Monday, February 19, 2018

WORK AT THE TRAIN STATION

Many of you hear me talking about 'working' at the Train Station. It seems I am there a lot, at least 3 days a week, and hours are spent on SPOTS stuff here at home. While most of the heavy duty construction projects are finished on the building, the layouts need frequent work, track maintenance, engine repairs, wiring repairs, and, of course, my department, scenery building and changes.
We recently changed officers and with a new president came major changes to the layouts. The biggest change was to the O scale track all of the elevated track was removed and as a result, the scenery on "the mountain" had to be changed. It has been a lot of work, but I am much happier with how it is going to look - I hated the farm on the mountain top.
Anyway, here are some of the folks doing their stuff... (I hope this works as I have been having serious computer problems, so I will see what I can get done while it is actually running! I can always edit it later.)
Work is also being done on the HO layout. HO stands for Half O, so these trains and buildings are half the size of the bigger layout, the Lionel size trains.
  
 
We also have a room designed for the youngest ones, a hands on, make your own layout, push, pull, and one little train that runs on batteries and seems to need work just about every week. Michael is our toy maker, The kids love to play with these trains.
We frequently have visitors from our local Community Services Group. Some of then run the trains, some just watch them run, some of the guys build tracks, some watch DVDs. We try to have something for everyone.
 

I will be back to add to this - if my computer will let me on... meanwhile, here is an over view of what we are doing most days. - OUT of time!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

A LITTLE AFTER GROUNDHOG'S DAY





Here on the shore, we don’t have groundhogs or chipmunks, or any other burrowing mammals bigger than moles, voles, shrews and the like. If a critter were to dig down very far today, it would hit water. Our drainage ditches are still pretty full, and it hasn’t rained but a half an inch since the end of January. At our place up in PA (the Poconos) we have great groundhog habitat, rock fences, hillsides, lots of pasture land for critters to dig into or under. Down here in flat country, you dig a ways and you hit clay or shells – or water. So- no burrowing animals. Instead, we use our local possums for weather prognostication. The Onley Possum had a much better record of accuracy than that Yankeefied groundhog, Phil. The groundhog's seasonal forecasting accuracy is somewhat low. Phil's winter prognostications have been correct only 39% of the time. If my record were that bad, I’d change what seeing my shadow meant. See you shadow? Spring is right around the corner! And I’d be right 61% of the time! And so, the Onley Possum has a fine record. Even if we just waited to hear what Phil had to “say” and said the opposite – we’d be way ahead of the game.

            Anyway, this has been a rough winter for us down here, as I have heard many others say in other parts of this beautiful land we call home. We have had way more snow than usual, and temps dropping into the teens a few times. Not nice. And several days where it never got above freezing! Totally unappreciated!
If you know me at all, you know how I love flowers, and over the years I have turned my little corner of the shore into a strange little jungle where, if the weather cooperates, I can have some flowers blooming at some point –OK, not every day, but every week. Really! There is seldom a stretch of 2 or more weeks when I cannot find at least one camellia in bloom somewhere on my property between the middle of September until the merry month of May. OK, OK, so sometimes they are a little bruised or frost bitten, but still, to see a bright red bloom on a bush somewhere in the middle of winter, well, it just warms one’s heart.
 no, this is not Yule Tide- different red.

            I tried to take some pictures last week, but I am not walking well… I tried again today, but the pain made me come back inside. I really wanted to take pictures of my crocus… I do have one that peeked at me yesterday when the sun was shining, and I did NOT have my camera with me, but, camera in hand, I could not find it today and it hurt too much to walk around looking. And it was starting to drizzle. Hoover kept squeaking at me about the weather- she hates wind, snow, and rain, in that order, and I guess a rain drop hit her tiny nose and sent her into a squeaking panic. The squeaking continued all the way to the carport.

            So, there were a few Aunt Alice’s in bloom, now in a jar in the kitchen waiting to be put in a vase. The computer will not allow Aunt Alice to be a plural, so forgive the out of place possessive… but I will include a picture of
Debutante after the last cold night damaged all the blooms. Some of the buds might still open, but the ones that were opening when the temp dropped to 21 are brown and will eventually fall to the ground. Heartbreaking, isn’t it?

 The red bushes don’t look too bad. This is out my bedroom window. The white camellias are not too happy looking.
 


            The daffodils are thru the ground for the most part, and some have buds already.  

So, I missed Groundhog Day… but I have been extremely busy rebuilding the scenery at the Train Station and getting ready for Heritage Day the 24th. I’ll try to show you what changes we are making there.

