Monday, January 31, 2011

Where's my camera when I need it?

I just got back from the grocery store and I'm kicking myself for not having the presence of mind to whip out my camera.

Sometimes I wonder how in the world people have the nerve to go out in public dressed the way they are. Maybe it's because they are perfectly comfortable with themselves and really don't give a flying flip what others think.

Perhaps they're oblivious to what they look like,

or, maybe they're out for attention. Well today, they certainly got that! Whatever their reason, they were out in droves today. And for the record  .... I was NOT at Walmart! That is a whole 'nuther story              

First there was the guy in the parking lot in flip-flops and white socks. Why? How can that be comfortable?

Then there was the teenager (why aren't you in school?) who looked like she just got out of bed, wearing pajama bottoms and a sweatshirt. I guess she thought the Uggs would dress it up a bit?

Around the corner was the mom with two toddlers and a screaming infant. The kids all looked ok, but momma - is it really necessary to wear leggings, 3-inch spiked heels, and a tight, plunge-to-the-navel sweater  to the grocery store? (And for the record, the 70s called and they want that hairstyle back.) Woman, what are you doing, shopping for groceries or another baby-daddy?

In front of the meat counter was the old man in shorts and an Hawaiian shirt - I guess it wouldn't be so bad except for it's January, it's raining and it's 48-degrees outside. And while all my Connecticut relatives would love that 48* here in Georgia it is pretty miserable, especially considering the highs we had over the weekend. Maybe Don Ho was thinking by dressing like this it might bring back that balmy weekend weather.

Two aisles over I was confronted with his elementary school-aged granddaughter.  She was the kid wearing a tank top, shorts, and high heels. Or it could be possible she belonged to the mom-on-the-prowl. Could have gone either way, I guess.

And then finally, roaming around in the frozen food section I spot the woman in jeans, tennis shoes, and a mink coat. Yes, she was wearing a dead animal. I guess someone forgot to tell her that to do so was definitely no longer politically correct. But judging by the look on her face I was not about to go "there" with her. Let someone else call PETA.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm no fashion diva. In fact my favorite go-to shoes are the ugly brown crocs with the fuzzy insoles. (Unless it's summer and then you'll find me in these) 

And believe me, I get it that sometimes kids insist on wearing the most outlandish outfits and there are times that it's just not one of those battles worth fighting. I only have to pull out our family albums to find perfect examples of this. Now who wouldn't want to take their kid out dressed like this?
   or this? 
or this?    or even this? . It's just so hard when they're so proud of themselves! And when they're that young, they are pretty darn cute.

However, let it be known, that if you insist on going out in public dressed for attention, you're going to get it. So don't glare and get all huffy when those around you do a double take when you walk by.

Or drive by - I would be remiss if I failed to mention the car in the parking lot .... the blue sedan with giant glow-in the-dark yellow polka dots covering it. I wonder if it comes in pink and green?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Yo Gaba Gaba

of all the bags I've made recently, this one is the most .... interesting. My sister commissioned it for my great-niece, Hayden, as a Christmas gift.  This photo is of Hayden on her 2nd birthday, note her t-shirt has one of the characters on it. Personally I think they're some freaky looking characters but evidently toddlers love them. The characters are from a kids show called Yo Gaba Gaba. yogabbagabba

Hayden has all the characters, and according to my sister she loves carrying them around... all  five of them, which can prove difficult for a two year old. Carol wanted a bag to make the job easier. The plan was to give Hayden her bag Christmas morning, stuffed with other gifts. Hayden, however had other ideas and found the bag early! 

Even if the surprise wasn't quite what was planned, the end result was a very happy little girl. 

And me, I'm having nightmares about Yo Gaba Gaba!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I'm tired

Saturday, a day for chores and shopping. All I'm saying is I'm glad this day only comes around once a week, I couldn't take more than that! :)

Hubby just walked in and asked what's for dinner? My response "I don't know honey, whatever you want to fix is fine with me." He hates it when I do that.

Sooooooooo, I'm too tired to blog tonight. But I will leave you with a little advice.

Do NOT go to BrandsMart on Saturday, especially a Saturday when a local radio station is having fair-like activities in the parking lot. It took us ten minutes in the store to make our purchase. It took us THIRTY minutes to get OUT of the parking lot.

