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The Blizzard That Never Was

February 3, 2011

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I’ll always remember Christmas Day 2002 and February 2, 2011. Both were weather freaks.

On December 25, 2002, local weather forecasters thought they saw a monster storm coming, but for some odd reason, predicted only a few inches. Well, maybe he should have said a few inches per hour, because when the snow started, it wasn’t going to stop. When all was said and done, we had 28 inches of new snow that day. For most people, it was not a great inconvenience, since most businesses and schools were closed for the holiday. My husband, however, had to work that day (restaurant), and it took him forever to get home. (The weather wise guys later said they “knew about the massive storm all along” but hesitated for this or that reason.)

Then there’s the February 2, 2011 “storm.” It clobbered the midwest/western side of the Rust Belt pretty well (have you guys finally dug out yet, huh?), and our weathermen here in Upstate New York were quaking in anticipation about this one. They originally predicted 8″ then 12″ and then 18″! Since we already have a good snow mass packed around us, 12″ is a pretty good amount. Some businesses and nearly all the schools in a 250-mile radius issued closings and cancellations. Folks raced to the store to get bread and milk, prompted by excited news outlets.

But the whole thing fizzled out somewhere along the Pennsylvania border, no? We got a whopping THREE inches. It ended almost as quickly as it came. By 10am, the snow had dissipated. I saw glimpses of sun peeking through the clouds later that morning.

Oh well.

Later that evening, we got about 2 inches more– lake effect stuff from good old reliable snow donor, Lake Ontario. It’s fluffy and light, not at all like the slushy stuff that crawled through the Ohio Valley.

So anyway, here we are. The skies are bright blue and I decided to take camera in hand and venture out into the deep for a photo shoot. It’s cold out today, temps in the mid-teens.

Perhaps the first thing you notice are the enormous icicles looming atop the eaves. Grrr, these nasty things are responsible for some of the ice dams.

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Snowbank in the driveway is about 18″ high.

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The grill is buried. I’m not feeling like having a barbecue yet, anyway.

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The sky is blue, like a sparkly sapphire.

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Snow-covered bunny tracks. Since my good old feral cat died a few weeks ago šŸ™ the rabbits have been bolder. Their tracks are everywhere. Maybe it’s all this bunny traffic causing the dogs to bark their heads off all night long.

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The mailbox with monster snowbank.

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Blue shade from the trees. Pretty.

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So thus ends *another* storm of the season. And gee, just think– we only have two more months of winter yet! šŸ˜€

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Please Stop Now…

February 2, 2011

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LOL!!!!!!

I am not sick of the snow, just the ice dams in the house. But this picture is hilarious, no?

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The Mangled Mailbox

February 2, 2011

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“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” is the old postal proverb. Those mailmen must be in tip-top shape delivering mail, but my poor old mailbox has seen better days. You see, the snowplow has been through.

My mailbox actually fared pretty well than some others this year. Some poor folks have their mailboxes ripped right off of the posts by the sheer force of the snowplows roaring by.

Did you know that in most municipalities, the snowplow operator is not responsible for damage to your mailbox, even if he used it as target practice during a dull night of plowing? It’s true; the property owner swallows the cost of replacement.

Photo courtesy of chagrinvalleytimes.com

My own mailbox has been slowly waning for a few years, anyway. When we installed the mailbox a few years ago, carefully set the post into the ground, making sure the post was level and plumb. But the post has become as crooked as Harry Lauder’s walking stick. Not sure how this happened. Either the wood warped pitifully (it looks like it’s turning around to see who’s coming), or perhaps the ground has shifted so badly that the pole is a-kilter. We get a lot of water running underground here, I wouldn’t surprised if the fish took off with my mailbox one of these days…

Anyway, it’s always a sorry sight when winter is over– the seas of snow recede only to expose the ugly gray clumps of old sand and road salt littered all over the yards… and poking up through the crusty brown snowbanks are the mangled spindly legs of all the neighborhood mailboxes– well, those that survived the vicious clutches of the snowplow, that is. Some say that we never do find out what happens to some of them…. Old mailboxes never die, they just…. fade away….

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The Chimney and the Barn Owl…

January 31, 2011

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…not a very good combination. šŸ™

Do you hear that tinkling sound, the sounds of shards of glass falling to the cold, concrete floor? That’s my heart, busted into little bitty pieces. šŸ™ A beautiful barn owl died in my chimney’s water tank duct last week.

It started late in the evening. I was upstairs, and the kids were eating dinner downstairs. Suddenly, a huge crash was heard in the first floor, or in the basement. The kids called me down to investigate.

We figured the sound was coming from the basement. This has been ONE heck of a winter, I tell ya. Deer eating everything, possums and raccoons are squirrels nesting in the house walls, the basement… ice dams the size of Goliath dripping down into the garage and inside the walls… *sigh* It’s not a happy year for home ownership.

