Sunday, February 28, 2021

Confused Icicles


At first glance, I thought these icicles were confused, growing horizontally, instead of accumulating vertically, in some weird rebellion of physics, and I was bemused. It took me a moment to realize that they had indeed been growing vertically, but that the mass of snow on the roof had slid down, and were now recurving, giving the icicles the appearance of having the wrong orientation.


Saturday, February 27, 2021

'To Go' Lessons

I was thoroughly impressed and charmed by the efficiency (and total lack of contact) in picking up my 'To Go' groceries, a new offering at our Hannaford's, but there are a few things I would do differently next time ... 

Checking the 'No Substitutions' box turned out to be way too sweeping, and exclusionary. It precluded substituting smaller or larger packages of a selected product when the size I'd checked wasn't available. My order of an 8lb bag of oranges, which could easily have been replaced with 2x 4lb bags, wasn't able to be filled. There were no quart sized cartons of the brand of light cream I buy, so there was NO light cream at all in my order. Zero. Zilch. Now, there are very few things I can't live without, but light cream for my coffee is one of them. No way was that acceptable or recommended (for the sanity and well-being of others). I had shot myself in the foot with my sweeping request.

Turns out, I had to go into the store to have my 2nd Shingles vaccine anyway, so I took the opportunity to load up on multiple pint sized cartons of my chosen brand of light cream, for the benefit of all! I also found some oranges in a smaller bag, as well as the Country Italian loaf and sweet onions that were 'not available.' 

When I got home and began unpacking, I discovered I'd made a few ordering errors - some produce is ordered by the pound (broccoli), others by piece (tomatoes). Instead of ordering 2lbs of tomatoes, I ordered 2 tomatoes. There was also a 3lb bag of sweet onions, despite them being marked as 'unavailable' at the time of checkout . I found I had clicked on orzo pasta, instead of ziti (not a biggie), as well as choosing two 32oz bars of cheddar, instead of one - I had been hovering between 'extra sharp' and plain old 'sharp' but obviously inadvertently checked each, since my order list was evidence of this. Oh well, one will go into the freezer for a while. (And, as my kids will joke ... at least I didn't mistakenly buy a freezer, like Marge in The Simpsons).

I've realized that substitutions for fresh produce wouldn't affect my necessary soy-avoidance (unless they gave me soybeans in place of snowpeas, for instance. This is said jokingly, since I believe they do check each substitution with the customer before it's finally added to the cart). And different sized items in the same product name would also suit me perfectly.

Well, this old dog has certainly learned a few new tricks through this experience. Let's hope I remember them for next time! 

I definitely still say, way to go, To Go! Highly Recommended.


Friday, February 26, 2021

Patterns, Patterns

I stepped outside to clear away some of the slush and ice from my porch, and noticed how intriguing a pattern the sanding truck had made on the road on its last pass. I HAD to grab my camera, and before I knew it, I'd taken eight photos of our roadway! Here are just 3:








Thursday, February 25, 2021

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Pitted Snow


Snow pits on ice

 
A few snow pits under tree branches, almost looking like footprints


Snow pits under lots of trees




These pits make the twig shadows look jagged


And this is a 'pit' created by a great gallumphing galoot taking photos.
(credit goes to Dr. Seuss for describing me so well)




 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

TO GO !

I had my first grocery shopping To Go experience this month - almost a full year into the pandemic, our local Hannaford began offering this feature. It was easy and efficient, but not quick. Since it was the first time I used the online App, I explored all sorts of possibilities, and after spending ages scrolling through innumerable products in all sorts of categories, I had to keep reminding myself to blink so I could regulate my eyes' tear response, and not just frozenly stare at my screen.

Who knew that my local Maine store offers a choice of 1,036 different products in the category coffee/tea/cocoa?

And that there are 445 candy products to choose from?

Seriously, do we really need this level of choice and differentiation to live a good life? There are people who don't even have basic clean water - my toilet water is cleaner than the water they have to drink!

Anyway, back to online shopping (ahhh, that in itself is an extreme luxury, I'm embarrassed to say). At last, when scrolling started becoming tedious, I discovered the 'SEARCH' button! Okay, stop laughing - some of us are slow learners 😀 - and I wanted to have the FULL experience.

I decided to check the "no substitutions" box, since the products I buy are carefully selected to not include soy. I also added many repeatable items to a grocery list that will hopefully make my next shopping experience simpler. Furthermore, I have learned that I need to plan ahead with my online grocery shopping, since the earliest slots for pickup were 2 days out, but I also found how easily I could add, edit and tweak my order when it was still a few days out.

