Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

No snow on the ground here, but there were just a few flakes in the air this morning - very pretty. The temperature is perfect for using the 'fridge' in the basement. In the summertime it would be nice to have a real fridge down there, but at this time of year the hatchway stairs work just fine!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


In the words of one of my friends: 
It's just such a great holiday. It really is. It's four days long, you have enough time for family and friends. There is a huge meal, some drinking, some laughing, time with the kids, time without the kids, football, thoughtfulness, thankfulness, but not too serious. It's just such a great holiday.
Well, no football here, but I agree with the rest of it! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Toast seems to be more popular in the UK than here in the US. I remember Saturday lunches when I was growing up, or any lunches when I was at uni., would often be something on toast. Baked beans on toast. Poached egg on toast. Sardines on toast. Cheese on toast. This song about toast even did quite well in the charts!

My DH turns his nose up at 'something on toast' as a meal, as do the children. It was a nice quick, and cheap lunch and I still enjoy it from time to time - though usually when I'm on my own!

Still, I was never so cheap as to make a toast sandwich - something Mrs Beeton apparently included in her famous cookbook! I'm not quite sure why the Royal Society of Chemistry decided to revive the toast sandwich and tout it as the UK's cheapest meal.  A slice of toast between two slices of bread - never mind if it's cheap, it hardly sounds nutritious, does it? If I'm going to have an unhealthy meal of carbs with my carbs, a chip butty or a crisp sarnie (or maybe even a conny onny sarnie) would be much more to my taste!

(Sheffield United anthem - "You fill up my senses like . . . a greasy chip butty")

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Halloween Take 2

I can't imagine Guy Fawkes' night being postponed. The whole point is that it's on the 5th of November. The same with the 4th of July - the whole point is the date. But Halloween - apparently that can easily be rescheduled to a more convenient date.

We had a grand total of 3 trick-or-treaters last Monday after the snow storm. Our neighborhood was dark, but there were no power lines down as where we live they are actually all underground. We thought it might be fun to go trick-or-treating when it was so dark outside! However, it seemed that most people in our neighborhood had fled to places that still had heat and light and trick-or-treating was delayed townwide to November 5th. So here we are ready for Halloween all over again. After all, there is SOME candy left from last week - I haven't eaten it all yet (only the good stuff) and I might as well give the last of it away (as it's all the candies I don't like anyway) ;-)  Note to self: next year only buy candy you DON'T like!!

The Halloween snowmen have all melted, but the pumpkins and other decorations are still looking good. 

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Snowstorm shopping

I still haven't figured out why every time there's a big snowstorm, this happens in the supermarket:

We joke about all the people who are going to make French toast because bread, milk and eggs seem to sell well before a storm, but chips and salsa?

Oh, and for Mother Hen, who has never seen a pumpkin covered in snow, here's a snowman with a pumpkin for a head!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy snow-olleen!

WOW - they really weren't kidding when they predicted widespread power outages! We got about 12 inches of heavy wet snow. The branches in the first photo aren't usually that low - they were weighed down by the snow. (Everything below the word Trick  would normally not be there!)

Note the tree that's lying down on the left in the photo above - here it is again a few hours later:
We got off pretty lightly. The power was only out for 49 hours - there are thousands of homes that still don't have their power back yet - and the temperature in the house only dipped to 52˚F. We have city water rather than a well, so we did not lose our water too. We have a camping stove so we had hot food and drink. We have a chainsaw, so we did not have to wait for the city to come and remove the trees that had fallen and blocked the end of our road. About the only thing we don't have that would have been nice is smartphones. The reporting on the radio was useless in terms of letting us know what the situation was in the wider world and some internet access would have been nice!

I spent most of Sunday hand sewing DS's Halloween costume that I had been planning on finishing on the sewing machine. Then tonight we found out that trick-or-treating is postponed until next Saturday! In many neighborhoods it would not have been safe to go out trick-or-treating tonight because there are still downed powerlines. Even where there aren't, there are tree branches down all over the place. Most people seem to have cleared their driveways, but not necessarily the sidewalk.

