If you paint the door…

The front door has been a mess for years.  And for years I have said, “The door must be redone before Thanksgiving!” And Thanksgivings came and went. And the door just got more and more mortifyingly ugly.

Why, you ask, can’t you just redo the door? What is your problem? In the immortal words of Nike, “Just do it!”

If only it was so simple as refinishing a door.

The problem goes back twenty years to when we built the log home.  The thing with log homes is that you don’t know what you don’t know until you’ve (not) done it.  We didn’t know not to buy pre-hung doors.

The pre-hung doors came with frames that were narrower than the log walls.  The doors never sat right in the opening. This is one reason why the doors never cleared the entry rug. Also, the pre-hung frames came primed.  The house is natural (not painted!) wood. What do we do about that? The obvious solution–to rehang the doors–was too exhausting to contemplate after moving into the house.  So we did nothing.

Fast forward to now and we have a Project. And it is really getting done this time. Here is the project, which will hopefully clarify why it took so long to want to actually do it.

Step one. Remove the entire door and frame. This was both terrifying and exhilarating.  There was no front door on the house! Good thing we live in the middle of the woods and no one knows how to get here. The empty door  took me back to construction days and the excitement of laying the logs. Even the woody smell was fresh.  At the same time, the raw gaping lack of doorness stood in contrast to the cozy interior that developed over the years.  Oh, what a mess John was going to make!


You may be wondering how long the front door was missing. Occasionally (usually on weekends) the door was off overnight with shower curtains and plywood covering the opening to try to keep the bugs out. Boris the Bear made only the one appearance this summer and has long since meandered north. The deer don’t usually want to come in. They just stand around watching with heads cocked in curiosity. However, most days, especially during the work week, the entire door with frame was put back in place.

Step two, inspect and repair water damage. This was probably the biggest (and yes, dumbest) reason we procrastinated on the project. We were afraid of what we might find. Mercifully, damage was manageable. John replaced two rim joists by the door, some subfloor, and a bit of hardwood flooring just inside the door.

Step three. Build an entirely new door frame and sill.  The staging area for this was the front yard with the frame being lugged to and from the mudroom where it was stored before installation.

Step four. Oops. Realize that the new frame will require the entire opening to be enlarged.  Yes, cut the log walls.  This generated a good mess.  The shower curtain was cumbersome but kept most of the mess outside.

Eventually, get to the “actual” project, strip the old finish off the doors.  At first, this looked to be a tedious task. Scraping or sanding risked ruining the authentic wood grain pattern on the “genuine” fiberglass door. But John figured out that if he left the stripper on long enough, he could powerwash everything off. (It was a good thing to learn, because there are are more doors to be done at a later date!)




And finally, paint the doors. 

After all the intense labor of undoing the pre-hung error and ensuing damage, we get to the actual door. The decision to paint resulted from the prohibitive cost of replacing the fiberglass doors with solid wood.  We chose red for dramatic effect in the woods, against the log structure, and to complement the interior decor. But how to get the right red???  There are so many reds!

Crimson…with color pairings! And reflection of John removing old stain with the power washer.


Thankfully there are paint chips and other people’s mistakes. One friend in particular loved her red door until she realized that it clashed with her Christmas wreath. Therefore, while Maywood Man power washed the stain stripper off the doors, I lay paint chips all over the front step and pulled out four seasons worth of door wreaths. From there, I eliminated colors. The wreaths were immensely helpful.  They revealed which reds were too brown or too purple. Some reds looked good against the logs but made a wreath look dull.  Some wreaths made the red look dull.


I settled on crimson.  It worked with the logs. It worked with the wreaths. It looked good both outside and inside the house.  I actually went around every first floor room holding the paint chip against drapes and wallpaper.  I wasn’t looking for a match, just compatibility.

An added plus, the crimson chip had color pairings. I now have the right shade of off-white  to redo the hallway!

Because, if you paint the door…

   But that’s a whole nuther post.

We are delighted with the door, both inside and out. Before we began the project, I had bought new wreaths for fall because I was tired of the wreaths I had. However, once the doors were painted, the old wreaths looked better on the doors than the new ones!

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Things that go “thump” in the night

Technically, 5:20 a.m. isn’t night.  But it’s dark enough for a six year old to ask his mom, “When is the sun going to let us know it’s morning?”  And it’s morning enough for John to be getting out of the shower.  But it’s dark enough for me to still be completely comatose.

“Craaaaaack!  Whump!”

