Archive for January, 2011

“That’s right, woodchuck-chuckers — it’s GROUNDHOG DAY!”

Groundhog Day is kind of a joke in the South, probably because the prospect of six more weeks of winter isn’t that bleak. Up here in the North, it’s not really a joke. I mean, it makes sense. We just had almost a foot of snow drop on us last week, and on Wednesday — Groundhog Day, to boot — we can expect more, plus ice.

In fact, Groundhog Day is kind of a big deal in Pennsylvana. And Punxsutawney Phil may be the most well-known prognosticator in the Feb. 2 meteorology business, but York has its own “Poor Richard” to take care of the local forecast. Moreover, Poor Richard is said to be the guest of honor in the state’s and country’s second-oldest Groundhog Day ceremony.

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. E. John Fedor, of Springettsbury Township, introduces Leroy the stuffed-animal groundhog to Elks Lodge members Carlos Fuentes and Donald Hopper, both of York City, at the Elks Lodge on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011. Fedor is the Exalted Hibernator of the York Slumbering Groundhog Lodge, which meets only once a year - on Groundhog Day, Feb. 2 - while Skip Lehmann, right, of Springettsbury Township is the lodge's Exalted Communicator.

That’s not Poor Richard, above. That’s Leroy.

This is Poor Richard, with Leroy:

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. Leroy the stuffed-animal groundhog and Poor Richard the taxidermied groundhog will both be present and featured at the annual Groundhog Day ceremony outside the Elks Lodge at 7:15 a.m. on Feb. 2, 2011. Members of the public who would like to join the York Slumbering Groundhog Lodge can donate five dollars to charity as their fee and kiss Poor Richard's nose as an initiation rite.

Although there’s supposed to be a terrific blizzard on Groundhog Day — just like in the movie! — Fedor (the York Slumbering Groundhog Lodge’s Exalted Hibernator) says the ceremony will take place at 7:15 a.m., rain or shine. I have the night shift that day, but if I can wake up and get to the ceremony safely amid the snow and ice, I’ll be there.

Yeah. Groundhog Day is kind of a big deal in Pennsylvania. And I really don’t want to miss it.

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Here’s one last diptych from my Susquehanna adventure last weekend.

As I wandered up and down some of the eastern stretch of City Island, the clouds moved over and created some wonderful colors on the ice-covered river.

Reflected in the water are the still-sunlit buildings of downtown Harrisburg.

I moved on — and then, the clouds passed and the sun’s rays were back on the ice. I hurried back to that patch where I’d been, and tried to recreate the same photo. I wasn’t entirely successful with matching the same angle, but you can still compare the two images pretty well.

The sunlit-buildings' reflections aren't so strong here - mainly because the water is now bluer.

It still amazes me, how profoundly the quality of light can transform a picture.

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Snowfall in York County on Wednesday night ranged from 5 to 11 inches. In lieu of an assignment that was canned last-minute on Thursday, my editor decided to send me to John Rudy County Park and told me to wait/look for cross-country skiers.

He really wanted cross-country skiers.

I really doubted I’d find cross-country skiers, even if I were to hang around for hours.

But I went out to the park, and first spent some time in the open-leash area, also known as Canine Meadows. (Supposedly it’s ranked in the top 10 dog parks in the nation?) Then, as the light started to fall (and become prettier), I headed over to the main area of the park… and, in the parking lot, happened to meet two people who were about to go snowshoeing.

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. Linda Ranker, of Springettsbury Township, begins snowshoeing in John Rudy County Park on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011. Snowfall in York County ranged from 7 to 11 inches on Wednesday night.

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. Tom Allen, of Springettsbury Township, adjusts his snowshoe straps in John Rudy County Park on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011.

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. Tom Allen and Linda Ranker, of Springettsbury Township, snowshoe up a hill in John Rudy County Park on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011. Allen and Ranker said this was their second time using their new snowshoes, which are lighter-weight than traditional wooden ones.

So, I guess I lucked out. It ain’t cross-country skiing, but it’s definitely something other than sledding or shoveling.

Side note: Allen and Ranker definitely had the physical advantage over me — that is, I didn’t have snowshoes. Keeping pace with them while making pictures was pretty difficult, especially since I was almost up to my knees in snow.

(And yes, that vignette is in-camera.)

  • ADDENDUM — Jan. 28, 12:56 p.m. EST —

I’ve received a few comments and questions about whether that vignette really is in-camera. Proof:

These are the original files, as seen in Photo Mechanic.