It certainly has been a memorable Halloween!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy Snow-tober

Never mind a White Christmas - we're having a White Halloween this year! We're used to snow in the northeastern USA, but not this much this early!

With so many leaves still on the trees, this heavy wet snow is going to bring a lot of trees and therefore power lines down. At least it's the weekend, so we don't have to use a school 'snow day' so early in the year!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Score one for the US medical system

UK expats often have a lot to say about the differences between the National Health Service and the lack of a national health service here in the US. Although there are many criticisms to make of the NHS, at least you know you won't go bankrupt in the UK because you need medical treatment. I'm lucky in that my husband's employers are Europeans and they have made it a priority to make sure their employees have decent health insurance.

I discovered recently that the American system has a small advantage over the NHS, that I have never heard anyone mention before. It is the idea that a patient's medical records belong to the patient and that the patient is entitled to copies of them. I've had a couple of MRIs done recently (actually four) and the staff at the MRI center are quite happy to give me a copy of the MRI CD as soon as the notes regarding the findings have been transcribed - so I can actually know what was found (or not) BEFORE my appointment with my doctor to discuss the results. My sister commented in a recent email to me "in the UK doctors are really secretive about results of tests - they seem to think that a little knowledge can be very dangerous."

I recently asked for a referral to a specialist, and he asked for copies of my records from the other doctors I had already seen, including my opthalmologist, to be faxed or fedexed to him before he would even make an appointment with me. I assumed the other doctors would send the notes directly to the specialist, but in almost every case their office staff told me I could pick the records up myself. One of the doctors I've seen recently said that he always writes his patient notes with the expectation that at some point the patient will see them. One specialist sent me a copy of the report that he sent to my primary care physician/GP without me even asking for it. Another dictated the notes before I left the room "so you'll know what I'm telling your primary care doc. and you have a chance to correct me if I make a mistake."

It was interesting to see what gets included in the reports.There were entertaining comments such as:
"Denies recent illness. Denies sore throat, cough or nasal congestion."
"well developed and nourished; appropriately groomed; in no apparent distress."
"Communicates appropriately for age"  
Then there's all the detail about my health of course, most of it understandable, but I did have to look some words up: apparently I have no diploplia, dysdiadochokinesia, ataxia or dysmetria - and that's a good thing! If it sounds like I've had a lot of doctor's appointments recently, yes, I have and there are more to come. Despite the way it may sound, I do not have a life-threatening condition and am not even feeling ill. I do have an immense gratitude to my husband's employer for not going with a high deductible health insurance plan, and I have a cool new photo I can use for my Facebook profile for Halloween!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Mixed Britannia

I had never heard of this before - British subjects, living in Britain, required to give up their nationality simply because they married a foreigner. Nor did I know that in the 1940s, the children born to white women and black GIs stationed in Britain were described as "war casualties" in the UK and, in America, one congressman called them "the offspring of the scum of the British Isles". There's a series about Britain's mixed-race communities going to be broadcast on BBC2 starting on Thursday 6 October that I'd watch if I could, but iPlayer won't work here in the US :-(  There's a clip from it here and an article from the presenter of the series here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Britain vs the rest of the world

My DH forwarded this image to me recently. I think he remembered me telling him about  NFAH's comments on the topic!


Thursday, September 01, 2011

What time is lunch?

I'm trying to remember what time lunch (dinner) was served when I was in school. I'm pretty sure it was 12 noon. My secondary school had 4 different dining rooms, so there were no separate sittings - everyone had the same lunch period/dinner time, though sometimes it did feel as though we spent much of it queuing! I'm pretty sure we had at least an hour for lunch too, maybe a little longer. Some kids went home to eat, and others to the local chippy. When I was in 6th form we persuaded one of the PE teachers to give up some of his lunch break one day a week to open the swimming pool for us. We must have had at least 20 minutes in the pool to make it worthwhile.

