So this happened

We had another winter storm in Eastern NC last night, and it was a bad one.  At first glance it was kind of wimpy, but this morning when I went out to warm up my car I could not open up the driver’s side door.  It was frozen shut.  I managed to get the passenger side door open and eventually shoved the driver’s side door open.  I turned on the engine and started up the heater and went back inside to finish getting ready for work.

When I eventually went out to the car my driver’s side door while open refused to close, the closing mechanism was frozen.  In order to drive to work without the doors flying open when I went around a corner, I had to pull the door shut and then lock it.  I have a central locking system so when I locked the driver’s side door it locked every door in the car.  When I arrived at work I parked and tried to unlock the door.  Nothing.  The lock was frozen.  I opened the window and tried to use my key to open the door, nothing.  So I was basically trapped in my car, outside the office.

Luckily for me the waitress from the Courthouse Caffee next door drove up and parked a few spaces from me.  I waved her over.  “Hi, can you help I am trapped in my car”  I explained the situation to her and said that basically I needed her to help me climb out of the window of the car.  She was a trooper and manhandled me out of the car through the driver’s side window.  Then the window would not close, so I had to leave my car with the driver’s side window open when we were expecting more freezing rain.

I went out to the car at about 10am and thankfully not only did my car unlock but the electric window closed.    I have to admit that in all my years of being stuck in cold weather, I spent four years in Scotland for goodness sake, I never thought that I would have to climb out of my car using my window.

This Winter has been insane.


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


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.


The cars were frozen solid


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.


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.

Hanging Out the Laundry

One of the many nice things about hanging laundry outside to dry is that you get to notice little things that perhaps you would miss otherwise.  Certainly you are not going to see anything interesting on the inside of a dryer unless it is that missing sock that you have been looking for.

Today on my way out I noticed that one of the garden spiders had caught herself a Cicada, which I thought was a pretty impressive feat, considering their size and strength.


One of the Golden Orb Weavers had also caught herself one.


It would appear that Cicada season is all-you-can-eat buffet season for the spiders.  I also noticed this small, but incredibly beautiful spider. SONY DSC

The photograph doesn’t do it justice, the yellow and orange spots were really iridescent  in the sun.  I also noticed another type of Orb Weaver, not quite as large as the other females that I have seen and with slightly different coloring.


What wonderfully hairy legs it has.  I also discovered that the web worms are at it again.  SONY DSC

This is the second time this year that they have been cloaking the trees with their tents.  While hanging up socks I noticed out of the corner of my eye that the Wandering Jew, considered somewhat of a weed around here, was blooming, and despite the flowers being tiny what a wonderful true blue, rather than a purple they are. SONY DSC

I also noticed that in the dark bottom of the yard the sun shone through the trees onto our little SONY DSCcemetery where St. Francis and all of our long gone pets reside.

It amused to me discover that the pink Morning Glory flowers remain in bloom well into the afternoon


while their blue cousins have already closed their flowers up tight for the day.


So not only is hanging laundry out to dry both economical and eco-friendly, it is also educational.  Not only that but your clothes last longer, whites are whiter, and there is nothing better in the world than sliding into bed between freshly washed sheets that have been line dried.   There isn’t a fabric softener or drier sheet out there that can replicate that smell.




The elderberries are already ripening and it seems awfully early to me, I seem to remember that they normally do not ripen until late August or early September, perhaps my memory is just fuzzy.  In any event I have such a bumper crop this year that I thought I would make an attempt at home made elderberry jam.


This evening I was outside in the garden with the dogs and noticed the elderberry tree shaking and saw a Mocking Bird hopping from branch to branch and pulling the fruit off the tree in delightful abandon.  This made me smile and to be honest shake my head at the same time.  While I am glad that I am helping to feed the birds (in addition to the feeders that I keep filled) it means that for the next several weeks while the fruit is available to the birds my laundry will be in jeopardy thanks to elderberry bird poop.

I rethought my elderberry jam plan, just as every year I rethink my home made grape jam plan as I watch the Blue Jays happily feasting on the bunches of black grapes that clamber all over the trees on the side of my yard.

I am pretty much a sucker when it comes to wildlife benefiting from the produce I grow, as I had mentioned I have a Carolina Box Turtle that now lives in my vegetable garden and feasts on the tomatoes that have fallen off the vine.  Last weekend when I was picking my tomatoes I actually began examining them and finding any small flaw on them rather than thinking I would simply slice it off I designated it a “tortoise tomato” and tossed it to his feeding area.  I reckon I am going to have one fat and happy tortoise this year.  Like I said, I am a sucker.


Who ARE these people?

I was hanging around in court this morning waiting to speak to the Assistant District Attorney about continuing some cases and I was chatting to a fellow Paralegal who I have known for years and I consider a friend.  She always comes to me for advice when she has to do something that is unfamiliar for her and I can always rely on her to take time out of her day to come and be a second witness for a will signing should I need it.  As we chatted I asked her how things were and she said this “well it’s a nightmare, we are having the kitchen remodeled right now and it is taking far longer than the contractor told us it would but you know the granite countertops we wanted weren’t in stock so they took a little while longer, but it seems to be taking forever, I mean I DON’T COOK so it really doesn’t matter but I am just tired of all the mess and it is going over the 10K budget”.  I hope she didn’t notice the “what the ever loving hell are you talking about” look on my face because two things began running through my mind when she said that.  A)  Why are you remodeling your kitchen when you don’t cook?  Unless you are about to put your house on the market (she wasn’t) there is absolutely no reason to do it because really, it doesn’t matter if your kitchen looks like something out of a 70s diner BECAUSE YOU DON’T USE IT.   I mean really, why not spend the money on a vacation, or I don’t know, if you have 10K to blow for no other reason then sponsor some kids in Africa or something, but to blow good money on a kitchen that you will never use? I don’t even know how to handle that kind of news.

