Monday, December 27, 2010


I fell asleep early last night, reading the Grapes of Wrath (I know that reading in bed has dangers of falling asleep, but I still do it.  Go figure.), and woke up to this.  To get a sense of scale, the snow is approaching 2 feet on this railing. 

In my few waking moments through the night, I thought about shoveling the driveway and getting to work, but realized this morning that that will be impossible.  Gotta wait for plow guy to clear the driveway.  I waited until the moderately reasonable 7am to call plow guy's house, where his wife says he'll be out - sometime this morning.

It's still snowing.  Beautiful, white, fluffy flakes.  I didn't think (last Wednesday) to bring my work laptop home, so I'm stuck here, thinking that this is a real snow day.  Time to realize that I've done everything I can do for now and relax and enjoy, just like in school.  Wonder if I want to go out with the dogs and make some snow angels.  More likely I'll make some hot chocolate, put real marshmallows in it, and open the book.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Everybody's Better

Things got so much better after the vet (on our second trip yesterday) showed me a trick to keep Maggie's bandage from sliding down her leg and her from taking it off so often.  Tape. Specifically sticky tape.  Stuck to her hair.  This particular bandage has stayed on since dinner time yesterday, which is kindof a record for us.  When I was comfortable that the bandage wouldn't come off, I let her out off leash, making her a happier dog, and all of us a happier family.

The boiler peeps are coming today ... sometime.  Meaning I have to stay home until they arrive.  Not an awful thing.  I'm slowly coming out of emergency management mode as things resolve themselves and stopped at the library yesterday to pick up a classic to read.  My attention span has gotten so short, by reading news articles, that it's time to stretch the old attention span a bit by giving it one of the oldies.  The Grapes of Wrath.  I started it last night and fell asleep on about page 5.  Not an auspicious beginning!  I checked out Anna Karenina, too, which I have also never read.  But it's a thicker book, so to the shorter one I went!

(The above pic was taken with an iPhone app that Walt Mossberg recommended, Hipstamatic.  It makes pictures look all old-timey.  Cool, huh?)

Against the good advice of my mother, I bought the car in the lower pic, a VW Passat 4motion station wagon earlier this week.  I traded in the monster truck and used some of the money from the Scion settlement.  The car is All Wheel Drive, so should be able to get me up the hill to the country house with no problem.  And it has excellent reviews and only 75,000 miles.  Plus, the place I got it is the repair shop I've been using for the last 2 years - folks I trust. It makes me happy to get decisions like, "what am I going to drive" out of the way, and for less than the combined value of the truck and the car, giving me a small cushion in case of emergency.  To address my mother's concern about giving up the hauling/transporting capacity of the truck, I've got a few options that are less wonderful than just having a big truck sitting ready, but more wonderful than having to drive, and park, said truck every day. Thankfully, about 90% of what I'd want to transport will fit in here, and the other 10% (all the furniture in my country house), can go in one trip of a moving truck.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Playing With Fire

Someone from my old fire department invited me to a live burn exercise Saturday morning.  Since I haven't gotten a new fire department yet, I can still play with the old one, and I'm so glad I did. We burned a house down!

I'm finally getting serious about taking care of Maggie's wound.  I was SO resentful that she cut herself mere hours before I was going to let her and Desmond stay in the yard (and feeling badly from the accident myself), I wasn't willing to give her the extra work required, and I let her outside unsupervised even after being warned not to.  I'm not surprised that she busted her stitches, but it took a while for me to internalize that if she's going to get better, I HAVE to put in the time to take care of her.  Back on the leash for her time outside. Rewrap the wound as many times as it takes to give it 10 or so days to heal.   The human equivalent is that she partially cut off one of her fingertips (pads. The one partway up her leg.). I suspect that she'll just pull it off again if it's not fully healed and I'll have to go back and spend more money to have it re-stitched.  It's going to be painful to spend that money twice, but I have nobody to blame but myself. I hate when that happens.

It's still pouring.  The check engine light came on in the truck and something is wrong with the boiler/hot water heater combo at the new house and I'm running out of hot water ... sometimes.  I can't describe the feeling of being in the shower and running out of hot water when the bathroom is only 44 degrees to begin with.  Picture an agony of coldness.  This system is supposed to give me infinite hot water, but it's obvious something isn't working right.  Plus, I've somehow run through 1/2 a tank of oil in three weeks at the new house, even though 2/3 of the house is set at 50 and the the 1/3 I'm living in is set at 62 degrees.  The hot water and the oil situation were better at the old, crooked country house.  It sounds like I'm complaining (and I AM).  It's time to stop wishing things were magically under control and put in the time and effort to take care of my "issues."  Including the four-legged furry one.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Here's the peanut butter and pill sandwich I give Desmond every morning. 

