Archive | January, 2016

Free at Last!

27 Jan

We knew the snow was coming, so we had stocked up on the things we needed, but with a 200 foot driveway, we were prepared to stay put until Easter, ‘coz there was no way we were going to shovel it. Yesterday afternoon, Eldest Daughter took pity on us and sent a friend down to plow us out.

We have a wall along one side of the drive, so The Squire slogged out to show the fellow where it was and how to avoid it. Just as well he did so, as the man promised he’d “go clear down to the black top”, and we have a gravel drive! He got about two thirds of the way down, but the spot where the drive turns was solid ice under the snow, and even with a fully loaded 4×4 pickup truck he couldn’t manage to get to the house. He told The Squire to have Eldest Daughter pay him for half the job, backed out of the drive (a chore in itself) and left. This morning, the snow had compacted enough that The Squire was able to “bull” his way to the top of the drive and get through.

It’s funny. I never thought a trip to the grocery store would be so enjoyable!

While we were in the store, my nose began to run, and I hied myself to the ladies room for a bit of tissue paper. I was reminded of the time I took my two daughters to a concert, maybe at the Maryland Historical Society, but it doesn’t matter. Middle daughter (at the time she was still the Younger Daughter) had come down with a bad cold, and I’d used all the tissue I had with me, so I asked Elder Daughter, who was about six years old, if she would go get me some paper from the ladies room. She came back, skipping happily down the aisle, with a wad of toilet paper in her hand, and a tail sailing behind her like a comet!

Nothing like a bit of class.

From the mailbox.

From the mailbox.

The view from the house

The view from the house

I tried to get these all lined up, but WordPress wasn’t cooperating. We’ll just have to live with it.  I was really surprised at how green the grass was under the snow.

The impassable corner

The impassable corner

Help! I’ve Fallen And I Can’t Get Up!

26 Jan

Last night I only made it about two-thirds of the way out to the barn, but today was warm enough to compress the snow, so it wasn’t as deep, and I had last night’s foot prints to follow.


First, I managed to miss about every other step – a literal case of starting off on the wrong foot – and then  lost my balance and fell on my bottom. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to get back on your feet when you have no place to put your hands, and the dog is “helping”?

I did manage to get all the way to the barn, and since I had carried the food out in an old pie plate, I was able to sit it down on top of the snow, instead of trying to scatter it over the surface.

Tomorrow is supposed to be nearly 50F, and the possibility of rain tonight, so instead of snow, I can slog out there in the mud. More fun.

BTW – should you ever be in need of a truly first class overshoe, let me recommend Neos brand. The Squire wears custom formed shoes because of his foot problems and finding a pair of boots to go over his shoes was just about impossible. I saw these advertised in a magazine several years ago, and decided to order them, in spite of what I thought was a pretty steep price. The boot opens out almost flat, with a generous toe box, and then wraps around the calf and fastens with Velcro. There is also an adjustable strap that goes across the ankle. If you wear special shoes, braces, or are in a cast, these things simply can’t be beat. I found they also fit over my bedroom slipper/booties, which are the warmest footwear I own, so I stay both dry and warm. I just ordered a second pair, and paid about $50 for them. They are worth every penny and then some.


We Are Still Here

25 Jan

Eldest daughter is working on finding somebody to plow the drive, and she thinks he can be here tomorrow. Of course, tomorrow is supposed to be around 45 degrees so we may not need him after all.

I tried to slog out to the barn and feed the outside critters – you can smell “fox” all around the house – but I got about two-thirds of the way before I quit, and just tossed the kibble across the snow. The Squire and I have done quite a bit of shoveling, mostly so we can get to the bird feeders, and our time spent at the gym has made that pretty easy.


Walking, plodding, staggering through knee deep snow can be deadly. I honestly didn’t think I was going to get back to the house. The Squire was just getting ready to come look for me when I staggered onto the patio. He said Blazer was barking at the back door, and sounded very concerned. He said he expected to find me face down someplace.

