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July 4, 2020 – Elsa-the-Dog reduced to shaking and shivering due to distant fireworks.

July 5, 2020 – More shaking and shivering due to close-up thunder storms

July 7, 2020 – Hysterical barking at 2:30AM.

Yes, I was awakened at 2:30AM by Elsa-the-Dog’s loud screaming/barking.  She NEVER does that.  She is a sound and happy sleeper and only sends the alarm bark during daytime hours when the UPS man emerges.

Since it was a hysterical bark

there had to be something amiss.

Elsa and I began a flashlight search of the house.  It was a full moon and we could see silver images through the windows so we were checking the outside too.  Bill was blissfully sound asleep.

Was it the bear visiting again and

rustling around somewhere near?

I thought maybe it could even be human

and what would I do then?

Was someone trying to get in?

After a room by room search Elsa and I went back to bed.  We just got comfortably tucked in when she began the hysterical barking again.  This was definitely her alarm bark to signal intruders!

Another search ensued to no avail and we finally gave up at 4:30 AM.  But I kept thinking and thinking while Elsa and Bill were then fast asleep.

A sunny day today and this morning I peeked into our attached garage from the relative safety of the mudroom/laundry.  The garage was the one place we missed in our moonlight search.

Whoa!  There was the answer to Elsa’s warnings.  There were torn pieces of something white and a hunk of the drywall ripped out.  Some critter was trying hard to create an exit.

Still no idea what it was but it must have got in when the automatic door stayed open as Bill went to get the mail yesterday.  That gave the Crazie Critter time and  opportunity to explore.

“Hey – this looks like a grand place to raise a family!”

“On the other hand, maybe not.”

“Now how did I get in here in the first place?”

“Wasn’t that big door open a minute ago?”

“I’ll just sit here quietly until dark

and then find my way out.”

“Lemme Out!  Lemme Out! Lemme Out!”

Elsa heard it all and warned her human pack that something was amiss.  She just wasn’t sure where.

I will never doubt her warning barks again.  She knows what she’s talking about and she is now my Super Hero.

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bright burn burnt candle

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We are on a mission to add a “Whole House Emergency Generator” to our whole house where we have survived for 30 years without one.

One of the great challenges in country living is to remain alive and functioning during power outages.  A severe thunder storm will trigger an outage here – or a slight breeze will do it too.

Living in an all electric house means when there is no power there is a total blackout.

No flushing toilets

or taking showers

or cooking (Hurrah!),

or seeing at night without flashlights and candles.

And we cannot do laundry or watch television or

charge our cell phones.

We are cold (shivering) in winter and hot (overheated) in summer.

And the silence is deafening.

But in the beginning it was an adventure!

Being cold in winter and hot in summer was a satisfying challenge.  The woodstove had to be watched and logs added and added again and again  A big storm once arrived in a summer heatwave.  It was called a “Derecho” and we lost power for five days.

Ah, the ultimate dream!  Automatic power!

Yes, Bill and I have made a grand decision to take advantage of modern progress and add an emergency Whole House Generator to our whole house.  Still, having made that decision we are now faced with numerous other decisions in order to move forward.

  1. Where should we put the ugly duckling?  The propane tank is big, ugly, and by Virginia law has to placed ten feet from any building.
  2. And  where should we put the actual generator?  It is not particularly ugly nor huge but evidently (by Virginia law) has to be five feet from any window opening.

These are only the first two questions and the more we talk and the more we investigate, the more questions arise.  Rent or buy the propane tank?  How big a tank?  How big a generator?  Where to buy?  What electric company to use for installation?    How to disguise the ugly duckling(s)?  And how much will all this cost?

The dream of automatically reinstated home comfort is the inspiration to keep asking questions and moving forward but stay tuned for any end result.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Suitcse

I used to travel for work.  It was exciting to accompany groups on international tours.

But when Bill and I retired to the joys of a quiet country life I vowed to curtail roaming.

The travel fever had subsided after eight years of tours.   Flying became challenging instead of an adventure, crowded instead of elegant,  uncomfortable instead of fun.  And our international tours were fraught with the anxiety of pleasing 25+ people at a time.

“Enough was enough,” as Dad used to say.  It was time to stay home.

The urge to travel afar did not plague me for years.

But now there is a strange compulsive need to discover and collect travel accessories!