Now that I've done my good deed for the day,as well as all that cleaning and shopping that mad my feet and back feel like those of ninety year old woman, I'm going to sit in my chair, drink a happy drink, and watch a few hours of mindless tv.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wonders never cease

Last Wednesday I filed our federal income taxes online. Thursday I received an email that they had been accepted. That in itself is a miracle. The last two years I was unable to file online because the IRS denied the return claiming my social security number was incorrect. What the heck people, don't you think I know my own SS#, I mean I've only had it since 1975!

In January 2009, after several phone calls to the IRS and sitting on hold for what seemed like decades, I finally talked to an actual person....only to be told that I needed to talk to the Social Security Office. Evidently the file they provide to the IRS did not match the number I gave them and SS would have to send a correct file to the IRS.

I just couldn't wait to call SS and see how long it would take to get this cleared up. After several hours, yes HOURS

I am not exaggerating

HOURS of being on HOLD

I finally talked to someone who was quite friendly but not very helpful. According to this guy the number they had on record matched the number I had entered on my return. "Yes, that's your social security number (duh!), I'm sorry ma'am I'm not sure what their problem is."

I wanted to reply "their problem is they are run by the US government" but decided that since I was talking to another government agency it might not be such a good idea. Dejected, I hung up and went back to the original pain in the a$$ government agency.

Long story short, (aren't you glad?) they said "too bad. so sad, you're going to have to mail it in and wait six to eight weeks to be processed." And that made me so HAPPY because it wasn't like I needed my REFUND so I could pay the %^^& tax we owed to the state of Georgia.

Giving up the fight I mailed my return in and began weekly checks on the IRS'  "Where's My Refund" site. About two weeks in the status read "Your return has been received." The following week "Your return has been delayed due to an error," and finally THREE weeks later "Your return has been accepted and will be processed by xx/xx/2009 (I can't remember the exact date). On that date I checked once again and it said that my refund should be deposited into my account on xx/xx/2009.

Guess what! xx/xx/2009 came and went and no refund in my checking account. This was a Friday. On Monday, you guessed it, still no refund. I pulled out the phone and called "where's my money?" "Nooooooooooooo, don't put me on hold. Pleaaaaaaaaaase, don't you know how long I've already been on hold?" Three days later when she finally came back on the line I heard "I'm not sure what the problem is ma'am. We show that the refund was direct deposited on Friday."

I, very nicely (yes I was being nice, I promise), asked if she could verify the banking information. She agreed and proceeded to give me the routing number. Yep, that's correct. Now for the account number. What? Can you repeat that? Lady I don't know what that number is but I can guarantee that is NOT my account number. IT WASN'T EVEN CLOSE! "Oh my, I'm not sure what happened here but don't worry. Once the bank rejects it, it will be sent back to the IRS and then we'll issue you a paper check."

WHAT? First of all - how do you know it will be rejected? What you've done is deposit MY money into someone else's account. They're gonna be really happy to see a couple thousand extra dollars in their account. What makes you think they're going to report it? And lets just say they do, and the bank returns it, why do I have to wait even longer for a paper check? That's all I'm going to say here but will admit that I did say quite a bit more to the IRS agent.

And you know what happened....two weeks , yes TWO WEEKS, later, my paper refund check came in the mail. What a nightmare.

Last year, ever the optimist, I once again completed my taxes online and with great anticipation hit "SEND."
That night I received an email that my return had been submitted. Yay! And then the next day, "Your tax return had been denied for the following reason: incorrect social security number for spouse."

Nooooooo! Here we go again. To avoid further aggravation I verified my account numbers for the refund in BOLD, printed out the return, and popped it into the mail. For five looooooooooooooong weeks I waited and finally got the good news....your refund is being deposited xx/xx/2010. And you know what, last year they got that part right!

So, you can imagine that this year it was with baited breath that, still being an optimist, once again I hit the SEND button. I received the usual message stating the return had been successfully submitted. And then Thursday came and YES! It's a MIRACLE!!!



And the very best part.....

Today, Yes, today, THURSDAY, exactly  ONE week refund is in my account. Yes, I'm doing the happy dance because ...

the government agency

FINALLY got it right! Wonders never cease.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Yes (or should it be "no"?), I did NOT blog yesterday and now I've ruined my New Year's resolution twenty-five days into the new year (we're not counting that one day where blogger wouldn't let me post....not my fault! Who sounds like a six year old now?).

Oh well, what can I say? Actually I didn't have anything to say and that's why I didn't blog. For those that know me I'm sure you find it hard to believe that I had nothing to say.

But sometimes it really happens.

And those around ......


