Archive | February, 2016

My Mama Done Tol’ Me…

27 Feb

…there would be days like this.

I started my day, as usual, by filling the bird feeders. We were out of peanuts, so I tried to open a bag without going after the scissors, and the bloody thing exploded all over the front porch. I’ll be finding peanuts behind the mini-blinds for months, I suppose. That’s what I get for being lazy.

Before I left to do the wash, I started a batch of fruit and nut bread and accidentally used rye flour instead of whole wheat. Not too bad; edible, but not what I’d recommend.

I stopped on the way to the Laundromat for a cup of coffee, which I promptly spilled all over the counter and the floor. My card wouldn’t scan, so the clerk had to call the manager. It has been cold and windy – actual temp of 37, but a wind chill of 27 – and when I got to the laundry, I found that my basket had fallen over in the back seat, and some of the contents fell out when I opened the door. Clothing went skidding across the parking lot, and I spent five minutes (well, maybe two) chasing down The Squire’s underwear. Because we had to empty the corner cupboard to move it, half of the table is covered with the stuff I pulled out of there, which meant that when I took the clothing out of the dryer, there was no place to put it while we folded it. The Squire took the kiDSCN0083tchen linens and bath towels and I schlepped the rest upstairs and folded it on our bed, which at least made putting it away more convenient.

A structural engineer came by this afternoon to take a look at the outside wall and the bow window. The Squire and I explained that the house is not salable and at our age, we honestly don’t want to put a small fortune into the place. He suggested several stopgap measures, but the window will need to be completely removed and that section of wall rebuilt. Obviously, that can’t be done until warm weather, so we have to look at this until, oh, mid-April or so. It’s far too late to try to blame this on the hurricane in 1999, so we’ll have to pay for it out of pocket.

We did get one coat of paint on the ceiling this afternoon, so there’s progress of a sort. Maybe we can get the second coat on tomorrow afternoon.


26 Feb

Sometimes, “good news” is simply that things are going to hell in a handbasket at the slowest possible rate.

For years, we have been having trouble with the house settling, shifting, sinking, and generally acting as if it’s trying to quit on us. The Squire and I are trying to keep it upright until we are ourselves no longer in that position. There are at least six springs on the property and we have always assumed the problems were related to the ground settling. (It’s listed on the tax assessment as marsh land, which gives you an idea of what we’re dealing with.)

For quite a while, there has been a gap on the outside of the dining room between the bow window and the block wall, and it’s getting wider. Also, the entire dining room floor has been settling, until the side nearest the kitchen is about two inches lower than the side by the stairs. Yesterday, The Squire finally called in a mason to take a look at the mess. The man admitted it was beyond him, as he is a one-man operation, and suggested we contact a structural engineer. We called several, and they all want roughly $400 just to come out and take a look!

Anyway, the upchuck of it all is this – back in the mid-80s, The Squire’s nephew, whose reach frequently exceeded his grasp, helped us level the floors from one end of the house to the other – from the bow window to the fireplace, about 35 feet. When The Squire pulled up the corner of the floor this morning, he discovered that Ernie had not put hangers on the plate along the long wall, to attach the floor joists. They were just hanging in mid-air, and slowly sinking into the sunset. Repairing this will involve jacking up each individual joist, nailing hangers to the plate and setting the joists in place. Heaven know how many joists this involves. The problem with the bow window is that the wall directly under it is crumbling. That will obviously involve removing the window, repairing the damage, and replacing the window, and will have to wait until spring. At least it’s not the entire wall.

In the meantime, in addition to all the mess upstairs, everything had to be removed from the corner cupboard and piled on top of the table, adding to the general disaster area atmosphere around here. Contrary to what my normal housekeeping may lead you to believe, I do not handle chaos all that well. Clutter, yes. Chaos, no.

Stoned to Death With Popcorn

25 Feb

Other people are dealing with real problems, and I am just getting bogged down with goofy stuff.

Our thermostat has decided to become a free agent. We normally keep the house at 70 during the day and 62 at night. For the last week, it has bopped back and forth on its own. We’ll be eating dinner and realize it’s a bit chilly in here, and discover the temp is in the 60s. I’ll think I’m having a hot flash (Yes, Virginia, they can hang on until you’re pushing 80. Isn’t that exciting?) and go downstairs at 2 AM to discover the house has suddenly shot up to 70. The kitchen timer has joined this party and goes off at odd times. There are two different beeps on this contraption; a “time’s up” beep which only runs for a minute and then stops, and another very fast beep-beep-beep that tells you the food is done. That one doesn’t stop. Ever. I’ll come down in the morning and it is hanging on the side of the fridge, beeping its little heart out, with the probe tucked away in the drawer. We’ve tried placating these beasts with fresh batteries, but that hasn’t helped.

I keep telling myself that I have a roof over my head, and it is warm – or cold – and I have food to be cooked, so stop complaining; we’ve better off than half the world.

It doesn’t help.