School lunch hours over here are much shorter - certainly nowhere near an hour. Both my kids complain that they don't have enough time to eat all their lunch, though I know part of that is because they spend too much time talking! Still, I was shocked to look at DD's schedule today and realize that her lunch hour is only 24 minutes long. Not only that, but she has 'first lunch' - which starts at 10:48 a.m. Not even time for elevenses and she's having lunch?!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

They put WHAT in the chocolate chip cookies?

A couple of years ago, I wrote about the local asparagus ice cream.This week I had another interesting culinary experience. Chocolate chip cookies laced with . . . no, nothing illegal, but definitely strange. Take a look at the photo below and see if you can figure out what it is. I'm still trying to think why anyone ever thought this was a good idea. They weren't bad, but I don't think I'd order them again. Looking online, I was surprised to find quite a few recipes for chocolate chip cookies that include this extra ingredient.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Not an English garden

DH just got home from the local Farmers' Market. The kind, sweet, man that he is, he brought me a couple of gifts. Well, they are to share really, but I will still think of them as gifts. The first was a bottle of wine from our local winery, which just this year has got permission to sell at the Farmers' Market. The second was a beautiful plant for the garden.

How pretty!

What's that you say?
It looks like a weed? It's a thistle?
Well, yes, it is a thistle.

DH is hoping that the deer will find it inedible. I'm thinking I may have to change my policy on weeds in the garden. If it grows well and flowers and the deer don't eat it, it's not a weed! I wonder if we can find some purple thistles too?

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Righteous mold month

I get more spam comments than real ones at this blog. That's OK - Blogger filters them out very effectively and it takes no time to hit the delete button. Some of them are quite entertaining though because the English is so bad. I'm not sure if they are the result of someone using machine translation or not using a bi-lingual dictionary very well. Either way, they are very funny. They still don't get me to click on the link though!
"Righteous mold month I was stuck in a jammed elevator and boy was I tickled pink to beget my trusty LED flashlight so I didn't bleed for so scared."

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Personalized license plates

Personalized license plates are more of a big deal here in the USA than in the UK I think. Years ago, when I was in grad school, I had a Turkish friend who had the license plate "NAME". Everyone thought it was very funny - him included. He had chosen that word for his license plate because that was his wife's name. Yes, her name was Name - pronounced Nah-may.

I sometimes wonder what people are thinking when they choose a vanity plate though. There's one I used to see regularly that reads "AIRHED". I suppose maybe she is, if she chooses to advertise it that way! On the other hand, if this one wasn't already taken, I might actually consider it given that DD says I'm the meanest mom in the world because I asked her to tidy her room:

(Source: Great Vanity License Plates.)

This morning DH saw a personalized plate that you would never see in the UK though. At least I hope not. He wasn't quick enough with his camera to get a photo of it: "SHAG 1"

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

John and Björn

Advertising seems to be getting more and more subtle. Can you guess what this ad is for?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day attire

Long weekend

Long weekend = trip to IKEA + lots of gardening. Good thing we have a large(ish) vehicle. Most of our neighbors have their mulch delivered in bulk, but we discovered it was cheaper to buy it bagged.

The kids are watching the Memorial Day parade in NYC on TV. We'll head off to see the local parade later and then on to a BBQ with friends.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Rain, more rain, and . . .

People have been whining here about how it's been raining all week. The lawn has grown several inches longer than DH likes it to get, but it hasn't been dry enough to mow. The weeds have been sprouting like crazy, and the rabbits haven't been eating fast enough. (Well, except for the pansies DD planted - unfortunately, they've been rather enjoying those!) So when I got home this evening, and not only had the rain stopped but the sun was out, I decided I'd take advantage of the break in the rain and get some weeding done while DH mowed the lawn. I didn't get as much done as I'd planned though. Not only have the lawn and the weeds been growing, but the mosquitoes have been growing too, and it wasn't long before I decided I'd given quite enough blood for tonight thank you very much and I scurried back indoors.

