Snow and snow

My snowy home on a hill.

I keep leaning toward complaints, but then I simply can’t follow through: this snow is spectacular.

I live in the Columbia River Valley, just 45 miles from the Pacific Ocean. This tends to keep my little piece of Paradise green, even in the depths of winter. But Mother Nature has been on a cold bent lately. Well, heck, I can’t even say “lately,” because it’s been cold and snowy for a couple months now. I’ve lived in very snowy places most of my life, and so this doesn’t compare, but I am still enjoying it.

Jamie and Phil after the big snow, when they were still interested in it.
The ladies have had enough snow and are running for shelter.

My chickens seem to be fine with it, but they do not like being cold. They hide in their little home most of the day rather than walk around in bare feet in the snow. They don’t eat much, leaving the chicken feed to the chipmunks. I expect to see some pretty fat chipmunks in the Spring. I need to go out each day, dump out a chunk of ice from their bowl, and refill it with water. They have also figured out that they can eat the snow.

They also aren’t laying, and I do not blame them one bit! Who would want to produce a massive egg once a day in the freezing cold? Not me.

Looking past the apple tree into the neighbor’s yard.
Beaver Creek burbles along gaily with no interruption.
The sun came out for a few days, brilliantly lighting it all up. Those are my tracks in the foreground. I just can’t stay indoors when it’s this pretty out.

My photos aren’t as good as I would like. My camera is still fried from my trip to Chile. I haven’t made it to a camera doctor yet. The weather has been so rotten that roads are sketchy, and it hasn’t been worth an hour+ drive into town. Also, I’ve been sick, sick, sick. Feeling much better now, but annoyed by this lingering cough to clear out my lungs. Sounds like I have COPD.

Anyway, my iPhone camera is picking up the slack. I hope you enjoy the photos. It’s been pure winter deliciousness here.

Our gorgeous Christmas tree!
Tara balancing new sketchbooks.


Evening sun making the treetops glow.
I rarely need to, so I do not own a decent shovel.

I found out that a blogger friend of mine was  shorthanded on, as she put it, “young energetic people,” and I answered the call. Luckily it was pre-major snowstorm, and though cold, we did our work on a beautifully sunny day. The van was parked at the storage unit and we spent the whole day emptying the storage unit and filling the truck. It was windy, and when the sun dropped we nearly froze our patooties off, but we got the job done and went home elated and satisfied. It was discovered the next day that the truck had been loaded beyond legal weight and it had to be dismantled. That day I had to work and couldn’t help.

TS inside the moving van.
These tracks just melted my heart.

I’ve got a little good news that’s probably exciting only to me, but I’ll share it anyway. I mentioned in November that I have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from military trauma. I’ll explain more about making disability claims with VA (The US Department of Veterans Affairs) later, but for now I’ll just say that I made a claim in 2008. The claim was denied in 2008 and again in 2009, so I appealed it in 2010. My appealed claim has languished for some reason. It’s still pending. I finally lost my patience and contacted my Congresswoman to stir things up a little, and it worked! Next week I will attend examinations in support of my claim. These consist of super-quick health evaluations not designed for treatment, but to assess the problem, then make an educated medical opinion on whether that problem could be related to military service. Then I wait around for someone to make a final legal decision. I’ll give it another year and then contact my Congresswoman again if necessary. Honestly, I think it has been long enough and my impatience is not out of line. If my claim is granted, any medical condition found by VA to be related to military service is then covered by VA for free. All doctor visits, medications, procedures. There is also a monthly stipend based on any loss of function determined to impact my employability. It would be a help.

World made black and white.
Playing with the sepia feature.


23 thoughts on “Snow and snow

  1. Thanks for the pingback, Crystal. That was what I call a butt cold day. Don’t think I’ve ever been that cold in years. And the help was so much appreciated. It would have been a much different ending without you. I’m so sorry you are having such a hard time with the VA. I can imagine that it is a story many veterans can repeat and it’s too sad. To spend so much time trying to get them to help make things a little easier makes most throw in the towel. It’s what so many have to go through with insurance as well but a veteran never should. I’ll keep all my fingers crossed for you. Love your snow pictures. I stole the one of the back of the truck. Got so tired, never got one. Your place is stunning in the snow too.

    1. Ha! Your description of the cold is spot on. It was cold. But oh, my goodness, I am so grateful there was no freezing rain and snow. Wouldn’t that have been awful. We were lucky to have avoided all of it completely. I’m glad you were able to get the one of TS in the truck!