Last night, the dog thought he heard something out back that “needed barking at” so I let him go without the lead. He took one flying leap into the snow, which was about up to his ears, spun around in midair, and raced back to the door. I guess he figured I wasn’t safe out there either, and he ought to let Poppa know.

This photo was lifted from the Baltimore Sun. When the plows get stuck, you’re in big trouble.


Back when I was still working for Blue Cross, my car pool rider didn’t want to come down Route 7 in the snow, so she dumped me at the shopping center about a mile and a half from the house. I didn’t even have boots. By the grace of God, a friend had stopped at the grocery store for cigarettes on his way home and saw me standing on the median strip, trying not to cry. I’d venture to say that pack of cigarettes saved my life. Thanks, Hugh!

Ironically, Rt. 7 is a state highway and is always plowed, and she would have gotten home herself more quickly if she’d come this way, instead of staying on US 40, which had not been plowed.



23 Jan

Well, how many ways can you say “it’s snowing”? It started yesterday around 4PM, and has not slowed down. About midnight last night, with the wind blowing a gale and visibility down to a few feet, some obliviots were racing up and down Rt. 7 on ATVs. Darwin candidates.

We had just a foot of snow when we got up this morning and now (almost 7PM) it is over two feet, with no sign of stopping. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We did see one lonely squirrel this morning. Heaven knows how he managed to get to the feeder in all this mess.  Mostly, we have had “vultures” – red-winged black birds,


grackles, starlings… I know they are God’s creatures and need to eat, but Lawsy, they are a pain. They will eat just about everything in sight, including the cheap bird seed we purchase at the grocery for emergencies.

The Squire shoveled a path around the house, from the carport to the front door. Twice. I went out and cleared a “pooping place” for Blazer, as the snow is too deep for him to walk, never mind doing anything else. He made quick work of it this morning, but he has refused to do anything else the rest of the day. Well, he can’t walk around with his legs crossed forever, so I suppose he’ll decide to go eventually. Mind you, with over two feet of snow and blowing between 35 and 50 MPH I can’t exactly blame him.


It’s a shame he can’t manage the litter box.

How deep is it? Well, the picture of the chair is not mine (I “borrowed” it from Twitter), but that is Eddie, looking out the den window this evening.  7PM and still coming down.



chair in snow

And So It Begins

22 Jan

It was cloudy this morning, but unless you’d been following the weather reports, nothing unusual. Except that the squirrels were out in force, scouring the ground for every possible shred of food.  There are eight in this picture, plus three more in the tree.


Chowing Down

And this fellow, trying to empty the “Squirrel Proof” bird feeder. We went up to the Y after breakfast, and when we came home, the feeder had been unscrewed – again – and was on the ground. The little buggers jump up onto the suet feeder and scamper across the top, then hang upside down and shovel the seed onto the ground.


Squirrel Guard? What’s that?

It started to snow about 4 PM, and is supposed to continue for the next 24 hours, at least. Church has already been cancelled, and since our policy is to remain closed when Harford County school are shut down, we may not even have service on Tuesday evening.

We were supposed to go to a viewing tomorrow evening and a funeral on Sunday, but both of those have been pushed back a day, with a suggestion we call to double check before we sally forth.


20 Jan

Depending upon whom you ask, and when, we are supposed to get anywhere from a dusting of snow to two feet, anywhere from Friday morning to all day Saturday.

I had to run to the store today for a prescription and you’d have thought it was Black Friday. What is it with snow storms and toilet paper? And people renting more movies than they could watch in a month, for a one or two day “snow in”? And if the power goes out, those movies aren’t going to do much good, any way.

A  gal who used to work with The Squire died on the 17th. The viewing is Saturday evening, and the funeral is on Sunday (never heard of such a thing, to quote the Late and Unlamented) so we shall have to make every effort to get to one or the other – or both. She and her husband  did not use the same name, and we only discovered by one of those crazy flukes that I worked with him at the same time she was working with The Squire.

