Sunday, January 31, 2016

To Prove We Finally Have Snow

I'm pleased to report we got another nice snowfall this past Friday night/Saturday morning.  At long last we've got an adequate amount of snow to insulate plants, water lines and septic tanks.  Now we don't have to worry about temperatures dipping down below zero and the frigid weather having a bad impact on such things.

Yesterday afternoon, after getting much exercise in the morning removing the snow from the driveway, paths, entries to the house and buildings, etc., we decided to go for a hike . . . for more exercise.  (Just whose idea was that?)

Papa Pea had hiked the loop trail up behind our house once this winter with a friend, but I hadn't been on it yet.

He had encountered a couple of spots on the trail that were blocked with blowdowns so loaded a little sled with chainsaw, a couple of shovels and a pickaroon.

I've mentioned before that the first half of the loop is a steep incline (which always causes me to state I'm never going to hike it again) that goes straight northward.  But then at the top we come to a ridge that we follow to the east for a while.

The ridge is relatively flat and makes for pleasant going after the first half of the trail climb.

Here I am, happy on the ridge where the walking is easy.  The day was bright (yes, we had sun!) and beautiful and warm.

After the ridge, we turned and hiked southward and into the woods again.  Here Papa Pea is clearing the last area of blowdown blocking the trail.  (I think it looks like he has a pelt slung over his back, but it's just his sweatshirt he took off and tied around his middle.)

It's always a surprise to realize the different muscles you use when on snowshoes.  I mean I walk and move around every day, right?  But this morning the muscles in my feet and ankles are a titch on the sore side from walking on the snowshoes yesterday.  A couple more hikes, now that we have the snow, and I should be back in snowshoeing shape.  Or at least I hope so.

Friday, January 29, 2016

This Next to the Next to the Last Day of January

Well, here's a non-picture for you!  Looks a bit different than the view of the same raised beds I showed in my last post, doesn't it?  We had snow two days ago, and it was just enough to totally cover our raised beds for the first time this year.

Yep, Mother Nature gave us a mini-blizzard this past Wednesday.  Only about 3-5" (hard to tell because of drifting) of snowfall but it came down all day accompanied by high winds which made for some very interesting conditions.  For about one hour in the afternoon, the snow turned to rain.  The temp was at 29°, but none the less, we had rain.  Then it turned to snow again so you can imagine the icy mess that made on every surface outside.

All in all, we continue to have a very mild winter.  We may get a couple more inches of snow today, they say, but the temperature of 21° at mid-morning makes it not uncomfortable for being outside doing what needs to be done.

We're still shaking our heads (but with a happy grin on our faces) at how little wood we've burned for heating so far this season.  Here we are at the end of January and we're only a smidge more than halfway through our smallest wood cache.  Can't complain about that one bit.

A big pan of Swiss Steak is simmering on the stove this morning, Papa Pea is off to get a resupply of fresh, raw milk from the farm and as soon as I'm done here, I plan to sit at the kitchen table and get serious about crop layout for the raised beds and field garden.  If I don't have my plan in place by planting time, I waste too much time deciding what to plant where when I could be actively doing the planting.

But first, I have to bottle up the latest batch of kombucha, pay a couple of bills, order some new Christmas CDs which we decided were definitely needed as we played all the old, old ones (over and over) this past holiday season, put a couple of batches throw rugs through the washer, get some soup defrosting for lunch, finish the first mitten of a new pair for the twins, put the last couple rounds on the latest rag rug I have in progress, and fill both inside wood boxes.

HAHAHHOHOHOHEEHEEHAHA!  I am so unrealistic when I make my lists for the day.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Good Seeds = Good Gardening = Good Food

I'll readily admit it seems I spend an inordinate amount of time and effort 'round about this time of the year pouring through the huge stack of garden seed catalogs that have been accumulating on my desk for the last several weeks.  I do this in order to find garden seeds that are organic, heirloom, and best suited for our northern gardening climate.  And being the frugal (penny-pinching?) money spender I am, I feel a need, if I have a choice, to find the most reasonably priced source of the seeds I decide to order.

