M is a candidate for a national academic honor. (I’m going to be vague about the specifics for the sake of anonymity.) For the final step in the selection process, he had to fill out a really lengthy application, and he also had to mail in a bunch of paperwork from his school. Between snow days and school vacation, he got the paperwork only a few days before the deadline, so we went down to the UPS store to mail it express.

We talked through the shipping options, M signed off on the paperwork, I paid for it, and M took the receipt with the tracking number. And on the way out of the store, M took one more thing: a free Tootsie Roll from the bucket on the counter.

Because he may be nearly 6′ tall and an academic whiz, but part of him is still a little kid who wants his free candy.

Sunday we had our first day with temperatures above freezing in a long time.  How long?  Long enough that E, wearing just a sweatshirt and sweatpants, declared, “It’s so sunny and warm we could sit out here in lawn chairs and read,” even though it was still only in the upper 30s.

However, we did not end up lounging in lawn chairs.  Instead, the entire neighborhood was doing battle with the accumulated ice and snow.  I looked around and listened at one point, and this is what I heard and saw:

Scrape, scrape, scrape — that’s E, using the roof rake to clear snow off our roof.

Grrrr, vroom, grrrr — that’s our neighbor across the street, using his snowblower to widen the area by his mailbox.

Whack, whack, whack — that’s the neighbor diagonally across from us, up on a ladder and using an axe to chop down the solid ice block in his roof valley.

Edited to add: the heat wave is over. I drove M to school today because it was -10 degrees. But we can add one more sound to the list: BOOM! BOOM! We heard it several times last night, due to either frost quakes, or the house contracting in the cold. Not a noise we’ve heard before, and rather scary.


For a scholarship application, M needs to attach a picture of something meaningful to him, and write an essay about why it’s meaningful. He’s written so many application-related essays already, that it would be great to recycle one he wrote for a different application, about his summer job working at the Cub Scout camp, which includes mention of keeping kids from capsizing their boat. However, neither of us ever took pictures at Cub camp.

I thought maybe we had a generic picture of him at the affiliated Boy Scout camp that might be sufficient. (It’s clear that the scholarship committee is concerned about the quality of the essay, and not the photo.) I sifted through old pictures, and found one from 3 summers ago, when he and the other counselors-in-training performed a skit by the water. The Boy Scout camp is across the pond from the Cub Scout camp, and I realized that one of the pictures had the entire Cub Scout camp waterfront in the background! campsmall

A lot of cropping, and a little clean-up to remove some electric lines and a totem pole (thanks to a photo-editing tool M learned about in a class this fall), and voila — M now has the perfect picture to accompany an essay about learning responsibility by saving Cub Scouts from themselves in boats.


Let’s do a quick round-up of the household health status:

E: Temperature of 100.8, aches, chills, nausea. Looks and feels totally miserable. Too exhausted and dopey to read or even look at pictures in a seed catalog, but did enjoy watching 20 minutes of a documentary about owls. Overall health grade: D. (Actual vomiting would result in D-.)

S: Has been wheezing for the last several days, probably due to too much snow-removal-related exercise in cold weather. Visited doctor and now has 2 different inhalers. Also congested ear and sore throat from coughing after wheezing. Also random allergy-type bumps on left hand and right upper arm. Overall health grade: C. (Inhalers aren’t helping yet.)

M: Stuffy and congested. Mouth in pain due to installation of additional orthodontia on lower teeth. Yes, he went back into braces for his senior year of high school, now that his jaw is done growing. Pain did not preclude him from borrowing car to go out to dinner to celebrate a friend’s acceptance at his first choice college. (M figured he could order pasta.) Or preclude him from calling home at 9:45 p.m. wondering if he could hang out at friend’s house for a while. Since it’s school vacation week, and the falling snow isn’t coming down hard, I said he could stay out another 45 minutes. Overall health grade: B+.

Cat: Achy from winter weather but otherwise well. Determined to help E feel better by sleeping on top of her or next to her. Overall health grade: A-.

I’m hoping that either we’re all feeling better by the weekend, or the weather forecast changes. Because if we really are going to get rain on top of all this snow, then we’d better clear more snow off our roof and E’s mom’s roof before the rain comes. And I don’t think M and the cat could handle all the snow removal by themselves.

Edited to add:  Cat has been downgraded to a an overall grade of B since he left E’s side long enough to stagger into the bathroom and throw up — not a hairball, but the other kind of cat puke which means he just doesn’t feel right.  I guess he’s really not going to be helping with the roof rake now…

…your son doesn’t know what day his best friend’s birthday is, but he does know the friend’s family owns a roof rake.

A sign of spring!

Look! Pussy willows! Spring must be coming some time soon, right?


Or maybe not, considering the pussy willows are sticking out of a 5′ tall snowbank. (This is in our neighbors’ driveway. We cleared it because they’re away for the week, and they’re really nice neighbors. Besides, what’s one more driveway to clear.)


Speaking of tall snowbanks, raking snow off the roof is actually a lot easier from this angle than from down on the ground. Even if it is disconcerting to realize my head is above the level of the eaves.


This is our street. We haven’t seen bare pavement in weeks. That black thing on the left is our mailbox.


The view out the window

We’re currently in the midst of the Blizzard of 2015, February edition (not to be confused with the Blizzard of 2015, January edition that we had a few weeks ago.) Here’s the view out the kitchen window; I’ve added red dots to indicate the level of the snow outside the window.


M’s old play-fort in the backyard, which is now used to store lawn furniture, looked like this in the summer. I’ve added red dots to indicate the top of the roof, and the top corners of the door opening which is 4′ high.


Here’s the same fort now, with the same 3 spots marked.


Our canoe is lying upside-down atop some cement blocks to the left of the fort. We haven’t seen in it a couple weeks.

Usually the cat doesn’t much believe that the view out the window is real. He can recognize moving squirrels or moving birds or moving neighbor cats as real things that he will watch, entranced. However, things like pouring rain or heavy snow are completely meaningless to him. He will look out at the window at it, then still tell us “I want to go out in the yard” until we open the door and the rain/snow blows in and he can feel the precipitation for himself. (Cats being cats, we then generally need to repeat this at the back door before he accepts that he doesn’t want to go out. Until he forgets, 20 minutes later, and we repeat the process.)

Today, however, we’ve gotten some good gusts of total white-out conditions that have caused the cat’s head to whip around and stare at the window in confusion. He can tell something is going on out there.

However, he still insisted he wanted to go out in it, until I actually opened the door to show him why he’s not going out there. At least he didn’t ask to see what’s happening outside the back door.


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