a 6″ snowfall), happening less than an hour and a half way, and with a free lift ticket, and they can’t go to the party.

Life sucks, dudes.

And for those of you who are thinking “If missing out on a Pow Day means that life sucks, you must have had one freaking easy life, you pussy” I say this:

Fuck you and the horse you rode in on.  My brother died when a drunk driver ran into him, and it took him four years to die.  While I was in grad school.  And I raised this kid, he used to follow me around the house and call me “mommy”.  When I was ten.  And,  bitches, it starts with the fact that I was raising a sibling at ten years old.  And it moves on from there.What I know about a hard, dismal life would fill eight Hallmark movies.  Maybe ten.

I have earned the right to be all pissed off about missing out on a Powder Day.  It is mine.  Anyone want to come argue that point with me, you’re welcome.  The beer is on you, though.  I own the definition of the concept of “life sucks”.  So when I say “life sucks” you can take that shit to the bank.

So I start out from a point of being tormented by this Prime Ski Day that I have to miss out on.  AND I’ve missed out on two more.  Why? Because I was sick. If wordpress was any good, I’d have access to an emoticon of a detonating hand grenade, or a scruffy dog vomiting into your favorite shoes.

AND ON TOP OF THAT the bitches that I have been paying $520 per month to since November, when we have NOT had any snow – the freakish and inconvenient Halloween Blizzard aside – did not show up today.

That’s right.  There’s inches of 100% Totally Pointless Frozen Stuff coating our driveway and sidewalk right now, the $1,560 in advance fixed-contract payments notwithstanding.

It’s like pouring salt into an open wound, I tell you.

I just had to snag the neighbor’s snow shovel to dig out my damned car.  Why?  Because I am expecting a Visitation from the Farrier of the Gods for Huey tomorrow morning, 8am.  And I have to show up early, because the new batch of hay has given him the runs, so I’m going to have to go wash my horse’s butt at 7:30 AM tomorrow, when any God Fearing Citizen would be out getting ready to lay First Tracks on an ocean of virgin corduroy. And I have no confidence whatsoever that the Frozen Stuff won’t…freeze…overnight.  The NWS forecast notwithstanding, because, dammit, they predicted Frozen Stuff for my Ski Hill all day, and they got POWDER.

Fuck.  Do you know how often a New England ski area gets a Pow Day?

Let me tell you.  All that ski porn with the big untouched expanses, and some dude blowing their way slow-mo down the hill with only the tops of 80-foot-tall trees exposed, and huge spurts of white ejecting into the atmosphere with every turn, all set to Trance Music?

That shit is NOT filmed in New England, bitches.

The films that don’t make it – some guy carving with the World’s Loudest Scraping Sound like a steak knife schmearing a pat of butter onto the top of a brick, while kicking up 2 inches of white spray?

That is what is filmed in New England.

For us?  A Pow Day is one in which more than 4″ of snow fall, even if it’s the swankiest, rock-hard frozen concrete you ever saw in your life.

We’re Hard Core skiers.  We’re technical  skiers.  We ski on ice, bitches.  Take your soft, fluffy white stuff, and blow me with it.

We don’t know the meaning of the word “powder” here.  We are hard-fucking-core here.  You take your soft, fluffy, mile-wide ski run, and stick it where the sun is always shining.

Us?  We’ll be running the 10-foot-wide glacier with life-threatening drop-0ffs on either side, and we’ll be doing it happily, you soft pussies. AND we’ll be calling it a “green” run.

So when we say Powder Day?  Unlike life for you wusses in British Columbia, and Utah, and the Rocky Mountains, this is something  really special.

And I’ve been listening to my skis cry downstairs, all day, and not able to do a damned thing about it.

AND my drive and sidewalk is covered with three inches of slush and ice.

Fuck that.  I’ve got the Farrier of the Gods coming at 8am, and I’m hoping to whip up to Jiminy Peak for a Snow Fix and get back in time for an appointment at 4pm.  I  do not have time to screw around with people who are happy to suck up $1,500 buck and then sit on their asses when a winter storm comes.

I’m not an accountant for No Reason, buckos.  I pay the bills.  And you want to see money?  You make me happy.  And what makes me happy?

Well, having the next blast of snow and high winds hold off until approximately 5:15 tomorrow, so I’ll be home and snug.

What else?

Having the Snow Minions show up to to the damn job I’ve been paying them for for three months.

I don’t care if the sleet weighs a ton.  That is what you are getting paid for.  If it was easy why would be paying over $500 per month?

Get on there.  Work.

And Weather Gods?  Hold off on the high winds and snow, if you know what’s good for you.

After all, isn’t it Written? “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, sayeth the Lori”  Yeah, yeah, I know.  It’s a misprint.  Really, it’s The Lori, all the way through.  And if you don’t believe me, feel free to come by and argue the point in person.  I’m in the mood for it.