      You know, I wish I could call every single veteran and let them know they’re not forgotten. We’re working as fast as we can. I can see in the letters they write, the frustration mounts year after year. I don’t blame them. We are finally fully digital, since about 2013, which does make things quicker. We can electronically “search” documents, and I think that helps my reviews go more quickly. But Jeez Louise, that was only 2013. I was hired with two others on the Appeals Team a year ago, bringing the total to 11 of us trying to get caught up on about 4000 pending appeals. Each one takes hours and hours to go through every single document. And more roll in every day.

      Isn’t the snow just brilliant out here? Wow, so nice. And it stayed really cold, so the snow clinging to branches stayed “clung” the whole time. It was a winter wonderland until the warmth finally broke through and all this delicious rain has washed away most of the ice and snow. You should see how high my creek is! It’s really impressive! But no flooding like last winter.

      1. Just wanted to know I got your New Year letter yesterday. Will read today. More rain. ;( Need dry to get my driveway cleared out. He left me with quite a mess to deal with. Did get the tree stuffed in the shed with my sisters help. Like the keystone cops routine. Glad you had no flooding this year. Keep up the good work.

    1. Thanks Derrick! I am usually not very good about taking my scheduled breaks from work when I’m working in my home office. But with all this beautiful snow, and a few sunny days in a row, I kept leaving my desk to bundle up and tromp around and enjoy it. Good results all around.

      I’m *still* coughing, good heavens. But no matter. I will get well one day. I hope your household has put the coughing behind you by now.

  2. I’m in Portland and it’s finally raining. But the snow was pretty the 1st day. Looks like in my area, we won’t get any freezing rain after all. I enjoyed reading your post!

    1. From what I can tell, you guys got it the worst in the storm. Not just the hassle of being more people in a smaller area trying to negotiate through all the snow, but Portland got more snow than the rural areas. That’s not often the case. Wow, what a mess. My office kept closing and telling the work-at-home people to stay home, so I never had an excuse to drive into Portland during the worst of it. Were you living there in 2008? I was in the Mt. Tabor area then, and it was very exciting. I got some fun photos of Hawthorne Street and Peacock Lane in the snow.

    1. Peru and Argentina are certainly on my list as well! I’m a backpacker, so the idea of heading into the mountains in the Patagonia region is thrilling to me. One day, one day, it’ll happen. There are just too many places to see!

      If you’re trekking through Peru, then I’ll have to check out your blog and demand photos and trip reports. 😉

  3. Beautiful! I’m glad you like the snowy weather. I love snow, as long as I don’t have to drive in it, walk in it, or shovel it. LOL Hope your cough goes away soon.

    I’m sorry to hear about having such a time with the VA. It really shouldn’t take the VA years to make a decision. A friend of mine who served in Vietnam, went through the same long process. I can’t recall, but it seemed like it was a couple/three years. Now that he is finally in the ‘system’ he has no problems at all with his visits or doctors. So hang in there, from what I know it seems to be worth it.

    1. I am glad that I work for VA, or I would be immensely confused and frustrated. But from the inside, I see what the problem is. It doesn’t seem like it should take so long, until you see how much work there is, and not enough people to do it. We’ve got hundreds of thousands of claims piled up that are old, but hundreds of thousands of new claims coming in each month because we’re still at war. So… there is no way we will ever catch up. Not unless Congress approves a tripling of the staff.

      I am waiting on my disability claim – not healthcare. It’s something I wish more Americans understood. Most – nearly all – veterans should not have a problem getting healthcare. You walk into a hospital, show your DD214, and if there’s room they take you. Healthcare has always been nearly flawless for me. I get appointments in a week or two, I love my PCP, everyone is amazingly friendly and helpful.

      What takes all the time is the disability claims. They are like workman’s comp claims and have nothing to do with healthcare. Except! If you get your claim approved, then your healthcare for that specific thing is free. There is also a monthly stipend. Some vets live off that pitiful stipend, and in this rotten economy, that is why so many vets go crazy waiting for the decision to be made.

      1. Vets have always gotten the short end, which is just shameful. Soldiers come back without arms, or legs, or eyes, and the govt doesn’t seem to remember that those limbs were lost in a war they had no choice in. I’m terribly afraid things will not improve under the new administration. In fact, sadly, I predict it will get infinitely worse.

        My sister retired from the Army and is nearly blind and can barely walk. But she retired as a decorated Captain. I don’t think she had any trouble getting disability. I think that makes a big difference too, whether enlisted or officer your coverage is different.