Where other folks love fashion catalogs, or gardening issues, or even food catalogs, I love TRAVEL THINGS!  Not PLACES you know – THINGS.    I literally “pour” over all the travel catalog treasures:

  1. mix and match wrinkle free outfits,
  2. ideas for minimizing packing,
  3. under-seat carry-ons,
  4. travel soaps,
  5. jet lag help,
  6. sleep masks,
  7. first aid kits,
  8. packing cubes
  9. clotheslines to string up in hotel bathrooms,
  10. blankets,
  11. pillows
  12. air purifiers,
  13. collapsible mirrors,
  14. sample size detergents, and
  15. the whole range of THINGS to make travel less cumbersome, sleeker, easier to manage, safer, more comfortable, and organized.

Even articles about how to be away from home for a month with one carry-on have my full attention.

Oh, the temptations there are in direct mail catalogs, newsletter articles, travel blogs, and even invasive social media advertisements.

With instant take-off in mind,  I started a real collection that is taking up space in the closet (I am READY!):

  • A passportwallet that is positively amazing for all it will hold and ease of access.
  • Shoe bags that do double duty holding slippers and shoes or socks and shoes, or  other things besides shoes.
  • A drawstring makeup bag. Open it up and see all your cosmetics spread out (no digging).
  • Oblong packing cylinders (don’t ask me to describe what these are for because I am not sure)
  • A valet tray with snap up corners. Snap the corners, and it becomes a walled tray for keys, watch, change, etc. Unsnap and it lies flat at the bottom of your luggage.
  • A mini umbrella and a foldable reversable raincoat.
  • Neon colored luggage straps for easy identification.
  • A collapsible water bottle.

The collection keeps growing and it will one day soon be ready to go.

And surely there will be another day when the urge to roam will take over.

Will the travel things I thought were perfect actually work?

Will the odds and ends necessities come in handy?

Will I be able to find what I need when I need it?

The question now is where in the morass should I pack my toothbrush?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One Leaf

And so it went.  Day after day after day I waited.

At first, from my faraway post it might have been an injured red Virginia Cardinal fluttering on a barren branch in a forest now devoid of any leaves.

On closer inspection it was actually a lone leaf fluttering in the breeze.

“It may be the only leaf still clinging to life in the state of Virginia,” I thought.

Then we had 60 mile per hour wind gusts.

“Surely it will release its grasp though this,”

But there it stayed and stays still.

I never see a singular leaf like this even though I look along our roadsides.

Now it is snowing and raining and snowing with a sometimes stiff breeze making for peculiar weather.

And there she is, hanging on

as if dreaming.

She is to be admired – an Autumn leaf dreaming of turning green again for one more chance at life.

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Bear VA Black Bear Cub

Virginia Black Bear Cub – Photo Source Unknown

“If I expect the worst will happen and then it is the best, I am happily surprised. On the other hand, if I expect the best and the worst happens, I am sorry I didn’t think the worst to begin with.”    Quote by ~Dor

I have a blogger friend, Kate, who freely admits she magnifies simple human maladies into end-of-the-world death-approaching, devastating ailments. She makes me laugh because I see “me” in there too.

Once the question was asked at a book club meeting, “What kinds of books do you prefer?”

And there were answers like, “Mysteries, Romance, Biographies, Historical Fiction, etc.”

My answer was, “Doomsday  books.”

And everybody laughed!

Yes, it is true I love doomsday stories (fiction or non) about living through the plague, the great influenza, the civil war, the world wars, floods, hunger, and pestilence.

The first book I loved, cried over, sped through and read again and again was the American Classic,  Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton.  And I still wish I could change the ending.  Surely the doomed lovers could have positively altered the course of their lives and survived unscathed. Couldn’t they?

Progressing from that frustration I began reading powerful historic treatises on The Great Influenza, Isaac’s Storm, and yes, those stories about the plague, war, starvation, pestilence, the plight of women, etc.  I still love them all and always looking for more.

And as a result, over time, I saved life-saving tips into a collection I now call Dor’s Doomsday Survival Manual.

But  when my real-life friends look at the manual they laugh and seem to consider it a comedy.

And now you have it – the deep dark underside I have struggled so long to keep hidden, and the reason I aim to publish funny blog posts.

But I wonder if you would laugh as you browse through Dor’s manual chapters.

