Temps today are supposed to reach the 40s, so we should see an end to the snow very soon.  This morning the female Downey Woodpecker was back at the suet feeder, an auspicious sign.  I hope we can finally walk the dogs today.  I’ve barely left the house since I slipped on the ice.

My ‘surgical’ knee is still giving me fits.  I think I twisted it when I fell. I have to believe it will improve, but darn it, I don’t spring back the way I once did.  Once upon a time if I fell, I ‘got over’ the fall very quickly.

David and I were watching TV two nights ago when he announced he had a ‘flutter’ in his left eye.  I immediately became concerned but after asking him several questions deduced he meant a ‘floater.’  Our ophthalmologist told us that everyone gets those floaters as they age because the retinas begin to deteriorate.  When I had a tear in my retina several years ago, the doc told me that as we age the aqueous material in our eyeballs becomes harder and pulls away from the retina, sometimes tearing it.  Apparently, the aqueous material inside the eyeball changes from the clear fluid in a baby’s eye to a ‘marble’ in the older eye. On the other hand, here’s what Wiki says:

Unlike the fluid in the frontal parts of the eye (aqueous humour) which is continuously replenished, the gel in the vitreous chamber is stagnant. Therefore, if blood, cells or other byproducts of inflammation get into the vitreous, they will remain there unless removed surgically (see floaters). If the vitreous pulls away from the retina, it is known as a vitreous detachment. As we age, the vitreous often liquefies and may collapse. This is more likely to occur, and occurs much earlier, in eyes that are nearsighted (myopia). It can also occur after injuries to the eye or inflammation in the eye (uveitis).

This means either my eyeballs will become like marble and pull away from my retinas and shred them, or liquefy and collapse. Huh?


AND_HJA_old_growthWhen I first visited the Smithsonian Castle (Victorian red brick building) on the Mall with my parents, the nineteenth century museum was still intact. The Civil War, two depressions and two world wars had sapped tax revenue and charitable donations for over a century. Although some ‘curiosity cabinets’ were downstairs, the upstairs ‘attic’ contained collections of bones and artifacts jumbled together on tables, stacked on the floor, or, like the blue whale skeleton, suspended from the ceiling.  I remember dodging this way and that way, to move around priceless items.  I thought it was wonderful.

A tunnel from the old castle to the newer Museum of Natural History on the north side of the Mall provided underground access.  I think the tunnel, originally perhaps a very old bomb shelter, provided the museum curators with a secret route for stealthily transferring artifacts from the castle to new building.

When my parents visited, we used the tunnel to cross under the mall. I recall at one point the tunnel was designed to resemble the floor of the jungle in the Triassic Period, showing the bases of huge tree trunks reminiscent of the primeval forest (the ceiling was painted to resemble the dense overhead tree canopy.

It was a magical place.  Then, sometime in the late sixties or early seventies when  construction on the DC Metro system was underway and folks became concerned some anarchist group would set off a bomb, the tunnel was closed to the public.  Ask about it today, and you will be told it doesn’t exist, but I know it does…..


Winter joy or I love the cold


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Yesterday, we had a heat wave…with a high 47 degrees.  The good news is that the muck that fell Saturday began to melt.  That, and a cute teenager in braces, a neighbor kid, stopped by and asked if he could … Continue reading