That was no squirrel cavorting in the attic.  Something big landed somewhere.  John heads off for his men’s Bible study but returns later to  search the property.  House–check.  Bees–check.   But his parents inform him that the “whump” was at their place next door to us.  A huge part of a tree fell, fortunately onto an empty parking area.

Alas, poor tree.  Great-great-grandad Maynard said that the tree was a seedling during George Washington’s days.  For years it proudly bore the sign that announced that it belonged to a tree farm.  A beautiful tree, arching in three grand sections,  one section had died and had been cut off.  The whole tree should have gone, but sentiment prevailed and now a second chunk has fallen.  The remaining tree is completely lacking its former grandeur and dignity and will need to be felled.

John milling a tree last spring with his WoodMizer

John’s sawmill has  been busy lately.  A friend from church lost a big tree which  has now been cut into usable boards.  The George Washington tree will be next.  And after that?  Well, there are more trees that need to come down.

There are two trees on the west side of our house that should have been felled when we dug the foundation for the house.  About two weeks ago, a big chunk fell from one of them onto the roof of the screened porch.

“Craaaaaak!  Whump!  Thunk!”  It bounced off the roof and thumped into the hydrangeas.  It scared the beezeebies out of me, as I had just left that porch to come inside when the branch fell.

The trees have to go–even if we have to pay someone to take them down.  That, dear readers, is a wife throwing down the gauntlet to her husband:  take down the tree or I will spend money to get someone else to take down the tree!  Fortunately, dear husband is on the same page and has three additional trees on his radar for removal.  If they aren’t a danger for dropping branches, they are a nuisance in facilitating squirrel access to the attic.

Most people don’t want to be “typical.”  Amercians, at least, think they are too individualistic to be “typical.”  Especially Americans who go for the rustic, in-the-woods-log-cabin lifestyle.  But you know what’s typical for people who build houses on wooded lots?  They want to preserve all the trees.  Every last daggone tree.  But then, after a few years in their wood-surrounded house, they get tired of squirrels jumping onto their roofs and mold growing on the house and grass not growing.  They start to appreciate things like solar heat and the ability to grow house plants.  And  then some trees have to go.

I walked around the house today staring up at the trees that need to go.   There’s a lot of sunlight behind them.  I’m thinking this former beach girl stands half of chance of catching some rays.  Once the sun comes up, of course.

The lazy gardner: Drying hydrangeas in September

These were actually cut in August and abandoned (on purpose) in the music room.

If  I were a proper gardener, I would not be drying hydrangeas in September.  A proper gardener cuts blooms at their very peak, preferably in the morning of a beautiful dry sunny day.  For hydrangeas, that would be in late June or early July.  I know of one proper gardener who takes those perfect blooms and plops the stems into a bucket of anti-freeze.  The flowers soak up the anti-freeze and are preserved in their perfect summer state.  Or so I’m told.  I haven’t actually tried it.  A proper gardener also dead-heads spent blooms and trims the bushes back at the right time of year.  That would mean that hydrangeas in September should be cut back and absolutely, positively shorn of all their now-faded summer glory.

But I’m not a proper gardener.  I didn’t dead-head the blooms because they still had color in them.  They weren’t all black and crusty like the cone-flowers or black-eyed susans.  Plus it was hot.  When it’s hot, I’d rather sit on the porch beneath a circling fan and sip iced coffee (preferably laced with kahlua).  So forget about actually cutting back the overgrown bush.  Ack!  That would work up my sticky perspiring glow into an actual froth of sweat.

Overloaded hydrangea

So now it’s September and the cone-flowers and susans are looking ready for spooky Halloween centerpieces.  The hydrangea bushes look like they have been on steroids and plan to take over the planet.  There are actually little baby hydrangea bushes growing and I would love to (get my husband to) dig them up and plant them in other beds, but I have to trim the overgrowth to find them again.  (This I will do myself. If you have seen how he trimmed the lilacs, you would understand.)

Step one is to harvest the leftover blooms.  They are no longer the pure blue that inspires wedding bouquets.  They are turning like leaves into autumnal hues of purple and green.  They won’t go icky brown until after the first frost.  Now is the perfect time to just snip and decorate with them.  I cut the blossoms and arrange them right into the basket.  No water.   Nothin’.  I put the basket in the hallway.  Ta da. Done.  A week later the soft autumnal flowers are dried crispy but retain the same color.