What's funny is that I couldn't even find an interesting photo to post which is sorta unbelievable when you think about the 17859438547 photos I have of Spunky. I mean who doesn't want to see her in all her kitty cuteness?

Maybe I should have shown her yesterday, in all her glory, as she scarfed down a bowl full of kitty food and then promptly tossed it back up. That would have been one gross photo. I think she learned her lesson though. Today she eating very daintily, dipping her paw into the food and then licking it up. What a strange kitty that Spunky is! 

As for daily blogging, I'm climbing back into the saddle, jumping on the bandwagon, giving it another go, .... you get it? I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

Gosh, I think I just scared myself!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Top ten things I have no desire to do

I'm pretty sure there is going to be a recurring theme to my top ten list today. I'll go ahead and admit up front that I have a lot of fears in my life. Some of you may prefer to use the term "phobias". Fear, phobia, whatever they are, I have them and their existence is glaringly evident in my top ten. 

On to the list:
  1. I have absolutely no desire or inclination to jump out of an airplane. That said, I must also confess that I absolutely hate flying so it would only be natural to say I would not like to jump out of an airplane. I guess you could say one of my worse fears would be flying in an airplane with engine trouble and being forced to jump to safety. I did however allow my children and husband to go up in this plane whatever was I thinking?
  2. Rock/mountain climbing - why? Why do people want to risk life and limb to scale a bunch of rocks? It takes lots of concentration, extraordinary upper body strength, stamina, and nerves of steel. I have none of those so it's a given that it's not an activity for me. I'm sure there's all kinds of exhilaration experienced once the top has been reached. And I can only imagine the wonderful sights that can be seen from up high. However, let's not forget that once one reaches the has to come down. Coming down isn't going to be much easier than going up....unless you take a plunge, and face it, how fun is that? And while we're at it, I don't even want to do this: 
  3. Ian climbing the wall at the Mall of Ga July,  2000
  4. Run in a race - anyone who knows me knows that I am not the most athletic person so this entry should not be any surprise. I'm not one to overly exert myself, and really don't get the attraction people have with running. Those runners, they're like meth addicts when it comes to their sport. I know people who get up at the crack of dawn, regardless of the weather, and take to the streets. I'm not an early riser. I hate hot weather and cold weather. I'm never going to run down a street unless I'm either running from someone trying to attack me or running from a burning building  and in either scenario I'd probably be too scared to move anyway. So it's been established, I have no desire to run period - but run in a race... where your're competing with other people? where people watch and applaud the front runners and snicker at the poor slob who comes in three hours after everyone else? where you have to go up mountains hills called Heartbreak Hill? where paramedics sit on the sidelines waiting for someone to drop? where, when it's all said and done all you get is a lousy t-shirt?            No thanks, count me out!
  5. Bungee jump - I don't know who decided it would be a good idea to take a giant rubber band and jump off high buildings and bridges but then again I AM one of the faint at heart. How can you be sure that bungee isn't going to just snap as you're going down, breaking every bone in your body? Or worse yet, it snaps as you're springing back up and suddenly you're being launched into orbit right up there with the space station. Once again, count me out.
  6. Para sail - I've heard people claim that it's the closest thing to flying like a bird. I'm sorry, but if God intended man to fly He would have given us all wings. That's all I'm sayin'. 
  7. Go caving - I have been to Carlsbad Caverns. It was a long time ago, back right after dinosaurs stopped chasing men into caves. It wasn't too bad. I remember there was a lot of walking involved and it was cold. I also remember rumors of bats (that part I'm trying to forget). I would do that trip again. However here I'm actually talking about the kind of caving my sons did this past summer.             Words escape me.             All I can say is no way, not this girl!
  8. Live in a high rise apartment - apartment living isn't necessarily bad but for many isn't the ideal living arrangement. You may have to deal with noisy neighbors and for the most part aren't allowed to paint and decorate like you want. But when the hot water heater bursts in the middle of the night, all it takes is a call to maintenance for a quick repair....right? However, I'm not talking about your normal suburban apartments with two or three floors. No, I'm talking about those giant high rises, forty-fifty-a hundred floors up. Really I don't have any idea how high they actually go, but I'm talking about the ones where you look out your window and can see pilots in airplanes or look down and realize those aren't ants crawling around but cars... that is when the big-city smog isn't so thick you can't see three feet past the window. So other than that, why you ask, would living up there in the clouds be so bad? People. Have you never seen Towering InfernoTell me, exactly how many people actually survived? And this.....what is it? A giant lightening rod? That is why I don't want to live in a high rise apartment!
  9. Be on or watch reality tv - it is simple. I have no desire to see people act like idiots. I have no desire to have people watch me act like an idiot. End of story. 
  10. Go down in a submarine - it's been thoroughly established that I am afraid of heights. Let it also be known that I also have a healthy fear of the ocean. The thought of being surrounded entirely by water with all kinds of man eating critters in it terrifies me. Being in a submarine would probably protect me from all those sea critters but with that protection comes the fact that, when in one, you are enclosed in a tin can. Have I mentioned that in addition to my height fear and my ocean fear, that I also suffer from claustrophobia? You know, being enclosed in small spaces. It's even worse if the small space is completely surrounded by water. So you can be rest assured that I won't be entering a tin can and traveling 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
  11. Live without technology - I love my phone. I love my computer. I love my tv. Yes, it's sad .... I  admit it. But the thought of being without....shudder....makes me want to cry. While we're at it, let's hang on to all those electrical appliances that make my life easier. And remember the saying "if mama ain't happy, nobody's happy. "
So that's list of ten things I have no desire to do. What's on your list?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Soooooooooooo, Eddie came up to me yesterday with one of these in his hand.

