Day three of the snowpocolipse

The county is still frozen solid.   The courthouse is closed tomorrow for the third straight day, this is unheard of, even after a major hurricane, the courthouse usually opens again after a couple of days.  As it is the roads are just impassable.  No one is going anywhere until we get temps into the 60s at the weekend and the freezing rain and snow thaws.  The last time I remember the courthouse being closed this long was Hurricane Floyd in 1999 when so many houses were flooded in the county that the workers simply could not get into work.

As for us I found out that ancient board games make really good fuel for a fire, Trivial Pursuit burns for hours! There are times when you have to do whatever it takes to stay warm.  This is one of those times.  At some point during the last several days I felt like the people in “The Day After Tomorrow” burning the tax code to keep warm.

This has certainly been the most brutal winter storm that we have ever seen in North Carolina.  I am hoping that is it the last one we ever see.

Snow Day

We had a major weather event here in Eastern North Carolina yesterday.  The majority of the news has been focused on Atlanta due to that City’s lack of preparedness, however here in Eastern NC people and local governments were not only prepared but they were overly cautious.  The problem was not the snow, which most of the news was talking about.  The problem is that prior to the snow arriving we had a major freezing rain event.  When I left my office at around 11:30am the temperature was already below freezing and it was raining.  I drove about two blocks and my windshield was already frozen solid.  I had to pull off to the side of the road and wait for the heater to get warm enough to melt the solid film of ice on my windshield.

As the day progressed the ice storm grew worse.  Everything was already covered with a thick film of frozen rain when the snow arrived.  This morning I woke up to this

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The layer of snow was thick, but not only was it thick, it was frozen solid, so when the dogs went out into the yard their feet never penetrated the top layer, they simply walked on the top of the six inches of snow.  Normally here in Eastern NC the snow is a light fluffy layer on the ground, you walk outside and your boots sink into the snow and you can walk through it easily.  This was not the case this time, and this is what has caused so many problems.  The drifts outside my front door were at least two feet deep.

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The cars were frozen solid

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The snow had drifted up my back steps so that I didn’t have to step down to walk out of the kitchen door.  I just walked out onto a solid wedge of snow.

The dogs were enjoying playing in the snow, but the cold kept getting to them and they wrassled for a bit and then came in and snuggled on the recliner by the fire until they warmed up again.

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Here in Onslow County the schools were closed on Tuesday, the Court system, state government and local government closed down at 3pm yesterday.  They took NO chances.  They knew what was coming and they took precautions.  The entire County is closed until at least Friday.  The failure of the government in Atlanta, both at State and Local levels was to not listen to the warnings of the Meteorologists.  They all warned that this was going to be a major event, and it was.  It was not the snow, and sadly I have heard reporters talking about “it was just 2.5 inches of snow” it was the massive ice storm that preceded the snow.  It was utterly brutal and the officials in Georgia should have prepared for it.  I am glad that the government in North Carolina did so and made the right decisions.

Rest In Pieces Squish the Teddy Bear

Murdered by two felonious hounds, ably assisted by one of the cats who knocked him off his perch at the top of the closet.

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He had a good long life.  Born in Hong Kong in 1987 where I purchased him while I was serving there the WRNS.   He then travelled to Scotland and then to the United States, living out the rest of his life in said closet where he engaged in his favorite hobby of cultivating cobwebs and dust.  He is survived by his brother, Garfield the hand puppet, and his Grandfather Rupert the Bear.   In accordance with the terms of his will his body will be donated to the local wild bird population as nest liner.

Long since gone but never Forgotten

I was digging through some old photographs the other day (yes the old type ones, printed on photo paper), and I came across a group of my pets who have long since romped over the Rainbow Bridge. Despite the utter pain and despair when I lost them, looking at their photographs now never fails to make me smile, as I remember the wonderful times we had together.

We adopted Lucky from our next-door neighbor Thanksgiving of 1995, he was the only survivor of a litter that had suffered a bad reaction to their first shots.  I kept him alive.  I knew he would be mine one day. Here he is in January of 1996.

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Dweebe was a magnificent beast.  She was part Chow and part German Shepard but when we first got her (from a man at the Gas Station my husband worked at) she was just a ball of fluff.

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Sox was adopted from Carolina Animal Protection Society when she was just a pup.  We rescued Buddy from our previous next-door neighbors who were neglecting him terribly.  (Buddy is the Spaniel)

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Fuzzbutt also came from CAPS.  Lari and her brother Curly were the result of rescuing a bob tailed kitten (who we discovered was a lot older than she looked and pregnant) from the same Gas Station that Dweebe came from.

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John Cole of Balloon Juice has recently been reminded of losing his beloved Tunch, as his image graces the front of the Pets of Balloon Juice Calendar.   But he, like we all do eventually, has adopted another cat, and is currently singing the praises of his cat Steve.   Please visit the link below if you would like to purchase a calendar, all proceeds go to an animal rescue organization.

http://www.balloon-juice.com/2014/01/21/lets-not-forget-2/

I think all of us pet lovers know, we may replace a beloved pet once we have lost them, but it never diminishes the love we held in our hearts for them.

Cold

This weekend Saturday was a frigid day for us in Eastern North Carolina.  As I shuffled out of the bedroom and into the living room I was literally shivering until I could get the heaters turned on.  My DH went out into the yard and turned the downed trees we had into firewood and in no time the house was toasty and warm.

This evening the temperature is supposed to go down to 18, which is the coldest I can remember around here.  Not surprisingly I have a roaring fire going in the fireplace, thanks to the said firewood that we have.  The great thing about having a fireplace is that there is no such thing as trash or junk mail, EVERYTHING is fuel, unless it is a can, in which case it actually gets thrown away.