Lest you think I am overly clever, I began drying hydrangeas by accident.  And often, if I am successful, it is because the magic drying fairy has taken pity on me.  The first time I dried hydrangeas, I cut some flowers, put them in water in a vase and put the vase in the music room.  And completely forgot about them.  Um…I do this a lot.  Some flowers don’t mind this.  I have a vase of pretty yellow roses from my orthopedic surgeon that dried quite nicely.  Usually, though, I end up with vases of dried twigs sitting in oogy water with goopy leaves.  The hydrangeas, however, looked great.  I decided after that to leave all the hyrangeas in their vases until dry–and I ended up with a lot of shriveled up hydrangeas.

After much trial and error, I have figured out some general principles to lazy hydrangea drying.

No direct sunlight in the hallway…a good place for drying.

  • Let them dry on the plant until they no longer have the original color, but before they look like toast.
  • Trim off all leaves.
  • Once inside, put the flowers in a dark room, out of sunlight.  This is where a log home is not only the perfect venue for showcasing dried flowers, but also to dry them.  With wood ceilings and surrounded by trees, it is dark inside.  My house has the perfect conditions for drying flowers.

This was a good blooming year. (Or should I go Brit and say “a bloomin’ good year”?)  I have baskets full of dried blooms to show for it.  But only because the flower fairy was nice to me.

These were cut a week ago and are now dry.

Not a bee, not a yellow jacket, and why is it out at night?

Enormous “bees” bounce off the glass of our front door.  Dozens of them.  Unlike moths, which flit annoying around light, or June bugs, which bump clumsily against the glass, these look threatening, like mutant yellow-jackets.   They are so big they make a wasp look like a mosquito.  They scare me.

Yes.  They scare me.  Me, beekeeper wife, who takes a cocktail down to the bee-yard to relax while watching honeybees come and go; who can calmly keep reading on the porch even though I am allergic to the black wasp on the screen; who takes pictures of her hubby petting bumblebees and smiles at grandson who does the same.

European Hornet, over an inch long. This one has already taken the oil bath.

So now dozens of them are bouncing off the front door.   We turn off the interior hall light to stop attracting them.  This is not a permanent solution, however.   I refuse to live in a dark house because of a few insects.  I tell John he has to do something.

John used an unobtrusive clear soda bottle…and he even took the label off!

Not knowing what they are or where they nest, the best John can do is kill the ones who show up at our door.  He resurrects his bug-catching invention that he devised years ago to catch live insects for our frogs Frieda and Franny.  The contraption involves cutting an opening in the side of a two liter soda bottle and hanging the bottle from an outside light.  The insects are attracted to the light, bounce off the soda bottle and fall in.  John’s original live bug trap added an aluminum light-reflecting shield (aka, a sliced open beer can).  This time we want the bugs to die.  John fills the bottle with a couple of inches of vegetable oil, thinking that the bugs can drown in it.

The front light goes on.  The hall light goes out.  And we wait. (Well, we go watch tv and check from time to time.)  Unlike moths, they don’t show up immediately.  It isn’t until about 10 p.m. that we notice activity around the light…and a soda bottle filling up with the dead.   As it turns out, they die as soon as they come in contact with the oil.  The next morning, John tosses the marinated bugs into the woods and some critter comes along later to eat them.  Ah…the circle of life.  I love it–as long as I’m not the one in the circle.

A bit of internet research identifies our flying monsters as European Hornets.  The only true hornet.  They were introduced to the U.S. in the mid-to late 1800’s.  I do not know if they were invited or if they crashed our garden party, but they are here now, and happily ensconced all over the East Coast.

Although they look like big yellow-jackets, they do not eat human food and are not a threat to barbecues.  They will not hide in your open soda can.  They eat live insects like crickets and cicadas.   They are not attracted to the porch light per se; they are attracted to the other things that are attracted to the porch light.  They’re just showing up where the action is.  They eat many insects that truly are considered pests.  In Germany, they are a protected species.  Good thing we are not in Germany.

I know where the red viburnum is.  As for the hornets nest…

Unlike honeybees, who give their lives with a single sting, hornets can sting repeatedly and the European Hornet has a nasty big stinger.  Fortunately, they are rather shy and really not aggressive–unless they are defending their nest.  The problem is–we don’t know where the nest is.  They nest in the woods at least six feet off the ground, but they have been known to nest in exterior house walls.  At this time of year, late summer into fall, the colony could range in size from 300 to 1000 hornets.  Homeowners with a nest in the house are urged to call a professional exterminator.  These hornets are tricky and will create new escapes if one tries to block their entrance or spray it.  The last thing anyone wants is a few hundred of these things inside the house.