Phew, whadda job.  Just ask my husband who has had to live with the myriad of catalogs strewn over the kitchen table (and me bent over them muttering to myself while making copious notations on multitudinous pieces of paper) for the last solid week.

I thought you might appreciate
a little garden eye candy

However, the task is now completed, and I used the phone (much, much faster than ordering online) this morning to place my order from each of four different seed companies. 

I do take my gardening responsibilities very seriously and locating and procuring the seeds I want is just the start of the process each season.  Gardening is hard work, but I simply love it and feel very, very good that (most years) I can provide us with an ample supply of fruits and vegetables for our year 'round eating pleasure and satisfying our nutritional needs. 

Right now, at the end of January, we still have a good supply of peas, cauliflower, beets, green and yellow beans and Brussels sprouts in the freezer.  The broccoli was mostly consumed by the worms (again!) this year so what I did harvest is long gone.  We have only one and a half servings of Stuffed Green Peppers left as I lost more than half of the pepper plants this past season to some weird, undiagnosed malady.

There is plenty of garlic and an abundance of onions cured and storing well in the basement.

Our root cellar still holds cabbages, carrots, beets and potatoes.  Also some apples from our downright pitiful last harvest.  They aren't the best eating out-of-hand apples by far (that's an understatement), but they do make good baked desserts and (amazingly) great applesauce. 

Many jars of applesauce, sweet and dill pickles and pickled beets are squirreled away in the pantry.

I have several jars of still bright green dried parsley, but have run out of dried mint.  Papa Pea drinks a mug of peppermint tea every morning and has declared the mint I grew and dried last summer the best tasting he's ever had.  With a compliment like that, you can bet I'll be growing lots more this coming season.

Frozen chives (that I love and use so much) are holding out well, and I think we'll have enough until the little green shoots of that hardy perennial plant make an appearance this spring. 

Our strawberry crop last year was nothing to write home about as our old bed of geriatric plants finally gave up the ghost, but the new plants I put in should be rarin' to go this season giving us (we're hope, hope, hoping) as many red, juicy berries as we'll need.  For now I have only one lonely quart of mashed strawberries in the freezer that I don't seem to be able to use . . . because then I'd be totally O-U-T, wouldn't I?  Happily, there are still many jars of strawberry jam in the pantry. 

Still have plenty of frozen raspberries and rhubarb but the blueberries are to the point of being rationed out.  (Remember the onslaught of blueberry-eating robins we were plagued with last year?  We haven't forgotten them, that's for sure, and will be ready this year if they try another takeover of the blueberry patch.  Yes, it may be a case of take no prisoners.  Sorry, Robin Redbreast, but those are MY blueberries.) 

Before I made myself delve into the catalogs and the official Ordering of the Seeds, I admit I was dragging my feet because I had absolutely no desire (despite my declaration of loving gardening so much) to even think about this coming season's garden yet.  But rest assured it didn't take more than looking at two or three catalogs and I would have gone right outside to plant some seeds . . . if that had been possible.  I guess you can take me out of the garden, but you can't take the urge to garden out of me.  Not for long anyway.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Ya Just Never Know . . .

I'm still on the kick of knitting myself socks.  (It may be an addiction, I'm not sure.)  My goal is to have eight pairs of socks . . . one for every day of the week with one to spare.   Since all the socks I've already made are in the laundry, I'd have to go pull them out of the dirty clothes hamper to tell you for sure how many I've made so far.  I think it's five.  Or six.  No, five.

Anywho, I've just finished the first sock of another pair using some yarn I've not knit with before.

I love the self-patterning yarn they have for socks these days.  Some of the yarns come out with intricate designs that actually look as though you've used the intarsia knitting technique.  Some others . . . not so much.

I am not liking the particular pattern this yarn made.  Nor am I pleased with the coloration.  Yep, I know the colors look much like the second unused hank placed next to the finished sock.  Somehow, I thought more of the blue would dominate, but I see too much of the rather (insipid) yellow/green . . . which looks more tan/beige in the picture.  (Kinda picky, aren't I?)