All this for a fee of $5 - are you kidding me? Even after COVID, why would I go back ... ? Grocery store shopping has never been anything but a major, unpleasant chore for me. And this way, I won't be adding things to the cart that are designed to attract my attention as I wheel past them, and buy something on 'impulse.'

Way to go, To Go!

Disclaimer: I hadn't yet picked up my order when I wrote this.




Monday, February 22, 2021

February Chills

What is the winter equivalent of the Dog Days of Summer? Frigging frigid February, I think! I hate the bitter burning sensation of extreme cold, making my fingers feel like wooden clothes-pins - unbendable, without blood flow, unfeeling. Even when I'm dressed up warmly and prepared for the frigidity outside, I don't like it, or endure it well. I've decided to take the high road, as a cat would do, and simply stay indoors.

But now I've been struggling to get out of bed in the mornings, not because I'm feeling low or depressed, but because - well, it's warm in my cocoon of blankets. I feel like a bunny curled up in its insulated den, and it doesn't seem to make sense to leave it. I love the feeling of being ensconced in a warm bubble, wallowing in warmth!

But, once I'm awake, there's nothing to do in bed. I keep thinking of how nice a cup of coffee would be, and of how pleasant it will feel to empty my bladder! Just when I think I've plucked up enough courage to get up and tackle these things outside the cushiony warmth, I find myself numbed into immobility for a further 10 minutes.

Sitting up to read or drink coffee in bed doesn't cut it. I'm one of those strange people who can't stand to have clothing twisted and tangled around their limbs when they sleep, making uncomfortable humps in the bedclothes, so I'd have nothing to keep my shoulders warm if I sat up - it's all or nothing for me! I'm either under the bedclothes, or getting dressed.

Roll on spring - I'm ready for you. Though I must say, it looks very pretty out there right now ...





Sunday, February 21, 2021

Fragility

A most beautiful and perfect beech leaf, so delicate and simple.



 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Apoplectic Apoplexy!

I've discovered that I'm faster than a cheetah in achieving top speed! It takes this beautiful, amazing cat just over 3.4 seconds, but I can go from sedate to ugly, and apoplectically ballistic and belligerent in a nanosecond.

On the very first trip in our new car, we were rear-ended in a store parking lot. A harmless fender bender. Not hard. No big impact. No injuries. But ... some scratches on our pristine new vehicle. It was at a slow, rolling speed. A big SUV had pulled in behind us and parked, but then jolted forward (the brake hadn't engaged properly), rolling into us. I was in the passenger seat, and we were stationery. 

My reaction was to go into full-blown attack mode, instantaneously. A raging anger surged through me and made me shake with excess adrenaline that had nowhere to go - I felt as if I was going to blow a gasket! The blood surging through me was hot and voracious and I felt I HAD to get out and give them a piece of my mind - it was the only way to get the release I needed! "It's our NEW car," I kept shrieking, and "What were you doing?" Before it got too ugly, Dale calmly persuaded me to stay in the vehicle while he dealt with it. I sat in the passenger seat, holding my head in my hands in despair.

The 'perpetrators' were unbelievably apologetic and willing to do anything to fix their error. They asked Dale to apologize to me on their behalf, emphasizing over and over again, how sorry they were. What they and most of my readers don't know, is that the almost exact same thing happened 13 years ago when I drove our brand new minivan into Boston - it was déjà vu for me. (In that instance, the car behind me at a red light had pulled forward as soon as it went green, not noticing that the intersection was clogged and we couldn't move forward. I was driving my teenaged daughter to an activity at MIT, and I went ballistic on this stranger in the middle of Boston traffic, embarrassing my daughter no end. I think she learned how NOT to behave when you're in a fender bender, so I guess it was a positive learning experience😀).

LIVID, described by Oxford Languages as "furiously angry" almost describes my sensations.


LIVID:

Bezerk

Enraged

Apoplectic

Ballistic

These words try to describe

the hot flow of blood

that charges instantaneously

and makes me shake.


Head in hands

In an enclosed space

I breathe calmness back in


Friday, February 19, 2021

Intrigue

 This strange pic makes me think of a high-heeled shoe (I guess it's obvious I don't own a pair)!



Thursday, February 18, 2021

Comfort Zone

If Ricky Gervais can talk publicly about not wearing underwear during the pandemic, then it's okay for me, too - right? Because one thing that I'm going to find hard to get used to once this pandemic is over, is wearing a bra again. It's so comfortable without one. It feels carefree and natural, real. 

It reminds me of my first experiences with a bra as a teenager. Initially, I couldn't wait to wear one, to be inducted into the world of adulthood, of femininity and ... sexuality. But once I'd been fitted for one, I couldn't bear the feeling of being so caged in. It was an obstructionist appliance, made of hard metal clasps and scratchy, skin-irritating fabrics. I'd keep taking it off, and then would notice my mother GLARING at me from across the room, chastising me with her eyes, for not complying to socially acceptable standards of dress. Sometimes she'd confront me, drawing everybody's attention to my quiet rebellion, and instruct me to go to my room to put my bra on - it was so embarrassing to have my bra mentioned in front of my Dad and brothers!

