Thursday, January 27, 2011

snow in January

We got just about what was predicted for last night's snow.  Amazing when that happens.  Seems like far more often the weather predictions are way off.  So around 8 AM I went out to shovel my sidewalk.  The snow (maybe 8 inches) had a crust on it and was rather heavy.  I had to scoop off the top crust and dump it and then get the bottom layer.  The hard part, of course, was throwing the snow back into the yard.  I sure hope I didn't mess up my back doing it.  I won't know until tomorrow.  Anyway, the trees and bushes look lovely covered with snow.  The sun is shining brightly, so we'll get some melting today.  Unfortunately, it will probably freeze up overnight, which may mean that the roads will be worse tomorrow than today.  Our development's streets have not been plowed so far.  We have a contract for that and they are supposed to plow within 12 hours.  I have not tried to get my car out.  My boss at the hospital gift shop told me not to come in, so I can just leave the car until later today.  I will try to clear it out before the temperature drops tonight.

I thought my neighbor's red car and the bits of the poinsettias under the snow looked nice together.  The tree covered with snow is two yards up from my yard.   The big trees with snow-covered branches are along the stream behind my yard.

 This morning, I threw some bird seed out on the deck, on top of the crusted snow.  Had squirrels and birds competing for the food.  The cardinals were very pretty, but the squirrels chased them away.  Speaking of squirrels, one is on the bird feeder now, trying to figure out why he can't get at the seed while he sits on the perch.  His weight closes the feeder up, but he doesn't understand that.  He finally gave up and let the birds have their food.

If I were ambitious, I would get my outside stuff on and go out with the camera to take some snow photos.  Maybe I will do that in a bit.  With the sunshine, the snow will soon melt from trees and bushes.  Or maybe I'll just stay inside where it is warm!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Love/hate relationships

I should say that I really like the stuff sold in IKEA.  I've purchased quite a few things there over the years.  So I went there yesterday to look at lamps.  They are remodeling the College Park store, so it is even more difficult to get around inside than usual.  I went around in a big circle at least once, trying to get to the lighting section.  Finally had to ask an employee who said to follow the signs.  Of course, I thought that was what I had been doing, but evidently I had missed one or something.  I did get there and found two lamps that were pretty much what I wanted.  Now, I have this really cute, skinny, little red goose-neck desk lamp with a flexible stem that is adjusted so that it shines on my keyboard, but not on the screen and not in my eyes.  Problem solved!  (I needed this lamp because I have a black keyboard, which is great for not showing dirt, but makes it hard to see the keys.  I don't have to look for typing letters, but need to see the other keys, as they are located differently than on my old keyboard.)  The other lamp is a floor lamp, tall and thin to go in the living room.  I picked a shade that I liked - white with flowers - and it looks fine in the room.  LOVE my new lamps.

However, putting these items together was another story.  Ikea uses drawings with no words to show how to assemble their products.  I'm terrible at following pictorial directions.  Give me words, please.  (I'm bad with the diagrams on credit card machines, too.  Always have to try several times to put the card in the right way.)  I'm really good with bookcases, having assembled many of those, but lamps are a new thing.  It took some time before I figured out what the diagrams were telling me to do with the little red lamp.  It was really pretty simple, mostly just screwing the base onto the stem, after one unscrewed the screws and washers from where they were attached for shipping.  The floor lamp was actually easier, as it was mostly just screwing the three sections of the pole together.  However, there was this odd plastic piece that one picture showed being removed.  Luckily I did not throw it away!  When I put a bulb in the lamp, the shade tilted and was obviously too loose.  Finally I figured out that the plastic piece needed to go back on the lamp to hold the shade in place.   HATE Idea's pictorial directions!

This was my week for dealing with problems around the house.  I had a very positive phone conversation with Verizon yesterday, which really surprised me.  The background story is that last month I noticed a couple of games had been added to my bill.  This started in October, so it could not have been my grandchildren's doing, as they left in August.  So last month, I called Verizon and spent nearly an hour on the phone with a tech person while she tried to remove these two items.  She failed!  Finally, she did tell me that she would keep on trying and would call me back.  She never called and I forgot about it until I got this month's bill and there those charges were again.  I was pretty pissed and was ready to really blow up at Verizon.  So, yesterday I called Verizon again.  Didn't have a long wait for a tech person and this amazing woman proceeded to remove the offending items within about 5 minutes.  Furthermore she said she would refund me all three months charges, since I had not ordered these items.  Just like that!  I guess she must have done it because I have since received 7 emails from Verizon, basically telling me (several times) that they had done this and I would receive a credit on the next bill.  Frankly, I was ready to quit Verizon altogether and look for another wireless provider as well as cancel the TV.   I didn't have to threaten to do this, because this time the tech person was not only personable, but also quick and competent.  LOVE good customer service!

