Archive | January, 2014


30 Jan

This morning, The Squire received a phone call from the security company, saying that there was an “incident” at the church.  When he arrived, he found two doors open, and the klaxons and lights going full bore.

He was actually considering calling for police backup, when two men, both members of the church, ambled out and headed for their pickup truck. “Loud, innit?” asked one, nonchalantly.

They’d borrowed a dozen or so folding chairs from the church for a Christmas dinner at their home, and were finally getting around to returning them. In spite of the fact that they had called my husband to ask about borrowing the chairs, it never occurred to them to mention returning them. (I suppose that makes sense; they didn’t need permission to bring them back, after all.) According to them, they tried the back door, and the nursery door, and when neither of those opened, they went around and yanked – several times – on the double glass doors in the front of the church until they managed to pull them open. Then, in spite of the deafening noise and blinding lights, they went through and opened the nursery, so they could carry in the folding chairs.

My dad used to say, it isn’t that it takes all kinds. The problem is that we have all kinds.




29 Jan

The Squire discovered this morning that the pipe between the well and the house had frozen. Cute.  Luckily, he had a pretty good idea where the problem was located, but fixing it was going to be tricky.

Two years ago, we had to have some work done which really needed a professional  – digging up a six foot length of pipe, three feet down and replacing it. When the crew came inside they informed me that our PVC pipe did not meet code, and set in to replace a good bit of it with copper. (I think if The Squire had been home, he would have stood his ground, but I’m a wimp.) Two problems; one is our water is so acidic that it has already eaten through the copper pipes and been replaced with PVC, and two, they way they rigged up the pipes I couldn’t open the cupboard where I keep my cleaning supplies. (Not that this is a big problem, since I seldom use them, but it’s the principle of the thing.)

Anyway, to get to the point here, they had also replaced the plastic elbow outside the house, where the pipe goes through the wall, with a brass fitting, which was where the “freeze” was.  This connection is encased in a little concrete bunker with a wooden lid.  The Squire called every hardware store in the tri-state area, looking for heat tape, but we were obviously not the only people with frozen pipes.  Finally, in desperation, he defied all the laws of good sense and ran a heavy duty extension cord out the living room window and put an electric heater inside the bunker.

Fortunately, brass heats up almost as fast as it freezes, and within fifteen minutes we were back in business.

What Were They Thinking?

27 Jan

dress frontI really do need some new clothes. Most of the things in my closet average ten years old, and even my “new” Easter suit has been hanging around for five years.

I got an email from a large chain, and opened it on a whim, as most of their clothes are far too  young for a little old lady. This dress did catch my eye. I don’t normally like short sleeved tops because I feel they make me look heavy, but the “shoulder strap” detail breaks the width, and the vertical stripes are slimming. It is a style that would go from fall into early spring, a bit shorter than I like, but for $20, I’ll go for it.

Until I took a look at the back. dress back

A dark green, metal zipper – the sort you’d find on a snow coat or a sleeping bag – sewn on the outside of the dress.

No wonder it was on clearance.

The Mall in Columbia

25 Jan

Columbia is on the far side of Baltimore from us, located about mid-way between Baltimore and Washington, DC.

As of 5:20 – it is now 5:45 here – the police report there were three people dead, including the gunman. It appears to have been a domestic situation, although no further information has been released . (Haven’t these people ever heard of divorce lawyers?) There are reports of others having been wounded, perhaps by shotgun pellets.

It is a sad, sad commentary on the world in which we live that everyone knew exactly what to do. Shelter in place; go into a stockroom or restroom and barricade the doors.

Film at 11:00.

Two employees, male and female, in their 20s. Gunman not yet identified, as he was carrying so much ammunition the police have to “use great caution” to move his body.

And We Had Snow

22 Jan

It started snowing about 9 AM yesterday and kept it up until about 9:30 last night. We got about eight inches here. Brutally cold, but the birds were out in force; I filled the feeder outside the den window three times – and nine pounds of seed. We had “good” birds; juncos, titmice, four or five kinds of sparrows, red wing blackbirds, mourning doves, chickadees – and a towhee, which we had never seen before. Maryland is just on the northern limit of their year-round home. Today, all we have are “junk” birds – starlings and grackles. I know they are God’s creatures and need to eat, too, but so much squabbling and yelling, pushing each other out of the way. You’d think they were humans.

No sign of the squirrels, either yesterday or today, so I suppose they’ll be out in force tomorrow. I didn’t bother to go out to feed the foxes last night; I figured they’d stay denned up, but when I went out just now (2:30) to empty the compost I took their food out with me, and found where they’d been “schnoveling” in circles last night, looking for their dish.