He asked "Did you use this?"

mmmmmm, NO. Why would I use some random chapstick? Especially one that I know is NOT mine?
And besides - it's not my brand.

This is my brand.  

And I'm very sad because I only have ONE left 
and it's not like I can just trot on over to JAPAN to get another one.

There are no substitutes .... whatever will my chapped lips do????

One more busy day

We traveled to Rome today, Georgia not Italy, in case anyone was thinking we'd become world travelers. My Mother-in-law lives up there. We haven't seen her since Thanksgiving.  Yes, that was two months ago but don't think we've been ignoring her.  She bailed on us and went south with the birds.

Florida was too warm for her though and she decided to come home for the epic snow and ice storm. Not really, she never gets too warm and bad weather makes her much so that the day the storm hit her blood pressure went through the roof. Fortunately her good neighbor is a retired nurse who's always looking out for her. Dianna called 911 and waited with her for the paramedics to come.


It took awhile but the paramedics, after much effort, finally made it.  Alice lives in a very hilly neighborhood. The ambulance got stuck and couldn't make it up the hill to her house. They had to hike the rest of the way to her house. After checking her out the decision was made that she needed to go to the ER. They had to call for a pickup with chains to come and get them all and take them back down to the ambulance which would transport her to the hospital. After a couple of hours at the ER they got her BP down, couldn't find anything significantly wrong with her, and told her she was being released...IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SNOW/ICE STORM.

The question is of the day was then asked "how does one get home from the hospital when they arrive via ambulance but are deemed fit to return home ...and have no one to come and take them home"? I guess I should mention here that no one else in the family lives in Rome. In fact the closest family member lives an hour away, Dale and I are two hours away, which didn't matter anyway because we were all stuck IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SNOW/ICE STORM and no one was going anywhere.

Two other angles of mercy paramedics volunteered to take her home in their pickup truck. A husband and wife team - what troopers! She said it was one scary ride home but they finally made it. The paramedics carried her into the house (wouldn't want her falling and breaking anything because then she would have to go back to the ER) and got her settled in before they left.

Anyway, to make a long story short (or is it too late for that?) we traveled to see her today. To check up on how she was feeling, to get her out of the house, and take care of any needs she had. We went to IHop for lunch, got her a good hot meal and made sure she ate it all. While I ran to Kroger to get her groceries Dale took her to Super Cuts to get her hair trimmed. Her haircut looked great but I think it was a little shorter than she likes. Oh well, it'll grow out.

I meant to take a photo of her but forgot. Instead I'll show you how she looked this fall when we went up there for a visit . Isn't she cute?

I can't help but wonder which would be more exciting - riding in the Wiener Mobile or in an ambulance IN THE MIDDLE OF A SNOW/ICE STORM?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Day 21 - obligatory post

I'm not going to finish today's post in time, and I don't want to miss my daily post so I present this photo. Do you know what it is?


I have to go now, the best show on TV just started.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Short but sweet...bittersweet.

So, it's official - my oldest son won't be coming home for the summer. He's taking a job on the other side of the country. I'm a little bit sad but for the most part I'm excited for him and the opportunity he has. At least I have four months to get used to the idea...

that my son is 2668 miles away.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I forgot!

