Archive | December, 2014

The Birdseed Blunder

27 Dec

The way we blow through birdseed around here you’d think they were going to stop packaging it.

We get most of our seed, a blend called Tree Nutty, at a place called “Wild Birds, Unlimited”. It’s a bit pricey, but they give us a nice discount, plus a $10 rebate for every $200 we spend, and I hate to admit how much we’re “earned”.  And then there’s the peanuts…

This is supposed to be a bad winter (although it is nearly the New Year and the temps all week have been in the 40s and 50s during the day) so I purchased a couple of bags of really cheap seed at the grocery store. When it snows we get starlings and grackles; they push everybody else out of the way, and shovel down whatever they can find, so “let ’em eat milo” is my attitude. Not even the blue jays will touch the stuff! (If you don’t know what this is, it resembles miniature dog kibble. I understand pheasants like it, but that is one of the few birds we don’t have here.)

When we went to the Y on Monday, we were running low but we figured we’d be up there again Wednesday morning, and could stock up then. Well, first The Squire and then I came down with bronchitis, and we not only didn’t make it to the Y, we didn’t get to church, or to Christmas Dinner with the in-laws.

Thursday (Christmas Day) I had to break open my stash of emergency birdseed, and let tell you, it was NOT greeted with enthusiasm. We have two feeders on the hook closest to the house, and the squirrels frequently get the square one spinning, so it comes unscrewed and falls on the ground.  I just left it there and filled it with the seed. Rather than eat from the tray at the bottom, the squirrels stood on their hind legs and reached down into the feeder, looking for something fit to eat. One enterprising fellow finally climbed into the feeder and was digging around, wildly throwing seed into the air, all willy-nilly.

This morning, The Squire hauled himself up the road and got Tree Nutty and finch food, so all is forgiven and there is once again peace in the valley.

Waiting for Charon

25 Dec

The Squire says he is feeling better. Not well, but better. Wish I could say the same. I was hoping that this go-round would not be as bad as what I had last July, but is seems to be well on the way. I was suppose to read last night, and The Squire and I were to usher, but nothing doing. I’m not getting near anybody, especially little kids.

I’ve spent most of today in bed, which is, of course, exactly where I should be. I dragged my aching body downstairs at 3:00, and would probably still be there if the dog hadn’t barked at me. A wet nose and a loud noise in your ear will generally jolt most folks awake.

So, the foxes are fed, and I am going back to bed.



It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

23 Dec

Everybody’s getting sick.

An elderly couple at our church are in separate hospitals. He is very unsteady on his feet, and has been sleeping in the recliner, as he finds it easier to get up and down from there, rather than the bed. Monday morning, the caregiver found him sleeping on the floor. He had gotten up to go to the bathroom, and missed the chair when he went to sit back down. Rather than disturb her (she lives in) he just stayed there.

She couldn’t lift him, so she called 911 to have him taken for observation.

Then she went to the bedroom to get the wife out of bed and found her on the floor. She had had a stroke during the night, so there was another call to get an ambulance to take her to another hospital. She has bleeding in the brain, and things look “iffy”. He came back home this morning.

The Squire is continuing his personal tradition of sleeping through major holidays, and has come down with bronchitis.  He is sleeping in the guest room, and confined to quarters for the duration. I picked up bronchitis when I was in the hospital with my most recent stroke, so I am just praying that what he has is not what I had.

Have had to contact any number of folks to tell them we will not be attending Holiday parties, etc. The only bright spot is that he didn’t get this when we had our Open House. That would have been just wonderful.

Or not.

Well, No Wonder

20 Dec

Local Grandson’s Sweet Wife asked me for some pointers in making up a Christmas gift for her mom.  Her dad died very suddenly only a few months after they got married, and she wanted to mount one of his Coast Guard uniform jackets in a shadow box to hang over the sofa. I told her I knew places such as Michaels and A.C. Moore sold deep frames for military flags and such, and that was the place I would start. Figure out how small you could fold this jacket and look for coupons for custom framing, which usually run 40 to 50%. I also offered some other “artistic” suggestions, but it was her project, and I wasn’t trying to tell her how to do it.

The Squire and I had to go up to Eldest Daughter’s home on Wednesday, and ran into LGSW while we were there. She had a HUGE shadow box and a piece of poster board, and was draping the jacket this way and that over the unopened box.  “I took the jacket to the store and they told me it would be about $400 for them to mount it for me, as it all had to be hand-sewn.” I asked her what she said when she got up off the floor.

“I’ll do it myself!” The clerk suggested the frame and poster board approach and sent her on her way.