I know they are not nesting in our solid log walls.  No saying what nooks and crannies they may have found though.  But John says he used to see these way back when he was building the house…so they’ve been here since before the house.  Most likely, they have a nest in the woods, a teeny tiny flight to our front door.

With cold weather, the drones will die off leaving the queen to care for the brood over the winter.  Until then, we’ll be preparing marinated hornets for some unknown creature in the woods.

This mantis is praying that we’ll leave him alone.

Merry Christmas from Maywood!

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning… In him was life and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”                (John 1: 1-2,4)

Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night!

‘Twas the week before Christmas

‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house

No one was ready, least of all my spouse.

Stockings are ready to hang in a few,

But what will go in them, I haven’t a clue.

 

Hubby’s off on his errands with traffic to battle

In our ’99 Jeep with a muffler rattle.

And I at my keyboard go over my list,

Creating and pondering what items I’ve missed.

Around me, shipping boxes and packing peanuts galore

Give an aura of disaster to the kitchen floor.

 

Then, lo, in my inbox, what do I see?

It’s a Christmas ham gift from the bosses to me!

O joy–quelle surprise!–how it warms my poor heart

To know that even Scrooge is doing his part

To share the love this Christmas season.

Alas, to be Grinchy, there is no good reason.

 

I  croon Christmas carols and  light up the tree,

I do my gift-wrapping with renewed sense of glee.

As hubby battles crowds to shop for his wife,

I smile and think, “It’s a Wonderful Life!”

Countdown to Thanksgiving

For some people the upcoming days count down to serious Christmas shopping.  Others are counting the days to shotgun season.  For me, multiple checklists focus me toward the annual Thanksgiving crowd at my house.  With about forty guests expected, the checklists–my marching orders–keep me from total panic.  I used to spend a whole weekend making lists, but one year I used half a brain cell and decided to save the lists on the computer.  Now I whip out those files, do a little tweaking, and get marching.

Ok, marching is an optimistic way to phrase that.  Marching implies order and calmness.  Every year my Thanksgiving prep  begins with total shock. What? Thanksgiving is in ten days???  How  did that happen?  It’s not like I don’t know it’s coming.  Every week since September I’ve been telling myself to clean the cobwebs off the front door.  Halloween has come and gone, along with the excuse for having cobwebs on the front door.  I know it’s November.   Thanksgiving is at the end of November.  What?  It’s the middle of November already?  Ack!!!

Inevitably a family member will email me and ask if I’m sending the annual Thanksgiving Family-gram.  They don’t want to presume that I’m hosting, but…am I?  Of course.  Where better to spend T-day than over the river and through the woods to a cozy log home where there is shooting down on the field and big-screen football inside followed by cigars under the stars?  Plus, over the years, I’ve collected dishes, card tables and chairs, coffee urns, table linens, even a chocolate fountain.  Someone else would have to borrow all that stuff.

So, I have to send the Family-gram.  This is the “tell me who is coming and what you are bringing” communication.  We have finally almost mastered the skill of building the menu online by clicking “Reply All” to the last email and adding meal contributions directly onto the menu.   I say “almost” because one sister, who shall be unnamed but it’s the one who is so high up in corporate management that her territory consists of our entire galaxy, well, she must need a secretary to do it for her.  She can’t seem to get her items into the menu itself.  Every year we try again and inch toward getting it right.

A burst of adrenalin has launched me to the computer. I open all my to-do lists, tweak last year’s family-gram and send it, and order the turkeys.  Now a second wave of denial hits me.  I have almost two weeks to do all the things on the list.  So I write a blog post about it.  I grab a snack and note the despicable condition of the fridge.  I stare at the silver that wants polishing.   I ponder setting the auto-clean on the oven.  (Really, how hard is it to set the auto-clean?  Why do I not have a sparkling oven?)

I may have marching orders, but I don’t march.  It’s more like running hurdles.  With rest-stops between the hurdles.  (No one has ever accused me of being an athlete.)  Ok, I’m going to get up now.  What’s that proverb?  A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Really, I am.  I’m getting up now.  Promise.

Pets or Pests?

Fluffball aka Prisoner #3

Why is it that a mouse in Shelley’s bedroom results in a cell-phone video of a screaming woman leaping onto the bed while begging her daddy to save her, but a hamster gone missing brings that very same woman to her hands and knees in her son’s room in a desperate search that, please God, will not end with dead hamster number three?