Oh, well.  Not the end of the world.  I've already started on the second sock having knit the cuff and about four or five inches of the top.  And once I put my socks on in the morning, I don't look at them much anyway.  (So quit your whining, Mama Pea, just quit your whining.)

But it does illustrate that you never know just how the self-patterning yarn will turn out.  And I must admit, that's what makes knitting with it so interesting.  I've made one pair of socks in a dusty blue solid colored yarn and although I like the socks, I thought I would keel over dead from boredom before I got them done.

What's up next?  Either this gorgeous blue or the green/navy yarn.  Stay tuned . . . 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Soup's On!

Campbell's tomato soup was a "comfort" soup of my mom's when I was growing up, so I remember having it frequently.  Many years ago I experimented to see if I could make my own homemade tomato soup that would be a bit more nutritious.  I think I combined a couple of recipes and came up with this that I really like.

Whenever I make it, I always double the recipe and then freeze half of it to have on hand for later.  Because it's a "cream" soup which will sometimes (but not always) curdle after being frozen, I've chosen to freeze half the portion of the tomato mixture and then add the milk when I defrost and heat up the soup.  When I made it yesterday, I threw caution to the wind (I know, scary, huh?) and added the milk to the whole batch I made.  Now it will be interesting to see if that was a good (or bad) idea when I use the soup (with the milk already in it) I froze.

Anyway, here is my recipe, not doubled, which makes three or four servings.

Comfort Cream of Tomato Soup

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons chopped onion
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper (less if desired)
A dash each of garlic powder,
dried basil, dried oregano, and
dried thyme
1 - 14.5 oz. can stewed tomatoes
(Or 2 cups home canned tomatoes)
2 cups milk

Saute the butter and onion in a large
saucepan.  Blend in flour, sugar, salt,
pepper and herbs.  Remove from heat.

Put the (undrained) tomatoes in
a blender and blend until smooth.
Gradually stir into mixture in
soup pot.  Bring to a boil,
stirring constantly.  Boil for 1
minute longer, still stirring.

Stir milk into hot tomato mixture
gradually.  Put this whole mixture
back into the blender and puree
to make the soup very smooth and

Return mixture to soup pot and heat
until very warm, being careful not
to boil.
Serves 3-4.

I always use whole raw milk when I make this soup.  If you wanted to be really decadent, you could us some half and half or even cream.  Enjoy! 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Lunch Today and Other Drivel

Boy, am I ever tired of these seemingly endless gray days!  I know I shouldn't complain because at least the temperature has gone up into the 20s, but with about 97.5% humidity out there, dark gray clouds and a stiff breeze . . . it's just not stimulating me to great feats requiring any kind of energy.

It was a smidge before 6 this morning when hubby and I woke up.  We both had spent a night tossing and turning while battling through wild and weird dreams.  Hmmm, something in the air?  What did we have to eat or drink too late last night?

Papa Pea chose to get up and on with the day, but I opted to try to get more shut-eye.  Didn't work though so I was soon up and dressed also.

Mid-morning we bundled up and walked out to get the mail.   Where we were protected by the trees, it was almost pleasant (if dark, damp, and gray can be pleasant), but at the few spots where the wind whistled down the drive it was not nice.  Keeping watch for the many icy patches under foot was required.  We're still shaking our heads over the lack of snow this winter.  In our location I think we've had only about 6" total so far.

I've had a hankering for tomato soup so whipped up a double batch (half for the freezer) of my homemade Cream of Tomato for lunch.  I got a little crazy and made a batch of popcorn to put in our soup.

Soup and popcorn (I was surprised the popcorn seemed to "melt" and nearly disappear as soon as it was put in the soup -- no wonder we can eat a bowlful of popcorn and not feel stuffed) along with a couple slices of horseradish-dill cheese and dill pickles Papa Pea fermented back in early September.  They're still tasty now these five months later.

Now I'm back to the kitchen to bake some Black Bottom Cupcakes.  Hubby and a friend are going for a day's hike tomorrow, and I figured some chocolate to take along would be appreciated. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Reprint from My Blog Archives

Papa Pea and I just got back in from a look around the duck, geese and chicken houses checking to see that all our feathered friends were safe.