I’ve been working on a jigsaw puzzle for the last couple of days. It is a 1,000 piece puzzle, which normally is no  problem, but this puzzle is not large enough to have that many pieces, so each one is about the size of a postage stamp, and they are all the same shape. Last night the cat jumped on the card table, and sent the entire thing onto the floor.

I think the mess upstairs is beginning to get to me.

Pushy Broad

23 Feb

I have often been called a “pushy broad”. I’ve also been called several other things, but this is one of the few that are repeatable in polite society.

Sunday, we attended another church, just checking it out. If it weren’t almost forty-five NORTHEAST-stmaryanneminutes away, and involved $8 in tolls, we’d probably make it our home parish. A historical church with a largish congregation, but not so big you get lost in the shuffle, active chapter of the Daughters of the King, large ECW, and a youth group. It is located in a small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and there is not much for the kids to do, so they started a chess club one night a month, and let the kids decide what to do the other three nights. At the moment, plans are afoot for ballroom dance lessons, so the youngsters will be ready for prom season. Even though we made it very clear that we were “just passing through”, we received a nice gift bag, with a copy of the church newsletter, pamphlets about the town and the county, and a lovely porcelain candy dish with a picture of the church – quite tasteful, and better than One More Coffee Mug.

The rector, when he did show up, spoke personally to everybody in the room, including The Squire and me. Nice touch.

Anyway, the coffee hour was (I assume) a bit nicer than usual because the bishop  was visiting, and several of the ladies had chased the younger kids away from the table with instructions to “wait for grace”. Two young men seemed to think this only applied when they were being watched, and I stepped up and gave them my best School Teacher Glare. A few minutes later, I glanced out the back door of the parish house to see if there was any sign of life at the Vestry Building, and somebody asked if they could help me. “Not exactly. We’ve been beating the kids away from the table with sticks, and I was just looking to see if the rector or the bishop way headed this way to say grace.”

“You’re right. Let me get the Senior Warden. I’m a little hungry myself.”

Once that was taken care of, one of the younger boys was loading his plate with French macaroons, and I reminded him that he was first in line and it would be nice to leave some for the other people. “You can always come back for seconds.”

One child in the congregation is autistic, but everybody seemed to keep an eye on him. As we were leaving, he was standing by the cemetery gate and I asked a man standing nearby if he would be OK. He looked around and replied that the child’s dad was “right over there”. I remarked that we take a “village approach” to kids in our church, and he agreed that was the best way. “I’d want somebody looking out for my kids if I’m not around, especially…” His voice trailed off and he nodded at the boy.

So here I am, a total stranger, trying to get grace said, bossing around the children in the parish, and asking if folks know how to tend to an autistic child.

Just being my usual pushy self.


Spare Me!

19 Feb












At the moment, our guest room looks this way. We will be putting bead board on the bottom part of the wall, and painting the top half, so all of the textured paint has to be removed from the upper walls. Naturally, it comes off the bottom most easily.













The TV room contains the only furniture left. We just plain ran out of space to put things. The box spring, the TV set, and The Squire’s recliner, all squished into a pile and covered with plastic. And that long, white wall!

The Once and Future computer workshop resembles a hoarder’s paradise. If I could claw my way to the other end of the room, you’d get an even better idea of how it looks. And our bedroom is not much better.


After we paint the ceiling and the upper walls, put up the bead board, and replace the mouldings, we have to get the carpet people in here, before we can even think about replacing the furniture, so we are going to be fighting with this mess for months.

Several week ago, the health department told the church that the wooden shelving in the pantry needs to be replaced with metal. Our new Property Warden had already disposed of part of the wooden shelving, but there was one large section leaning outside the building. Since we had donated it, The Squire decided it could come live here, rather than in the dumpster. A friend helped him squeeze it into the back of the van, and it is now on our carport.

And The Squire asked me, in all seriousness, what I thought about pulling everything out of our pantry and putting the wooden shelving back there.


“Oh, now is as good a time as any, I guess.”

Um, no.





Scare Me to Death, OK?

17 Feb

We live about ten miles from Edgewood Arsenal and Aberdeen Proving Ground. This morning, about 30 helicopters, including several Blackhawks, flew over the house in groups of six or seven. Given the state of things today, this was very disconcerting, to say the least.

As many of you know, two police officers were shot to death in Harford County on February 10th. (These were the first shooting deaths in the line of duty in the Harford County Sheriff’s department since 1899. There were only two other line-of-duty deaths in that period; one officer was killed in a car chase, and another died at his desk of a heart attack.) Today was the funeral for the first of the two officers (oddly enough, they both attended the same church.) and what we saw was the helicopter escort, circling the area, waiting for the service to end.

And there were only seven of them – two from the County, two from the State, two military and one newscaster. We just kept seeing them over and over.

The second funeral is Friday, so we’ll know what to expect this time.