The only toning I did was some contrast (via curves) and color balance. I did not perform any selective editing.

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For my first video at The York Dispatch, I followed a day in the life of the Bake Shoppe in downtown’s Central Market.

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. School of Culinary Arts student Meredith Jensen places fresh cookies into the countertop display in the school's Bake Shoppe, located in Central Market, on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011. Jensen is one of three students working in the student-run bake shop, which is open to the public.

The shop is actually operated by York’s School of Culinary Arts and run by the school’s pastry students. (This concept of a real-world learning lab should be very familiar to members of the Mizzou Mafia.) It opened just about a month ago, and has fresh baked goods available for sale on market days.

Check out the video!

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. School of Culinary Arts student Meredith Jensen rolls out individual portions of cookie dough in the school's Bake Shoppe, located in Central Market, on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011. Jensen and two other students work in the student-run bake shop, which currently operates as an externship site but will soon become part of the school's curriculum.

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. As chef instructor Lisa Linton watches, School of Culinary Arts student Meredith Jensen rolls croissant dough in the school's Bake Shoppe, located in Central Market, on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011. Because the shop operates during Central Market's hours, students working in the shop must arrive at 5:30 a.m. to begin baking the day's goods and preparing dough for the next market day.

Side note: I’ve shot other videos that were published on-line before this, but this is the first one that I edited. As anyone who’s been following me on Twitter for the past few weeks can confirm, I’ve had some fun wrangling with the Adobe Premiere Elements software we installed on my laptop. (Hence, my editor has been the one putting my videos together while I edited this project and became used to Premiere Elements.)

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It’s inevitable. Any/every time it snows on the east coast, everyone on Twitter knows because their Twitter feeds blow up with any/all of the following hashtags, depending on (or, sometimes, regardless of) the severity of the snow forecast:

Which is kinda silly, since it’s winter… and it tends to snow in the winter… just about every year.

Journalists, being journalists, are often required to report on what’s happening outside people’s windows. Therefore, every time the weather gods decided to shake things up a little, journalists are all over it. Which is why, after I finished a video project (more on that later), I trudged outside today during a lull in the snowfall.

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. Jeremy Shaulis, of Red Lion, shovels the sidewalk of West Market Stree between North George and North Beaver Streets on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011. Snowfall halted around midday on Wednesday but is forecast to resume heavily into the afternoon and evening.

I don’t mind covering snow. It’s just one of those things that happens and that journalists are expected to cover, no matter how many front pages in a week feature snow stories.

But goodness, people, chill out on the hashtags. (No pun intended.)

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Last night, I was supposed to shoot girls basketball. I arrived early — and saw wrestlers on a wrestling mat.

Turns out they rescheduled the girls basketball game to tonight, and the paper hadn’t been notified. I called the reporter, he called the sports editor and soon we were rushing over to a boys basketball game going on a few miles away.

I’ll say it now: I had a pretty rough off-night. This was not one of my best games. In fact, this was probably my worst game. This happens to every photographer, though, so I’m not concerned about being in a rut or out of shape. That said, here’s the shot that ran:

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. Dallastown's Cori Ebersole drives the ball past Red Lion's Mike Fox and Tanner Klinefelter during the second period at Dallastown Area High School on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011. Dallastown defeated Red Lion 43-36.

…And here are shots that would belong only on a blog, if anywhere at all.

First: layers. Oh my goodness, layers.

If you look closely, you can even see another photographer way in the back.

Second: oops.

Would've been better if his head had been replaced instead by the basketball.

Yep. Pretty rough off-night. John, who shot the night’s other game, said he had an off-night, too. There must’ve been something in the water.

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I’m pretty sure Monday was the first day (in my experience here so far) to feature daytime temperatures in the single digits. Naturally, there was some breaking news (outside), and then my assignment was to cover some York Catholic High School students working on a nature trail (also outside).

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. (Left to right) York Catholic High School juniors Genny Rackson of Fawn Grove, Steph Solis of New Freedom and Melanie Crisamore of Manchester Township take a log to the dumpster in what used to be an illegal dump site next to the school's football field on Monday, Jan. 24, 2011. Penn State Cooperative Extension has identified 274 illegal dump sites in the county, including the one next to York Catholic.

I also shot some video, which Randy threw together while I worked on another, forthcoming video project.

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. York Catholic High School junior Josh Merani, of Stewartstown, scans the ground for trash in what used to be an illegal dump site next to the school's football field on Monday, Jan. 24, 2011. York Catholic environmental science teacher Ryan Luckman is helping lead his students to clean up the area and create a nature trail that will feature native species.