  • What to do if there is a bear on your deck!  Hide – plus other good ideas.
  • How to save a cat from drowning in a flood.  Float out in a sealed bucket (I just saw that on t.v.
  • How to purify water.  Clorox?  Yes, really.
  • Hidden water sources in your home.  Toilets?  Yes, really.
  • Non-perishables that will last 25 years of even hundreds of years.  Fruit cake and honey – really!
  • What to pack in a survival suitcase.  Chocolate?  Wishful thinking but there is a longer list.
  • How to prepare for the Avian Flu (or did it already come and go?)  I think the Bird Flu passed on by…. or has it?
  • What to do when food sources are low. You can live many days without food. Who knew?
  • Beware of summer storms.
  • Evacuation tips
  • Assembling a first aid kit.
  •  Tools and supplies to have at the ready.
  • A Family Disaster plan.
  • And more.

Do you think I should publish my Survival Manual as a comedy or what?

Your input is entirely welcome, but I am thinking the worst.

 

 

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Smashed Bird Feeder Courtesy of Bruno the Bear

We lived to tell the tale of Bruno the Bear.

Last night, if you may recall, I was cowering in the back room watching Bill try to defend our home from a very BIG bear!

Really.

I estimate Bruno was over 300 pounds!

I considered that our lives were in danger but in some ways the scene at the living room bay windows was hilarious.

Bruno was pacing back and forth and looking in at Bill.

Bill was growling very loudly and swearing at the bear.  He (Bill) was also waving his arms around and snarling and making monster faces. 

My HERO!

We had the lights on at the deck so I was able to see Bruno’s reaction.

He looked a bit irked.

I should have snapped a picture but was afraid it would irk him more.  It wouldn’t take much for him to lean on a window and enter the house!

Finally Bruno decided to leave (but momentarily forgot the way he had arrived).

I think the HUGE BIG BEAR stayed visiting us for about an hour.  Maybe it was less but it felt like an hour.

Actually, it felt like a few several hours and I got dressed while Bill was playing his monster roll (just in case we had to flee and stay at a motel for a few days).

Then it got quiet and stayed quiet, and we gave up and went to bed.   Bruno must have gone on to other things.

Let us hope it will remain quiet again tonight.

Bruno also left his mark by attacking a towel rack on our deck (now hanging askew).
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Do you suppose Bruno hates horses?  Why knock things awry like that anyway?

And a neighbor reported that he tore down a birdhouse with baby chicks in it but they are still alive!

Well, our trip to Washington, DC was fraught with tension due to the monstrous traffic.  But then we returned to the peace and quiet of the Virginia countryside only to find a monster in our midst.

I have to admit Bruno was kind of cute though.  Those little round bear ears and inquisitive face.

I hope, however, that he doesn’t mistake me for Goldilocks!

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As I write this, there is a great big Virginia black bear lounging on my deck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It is 10 PM and we are at the end of a mild thunder storm.  I was sitting in the living room watching a weather program about surviving hurricanes when I heard sounds from the deck (right outside the window).

I turned on the outside light and there he is – Bruno!

He is, as I write this, ignoring the storm, but busily scratching himself and looking very content.

Bill went to check things out and said our bird feeder is now gone.  It was full of sunflower seeds.

That’s it for bird feeders!  If we survive, I will remove all feeders forever after!

Bill is spying on the bear now.  I wish I could take a picture but maybe the flash would agitate Bruno.

I am cowering in the back room wondering if we will survive the night.

To be continued.

 

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Camping

The problem with blogging is people begin to know all your weaknesses and character flaws.

Most cyberspace friends already know this country girl’slady’s flaws:

  • A devout shopper,
  • a worrier,
  • guilt ridden
  • a planner,
  • and a neat freak.

My hope is that all in all, you all (y’all in Virginia-ese) find these combined traits to be endearing.

But did you know that the BigFoot whiner was once an outdoorsy camping enthusiast?

Here are some FAQS you may have missed:

  • Once, at 3 AM, I threw an air mattress across the pup tent at my devoted spouse.

Why?

Because I kept sliding off and onto the cold lumpy ground.

  • And another time, I ran with a coat around my ankles to get back to the tent.

Why?

Because it was deer hunting season and it occurred to me that a beige suede coat whilst relieving oneself in the woods would conjure up images of a white-tailed deer!

  • And how about the time I had to wear a black patch over my eye to a party.  And it wasn’t Halloween and it wasn’t a costume to make me look like a Pirate either.

