Monday, February 22, 2010

Newest Member of the Family

Ever since I was little, I have had a love/hate relationship with pets. I guess hate is too strong a word, but I had a problem with them. The reason - I'm highly allergic to animal fur. So where as I love dogs and cats, they make me sick, specifically trigger severe asthma, and thus it has never been very practical for for me to live with one. After I married and had kids the subject of owning a dog or cat would inevitably come up. I always would tell them that we couldn't have pets because they made me sick. Not that it stopped the kids from trying. This is where you could say the Internet is actually a good thing or a bad thing. As the kids got older and personal computers came into our home, they began to do their research. The coup de gras was when a neighbor, who also was Daughter#2's 4th grade teacher, told us how she had written this touching essay on how she would love to have a dog. Shortly thereafter, Ann and Daughter#1 spotted this cute miniature schnauzer as a local pet store and as they say the rest is history. They assured me that schnauzers don't shed as they have hair (and hence need to be groomed on a regular basis) and not fur so I would be fine and I was. So we had our first dog - Winifred or Winnie as we mostly called her. She was with us for 17 years before she crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Another good or bad thing (depends n your view) of the Internet was the formation of Petfinder.Com. Ann and daughter#1 spend way to much time on this site for animals needing to be adopted and the result has been two more dogs - Napoleon, another mini schnauzer and Rosie. He was with us only two years before he left us due to cancer. Next up was another senior - Rosie. She was advertised as a mini schnauzer also, but we think she is more of a schnauzer mix. We got her 5 years ago at the age of 9 and she is still with us. Ever since we took in Napoleon (both he and Rosie are rescues), we've had two dogs. With Winnie's passing a while back, we've just had Rosie and we've sort of fallen into a routine with just having her. Not that the dog surfing had come to an end. There were a few attempts to adopt another dog, but forever the reason things didn't just work out. That all came to an end this past weekend when we adopted Scruffy from the Homeless Animal Rescue Team (HART) located in Fairfax County. Here is the newest member of the family:

Scruffy is another senior dog. He's a 10 year old soft coated Wheaten Terrier. He's has been fostered for almost a year awaiting a new permanent home. He's a victim of a divorce. His owners divorced and neither party wanted him. That is so sad. How can you own a dog for 10 years and just abandon him?

So far he's settled in fine. He has met Rosie and after a few butt sniffs on both sides, things seem to be going well.
He's not a mini schnauzer so I'm hoping I don't have asthma problems with him You can't really row suffering from asthma. So far so good. The Internet assures me I will be fine and you can always believe what the Internet tells you, right? We do need to get him a bigger bed though. It's a tight squeeze for him to fit in Rosie's bed given he's twice her size. As an aside, the first dog I remember my family having when I was growing up was a cocker spaniel mix also named Scruffy. I think there is a connection there. Welcome to the family Scruffy.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ice Dams

The weather report for yesterday called for more snow. 1 to 4 inches. We laugh at that amount these days so harden have we become to snow. In another year that might have sent us into our "Oh my God, snow is coming!" frenzy. No one hardly blinked at the forecast though. It turned out to be a bust, a false alarm and only got a dusting that melted quickly.

We still have over 2 feet of snow on the ground. Not much melting has occurred yet. What little that has, has resulted in ice dams on the roof of the house. Ice totally fills the gutters. This is what the roof line look s at the front of the house.

As you can see, the gutters are completely ice filled and has built up another 3 inches above the gutter line and formed an ice dam.

The ice dams block the melting snow (water) coming off the roof. There is no where for the water to go and this sometimes results in water getting in under the shingles and leaking into the house. Where this is the worse is in the back of the house which has a southern exposure and gets the most sun. Hence more melting. In particular, it seems to be the worse on a small overhang over the kitchen windows. To help ease the problem, I needed to get the snow off this overhang. The trouble is getting to the overhang. Our deck has 2 feet of snow on it. I had to literally shovel my way onto the deck. The one plus is we can now access the grill!

I got our step ladder out and proceeded to remove the snow off the overhang. I limited the snow removal to what I could reach from our deck. There was no way I was actually getting up on our roof and break my neck in the process. I also borrowed the neighbor's step ladder, which was taller then the on I own and that helped a lot. I got most of the snow off and it seemed to help although the gutters are still chock full of ice.

Unfortunately the damage was already done. Leaking has occurred in the kitchen area. It's pretty hideous looking and will require some patching and a few coats of ceiling paint to repair it all.

We're holding our breath hoping we don't get leaking in other areas of the house as it would be impossible to get on the roof (although professionals have been cruising the neighborhood offer to do it at, I'm sure, a premium price) to get the snow off and thereby getting rid of the source of the leaking water. Send some good thoughts our way.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

More of the Same

On the heels of the 22 inches of snow we received over the weekend, we have gotten another 6 inches of snow here Tuesday night into Wednesday. I started today's shoveling fun around 9:00 AM and finished around noon. The snow this time was a lot lighter and fluffier then the weekend snow so the shoveling went a lot faster (not to mention shoveling 6 inches is a lot easier then 22 inches). This is my driveway after about 15 minutes of shoveling.

The new snow provided a soft cover to the snow already on the ground and bushes.

With so much snow on the roof and the gutters clogged with snow, icicles are growing everywhere like stalactites in caves.

After about 2 hours of shoveling the driveway was complete. A plow hasn't been around yet so we won't be going anywhere today. Note that I have to shovel about 10 to 15 yards out onto the road to where the road had been plowed over the weekend.

Our road and no plow in sight.

No mail either, but at least the mailbox is accessible.