After some to-ing and fro-ing, I offered to sew the jacket to the poster board by machine, and the two of them came down this afternoon so we could work on it.

We got it lined up on the poster board and I ran a cut off piece through my sewing machine to make sure the needle could handle it, and we figured we were good to go.

Well, putting a 2 by 3 foot piece of poster board through a domestic sewing machine doesn’t work. We had to do it by hand after all. I sewed around the label at the neckline and she sewed down the center back. We buttoned  the jacket and got it arranged in the frame, and I gave her the extra thread to take home. At this point she only needs to tack the shoulders into place and get the sleeves the way she wants them, so there shouldn’t be too much more to do. She has a Coast Guard Manual and a photo of her dad which she will put in the box, and it will be ready to go.

But we do understand why the store wanted $400 to do it professionally!

Just Like TV

19 Dec

This afternoon, The Squire had one of those circus acts going on. I was out, and he started dinner for us, and while he was at it, he decided to feed the dog, so he got the dish and put it on the end of the counter. The cat was sitting in the doorway, and as soon as Blazer heard the food rattle into the dish, he came racing in. The cat, of course, thought he was about to be run over and jumped UP out of the way. Directly into the dog dish, which flew into the air and scattered kibbles, like manna, all over the kitchen. Blazer, who acts as if he only gets fed on alternate weekends, started snuffling around the kitchen, gobbling up the food.

In the meantime, the cat was so startled by the dish and the mess that he jumped again – onto the stove. Hit a saucepan and knocked the spoon and the lid onto Blazer’s head. Cat and dog both yelp with pain. Cat hops down and runs into the backroom and Blazer starts running. Anyplace. Doesn’t matter. Except that he can’t get his feet going properly because he’s on the scatter rug.

The Squire was laughing so hard he had to lean against the wall.


A Letter From the North Pole

14 Dec

Several years ago,  a letter made the rounds, denying that Santa Claus existed.  Obviously, he felt it was necessary to put this rumor to rest.


It has come to my attention that it has been “proven” by scientific methods that I do not exist.  Sadly, this sort of skepticism has become quite fashionable of late, and I feel I really must answer this latest attack.

Most of this “proof” is based on facts and figures which, impressive though they may be, don’t quite add up.  There are  a lot of good children, which is a miracle in itself, given the way things are going, and there is certainly a lot of territory to cover, but you don’t have all the facts.  First of all, I don’t have to handle all the workload by myself and it doesn’t all get done at once.  I have lots of help, and The Season, as we call it, runs from the 6th of December to the 6th of January.

My brother, St. Nicholas, delivers gifts to the good children of Germany, Holland and Belgium on December 6th.  He is accompanied by his assistant, Ruprecht, a grumpy old man, who threatens naughty boys and girls with sticks and switches.  I must say, however, that my brother usually tosses a gift from the back of the sleigh to even the naughtiest of children.

In France, my uncle, Pere Janvier, brings presents to all the good children on the first of the year.  The same day, my brother Άγιος Βασίλειος (St. Basil to you) visits the children in Greece.

Two thousand years ago, the Magi stopped to ask our sister, Baba Yaga, if she might know where the Christ Child was.  Too busy with her housework, she sent them on their way.  Later, realizing the importance of their quest, she went after them.  Now, every January 6th, she goes from house to house in Russia and Poland, looking for the Infant and leaving a gift for each sleeping child. The Magi themselves leave gifts for the children of Spain, Mexico and South America.

This still leaves December 24th, the biggest night of all.  My dad, Father Christmas, and I share this one.  He takes the United Kingdom, and I handle the United States.  The rest of the world, Australia, Canada, Africa, we split between us.

As for our methods of transportation, Nick generally goes on horseback, and Baba Yaga walks, but me, I prefer the reindeer. Fast?  Why would a generation that believes in “hyper-space” question my speed?  Of course  nobody’s ever seen a flying reindeer.  Nobody’s ever seen the wind either, but there you are.  From October until December, we give them special food which helps them get air-borne.  Why, the term “eating light” started  with us. Don’t worry about how it works – scientists have “proven” that bumble bees can’t fly, either.

Even after this, I understand that many of you will not believe in me.  But, I still believe in you.  I know that every year, in the name of Love you will continue to give unstintingly of your time and talent to bring joy, and gladness of heart, to children around the world.  And in the name of that Christ we all seek, I will be there.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Let’s Not do That Again

12 Dec

I took Blazer up to get his nails trimmed last night, and it was not a rousing success, to put it mildly.

