I went up the driveway to the car this morning. We are expecting a particularly ugly storm tomorrow and I needed to make sure the front of the car was well-wrapped. It is supposed to be snow followed by freezing rain and sleet. Then, a flash freeze.
All of my least favorite weather wrapped in one big mess.
The freeze means the ground will be covered by — as close as nature can come to it — frozen cement. We’ve parked the car at the top of the driveway so the plow can get through, assuming it’s deep enough to use a plow … and the plow doesn’t slide down the driveway and crash into the house.
Stranger events have been known to happen.
It’s also the day on which the Pats play the Chiefs in Kansas. That should be some kind of mitigation because they’ve been playing pretty well — but Kansas will have just gotten the same storm. The field will be bitterly cold and just icy enough to make staying upright problematic. Both teams are used to playing in bad weather so there’s no advantage for either side — and the Chiefs are the favored team. Usually, that just makes the Pats more competitive, but it’s the end of the season and everyone is damaged.
Football’s a rough game.
I fell down on my way back down the driveway. Up is more difficult, but down is treacherous. Except — it wasn’t slippery. It’s the L.L.Bean boots I was wearing have a very hard sole which doesn’t grip the surface which is old and even in the summer is slippery. My feet came right out from under me.
For once, my back didn’t take the hit, but the back of my skull took a solid thwack. I’m still dizzy.
Meanwhile, to make this weird weekend even weirder, I discovered my dogs have ticks. How did they get ticks in January? I suppose the days warmed up just enough to make the ticks hungry … so I had to order tick collars for all of them — a pretty penny for three dogs. Bonnie is the one on whom I found the ticks, but I have to assume where one dog has ticks, so do the other two.
Overall, I’m not seeing much mitigation to the complexities of life right now. It is what it is.
If we at least win the game tomorrow, that will help. A bit. I think I’ll go take some Tylenol. Drink more coffee. Eat a few cookies. If you can’t mitigate circumstances, have coffee and something crunchy which tastes strongly of cinnamon.
It’s time for The Nest’s newest Wednesday feature Random Image Inspiration, where some picture someone uploaded to that giant common photo album known as the internet will help inspire today’s post. If you want to see how I’ll be choosing that image, you can feel free to check out the rules I outlined in RII’s debut last week (I know you won’t click on the link, but Sparky’s rules of blogging demand that I insert as many gratuitous links to past posts as possible).
Even though I’m writing this post the same day it goes live, I went ahead and found the winning image on Monday morning. This week’s random numbers….
One of the dogs ate Garry’s mouse. It was a Logitech mouse, not the furry kind. He or she didn’t totally destroy it … just enough so it stopped functioning.
A little bit of gnawing makes the USB go down.
I did warn him about putting his computer et al where any of our dogs can conveniently grab a small piece, but Garry never believes me until the item needs replacement. At least mouses are cheap. It could’ve been worse.
It was just the mouse, not the computer. It’s not that our dogs are big chewers, but a dog with nothing to do? Well, that looks interesting. Let me put my jaws around it and see what happens. Since it didn’t squeak or try to run away, it got dropped for something more entertaining, but one chomp was enough.
Another has been ordered. Nothing can kill a Logitech mouse except too frequent dropping — and a dog with teeth.
And now for the rest of the story!
Questions This Week:
Did you have to help out with chores when you were growing up? If so, what were you assigned to do?
Yes. Dishes, general house straightening — but first, foremost, and worst of all (and I hate it to this day) ironing. I really hated ironing. I only got good at it when I started collecting dolls and had to iron their tiny dresses. At least I knew what an iron is and how to use it.
Have you ever researched your family tree? What do you know about your family’s roots?
Slightly. I don’t have enough information to get very far.
What’s your cure for hiccups?
Holding my breath, then swallowing at the same time. It usually works.
What makes you roll your eyes every time you hear it? Either figuratively or literally?
Grammar! FEWER, not LESS as follows: If you can count’em, it’s fewer. If you have to scoop it with a shovel, it’s less. There are always fewer people, not less.
There may be fewer GRAINS of sand, but less sand overall.
Share gratitude, a positive moment or experience from 2019 so far.
Birds. I really love my backyard birds.
Otherwise, it hasn’t been a great year. Trump’s government shutdown is going to delay tax refund checks … which I was counting on to help repair the house. And meanwhile, all those miserable people wondering how they are going to make the mortgage! Horrors.
I don’t think this counts as a positive moment, experience, or something for which anyone should feel gratitude. Sorry about that.
I was born in New York City in 1949, just a few years after the end of WWII. My parents and grandparents, all Jewish, lived through WWII hearing horror stories about Jewish persecution and the concentration camps. They genuinely feared that if Germany won the war, a distinct possibility for much of the war, the ‘final solution’ for the Jews would spread all around the Nazi-controlled world. It was a scary time for everyone, but particularly for Jews, even in America.
My grandmother’s sister, Rachel had stayed in Russia, with one other sister, while her siblings and eventually her parents emigrated to the United States. They lived close to the western border, so when Hitler broke his pact with Russia and invaded, their town was one of the first to be taken. This was before the Russian army had even begun to mobilize. The Jews in their town were rounded up and put in the synagogue. The building was set on fire and anyone who tried to escape was shot.
Rachel’s oldest son was in school in Moscow at the time his family was murdered. After the war, organizations were formed all over the world to help Jews locate relatives and friends who were missing after the war. My grandmother spent years searching for her nephew, but no trace of him was ever found.