16 Feb

It snowed again yesterday – about three inches – and then turned to rain over night. When we got up this morning, it was very cold and everything was covered with a film of ice. It warmed up during the day, but was so foggy it was like driving inside a milk bottle.

And if I ever get to be in charge of things, people who drive in this sort of weather without their headlights are going to walk and right a bell, shouting “Stupid! Stupid!” like lepers of old. (This from the gal who stuck her hand into a running slicing machine, if you want stupid.)

I had to go to the store to pick up the makings for Butternut Squash soup for church tomorrow night, and see if two prescriptions had come in, as the druggist had to call the doctor for both of them. One was my fault; I let the bottle get too close to empty even though I knew it needed to be renewed. The druggist and I have been working on the other one for two weeks (see “Never Call a Doctor on a Monday”) so I will have to contact the hospital to see if they can light a fire under this woman. She’s a lovely doctor, very pleasant to see as a patient, but getting her to follow though on things is just shy of impossible.

It’s a good thing she’s not a cardiologist.



15 Feb

The Squire, bless him, fixed dinner today, which involved cutting some carrots into very thin slices. I got out the “shooter” part of my Osterizer and started putting the carrots through the machine. They weren’t coming out the tube as quickly as I thought they should (in fact, I actually thought I had put the blade in upside down, which is impossible) so I stuck my hand up into the chute to pull the slices out.

Without turning off the machine.

As my dad used to say, “You can make a thing fool-proof, but not damned fool-proof.”

The underside of the cutting blade has two ribs on it, to push the slices down the chute, and I stuck my hand in far enough that one of the ribs caught my finger. The middle finger on my right hand is now deep purple, and someplace in the bowl of carrots is a fair-sized chunk of fingernail.

We will draw a curtain over the Discussion which followed.

This is a much older machine, the base of which accommodates a mixer, a blender, a food processor, and the aforementioned grater and slicer. Quite a handy gizmo, as long as you don’t put your fingers in it.

Here We Go Again

10 Feb

We haven’t really recovered from remodeling the kitchen, and now we have to redo the guest room and TV room.

About sixteen years ago, Hurricane Floyd dropped a tree on our house, and we had to have a lot of work done in those two rooms. All of the work was done by a professional contractor, hired by the insurance company. Unfortunately, when we moved a bookcase several months ago we discovered that the work had not been done correctly, and water had been leaking into the walls and ceiling forever. Black mold and saggy sheetrock everywhere. We called the insurance agent and he sent down a crew who had a look-see, agreed with us, and gave us a sizable check, with the understanding that we would hire our own contractor.

The Squire removed the sheetrock and insulation from under the windows, and replaced that himself.  The ceiling is another matter entirely, thank you very much. We found a contractor – recommended by Local Son-in-Law – who came out, took a look, and gave us an estimate we could live with. He said he was very busy, but he would get to us as soon as possible.

He called last night to say he would be here tomorrow, which means that The Squire and I spent the major portion of the day shuffling things around upstairs. We had moved the major portion of the furniture right after Steve came by the first time, but things have just sort of crept back in there. Poltergeists.

Steve said he would need a four foot wide space to lift the sheet rock straight up the stairs, which meant removing the banisters. No problem. I’ve wanted to replace them  with something a bit less, um, substantial, for years. And thereby hangs a tale.

When we bought this house, what is now the dining room was part kitchen and part, well, breakfast room, for lack of a better term. One of the first things we did was close in the back porch and move the kitchen out there, so we had space for a table large enough that we didn’t have to eat in shifts. When the Squire moved what we call the Mixing Center into the new kitchen, we decided to remove the wall where it had been standing to make the room seem airier, and put in 2 x 3s as banisters. Rustic, but sturdy, by gum. The Squire put them up with nails and carriage bolts that I think go into the bathroom wall. Well, maybe I exaggerate – a bit.

We need to remove at least three of them so Steve can get the 4 by 8 sheetrock up the steps, but we have discovered the second floor, the banisters, and the stairs have a symbiotic relationship.

When The Squire cut the first banister, the steps dropped a quarter inch. He is not doing anything else until he has a chance to talk to Steve tomorrow.

So, we missed the Ash Wednesday service at noon, and going this late in the day just doesn’t have the same impact. The Squire is exhausted, and I don’t like to drive alone any more, so I’ll just read the Daily Office and call it done.

A grand start to my Lenten Discipline, indeed.

Too Close to Home

10 Feb

This morning, there was a shooting at the Panera across the street from the Y we use.

Panera staff had called 911 because there was a patron who had been there most of the morning, mumbling to himself, and just acting “off”. One family said they had moved to another section because he made them uneasy.

When the officer arrived, the man pulled a gun from his pocket and shot him in the head, then ran out of the building and across the street. Other officers arrived, and based on the descriptions given them, chased the man into the parking lot of an apartment complex about a half-mile away.

The man got into a car, and shots were exchanged. A second deputy was injured, and the man was killed.

No word on who any of the people were, or the condition of the more seriously wounded officer.

Film at eleven.