Archive | February, 2014

I’m From the Government…

28 Feb

Last year, our rector was at the local MARC station at the unholy hour of 4:45 on Ash Wednesday to provide “Ashes to Go” to those who desired them.

I don’t know if he had or needed a permit, but this year he does. We got a call today from someone in the Harford County Government who said the permit could not be issued because we “were not in good standing, as we had not paid personal property taxes for the last three years”.

First of all, the State of Maryland does not have a personal property tax, and second, as a church we would be exempt even if there was one. Who are they going to bill? God? When the call came in, our Senior Warden happened to be there, as well as The Squire, who was working on plats to take to the County Seat to get this shed business untangled. The SW put the call on speaker-phone, and it was obvious from the answers the man on the other end gave us that he had NO clue what he was talking about. We’d ask a question and he’d circle around and come back at it from another direction. He finally gave us a URL to file the paperwork on-line, but the options as to “what sort of business are you running?” did not include a section for churches.

At the moment, The Squire is off to the County Seat and the SW was going home to call the 800 number and see what the devil is going on.

If this keeps up, I’m going to become a Libertarian.

Back to Bed

27 Feb

For the last seven years The Squire and I have been reading David Weber’s “Safehold” series. This saga in long and involved, and swings from oared galleys to spaceships, and back, with a World War, a robot, and two romances thrown in. The books are big (600 pages each), and complex. I had to make a list of who was on which side of the war, as I forget who is who. It is essentially a retelling of the Reformation, told from an obviously Protestant point of view. They are published at a rate of one a year, and when the library gets the newest one, there’s a waiting list, so you can’t renew it.  (The first one was Off Armageddon Reef, if you want to track it down. You do need to start at the beginning.)

The odd thing is, I dislike both science fiction (totally implausible!) and historic fiction (you have it all wrong!) but these books are “can’t put it down” stuff. The real thing.

Yesterday, The Squire had the latest book, Like a Mighty Army,  while I was off doing other things, and then when he went up to watch TV, I grabbed it.

And stayed up until 3:00 this morning to finish it!

Woke up at 8:00, said hello to The Squire and back to bed until noon.

For as long as I knew her, my mother’s attitude was “once you are up, you are up for the day”. Even when she was living alone after my dad died, no matter what time she woke up – 4 AM, whatever – she stayed up. This wasn’t too bad for my sister and me during the week, but on weekends, we all wanted to sleep in, and she was really mentally unable to allow us to do so.

Our house was built in 1952, and had only one bathroom, which was right beside my parents’ bedroom, and they slept with the door open. If my sister or I had to get up in the middle of the night, we would carefully close the bathroom door, and stuff a towel against the bottom, so she wouldn’t hear us. If we happened to wake up with a full bladder at 6 AM on a Saturday, she would wake up, and drag herself out of bed, and insist “As long as you’re up, you might as well get your sister.”  Lynn and I could hardly tolerate each other as it was, and this didn’t help matters one bit. And naps were not allowed.

So my poor father couldn’t sleep in, either, and had to deal with three grumpy, sleep-deprived women, to boot.  The man really was a saint.

Not too long before I left home, Lynn and I got an alarm clock, which we would set for 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, tip-toe downstairs, and then go back to sleep on an empty bladder, staying in bed until around 9:00.

So this morning I was able to go back to bed with a clear conscience and a deep sense of how lucky I am.

One of Those Weeks

24 Feb

Several months ago, our church received a notice from the county that a neighbor had complained about the location of one of our sheds. Essentially, her complaint was that we were blocking her view of “the park”. The park happens to be the church’s private property, thank you very much.

The first fellow who came out said that the two original sheds had been properly placed, and even though county code had changed and they were no longer where they should be, they weren’t going to worry about it. The third shed had been put in line with the others, so he didn’t think there’d be a problem. “Besides, to be perfectly honest with you, all of the private sheds are in violation, too, as they should be far enough from the fence to run a mower behind. If we make you move yours, we’d have to make them move theirs.” (Our property backs up to a row of townhouses, which are shielded from the parking lot by a line of arbor vitea, so our headlights don’t shine in their windows at night. Almost every house has a shed for lawnmowers and the like, placed right up against the fence in one direction or the other – and sometimes in a corner, so it’s wrong from both sides.)

Apparently, the lady called the county a second time, and this time a different inspector came out, with a different set of rules. And then a third fellow turned up, with yet another interpretation of the regulations.

The up-chuck of this whole thing is that all three sheds need to be moved (We were supposed to renew the permit periodically. Who knew?) fifty feet from the property line, and we have to plant trees “for water abatement” because we have to move them onto the grass, rather than have them sitting smack dab in the middle of the parking lot.

And I’ll give you one guess where those sheds – and trees – are going to be placed.