This morning three guys from FloorMax came to fix my vinyl flooring.  It just recently developed several bulges.  These fellows pulled out the stove, the fridge and moved a hutch.  They pushed and pulled to no avail.  Finally they said that they didn't have time to fix it today and would reschedule the appointment.  That's ok, as the little wavy places in the floor aren't very noticeable and don't interfere with walking.  The guys said that it was the heat being on that caused the vinyl to stretch.  I had figured it was that.  What I want to know is:  when I"m using the A/C next summer, will the flooring shrink?  Hopefully, that won't happen because the flooring is anchored under the molding at the edges of the room.  Time will tell.  LOVE/HATE?  I'll decide when the floor is fixed.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I don't know what got into me!

Yesterday afternoon, I decided to rearrange the living room.  It started when I decided to move a woven wall hanging that Kate made some years ago from the basement stairwell to the living room.  I really like this wall hanging and no one sees it when it's hanging in the stairwell.   I tried to several different places and finally decided where it would look best.  However this was going to involve moving the couch across the room and bringing the two chairs over to where the couch had been.  Also some shuffling of end tables and of course, redoing the knick-knacks that decorate the tables.  In order to move the couch, I had to roll up the area rug.  Where the rug was and where the couch had been, the floors were dusty, so that meant getting out the vacuum.  You can see where all this is leading.  About an hour later, I finally had clean floors and things moved around to my liking.  I actually love rearranging furniture and other stuff, thus getting a new look to a room.  Karl, my first husband, used to say that he never knew what the house would look like when he came home from work! However, the older I get, the more difficult this process is.  I don't know what I will do when I get too old and decrepit to push furniture around!

Here are a couple of photos of the changes.  The blue cloth is covering an old foot locker that I use as a side table.  It gets different covers throughout the year.  It had a green cover when it was next to the couch, but needed a blue one in its current position.  I didn't take a photo of the couch, as it looks pretty much the same no matter which side of the room it's on. Only the throw pillows on it change with the seasons.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

a lovely snow

We got a few inches last night, just enough to look pretty and light enough to be really easy to clear with a broom!  One of my neighbors cleared my sidewalk before I got out there this AM.  Thank you, whoever you are.  I will go out pretty soon and sweep the snow off the car and perhaps shovel a bit from behind it, just to ensure that I can get in and out of my parking place.  Shouldn't be a problem.

I've been trying to get some photos of the snow on the deck and the birds that have gathered out there, where I sprinkled seed.  However, the settings on my camera have gone all weird and I can't seem to get the flash to come on.  A few weeks ago, it was coming on all the time.  I don't recall changing anything, but I guess I did.  I should never have bought this particular digital camera.  I have never been able to figure out how to change the various settings.  It's very frustrating.  Sometimes it works fine, like when I was taking all those photos of the Christmas lights at night at Brookside Gardens.  Now, almost every picture I take is too dark because it won't flash!  As you can perhaps tell, I am not comfortable with any of the various electronic gadgets that have come into use in the past 10 years.  I paid too much money for this darn camera to just junk it, but I am sorely tempted!

Since I last blogged, I have suffered through a really unpleasant cold - three days of constant nose blowing and generally feeling lousy.  I used tissues at the rate of 3 every 5 minutes!  That is pretty much over now and I'm almost back to normal (whatever that is!).  I was at the doctor's yesterday as I had an appointment for a complete physical.  The results are that I am healthy and have no problems, except the acid reflux thing, which I already knew about.  Also, I am not getting enough exercise, which I also already knew.  Guess I'll have to start walking again, even if I don't have a walking partner.  Walking alone is boring, but I think it will be the easiest and the cheapest form of exercise I can do.  However, I don't plan to start until my cold is entirely gone.  Hopefully, I'll have some energy back by the weekend.