I hit PUBLISH too quickly. I forgot to add - the word of the day for today .....  

snittyAudio Pronunciation\SNIT-ee\

disagreeably ill-tempered

how appropriate is that?! 

A not-so-great, lousy, no good, bad-hair day

Have you ever had one of those days where you wake up raring (rearing? roaring? where's my English major husband when I need him??) to go, ready to meet the day head on, and accomplish all kinds of earth shattering things? Today was one of those days for me. It started in the shower where I began mentally making lists.

It started with a list of chores that need to be done - clean the bathrooms, wash a load of clothes, pick up a prescription at the pharmacy, vacuum the floors.... all are things that need to but done and are usually considered mundane. Today however, they didn't feel so much like chores as they do projects. Projects just sound better. Everyone knows projects can be considered "fun" and when they're completed you're filled with a sense of accomplishment. Doesn't that sound great?!

But, it didn't stop there. The word project led me to create list number two - a list of craft projects that I'd like to start in the very near future: there's a cute new bag that is begging to be made, I want to open up my art notebook of collages and add to it, and I would really like to give another go at digital scrapbooking. Ahhhh, my creative muse is alive and well, and calling out to be heard.

List three was comprised of topics that I find myself wanting to blog about, and in my mind I there are already a couple of paragraphs already written. I won't divulge this list here. I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise! :)

I have to admit that today's shower went a little long. I now have a good idea of how long the hot water lasts and how wrinkly my skin gets after an extended how shower. Let's just say it's a good thing I don't wake up this way every day!

After finishing all the necessary work of pulling myself together physically - as in hair drying (why is it that my hair never looks the same from one day to another?), makeup applied (on days when I know I'm going out, this step is an absolute must, wouldn't want to scare the public!), and finally, dressing (jeans today, no sweats, see comments above for makeup), I'm ready to tackle the day.

It was time to pull out the computer, open up Evernote and start putting my lists in writing. This is an important step because I know I am more likely to actually do something when it is in writing. If it's only in my head I can conveniently forget about it, but if it's there in "black and white" it's much harder to ignore.

On a side note - isn't it funny how technology has changed us? In the past these kinds of lists would be written on paper, maybe a journal, or even just a scrap of paper or a Post-it note. Then there's the ever popular chalkboard or dry erase board that I have hanging in a prominent place, to be easily seen, prompting me to complete my "To-Do's." My current choice for notes is using my computer and the internet.

Using this site evernote  I can create my lists and access them with either my computer or my iPhone. The computer and phone are in sync and my lists follow me wherever I go. An added plus, because it is all saved on the server at Evernote I don't have to worry about my computer dying and losing all my notes. As long as I have internet access I'm good!

My lists were quickly typed up, complete and entered into my folders. I'm good to go. Now, if I had been smart I would have immediately jumped right on one of those lists and gone to work. However, being the internet junkie I am, I found it completely necessary to do a little web surfing. And thus began the unraveling of a completely good day.

I had a message from someone, who shall remain nameless. In this message was something I DID.NOT.WANT.TO.HEAR. I won't go into details, it's not important to anyone but me. I will however admit, that on this particular topic I am completely and utterly irrational. It makes my blood BOIL. And so it was, ten little words have completely ruined my day (and if we're being irrational here... quite possibly my week, and maybe even my month. If I really want to get dramatic I could say that it has ruined my life....but then, that would really be over-the-top).

Now I know that no "thing" or no "one" can affect me unless I allow it. I KNOW that it's how I RESPOND and how I CHOSE to feel that makes me have a good or bad day. But then, I think I've already stated that I am being irrational here. I own it. Or it owns me. Whatever.

Today has become a not-so-great, lousy, no good, bad-hair day. Thank goodness I put those lists in writing. Maybe tomorrow I can have a mulligan and try again.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Time Marches On

Nothing new tonight, just feeling a bit nostalgic after posting this photo yesterday

Sometimes it's hard to believe that they were once these two rugrats 

But then these two

are now these two 

Yep, time marches on.....

Monday, January 17, 2011

Word of the Day

Today as I struggle to write, the following popped up in my inbox  .
I thought to myself   "how appropriate, today's word is procrastinate!"

In our home procrastination is a condition. Two family members are afflicted with it, two are not. Can you guess which two are the chronic procrastinators?

I guess it goes without saying that one of the afflicted  is yours truly.

I'll give you a hint as to the second one.

Ha, ha!  That didn't help did it? Really I just wanted an excuse to show you this photo of my two handsome sons. One of them really is a procrastinator.