The Squire met two other fellows over at church this morning and cleared the sidewalks, and another member came down and plowed the parking lot.

We had a nice surprise when a neighbor of ours showed up a little before noon on his tractor and did our drive! What a blessing that was. I’ll climb the hill tomorrow morning and take them some fresh bread.

Oh, Deer!

16 Jan

I always take Blazer with me when I go to the Wednesday morning knitting group. Yesterday, he needed to take a walk in the woods, and I found a very dead deer just inside the tree line. The Squire called one of the other members to see about hauling or moving the carcass, which was done this morning.

The deer had been shot with an arrow, on church property, just beside the foundation of the original church. The poor animal had managed to travel the fifty or so feet to the woods, and then simply laid down and suffered, arrow still embedded, until he died. No effort made to find him – and he was in plain sight – and put him out of his misery.

This is totally unacceptable from a humanitarian standpoint, and it is not appropriate use of our property. Private property, thank you very much. We don’t mind people walking their dogs, and the path to the river cuts across the far corner of the lot; you may park there any time but Sunday morning.

But you don’t kill things and leave them here. Got that?


The CPAP Goes Back Tomorrow

15 Jan

I spoke to a very nice lady at the sleep clinic on Monday about getting the pressure cut back on my machine, and she told me she would talk to my doctor. I also spoke to a very nice gentleman at the supplier, and he said that while he could cut back to starting pressure, I had to have a prescription from the doctor to do anything about what I’ll call the final pressure.

Another call to the sleep center yesterday, and the very nice lady was surprised that my doctor had not gotten in touch with me. She did mention that there is a self-titrating machine, which would automatically adjust to my needs. That would be wonderful, as my problem is with my diaphragm, not my lungs.  It’s after 6 PM here, so I doubt I’m going to hear from the doctor today.

So, last night I decided to give it one more try. I doped myself up and actually fell asleep. The Squire said the noises I was making kept him awake. Although the mask fits me fine when I am sitting up, when I lay down gravity takes over and the soft plastic sort of collapses and the air leaks out around it. It sounds as if we’re in the middle of a blizzard. When I fell asleep, without my conscious effort to keep my mouth shut, the air whistles out one corner of my mouth or  flutters out of my mouth.  Or out my left ear.

And then the screaming started. When you are sound asleep and have something over your face, it probably doesn’t sound much like screaming to anybody but The Squire, but apparently he was bolt upright in a flash. Got me untangled from the hoses, turned off the machine, and talked me back down off the ceiling.

Those of you who know me personally know my saga, but my on-line friends don’t, because it’s not something I talk about a lot. Many years ago, I was jumped and beaten up, and then my attacker tried to smother me with a pillow. So far, the only accommodation I’ve needed to make to this is swimming sidestroke, not wearing Halloween masks and being sure not to get water in my face.

Until we come up against oxygen masks and CPAP machines.  It goes back tomorrow morning.

I have a Hole in My Head

11 Jan

It’s official.

I have had trouble catching my breath since I was a small child. I was about eight when I announced to my parents that “I can breath in twice without having to breathe out”. My father thought this was interesting, but my mother snapped “That’s ridiculous. Russell, don’t encourage her.”

I never mentioned it again, but when I was in the tenth or eleventh grade my dad took me to the doctor, who said it was a problem with my diaphragm, nothing serious, and gave me some sort of tiny yellow pills – probably a tranquilizer.

Anyway, after many years of fighting this problem, which is often so severe I have to hang from a door frame to force air into my lungs, the doctors have decided that I have sleep apnea (Hello, I’m wide awake.) and prescribed a CPAP. We will not discuss the actual sleep study, which frankly ought to be covered by the Geneva Convention, but I have been given a machine which pumps air into my lungs.

Way too much air. I can’t breath it all in, and The Squire says sometimes my cheeks bulge out, and the air escaping from my lips makes a noise like a sail flapping in the wind. It’s a shame I sound as if I’m three sheets to the wind, when I haven’t had the pleasure of getting royally drunk. Every time I use the blasted thing, my ears pop, the way they do when you go up in an airplane.

And this afternoon, when I went to take my nap, I heard a popping noise, and air began whistling out of my left ear!

I called the doctor’s office immediately, but of course this is a weekend, so I won’t be able to contact him until Monday. The machine has simply been set WAY too high, but it’s not something the patient can adjust, but I think the CPAP and I are going to part ways.

Baby, It’s C-c-c-cold Outside!

7 Jan

Woke up this morning to temps of 5-F, and a wind chill of 11 below. Nippy. Yesterday morning it was warm enough that I actually managed to take Blazer for a walk, but this morning I tied  him out and he was quick about it. The water in the kitchen is frozen, which happens at least once each winter. The Squire and I have discussed wrapping the pipe in heating tape – many times – and this morning his reason was there is no place to plug in the tape. I tapped the front of the dishwasher. “This runs on electricity? Where is it plugged in?”  Obviously, the dishwasher needs both water and electricity to run.