He's thrilled to eat anything that has peanut butter in it, so I don't even have to disguise the pills, two glucosamine pills and one pain pill.  In the evening, it's one pain pill.

Maggie, on the other hand, likes to examine everything before she considers consuming it.  She eats in tiny bites, and a pill doesn't fall in the realm of yummy for her, even if it's hidden in liver.

I forgot that (blocked is more like it) Maggie's stitched wound on her paw has to be managed.  Keep the bandage dry with a plastic bag over her foot every time she goes out.  Don't let her run or jump or go up or down stairs.  Don't let her lick the bandage.

Most people with dogs know stuff like that is more aspirational than directive.  I spent Monday evening making Maggie a great plastic bag thing that tied at the top, and it lasted, oh, about 5 minutes on Tuesday morning before being shredded.  Then her bandage was wet and I had to take it off.  (oh yeah, and go to work worrying that she was going to lick the wound back open).  We got through Wednesday with the wound uncovered before she reopened it and pulled a stitch out while running across the yard Thursday morning.  Now, I'm reapplying the bandage about 4 times a day, as she takes it off. I'm trying anti-chew spray to keep her off the bandage while I'm at work. I just want to get a good scab or something on it, so it'll stay closed by itself.  She's getting used to being re-bandaged, and I'm getting used to doing it to her. Only 8 more days of this!

On top of that, I have to feed Maggie a pill twice a day.  For her, it's a little peanut butter on the pill, shoved far down her throat.  Then peanut butter on my finger to get her to lick my finger, accidentally swallowing the pill while she's focusing on my finger.

I've been a little resentful of the time all this managing takes, since I'm also focused on trying to feel better myself from the accident, while worrying about money, frozen pipes in the country, getting the ATV and lawn tractor over here and selling them, getting a possible new(er) car.  Oh, and learning my new house.  The bathroom I take a shower in was 44 degrees this morning, in the cold part of the house.  Last Friday, I made toast and set off a smoke alarm.  It's not terrifying unless you realize that one of the smoke alarms is hard wired to something (ie, the fire department comes when the smoke alarm goes off).  That's why I was freakily trying to STOP the thing, and why I was so shaky after I ripped it from the wall and realized the one that went off is not the one that's hard wired. Whew. 

Yesterday I tested the 1960s-vintage oven and made sure several fans and the vent were on high, ... just in case.  (FYI, it works, but appears to run much hotter than the chosen temp.  Now I can make cookies for Monday's cookie exchange. Must pick something that's tolerant of being burned.)

Now, was there something about some dogs needing attention?

Monday, December 13, 2010


On Friday afternoon I blithely wrote something about overcompensating with my left side for my right-side rib that still hurts from the accident.  That was about 2 hours before I got hit by the figurative truck and spent most of the rest of the weekend in bed with a hotpad.  I first lay down right about dinner-time with the hotpad, and a few hours later idly looked up "symptoms of a heart attack" on the internet.  Big mistake.  I had most of them, except the sweating and the nausea.  Sharp pain up my back, radiating up the side of my neck and down the inside of my left arm.  Dull pain in front.  The hotpad wasn't going to warm up the muscles that hurt like heck going through the inside of me from front to back (or back to front).

Soo - it was a long, scary night Friday.  I didn't think it was likely that I was having a heart attack.  More likely a stress thing (think Jack Nicholson in that movie with Diane Keaton where they're both "old"), or pulled muscles from the accident.  I went to urgent care Saturday because I wanted to rule it out though - and they wouldn't.  Rule it out, that is.  The EKG was OK, but my pulse and heart rate were elevated.  Of course!  Duh!  I'm stressed!  They wanted me to go to the ER, but said I could drive myself, thankfully.  So I did drive myself.  Home.  I was pretty sure, by that point, that it would be hours of very expensive tests to tell me that I have some pulled muscles.

Finally yesterday morning I began to feel a little more normal.  It's been a long time of feeling crappy one way or another (it started with plantar fasciitis from firefighter training in October, which had just begun to lessen), so I had started to long for the days when I feel the age that my body is.  Not feel twenty years older.  I don't feel good now.  Not at all.  I still feel like crap.  But the way the pain feels now, I'll bet it was (and is) a direct result of the accident, like whiplash or whatever.  Not an indirect result of me favoring my right side as I had thought. Surprised it took a week to show up.  Hello pain.