I would encourage anyone who has a fireplace in their house to use it, whenever you are able.  Sure they are decorative, and most House Hunters people rave about the fireplace and yet will never have any intention of using it, but they are extremely useful, not only for cutting down on heating costs but psychologically they are invaluable.  It doesn’t matter a whit if the roaring wood fire in the fireplace is actually heating your great room, but just looking at it makes you feel warmer.  Right now it is 40 degrees outside and falling, inside my house it is a toasty 70.  All of the animals are indoors and basking in the heat.  My plan is to stack the fire with lots of wood before I go to bed to make sure that Harmony the Cockatiel stays warm overnight and the animals all have a warm place to sleep (other than, you know, as usual, on or in our bed).

Not only are fireplaces a nice feature in a home but in some cases they can become a lifesaver.  Years ago when an Ice Storm swept through Raleigh and the surrounding areas 100s of thousands were out of power.  I remember talking to my bosses Son and asking him how he was coping.  “We are at the in-laws house, they have a fireplace”  he told me.

While it is going to be cold tonight I do not think it is time to camp out in the library and start burning the tax code but it is certainly a night for a roaring fire in the fireplace.  It is what they are for.  Use them.

House Hunters

I have been watching a lot of House Hunters over the holidays, due to the fact that I ran out of shows on demand that I would normally watch during a very long weekend of time out of the office.  I have also been visiting some blogs that dedicate themselves to House Hunters and found them to be hilarious.  Some of the quotes that come up time and time again are “open concept” “granite countertops” “closet space” and “master suite” have now got to the point that they are comical.

One of my favorite blogs, which has not been updated for a while, is

http://meandhgtv.blogspot.com/2012/02/not-good-st-petersburg-other-one.html

It condenses the entire HGTV House Hunters theme into one nugget of deliciousness. It also reminds me that people with a budget of $100,000 should not be expecting granite countertops and stainless steel appliances.

The best part is though when you then go on to “Love it or List It” where a couple who has bought a house no longer want to live there.  (One of them usually).  Usually the designer opens up the walls and the ceilings and discovers that in order to create the “open space” that the previous home owner has knocked down load bearing walls and the entire house in on the verge of collapse.  This whole “open concept” thing means that homeowners are smashing down load bearing walls without any idea that they are compromising their entire house.

The greatest thing about House Hunters and all of their ilk though is that people have such high expectations.  They dismiss a house because it doesn’t happen to have a powder room on the ground floor, despite the fact that I meets all of their other expectations.  Let us not forget that the majority of them will more than likely be in foreclosure proceedings a year out.

HGTV has lost the garden part of it, but it is no less entertaining.

Food Waste

I recently read an article which explained that up to 40% of food in the US is wasted.

http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/pireland/40_percent_of_food_in_the_us_n.html?utm_source=tw&utm_medium=tweet&utm_campaign=blog

This occurs for many reasons, particularly the antiquated “sell by” dating system which not only varies from State to State but also confuses consumers into thinking that once something has passed its “sell by” date that it is unsafe to eat.  This is not only wrong, but it causes people to throw out perfectly edible and safe food.  As the article explains the “sell by” system is put in place to allow grocery stores to rotate their food stocks, it has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not something is still fit to eat.

It also got me thinking about how people treat food once they have eaten a portion of it.  There are huge excesses of food cooked during the Holiday season and much of it will go to waste after the main meal because most people do not have the know-how to take care of the leftovers.  To be sure there are many savvy cooks out there who know how to create tasty turkey sandwiches and soups out of a turkey, but  I would guess that for every one of them there are five who have no clue what to do with a turkey the day after Christmas or Thanksgiving (there are even some who don’t know what to do with it the day of Christmas or Thanksgiving but that is another story) and simply throw it away, it is a shocking waste of food when you think about it.

DH and I had Rotisserie Chicken for Christmas day, with all the trimmings of course (a Turkey seemed a little excessive for just the two of us).  The next day (Boxing Day for all us Brits) I dismantled the chicken and made cold chicken sandwiches.  The day after that I dismantled the chicken again and used it to make a Chicken Pot Pie which I put in the fridge and we are having for dinner tonight (chicken three nights in a row seeming to be a little excessive).  Had I been as dedicated as my Mother usually is, I would have then boiled the carcass to extract every last scrap of the meat and either turned it into soup or, more likely as my Mother would do, into curry,  as it was I gave it to the possums outside.

The problem is that people are not taught to cook and are therefore ill equipped to handle leftovers, which I think is a tragedy.    Personally I think cooking (not just Home Economics or whatever else it is they call it), should be mandatory in schools.  Reading, Writing and ‘Rithmatic are essential of course but will not equip you with basic skills to keep you fed and alive.  As we used to say about the “egg heads” “they can tell you the square-root of a can of beans but couldn’t open one”.  It not only means that people spend far more on food than they need to (because they buy take-out or eat out at restaurants) but it means that people make poor food choices on a budget (for the price of a couple of PB&J you could make a decent family meal).

I have spoken on this blog many times about my Mother’s ability to take one pound of minced beef (ground beef) and turn it into a week of meals for us.  It would begin with Mince and Tatties (ground beef in gravy with boiled potatoes and a vegetable), the next day the leftovers (the ground beef, potatoes and vegetables with some additions) would become a stew, the following day (the leftover stew) would become Cornish pasties with some leftovers to turn into a curry (just add some curry powder and make rice) the next day,  the final day the curry leftovers would become a soup with perhaps just a few pieces of ground beef floating around in it.

Teach that in your schools.  Not only would it go a long way to solving the poverty problem in this country but it would also go a long way to solving the childhood obesity problem.  Filling your child up with rubbish to assuage hunger is not only bad for your child it is bad for your budget.   Teach people how to cook.  It is an essential life skill that should not be overlooked by any education system.    Just my two cents.