We've spotted a timber wolf on our property a few times in the past several weeks, and this afternoon we saw him coming up our driveway, make a turn and go toward the area where the poultry is kept.

From there he seemed to disappear (where he went, we don't know) but nothing in that area was harmed or disturbed.

In the years we've lived in northern Minnesota we've had a few encounters with and lots of sightings of wolves.  Below is a reprint of a post I wrote a year or so after I first started blogging.  The post was called:

Setting A Land Speed Record On Skis

The 80-acre homestead we first lived on when we moved up here to Minnesota was a bit remote.  There were two other families in the same area but the closest lived about a mile away via the gravel road.

We had ski trails all through our woods that we used a lot in the winter time.  Our daughter got her first pair of cross country skis when she was about four so when she was nine years old, and the following incident occurred, she was already a competent skier.

One year shortly after they moved into the area, our nearest neighbors and good friends and we decided we should all work on making a trail through the woods from our house to theirs.  Then we could ski back and forth in the winter without having to go along the gravel road.  We cut trees and cleared brush for a couple weekends that fall and by winter time had a nice trail that connected our homesteads.

At the time they had two milk goats and we also had started our small herd.  It was natural that we would do each others' milking and animal chores when one family needed to be gone for a time.

The other mom and I frequently went on ski outings during the day when the kids were in school and husbands off at their jobs.  The rule was that we always left a note on the table saying what time we left the house, where we were going, and what time we expected to be home.

Okay, back to one winter day when we were in charge of doing the neighbor's evening chores.  Papa Pea had a meeting after school so our daughter took the school bus home and she and I were going to ski through the woods to the neighbors, do their chores, and be back home before dark.

I can't remember what I was involved in but I wasn't quite ready to leave as soon as daughter got home, changed her clothes and was ready to go.  At any rate, we left a smidge later than planned.

We skied through the woods, milked and fed the goats, fed their chickens, collected eggs, gave fresh water to everybody, and checked the house to make sure all was well.  Not only had we gotten over there later than planned, but chores, for some reason, took longer than expected.  It was getting dark fast and I knew we weren't going to make it all the way home before dark.

I was not a well-prepared woodswoman that day.  Daughter and I were both dressed warmly enough but I had neglected to bring any kind of a head lamp or flashlight along on the journey.

We no more than left their homestead and entered the woods than we lost all natural light.  We could hardly see the ski tracks on the trail.  But that wasn't the worst of it.  From not too far off in the woods, we could hear the howling of wolves.  There was a healthy population of timber wolves in the area that winter and it wasn't unusual to hear packs "talking" back and forth to each other. 

I gave some thought to turning around, going all the way across our neighbor's land and out their long driveway through more woods to get to the road and walking or trying to ski home via the plowed gravel road.  Daughter and I had a short conference.  I explained to her that it would be more than twice as fast to ski home via the woods trail and that's what I thought we should do.  We frequently saw wolf tracks on the road so that way didn't guarantee a wolf-free trip either.  I wasn't feeling very big and brave at the time but tried to convince her all would be well.  She hesitantly agreed to my suggestion of skiing through the woods.

We tied our hats on securely, put our ski pole straps around our wrists and got ready to push off.  I asked her if she wanted to go first or follow behind me.

She replied, "I don't wanna go first!"

So I told her I was going to go as fast as I could but to just yell if I was getting too far ahead of her.

It was so dark I truly could not see the ski trail in front of me.  The good thing was that we had used the trail a lot and had defined tracks that our skis could follow.  The bad thing was that we had to go up and down a couple of fairly steep hills.  And, oh ya, there was the continual howling of the wolves that commanded much of our attention.

I know it was adrenaline that spurred my nine year old along that night but I don't think the front tips of her skis were more than 6" behind the back tips of mine the whole way.  She was bookin' it!