That Friday night was kindof a wakeup call.  To start treating my body better, get in better shape, etc, etc.  Both of my mother's parents died young-ish, something I remembered Friday night.

Bad stuff comes in waves.  Maggie sliced one of her foot pads yesterday.  I had to physically force her to not lick it overnight (an ace bandage and one of Desmond's pain pills helped! And I held her head away from her leg all night as we sortof slept.) until I could get her to the vet today.  It's too big a wound to heal with pressure, and she is at the vet now for sedation and stitching. Pow! Money I was hoping not to have to spend. 

It's so weird that the only times Maggie has hurt herself have been times when I was feeling extremely bad myself.  Maybe Maggie is super sensitive, or maybe it's like a karma thing.  My normal good luck deserts me, and has me hunkered down in a foxhole looking to the left and to the right.  "What's next?"  "Where's the next pow coming from?"  And come, they do.  Good thing it's not very often!

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Nothing important to say, just a bit of this and that. This picture is from the top of the hill looking down to the road (and the pond!).  The turnaround is behind me.

There was a business card in my mailbox yesterday, from the guy that plowed the previous owner's driveway (for, like 45 years!).  I had been avoiding thinking about snow removal, being very uninterested in buying another piece of big equipment, like a snowblower or plow.  My suburban driveway is about four times longer than my country driveway (and on a hill, and with a turnaround), so my country solution (drive on top of the snow) wasn't going to work.  I completely lucked out when this business card presented itself before any snow presented itself!  Talked to the guy today and we have an agreement.  Whew! Bullet dodged.

I spent most of last week favoring my right side, where one of my ribs hurt from the accident.  So Friday it boomeranged, and now my back and shoulder are killing me because I've been so unbalanced.  Grr.  No more meds.  The hotpad and some aspirin is all I can do.  It's a message that I didn't slow down enough after the accident.  I was asked multiple times if I took time off work.  Yeah, Saturday and Sunday!

Found out what the insurance settlement will be for the Scion.  Nowhere near enough to buy a replacement.  I started thinking about what I would get if I traded in the truck and used the Scion check, but the things I'm looking at would require a bit more on top.  It occurs to me that the best thing to do is keep the truck, at least until my country house sells.  I don't want to drive the freakin' huge truck as my main vehicle, but would be kicking myself if I wanted to, say, move stuff from house to house and I didn't have a truck!  Plus, with multiple mortgage payments, spending money on a car is kindof the last thing I should do.  Sigh.

Desmond is losing patience with his basement arrangement.  One option that Sue suggested, is for me to contact the rescue agency I got him from to see if they think it's better for him to go somewhere else, or stay here.  There are arguments both ways.  One good thing is that the invisible fence was installed on Wednesday. Maggie got it right away, so she can run free.  But Desmond can't hear the warning beeps and doesn't really see the warning flags (I don't think).  I gave them a trial where I walked down the hill to the mailbox and they didn't try to follow (good dogs!). Tomorrow I'll try driving away for a short bit to see how they act.  If it works, then they can be outside while I'm at work, with the garage for a warmish place.  That should go a long way towards giving Desmond some peace (because all day outside will make him tired enough so that sleeping in the basement will seem like a fine thing to do), and Maggie some exercise. That's the theory anyway.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Being in the Fire Club

I always loved these clothing items that say you're in a club.  It's like a secret society that only the pure can enter (hah!) and every time I wear this, I advertise that I'm good enough.  I'm one of the initiated.  This watch cap has gotten some serious wearing these last few weeks as I've spent hours outside with the dogs at the new house.  I'm proud to wear this cheap, acrylic thing and happy to be a member of that group.

One of the decisions I'm making is which department to join in my new neighborhood.  There's the one that's really, really close to my house that nobody seems enthusiastic about, or there's the one that's a few miles away where I already know a few folks and their chief already said they'd love to have me.

So, on Monday I went to the closer department and spoke to the chief and the membership person.  On Tuesday I had the fire instructor call the chief as a reference, returned with a completed application, my $6 fee, and a few other required items.  I walked into the building about 15 minutes before their monthly meeting, into a room with 10-15 guys and noted as conversation stopped ... and 10-15 male heads swiveled towards me, not looking friendly.  I gave my stuff to the membership guy and he said (wait for it) ... they'd get back to me.  Clearly an invitation to leave.  I left not feeling good about this.  Not at all.

I have a pretty strong suspicion that I would be the first girl in this department, and that girls aren't exactly welcomed.  Never mind that most of the other departments in the area have gotten over this hurdle.  For some around here, it's been decades that they've had women firefighters.