As a homeschooling mom it used to drive me up the wall. Now, for the most part, he's someone else's problem. However,  if it weren't for Ian the Procrastinator sending me a text inquiring when phone bill money was due, you'd be getting a "not in service" message every time you dialed my number. It was just another thing in a long list of "to-do's" that I'd put off doing. Meanwhile I guess there's hope for the boy yet!

As for me....

  • procrastinate

I sure do wish they'd find a cure for it, I need help!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Don't be stupid y'all

If you're tired of listening to me talk about the weather check out this video for some laughs. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Big Roaring Fire

Yesterday's blog references about our propane tank brought back memories of an event that shall never be forgotten in our family. Actually it can't be forgotten because I won't let it. Some things are just worth bringing up time and time again.

When we first moved into our house back in 1991 there were very few houses around us. Our house is situated on the corner of two streets and we have a neighbor behind us and one to the right of us. Originally the house to the right was not there. It was just a big empty field, overgrown with weeds, bushes, and trees.

The property and the house we bought was owned by my sister and her husband. At one point we discussed building a home on the vacant lot but eventually decided that financially it would be better for us to move into the house that was already built.  And so, we bought our little home, standing on just under 3/4 of an acre.

The area immediately around our home was kept neat and trim - meaning Dale cut the grass and I planted flowers in front of the house and by the mailbox. It usually took him around three hours to mow the lawn (with a push mower, we were too poor to buy a riding mower) and it would have taken longer had it not been for the plethora of trees surrounding us. And by trees, I mean mostly big tall pine trees and very few hardwoods.

When it came to the empty lot next door we were under no obligation to keep it up, however on occasion Dale would mow the grass closest to the street.  As for the rest, it was left a-la-natural.

It didn't take long before we discovered that this vacant land was an excellent dumping ground. No, we did not park abandoned cars there, nor was there trash or other unsightly stuff cluttering up the yard. It was however, an excellent spot for dumping grass clippings, pine straw, leaves, and fallen limbs. And it came to pass, as we cleaned and groomed our yard, all unwanted foliage was tossed in the lot.

During the early 90s we had several ice storms.

Ice storms can be a real nuisance. Not only do they cause chaos on the roads but they also reek havoc on trees and electrical wires. It doesn't take much to create a coating of ice glaze that weighs everything down and before you know it, SNAP! POP! and CRACKLE! (yes I know that looks out of order but we're not talking about cereal here) Snap! A tree limb comes off a tree.

Pop! It hits the ground. (for the bigger limps, it's bigger than a pop, more like a THUD!)

Crackle! is the sound of electrical wires pulling loose from the poles, causing transformers to explode. I should also note here that, along with the crackle, comes a flash of light. Scary I'm tellin' ya!

Believe me, they're all sights and sounds that create an atmosphere of fear and trepidation. Nothing is worse than lying in bed, hearing those sounds of winter, and wondering "will the electricity go out?" "will the next limb hit the house? "will the next limb really be an entire tree?" "will my car be flattened?"  And, those thoughts don't stop with daylight. As long as there is ice and cold, any of the above happen.

As mentioned, in the course of a couple of years we had several ice storms. (all of the above photos came from one storm in 1992)After the storm is over and everything begins to dry out, phase two begins...CLEANUP.  When it came to clean up the biggest nightmare for most people was what to do with all the mess. We were lucky because our answer could be found right next door ... the big empty lot. All we had to do was gather up the fallen limbs and toss them into a pile.

After awhile the pile began to grow. And it grew and it grew. And while the property was technically not part of our yard it really bothered my husband to look out and see it. Not because he felt guilty that it was OUR mess over there, he simply hated the way it looked to people driving by. At least that was what he said. Looking back now, I know he was using it as an excuse.

After a couple of years and several ice storms Dale finally decided that it was time to get rid of what had become known as “The Pile.”

Now this pile was no small thing. It was taller than my husband, who measures in around 6'1", and the width was probably close to 10 feet. Yes, over the years“The Pile” had continually experienced growth. And by growth I mean in size/depth/whatever, NOT that it was growing in life (except for one small exception, see pumpkin miracle below).

Just so you get the picture here,  IT . WAS . DEAD.  Dead wood. Dead pine needles. Dead grass. Dead leaves. And yes, even dead pumpkins; pumpkins that grew from seeds that came from rotting pumpkins that had been tossed on the pile, seeds that sprouted and grew into pumpkins that were never harvested and ended up DEAD.