So while The Squire is fighting that little blaze, I had a problem with a member of the congregation.  I have a warped sense of humor, and an off-hand, flippant remark, posted in the church newsletter, which I write up, caused one of our members to feel tremendously insulted. I have tried to contact this person to apologize, but there has been no response.  This person and I have known each other for eons, and I don’t go around deliberately insulting people. If you have a problem, contact me, and I will fix it. The article could have easily been rewritten.


And then, this morning, as I was getting ready to leave for a meeting, I discovered I’d left my purse in The Squire’s car during church yesterday (I don’t need it unless they’re selling Girl Scout cookies!) and had no wallet or car keys. He was off doing battle with the county, so I called him to see how long he would be – and his cell phone was on the desk, being recharged.

Oh, and Friday, the cold water pipe to the bath tub split – and we only have one bathroom.

I have scheduled my nervous breakdown for early May. Stand back.

Good King Who?

20 Feb

As the weather has warmed up and the snow has settled on itself, there are places in the yard covered with a thin layer of ice, and still some pretty deep white stuff underneath. The Squire and I have been out to the “back forty” any number of times – to feed the foxes, carry out the compost, or put down corn for the deer.

There are still places where the snow is over my boot tops, so I do try to stay in the footprints already out there.  I don’t know if I am trying to go too fast, or am just innately clumsy, but I still manage to stumble and stagger, missing the existing prints, and crashing through the crust to make my own.

This morning I went out to collect the dishes we use to feed the deer, and I managed to make a new print,  and pulled my foot out of my right boot. Standing on my left foot, trying to get my right tootsies back into the boot, and then fell flat on my back in the snow.

Innately clumsy would be my best guess.

Unatsi. Shnee. Neige. śnieg. Neve.

13 Feb

Whatever you call it, we have it.

Eddie snowWe got a foot of snow, starting at 8:00 last night, and it was still coming down when I got out of bed this morning. Between 7 AM and 10, we got another inch. Eddie is convinced that if the back door is blocked, then surely he can get out of the front door. Within the space of an hour he had been in and out three times, and gotten no further than the edge of the carport. As you can tell from the set of his shoulders, he is totally pissed. (This is the view from the front porch.)

I did see two squirrels outside the den window, and – I’m as crazy as they are – slogged around the corner to put out a dish of peanuts. The snow was still very soft and fluffy, and each time they hopped, they disappeared under the snow. Much wiggling and throwing mini-snow volcanos, while they gathered their feet under them, and then another hop.  (Notice the blue dish in the snow.) Of course, they ran away when I went out and by the time they returned, the Blue Jays had carried off the peanuts.

And then the starlings arrived en masse. It’s no wonder we run out of birdseed so quickly.

birdseedThe Squire went out and shoveled paths to both bird feeders, and then walked as far as he could down the drive.  About fourteen inches, a light rain right now, and more snow expected later this evening. A sort of winter lasagna.  The SHA has plowed the main drag, so we have a four foot ice dam at the end of the lane. Just thank God it isn’t blowing and drifting.

We may be here until Spring.

I had lined up three doctor’s appointments for tomorrow, and have already “officially” cancelled one.  Somebody sent me an email saying Harford County had declared a State of Emergency, with only 4-wheel and all-wheel vehicles allowed on the roads until late Saturday, so that pretty well takes care of that.

We don’t live in Harford County – half a mile outside – so we don’t get these robo-calls. I wonder if there’s a way to sign up for them?

You Talkin’ To Me?

10 Feb

I posted some time back that I had returned my CPAP machine to the supplier. I have found an appliance on-line, which fits inside the mouth and is covered by Medicare.   It resembles a set of hinged dentures (shades of Geo. Washington!) and pushes the jaw forward, presumably to keep the tissue in the throat from closing the airway. I’m willing to give it a shot and see how it works. Since it doesn’t interfere with my nose and face, there’s hope.

In order to get this, I have to show proof that I have relinquished the CPAP and my GP needs to fax over copies of my sleep study. The first study was done in mid-October and the second in late November, and I had asked the pulmonologist to have copies of the report sent to me, as well as my GP.  When I called my GP, they did not have the records in my file. I called the CPAP people and they had the report and would make copies for me to pick up this morning, which I did. I hand carried them to the GP and they, in turn made me a copy for my own files.

I’d love to know who the person in these records might be, because it certainly isn’t me. They have my name and my height correct, and the fact that I’ve never smoked, but that’s about it.  According to this report I weigh 110 and have a BMI of 18.3. I weighed 120 when I graduated from high school, and a wee bit more than that now. Yeesh! They should be treating me for anorexia, not apnea! My blood pressure is listed as a full 10 points higher than it was that day, and I no longer have a heart murmur. Maybe it went away since July. I always carry a list of my current meds with me when I go to a new doctor, but not everything is on this report, and it states that I didn’t know the dosage of two of the drugs I take. (It was on the paper, folks.) The doctor’s report omitted a MAJOR drug allergy, and wrote that I don’t have Restless Leg Syndrome, which I have had for over thirty years. The medication I take for that is one of the ones that isn’t on the pulmonologist’s record. (Well, if I don’t have RLS, I guess I don’t need the medicine either, huh?)

