Ugly Winter Weather!

Having grown up with Christmas songs extolling sleigh rides, white Christmases, and winter wonderlands, is it any wonder I feel a bit cheated? Cheated, you ask? Didn’t the Bristolwood have a glorious shroud of white enveloping all the terrain?

The simple answer is, yes. However, (oh, I STILL dislike the “however’s”!) somehow, the weather became a little disoriented and we had temperatures several degrees above freezing today! As though the warm weather wasn’t enough, didn’t it decide to rain as well?

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Yes, this is a photo I snapped this afternoon. Christmas lights on the front railing and *rain* spilling over the gutters, causing a natural waterfall on my front porch. How disheartening. How disappointing.

Just to add a little insult to injury, as I walked outside to get something, I noticed that the ditch behind the house was overflowing the culvert and water was rushing downhill through the woods as though a new stream had formed! I quickly called Ben to clear the leaves from the plugged culvert, and immediately, the water began to follow its predetermined course once again. Ben then checked all the drainage ditches, raking leaves out of them so they would behave as we wanted, rather than running amuck like wild children!

The wind seems to have curtailed somewhat, although a smallish tree fell behind the house, onto one of our paths in the woods.  As I watched out the back door this morning, the winds blew wildly, making it appear that “spector” children were playing on the swingset! Never mind this morning when I opened my eyes, the trees outside my window were swaying side to side, giving the illusion of an army of trees, marching toward the house!

And so the battle for winter continues. As I drove past the ski mountain this evening, there were very few cars there. Ben commented one would have to be nuts to ski while being peppered with raindrops!

The kid inside me optimistically discounts any forecasts for less than a white Christmas, but the grown-up me reads the forecast with predictions of highs in the 40’s this week and just shakes my head.  Perhaps next year, I will have saved some money ahead so we can go on a vacation to a place where there is real snow! Perhaps Antarctica. Or Siberia!

Blame It on the Moon?

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Not sure if this is a full moon or not, but I just took this a few minutes ago! And no, it isn’t blurry because of my shaking-camera-syndrome! The clouds are whizzing by so fast up there, it is almost mind-boggling! We are under (yet another) weather alert….this time for flood watch (not applicable where we are located) and high wind warnings. Needless to say, the latter alert looks as though it arrived early, as it supposedly starts at 7 am tomorrow.

So…..today, I ventured forth from our home to join the frazzled frenzied rush of last-minute shoppers. There were a few little things I hadn’t picked up yet, so I bravely faced the onslaught and lived to tell about it! My mom worked at a mental hospital as an RN for a few years and she said many times strange things happen when the moon is full. Must be why I went out!

The stores were so full of shoppers, one had to move judiciously and determinedly. (is that a word?) Some folks really did look as though they might bite your head off if crossed, while others resembled mindless bobble-heads, smiles on their faces that looked as though they had been applied like makeup in the morning!

I shopped for a couple of hours and found everything I was looking for, although inventories do look depleted in many areas!

I came home in time to make dinner. I made chicken, baked potatoes, salad, and mixed veggies.  For dessert, oranges! I had bought a big bag and they are so drippy and good!

After dinner, we sat down to watch the Buffalo Sabres (hockey) play the Philadelphia Fliers. The game was nip and tuck most of the time after Philly scored two goals to lead the Sabres. In the last 7 seconds of the game, it appeared Philly won for all intents and purposes…..that is, until Buffalo scored! It ended in a tie, so the game went into overtime. No score. After overtime comes a shootout. Three players from each team try to score on the goalies. Well, we managed to score on the goalie (who was a goalie for Buffalo last year) and Buffalo won, 6-5!

I have been watching games, but not saying a lot as Buffalo wasn’t doing so well, but like they so often do, they are getting better and better as time passes.

Only a couple more days until Christmas. It seems like this year has gone by far too rapidly…..

Bah! Humbug?

I came so close to becoming a Scrooge on Wednesday! I really did!

It all began on Monday. I had worked hard to complete my crochet project for Mary, the Scottie breeder.  I was so happy to finish the piece and was looking forward to sending it out via UPS Monday afternoon.

 I brought out the frame I had purchased and carefully removed the glass.  As I worked cleaning the glass, it suddenly “popped” in my hand. Thankfully, I wasn’t cut as a piece broke right off. As Mark looked at it, he said there was a small crack I didn’t see in the glass, as there was another crack above where the piece came off.  I knew I wasn’t applying too much pressure.

