Monthly Archives: February 2013

Feeding the Birds

A few weeks ago, my supervisor told me about a spot in the Quabbin that we had never been to before.  She gave me directions to get to an old, abandoned orchard where there were a lot of birds.  You could put birdseed in your hand, and the little birds would alight on your fingers and eat the birdseed.  I had serious doubts that my children could be quiet enough or still enough for this to happen, but miracle of miracles, it worked!!  According to my children who have been to our local Audubon Society’s summer camp, these are black-capped chickadees.  They sounded like chickadees, so I believe them!  It was a really neat experience – I would have taken more pictures if I hadn’t run out of batteries!

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On the way home, we decided to drive the long way around, and were very glad that we did!  We saw two deer munching in the bushes by the side of the road.  We stopped and watched them for a bit.  They were highly suspicious of us and rushed across the street and into the woods on the other side.  Much excitement for everyone involved!

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Memory Monday

VolvoRemember how I said way back in June of 2011 that I was going to post a picture and a memory every Monday?  Hahahahahaha.  Well, I’ve been meaning to write about our old Volvo ever since I was reminded of a particular incident during our big blizzard a few weeks ago.  My family purchased a Volvo almost exactly like this one when  I was 8, so in 1981 or 1982.  We thought it was COOL, because it had an actual tape player in it.  So we promptly went out and bought the soundtrack to Annie.  Anyway, it was a good car.  It moved with us from North Carolina to Berkeley.  I learned to drive up and down the hills of the Bay Area in it.  My parents gave it to me when we needed a second car, and we ended up selling it when we moved back east.  I’m sure it’s still driving around Berkeley.  If you see a white Volvo wagon with a family practice sticker on the back window – that’s it!

So my memory is this – it’s sometime in January of 1995.  I’m 20 and home from school on winter break.  Nate, who at the time was my new, hot boyfriend, has flown out to spend a week skiing in Tahoe with me and my parents.  We’re driving up in the Volvo, and it’s snowing very heavily.  They were requiring chains on 80, so we had stopped and dad and Nate had struggled with the chains for quite awhile, but we were back on our way.  We soldiered on, and didn’t realize it, but they closed the pass pretty much right after we went through.  So we’re driving slowly along, it’s very dark, and suddenly there is a very sharp  odor of oil pouring in through the heating vents.  The engine temperature very shortly spikes up into the red, and my dad pulls over.  We all get out, and my dad opens the hood.  We peer in, and I see flames on the engine.  The engine is actually on fire.  So I turn around, screaming (thankfully in my head), “Run for your lives!” and run as fast as my legs will carry me up the road, putting as much distance between me and the car as possible.  I’ve seen plenty of car explosions in movies – it doesn’t take much to get a car to explode!

Once I’m far enough away that I think an exploding car probably won’t cause grievous injury, I turn around, panting.  Down the hill, there is  a smoking engine, as  well as three people looking at me like I’ve lost my mind.  They have, as a level-headed person might, dumped plenty of snow onto the engine to cool it down, and are now laughing at me a quarter mile up the road.  I sheepishly came back, and we all climbed into the car to wait for a tow truck.  This was before cell phones (cough – I’m old – cough), but luckily we had a kick-ass mounted car phone, so we were able to call for help.  We had to wait about two hours – they had to open the pass back up before a tow-truck could get through, and then the tow-truck guy just hooked us up and let us all ride in the car while he towed it, which I’m pretty sure is illegal now.

He actually towed us all the way to the condo.  We were cold and tired, and took hot showers and went to bed.  And would you believe it?  The damn thing started up just fine the next morning.  My dad drove it into Truckee, got the hose replaced, and hey presto, we were back in business.  That is just one story about that old Volvo.  It really was a good car.  It was boxy, but it was good.

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It’s Blizzard-y Out There

Well, that was quite a bit of snow.  That’s the most snow we’ve had in one period since we moved here nine years ago this month.  The snow started on Friday in the mid-afternoon, and finished in the wee hours of Sunday morning.  In between was quite impressive.  It wasn’t just snow – it was thunder-snow.  Didn’t know that could happen?  Me neither.

Here’s what we awoke to Sunday morning.  There is actually a swing on either side of the rings here, but the swing part is buried:

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Notice that only about a foot of the fence is visible.  That lump is the grill:

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Here is the unadulterated snow on the front porch moments before we wrecked it all as we tramped out for the three hour shoveling extravaganza:

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Yes it took that long to shovel.  We were assisted by our neighbor who has a snow blower and was nice enough to blow a path down the sidewalk.  Look at the car – it took over a half hour just to get to it, and then we had to shovel all around it in order to get close enough to clean the snow off of it, thereby necessitating shoveling around it AGAIN.  We were all soaked in sweat by the end.

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Sporting the new facial hair. Hot, right?

Of course, it wasn’t all just shoveling.  There was also plenty of playing a sledding and snow-fort building!

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Snow Day

Last weekend we were hit with a Nor’easter of monumental proportions.  Of course, it was forecast well in advance, expecting to hit mid-Friday afternoon and keep snowing until early Sunday morning.  Being proactive (and a little over-cautious, in my humble opinion), all schools in the region cancelled Friday, and many businesses (luckily including mine, given that the schools were closed).  So – we had a nice day together on Friday.

We didn’t really want or need to go anywhere, so we had a quiet day at home waiting for the blizzard action to start.  We decided to try an art project that my lovely sister-in-law had blogged about here a few weeks back.  She is uber-crafty, and I am… what’s the word?… NOT.  But we tried it anyway, and had a lot of fun.

The first step was selecting a picture.  This is harder than it seems.  You’re going to end up making a water-color version of the picture, so you don’t want to choose something too intricate, and I certainly didn’t want to attempt to paint a face, so we chose a photo of an object.

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We just printed it out on the printer on regular old paper.  Then, we turned the picture over, and covered the entire back with pencil:

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Next, we clipped the picture on top of the paper that we could end up water-coloring onto:

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Now the fun really starts – we traced an outline of the picture.  The pencil on the back makes a faint mark on the water-color paper, giving you an outline that you will paint:

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We made it darker by going over it with pen:

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And then the really fun part – the painting!

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We four of us did one, with different pictures.  This one was mine, Jake did a blueberry bush, and Lydia and Aaron both did a  birthday cake.  It occupied us for quite some time, and is something we’d definitely do again on a rainy afternoon or maybe the next blizzard that rolls through.

So that was our snow day – blueberry pancakes, chocolate chip cookies, Back to the Future, and water-coloring.  Add Nate arriving home safely, a warm fire, and a nice glass of wine… not a bad way to spend a blizzard if you ask me!

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