I decided to check the weather forecast for the rest of the weekend, and now I'm thinking maybe, just maybe, there'll be no point in finishing the weeding. But then again, you know how inaccurate weather forecasts can be! :-D

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Barely British

I failed - but I'm in good company as the American Girl in England's English friends and family who took the test failed too. I think the American citizenship test was easier. (Though some of my Massachusetts friends answered "A boat in the harbor" in response to the question "What is the Constitution?"!) Although people joke about the tests and how silly they are, I do think it's good that people are required to make some effort to know something about the country whose nationality they want to adopt.

Try the (official!) practice UK citizenship test for yourself. 

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Where have I gone?

No, I'm not away on some exciting vacation . . . Just very busy with work and family, and not inspired to blog. No, not even about the Royal Wedding although it was such an obvious topic - everyone else seems to have covered it very thoroughly.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A seasonal thing?

In the last week I've had almost 300 people land here from their Google search. Over 25% of them were looking for information about "black wasps." Usually the most 'popular' searches have something to do with driver's licenses or smarties vs. m&ms. It must have something to do with it being spring here in the northern hemisphere! And it is finally spring here - we saw a wild rabbit in the backyard yesterday (running from a neighborhood dog!) The trees are beginning to show signs of green and there are some flowers out. I haven't seen any black wasps yet though.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Science fairs

We didn't do science fairs at school when I was growing up in the UK. I think they're a cool idea - though the quality of the projects can be extremely variable. I would have been incredibly stressed if I'd had to do one, thinking that I had to come up with something original. Nowadays there are books and, of course, websites where you can get all kinds of ideas for your project. It seems rather like cheating to me to start by Googling "Science Fair project ideas", but having seen some of the same experiments year after year ("A comparison of the relative strengths of different brands of paper towels") I would guess science teachers and science fair judges welcome anything that seems a little more interesting.

Of course, there are also the kids whose parents do the entire project for them. I remember one that involved hamsters, light sensors, and a computer program that tracked which side of the cage the hamsters spent most of their time. At least the kid was honest enough to tell us that he didn't really understand how it worked because his dad had put it together! I'm sure a kid following the directions for a published science fair project would have learned more!

Google has now taken the science fair one step further and has set up a global science fair "looking for the brightest, best young scientists from around the world to submit interesting, creative projects that are relevant to the world today." The submissions must be in the form of a 2 minute video or 20 slide presentation and include the following elements:
  1. About me/the Team: Initial introduction to the Entrant/Team and explanation of what winning would mean to them.
  2. Project question: The scientific question about their hypothesis.
  3. Hypothesis: Leading on from the question.
  4. Research and Works cited: The research conducted to help them shape their question and hypothesis and to put their work into a relevant, real-world context.
  5. Experiment: Demonstration, using good experimental techniques, including a detailed description of the experiment.
  6. Data: Collected during the experiment to support a conclusion, recorded accurately and precisely, and presented clearly.
  7. Observations: Description of the patterns or trends supported by the data.
  8. Conclusion: An explanation of how the experiment answers the question or why it fails to do so and whether or not it supports the hypothesis.
  9. Bibliography, References and Acknowledgements: References for sources of information that they have consulted and/or referenced and acknowledge any assistance received 
Wow! That's a lot to pack into 2 minutes! I do wonder how they are going to figure out which projects were really put together by the parents? There are some pretty cool prizes, like a trip to the Galapagos - my kids are too young, otherwise I might be tempted to push them to put an entry together ;-) If you're interested, you'd better get cracking as the application deadline is April 4th!

Helping in a practical way

The whole world has been shocked by the devastation wreaked by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. A little girl I know has decided she wants to help in a practical way.

 Can you help too?