We came to the top of the last steep hill before we crossed the frozen creek and came out into one of our fields.  I stopped at the crest and told her we had to go down separately so we didn't crash into each other.  (Secretly, I was hoping there wouldn't be a moose standing at the bottom that one of us would crash into.)  I again asked if she wanted to go first but she said no.  I told her to wait at the top and I would yell as soon as I got to the bottom and she could come on down then.  I no more than stopped at the bottom and was turning to call to her when I saw her dark shape coming down in a beautiful tuck position like a bullet in a down jacket and ski pants.

Once out in the open of the field we could see a little better plus our house in the distance was lit up like a Christmas tree.  Papa Pea had arrived home, found no note and couldn't figure out where we were.  He knew we had planned on going to the neighbors to do chores but didn't know why we weren't home yet when it was pitch dark out.  He was close to getting back into his car and driving over there when we clomped up onto the back porch.

I know the wolves were most likely never anywhere close to us but when we were in the middle of those thick, dark woods, they sounded plenty near enough.  These many years later our daughter vividly remembers that ski home, and I still remember the speed record we both set getting there.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

How Cold Is It?

Way too cold!  Winds containing gusts of 35 mph started last night and have continued to blow right up to the present time of 7 p.m.  The thermometer couldn't quite make it above zero all day.  We've had a wind chill factor of 40 below all day.  Yep, that's too cold.

I haven't set foot out the door all day.  My dear husband has done all the chores including bringing loads of wood to the window I opened on the enclosed porch where I've taken it from him while bundled up in my heavy down jacket, gloves and a hat.

This morning we had to wait to restoke the wood stove in the living room which heats that part of the house and Papa Pea's office above it.  The ashes had built up to critical mass and I needed to clean them out.  Both our stoves hold a fire overnight which is wonderful in this frigid weather but that means there were lots of glowing coals in the living room stove that I wanted to burn up before starting the ash clean out.  If I shovel ashes with still burning coals into the small garbage can we use for ashes, lots more dust, grit and grime floats out into the room than if the ashes are cold.

I have to admit I didn't let the ashes get entirely "cold" this morning because we humans in the house were mighty eager for that stove to be fired up and putting out heat!

Lighting the gas oven in the kitchen on the other side of the living room wall helped a bit.  I had planned on baking a blueberry pie today anyway, so it was made and put in to bake even earlier than I had planned.

But the ashes did get cleaned out and it wasn't too long before the house was warm enough to be comfortable.  I'm so thankful, grateful and appreciative for a well-insulated home and plenty of dry and seasoned wood for our wood stoves.  In weather like this I can't help but think back to our first few years living up here.  We were in an old, uninsulated (or darn close to it) metal trailer trying to heat with green wood.  Ugh, those were not the good old days. 

I worked along all day today like the energizer bunny getting the "must-dos" for the first part of this week done.  Tomorrow is laundry day for me and I'm bound and determined to spend all the time I can squeeze in around wash day chores in my quilt room.  Tomorrow's weather forecast is calling for about the same as we had today so what better weather could there be for quilting?

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Failure or Success?

A short time ago I saw a pair of mittens a friend had knit that I really liked.  She was nice enough to share the pattern with me so I could make some for myself.

In typical fashion (sigh), I didn't have the brand of yarn the pattern called for and not wishing to purchase more yarn since I have a large (you could hide a body in it) tote full of yarn, I used some that I had.  I knew the yarn was a little different than that called for since I had to change needle size from those called for in the pattern to attain the correct gauge.

Followed the instructions for a "ladies" size, but (boo-hoo-hoo) they came out just a smidge small for me.

My daughter's hands are slightly bigger than mine so she couldn't wear them either, but she does have a good friend with small hands so that's who is destined to get the mittens this weekend.

I like the mittens so much -- they seem as if they'll be very warm as they feel almost like a felted item -- that I'm going to make another pair, in the men's size, hoping those will fit me.  If those turn out too big, well, then my daughter may get a new pair of mittens yet.  

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Mittens and Miscellaneous

I finished making two pairs of mittens-on-a-string for the twins last night because I knew there was a chance they might be stopping by for breakfast this morning.

The ones on the right are purple for the little miss and the other pair is a dark forest green (although I know they look nearly black in the photo) for the little guy.

