Archive | October, 2013

The Vanishing Charge-a-Plate

29 Oct

I stopped at Sheetz this morning to grab a cup of coffee, and had to flip through over a dozen little tags on my key ring before I found the right one for the clerk to scan.

I’m not really complaining about using these tags. Ten cups of coffee purchased at the gas station earns me one free cup, plus they give me 3 cents off each gallon of gas. Our local grocery store has a program that lets you earn credit toward gas purchases, plus your organization can turn in the receipts and get back 2%. (If you see somebody digging in the trash cans, it’s probably a member of our church.) Most drug stores have some sort of “preferred customer” program, and my library card is also on my key ring.

As I was searching for my Sheetz card, I asked the clerk if she was old enough to remember Baltimore’s Charge-a-Plates. It was a metal plate, maybe 2 inches by one, with your name and address embossed on the front. The edges turned over to seal a piece of paper with your signature. Each of the big department stores in Baltimore had a notch on the card. The salesgirl – always a woman – put the card into a machine very similar to the ones in use today, where you slide a bar back and forth over the card to imprint the customer’s name and number. AND, you only had to carry ONE card!

Baltimore also had a delivery business, so you could buy an item at, say, Hutzler’s, tell the clerk it was C.O.D., and the next day, a big brown truck would pull up in front of your house, you’d pay the man, and voila! Plus, it was free.

Those were the days, my friend, those were the days!

I’ve Often Wondered…

26 Oct

This morning I had to run to the grocery store, and saw a man – who had to be my age, at least – schlepping around in his pajama bottoms.  A lot of teens also do this.

Most people don’t wear undies to bed, right? Are these folks wandering around without underwear? Flannel pj’s or not, it must be awfully drafty! If they take off the pajama bottoms to put on what my grandmother used to call “dribs”, why don’t they just pull on a pair of jeans?


Hark, Hark! The Dog Does Bark!

20 Oct

About 4:00 this morning, Blazer began a ferocious barking. Nothing particularly unusual about that, as he considers it his business to scare off any wild things that come near the house. (Excluding, of course, leaf-blowing raccoons.) I noticed that the motion light over the drive had gone on, and simply assumed one or more deer had come for a visit.

Until the doorbell rang.

Since deer don’t generally ring our bell (they usually knock) both The Squire and I leapt out of bed, threw on something resembling clothing and dashed downstairs. A Baltimore County police officer was standing outside the dining room window, with his hand raised in an “I come in peace” gesture. We corralled Blazer, who probably would have licked the poor man to death, and opened the door.

It turned out the alarm at church had gone off, and the first person on the call list couldn’t remember the security code, so they had called The Squire. We don’t have a phone in our bedroom, so after four attempts to contact us, the alarm company had asked the county police to come to the house. The Squire dressed and went over, to find all the exterior doors open and unlocked – but the alarm was set, and still ringing. The sacristy and various offices were all locked (separate keys) so nothing had been taken. All was secured, and The Squire came back home.

He swore he wouldn’t be able to get back to sleep, but he was snoring the second his head hit the pillow.

Never a dull.

Things That Go Whirr in the Night

18 Oct

As I was locking up tonight I heard a familiar, but unidentifiable noise.

Not the pump, not the dishwasher, not the fridge doing something new and exciting. The raccoons had managed to turn on the leaf blower.

I really, really wish I had seen that!

Winterizing the Air Conditioner

17 Oct

Last year, in the middle of a blistering heat wave, The Squire managed to snag the last window air conditioner Sears had in stock between Philly and DC. It worked beautifully, and I would recommend it highly. But winter is coming, and we need to remove it and put it away until next summer.

And we discovered you can’t get the fool thing apart to clean it.

Cleaning the filter is easy. Pull open the little trap door, remove the screen, wipe it off and slip it back in. BUT. The augers and grills which direct the air flow are not removeable by the average person. After two years of use, they had become covered with black mold, which you obviously do not want blowing around your house. The manual that came with the machine was no help, and when I contacted Sears’ on-line Help Desk, I “spoke” with three different people, none of whom knew how the remove the dirtiest parts of the unit.

 The Squire managed to find a very hidden clip, which popped the entire front off the machine. He had to remove the electonic panel from inside, and then I spent about a half an hour with Lysol, hot water, and an old toothbrush, scrubbing all the nooks and crannies. I was sorely tempted to put it in the dishwasher.

To top it all off, the inside of the unit is conscructed entirely of Styrofoam! Try to get that clean!

So now, the dismantled air conditioner is drying out on the front porch. We’ll see how it works when The Squire gets it put back together. 

The Bradshaw “Anaponda”

15 Oct

AnacondaJust before I had my most recent stroke, The Squire and I spent a day or two trying to clean a clog in the drain that carries the overflow from the pond into the stream. Recently, the drain has clogged again, and the pond was in serious danger of overflowing.  Remembering how much trouble we had gone through before, we decided to rent a “mini-rooter” from Home Depot, and The Squire went off this morning to collect this machine.

The first hour, the work went fairly quickly, as each pass of the “drill” pulled up a few bits of root.

And then it jammed. We couldn’t get the drill to go any further into the pipe, and even with both of us pulling on it, we couldn’t get it loose.


I headed down to the stream to see if I could push a hand-held plumbers snake up the tube, and slipped on the wet grass – flat on my back, all the way to the stream. Too late to worry about trying to keep dry – or clean – so I got into the water and mucked about with the plumbers snake.

