Monday, January 31, 2011

Our Slip Is Showing

Icicles are nothing to be proud of. Yes, they look pretty; all winter meets gingerbread storybook. But they are the housing equivalent of going out in public with your slip showing. They demonstrate something is awry. They mean we don’t have enough insulation. Some of our heat is escaping from the main living areas of our home into the attic spaces. That heat is rising up and warming the roof so that the snow melts, drips, refreezes and slowly but surely forms icicles. That melted snow can also build up at the edge of the roof and form ice dams which can damage said roof.

The winter home equivalent of a gal who looks as if she just stepped out of a band box would be a house with a thick, even blanket of snow across the whole roof - no lumpy ice dams, no stalactite-like icicles, no strips or patches of melted snow revealing the slip, er, the shingles beneath.

That said, here are two photos of the icicles on our home. I shall miss them when our insulation is complete, but not their cause.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Not Yet

At what point is a native New Englander, who likes winter and strongly dislikes summer, allowed to wave the white flag over too many snowstorms?

Oh, not yet?

O.K. then, apparently I have nothing more to say here!

But, hypothetically speaking of course, if today we had to shovel 8 more inches (20 centimeters) of medium weight snow, rake the kitchen roof and reshovel where the snow from said roof landed with a thud on the back walk and bulkhead, we might, just might be getting weary of this winter - hypothetically.

And if, hypothetically speaking, we had to crawl out the bedroom window onto the porch roof to shovel 18 inches (46 centimeters) of accumulated varietal snow, from multiple storms, it is remotely possible that we could be growing tired of this pattern of one storm after another after another - hypothetically.

But as a native New Englander, who likes winter and strongly dislikes summer, I think I need to keep my mouth shut for a little while longer. Because you know as well as I do that once summer comes, the heat rises, the humidity closes in and the bugs emerge, I will be thinking fondly of winter. Especially of an afternoon in late January when the physical exertion of coaxing and heaving heavy snow off the porch roof left me achey, satisfied and yes, even exhilarated, as the setting sun glinted off the icicles gilding the eaves.

Chuck working to clear the porch roof

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lights & Dominoes

We’ve been taking advantage of the cold and snowy weather to work on some projects around the house. After all these years I know that folks seem to either love or hate IKEA. I’m in the love column. Our experience this past week with the Sanda track lighting system has done nothing to diminish my feelings. Sanda (which seems to be available around the world) allows you to secure flat tracks to the ceiling and easily add light fixtures. In our old home, the biggest challenge, as always, is that there isn’t a straight or plumb line in the whole house. That didn’t phase Sanda.

As with most of our home improvement adventures this was a matter of dominoes. We finally replaced our nearly two decade old washer and slightly younger dryer with an energy efficient front loader washer and a companion dryer. My friends on Twitter were kind enough to suffer through my venting as I tried to adjust to a totally new way of doing laundry. (Thank you Morgan and Wendy!) One of the biggest frustrations was I couldn’t lift the lid and check as my clothes sloshed happily about in a tub full of sudsy water. There is a large round window on the washer, but there is no sudsing, no sloshing, no micro-managing of the load.

My inability to be hands-on coupled with a dramatically longer washing cycle repeatedly found me standing in front of the washer, with a very bright flashlight, fretting over whether or not the clothes were really, truly getting well and truly clean! That’s how the lighting in the laundry room came up for discussion. The old fluorescent shop-light fixture Chuck had improvised ages ago was no longer cutting the mustard. So on our last trip to IKEA, measurements in hand, we purchased all the Sanda bits and pieces we thought we would need.

After more than a month with the new washer and dryer, I have to admit, I’m beginning to get used to them and this new fangled way of doing laundry. And now that we have the Sanda lights, the room is a much more pleasant space to work in. Now if I could just learn to fully trust my washing machine...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Catching Up & Two Questions

: : First off, a belated blog birthday greeting to my sister Gail in Georgia. She is “GG”, Isabella’s grandmother, and she celebrated an unnamed/unnumbered birthday on Thursday. May this coming year hold only joy for you Gail!

: : Speaking of Isabella, she now weighs 8 pounds, 14 ounces or 4.03 kilograms and she remains bright as a new penny, endlessly entertaining and adorable.

: : Do any Apple computer aficionados know of a good personal health record or medical record template for Numbers? It could even be a Microsoft Excel template, which can be opened in Numbers and then saved as a Numbers file. I found a couple on-line, but none of them seem to be as sophisticated as the sort of templates which come with Numbers.

: : Are any of my readers using HD Radio? We just began learning about it and, despite its nascency, it seems pretty nifty. If we could reliably get the Boston Red Sox ballgames via HD Radio we would be all over it like white on rice!

: : Keith Olbermann has left MSNBC. I am unhappy about this. I like Keith. I liked his show Countdown. Even though there were times when he tipped over from determined to strident; from angry to wrathful; from funny to obsessively mocking, I always admired his courage, his convictions and his willingness to speak truth to power. I shall miss him.