            Enjoy the few blooms in my yard. Hopefully I will have some daffodils to share soon.
 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

70s in JANUARY!!!!



What a DAY!  This is a heaven on earth day… and I have been blessed to have so many of them. I confess, most of them have been in Maine or the Poconos, but this is one for Virginia. It made it up to 72- IN THE SHADE- and at least 76 sitting out in the sun.

            I did not have to do anything at the Train Station today – got the day off, as it were, so I celebrated by getting my shaggy long hair cut – it was a mess – and while I was getting that done, the sky opened up and I got a free car wash – most of the salt and grime from the last couple snow storms got washed away and the van was shiny when the rain moved on.

           Next, I got some grocery shopping done. The produce was fresh, I was impressed. It is seldom that we get nice crisp green beans this time of year. And the broccoli was fresh, too. And they had paper bags! (I hate those cheap plastic things.) I didn’t need much, but it was so nice to go shopping in my shirt sleeves.

            I hit the gas station after leaving the store. 2 hours later the price went up 5 cents a gallon. Actually, they started changing the numbers when I was at the PO. By the time I got home, the sun was out, the temps in the upper 60s, Rusty had a new paper bag to play in, then a small box he could barely sit in, but he made it, and I got my copy of Fire and Fury! I put the refrigerator stuff away, changed into a short sleeved shirt and headed outside with my new book. (So much for the 3 other books I am working on in the house!)

            I wiped off an Adirondack and sat for an hour in the sun, exposing as much skin as decently possible- hey, you never know who has a Go-Pro-drone flying around! After the sun dropped behind the tree tops and the wind was picking up, I walked around looking for some camellias. Several bushes really took a beating – worst of all was Debutante, the larger camellias freeze the most. I found only one in bloom. But, amazingly ‘Aunt Alice’ was hiding some beautiful flowers on the lowest branches. I had to really look as they were under the leaves. The ones on top were too bruised. But I found enough to bring in and put in a little vase.


            I hope you had a great day, too- I hear the warm weather stretched all the way up to Bar Harbor! Thunder storms Delaware! In January!!!!!


 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

SUPERSTITIONS - EASTERN SHORE STYLE


On this chilly morning, as I watch the sun come up- and watch the temperature finally move up a notch instead of down, I am grateful as we move above freezing. But before I get too excited, I also notice that in spite of yesterday’s temps rising to 50, we still have snow on the ground, 4 days after it snowed. No, not from shoveling into great piles like the store parking lots, just plain old snow from our last mini-storm of 3 inches (compared to the previous one that brought 14 inches!) and I was reminded of my ancient neighbors (probably in their 70s- I was in my 20s) who always said snow hanging around a couple days after the storm was just waiting for more. Now, having lived in the Poconos, Maine, and one year near Buffalo, NY, snow ALWAYS hung around. OK, so there was usually more on the way… but living here on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, snow could be absent for years at a time. I mean, back in the day when one put snow tires on before Thanksgiving, some folks down here never bothered! And chains???? Are you kidding? My father taught me how to put chains on my tires when I got my first car (in PA.) I also had to rotate all my tires and back out of the quarry road at night (and not go over a cliff or hit a tree) before he handed me the keys. But I digress…

            It is supposed to get to the mid-50s today. An opportunity to clean up after the last snow, fill my 12 birdfeeders, etc. Will the snow finally all melt?????

 

But this morning, I also read a former neighbor’s blog that had a picture of a horseshoe collection they saw at Shelburne Farms in Vermont. All the horse shoes were pointing down! I instantly remembered my other ancient neighbor (he was 80, I was in my 40s, LOL! Funny how time changes one’s perspective, doesn’t it?????) arriving at my house as I was about to hang a horseshoe on my barn. “NO! NO!” he shouted! "The points go UP! UP!"
Well, having them down nearly made me fall off the ladder when he yelled at me, so I quickly turned it the other way. “How come?” I asked.

            “You gotta keep the good luck in,” he answered. “Put it the other way and your luck will spill out. Ya need t’keep your luck in place, Dontcha?”

            He also explained that I was extra lucky since I had found the horseshoes while digging to plant a camellia. “Don’t ever kill a camellia. Trim it back if you must. Dig it out if it dies, but killing a camellia will bring you at least 7 years bad luck. Put a curse on your property. You don’t want that, now, do ya?” He went on to say I needed to plant some camellias around the house to protect it. I figure by now, I am seriously protected. I honestly do not know how many camellias I have here. there were absolutely none - zero - no azaleas, nothing but a couple bunches of daffodils out in the woods when I moved here. A friend called my yard "bleak." I vowed to change that!