Speaking of working – I worked Monday and Tuesday (yesterday) at BD. The Squire fixed dinner for us both nights. Chicken Marsala on Monday, and last night was a vegetarian stew; he found the recipe on line last year and it’s his go-to for his night to cook. Purchased the ingredients when he went to the Y, and had it ready to put on the table when I got home. After we ate we decided to run up and get the laundry out of the way and swing into Aldi’s for a few perishables such as milk and eggs.

Our kitchen door has always leaked cold air. The house is in constant motion from the ground settling and even though we replace the weather stripping every winter, the shrinkage from the dry winter air and the movement of the building means the door is about as airtight as an orange crate. Many years ago I purchased a pair of cotton duck, tab top, curtains and a tension rod to put over the door. We lay the curtains on top of each other and then run the rod through both sets of tabs, so we have a double thickness of heavy fabric. Last night, the spring broke in the tension rod.

Fortunately, The Squire remembered we had some hooks that clipped onto the rails of the suspended ceiling, so between those and an old broom handle we got the blasted curtains up. The cat tries his best to refuse to use the front door (“We’ve never done it that way before!” You’d think he was an Episcopalian – or a Lutheran.) but Blazer is up for whatever involves going out. Besides, if he’s in the living room, there’s a chance he can sneak into Poppa’s chair for a quick nap. He still hasn’t completely reconciled himself to sleeping in a dog bed on the floor. (“You think I’m some sort of animal, or something?”)

After the curtain fiasco, I went to put the soup pot on the porch and didn’t bother to turn on the dining room lights. I hadn’t finished my drink at supper and when I sat the pot on the table so I could open the door I knocked over the glass. We have a plastic tablecloth, so I had to run and get a bath towel to clean the table, the chairs, and the rug. It’s amazing how much space a small amount of liquid can cover. Finally got the pot on the front porch and managed to break a finger nail as I came back inside, just to add insult to injury.


Winter has arrived!

19 Jan

Well, we’ve gotten off easy so far, but Mother Nature is catching up with us.

It snowed on Sunday, but the ground was too warm for it to amount to anything. However. It was 18-F when I got up yesterday, and the wind blew hard all day. Last night when we went to bed the temp was 5F, with a wind chill well below zero. The furnace has been chugging along, but the dining room never got above 65, and when I got up this morning it was 61 in there, and 58 in the kitchen. It was so cold the butter wouldn’t spread!  It was 12F outside, with a wind chill of 4 below zero. It did get up to a tropical 29 degrees around 2:30. Whoop.

It is supposed to snow both Friday and Saturday, but Sunday is supposed to warm up to 37, so maybe it will melt a bit. Just be sure to get home before dark, coz it will freeze over again.

For some reason, our bedroom is the warmest room in the house, and The Squire is a walking blast furnace, so I had to get up in the middle of the night and open the window an inch or two.


The View From the Other Side

17 Jan

Our regular organist was away today, and the substitute was somebody we’ve had before. The Squire and I had a chance to visit with him for a while during coffee hour.

Henry came to America from mainland China in 1947, when he was himself just seven years old. He said the most amazing thing to him was – and still is – the amount of meat we consume. “In China, meat is a condiment! In America, you treat the vegetables as condiments.” He still sounded in awe of the entire thing.

When they arrived in America, it was not too long after the war, and Japanese people were not exactly greeted with open arms. Being Oriental, he was automatically treated with suspicion and segregation as the Law of the Land in Virginia, where they settled. “Which bathroom do I use? I’m not white, but I’m not black, either.” His dad guided him toward the “Whites Only” facilities. I admitted that most Caucasians couldn’t tell the difference between  Koreans, Chinese, and Japanese, but I knew they knew the difference. I had been with a girlfriend at a museum and she’d walked over to another family and began chattering away in Korean, but as much of a cliché as it may be, they all look alike to me. Henry laughed and said people had told him that, but he couldn’t see why. “It’s so obvious.” Ah, but can you look at a white face and know that person is German or Irish?

Well, no.