: : So far, Downton Abbey is fabulous! The series is airing in four parts here in the States as part of Masterpiece on PBS. There is a lovely warmth, humor and humanity about the characters and the storylines. We have been captivated by it and are keeping our fingers crossed that it finishes well. And that the next round of episodes, filming this spring, will be equally wonderful.

: : I thought of the late Jeff Barnard many times this week. Each time we drove through Worcester we found folks walking in the street because sidewalks were unshoveled and we played dodge-cars with other vehicles because lanes of traffic suddenly disappeared under unplowed or poorly plowed snow. As we inched along, I couldn’t help but think that Jeff would have held those responsible up to his high standards and kept their feet to the fire.

: : It is now -9F / -23C! I’ll let that sink in. Yes, it is incredibly frosty. The sky is crystal clear as it usually is on such bitterly cold nights. The moon is just past full and the snow is glittering under its gentle light.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Welcome To The Weather Blog

Ladies and gentleman, we have a pattern - and it ain’t pretty! O.K. I’ll admit, it is January in New England, but we have another storm coming tomorrow - and another one Friday. Wendy asked me last week what I considered a bad storm. Tomorrow will very likely be a crappy, lousy, messy, bad storm. We could get six inches plus of snow, followed by sleet, then ice, then rain. Blech! One of the decision points for tomorrow will be do we clear the snow right before it turns to sleet or do we just hide inside until the misery has ended? If we let the snow stand, then all the subsequent precipitation will soak into it and it will weigh a ton - a ton likely encrusted in ice. But if we manage to time it right and move the snow, then all the varietal frozen water which appears later will likely turn the driveway and walkways into a freakin’ winter Slip 'n Slide.

Decisions, decisions, decisions...

It’s weather like tomorrow’s festival of fun that makes some people want to jet off to Caribbean climes. Not me. I can’t lie and say I love this sort of winter slop, but I will always choose it over hazy, hot and humid.

Remind me that I typed that about 4:00 p.m. tomorrow!

Our back walk, post ice storm, post jarring work with an ice spade, in February 2008

Friday, January 14, 2011


When I had my surgery back in July, Chuck and I were prepared for a long haul. I was incredibly fortunate that I was out of the hospital in days, not weeks and that my recovery proceeded without incident. (Yes, that’s wood you hear me knocking!) My surgeon instructed me to follow all of her rules through the first eight weeks. After that, I was to be careful, sensible. But the first of September came and went and I was still being super cautious. I felt better each week, but I did not trust my body. Intellectually, I knew I was stronger, but I was scared. I didn’t want to take any chances.

In the last two weeks I felt something shift. No, I don’t mean stitches! I was feeling more confident; more trusting of my body. After a modest snowfall I shoveled, cautiously, but I shoveled. We went to IKEA and I was able to help Chuck lift and stow the flat pack boxes in and onto our car. I was very, very careful and I was fine. I was achey and tired the next day, but that was as much from happily schlepping around the enormous store for hours as it was from toting and heaving. Then the latest storm brought 15 inches / 38 centimeters of snow. It was fluffy and I was mindful of my form and motion as I shoveled and I was fine.

So six months after my surgery I feel as if I have arrived at a new milestone. I won’t start swinging from the chandelier, but whatever I do, I will remain aware and I really will be fine.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sun & Shadow

Today the sun came out and the world was filled with brilliant white and midnight blue shadows.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

More Snow

The snow fell hard and steadily overnight and throughout the day. Several times, the snow lightened and we wondered if it was finally passing through. Just as many times, the winds howled, squalls intensified and we were enveloped in white-out conditions. Late this afternoon, radar and our own observations led us to begin the clearing in earnest. I grabbed shovel, yardstick and camera. Chuck headed for the barn and the snowblower. Together we moved the blessedly light snow off the driveway and walkways. I also shoveled off the bulkhead and dug out the dryer vent. Chuck cleared the area around the mailbox for postal delivery tomorrow, as well as a swath down to the compost pile. With drifts up to the windowsills, it was difficult to get an accurate reading, but I believe we got about 15 inches / 38 centimeters. For us, not a bad storm; not a bad storm at all.


It looked a lot like this:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Many months ago our niece Kate told us about a YouTube video by Cee Lo Green. We had been talking about break up songs - I can’t remember why - and she said Cee Lo Green had a “classic”. Ever thoughtful, she did warn us about its content. Then she told us the name of the song was "F*ck You". We looked it up and found the following (absolutely NSFW!) video - which I thoroughly enjoyed:

Then today I followed a link from Ten Pounds Of Awesome to the ASL (American Sign Language) version of the song. It too is totally NSFW, but I loved it. In fact I sent the links to my sister-in-law because our nephew, her son, is studying ASL in high school. Enjoy!

Jon Stewart On Tucson

Jon Stewart did an excellent job during his opening monologue on The Daily Show; thoughtful, gentle, sincere yet passionate.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Arizona Shootings Reaction
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Monday, January 10, 2011

Dead End

It’s a domino thing. I need to make space in one part of the house in order to bring order and beauty to another. So I tackled one of the two closets our old house has. That’s two closets for what was originally a four bedroom home. One of the bedrooms was converted about nine decades ago into our only bathroom. Did I mention it’s an old house? One closet is in the upstairs hall. That’s the “big” one - big being a relative term. The little one is not only little, it is awkward as the dickens. We have two rods in it, on the right hand side. So you have to shimmy in on the left and rummage until you find what you want, then shimmy back out again.