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If a train is going westbound at 20 miles per hour and a tractor-trailer is heading southbound at (I’m not sure how many) miles per hour…

Never mind, I’m not going to try constructing one of those math problems.

I was en route to an 8:30 assignment this morning when my editor called and said a car hit a train at this-and-this intersection on the other side of town. When I arrived at that intersection, I saw nothing but found it hard to believe that the accident would have been cleaned up already — and then saw flashing lights about half a mile down a side street.

Turns out it wasn’t a car that hit the moving train — it was a tractor-trailer.

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. A UPS freight tractor trailer crashed into a train at the rail crossing on Zarfoss Drive near West Market Street on Monday, Jan. 24, 2011. West Manchester Township police officer Keith Roehm said the truck driver, Monte Poff of Red Lion, was headed southbound on Zarfoss when he didn't see the rail crossing lights because the sun was in his eyes. No personal injuries were sustained, although the train lost a brake and dragged the truck about 130 yards before it came to a compete stop.

Train: 1, tractor-trailer: 0.

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Well, the Steelers defeated the Jets tonight, and are moving on to the Super Bowl.

Tonight, as part of my Sunday late-ish shift, I was sent to photograph fans watching the game at a bar.

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. Pittsburgh Steelers fans Mike and Kim Harkins, of Dallastown, cheer and New York Jets fan Joey Rivera, of Red Lion, grimaces, after the Steelers made a run during the second quarter of the American Football Conference championship game. Rivera, the Harkins and dozens of other fans gathered at Tailgaters Grille and Drafthouse on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011, and watched the Steelers win the AFC championship to move on to the Super Bowl.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had to make pictures of sports fans cheering on their team at the local watering hole, and since the Super Bowl game falls again on my Sunday shift, this probably won’t be the last time, either. That said, these kinds of assignments always present a few challenges:

  1. As a photographer wanting to get fans’ reactions to the game, you absolutely need to stick around for a while to make sure you get enough reactions to enough plays. This is because…
  2. …Chances are, frames with really good moments are also going to have quite a few mid-blinks or arms in front of faces, etc.
  3. Also, sports bars typically have multiple TV screens installed, which means fans at any given table will at any given time be looking in any given direction, depending on whichever screen they choose to watch. This can make for some pretty odd-looking photos, what with people looking in all directions.

All of this means… you absolutely need to stick around for a while. (Which you should do anyway.)

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Thanks to Abbott and Costello, I’ve been familiar with the word/name “Susquehanna” for more than half my life. And now I’m living in a county whose eastern border is the Susquehanna River itself.

I’ve been in York for just over three weeks now but have crossed the river various times — and was always struck by its icy beauty. Therefore, on Friday, I set out to make some pictures of the Susquehanna.

It was a frustrating trip. I did find access points, but they didn’t have the view of the river I wanted. In Wrightsville, the river was blue and flowing; what I wanted was the icy surface that I’d seen near Harrisburg. So I headed up north via Rte 441.

An industrial plant next to the Susquehanna River and on Rte 441 between Marietta and Bainbridge, Pa.

I did find Three Mile Island.

Three Mile Island, as seen from Rte 441.

Per a friend’s suggestion, I made my way to City Island, which is a mile-long island in the middle of the river next to Harrisburg. Not too many good vantage points there, either, unfortunately. I desperately wished it were legal for me to pull over on the shoulder of one of the many bridges spanning the Susquehanna. One day, when it’s less windy, I’ll take the Walnut Street pedestrian bridge from Harrisburg.

The Market Street bridge over the Susquehanna River, as seen from City Island.

Perhaps on my next days off, I’ll try again to find some good access points. Many of the ones I did find were private/corporate property, so I’ll have to do some research and find more public areas along the river. And maybe rent a helicopter so I can get exactly the shots I want. (I wish!)

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Just about two months ago, in November, I was in Missouri to be with friends and Jeff. At one point, Jeff and I made a daytrip to a few small towns in central Missouri.

One of them was Arrow Rock. It was a weekday, so the town was still. But we did find a pretty cool tree (whose carpet of yellow leaves is featured heavily in our current Facebook profile pictures).

When I went driving around the Susquehanna River yesterday, I encountered another cool tree — err, its shadow, at least. Hence, another diptych.

A little outside of downtown Arrow Rock, Mo., on Nov. 19, 2010.