Another icicle growing off the roof in the back. That will take forever to melt.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Welcome to My Blizzard

You might have heard about the little snowstorm the Washington DC area went through over the weekend. The amount varied upon where you were, but in my neck of the woods we got about 22 inches of the white stuff. It started out innocently enough on Friday about 10:00 AM. At first it didn't stick to the roads as the temperature hung around the freezing mark. It did stick right away to the other surfaces though - like my deck.

As the evening approached, the snow started to stick to the road, sidewalks and driveways. Note along the side of the driveway, snow left over from Wednesday's storm.

The heaviest snow came in Friday night into Saturday morning. Snowing up to 2 or 3 inches an hour. Something unheard of in these parts. A classic northeaster with moisture being drawn up from the Gulf and then off the Atlantic. It snowed all day Saturday finally stopping around 8:00 PM. This what my drive way looked around 1:00 PM Saturday.

And this how the house looked from the snow covered street about the same time on Saturday. I shoveled about 2 hours as it snowed with not much to show for it other then a pile of snow by the basketball pole.

By Saturday mid-day, my deck also had a lot more snow on it.

This is what greeted me as I went out to shovel the driveway on Sunday morning. It had snowed another 3 inches from Saturday mid-day until it finally stopped.

Much shoveling ensued. As the day progressed more and more neighbors joined the fray. After about 4 hours of shoveling, the driveway was almost cleared.

We also cleared one snow shovel width of the sidewalk. One of our teenage neighbors helped us with the sidewalk.

With the help of our next door neighbors and another neighbor with a snowblower who dealt with the packed snow at the end of our driveway that a plow had packed in, the driveway was finally cleared. Success!

A plow came through today (Monday), but didn't clear more then the one lane already plowed. The streets are still a mess. The good news - we're getting another 8 to 10 inches tomorrow and Wednesday. Look at the driveway - where will I put the snow to come? Those piles are already 5 feet tall. Heaven help us all.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

When Did I Move to Buffalo?

Since when did northern Virginia become Buffalo. So far we've gotten as much snow this year as in the last three years combined and it's still only the first week of February. We had the big storm in December where we got between 16 and 20 inches of snow. A season's worth for us. We got 6 inches of fluffy light snow last weekend and another 5 inches of the heavier traditional Virginia wet snow Tuesday night. Now come this weekend we are being told to expect between 16 and 24 inches of snow and near blizzard conditions. That could mean upward of 35 inches of snow in one week. That's three feet of snow people! To make matters even worse, they are predicting another storm for Monday night into Tuesday that could bring us another 12 inches of snow. Virginia is not Buffalo. We don't get lake effect snow. We're a mid-Atlantic state. We have moderate temperatures and precipitation. The closest ski areas are a good two hours drive away and they make most their snow because this region doesn't get enough natural snow. This makes no sense what so ever. At best we might get one good storm a winter season. Come tomorrow (Friday) I will do what every good Virginian does in the face of a storm - run to the grocery store and buy as much milk, bread and toilet paper as I can.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Pain and the Blood

I had planned to talk about our second snowstorm of the winter that rolled through on Saturday. I had planned to rant about how our street never got plowed. I was going to describe how dry, light and fluffy the snow was making it so easy to shovel. But yesterday I had a follow-up eye exam that turned out to be pretty horrific so screw the snow. I have been seeing a specialist for my eyes as I have eyelashes (a few) that tend to grow backward toward my eye and the points scratch the corneas. After plucking the offending lashes for about a year, my regular optometrist recommended that I get them permanently removed. However, over the past few months, my eyes have been such a mess (very irritated, swollen and red), she has put it off and has been trying to get my eyes in a somewhat decent shape. I guess yesterday she finally decided that my eyes were ok enough. They did feel better I have to admit. Certainly the swelling was down and they felt ok. So yesterday it was decided to do "the procedure". I assumed they would be burned off, in some fashion, which in fact they were. But first - first-they had to numb the area around my eyes so I wouldn't feel the burning. The way they numb the area? Shots in your lower eyelid. OMG the pain! She injected the numbing agent in three separate stabs (and stabs they were) in each lower eyelid. I could feel the needle enter a good 1/4 inch and stay for the few seconds it took to dispense the medicine. Man did that hurt. After the first eye, I was really dreading the second eye. I think the anticipation added to my discomfort. Also, after the shots were administered in the first eye, she advised me to dab my eye with the Kleenex her assistant had handed me. I figured it was to get the tears out my eyes, but lo, when I looked at the Kleenex after dabbing my eye, was a Kleenex covered in blood. OMG, the blood - the blood! I looked like I was bleeding out. Repeat with the second eye. More pain and lots more blood. Finally the blood flow was stemmed somewhat and we got to the procedure itself. It's always comforting when the Doctor tells you not to move since she was using a very sharp object and she would hate to poke me in the eye with it. She had her assistant hold my head tight to the device I had mashed my head up against. The actual procedure was, after all that, pretty unremarkable. She did in fact burn them and then pluck them out showing each to the assistant and remarking see how the follicle came with the lash? I certainly didn't feel anything, at least in my eye. I did feel a good deal of heat at my chin, which I thought was a bit weird. Five offending eyelashes met their doom - three from my right eye and two from my left. Afterward my doctor told me I could apply ice to my eyes to reduce the swelling, which didn't sound good. I could imagine two black eyes swollen shut as the day wore on. Looking like I just gone several rounds with someone who had pounded the crap out of my face. Fortunately, my eyes never did swell much and no black eyes. Today my eyes actually feel better then usual so maybe we're headed down the right road. I'd love to get back into my contacts again. I go back in 6 weeks for a follow-up. Lord I hope she doesn't discover anymore rouge lashes.