Heavy sigh. I know he hates the thought of pulling out the machine and all that jazz, but one heating tape isn’t going to pull the power two – two – electric heaters use to thaw out pipes. And his wife isn’t happy about taking the dishpan into the bathroom to wash the dishes, while we’re discussing this subject.

Ah, well. At least we do have power and heat, which is more than some folks have at the moment.

The Squire and I had tickets to the Maryland Science Center; we were determined to see the Mummy exhibit before it leaves on the 20th, so we bundled up and headed downtown. Parking was a minor problem. They have some parking close to the building, but it turned out to be all for employees. The fellow at the parking lot named several places we could park, but most of them were too far for The Squire to walk. We ended up simply parking almost directly across the street, which was free with his handicapped tag. Even walking from the car to the building, I had to put my gloved hands over my cheeks to keep the wind from burning them.

We spent a LOT of time in the mummy exhibit. There was a sign stating that each of these mummies had once been a living person, with family and friends, and the entire exhibit was to be treated with dignity and respect. A nice touch, I thought, and I noticed several parents/docents/teachers reminding their boisterous charges to keep it to a dull roar.

There are lots of interactive computer displays – CT scans showing the bones and teeth and inside the skull, analysis of the smallest bits of skin or bones could tell what sort of diet the person ate, and so forth. All the ways scientists can examine the body, almost without ever touching it, other than to move it from one spot to another. Several Egyptian mummies – those people mummified everything, from people to cats to small crocodiles. Three people from one family (Polish, I think) who all died of tuberculosis – mother, year old son, and father. The tuberculosis bacillus remains in the bodies (virtually an entire village had been wiped out in this case) forever, and these older strains are being tested to see if doctors can come up with a cure for what is now a virtually drug-resistant illness.

Quite a few bodies from South America, some of which posed real questions. One woman was curled up on her side, with a small child resting against her stomach and another child under her head. Mother and her children? Scientists say the three bodies cover a period of over 200 years. Another woman had been buried sitting up, crossed legged, with her arms wrapped around her waist. Unfortunately, the poor thing had fallen over backwards sometime after she was placed in the tomb, which left her in a very awkward position, but the real surprise was when they X-rayed her, they found she was holding a baby tooth in each hand. They will not retrieve the teeth, but are they her own? Teeth from her own children? Nobody will ever know.

Probably the saddest was a very primitive mummy from Peru. It was a toddler; the inner organs had been removed and the cavity filled with dry grasses, and then a clay face was formed over the skull. It was found in an ancient (1,000 BCE) hut. Perhaps some family had wanted to keep their little one with them, even after it had died?

We also spent some time in the dinosaur exhibit, contemplating the bones and footprints. There were samples of rocks containing fossils, but even with little red arrows pointing them out, I could not see them. Guess that wouldn’t have been a good career choice. There were several stations where you could watch and listen to scientists discuss various aspects of their work. One fellow moved his head around so much that when the camera was trained on him I had to put my hand over the screen. I mean, being animated when you speak is one thing, but this guy was a bobble-head!

The Snow Lay on the Ground

4 Jan

It started snowing here around 3 PM Thursday and was still snowing when we went to bed. It had stopped when we got up, but it is very cold and cloudy right now, so we may get more. Big, beautiful, fluffy stuff, about eight inches of it, that is probably driving my poor grandson crazy.   Actually, I didn’t hear any reports of folks in the Baltimore area losing power, so maybe he had an easy day. It was pretty windy, and they don’t send the “cherry pickers” up if it’s over 35 MPH, for fear the trucks will turn over.

The snow is still so fluffy that when Blazer runs around he kicks up great clouds of the stuff.  I tried to get some pictures of the birds at the feeder outside the den window, but no luck; either the birds flew away as soon as they heard the camera go on, or there was a reflection from the window.

The Squire and I decided to go on the Reader’s Digest diet, as of today. When I went to bed last night, I told him I set out all the things he would need to make his morning shake. He was reading a good book and listening to music, so I don’t know if he even heard me. At any rate, when I got up this morning, he had already fixed himself fried eggs, and gone over to shovel the sidewalks at church .

Alone.   His age and this cold is an invitation to a heart attack. I love him, but that’s not very bright.

I’m not too sure about this diet, as it is a LOT more than I usually eat,  but we shall see. Of course, it calls for an hour of exercise every day, and when it is 18-F outside and blowing a gale, THAT’s not going to happen.

Wish me luck.