Near a boating deck along the Susquehanna River in Wrightsville, Pa., on Jan. 21, 2011.

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I spent a good chunk of today driving and making pictures. I’ll blog the majority of those later, but first, here’s a diptych for ya.

Three nights ago, I was coasting down the hill toward my apartment complex, saw a picture, pulled over into a parking lot and made that picture. Earlier today, in the late afternoon, I saw the same picture — and made it again.

Jan. 18.

Jan. 21.

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I had my first night shift last night, which meant I shot high school sports. Specifically, high school wrestling.

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. Spring Grove's Paul Smith, left, wrestles Red Lion's Rustin Lehr in the 189-pound bout at Spring Grove Area High School on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011. Rehr defeated Smith 2-1 in their match; Spring Grove defeated Red Lion 46

High school sports, especially wrestling and swimming, are known to feature poor lighting conditions that frustrate the hell out of photographers. John warned me about Spring Grove’s gym: For varsity bouts, they turn off all the lights in the gym except for a single spotlight above the mat.

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. Red Lion's Austin Holloway, top, wrestles Spring Grove's Toby Allison in the 135-pound bout at Spring Grove Area High School on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011. Holloway defeated Allison 7-6 in their match

Fortunately, the mat is white, so it’s basically one big bounce card or reflector or what-have-you. That said, the exposure on the edge of the mat isn’t so great — but I never felt tempted to pull out my flash. I was pretty happy with my first time shooting high school wrestling, but I know I won’t be so fortunate in every gym. (Alas.)

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. Spring Grove's Mike Hartman, top, wrestles Red Lion's Patrick Kluyber in the 145-pound bout at Spring Grove Area High School on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011. Hartman defeated Kluyber 4-0 in their match.


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Every month, The York Dispatch produces a short video featuring three dogs and three cats available for adoption at the York County SPCA. It’s a small service for the community, and I’m told that the videos do help bring animals from the shelter to good homes.

Of course, this means that every month, a Dispatch photographer needs to shoot video and take photographs of three dogs and three cats. Today, I went with John to see how it’s done.

Crissy poses for York Dispatch photographer John A. Pavoncello at the York County SPCA on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011, for the Dispatch's monthly "Take Me Home" video featuring three dogs and three cats.

I’ve never been to an SPCA or shelter before, since I haven’t been in a situation where I could own a pet, and seeing all the lonely cats and dogs kinda broke my heart.

“It’s best to make them look as cute and sad and pathetic as possible,” John told me before we entered the building.

Some of the animals were shy and needed some coaxing — but others were immediately curious about John and me.

Jade inspects York Dispatch photographer John A. Pavoncello's video camera at the York County SPCA on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011, for the Dispatch's monthly "Take Me Home" video featuring three dogs and three cats.

To view past “Take Me Home” videos, go to the Dispatch video homepage and click through the categories, which are in tabs on the upper righthand side of the Flash viewer, until you get to the correct category.

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Yorkers know when it’s tax season — because the Statues of Liberty are on the streets, waving signs, dancing and having a good ol’ time.

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. Dressed as the Statue of Liberty, Freddie Frederick, of York City, waves to passing drivers at the corner of North George Street and U.S. Route 30 on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011. One office's lead tax preparer, Kate Williams of York City, said the wavers bring in about 90 percent of her office's customers.

Every year, from January through April, Liberty Tax Services employs people to dress as the Statue of Liberty and attract attention and customers to their offices. My editor sent me out yesterday to shoot some video of these Statues of Liberty, just for fun. Check out the finished video, which he edited.

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. Statue of Liberty robes hang in the back room of the Liberty Tax Services office at 30 11th Avenue on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011.

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. Dressed as the Statue of Liberty, Freddie Frederick, of York City, waves to passing drivers at the corner of North George Street and U.S. Route 30 on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011. Frederick said he has been waving every January-April season for Liberty Tax Services for about three years.

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. Steaven Smith, of York City, dances to music via his CD player as he waves to pedestrians and passing drivers at the corner of North George Street and West Philadelphia Street on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011. Smith, who is originally from New York City, said he loves his job because it represents his hometown and because he loves to dance. As to the music to which he dances and hums, Smith said he listens to anything from Young Jeezy to Mary J. Blige.

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A winter’s night

It seems like evening falls much more quickly here in York than it does anywhere else I’ve lived. (For the record: Texas, New Mexico, Missouri, Maryland and Georgia… so far.)