Why?

Because a giant gnat bit me near the eye and it swelled up to a frightening countenance.

  • And then there was the time we were six minutes into the Appalachian Trail.  Bravely carrying a 30 pound back pack I was moaning and lagging in line behind husband, our 8 year old son, and Tinker, the dog.  That’s when I sat down in the middle of the trail and cried.  

Why?

Because Y’All,

I hate camping!

More FAQs?

  • How about the tent that blew away?
  • Or having to sit under a tarp until a deluge of rain lets up?
  • Or trying to sleep listening to something or things crashing through the forest?
  • And wondering if we will be attacked by wolves or bears or angry deer.
  • Or being “Nose Cold” (and I don’t mean a head cold).  I mean a nose that’s almost frozen along with toes.

And now you have another character flaw to add to the list!

And Thank you Andrew for inspiring this post!

 

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KUiTpJf

“Hello, Super Market Management?  I am in your store and I am in the far end.  You know, near the chips?  I am a handicapped elderly woman (in a therapy boot) gratefully using one of your electric carts but the cart battery went dead.  Can you help me?

I cannot walk all the way back for another cart.  I need a new cart with active batteries and someone to help transfer all the groceries.  Yes, I am by the chips.  Thank you so much.  I love it that you offer this service.  It’s a very kind public gesture, but for some reason the cart batteries always go dead.

The electric carts at my grocery/big box store constantly run out of battery power.

And this usually occurs on the far side!

Getting stuck in the middle (or far end) of a gigantic store leaves a person (this person with the BigFoot) in a precariously helpless, embarrassing position, stranded in limbo with peripheral problems like being emotionally distraught.

I am STUCK! HELP!

  • The basket on this electric cart is full.
  • It will lurch forward while emitting a weak sickly beep.
  • It will never make it back to square one for a new cart.
  • That means I must WALK (Limp) back across the store (for what seems like a mile) to get another cart.
  • You may witness my staggering arrival at the cart area where there may or may not be a new cart available.
  • If I am lucky and find a cart it may have a dying battery, and there is no way to tell if it will make it back to Cart #1.
  • Hurrah!  It arrives at Cart #1 for a transfer of goods to Cart #2.
  • Finally… leave Cart #1 stranded and,
  • With aching foot and increased blood pressure, move on to finish shopping.

Results?

  • Embarrassment
  • Pain
  • Anger 
  • Frustration
  • Fear of getting stuck again.

The latter fear has taken such a hold that I can only shop on one side of the store at a time, i.e., bar soap is on the wrong side (the other side) of the store.

Soap therefore, must go on a different day’s shopping list entitled “Right Side” or “Left Side”.

I also finally devised a Diabolical Plan (feel free to try this yourself if you are either elderly, infirm, or both):

  1. Program the name of the store and it’s local phone number into your cell phone.
  2. Choose an electric cart without too much concern for dying batteries.
  3. Begin shopping and don’t worry about filling your basket. Fill it to the brim or higher! Remember, the point of this plan is to send a message to store management.
  4. Be alert and wait to get stuck ANYWHERE in the #$%2x##* blankety blank place (preferably far far from the stable of carts).
  5. Are you stuck yet? Well, if you are, then sweetly call the store from your cell phone.  Please, reserve the urge to rant!  
  6. Helplessly plead you are handicapped and need to be saved by a store employee who will have to fetch another cart.

Will pity prompt positive action?

I haven’t tried the Diabolical Plan yet.

Stay tuned.

 

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My BigFoot “Expert Doctor” is in Charlottesville, Virginia.

It’s about an hour and a half drive over the legendary Afton Mountain.

And even on a clear day you can be confronted with fog.

There are lights embedded in the roadway but it still feels treacherous.

And it may not actually be fog, but the signs say so.  Last time we went “over the hill” we could see a low lying cloud enshrouding the roadway, and then drove right into it.

What a thrill it is to creep along and wonder how bad it could get and would we careen over the edge?

Can you tell I am a worrier?

We have survived the winter with several visits over Afton Mountain and actually this was the first time to experience fog.

From Virginia Living:  “The drop-dead gorgeous scenery disappears when clouds blanket the mountain. Fog and ice make for a white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel. VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation) has addressed safety by installing expensive airport runway lights along the 64 roadway to guide motorists…”

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