            Years ago when I had to have my pine trees cut down (pine bark beetle) a huge camellia was in the way of the tree cutting equipment. I made the men carefully dig and transplant the camellia being sure to not kill it. It survived and is huge today.

 

It is believed that the good luck powers of the horseshoe originate with the story of a blacksmith named Dunstan. The Devil came to Dunstan and requested that he fit him with new horseshoes. Dunstan recognized the devil and nailed a horseshoe onto his hoof. This caused the Devil great pain. While he was in agony, Dunstan chained him and only released him after the devil promised never to enter a place that had a horseshoe hung over the door. Dunstan became the Archbishop of Canterbury in 959 AD and is known as St. Dunstan.

 
 

Some believe that if guests come to a house where a horseshoe is above the door, they must leave by the same door through which they entered or they will take the luck from the horseshoe with them from the house. Folks around here believe that is true even if there is no horseshoe above the door. “Never enter thru one door and exit from another!” OK, OK. Geez.

 

Some believe that hanging the horseshoe with the opening pointing upward like a “U” holds in all the good luck and the powers it brings. Hanging it upside down would allow the powers to spill out. Others think that hanging it with the opening pointing down allows all of the good luck, protective powers and good fortune to shower upon you and surround the home.

 

There are, of course, tons of other superstitions, some indigenous to your area and perhaps not mine. I’d love to hear them!

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

BUDDHA- UP TO HIS NECK IN SNOW

Here are a couple shots from this morning. First is my newest Buddha I got for Christmas and placed temporarily in the new lily bed - that's why the netting is over everything. The deer ate a dozen or so lilies last year - and this bed holds, among other special lilies, Happy-Happy. Can't have that be someone's lunch!
Shot 2 is of the damage done out front from an idiot in his pick-up (I got 4 wheel drive, I can go anywhere!) His anywhere ended when he was almost on his side after he dig his way to the deep drainage hole VDOT dug next to my culvert pipe under my driveway. That is a long way down. God knows what damage has been done to the azaleas out there- the slope from the plants to the road- or I should say to the drainage ditch next to the road - that slope is GONE, roots exposed, etc where he kept backing back hoping to get traction up in my yard. Never happened. Someone had to come and pull him out. This does not show the depth of the tracks his huge tires made.
Maybe he had a good reason for being out in the storm- it was still snowing when he got stuck... our hospital, for example, will send someone, perhaps a state trooper, out to get nurses to cover their shift, but no one is there then to take them home. They are stuck. Not a bad thing for the hospital... you have staff 'on hand' as it were, so husbands had to go get their wives - as one said, if I want any dinner, I gotta go get the cook. Yep, he really said that, followed by a hearty chuckle. I wanted to smack him, but that is another story. Perhaps I need to start another blog called the Bad Buddhist where I can list all my evil thoughts! So, shame on me... anyway, here are a couple more snow pictures!
I still cannot get out thru the snow in the back yard- drifts are too high, and the picture out front- well, it is just too slippery to take a chance.
The snow trucks have been going thru with their plows down pushing the snow and slush and dumping their loads of sand and salt, AND!!!! IT IS 42 DEGREES!!!!!!!!! YEA!!!!!!





Monday, January 08, 2018

LOOKING THE GIFT HORSE IN THE MOUTH


Remember hearing “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth?” Well, this past week-end had me re-evaluate that old saw. I will not go into any details about a couple phone calls I got over the week-end, but  suffice it to say, the essence of both tales of woe were the same – how sometimes helping someone out – or thinking you are helping someone out kind of backfires on you or even the  receiver of your ‘helping.’

            My tale of woe is so insignificant by comparison to what a couple other folks are going thru it almost sounds stupid to tell – but at the time of writing this, I have just come in from shoveling a portion of my driveway. Actually, I worked on it several different times as I finally figured out Frankie was NOT going to get to my little insignificant driveway- and I had to get out to open the church at noon on Monday. I swear, Sunday night I truly did not see how I was going to manage it. But, back to my gift-horse… the boy that cuts my grass got his license a little over a month ago- yep, he is all of 16. He is a good boy, don’t get me wrong. Anyway, he and his future brother-in-law (who also works for me some on week-ends “home” from Liberty) apparently were driving around town pulling into people’s driveways, smashing thru their drifts and packing down their snow with his mighty Tundra, then backing out and ‘zooming” off to the next house. My guess is they were doing all the church members – and even tho I am not a member of their church, still, they look out for me. I yelled NO as they drove and backed back and forth several times making a god-awful ice pack in my driveway. Of course they could not hear me, I was in, they were out… So, my driveway is shoveled relatively clean except for the place where one needs to drive where I have about 3 or more inches of solid packed snow/ice. I can not break thru it with the shovel.