As I coasted down a hill on my drive home from the newsroom yesterday, I suddenly decided to make some pictures, so I pulled over into a parking lot to the right. Light was fading fast, so I had to be quick with setting up my tripod.

Taken from across a highway, with a 70-200mm. Thank goodness for ISO 6400.

Weather permitting, I think I’ll spend some time on my next days off making pictures of the surrounding land.

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On Sunday, my editor told me to check out the 28th annual Dirt Trackin’ Show at the York Fairgrounds Expo Center. Even though the show’s website gave no indication thereof, I expected to shoot some pretty dirty, gritty racing, and therefore prepared for the worst by wearing my oldest jeans and a worn sweater.

I knew I was wrong as soon as I entered the expo center. Instead making my way through large crowds cheering on dirt-churning racecars, I saw there were about 200 racecars on display and very few people walking around. Vendors and local drivers whom I met confirmed my fears: Sunday was turning out to be the slowest day of one of the slowest show weekends they’d seen in years.

But some people were out to have fun anyway. Here’s one.

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. Vicki Wallace, of West Manchester Township, wedges herself into the seat of small block modified car as the car's driver Daryl Dissinger, of Hummelstown in Dauphin County, gives her verbal instructions at the 28th annual Dirt Trackin' Show at the York Fairgrounds Expo Center on Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011. Dissinger's car is pink because it is sponsored by the Dillsburg Cancer Center.

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Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which means the Crispus Attucks Community Center here in York hosted its 27th annual MLK Day breakfast and day of community service.

Yep, 27th. MLK Day became a national holiday only 25 years ago, but one of the organizers told me the CA began the breakfast two years prior. Here are a few snaps from today; check out some more in the York Dispatch gallery.

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. Berta Palmer, of York City, performs a dramatic monologue as former slave Harriet Tubman for the more than 500 people who came for breakfast and community service at the Crispus Attucks Community Center on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day on Monday, Jan. 17, 2011. Palmer began and ended her monologue by singing parts of the spiritual "Go Down Moses."

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. Michael Ortiz, 2 of York City, and his mother Atya listen to speakers while eating breakfast at the Crispus Attucks Community Center on Monday, Jan. 17, 2011.

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. Amarjaa Goodling, 9 of West Manchester Township, hands a plate of food to Jimmya Coates, 10 of York City, before breakfast was served to more than 500 people at the Crispus Attucks Community Center on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day on Monday, Jan. 17, 2010. MLK Day 2011 committee member Lesia Richards said the meals were free to the public.

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. Voni Grimes, 89 of York City, performs "Lift Every Voice and Sing" on the harmonica during the 27th annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Day breakfast at the Crispus Attucks Community Center on Monday, Jan. 17, 2011. Grimes, who attended segregated schools in York, is a local community leader who has promoted athleticism and has had a gym named after him.


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The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens are playing right now in the AFC playoffs. In anticipation of tonight’s game, my editor sent me to a local sports merch store on Thursday to photograph fans getting geared up.

Because York is about an hour north of Baltimore and, obviously, in Pennsylvania, the local fandom is split pretty evenly between the Steelers and the Ravens. This meant I had to make sure to get Steelers and Ravens fans in the store — no matter that it was noontime on a weekday.

I spent about two hours in the store, waiting for Ravens and Steelers fans to come in, and got one Ravens fan (who had to cross county lines in search of a Ravens T-shirt fitted for women). Finally, when a grandmother entered with her two young grandsons, I knew I could get the assignment done. With the grandmother’s permission, I followed the boys as they searched for shirts they could wear while watching the game.

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. Darius Kuentzler, 10 of Manchester Township, tries on a youth-sized version of Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley's jersey at Bleacher Bums in York Galleria on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011. Kuentzler was visibly disappointed that the store's selection of youth-sized Steelers jerseys included only Woodley's and Ben Roethlisberger's numbers.

(Darius did eventually find a jersey he liked — Willie Parker’s. He also got quoted in the accompanying article.)

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I have puppies!

A schnauzer and a Yorkie/Maltese mix.

Okay, okay — they’re not really mine. They’re my roommate’s dogs, and they’re great.

Although, one of them (the one in the foreground of the photo) can be rambunctious. Last night, while my roommate was still at work, I thought I heard a knock at the door… and as soon as I opened the door, the dog bolted out into the snow. Wearing a sweater, pajama pants and flip-flops, I had to chase him through two inches of snow before some younger girls out playing helped me round him up.

Lucky for him, he’s the cutest little furball, so I couldn’t be too mad at him.

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