That’s just the office visit.

The second sleep study, when I was wearing the CPAP, says it was “well tolerated”. I woke up with a screaming panic attack and wanted to Go. Home. Right. Now. If that is “well tolerated”, my friends, I feel sorry for the other poor souls who have to use this thing.

Could be worse, I guess. When I was in the hospital in July I told them I might drink two glaases of wine a week, and they put me down as having two drinks a day, and refused to correct it.

Please Pay Attention

7 Feb

I started my afternoon with two goals – clean up the guest room and finish the ironing. Obviously, I had to do the ironing first, so I could see if I remembered how to fold up the ironing board so I could put it away.

I had done three linen handkerchiefs, two place mats, and a half a tablecloth before I discovered I had Pledged them instead of starching them.

This is what happens when I don’t get my nap.

It’s Your Funeral

6 Feb

About a week ago, a lady stopped at our parish office to ask if it would be possible to use our sanctuary for her son’s funeral.  She goes to a very small church, and she knew there wouldn’t be space for all of the people she expected. She’d come to other funerals here, thought our building was “simply lovely” and hoped we would allow this.  She promised that things would be left exactly as they found them.  “Done in a neat and orderly fashion”, as she put it. After a quick discussion with Fr. M, Mrs. Johnson, and her pastor, it was decided that it wouldn’t be a problem. The Squire and I met with them at our church on Saturday evening so they could see what we had and how things were laid out.

A few surprises – they are Methodist, but wanted an open coffin in the church, and the visitation would be immediately before the service.  While The Squire and I were standing around, I happened to notice that the ladies on Altar Duty for February had not done anything so I grabbed the step stool and he got the number box, and while they were deciding where things were to go, we set up the hymns for the next morning. I got the Communion ware in order and put it on the altar for early service and left things ready to be taken up for the late service. When I mentioned this kerfuffle on Sunday morning to one of the two people on duty for February she was very surprised to learn she was “on” (do you read the newsletter?) and also very grateful for our help.

The weather has been so unsettled that after the Tuesday night service we changed the frontal from green to white, rather than wait until Wednesday morning. Good thing, as we had yet another ice storm Tuesday night.

The Squire and I were over at church at 8:30 today to open up, and just hold doors and point the way to the rest rooms (we really need to put a run of blue painter’s tape from the sanctuary doors because the place is like a rabbit warren; turn left at the blue door, then right at the double doors…) and generally do whatever we could to make life easier for the family. One thing we learned today is that if we ever again have this sort of crowd, we really need to have traffic control.  Our parking lot is large enough for the regular Sunday congregation, but we have a three acre field beyond it which is used for overflow parking. The Squire had opened the gate and he and I had parked our cars out there, just to get the ball rolling. At some point before the service started, someone had driven out into the field, turned around and driven back, and parked with their car nosed into the entrance, totally blocking it. The next two cars had parked side by side at the end of the lot, completely grid-locking the entire parking lot.  We noted the colors and makes of the cars and the pastor announced them, so we had a fellow out there helping these folks to gee and haw until we got things straight.

A bit after the service started, four young men – about twelve years old – came out into the narthex, looking totally bored. They’d had to give up their seats and didn’t feel like standing around in the back of the church. The Squire got out a chess set, and the four of them started a game. Well, two boys started to play and the other two, who belonged to a chess club at school, kibbitzed. Every time one of the players would make a move, these two fellows would inhale, gasp, shudder, and just about sit on their hands to avoid grabbing a chess piece and making the move themselves.

When the service was over, The Squire and I were astounded that people swarmed out ahead of the coffin, but it turned out there was a perfectly reasonable explanation. Visitors were going up the side aisle to pay their respects and then returning by the center aisle. When we ran out of seating space, their ushers had put up folding chairs down the center aisle and those chairs had to be removed to make room for the body to be brought out of the building.

Several people thanked us profusely for the use of the building, told us how lovely it was, and asked if I was the “pastor”. I told them No, I am a preacher’s kid and a teacher, and just “look terribly important”.

It’s A Girl!

3 Feb

A very, very busy girl.

Eldest granddaughter, the June Bride, is pregnant and due in July.  She insists this baby is going to be born on the 4th, and knowing how determined she is, I’m quite sure that will be the case, no matter what the doctor has in mind.

She, her husband, and Eldest daughter went in to have a sonogram done. (A group portrait, if ever there was one.) The baby was scooting all over the place, playing peek-a-boo with the umbilical cord, turning around backwards, and generally having a merry time. The doctor joked that he probably didn’t need to worry too much about getting a heartbeat, but “we are gathered here today” to find out if this little rascal is a boy or a girl. He actually had to put his hand on Mom’s womb and push down to corner the dear child, and …

Yes! It is a girl.

We already have three great-grandsons, so a girl will be a nice balance.

And good luck keeping riding herd on that kid, if her prenatal antics are any indication of her personality.