I have no pictures for you today, unless you want to see our slushy, icy driveway. We had a week of snow almost every day, for a total of 10 inches by Wednesday or Thursday. Last Wednesday, we were able to get out to do our errands and found that once we came down out of the hills, the roads weren’t bad. But we kept put after that until Saturday morning, when we went to pick up my great niece for her tai kwan do class. An interesting difference between here and Michigan, where I grew up, is that people don’t shovel their driveways here. They just wait for the snow to melt. Well, in this case, the snow hasn’t quite melted yet, and getting up the hill in our driveway can be quite an adventure. You need a running start. When we encountered my niece’s huge but unshoveled driveway, we did a little skidding around trying to get back out. It was clear that only one car had driven down their driveway the whole time, which would have been my sister’s, and her tracks were filled with about three inches of snow. My niece and her husband were raised in California and don’t feel comfortable driving in snow, even though her husband has studded snow tires. He has to, because of his work as an appraiser.
My sister, in fact, was stranded in Portland for part of the week, as that’s where she works as a maternity nurse on the night shift. She spent the day at a coworker’s house and didn’t come home until Friday. On Saturday, she showed up at our house and told us that she had been on the way here when she pulled over on our one-lane road to make room for a truck and her car just slid off the road into the ditch. The truck driver, one of our neighbors, didn’t even stop to help. We went down and helped her get her car out of the ditch, at which point she parked it in our orchard entrance and said she was leaving it there until the snow melted. Then she walked home. She didn’t come get it until Monday afternoon.
We already had a plan for handling a trip out of town by my niece’s husband and great niece. As a surprise, my great niece’s father was taking her to Disneyland this week. Her little brother was staying home with my niece, who was going to take him to a nearby resort that has an indoor water park, as they had heard from her husband’s sister that their own children, who are about the same ages, had problems because the younger boy wasn’t old enough to go on lots of the rides. Anyway, the original plan was for them to leave my great nephew with us on Tuesday morning to babysit while my niece took the others to the airport, so that she could have the car with studded snow tires, since more snow is forecast. Then, we are picking them up at the airport on Friday so that my niece doesn’t have to hurry back from the resort.
However, we got an early wake-up call from my niece’s husband that day. My niece had been up all night with stomach pains. Could we drive them to the airport? I had to throw on my clothes and we were at their house in a half hour. All was well, though, and we got them to the airport on time. My great niece was really excited to learn where she was going, as it was a secret until they were on their way to the airport. She won’t miss any school, as she goes to school on Mondays and Thursdays, and Thursday is a teacher training day or something. She’ll just miss a few days of lessons with her mother.
Last night I went to art class again. I thought about taking a picture of my painting, as it is almost done. But I decided to wait until it was finished. I always enjoy my class and was upset with myself last week for not going. It had been snowing all day up here, which was why I decided not to go, but it was so much worse later in the week that I realized I could have gone. The problem is the ride back, which is all along two-lane country roads at night. I was worried it would be slippery. But I made that trip last night with no problems.
I finally heard about the library job, and I did not make the cut for the interviews. I’m hoping this means that they had internal folks in mind for the job rather than they thought I flunked the assessment. The assessment I took was quite a strange one. The first part was sorting a cart of books, which I did in a weird way (I took the books off the cart, sorted them, and put them back on) but it was correct, which I think was the point. The second part was an easy computer test, where I had to look up a URL and then enter in information about a person from a sheet of paper. Then I had to look up information about a book that wasn’t yet published.
The third part was a written test, and it had its problems. Although by and large it was easy, almost a dumb guy test, it wasn’t well constructed. The first question was to identify a passage showing alliteration. As I have two degrees in English, I know perfectly well what alliteration is, but there was no good example of alliteration in the test. There was an example of assonance (some people confuse the two), and there were two passages with exactly two repetitions of a consonant apiece. The other choice was just a throw-in. I had no idea which choice they considered the “correct” answer. Then there were a few other questions where the answer was ambiguous, and in one case, I picked two answers and explained why, which for some people would mean I got it wrong. It depends upon how literal the person is who was grading the test. I think I overthought some of the answers. The final part was a bunch of synopses of articles, where I had to indicate which article would be the place where I would refer a patron for information. That part was easy. Oh well.
Lately, I have been noticing a large bird around our house that looks a lot like a robin but isn’t. It has much more of a golden orange tummy and some more speckled coloring than a robin does. I finally looked it up, and it is a varied thrush. We don’t have any cardinals here, and I miss them.
And that brings me to the little squirrel and the apple. We had a wizened apple sitting around here, and instead of putting it in the composter, I decided to leave it out for the birds. So, I took it out by the bird feeder. But it had been a snowy couple of days, and when I dropped it, it made a hole in the snow and disappeared. I figured someone would find it sometime.
Two days later, I was looking out the window and I saw a small squirrel with its head in the snow. Sure enough, it came tugging that apple out of the snow. The apple was at the edge of our driveway, which is where there is a slope up to some woods that our neighbors own. He began tugging the apple up the slope. He got about halfway, the apple was about as big as he was, when he lost his grip and the apple rolled down the slope. He went off and did something else, but a little later, I saw him pulling that apple up the slope again. I didn’t know what he was going to do, because the slope gets steeper the higher it goes, but he cleverly ate some pieces out of the apple and then pulled it into a rocky cavity about halfway up that is the top part of a water feature on the landscaped slope. That was all for him and the apple until the next day.
The next day, I saw that the apple was sitting halfway up the slope again. I think another squirrel or a raccoon or large bird might have stolen the little guy’s apple. Sure enough, he came out again, and started tugging the apple up the slope. This time, because we’d had a mixture of rain and snow, when he lost his grip and the apple rolled down the hill, it got covered with snow like it does when you roll snow for a snowman. Finally, he stopped tugging on it, and I saw that he was disappearing and coming back repeatedly. I realized that he had made holes in the snow where a big blob indicates our lavender bush, and he was popped in and out from under the bush. He was biting off pieces of the apple and carrying them through the snow under the lavender. After a little while, he disappeared with the rest of the apple into the lavender bush.
The only other thing I have to tell you this week is going to sound silly. It’s about my cat, Hillary (named after Sir Edmund Hillary, in case you were wondering). Last night we were watching a TV program that’s sort of a cross between a travel and photography program. The host is a photographer who travels to remote areas of the world to take pictures, and while he tells about the places he travels to, he also gives tips about how he’s setting up his shots. Anyway, Hillary started watching TV. She does this sometimes but usually only for a minute or two. This program was about Alaska and they were showing grizzly bears. Now I can understand her getting interested in birds, which they also showed, but I don’t really understand why she would be interested in bears. She was clearly getting excited at times, and she would look at the edges and top of the TV screen as if she was expecting the bear to emerge from the side or top of the television when it got to the edge of the screen. She watched TV for at least fifteen minutes before she lost interest. I find that truly amazing.