My mother and grandmother were obsessed with the Holocaust when I was growing up. They read everything they could find on the persecution of Jews, and particularly about the concentration camps. I was given graphic books about the camps at around nine or ten years of age. Way too young, in my opinion.
But I also learned about the camps in another, more personal way. Two Czechoslovakian, identical twin sisters named Irina and Elena were good friends of my parents. They told us lots of stories about their time in concentration and work camps, including Auschwitz.
They were sixteen years old when they and their parents were put in overcrowded cattle cars, squashed together with other terrified Jews, and shipped to Auschwitz. They had no food, water or bathrooms for several days. People were crying and screaming. People got sick and died. The smells were unbearable. They arrived at the camp in horrible shape, physically as well as emotionally.
There was a line of Jews being processed into the camp. Dr. Joseph Mengele was at the front of the line with a whip which he used to indicate if a person should go to the left into the camp, or to the right, directly into the gas chambers.
He also picked people out of the line to be subjected to his horrible, sadistic ‘medical’ experiments – all done without anesthesia.
Irina and Elena tell how their lives were saved by a camp guard. The guard recognized that the girls were twins. He also knew that Dr. Mengele loved to do experiments on twins. This guard’s wife was also a twin so he took pity on the girls. He whispered to them that they should say that they were a year apart in age. Bewildered, the girls did as they were told and were sent to the camp, saving their lives. They also threw away their eyeglasses so they would be judged healthy and ready to work, thus avoiding the gas chamber.
I don’t remember all their stories about the camps. I remember that they were separated from their parents and didn’t know if they were even still alive till the end of the war. I also remember that a good friend of theirs, also a teenager, got sick. They tried to nurse her back to health. They even gave her part of their meager rations of food. But she died anyway and they were crushed.
They told us that they tried very hard to preserve some of their Jewish traditions – a reminder of life outside the camps. They feel this helped preserve their sanity and gave them the strength to survive. They and a few other friends would save up pieces of their daily bread so they could sneak off and have secret Shabbat ‘dinners’ and celebrate Passover at a makeshift Seder. They managed to find something to use as a tablecloth and maybe a candle, to make these celebrations as real as possible.
They were liberated by the Americans and the British at the end of the war. Miraculously, their parents survived (they had also been separated in the camp) and they were reunited. They were emaciated and weak and their heads had all been shaven. They went back to Czechoslovakia and began to recuperate and start a new life. Their hair began to grow back, which was a huge deal for the still young twins.
Tragically, Elena’s new life was cut short in 1948. She was arrested for being a communist, turned in by a ‘friend’. The Czech authorities shaved her head again and threw her into prison for another year. She had emotionally survived the camps but this was too much for her to handle. She had a complete mental breakdown in prison. She was mentally very fragile for the rest of her life. She went up and down emotionally and had many periods of serious meltdowns and crises. Her sister was at her side through all her problem periods, even when they lived in different parts of the world. They remained close the rest of their lives.
I made sure that my children understood the Holocaust, but in an age-appropriate way. When my daughter, Sarah, was around seven, we were in Germany and we visited the Dachau Concentration Camp, which is now a museum to the Holocaust. We answered any questions she had but didn’t push too much information on her. She came across a photo that got to her on a visceral level. It showed a child being torn away from its mother and the mother and child were frantically reaching for each other. Sarah was horrified when she realized that children were being separated from their parents. That’s what she could relate to at her age and it made an indelible impression on her.
Both my children are adults now and know a lot about the Holocaust and World War II. Hopefully, they will make sure that their children never forget.
I didn’t know anything about nuthatches except that they are similar to woodpeckers, but are a different family of birds.
They like eating bugs in trees and walk up and down tree trunks. They are, apparently, the only bird that walks headfirst down trees.
There are three kinds and all of them live here. I’ve only seen two of them, but the third one may yet show up.
All of these birds live from Mexico to Canada and most places in between. They don’t migrate, though they may decide to fly to a warmer area if the weather is really bad. But they will nest anywhere.
The nuthatches are basically identical to each other except for color. I’ve seen two of them on the feeder. There’s the white-breasted nuthatch, which has a white breast, and the red-bellied nuthatch which has a yellow underbody, but some blotchy red feathered areas near its tail. I wondered what those weird-looking red patches were and it turns out, it’s that other nuthatch.
The third nuthatch, the brown-headed one looks just like the other two, but in the middle of the black cap is a brown beanie. These guys can live in New England but are more common in Canada.
Closely related are the brown creepers and I’ve seen them, too. They are not as pretty or striking as the others. Basically, brown freckled medium size birds with long, pointy beaks. Males and females look the same. I’ve seen them, too.
Mostly though, I’ve seen a lot of red-bellied and whited-chested nuthatches. These are not usually birds that hang out on bird feeders, but they really like ours. Must be the quality of the feed!
So. If you see a bird walking down a tree head first, it’s probably a nuthatch or a brown creeper.
We didn’t really have sunshine today, though they promised it. But at least it wasn’t dark and gloomy all day. So I took some more pictures of the cactus developing.
I remembered today that sometimes, instead of a standard but, the end of the cactus turns red and then becomes a flower. So there is more than one kind of bud on a Christmas Cactus. If someone has a good biology background, I’d like to hear about this — how one plant has two ways of creating a flower.
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