Baby Girl's hair is just long enough for two cute little pony tails of which she's very proud.  Here she's showing them off . . . along with her new pair of mittens which she put on and wouldn't take off.

Baby Boy, on the other hand, HATED his mittens because when he took them off they wouldn't go away!

Here are "the men" coming in from getting a basket full of kindling wood.  (Baby Boy is wearing his "old" brown pair of mittens, you'll notice.)

* * * * * * * *

Since Papa Pea offered to go down into the root cellar yesterday to get me some potatoes and carrots, I told him to bring up some apples, too, so I could bake something "apple-y."

I made a pan of Apple Slices and when I put it in the oven to bake I placed a sheet of aluminum foil on the rack below it to catch drips should it burble over.  Which it did.

But the "burbling over" missed the foil and made a nasty, burnt, stuck-like-glue, smoldering puddle on the bottom of the oven.  Note on door handle is so I don't light the oven before taking the time to clean up the mess.  (Not that I've ever done such a thing before.  Gosh, no.  Nuh-uh.  Nope.  Never.)

Sunday, January 10, 2016

I Did It Again

I couldn't stop myself.  I just had to do it.  I started a new project . . . but I also finished it!

Another crocheted rag rug using strips of fabric.  Not only did I get a nice rug out of the project, but I'm using up fabric that I've had in my stash since for-EVAH (would you believe the 1980s?) and which was probably about ready to self-destruct from old age.  (Not quite that bad.  But almost.)

This one is for the bathroom in front of the sink.  The couple of rounds of red I put in to snazz it up a bit look almost glow-in-the-dark in these pictures.  In real life (real rug life?) they blend in a bit more.

* * * * * * * *

We may have finally entered into real winter time temperatures.  Day before yesterday we had 2-3" of heavy, wet snow.  What else could it be other than heavy and wet when the temperature was at 34° the whole time?

Yesterday the temps dropped all day and this morning we woke to -2°.  Looks as though it will go below zero again tonight.  Brrrr!

* * * * * * * *

I've been going on and on about the fact that I want to catch up on my sleep this winter.  This morning I got up around about the usual time, staggered around for a few minutes in the kitchen . . . and then went back to bed.  Slept until 10 o'clock!  And it felt gooood.  I really would be smart if I'd let myself do that more often when the mood struck.  Now that our temps are hovering in the deep freeze and the days are still on the short side, it's a good time for spending more time in the Land of Nod.  Me and the big, ol' fat hibernating bears.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A Finished Project

What?!  I actually spent enough time in my quilt room to finish a project?  Yup, I did.  I truly did.

This is another crocheted rug using strips of cloth that I started . . . oh, I don't know, maybe 74-5 years ago.  I didn't have too many rounds to finish it which is just what I managed to do a couple of nights ago.

It's now in its place in front of the door that goes to our attached garage, at the end of our (rather narrow) entryroom.  We enter the back of the house (the main entry for all practical purposes) onto our enclosed porch, and then into this small room where we have closet space on one side for all outdoor clothing, and on the other side is some closed cabinet storage and a couple of file cabinets that I've wanted to get out of there . . . well, almost forever.  Once they are relocated (yeah, just where to relocate them is the stumbling block), we can extend the built-in cabinets.  Actually, I'd like to make that area into a closet where we could store our out-of-season clothing that is now currently stored in the attic.  Not the most convenient place when it comes time to pack away the heavy winter duds and get out the summer clothes.  And then, of course, the reverse happens in the autumn.

I took count this morning and found I have five different projects scattered around my quilt room that are in one stage or another of completion.  It's not that I don't like to finish projects.  (Honest!)  It's just that I have so many projects I want to do, and can't seem to stop myself from flitting (flit-flit) from knitting needles to sewing machine to crochet hook to needle and thread.

These five projects I counted are just the ones I have actively been working on.  They don't include all of the UFOs stashed away with the label, "To Be Finished . . . Someday."  (Can any of you relate?)  Then there's the 3-ring binder full to the bursting with ideas for projects I'm nowhere near starting.