It's natural for nipples to reach down towards one's waist, not point upwards towards the sky, isn't it? Somewhere in history, society deemed naturally falling breasts to not be acceptable or attractive enough, and that something needed to be done to 'improve' their disposition. 

It seems now that the only reason I wear one in public ... is so as not to draw stares, either from women alarmed that I don't try to support my breasts and show them off better, according to society's standards, or from men who seem to think that visible nipples are there to be openly stared at.

The question is whether I will resume wearing a socially acceptable device afterwards, or be bold and confident enough to "burn my bra" again, as I once had after my early years at university, and away from home.






Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Squirrel Scrabblings


I've never seen squirrel claw marks like this before. If it weren't for the snow clumped onto the bark from the snowblower, their escapades would not have been obvious to us.



It made me laugh to imagine them scrabbling about for purchase on the smooth surface. Schadenfreude? Maybe!


       

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Dark Water

Ripples in dark water can produce magnificent patterns that look like crazy optical illusions, or perfect reverberating circles. The perturbations that are generated as they connect and interact sets off a whole new set of interesting tessellations. Macro views of micro worlds are fascinating! These were taken whilst watching clumps of snow drop from the branches above - each time producing something different.










Monday, February 15, 2021

Microwave Baking Win!

My gas oven has been giving me trouble - sometimes it doesn't heat up, and sometimes it does. The inconsistency and unreliability of it makes food preparation stressful and difficult to plan. It appears to be a problem with the glow-bar, something we experienced countless times in our previous home, and until the new one arrives, I shall soldier on ... 

Well, I had pledged to bake muffins for a virtual meeting, and had encouraged others to do the same, but I couldn't be sure that my oven would cook them that day. I prepped myself psychologically for failure and frustration. I got out my old microwave recipe books (I had taken advantage of the free microwave cooking classes that came with buying a microwave in South Africa some 30 odd years ago), and refreshed my memory on how to bake cakes in the microwave. I thought I should be prepared to switch gears should the oven not switch on once the batter was ready.

I recalled that chocolate cakes worked well in the microwave, because the dark cocoa ensured the end product would not look anemic. I also had to use glass or plastic, and place an upside down saucer on the turntable before the cake tray. I'm fortunate in having a set of handy-dandy silicone muffin cups that would be perfect in the microwave -  I arranged them in a glass pie dish with an inverted ramekin in the middle to keep them separated.




The idea was to mimic a conventional Microwave muffin pan, like this:


Next, I needed to determine the power level and timing of each batch - theoretically, it would be 2 minutes at 70% power, followed by 30 seconds on 100% power for every batch of 6 (according to my conversion chart from this inauspiciously titled recipe book 😆)



By now, the challenge had given me such a high, that I didn't imagine I even needed to switch on the oven ... I was dying to see if it would work out, so, I decided to try cooking a batch in the microwave. And, this is how it turned out!


I was thrilled! And they tasted perfect - I swear you wouldn't know the difference.

I turned on my oven, and ... hey, presto, the gas came on right away! I cooked the remaining batter in the oven, and the only difference was that the crumb topping looked a little different.


I was so pleased with myself, it was hard not to blow my own trumpet (my Mom's constant reminders of humility be damned!).

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Aftermath

 Aftermath


Eddies and updrafts

Swirl snow about in the sun:

Sparkling snow glitter!

Trees shrug their shoulders

Releasing clumps of cold snow

Caught in their creases.

From top to bottom,

A monochrome gradation -

Scales of grey to white.









Saturday, February 13, 2021

Snow Antidote


Knowing that the weather was predicted to be dreary and dull (and confirmed by the view from my kitchen window), it would be up to me to counteract that feeling of my world closing in. I didn't want to be overwhelmed by a feeling of misery, as can so often happen when I'm compressed into the house by a grey leaden sky.



My antidote was to spend my morning making a hearty vegetable soup, not as a chore, but as a creation, as my choice of activity. I regarded it not as a necessary, need to fix-in-time-for-lunch meal, but as an enjoyable way to embrace the opportunity that a grey day brought, and spend time tweaking the flavors.




My inspiration extended to baking a loaf of wholesome bread to accompany the soup. I wanted something heavy and grainy, so I put together a spontaneous blend of rye flour, wholewheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour, oats, flaxseed meal and sunflower seeds. Oooh, yum, it turned out well and tasted delicious.