Mark called the store I had purchased the frame from and asked if they could adjust the price, as it was going to cost about $5.00 to replace the broken piece. The girl he spoke to told us to bring in the receipt and the manager would make some adjustment.

I took broken frame, along with my receipt in to the store on Wednesday afternoon.  I waited in line for probably 10 minutes. When my turn came, the girl said they would have to call the manager up front to see what he could do.  And so I waited some more.

The manager finally came and looked at the frame. He asked me where the “tag” was that was originally on the frame. The “tag” happened to be a very sticky “sticker” which was nearly impossible to remove. It came off in several pieces, and was thrown out as I worked.  I felt my blood pressure rising, but as he told me there was nothing he could do, I just lost it….I told him I buy so much from his “stupid store” and couldn’t believe that is the way he treats customers! I swooped up my frame and left the premises in a bit of a huff.

As I hopped into the truck, Mark could see the smoke bellowing from my ears! He asked what happened, and as I recounted the experience, he grabbed his cell phone. He called and spoke to the manager. Mark remained calm, but as the manager hemmed and hawed, Mark reminded him we were told to bring our things in, which we did. He very diplomatically insisted the manager make good. And, he did. Mark went in to straighten the mess out, as he saw that I was really “rattled” by this experience.

After finishing up, we drove down the road just a little further to the home improvement center.  After I calmed down from the frame fiasco, I told Mark I was confident I could handle buying a piece of glass!

I entered the store, and stood at the glass cutting station, waiting as the sales associate finished up with another customer.  When she came over and asked what I needed, I told her. She flipped through pieces of glass, finally emerging with a huge piece of glass.  I needed a piece measuring 11″x14″. The piece she held was 12″x36″. She informed me they had none of the smaller pieces like the man had told Mark the day before. I would have to pay $6.50 for the large piece (from which they would RESELL again) instead of $4.30 for the size I needed.

I felt like the victim of a horrifically terrible joke, and told the woman, no thank you. I walked out of the store feeling like I had been clubbed over the head….my head was spinning and I just couldn’t believe I went into two stores and felt “fleeced” by each.

Mark saw my face was troubled as I walked towards the truck and he immediately asked what happened. I told him yet again another woeful tale. He called and asked to speak directly to the store manager.  She said she was with a customer, but would call right back. As we sat in the parking lot, I began to think she had fleeced Mark, when his cell rang.

Mark explained the entire situation and she walked back to the glass station as she spoke. She talked to the woman who had tried to sell me the oversized piece of glass, and, miracle of miracles, a smaller piece of glass was suddenly manifested!

Not wanting to know any details at all, I went back inside and had the woman measure and cut my glass.  As we drove home, I just couldn’t believe such strange experiences happening one after the other.

As soon as we got home, I cleaned the glass, framed the crochet piece, and wrapped it securely in the shipping box.

Yesterday, the box was shipped out, and Mary will receive the piece today.

I think I have recovered completely from this harrowing experience and I am not humbugging Christmas at all!  After all, Chrsitmas isn’t about shopping, is it?

And…Who is Observing Whom?

Late yesterday morning as I was tidying up the bedroom, I decided to have a look to see who was enjoying seeds at the feeder.  Of course, taking a look always involves having the camera in hand!

As I peered down, there was an impetuous little Titmouse staring back up at me! I could see this bird was obviously annoyed at my intrusion so I snapped a couple of photos, then drew myself back in and closed the window!

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A Christmas Tale

Several years ago, on one of my soap making lists, the listmom encouraged each participant to submit a Christmasstory. As I thought about Christmas, I could not help but think of Kiltie, my very first Scottie, who was with us for nearly 16 Christmases!

                           

                                          Kiltie’s Christmas Cookie

Kiltie was the typical “proper” Scot. He was by no means one of those undisciplined, begging, whining dogs that makes your foot want to accidentally *twitch*, sending the unsuspecting cur across the floor. No, Kiltie had manners…and class. He would quietly, unassumingly raise his little brindled body up onto his haunches and well…just “sit”. He never “whined” nor hopped about. He merely sat there so like the darling pictures in a child’s picture story book!

One cold and howling December day, I set to baking some buttery Spritz cookies. Why, I had planned my strategy very well, in my mind. I was going to press out little green-tinted Christmas trees and then frost them with white fluffy frosting. Then, to top them off….decorate them with those tiny sugary, multicolored balls.  I could see my little works of art so clearly in my mind’s eye. What a sweet buttery delight!