So I expected the intruder to be a squirrel. We have a lot of squirrels, and they all seem determined to make my life as miserable as possible. They nest in the walls, loudly scratching and squeaking all night…

I had no idea if this squirrel was rabid. I was a little afraid of the what-ever-it-is in the ducting.

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I took a stick and banged on the duct. The thing squirmed and scratched. We wondered if it was a bird or a squirrel. It scratched like a squirrel, but it wasn’t as rough. Those of you lucky folks who have had squirrels nesting in the walls, you know what I mean when I say “sounds like a squirrel.” They have this unmistakable (read: ANNOYING) sound. But if it was a bird, why didn’t it fly back up through the chimney?And it was 10pm, what bird in its right mind would be flapping around the roof this late??

OK, I admit, NO, we DON’T have a chimney cap. Oh I know we should. The previous owners did us the honor of fixing the chimney (complete with lightning rod, the old pastor who lived her was deathly afraid if lightning), but never installed a cap, and never lined the chimney. So it’s a wide-open gaping hole for nasty squirrels and their riffraff.We haven’t had any problems with the chimney (that I know of) until now.

Anyway, the thing wouldn’t come out. I rapped on the duct a few times, but couldn’t drive the critter out. I tried to lift the ducting just a little, and when I did, I felt something furry at the end. EEK!!! I was now too terrified of lifting the ducting and having a live squirrel jumping out at me. I did what any respectable wife would do in such a circumstance: I’d wait for the husband to get home.

By the time he got home from work, it was very late and he was exhausted. I supposed the critter would have to wait until morning. Hopefully, he’d come out by then. The critter. Oh, and the husband, yeah.

Well, we went down next day, and I rapped on the pipe, hoping the scratching would cease. No scratching! The critter must have escaped! But the pipe made a dull *thud*. Oh no. It’s probably dead. Ugh. The Hubs geared up in his special superduperheavtyduty latex gloves (squirrels have sharp teeth, you know), and he lifted the ducting.

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I thought it was a squirrel.

He pulled it out and we both stared for a minute. I didn’t see the little squirrely ears. What happened to its head?!??!!?

Then it hit me. It’s a bird. Oh, Lord. I thought maybe it was an osprey, as we have some around here. The Hubs exclaimed, “It’s an owl!”

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I almost cried. That poor, poor owl. A squirrel would have deserved such a fate, but an owl?! Owls are good, gentle creatures. They don’t bare their sharp little teeth and maniacally chatter at me from the trees. Owls don’t steal the bird seed that I leave for the cardinals. That poor, poor owl! I was crushed. I regretted rapping on the duct. Maybe I killed him!! But then, maybe the fumes from the hot water tank overcame him.Wah!!!

So, a poor owl is dead. Wah. And we have to cap our chimney, pronto.

It will be a busy spring for me. The ice dams in the house are causing terrible leaks. We may need to repair the roof and do some interior repair work. What a winter. I can’t wait til it’s over!

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Find the Kitty Friday 1/28

January 28, 2011

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She’s up to her old tricks…

FindtheKittyBass

I can’t believe the date when I typed it. Where did January go?! I’m rather happy the winter is passing quickly. I missed last year’s spring and summer (and fall) because of the renovations. While it is tempting to continue with the overhaul of this old house, I don’t think we should do anything major this summer, as much as it needs it. After the sub-zero temperatures last week, the house was stricken with ice dams. šŸ™ I can, on occasion, hear blocks of ice falling inside the walls. šŸ™ A very bad thing. The reason for this is because the upstairs is still uninsulated. Downstairs, it is a tight as a drum and VERY warm (too warm, in my opinion). The heat rises to the upstairs, and flows right through the plaster walls into the empty cavities. Once the heated air hits the very chilly air on the wall cavities, condensation and ice forms. Ice dams are very destructive. Not only can persistent damming cause rot in the studs and walls, but it can ruin the roof. *sigh*

BUT. I am not going to think of that today. I have no intention of gutting the upstairs this year. I have GOT to take the kids on vacation. And Livvy will go, too. šŸ™‚ I am REALLY looking forward to a break. I think we all are.

More to come. And oh boy, I have a riveting story to tell about the squirrel that skittered down the chimney last night, only to get stuck in the water heater duct pipe… *sigh* the fun never ends! Stay tuned….

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The Evil Deer

January 22, 2011

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I hate deer. Yep. If you saw Bambi in the theatre as a child, and were shocked to hear someone cheering on the hunter, that was probably me. Me, or some other Upstate New Yorker. Because most Upstaters- no matter their political or religious differences– all seem to be in perfect harmony with our hatred for deer.

