It's almost snow -- 01/22/07

We almost have snow.

This morning dawn brought snow flurries, just enough that our back deck looked as if half a dozen sloppy people had just had some powdered sugar donuts (or doughnuts, if you prefer) while standing there. (After all, Rhode Island does have just about the highest per capita concentration of coffee and donut shops in the nation.) Forty-five minutes later the deck was bare, just as Scarlett feared had happened with Tara. (See end of entry if that puzzled you.)

Twelve hours later, it is again snowing. I just tried to get a flash picture but it is really very fine ice crystals that are coming down now, not enough to see, just enough of them for there to be a faint whisper of sound as they fall against the porch and the house and the branches of the bushes in front of our porch.

Eleven years ago -- well, eleven years plus not quite two weeks ago-- we were hit by the "Blizzard of '96" -- which began in Rhode Island (if memory serves, which it sometimes does, although sometimes in a less than fully accurate fashion) one week into the new year, on Sunday, January 7th. We had recently moved from upstate New York to the generally milder Rhode Island coastal climate -- we are in the agriculture department's hardiness map zone 6 and Binghamton is in zone 7 -- and yet here we were in a blizzard while the Binghamton area only had a light touch of snow.

That Monday my employer had announced that we should work from home. I had a stack of software technical manuals to study, so that sounded fine to me. (One group of people had a major project due in a few days and felt they couldn't afford to lose the working time, so they battled the storm to reach the office. When they got there, they found that snow had drifted several feet deep against the entrance doors and it took them more than an hour to shovel their way through to the doors.) Nancy's employer, however, had made no closing announcement (even though the governor had asked everyone except essential health and safety workers to stay off the roads) and since she had just started working there the previous week, she did not want to be a no-show, but she was also hesitant about driving the five miles or so to work from her mother's house where we were staying while waiting for the closing on our current house. (This was back when she was a database guru, still a couple of years before she became a math teacher, otherwise she would have had the day off because all the schools were closed.)So I drove her to work and then picked her up at the end of the day. I can still remember the way the wind had sculpted a huge bank of snow at the edge of the highway so that it looked like a wave frozen into place. I wanted to build a surfing snowman. (No, actually, I just wanted to get past it safely.)

Naturally schools were all closed and the kids had a great time playing in the snow with their cousins (who live right across the snow covered street. That's Jill on the left (yes, she is not wearing a hat -- but at least she had long hair), Jeremy standing in the middle, and their cousin Lauren on the right. Jill was in 8th grade, Jeremy 5th, and Lauren 4th. That was quite an elaborate snow fort they were building.

On Tiger's most recent visit to the vet -- back in December for his annual booster shots and check-up -- the vet noted that he seemed in good health except she thought his thyroids were a bit enlarged and told us to watch him for signs of condition, which can affect older cats. Well, so far we have seen no signs of that, but for the past two or three weeks he has sometimes seemed to be limping, sometimes with both back legs and sometimes with just the left one. Sometimes it seems as if there is no problem, that he's just taking it easy, but then a few hours later it will definitely look as if he were favoring one leg.

So this morning I phoned the veterinary office and got an appointment for this afternoon. It was late enough in the day that I thought Nancy would be home by then, but she had students staying after school for extra help so she was later than usual. I was just waking Jeremy (who had come home from classes and immediately went to his room for a nap) when Nancy pulled into the driveway, so I told Jeremy to go back to sleep and scooped up Tiger and had Nancy drive us to the vet's office.

Tiger may make a game out of trying to slip out onto the back deck in the summer and then into the yard to eat leaves from plants, but he really does not like to be carried outside... away from the house... and into a car. He especially does not like to go for rides in cars. (He also does not like to be in veterinary waiting rooms with dogs -- he hissed fiercely at a tail-wagging mop of fur that got too close.)

The vet said that although one possible side effect of hyperthyroidism could be weakness in the back legs, since he showed no symptoms (other than enlarged thyroids) it was more likely that he might have a touch of arthritis or it could simply be some soft tissue damage in his legs, perhaps he landed too hard in a jump, something of that nature. So he gave him a shot of an anti-inflammatory that is supposed to work over a period of days. We're supposed to watch him and check back in a week (unless he shows further problems).

Okay... let's have a Tiger photograph -- I just grabbed my camera and took this shot -- he's keeping me company here in my den, curled up asleep on a folded comforter on the futon that I use for a couch in here. (I think the color is a bit off from the flash, too warm a tone, he is closer to gray than brown, but I don't have the time to play with Photoshop.)

"Was Tara still standing? Or was Tara also gone with the wind which had swept through Georgia?" Mitchell reportedly said her inspiration had been poet Ernest Dowson's line "I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind," from the third stanza of his "NON SUM QUALIS ERAM BONAE SUB REGNO CYNARAE." (He was quite fond of using Latin for the titles of his poems, even though the poems themselves were written in English. And no, I do not retain enough of my high school Latin to translate that. Okay, I must admit that I probably couldn't have translated it properly even back when I was taking Latin. I was not a very good Latin scholar.)

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