ShelterBox's HQ is in Cornwall in the UK. There are 18 international affiliates. Each box that they send out supplies an extended family of up to 10 people with a tent and lifesaving equipment to use while they are displaced or homeless.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

It's a small world

I live in a small New England town - the kind of place where you have to be careful what you say about anyone because there are days when it seems like everyone knows everyone else. All kinds of people that you wouldn't think would know each other, do. They went to school together, or they are related by marriage, or they work(ed) together. It's actually one of the reasons I like living here. I wouldn't want to live in a city where, I'm told, people often don't even know who their neighbors are.

The world can be small like this New England town too.  I was once working at a school where we had an exchange teacher from Europe for a year. She had a friend from the UK come to visit, and somehow we figured out that the friend had been my parents' neighbor 30 years earlier when they were working in Turkey and I was a baby!

Last week, Danielle of brit abroad in USA and I figured out that not only did we grow up in the same corner of the UK, but in the same town and a few houses apart on the same street! Given the efforts most bloggers make to preserve their anonymity, it's really pretty amazing that our conversation got that far. Once we had made that connection, I am sure Danielle suddenly worried if I knew her older sister who has been so unpleasant to her. Fortunately, I don't - in fact, given that Danielle is younger than me, and her sister is older, I didn't know either of them when we lived on the same street.

It's a good lesson in how, although we may try to hide behind a blog name, in the end we are not as anonymous as we would like to think. We give things away about ourselves with every post. Some bloggers, in addition to using a pen name and being careful about what they say, choose not to make their email address public or use a special email address for their blog. DO NOT assume that your 'real' email address will stay private though. If you have associated it with your blog by having copies of comments sent to it rather than the one on your blog, you run the risk of having that email address exposed. I am assuming that if you have created an email address to go with your blog (as I have) then that's the one you would prefer the world of strangers out there to know.

In the last week, pretty much all the Blogger blogs I have posted on have 'bounced' my comments back to me. I say 'bounced' because that's the email message I got, even though my comment appeared just fine on the blog. I've been getting messages from with the subject line Delivery Status Notification (Failure), and the message
Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:
followed by the email address. In many cases, that address is NOT the email address that is posted publicly on the blogger's website, but one that is clearly a more personal one. (i.e. '' or '' instead of '') So, if you want to keep that more personal email address private, don't have comments forwarded to it! Otherwise you may find the world becoming smaller than you would like as people figure out more about you than you had intended!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

On the buses

I entered a giveaway on the Pond Parleys website at the beginning of the month for a set of pictures from Miniature Picture Cards and was delighted when I actually won! That's the third prize I've won online in the last six months out of five contests I've entered. If only I had that kind of success rate in buying lottery tickets!

The Miniature Picture Cards site is based in the US, but owned by an expat Brit, Roger Penycate who brought his business trading in miniature pictures and reproductions with him when he immigrated to the US in 2002. Roger has  large collection of cards portraying many different subjects, not all British. I said that if I won I would like a set of pictures of British buses. One of my grandfathers was a tram driver, and then a bus driver when the trams were replaced by buses, so although there are no Birkenhead Corporation buses in the selection Roger sent me, the set is still meaningful to me.

Monday, February 21, 2011

It's spring somewhere

That white stuff outside the window? 18" of snow and ice :-(  Thank you Trader Joe's - $3 was cheap for a little bit of spring!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Images of winter

Stop the snow! This is the end of our street. There's a road under there somewhere! (More snow forecast for Feb 21st - at least it's a holiday anyway, so we don't have to have a 'snow day' from school!)

Waiting for the bus. Climbing the snow pile is a necessity so the school bus driver knows you are there and doesn't drive on by . . .

My neighbor is not going gray. She walked her son to the school bus stop with damp hair and her hair froze!

 A sign of spring on its way - signups for Little League baseball have started! Summer camps are advertising too.

Got summer?

Shoveling snow off a school roof - why they put up so many buildings with flat roofs in the northeast of the US is beyond me!
Ice sculpture downtown

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What else can I tell you about Britain?