I felt SO accomplished because of my productivity and creativity despite the weather, not to mention FULL of wholesome goodness!



Friday, February 12, 2021

Pine Appreciation

How many resort names or locations have you come across that include a description of the hardy old pine tree? Some are clichéd - overused and common. We've probably all heard of Knotty Pines. Or of Whispering, Hidden, or Windy Pines. They can also be called Lost, Lonely or Towering. Sometimes, just Twin Pines. But have you ever come across ...

Cross-hatched Pines?



Spiky Pines,                      or             Spiraled Pines  



Glistening Pines or Sunny Pines?



And then there's the ominous, Buried Pines ...
or Porcu - Pine?






Thursday, February 11, 2021

Tightening the Screws ...

Every Monday morning's calendar begins with ... 'Tighten palate expander.' Ouch! Not something to look forward to, to begin the week. I can feel the increased tension the moment it goes back in ...

Wearing my new dental appliances (a thick, built-up palate expander to even out my top jaw alignment, and Invisalign braces for the lower jaw) has been challenging, to say the least. Mostly because I have sleep apnea, which means I need to use a CPAP machine at night, and my dental devices are also intended to be worn throughout the night. Sleeping next to me is not for the faint of heart 😀 - it's fortunate that we keep our eyes closed!


     

My sexy nightwear

The palate expander is designed to keep my mouth slightly open and my teeth apart for the time being, but my open mouth results in me snoring loudly and deeply (as if from the bowels of the earth, unlike anything experienced before). My CPAP mask covers both my nose and mouth, so I don't know if it was amplifying the snoring reverberations, or the open mouth and difficulty swallowing was doing it, but it also led to excessive drool pooling up inside my mask! Sleeping with an open mouth made my throat really sore, and my overnight dehydration was obvious when trying to empty my bladder in the morning. Ok, enough of the bodily functions!

In trying to find solutions, I used a chin strap (neoprene headgear with Velcro closings - the maroon item in the photo), as well as all the other paraphernalia on my face. Trying to brush my hair each morning without re-styling with mousse and hairdryer is a daily challenge. The chin strap is sweaty and uncomfortable, even without the CPAP mask and dental appliances, but I tried it for 2 nights, with little improvement. I emailed my dentist to explain my problems, and his suggestion was to try keeping my mouth closed with dental tape! What? I'm not into bondage or kinky stuff like that, so had no idea there was such a thing. I'd tried nasal strips in the past, but the idea of taping my mouth closed blew my mind! It's not a joke - it turns out there is such a product. I haven't got myself to try it out ... yet.

My compromise, instead, has been to wear my palate expander consistently ALL day during the day, instead of the 2 hours in, 2 hours out and not wear it at night at all. It may mean that I have to wear the device for a longer period of time than initially expected, but at least this way we can both sleep in the same bed!







Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Walking on Ice

It's now obvious that the lake can be walked on, or I can now walk on water! The status of the ice wasn't discussed, and we didn't give it a second thought before venturing onto the lake. It was clearly different - the landscape was still and solid. The day's high temperature was very low: 21° F, and had been that way for a few days. It's unpleasant outside, if you are unprepared for what your face and fingertips will feel like, but our boardwalk encourages us to get out each day to see what's new at the lake edge.

There were new feathery ice crystals everywhere. When I first saw this one, I thought it was a strange new leaf, upturned on the ice. It stood out beautifully, like a star suspended over the ice-entombed leaves.




The delicate feathery forms could be seen in the animal footprints too




Under the light snow, though, the hard surface of the ice is glassy smooth and slippery




We actually found that our COVID masks had an extra function - to protect our faces from the frigid cold air!





Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Leaf Larder


These leaves look particularly sad to me. 



The drooping leaves remind me of a predatory bird's larder! It's like what a butcher bird does to store food for later consumption - it impales its prey on thorns, or barbed wire, where they hang in place.

The following two pics are from Jace Stanbury's "Journals of an Amateur Naturalist" blog, to help illustrate my imaginings ...
http://naturejournals.blogspot.com/


 











Monday, February 8, 2021

Puzzling Beauty


I can't stop marveling at the whimsy and uniqueness of these beautiful puzzle pieces - each individual piece is a work of art in its own right. The interlocking shapes are creative and different - no two pieces are the same!




Even the reverse side, unpainted wood, is exquisite to look at, with its curves and scrolled pieces. I love how symbols, craftsmanship, and theme are all embedded in this intriguing puzzle. It gave me so much joy.



Scroll-worked bark in the woods!



The finished result - a taxing and compelling puzzle. I was able to indulge my entire afternoon and evening (aside from stopping for dinner) focusing on this, and this alone: what a luxury! I wonder if it's possible to do this puzzle wood side up?