This is another example of should I choose to stay and fight the good fight or "give up" and take the easy road out.  In another realm, I recently took the easy way out when after two years of struggle, I gave up the lonely fight to raise goats by myself up on the mountain (where, by the way there are now several inches of snow.). 

I understand that staying and struggling to earn respect would somehow make me a more virtuous person, but I have exactly zero desire to fight the good fight here.  History remembers the firsts.  The women who do the challenging, difficult thing and struggle to make the path easier for those who follow.  If history doesn't remember me, but I get to be part of a supportive fire department where I look forward to being with the crew, I'm OK with that.  It's been a rough few months (actually years), and all I want to do right now is take it easy for a while.  I do not want to move from one struggle right into another one.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet, but one of these days, hopefully I'll get a hat from a new department, either the close one or the farther one.

On a more positive note: I put off trying the washer and dryer at the new house as long as possible (because they look pretty old), but had to finally give them a whirl (ha ha) last night.  I'm pleased to report that they both work fine.  Whew!  I may ride this streak as long as possible and give the oven a try this weekend.  If everything works, I'll probably allocate scarce dollars to getting a new-to-me vehicle (trading the truck in), instead of buying kitchen appliances.  The truck is too big to realistically work as my full-time vehicle.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Car Photo

Here's what the Scion looks like now.

It's really cool how the crumple part crumpled and the passenger part stayed completely normal.  Good design!  I'm amazed at how the airbags went off at exactly the right moment to keep my head from going through the window.  Excellent design!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

It Pours

In the, "It never rains but it pours" category, as if I didn't have enough things going on these days, I got in a car accident Friday morning on the way to work and the Scion gave it's life for mine.

The headline is, I'm fine.  Bruised and sore, but nothing is broken. Nothing bled.  Both front airbags went off, giving me a very sore chest, and some serious bruising where the seat belt restrained me. The hospital xrayed me to determine that nothing broke, gave me some tylenol+codeine and sent me home to rest.

The details are that I was driving merrily along and someone driving the other way on the same road turned left right in front of me.  The other driver and his passenger were not injured, but he did get a ticket and the dubious honor of being at fault.

It's my first car accident where I was driving, and I'm still amazed at how there was only an instant of notice, it happened so fast. Now I understand that phrase, ("it happened so fast") in a whole new way.  I'm completely grateful to the Scion for saving me.  This car that so many think is flimsy did it's job perfectly, and here I am to testify.  After I free the pictures  trapped in my camera, I'll put them up here.  You'll be amazed, too.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Less Campy

Partial list of things that I picked up from the old house yesterday after work. I totally need lists these days or I'd forget something... like the cat.

-shoe rack
-table from porch
-wire shelves from 2nd flr BR

Yup, I left Sparky to fend for himself for a few days while me and the dogs learned our way around the new spread.  He didn't like the ride at all (not much of a travelin' cat I guess), but he got happy as soon as he saw his doggy friends at the new place.  He's being a bit clingy.  I guess several days alone will do that, even for a cat.

We got the refrigerator TO the new house on Sunday, but weren't successful at getting it up the stairs to the kitchen, so I hired movers to do a fridge switcheroo this morning.  Old fridge downstairs ... new fridge upstairs. After a week of having no usable refrigerator, I'm pretty excited to have normal, cold food, like everyone else in the civilized world.  Now I only need to get a working oven and a stove with more than one working burner.  Baby steps, I guess.  I'm so happy about saving an hour a day of driving that I won't even complain.

The cable company is coming on Saturday to give me fast internet.  I REFUSE to pay for television (one thing living on the mountain has taught me.  The digital antenna I have still works and I can get all the same TV stations I had before.  Free. ), but the internet I'm getting is going to be super fast.  I'm half expecting the cable company to find some reason not to be able to sell me internet, but if it works, my internet will be something like 30 times faster than it was before (and $10 a month cheaper).  I'll be able to watch all those cable shows I refuse to pay to watch on TV ... online.  And YouTube?  I've completely missed the YouTube revolution.  I want to watch all the videos of firefighters that I've heard so much about through firefighter training.

Then, next week the invisible fence peeps are coming and I'll be able to retrain the dogs to the fence.  Maggie will get it quickly and earn herself free rein around the yard, but Desmond, who can't hear the warning beeps, may have to continue to be walked, if he's to stay on the property.  Not such a bad thing for me, ... or him.

Every little improvement makes it feel less like camping here and more like living. I'm even contemplating bringing over the propane stove for when I pull out this '60s thing I'm cooking on.  How's that for camping?