Henry is a chemical engineer, and does all of the cooking in their house. He says he tends to think in terms of reactions and interactions. At least he understands why you shouldn’t put baking soda in the string beans!

He no longer has a permanent job as an organist, so he hops all over the Diocese, playing at various churches. The “highest” churches in Baltimore are St. James, Lafayette Square (former home of Michael Curry, our new Presiding Bishop) and St John’s in the Village. He admitted he’d never been to Grace and St. Peter’s, which was a bit of  a surprise to me, as that is the home church for the Chinese community in Baltimore. For a long time, they even had services, including Sunday School, in both Cantonese and Mandarin. “Well, at least they don’t have to reprint the bulletin.”

We had our first snow of the year today. It flurried almost all day, but honestly didn’t amount to a thing. The temps have been around 40 during the day so the ground was too warm for the snow to stick. Mind you, it’s been in the 20s at night, so maybe we might have gotten a quarter inch if it had fallen after sundown.


Eyes and Ears

14 Jan

I got new glasses in April of 2014, and they have never really been right, so yesterday I wandered off and had a new examination for contacts. This is an entirely new doctor, one I’ve never seen before, and she was quite thorough and very pleasant.

However, we were both in for some surprises.

She asked me if I currently wear contacts and I said Yes.

“Monthly, two weeks, or daily?”


I have been wearing contacts since 1976, and NOBODY ever told me I was supposed to replace them once a month. I did have an optician tell me I had worn mine for too long, because the rims were yellow, instead of clear, but he didn’t say anything about changing them any more often than my annual exam.  Nobody ever told me I had an astigmatism, either, although the glasses I got in April were ground to correct said astigmatism. Ya just never know about these things.

So, I now have clear temporary lenses, and I am to return in two weeks for regular ones, which I should dispose of once a month. They are weighted to correct the astigmatism, and it’s odd to put them in and see my vision sort of spin sideways as the heavy part of the lens settles to the bottom of my eye.

The three  pair of contacts I currently have are blue, green and brown, and I select them according to what clothing I have on. I am very, very light-skinned (once compared to a lightbulb in a wig) and at a luncheon date today a friend told me I looked paler than usual. “Even your eyes look washed out.”

After lunch, The Squire and I went to an ear specialist for this ENG thing to see if they can figure out why he has the ringing in his ears and the vertigo. My hearing is particularly acute, and I could hear him tell the technician I whisper all the time. “She thinks it’s unladylike to speak up.” Listen, bub, don’t make me use my teacher voice!

Anyway, they did all sorts of tests, both visual and audio, to try to induce the vertigo, which he said they did “mightily”, and determined there is nothing wrong with his inner ear.

The next stop is an MRI, presumably.

The test took an hour and a half, so I wandered over to Rite-Aid, looking for reading glasses. I had borrowed a pair of The Squire’s, and the heavy brown frames made me resemble Steve Allen. They wanted an average of $25 per pair! Tomorrow I will head over to the Dollar Store, thank you very much.


The Voice of the Lord…

10 Jan

…strips the forest bare.

That was the psalm for this morning, and the lectionary certainly got it right. It has been blowing a gale all day long, rattling the windows and generally acting as if it might be March instead of January.

Right now, it is 45-F, with the wind blowing at 30 mph, and a wind chill of about 30. Tomorrow it’s supposed to be 60.

Pneumonia weather.

Somebody up the street from us must have gotten a machine gun for Christmas. For almost two hours, we were serenaded to the sound of WWIII with almost non-stop automatic weapon fire. It went on from shortly before 4 PM to almost 6 o’clock. Considering the distance those guns can shoot, we can only hope nobody on I-95 was injured.

People are just plain crazy, you know that?

We are going back to church in a few minutes for a bagpipe concert. In spite of the name D’Amario, Fr. M is mostly Irish, and plays the pipes. This started as a Twelfth Night celebration, but is now a Winter Festival. There was a ham dinner at 6, which didn’t interest us, but we will brave the icy blasts to go hear the good father and his teacher play the pipes.