I did manage to get one decent photo of the snow. This is the grape holly by the front door.  It's an interesting plant with little yellow blooms on it during the winter and then purple berries in the spring. You can see that we only got a couple of inches of snow.  The snow is really pretty out back on the deck, but it's in the shade and with the flash not functioning, I can't get a decent shot out there.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Not a good way to start a new year

I seem to be coming down with a cold - for the last three days!  Sore throat and feeling rotten, but no other symptoms.  It's weird and very frustrating.  (It isn't flu, as I got a shot for that in the fall.)   I've been going to my volunteer activities (in the mornings) because I'm not sick enough to justify staying home, but am wondering if I have thus spread my germs to all the people I was near!  Afternoons, I am too tired to do anything but rest or nap.  I want to be well or really sick, not this halfway state! Today I have an appointment for a haircut, which I will probably go to.  Haven't decided about lunch with friends.  I'm not sneezing or coughing, so maybe I could go and not give my friends all my germs.  Our lunch bunch didn't meet over the Holidays, so it's been several weeks since I saw most of them.

Last night, I was tired of reading, so decided to watch the evening news on TV.  FYI:  I got FIOS from Verizon last spring in anticipation of my grandchildrens' visit over the summer.  They loved the many channels available and watched TV quite a bit.  They had no trouble, of course, using the remote, which to me looks like something that would control a 747!  Anyway, I did manage to use the menu function and find a news station at 6 PM.  Local news went on and on about three exploding packages mailed to Maryland government offices.  They could have summed up the whole broadcast in about 5 minutes, but instead they took at least 20 to go over and over the same thing.  BORING!  Finally, the national news came on.  Obviously a slow day.  Showed some folks in the House reading the Constitution.  One would think our representatives have something better to do.  However, at least they did no harm.  Then national news repeated the info about the letter 'bombs' in Maryland.  Had a weather report and the wrap-up was a human interest story, which was very sweet, but not really 'news'.  I wish I had counted the commercials.  I'm estimating that there were about 20 during the hour I watched.  I sure love that MUTE button, but I still had to watch in order to put the sound back on when the newscaster came back.  All in all, this was not an experience I want to repeat any time soon.  I'm going back to getting my news from the Washington Post paper every morning. 

I finally found a small rug to put by the back door in the dining room.  The rug I had there did not look good with my new floor, so I've been looking for a new one.  I found one at WalMart that has the same colors as the floor.  What luck!

Here are some photos of my winter decorations.  Every year, after the Christmas decorations are put away, I hang various snow scenes and limit my knick-knacks to black, white and red.  It's a relief to tone down the decorations, after the overkill of Christmas stuff.  The large painting of trees and snow is one by my niece Terry.  It's an old one of hers and was hanging in her garage.  She doesn't think it's a particularly good painting, but I like it.  The two photographs I bought in Wisconsin some years ago.  If you click to enlarge, you can see, in the larger one, a canoe with a person in it.  The person is Terry.  The wildlife photographer is a friend of hers.  

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year's Eve

My friend Patty and her mother and I went to Brookside Gardens to see the light show.  It was very impressive!   Trees and bushes were covered with lights, but there were also many free standing objects made of lights - animals, flowers, arbors and so forth.  Some animals had sounds to go with them - think frog croaking or wolf howling.  A few scenes were animated, with squirrels running up and down a tree or lightning and rain.  We walked all over the grounds, including a stop for hot beverages.  It was cold, but not bitter cold and no wind.  A great way to spend part of the evening.  We went early, which was a good thing, as when we left, there were cars waiting to get parking spaces.  I'll post a few photos here.  The rest will be on flickr, but not yet.  I'll post the url when I get them up there.

 The first photo is Nessie or at least some sea monster.  This one had a baby swimming along side.
 These flowers are hyacinths. They had a whole row of them.

 The frog actually croaked.  Very clever.

I was actually awake at midnight, but only because I fell asleep in my chair and woke up at 11:50!  I heard some fireworks in the neighborhood, as I went to bed.  Yesterday, I took down the Christmas decorations.  Did the outside ones first.  It was fairly warm, which was nice.  I spent the afternoon putting all the MANY little decorations away in boxes.  They never seem to go back into the boxes as easily as they came out!  I have a bit more to do today:  box up the tree, take down the lights in the kitchen, and get the boxes back onto shelves in the basement.  Again, the problem is that they don't fit back into the spaces the way I think they should.  Or maybe the problem is just that I have way TOO MUCH STUFF!  Anyway, the house is almost back to normal.  I will have to vacuum, as there are bits of silver tinsel all over.