I was working away at the kitchen table with my double batch of cookie dough. And, the little trees were coming out just perfectly! I had used butter directly from the refrigerator and the cookies were great as the trees weren’t “running” nor becoming misshapen from warm butter.  Thank heaven for those wonderful Kitchen Aid mixers that could withstand the cold butter and mix it into the other ingredients, forming the perfect homogeneous blend!

I was having too much fun watching my sweet treats coming out exactly as I had planned. I refilled the cookie press several times.  Then, suddenly, without warning, it happened! The cookies began coming out lopsided. My heart sank. Another lopsided cookie. Then, another. In haste, I swiped the cookies up from the sheet and released the pressure on the dough inside the press. As I looked at the press, I discovered the plate that shapes the cookies had dislodged and it was a quick fix. 

I was about to put the dough of the three misshapen cookies back into the cylinder when I looked down. There sat Kiltie, sitting up looking so dignified, and yet, his shoe-button eyes danced about as he thought perhaps some of the buttery treats might fall his way.

I grabbed the little ball of dough and threw it down to the floor. Kiltie’s little tail wagged as he quickly gobbled up my Christmas offering!

I finished baking all the cookies and wrapped them up and put them away…all but the ones that I would take to my parents’ home later in the day. Those, I placed on a platter and wrapped foil loosely about them. I was so pleased that my little masterpieces even surpassed the little delights I had imagined!

We went to my parents’ house for supper that evening. We had a wonderful dinner and it was topped off by my Christmas cookies. My brother thought Kiltie might enjoy a cookie, so he silently slipped one to Kiltie under the table. While my mother and I washed the dishes,  my father and brother took Kiltie, along with Brandy, their dachshund, for a walk. Oh how Kiltie loved visiting so he could go for a walk on sidewalks!

Kiltie was such a great little dog! When my father commanded Kiltie to “bake a cookie”, the obedient and complying little dog would “hump over” and do his thing! It was a rather funny command, but Kiltie always followed the command!

Well, my father and brother returned from the evening constitution with a somewhat puzzled and concerned look on their faces….Then, my father blurted out that we had better get Kiltie to the vet!

“I think Kiltie is really sick. His *cookies* were GREEN!”

Merry Christmas!

Independence on the Horizon?

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I realize that you must *click* on this photo to enlarge it to properly see it!

I have always stayed on the straight and narrow, avoiding controversy at nearly all cost, as I am not one who enjoys debates. Lively discussion always interests me as long as participants are on “equal ground”….ie, “informed”.

A few years back, there was a lot of hubbub regarding installing wind generators in our neck of the woods. Folks were vehemently opposed. Reasons included chasing away wildlife, killing birds with their guillotine-like blades, and just ruining the beauty of the hills surrounding us.

One of the most influential nay-sayers was self-made Rochester billionaire Tom Golisano. Mr. Golisano grew up in Rochester, just an average kid from an average family.  He had one of those “lightbulb going off” moments several years ago when he decided he would open a company doing payrolls offsite for companies. Thus, his “baby”, Paychex, was formed.  Despite banks declining to loan him the funding, he used every asset he could, and beat the odds and, well, the rest is (as *they* say) history.

After researching further the benefits, as well as liabilities of wind-generated power, Mr. Golisano became a believer…..beginning yet a new venture called Empire State Wind Energy. (totally unrelated, he is also the owner of the Buffalo Sabres)

Mr. Golisano went around to areas considered to be likely sites for generators, presenting the benefits and facts regarding these behemoths and beginning heated discussions amongst townspeople. One of the areas was a small town south of Naples, called Cohocton.  As we drove through this little community, it was obvious the homeowners’ stance regarding wind power, as they either had signs declaring “no”, or, “yes”.  A few months ago, supporters began sporting little wooden replicas of generators in the front of their homes.

I read with interest many of the arguments in the community, but as life got busy here, I kind of forgot all about it.

Thus, the photo above, taken this morning, was a great surprise as I saw the gigantic towers standing on the hillsides!  I had seen machinery on the hills for months, but had no idea the windfarm had advanced to this stage!

Yes, the towers aren’t the prettiest things to look at. However, in July of 2006, we visited the Tug Hill windfarm.  We traveled the roads leading to the towers and we even stood under the towers. We found cows peacefully grazing and I never saw a bird even come close to the blades which happen to spin, not rapidly, but at an almost hypnotizingly steady pace.

As the price of gasoline and travel are on the increase, as well as the shrinking dollar on the world market,  I see these windfarms as a symbol of independence. After all, isn’t that what America is all about?