It reminded me of a House Hunters episode on HGTV one weekend.  There was a young female lawyer who was looking for a home and she was checking out condos.  To help her was her best friend.  One particular condo was perfect for her, the right amount of bedrooms, bathrooms, and a walk in closet the size of a small house (which appears to be the thing these days), when she got to the kitchen she said “I don’t like the cabinets and I am not a fan of the granite on the counter tops”.   Her friend looked at her and said “but you don’t cook, probably the only thing in the kitchen that you would ever use would be the microwave to heat up take out”.  The buyer said “Yes I know, but I STILL WANT A NICE KITCHEN”.

Who ARE these people?  I mean really who are they?  My friend the paralegal who was spending 10K on a kitchen remodel that she will never use and the female lawyer who wants a nice kitchen even though she will never use it?

I cook dinner every night.  (Okay I admit on Sunday after a hard day in the garden we ordered Pizza) but I cook dinner almost every night of the week.  What is it with these people not cooking, have they forgotten how?  Did they ever know how?  It appears to me that people in general are losing life skills, and I don’t mean breathing and stuff, I mean basic skills that will keep them alive during a crisis.

Whenever I am flush with money the first thing I buy is food, not shoes, not jewelry, not designer clothes, I buy food.  As such my cupboards are stacked with canned goods, I couldn’t get anything more in my freezer if I wanted to.  If a Hurricane came through here tomorrow and wiped out the power I would be sitting pretty because I have a boat load of charcoal for my grill and cupboards full of canned food and a generator to keep my freezer cold. I wonder how these people who “never cook” would cope when all of the restaurants in town are closed and they have no way to get food?

It really is no way to go through life, particularly with climate change hammering us more and more with catastrophic storms.  I am not one of those “Doomsday Preppers” but I am smart enough to know that an ability to cook and a supply of food is the smart way to go.


The Eastern NC Spring Yellow Peril

This time of year here in Eastern NC there is a toxic feel in the air, Pine Pollen.  We are surrounded by millions of Pine trees and right now they are in “flower”, if you can call it that, Pine trees flowers are sort of a cluster of yellow fists of pollen bombs, which, of course, will eventually turn into pine cones, but right now they are just a pollen delivery device which allows the trees to deliver the pollen to unsuspecting peoples noses in the most efficient way possible.

In the morning I wander out to my car and it is yellow, having been covered overnight with a thick film of the pollen.   For the most part the majority of people around here who are not normally bothered by allergies are basically felled by Pine pollen.  I just cannot imagine people who suffer from regular allergies feel at this time of year.


I am one of the biggest tree huggers on the planet, but Pine Pollen is the devil.


My Little Acre

I sometimes think, as I peruse various political sites that we tree huggers (or hippies as they like to call us) are simply losing the messaging war when it comes to climate change and it depresses me to no end.  When it snowed here recently I just knew that my local AM radio host would be gloating and sure enough as his show started on my drive home the first thing out of his mouth was “Did you enjoy the snow?  (chuckle chuckle) how’s that global warming thing going for you! (chuckle chuckle)”  He continued to chuckle to himself, no doubt imagining himself to be funny, but I shook my head and resisted the urge to call in and remind him that only the previous week he had someone on from a coastal protection organization and they were discussing “sea level rise”, which somehow in his mind has absolutely nothing to do with climate change or global warming, and the effect that sea level rise will have on insurance rates here in Eastern North Carolina.    Indeed I live in a State where the State legislature voted not only to ignore the effects of sea level rise but voted to specifically exclude the science from all debate.   As one local put it

“First there was the embarrassment of North Carolina’s sea-level rise law, which called for ignoring scientific studies when considering coastal development. Now we learn that John Skvarla, newly appointed head of the state’s environment protection agency, is apparently a climate-change denier”

This week we learned that up in DC a climate change denying congressman will be heading the sub committee on climate change.

“As the new chairman of a key House subcommittee on the environment, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) will be one of the GOP’s leading actors when it comes to the Environmental Protection Agency and the growing threats from climate change. So with his first hearing as chairman on tap for Wednesday, what does the freshman Republican—and end times novelist—think about anthropogenic global warming? He’s not sure.”

Today we got the news that the droughts which devastated many of the crops in the US last year will more than likely be worse this year, which will again not only devastate the farmers but will also damage consumers who will have to pay much higher prices for food.    Another report announced that the chances of stronger and stronger hurricanes occurring as a result of climate change could mean the equivalent of five Katrinas per year.

I like to grow my own food, when I can, but here in NC it has got to the point that come July and August it is so hot that nothing will grow, even tomato plants shut down production due to the heat and the window of opportunity for growing cool season crops is becoming shorter and shorter.

I don’t know what the solution is.  We may as well howl at the moon for all the good our protestations do, and I simply despair that some of our fellow occupants of this big blue marble will not accept the damage we are doing to this planet until it is too late and they, and we, find ourselves in permanent deserts where nothing will flourish and clean water is non existent.

Still, when it all seems hopeless I take solace in my garden, in my little acre of this vast planet, and do my best to keep its flora and fauna safe for another year.  Perhaps that is all we can do, take care of our little corner of the world and hope, for the sake of all of us, that there are enough of us in the world to make a difference.   We shall see.