Oh SURE, deer are cute, especially the young ones. But heck, even baby alligators are cute. I don’t see any alligator-huggers out there.

Deer eat everything I plant in my yard. EVERYTHING. They have an entire forest up the hill and in the back from which to graze, yet they find my apple trees and red oak and my arbor vitae much more appealing. Look at the damage to my arbor vitae. šŸ™ I could cry.

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They basically denuded the shrubs of their leaves. šŸ™ šŸ™ Those things cost $25 each, and I planted a row of them as a privacy shield from the busy parking lot next door, where they have lots of social gatherings and trucks pulling in and out. Well, so much for the privacy fence. šŸ™ To give you an idea of the extent of the damage, this is what the shrubs looked like last year before the eating machines with springs got to them:

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Yeah, we get floods here, too. The water drainage is poor (clay soil), the water table is high, and we’ve had our basement washed out a couple of times for us! We had to do it ourselves).

So I’m a little discouraged sometimes about the yard and gardens. It has been 13 years of hard, hard labor to try to make this small parcel of weedy, overgrown land into something cultivated and livable. But it’s been a vicious upward battle, believe me. Between neighbor kids chopping down my trees, the deer, the flooding, the pest invasions, the other neighbors diverting their runoff into my yard…. it’s been a battle JUST to have a couple of small gardens and trees. I have probably planted about 2 dozen trees on this property, only to have FIVE survive.

The deer have also been eating my new grape vine by the vegetable garden.

Yes, we have tried repellent. I have tried tin pie pans, soap, garlic/egg spray, dried blood, human hair, running outside and screaming at the top of my lungs… I’m seriously considering a 10-foot wooden fence. But then, they just might chew through it, and that’ll be another couple thousand $$ down the hole.

Wah.

Oh well, spring is coming. I’ll be able to see the full extent of the damage and work on it then. Know of any good commercial deer repellents?

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Our Snow Fairy Chimneys

January 18, 2011

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We got more snow. Surprise!

My daughter looked out our kitchen window one morning, and said, “We have fairy chimneys.” I peeked out the window and this is what I saw.

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The snowscape is so lovely and serene, isn’t it? šŸ˜€

The “fairy chimneys” of which my daughter referred are the Cappadocia Fairy Chimneys of Turkey. We saw them featured on one of Drive Thru History episodes (OMG we love that show!). The show is done by Dave Stotts, who educates history while entertaining your socks off. He is SO hilarious! He is also a little accident prone, too. .

I found this terrific 5 minute video showing how Dave Stotts does it. This is so cool!

Well, this post wasn’t intended to be a promo for Drive Thru History, lol. But I am bonkers about the series. He’s SO COOL. I highly recommend the series. My kids love them all.

So we have snow. Man, after watching that video, my fascinating snow fairy chimneys seem pretty lame. Oh well. LOL

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I’ve Been Boring…

December 27, 2010

4 Comments

… I haven’t had much of anything exciting around here, have I? Sorry! šŸ™ But in all truth, it has BEEN pretty boring around here.

livvyondryer

Just hanging around...

I haven’t done any projects in a long time. The window seat/bench remains unfinished. The dining room closet still has no pole for the hanging of coats. No window trim for the siding around the kitchen window, nothing. We’ve been puttering around with tiny projects, such as setting up the phone station (and trying to get a computer that works). And I did *finally* clean the living room, organize my desk, and get all the business papers in order. That took a week!

The kids have been on winter vacation, and we’ve been lounging.

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Just lounging...

Unfortunately, some of them got serious bouts of the flu/strep throat. So we’ve been out of sync here. My kids are rarely sick; this is a shocking anomaly.

I have no fun or interesting stories. No yarns or tales of historical tidbits. I’ve run dry right now. Perhaps after a time of rejuvenation, I’ll do better.

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Merry Christmas

December 23, 2010

2 Comments

Cat nap

Glory to God in the highest!

Christ has come!

May your day be filled with His peace, His joy, and lots of warm kitteh fuzzies!

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Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse

December 21, 2010

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Did you hear about the lunar eclipse last night? It was a unique event, because it occurred on the winter solstice (the shortest day of the year). Unfortunately, I missed it (I actually do try to see these astronomical events, I think they are amazing!), but someone made a very cool video of it! I’m glad some folks broke out their super cameras– this video is so clear it’s almost like you are there, watching it with your own eyes. The video is best played in full screen mode– SO impressive!

After watching an eclipse I have to wonder if people really did believe in the “Flat Earth” theory. I mean, all you have to do is watch an eclipse to see that this isn’t so. I don’t know where the idea came from, I’ve only heard insinuations that folks back in the Dark Ages believed it, just like they believed that maggots sprang from meat left on the butcher’s butcher block table, or that scientists could turn lead into gold. :S

Anyway, eclipses are cool. I hope you liked the video!

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