What is the difference between a pet and a pest?  Or a science experiment?

The weather is turning cooler and all sorts of critters are looking for warmth.  The Animal World Reservation Service has been accepting requests from crickets and spiders, mice and squirrels and snakes.  I’m sure I’m forgetting some, but this is just the listing for our house.  Some people–usually but not always women (I’m thinking of some sons-in-law I know)–shriek over this.  Others–usually but not always little boys and grandparents of little boys–delight in discovering the little “guests,” collect them in jars, and take pictures of them.

My cousin announced on Facebook her horror at discovering in her house two creepy little orange banded snakes.  They sound just like the ring-neck snakes that Harper found in our basement last week.  He put his in a jar and displayed them on the coffee table in the family room.  It is admittedly creepy to find snakes in the basement, but once in a jar, then they are pretty cool to look at.   Plus, what is a wild ring-neck snake going to do to you, squeeze your pinky finger off?  Real snake fear is finding an empty six-foot long snake skin in the basement and wondering where the heck the snake went that outgrew that skin.  John found such a skin in the tool house years ago and stored it in the basement of the house.  One day, the Culligan men found it when they came to service the water system.  I could hear their frightened voices through the floor.  It was great–because I knew there was no snake.

This chipmunk is yet another rodent abusing my hospitality.

What is not so great, though, are the squirrels dancing across our attic floor at night.   They are totally abusing our hospitality.  And by hospitality I mean the many trees that we have left for them to live in.  Woods.  Natural habitat.  But they seem to think that the trees near the house are entryways to the grand log lodge.   I complain often about the squirrels, particularly to my French students who always remember ecureuil as a vocabulary word.  On Friday, a former student stopped by my classroom to tell me about the pet squirrels in her garage.   A tree had come down on their property during the recent storms and with it came a squirrel nest.  Mama Squirrel did not survive but her newborn babies did.   If Mama  Squirrel had been running around the garage, the girl would have shattered glass with her shrieking.  But baby squirrels…they elicit a high-pitched feminine coo.  Awwww, they’re so cute.  Why?  I say it’s because the baby woodland rodents were in a box.

I heard a D-Con commercial this week promising to eliminate mice.  I wasn’t listening well enough to know if they were advertising traps or toxins.  But they promised to get rid of mice.  I was drawn to the promise.  I thought, ” I must stock up on D-Con.”  Later, when I heard that Fluffball, the hamster, had gone missing, I thought of the gruesome possibility that a loose hamster could get snapped by a mousetrap.  This  brings me back to my original question:  What makes one rodent a pest, but another rodent, even of the same species, a pet?   Is a hamster really cleaner than a mouse?  If Fluffball rolled his little blue wheely ball to the pantry and escaped, wouldn’t he go for the cereal boxes, too?

Isn't his little paw cute?

So here is my list of what makes a critter a pet:

1.  It is contained.  It is stored in a box, cage, or jar.

2.  It is provided with exercise, often in the form of a prison-like ball or a treadmill, which is just another form of torture.

3.  It is completely dependent on humans for its food, which dramatically reduces its life expectancy.

4.  It gets a silly little name like Fluffball or Squirmy.

5.  It is loved.  Or, to get the full emo meaning here…luv’d.

Note that point 4 is critical.  Without a name, the critter will most likely be just a science experiment and its loss will not be mourned.  A critter with a name has feelings.  A critter with a name is luv’d.  I’m thinking of a certain turtle named Sheldon who grew up in the wilds of Maywood long, long ago and was taken in a box to Catonsville.  He tried to escape via the sump pump but was discovered and put back in his box.  Oh, he was so luv’d by three little girls.  Ok, so his box got edged behind a chair and the girls forgot to feed him and their mom forgot they even owned a turtle.  But when they discovered him–or rather his shell–months later, they were sad.  And even today, as they read about him, they probably are saying, “Oh, poor Sheldon.”

Fortunately, Fluffball #3 is now back safe and sound in his cage.  As for Fluffball #4?  It’s just a matter of time.   And my advice to Shelley the next time she sees a mouse is this: put it in a box and give it a name.  Feed it once and then shove it behind a chair.  That might kill it quicker than D-Con.