Chuck and I enjoy watching House Hunters on HGTV. Our jaws drop when we see folks touring homes, wandering into capacious walk-in closets (what a concept!) and declaring them too small. Too small? Some of those closets are far bigger than our largest bedroom!

Now you understand our passion for IKEA Pax units don’t you? (When you click the link, be careful not to drool on your keyboard!)

Anyhoo, I tackled one half of the truly little closet. I tried to be just as ruthless as Morgan and Roo. I did very well. But the first cut yielded an embarrassing number of outdated and rarely worn clothes. They'll be donated tomorrow. And while I generally buy very simple, classic clothes, apparently I went through a "cute & trendy" tops phase a few years ago. What the heck was I thinking? As I pulled an odd assortment of foreign items out from the far reaches of the closet, I decided I must have lost my mind - however briefly!

The second half of the closet is tomorrow. Isn’t there something else I could volunteer for? You know, jury duty, endodontic procedures? Never mind, I believe I just heard my closet coaches order me back in; something about being brave, steadfast and ruthless!

Friday, January 7, 2011


The normally irreverent Rosie West of Ten Pounds of Awesome has written a cogent summary of the discrediting of any causal link between vaccines and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Ms. West usually writes breezy, flippant, scathing, expletive-peppered rants aimed at popular culture icons. Yes, Ms. West rocks. But this time she has set her sights on the scoundrel formerly known as ”Doctor” Andrew Wakefield. In this instance she has toned down her language but not her passion. Wakefield deserves everything Ms. West gives him and so much more.

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

I just heard about a fabulous FlashMob Wedding which took place back in mid-December at The Pru in Boston. It’s sweet and uplifting. And, being a proud liberal from Massachusetts, I loved what the woman who officiated had to say. The quality of the video is very good, so do click to watch it at full screen.

Who? Me?

Yesterday we made the trek down to IKEA in Stoughton. They were still having their big January sale, but we were most interested in finishing up our final PAX unit. After we had placed our order in the PAX department we decided to get a bite to eat in the cafeteria. When I visited the nearby ladies’ room, I was surprised to find a pink note stuck to the inside of the stall door. It had a glittery red heart on the bottom of it and written above in black magic marker was: “You look sexy today!”

“Why, thank you!” I thought.

Then I quickly looked for the crew from Candid Camera!

Since the enormous restroom was mostly empty, I decided to snap a photo of the message using my cell phone. Yes, that was probably almost as odd as finding the Post It Note stuck on the door! Heres the proof:

I left it there for the next lucky lady to find...

Monday, January 3, 2011


Unfortunately, this is belated, but I did want to heartily recommend the PBS Masterpiece Contemporary show “Framed”. It aired in this region the night of our “Rolling Christmas” and blizzard. We had set the DVR for it. Once we had a chance to watch the show, we were completely charmed by it.

I haven’t been all that excited about the Masterpiece Contemporary series. I did enjoy “Place of Execution” and also “Collision”. So with three in the “like” column, I guess I need to keep an open mind about whatever comes out in the future under the banner of “Masterpiece Contemporary”!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sea Change

There was a wonderful article about Alzheimer’s in the New York Times yesterday. The focus was not on accurate diagnosis nor on possible cures. It was about providing excellent, appropriate care to patients with Alzheimer’s. My Dad died of Alzheimer’s in 1988, at the age of 68. Chuck’s Mom died of the same disease in 1999, at the age of 82. While we contribute to the Alzheimer’s Association, truthfully, I can hardly stand to read any articles about the disease. Over the years there have been precious few breakthroughs, which has left me dispirited. It ravaged our parents and robbed them, and all of us, of the extraordinary people they were. To revisit the topic is exceptionally painful.

But the title of the article in the Times by Pam Belluck captured my attention: “Giving Alzheimer’s Patients Their Way, Even Chocolate”. I clicked over to it with some apprehension, but I read it all the way through. In the end, I felt encouraged, almost optimistic. Should Alzheimer’s strike our family again, I now know that the care of patients has advanced dramatically. Humane, compassionate, responsive, intuitive. creative, high quality and individualized care is possible. Such care is not a fluke nor practiced on a hunch. There is a great deal of research to back it up. Compared to what my Dad experienced, it is a sea change; compared to Chuck’s Mom, it is a significant improvement.

Whether or not Alzheimer’s has touched your life, I urge you to read the article. It can only serve to make us better informed and able to advocate for those we love - no matter what illness is being wrestled with.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 In Review

Wendy, of A Wee Bit of Cooking, made a cool photo collage of the year. She used a free online program called Mosaic Maker. I tried to use the program, but about one third of my photos were incompatible with its system. So I headed to Photoshop and made my own. Looking at the 25 photographs gathered together this way, left me feeling amazed at how swiftly the 12 months flew by and how much happened over the 365 days.

Thank you for sharing in what has been a truly eventful year!