Every year thousands of American students spend some time studying in the UK. Most are participating in exchange programs, but a select few are participating in elite programs such as the Rhodes Scholars program or the Marshall scholarships.

Dominick Chilcott, Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy, Washington said to Marshall scholars leaving the USA last fall to study in the UK:
What else can I tell you about Britain? There is beautiful countryside to explore and places of historical interest on every corner. Even our food is winning plaudits these days. In comparison to the United States, we have (pretty) efficient public transport, and you won’t have to worry about health care. I am confident that if you can navigate the classic British characteristics of self-deprecation, ironic understatement, and traditional reserve you will form some lifelong friendships. And if you like soccer, public sector broadcasting, damp weather and warm beer, there really is nowhere better to be.”

Monday, February 14, 2011

Loooking at my blog stats . . .

. . . I noticed this entry for last night:

Maybe someone at the Department of Homeland Security was just bored at work on a Sunday evening? No returning visits (yet!) and they didn't stop around for long!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Ice sculpture downtown this weekend
Not everyone in the world celebrates St Valentine's Day, although Hallmark is working hard at changing that. Despite the word Saint in its name, it's yet another holiday with pagan origins. I had heard the story of a man called Valentine who was put to death in Roman times, but didn't know some of the other details. Women lining up so that men can hit them, believing that would make them fertile?? I'll take the Hallmark version of the holiday, thank you very much!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Such a thoughtful child!

DS suggested this evening that we might like to celebrate Valentine's Day on Sunday because it's not a school day and we won't be so rushed in the morning. He shared with me that he is giving his sister $2 as a present, and is giving his father $5 "because sometimes you and Daddy are a little short of money." I've already got my present - a piece of artwork he did at school this week.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

What's that beep?

There's nothing quite like being woken up by an insistent beeping, realizing it's not your alarm clock and then figuring out it is some kind of alarm. My first thought was that it was the carbon monoxide detector. We've had that go off a couple of times in the past - although that was at the last house where we had a wood stove. One time I arrived home from work and could hear the alarm going off before I even got in the house. I called DH at work, who said it was probably a malfunction and I should ignore it. Instead, I called the fire department who arrived promptly and headed into the house wearing their full respirator gear. They didn't come out until they had opened every window in the house and the basement hatchway - in the middle of January, mind you - because the carbon monoxide levels in the house were lethal, even on the top floor of the house!!

So when I realized it wasn't the alarm I was hearing, my first thought was that it was the carbon monoxide detector. I sent DH off to investigate. He returned looking confused and said it was the house alarm. Something electrical had tripped and thus set off the alarm. (The house alarm has a battery backup - when the power to the alarm goes off the battery backup kicks in and the alarm beeps until you unplug it or the power comes back on. Very annoying when the power goes off in a thunderstorm, which it often does.) Anyway, DH unplugged a few things and then tried resetting the breaker, but nothing seemed to work - every time he plugged the alarm system back in, it eventually started beeping again.

We had a feeling it probably had something to do with the ice dams on the roof, especially when mid-morning we found water pouring down the front of the house from the porch roof - water was clearly coming through the roof.

It wasn't until this evening that we finally figured out what had actually tripped the breaker. I wanted to take a photo for this blog of our Christmas lights, which are still on the bushes outside the front door because with all the snow and ice we haven't been able to remove them yet. DH had finally unplugged them this morning. I plugged them back in, but no matter how I fiddled with the timer they would not switch on. We unplugged them from the timer and plugged them directly into the outlet. Still no lights.

We think the voles that killed one of our trees last year by chewing off the bark all the way around have chewed their way through one of the wires for the lights. It will be some time before we are able to remove the lights from the bushes though to find out.

At least now that the lights are unplugged DH has been able to reset the breaker and the alarm is plugged back in! And if we make it through this winter with nothing damaged other than one set of Christmas lights, we'll be doing better than our next door neighbor who has over $1,000 worth of damage to his garage walls because of the ice dams on his garage roof.