  4. Hello hello Crystal. I wanted to pop by and thank you for your visits and messages at Boomdeeadda. You’re really kind for that. I see you also were a big help for sweet Vonderfrau (my little german nickname for Wonder Woman Marlene, ha). That’s really a dear think to do. I have been following Marlene for some time and hope to make it down to her place on day.
    You make winter look so magical here. I’m afraid we can always count on the cold but this year is a conundrum. Cold then mild then cold and snowy, then frigid and snowy, then mild again. We have barely the amount of snow as usual. Your chickens are adorable, as is their little cottage out there in the snow. I have a heated waterfowl that stops the water from freezing. It’s electric and the birds really go for it. I got it at a bird store. I always go to buy seeds at the same place.
    I think the majestic snow covered spruce surrounding your home are so nice. I’m sorry to hear of your dilemma with the VA. Hopefully they’ll see clearly soon and do the right thing.Keep at ’em though. I’m sure they’re trying to tire you out and most would have given up by now. Way to go! Take care xo Boomdee

    1. Boomdee! Kelly, it’s so great to get your message. Of course I visit when I can and of course I pitched in for the Vonderfrau. Marlene is even better in person so I hope you get to visit her. She is powerful, and sharp-witted, and has the best sense of humor. I wish I was a little closer, because I love my time together. I’d probably have to work…but only because she works so hard and I will never admit that I can’t keep up.

      I love that you noticed their darling little cottage. I realized it’s due for a scrub. The mud is splashed up about 2 feet from the rain. Bleh, what a mess. The chickies don’t care, but I do.

      Yes, yes, the heated water dish is the only reasonable idea. Tara has been telling me to get one of those too. I need to figure that out. The chicken pen is 50 yards from the house, so I’d have to get electricity down there. Or find a battery-powered dish. But if I had electricity, I could give them a heat lamp too, for the extra cold days. One of these days….

  5. My lovely cousin, As usual, you’ve given us a beautiful post. The Sierra Nevada Range has received a record amount of snow this year so I am not surprised you too are experiencing a lovely winter.

    I have a grand home remedy for your nagging cough. Find yourself a quart mason jar (or something similar) and make some clove oil if you do not already have a batch. It is easy to make. Take whole cloves and place a couple tablespoons full into squares of cheesecloth or gauze. Pull up the cloth making a satchel, then place at least six satchels in the mason jar filled with enough mild-flavored cooking oil to fill the jar. I used canola oil. Let this steep for a minimum of four hours. The clove oil does not go bad so save it in your cupboard. The clove oil acts like a numbing agent similar to Anbesol (Benzocaine).

    Now, for your cough.
    Steep some licorice tea or your favorite berry tea, Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon clove oil and honey to taste. The clove oil will coat and numb your throat easing your cough. It works amazingly. Mike and Mom both had this bug and begged me to make them the tea. Within a few days, poof they were back to their normal, pick-on-Debbie selves.

    Love you,

    1. Clove oil sounds lovely for a cough. Mine is finally wrapping up. I was told by my my physician a few years ago that I had either a very mild case of allergies, or a very mild case of asthma. “I don’t recommend treating it,” he said, “because it’s not serious enough. It’s going to show up in small ways. When you get a cold, do you find that the cough lingers longer than anyone else’s? Like up to a month?” Ahhh…. yep. Ever since that conversation, I’ve relaxed about the cough. I feel fine, the cough is merely irritating, and over time, a long time, it does eventually go away. But I’ll definitely try the clove oil, especially since it keeps.

  6. Hey Crystal, I hope you’ve shaken off that cough.
    Did you have the health exams? Is the claim moving?
    If you’ve put an update in your more recent posts don’t worry about answering. I’ll check them out now.

    1. Sarah, thanks for asking. I did have the exams, and I have not heard anything since. It’s ok for now. I am patient. I know the system takes time. Like I said, I’ll give it a year before I throw another tantrum. 🙂

  7. The whole case is a depressing reflection on the country and I feel terrible for you. Those who have to prove they endured such painful experiences just makes me sad. I will hope things will improve in your personal health, as well as in your case. hugs, Robin

    1. Thanks for your support, Robin. I am immeasurably grateful for VA and all they have done for me. When I was in college and desperately poor, I had high-quality healthcare for nothing. Then when I finally began earning a paycheck again, I got the same great healthcare for very little. The payments are based on a sliding scale and VA care is very, very inexpensive. My doctors are wonderful, and friendly, and caring. I have heard bad stories about VA health care, and I am glad to have no experience with bad care. I still haven’t had any response regarding my own case, but I am sure it will be done this year. And yes, my own personal health is good. Mental health is my greatest struggle, but I am doing better now than last year, and I have the best friends in the world who look out for me and make me feel so lucky. You are right that having to prove trauma is an awful thing for the victims of trauma. Luckily, VA is evolving and taking a lot of the burden off of service men and women. Since I work for VA, I am glad to be part of the change for the better.

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