            Then, ‘someone’ offered to help shovel, since her van is parked out there, and so she threw the snow from where her van had to drive onto a different part of the driveway instead of off into the yard or garden, I finally had to stop her cuz she was doubling my work when I had to move the snow that was already there and the additional ‘shoveled’ snow. Sigh.

            Ah, such trivial crap… but when you are 74 years old and in serious pain… it becomes frustrating. All I wanted was to let the early morning sun hit the concrete enough to melt/evaporate enough bare spots that we could get in and out.


As you can see, the road is a packed sheet of snow/ice. Where no one has walked or driven, I am down to the ground or within an 1/8th of an inch of it... all but the tracks should be melted by this evening. It is supposed to get above freezing - 28 now. So... we shall see.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

JANUARY BLIZZARD (REALLY) 2018

AS I TYPE THIS- we are having, in layman's speak, a winter snow hurricane... or in the language of meteorologists, a Bombogensis... from Ryan's twitter account:
All day Thursday meteorologists are going to be glued to the new GOES-East satellite watching a truly amazing extratopical "bomb" cyclone off New England coast. It will be massive -- fill up entire Western Atlantic off U.S. East Coast. Pressure as low as Sandy & hurricane winds pic.twitter.com/6M4S3y7… 2 days ago · Twitter

Bombogenesis: What's a 'Bomb Cyclone'? - Live Science  https://www.livescience.com › Planet Earth "Bomb cyclones" or "weather bombs" are wicked winter storms that can rival the strength of hurricanes and are so called because of the process that creates them: bombogenesis. It's a mouthful of a meteorology term that refers to a storm (generally a non-tropical one) that intensifies very rapidly.

One of my favorite weather sites is: https://www.ventusky.com/?p=18.9;-57.0;4&l=temperature. If you pull it up, you will see a wonderful menu that includes wind speeds, precipitation, cloud cover, even the height of waves any place in the world! it is awesome! When I pulled this storm up, I was able to measure the wind speeds out in the Atlantic at 118 mph! That is a Cat 3 hurricane. Good thing is, it was 350 miles off shore, but it still brought us 50 mph winds here on the East Coast - and, for many of us, a foot of snow or more. Can't even guess at the size of the drifts near the open fields. 

Anyway, here are some pics from the safety of my carport which I have shoveled out 4 or 5 times so far to get some seed out to the little birds. 

 

The van is covered, path shoveled to get seed out for little birds. 10 AM Thurs, Jan 4th, 2018


 Facing south

Snow on the carport - higher than the concrete blocks. The Stand-up garden in the middle of the frame is up on 3 blocks. The path shoveled in ON the carport- 10 AM.
See the snow piled on the Adirondacks - brownish covers.
The bushes here are normally over the roof, but the snow has them on the ground next to the house. In the left side, that rounded bush is Ice Angel, normally more than 15 feet tall, now down to about 5 feet. And this is with the snow blowing OFF most of the trees and bushes!

That weird snow shape, middle frame is the snow piled on my generator, 1 foot on one side going up to 2 feet closer to the building. The camellia taking up most of the frame is supposed to be upright and as tall as the peak of the roof. The snow has the top on the ground. See next pic.
The starving birds - mostly juncos, a female cardinal...
 I was able to stand only a few feet away as they kept eating. I stayed out there as long as I could in the howling wind - my presence kept the black birds- grackles away so the little ones could eat. The next to last shot shows some of the drifts out front, middle and to the right, behind Yule Tide, and another big drift back on the left toward the road. Interesting, the snow blew off Yule Tide but not the camellias in the side or back yards. The last shot the greenhouse wrapped in insulation foam, standing in a foot of snow.
OK, blogger reversed them and won't let me put them back the way I had them. Go figure!

 


Blogger also keeps making the font smaller - and in the beginning decided to make it all BOLD type. Guess the storm is affecting more than just the weather around here!!!!!


 
Not sure if this pic will come out - its of Bobbie's 2 dogs playing in the snow this morning. Thanks, Bobbie! (Cody in the back, Gabe front)
Let me know how you made out!
PS, it is still snowing!