2 to 4 more inches of snow forecast for tomorrow night.

Now where did that compost bin go?

Following up to the last post . . .

I went out to the compost bin yesterday.  I followed the path that DH had snowblowed across the lawn and into the woods.

Where I found this:

There are three compost bins under there somewhere. Yes, what's in the bins does stay frozen for much of the year, but we keep adding to it anyway. The currently 'active' bin is the one in the middle and I couldn't (be bothered to) get to it yesterday. I picked the one closest to me and cleared just enough snow to be able to open it. Amazingly, it wasn't frozen shut.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Serious about recycling

We try to be good about recycling as much as we can - we have several containers in the garage for paper, plastic glass and so on and most of the 'trash' that I take to the dump n a Saturday morning is actually recycling. The town requires it, we are perhaps more conscientious about it than many, everyone here is supposed to recycle. Recently they started a composting program, which they charge an additional fee for. You can take compostable food scraps to the dump and they use them to make  . . . compost. We haven't signed up for that program because we do our composting at home.

We have a shoebox-sized tupperware-type box on the kitchen counter and all the food scraps get put in there. (Not meat or stuff that is greasy - just things like fruit and vegetable peelings, coffee grounds and tea bags.) It usually takes about a week to fill the box, and then it gets dumped into the compost bin at the far end of the garden, just on the edge of the woods. It's not huge chore - though the children hate to do it because they are scared to go out to the compost bin by themselves in case there are bears around. We haven't seen any bears, or any evidence of them being around in a long time though. It can also be difficult in the winter to open the compost bin as the lid often freezes shut.

More of a problem this coming weekend, when the box will fill up again, was going to be the fact  that there is a layer of snow over three feet deep on the ground. So DH decided to make sure we could get to the compost bin. As usual, once the snow stopped, he had to clear a path from the front to the back of the house so that we can get heating oil delivered. (The oil guy will leave without delivering rather than trek through snow and we definitely don't want to run out!) He decided to keep going with the snow blower and headed all the way out to the compost bin and back around the house!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Raking the roof

One of the things my husband was hoping to avoid when we moved house was having to do too much raking in the fall. Our old house was surrounded by trees and the raking took forever. This house has plenty of trees close by, but because of the prevailing winds and a lack of fences or hedges, most of the leaves just blow away.

This year is the first year ever though that he has had to rake the roof! Not for leaves, obviously, but snow. Usually there's enough of a break between storms, and the temperatures are warm enough that the snow melts. This year the snow has been building up. Looking at our neighbor's house, I would guess they have 18 inches of snow on the roof right now. Getting the snow off the roof is important for two reasons. 1) If there's enough of it, it can actually cause the roof to collapse.  2) Heat from the house causes snow on the roof to melt. The snow and ice in the gutters does not melt as fast, so the water coming off the roof has nowhere to go and it can end up backing up under the shingles and into your house.

I was surprised to find that there is actually a blog that is about nothing but roof rakes! I have to say, having tried to use ours this afternoon, I'd rather rake leaves. For one thing, the weather's usually a lot pleasanter when I'm out raking leaves!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Six Nations

Six Nations rugby is coming to BBC America again this year :-) Hmm - it conflicts with DS's basketball . . . What to do, what to do? (And no, we don't have a DVR!)

I have to say, BBC America's Trivia Quiz on rugby is a bit pathetic. The correct answers are blindingly obvious, even if you know nothing about rugby. I suspect the goal is to make Americans feel confident that they know enough about the sport to be able to watch it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The good news this morning

  1. Although the temperature is minus 28˚C this morning, it doesn't feel any colder than that because there is currently no wind chill.
  2. The insulated window shades seem to be working - because otherwise the heat from the house would have prevented the ice building up on the (double-glazed) windows, right?
  3. I tried the throwing boiling water into the freezing air experiment (see previous post) and it worked!
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