How does one go about getting rid of a pile of dead stuff? Speak to any group of men and 99.9% of them will say BURN IT! Yes, it is a know fact that MALES love to make fires. It goes way back to the beginning of time when cavemen wandered the earth and will probably continue on until the second coming.

Women on the other hand, we're not so crazy about fires. I'm not talking about fires in the fireplace, a place to cozy up to with a good book and a glass of wine, or a campfire for roasting marshmallows and making s'mores. I'm talking about fires made just for the purpose of burning stuff.  I don't get it, never have, never will. I am in fact quite afraid of fire. I think a lot of the fear comes from common sense, that and the fact that during my second year of college we experienced not one, not two, but THREE fires on my dorm hall. So yes, I have a natural and perfectly legitimate fear of fire.

I guess by now you've figured out where this story is going. Dale decided that “The Pile” must be burned. There are some battles you just know you can't win and I knew this was one of them. I warned him to take the necessary precautions and then gathered up my children and hid in the opposite end of the house. I figured if things went south I could throw the boys in the car and high-tail it out of dodge.

Meanwhile, Dale doubled the length of the yard hose and stretched it across our yard into the lot next door. I find it necessary to mention here that at this time we had horrible water pressure; the further one got from the main line at the street, the less flow you would get. Taking this into consideration he decided that he would include a  large outdoor trashcan filled with water as part of his water arsenal.

At this point I feel it is necessary to reiterate ... “The Pile” was, for the most part, made up of tree limbs and pine straw. Let me emphasize DEAD tree limbs and DEAD pine straw. Hmmmmm, I wonder how well that will burn?

And then, my beloved husband took a match, lit some crumpled newspaper and threw it on “The Pile.”
He also lit a few places along the bottom of  “The Pile” and the “The Pile”  began to burn. The fire quickly devoured the dead pine straw and in a flash spread throughout “The Pile.”

And then POOF!

Several years worth of dry tender went up.  Flames were shooting high in the sky. I'm sure airplanes flying into Briscoe field were seeing it as a beacon for landing. I swear the flames were at least 75 feet high, Dale disagrees. All I know is that people driving down the road stopped and stared. If cells phones had been as plentiful as they are now I'm sure there would have been several calls to 911.

And there stood my husband with his hose MISTING  the fire, because you know..... there was NO water pressure to create a good stream of water. And besides, who wants to douse a roaring fire? Let's not forget his standby trashcan of know the kind made by Rubbermade? Oh yeah, that baby began to melt! And yes, I kept that trashcan, it will stand forever as a reminder of the day Dale burned  “The Pile.”

And me? I'm running back and forth wringing my hands and asking "Should we call the fire department?" "Do I need to take the kids and run?" "What were you thinking?" And finally..."what is wrong with your arms and your eyebrows? Oh my gosh you've singed the hair on your body!"

Now that is some intense heat!

And, you know what? That fire burned for 300 days.

Not really but it sure seemed like it. It did burn all day and for almost a week afterwards you could look outside and see hot embers glowing in the dark of night. For awhile I lived in terror that the wind would blow and start it all up again. Fortunately it did not.

Once I got up the courage to get close to the spot where “The Pile” once stood I could feel the heat and for a fleeting moment thought about roasting marshmallows.

And then I looked up....................and around.

I think I forgot to mention that surrounding the perimeter of  “The Pile”  were several TREES.

Tall trees.

75 foot tall trees.

Trees with leaves that once were green and vibrant but were now singed and dead, killed by the sheer heat of the fire. And I thought about what could have happened. What if those trees had caught on fire?

I turned slowly and looked at our home about 50 feet away. Sitting next too it was the big green monster, also known as the propane tank. And I thought of could have happened.

By the grace of God we survived the ordeal. We didn't burn down the neighborhood or go


into oblivion.

A house now sits on the spot where “The Pile” once stood. It was however several years before I would let my husband burn in the back yard. And now, he's restricted to burning in a metal drum.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Little House on the Prairie

Sometimes I forget that the year is 2011 and that we are living in the 21st century. It seems like only yesterday that it was 1993 and we were about to experience a weather event similar to the one that just occurred. It was dubbed the Blizzard of the Century and was truly something for the record books. In 1993 my kids were toddlers, 1 1/2 and 3; the hubs and I were still in our 30s, relatively thin, and we were living in a house that was all ours, not a rental.

This was actually taken in 1991 right after we moved into the house. I don't have any photographs of the 1993 storm. We do have video though and if I can ever figure out how to put it on here I will.