Well, at least I am content in the knowledge that should we ever find ourselves snowbound (ha, ice-bound currently seems as if it would be more likely!), I will not be lacking for something with which to keep my mind and hands busy.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

What Is Ice Good For?

(Other than making a beverage cold, I mean?)

Our winter thus far has been very unusual.  Although there have been a couple of times when the thermometer dipped down to what we would expect in the first part of winter in our area, the majority of the time we've been experiencing what is typically early spring time weather in the north woods.  Highs of nearly 30 degrees in the day and dropping into the 20s at night.

We've had one decent snowfall of a few inches, but it came on top of a terrible coating of ice literally covering the ground.  The snow did nothing to make walking (or in some cases driving) any easier.

This picture was taken out our garage door across the backyard looking toward the beginning of our driveway on the left.  My very well-intentioned husband thought that if he shoveled off the snow near the house (after said snowfall), the sun hitting the ice would melt it.  This was about two weeks ago and all that has happened since then is for thicker, more treacherous ice to form.

Gravel roads in the area are much like our back yard.  The road crews in the county have the main road in good shape, mostly free of ice but it's still necessary to watch for remaining slick spots.

Oh, I tell ya, it's dangerous out there.  I know one has to learn to flow with what comes along, but these days it's been learning to slip and slide (and try to remain upright) with what comes along.

I just glanced out the window and saw this sunset illuminating the western sky with gorgeous clouds and color.  If you look carefully down to the left, you can see our solar panels which we laid flat this morning because we've had such high winds for the past 36 hours.

I do understand why folks from this area go south for the winter!   

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Starting the New Year

Although Christmas was great, I really lost steam the week after and by the time New Year's Eve and New Year's Day came, as far as I was concerned, the holiday mood had done left the building.

Today we're kinda sorta getting back into our regular routine. 

I hauled up all the boxes that hold the Christmas decorations in preparations for my big project tomorrow which will be denuding the house of all its colorful and festive finery.  Then I'll clean the ashes out of the wood stove in both the kitchen and living room, do a quick job of housecleaning and put up the January/winter decorations.

This morning I finished simmering a big pot of bean soup I had started yesterday.  We certainly didn't lack for good food over the holidays and some ham was left over that I wanted to use.  Bean Soup with Ham . . . one of my favorites.  We each had a bowl for lunch today before I packaged it for the freezer.  Dessert was a slice of rhubarb pie.  Not exactly a kind of pie one might expect to have in January, but this past summer I made up and froze five or six containers of rhubarb pie mix, one of which I made into a pie last night.  You know what?  It tastes like summer time!  Admittedly, a little strange this time of year, but so good!  If you like rhubarb.  And I really do.

I keep getting dunning notices (from a company which shall remain nameless) for a book which I neither ordered nor kept.  I have proof of returning the book to the company which I've made copies of and sent back with previous invoices I've received.   The same invoices I refuse to pay.  So what's the problem here?  Is the billing office not in communication with the return office?  Did they not receive the returned book?  If so, shouldn't that be communicated to me?  Maybe it's a case of no flesh and blood person being employed by this company and the computers (or robots) are incapable of handling the situation.  In any case, it makes me hesitant to do any future business  with this particular company.

Papa Pea and I just had a good laugh.  (Touching on the hysterical though it might have been.)  He planned to spend the whole day working at his desk getting it cleared off and his paperwork brought up to date.  I planned to spend the whole day in my quilt room.  At three o'clock we met in our entry room to get dressed to go out for late afternoon chorres.  Neither of us had spent more than a couple of hours (probably less than that) doing what we planned for the day.  And nothing kept us from it other than the simple, everyday tasks and chores and happenings that make up a regular day.  Sometime instead of making a list for the day and crossing off items when they are completed, I'm going to write down all the mundane things I do every day that seem to eat up the hours as if they were mere minutes.  Hmmm, that might be an eye-opener.  In one way or the other.

Lots of flu going around our community.  Our daughter has it now after caring for the 2 year old twins who both had it last week.  I'm happy to say Papa Pea and I both are staying fit as fiddles.  I guess we're tougher (and maybe ornerier) than the ol' flu bugs.