Smelling the roses…

Oakleaf hydrangea

“Life comes at you fast.”  We all love those insurance commercials because we could all have our turn starring in one.  Sometimes it even involves a big insurance claim, like for my daughter who recently went through labor with their first child while her husband dealt with a massive basement disaster.  Other times, we get caught up in the tornado twists of just living–there’s no insurance check for that one.

Saturday was a catch up day for me.  Ah…a day at home and all was calm.  It was a day to (a) stop and smell the roses or (b) do all the things I have not gotten around to because I’ve been busy.  Well, since I do not actually have any roses, that presented a logistical problem for option A.  Option B was overwhelming enough to send me into paralysis mode.  I  decided to follow the advice someone gave me years ago when I was in overload:  Don’t do anything unless it makes you happy.  Ok, this is not a mantra for all of life, but it is pretty helpful at keeping me from shut-down mode.

Chamomile

Since I have no roses (note to self:  buy some roses), I decided to just walk around the property, take stock of what was going on out there, and enjoy what I could.  There was a lot to enjoy.  In front of the house, the laurel are blooming like never before.  In the herb garden, big beautiful clusters of chamomile pick up the flowering where the sage blossoms left off, and feathery fennel fronds tickle my legs as I walk by.  In the back, the hydrangea bushes are preparing another stunning display.  It made me happy.

Mountain laurel

The rains of May have produced lush growth.  It’s looking more jungle-like than usual for June.  The weeds are very happy.  The weeds threaten to overwhelm everything, including me.  I chose to focus on the lettuce beds.  It would be nice to know what really is in my salad.  I pulled weeds until I had nice neat rows and my back was telling me to quit.  Then I took a water break in the lounge chair until raindrops shooed me indoors.

A rain shower is the perfect time to sit on the screen porch.  Unless it is covered in pollen.  Since it would make me happy to sit on the porch if the porch were clean, I wrapped a kerchief around my face and got to work.  I swept the screens. I swept the floor.  I swept and washed the tables and chairs.  All the while I thought of the bunny we used to have.  Lucy lived on the porch and in spring would hop around in circles mopping up the pollen while her feet turned green.    I appreciated her effort, even if she didn’t know she was making one.  She was just happy to hop around the porch.

Now that my porch is clean, I can stop and smell…oh, raindrops on fresh-cut grass,  citronella candles keeping the mosquitos away, hamburgers on the grill.  This was a day where a to-do list would have backfired on me and I would have accomplished nothing.  Giving myself permission to do nothing resulted accomplishing more than I expected.

Hibernating

 

It is in the bleak mid-winter that I most feel a discord between the rhythm of the seasons and our bondage to the clock.  Why can’t we hibernate in winter like the bears and the bees?  We don’t need the entire winter, just January.  Isn’t that why we load up on food at Christmas, so that we don’t need to eat at all in January?  We could sleep away January and wake up for the Super Bowl in February.  By then there would be some actual daylight before going to work and while driving home.  By then–traditionally our snowiest month– at least the longer days would offer hope of spring and warmer weather.

But no… after a sleep deprived New Year’s weekend, we all trudge back into our routines.  When I want to be slurping my third cup of coffee by the roaring fire heating my cozy log home, I find myself facing a sleepy classroom of teenagers in a room that is alternately too hot or too cold because the temperature is regulated by some tech company ten hours away in New Hampshire.  To make matters worse, the week back from Christmas is Homecoming/Spirit week with different theme days.  Day 1 after Christmas is Pajama Day.  Oh, how unmotivated can we be?  The only stick I have to beat them with is the threat of mid-term exams.  But I don’t even want to beat them, because I don’t care either.  

the cozy hearth

Snow days.  That’s what I want.  Snow days.  (Well, not just yet, because I really–alas–do care about covering material before exams.)  Snow days are a gift from God–if they come during the night.  Otherwise snow is a commuter’s hell.  The slightest coating can turn Maryland roads into a skating rink.  When the snow falls during the school day, my co-workers debate which route to attempt home–the icy slide of death on the windy, hilly back country roads or the heart attack behind the wheel of bumper-to-bumper highway traffic?

I know I sound like  a classic Maryland winter weather driving wimp.  There’s something about sliding off a road down an embankment and nearly totaling your car that tends to activate the panic button.  Once upon an era, people trudged through feet upon feet of snow to get to the little schoolhouse.  That I can handle.  It’s the jack-knifed tractor trailer on the Beltway that I’m not too crazy about.  Just let me stay home.  I’ll emerge when the bees tell me it’s safe to come out.