Funny thing about house living as opposed to apartment living, it's a whole lot more expensive and work intensive. One particularly perplexing problem was how to heat our home without taking on a second mortgage. Our house was built in 1973, and like most of the homes around us, was fueled by propane. Some people claim propane is cheaper than natural gas. All I can say is that for the first couple of years our propane bills were astronomical!

Did I mention that this twenty year old house was very drafty and not very energy efficient? One of the more logical solutions was to replace all the windows and doors. Yeah, that wasn't going to happen!  ka-ching-ka-ching!

No, the answer had to be somewhere in how we heated the house.  At the time natural gas wasn't an option (no lines out this far) so we searched for something to use in addition to the furnace, something that would hopefully cut down on the monthly costs and provide better warmth. My brother-in-law came up with a perfect solution. A wood pellet burning stove.

It is inserted into the fireplace and burns little pellets of wood.

The pellets actually look like something a rabbit left behind but trust is wood. If you're interested in further details of how these things work, this link pellet stoves should fill you in.

With the addition of the stove we were able to cut back on the furnace use. Eventually natural gas lines were installed in our area (yay! we were so excited).  We did have to purchase a new furnace because you can't run a propane-fueled-furnace off natural gas. Who knew?! But getting rid of the ugly and expensive propane gas tank was worth it... or so we thought....

We continued to use our wood stove because our home was still a drafty old house. Life was good

We were snuggly warm in our little abode......until something awful happened. The gas companies in our state were deregulated. Everyone knows what that means, right? Prices through the roof! After much consideration and some circumstances beyond our control (did I mention that by this time I was a stay at home mom and we were living off one income?) we made the decision to stop using our furnace and heat our home with the wood stove and on particularly cold days a couple of space heaters.

We've been living like this for around six or seven years now. Because our house is small, for the most part this arrangement works out well for us. However, when my Mother comes to visit it's a little too cool for her ... but then, this is the woman who keeps her own thermostat at 950*.  Youzers!  Not really, more like 78* but still it's reeeeeeeeeeally warm in her home, as in "bring out the shorts and tank tops warm"! But then, according to her there will come a day when I want my house that warm too. Only time will tell.

I will admit there are a couple of drawbacks to our heating arrangement. One of which we experienced this last week. When it gets really, really cold ... down in the teens and below cold ...  it's down right freezing in the house too. My answer to that is pile on layers of clothes and drink lots of hot tea and chocolate.

And don't look at the thermometer that says it's 62* inside the house. As for the rooms that are shut off from the rest of the! We'll just back slowly out of that room and close the door.

Another drawback to our heating arrangement is the regular maintenance that the fireplace-stove requires. There is, after all, wood and fire combining, and everyone knows what that produces, right?


Nowhere near the amount of ashes that are produced from a regular fire but nonetheless dirty, filthy ashes. Ashes that have to be cleaned out and disposed of. 

In addition to daily dumping the ashes, the stove itself needs to be throughly cleaned about every 3 to 4 days. Performing this duty is, in my opinion, somewhat similar to being a chimney sweep.  

   A paint brush is used to brush out the ashes from all the nooks and crannies of the stove. Sometimes we even pull out the ol' shop vac and suck them up. Did I mention that this is a messy job?  In addition to filthy hands a thin cloud of ash-smoke escapes, permeating the air, eventually settling on the surrounding surfaces.

I really hate this part because if you aren't diligent in cleaning up the residue is found everywhere. Before you know it, the cat walks through it and suddenly there are tiny black paw prints everywhere you look. (no, your screen is not dirty, that is my kitchen counter top!) And let's not forget the unsightly appearance of our usually pristine kitty. 

Face it Spooky Spunky  you're stuck with those paws 'til Spring.

Speaking of Spring, after a few months of dealing with this I am more than ready for winter to be over. Unfortunately I don't really have a say so on when that will happen. So for now,  I will sit back and enjoy the fire and its warmth and thank the good Lord that I am not living back in the days of Little House on the Prairie... a time where not only did they not have central heat but also no in-house plumbing. Can you imagine having to run outside to go to the bathroom in this weather?

And for those that are worried about the impending apocalypse and being forced back to the prairie days. Take heart....

I have a chamber pot ready....just in case!

On that note, I leave you with this video that actually prompted today's topic. Yes, it took 1578328 words to get around to it.  Look at the predictions of how technology would change and realize that in eighteen years it has all come to pass.

Care to make any predictions for the next eighteen years?