And then I couldn’t stand up again. (Well, better me than The Squire.)

He finally managed to get a good grip on the cable, and the both of us tugged and pulled until we saw a bit of muck at the top of the pipe. And we pulled, and we pulled, and pulled. We also huffed and puffed a bit. I think I saw one of the trees jiggle a bit, but it might have been the wind.

At any rate, this is what we pulled out of the pipe. Twenty-five feet of roots and dirt, which The Squire promptly dubbed “the Ana-ponda”.

Sleep Study, My Foot!

9 Oct

Sleep deprivation process is more like it.

I took my nighttime medicines before I left the house, and arrived at the hospital shortly before 9PM, pretty much ready to go to sleep. I had a zillion forms to fill out, most of them asking for the same information over and over again. Don’t these departments speak to each other? And then came the “wiring up”.

I had electrodes in my hair, on each temple, one on each cheek and another on either side of my mouth. Electrodes on each leg and two on my chest. There was also a nasal cannula meant to track how much air I breathed in, and a belt around my waist and my upper chest. All the wires were connected at the back of my head, and I was told to sleep tight.


I have been trained practically since infancy to sleep flat on my back. Sleeping on your side, so I was told, makes one round shouldered, deforms your rib cage, twists your hips, and dislocates your insides. The gospel according to my mother.

I said my regular prayers and then prayed, individually, for just about everybody I could think of, from the President to the guys who collect our trash. Doors opening and closing, strange rattles, what sounded like a meal cart rumbling down the hallway, and my technician popping into the room from time to time added to the fun. Sometime in the night he did ask me to roll over onto my side, but after a short time, I rang back and asked how long I had to stay this way, because I couldn’t breathe. OK. He said he’d never had a patient that couldn’t sleep  on their side. I pushed the two pillows together and put my head in the space between them, so the wires didn’t press so badly into the back of my skull.

At one point I heard a repeated five beep sound, and I was hoping that meant it was 5 AM, as they were supposed to get us up at 6:00. The tech came into my room, and I asked him if it was time to get up, but it was only 3:30. It turned out the beeping sound was caused by the person in the room next to me having dislodged the oxygen sensor on his (or her) finger. Rats. My legs were giving me trouble (I have Restless Leg Syndrome) so I asked if I could get up and take another pill. That did, finally, put me to sleep!

The tech came in at 6, and disconnected me. I put on my clothes, shoved my wig over my gummy hair, and went to the bathroom to wash the goop off my face. I left the hospital at 6:30, was home a little before 7, fed the critters, and shoved The Squire over to his own side of the bed at 7:15. He woke me at 9:15, so I could go to a meeting at church at 10, but I came back afterward and slept another hour.

The only indignity I avoided was the staff trying to fit me for a CPAP machine. Many, many years ago, someone beat me up and then tried to smother me with a pillow, and ANYTHING over my face sends me into an Olympic-class flat spin. We’ve danced the CPAP dance before, with less than happy results. The staff even has to watch me when I come out of anesthesia after surgery, because if I wake up with the oxygen mask over my face, I flip out. It’s not a pretty sight.

So now it is about 8 PM, and I am going to take my meds and go sleep, unencumbered, in my own bed

Proud Grandmother

9 Oct

OK, so I am not the first person in the world to have a granddaughter get married, but you have to admit she’s something special. She’s just one of those people the camera loves. When she told us she was getting married in a barn, I thought “ugh”, but this is not just any barn.

The black box contains a love letter each wrote to the other, and a bottle of wine. The box was nailed shut as part of the wedding ceremony. If they ever feel their marriage has come completely unglued, they are to open the letters and read them together, and have a glass of wine. Otherwise, they will open the box on their 25th anniversary.


Going Out With a Bang

6 Oct

The trouble with getting old is that you have to attend so many funerals. Yesterday, The Squire and I went to a memorial service for a delightful fellow, wonderful teacher, and devoted churchman, who died of Alzheimer’s at the age of 79. I knew Pete from my days as a church secretary, and both The Squire and I had worked with his brother at the old Equitable Trust Bank.

The postlude was Mozart’s Alleluia. Wow! What a way to go! (Pete shared a birthday with Wolfgang.)  I think I will have that for my postlude. I had asked for the Overture of 1812, but there was some quibble about the live cannons.


St. Francis Day

5 Oct

blazer blessingBlazer here, coz Mom’s busy.

Today I got to go over to church and meet a bunch of other dogs. Most of them were really nice, but there was one little snippy dog who must have thought she was a lot bigger than she really was. She barked and snarled at me; I could have swallowed her in one gulp, but I just knew Mom wasn’t going to like that, so I just backed up and let her think she won. Papa says that’s the best way to handle women, anyway.   Fr. Matthew was there, and his friend brought their two beagles. They were sweet little dogs, and I wish we could have played together longer.

Anyway, we all sat down in front of Fr. Matthew and he gave each of us a blessing.  I don’t know exactly what that means, but the lady who was at church last year did it too, so it must be a Good Thing. I even got a little card with my name on it. And then, a nice man gave me a little bit of dog food. It wasn’t my usual brand, so I wasn’t sure about it, but Mom said it was OK, so I ate it.

Mom and Papa have to go out to a funeral – I don’t know what that is either, but they seem sad, so I’m going to go give them kisses and hope they feel better.

Oh! Somebody sent Mom this picture of me. People say I have a nice smile, but I think I look a little goofy.