We got him in March, 2008, and he has never had his nails done. We tried it here at home once and he actually bit The Squire (first and only time) so we just let it go. I did ask at the vet’s one time when we boarded him, but they got things confused and gave him a bath instead. Or maybe they did try to cut his nails and decided a bath was safer. Who knows?

Anyway, the technician got one back paw done with “minimal” trouble, but ended up having to put a muzzle on him before she finished the second hind leg. He thrashed around dreadfully while she tried to do his front feet. Got one done, but when she started the other foot, he pulled away so suddenly – and forcefully – that he rammed her head and she bit her lip.

As soon as she removed the muzzle, he jumped down and laid in front of her to have his belly rubbed. “No hard feelings, lady, but keepa ya hands offa ma feet.”

Crazy animal.

Good News and Bad News

8 Dec

The good news is that I have felt better for the last three weeks than I can ever remember. Oh, I still have trouble with my thumb, and always will, I’m afraid, but other than that, both physically and emotionally, I can not remember feeling this healthy for the last twenty years or so. A few tweaks of my meds, and a shot in the back, and I am ready to party.

The bad news is that The Squire is having major trouble with his feet. He was in dreadful pain yesterday, and this morning I called his podiatrist, and the doctor had him come in right away.

The bones in his right foot are collapsing.

He has Charcot-Marie-Tooth syndrome (CMT), which is a degenerative nerve condition. As the nerves die, the muscles atrophy, and if it hits when you are young, the bones “warp” as the muscles pull away. (If it “kicks in” when you are an adult, the pain can be so severe that the patients {usually men} opt to have their foot amputated, so in that sense we are quite fortunate.) The condition is osteoclastic – it leeches the calcium from the bones – and this is what is causing his foot to simply “melt”. He has already lost the bones in several toes, and now it seems to have begun working on this foot.

The doctor says a new pair of shoes, built to support the foot and force it into position, rather than rolling to the outside as it is now, will help “for a while”. Ultimately, the doctor suggests surgery to fuse what bones there are.

Everything that has ever been done to his feet has made the problem worse, rather than better, so he has already ruled out surgery on one level, but he is looking to get a second opinion.

And through it all, he is the sweetest, most even-tempered person I know.

Christmas is a’Comin’

7 Dec

We have had an Open House on the third Sunday in Advent almost every year since we got married (one year the place was still a demolition area following a hurricane) and I am currently in the throes of baking cookies. Most of the “goodies” are store-bought, but my cookies have to be homemade. Two batches this afternoon, and I’ll try to get at least one more done tomorrow. Eldest daughter makes the world’s best chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies, and she has offered to take care of that for us. We have friends who are on a gluten free diet, some are vegetarians, and some will eat anything, so there’s a lot of special stuff going on in my kitchen. Everything but kosher, but since I don’t eat meat, we could probably pass muster on that, too. (I even found GF Matzo at Wegman’s!)

Thursday, BFF and I went to IKEA for breakfast, and then just wandered around for a while. That place is fantastic for just putzing around, even if you don’t actually buy anything. I did purchase a HUGE, soft, squishy, floppy elephant for our Virginia great-grandson, and then we went off to Barnes & Noble looking for The Saggy-Baggy Elephant to put in the box along with it. Not in stock, but I can pick it up at the store one day this week.

I also purchased a nice, sturdy walk-off rug to put in the dining room. We figured with two responsible adults and no kids we could safely put down pale blue carpets. Ha! I go barefoot most of the time. The Squire has to keep his shoes on, but he’s good about wiping his feet both before he comes in and in the kitchen. I think the four-footed members of the household bring in the lion’s share of the dirt. The carpets always look as if they are in need of a good scrubbing.

Well, if you say so...

Well, if you say so…

We had a Christmas Bazaar yesterday at church, and I found three “elephant” books on the children’s table (all brand new Scholastic books), Dumbo, and two Winnie the Pooh books, so grandson will have lots to read his young’un.  I need to get this in the mail – after the party, please! – and The Squire found a carton in the recycling at church this morning that he swore was big enough. Well, getting that silly elephant into that box was a trick worthy of Maru, the Japanese “box cat”.  Add four books and two small gifts, and the blasted box may explode!

Just When You Think You know it All…

1 Dec

The Squire and I stopped at the grocery store on the way home from the Y this morning, and a Country-type song came over the speaker system.  My husband began to dance around the cart.

“What brought that on?”


“So I see.”

“Before my feet started to go bad, I was part of a clogging group in elementary school.”

Fifty years, and he still surprises me.