Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a wonderful day, filled with feasting, friends and family.  I'll be spending my time tending the critters on the Farmlette, and heading to a good friend's house for festivities. And as usual, I'll likely eat far too favorite Thanksgiving tradition!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving

And the whole smelled like pie.

Well, it will by this evening, anyway.  I have plans to make some kind of berry pie, and maybe a pumpkin pie.  One will stay here (the pumpkin) and the other will travel with me to my friend's house for dessert.  Both should be quite pie usually is.

I've got plans to whip up a squash-corn pudding, and a batch of cauliflower cheese using a River Cottage recipe.  And if time allows, maybe a batch of simple rolls will find their way into the oven (and eventually, the table).

In any case, I fear that before the end of the day, my kitchen may look like this:

Ha!  Well, maybe not quite so scorched.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Winter Has Come

Luckily, my days are not quite as bleak as this painting would suggest.

However, it has been dark and blustery and highly suggestive that, while the winter solstice may in fact be a few weeks away, Winter has rolled into town and set up camp.  The nights fall faster, with more finality.  The wind has a cold whine in its throat, growling at the edges of windows and doors and pleading to come in.  We've had a couple blanketings of snow (and one rather sloppy, foggy melt).  The chickens refuse to set foot outside their cozy coop.  The rabbits are reveling in the colder temperatures--finally, their fur coats make sense!  As for the dogs and cats, they alternately want to go play in the fluffy whiteness and come in to sleep by the fire (or on the porch, as is the case for the Outdoor Boys).

For myself, I find my time spent between shoveling paths and digging out doorways, banging out water dishes, and making the daily slog to and from work.  The one significant downside to my job in the winter months is driving on crappy roads, day in and day out.  It certainly makes the days a bit longer on either end, with needing to leave extra time to make the drive and still arrive on time.  And once I'm home, it's the job of tending the hearth and fire, feeding all the hungry animals, and finally--finally--climbing back into my warm slippers and flannel robe.  A giant pot of soup, a hot cup of tea, the sound of snoring dogs: they are the sound track to my evenings, with the rumblings of Winter outside the door and window panes.

With Winter comes strings of holiday lights and Christmas music and all sorts of delightful things.  I have plans to make a couple more delicious potable concoctions before the great festivus of the holidays hit.  I'm thinking an apple pie flavored brandy drink would go down very well...and I really should finish off my spiced cranberry vodka.  And then there's all the baking and the candy making and the wrapping of the presents to park under the tree...all things to look forward to.  And of course, I'm really really looking forward to a few weeks off with nothing more to do that sit in warm clothes, drink too much coffee, and page through all the lovely seed catalogs that are winging their way to me.

Ahh, Winter.  You may be grim and horrible, but You do have your perks.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Last Week in Review

Ah, last week...where did it go?

Speedily, as they always do.

Monday saw the first snow of the season.  It was kind of gross, a lot of sleet mixed into a wet snow.  There were dire warnings of heavy accumulation, but they didn't come to pass, thankfully.  There was still a fair amount of shoveling to be done, but I bought myself a new push-shovel thingie that is quite great.  Oh, you're still out there shoveling, but it's lightweight with a set of hand grips low on the handle, perfect for heaving various sized shovelfuls to the side.

The rest of the week was cold, and long, and grey.  The Ladies of the Coop never set foot outside, as they hate snow.  They will likely spend their days inside from now on.  I don't know why they dislike the snow so much, but there you have it.  My quirky girls are not pleased by the white stuff that has appeared.

Friday was errand running after work, followed by a weekend of dealing with wood.  Lots and lots of wood. So much wood...anyway, the stacks are reappearing which is such a comfortable feeling.  In two weeks time, I went from feeling secure in my heat source to having pretty much nothing and back to comfortable again.  I must say, I really like feeling heat-secure.  Of course, my version of heat-secure means a lot of stacking of wood.  When it is good, dry seasoned stuff, it's not heavy by any means, but it sure is repetitive and wearying.  My back has certainly been talking to me for the past couple of days, not to mention my healing foot.  The continued cold certainly is helping that particular body part.

I have a feeling that this winter is going to be a long one.  Hopefully, we won't get too many more polar vortex episodes and we'll have less snow this year.  I've got my pile of wood, and my new shovel, so I'm feeling fairly ready.  Bring on the snowflakes!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Funny Story...

So, yesterday I spent the day cleaning up burned things in the yard.  I raked up bits, filled buckets, dumped trash into barrels, and filled the back of the truck twice to overflowing with charred remains of the useful things I had stored in and around my little shed-in-a-box.  After my second run to the local "waste to energy plant" (aka incinerator), I headed up to Rice Lake to fetch a tarp, some tie-downs, and a roll of snow fencing with a host of t-posts.  I didn't bother changing out of my filthy clothes, because I was just going to the hardware store and after that, well, I was going to race daylight and work in the yard some more.

There I was, dressed in my finest: a dirty knitted woolen cap, filthy work gloves, old baggy leggings and neon sneakers, and, topping it all, what I lovingly call my homeless coat.  It's a $3 thrift store find, a giant baggy army green mens coat with a zillion useful pockets and thinsulate lining.  After the day's work, it was covered with layers of dirt, grease and wide swathes of charcoal.  My face and hands were dirty, my hair scraped back and wadded up under my dirty cap.  Usually, I would've at least washed before heading to town, but I figured whatever, it's a quick run and then I'm back to the dirty work.

Oh yeah, I was so stylish.

As I walked into the store, I saw the lady at the customer service desk give me a funny look.  But I grabbed my cart, and wheeled off to find things.  I was on a mission, dang it, and the day was growing short.

While looking at plastic zip-ties, an employee sidled up to me and asked in an odd tone, "Can I help you??"

I said no thanks, and moved along to the tarps and tie downs.  As I picked out a nice big heavy duty tarp to cover the remaining outdoor stuff, a different employee sidled up and asked again, "Can I help you???"

Man, what helpful people...but no, I'm good.

Off I went to the t-post and snow fence section.  This time, two employees came over to ask if I needed help.  That's when it dawned on me.

I was being tracked.

Holy crap.  Because I was dressed like a derelict, they actually thought I was a homeless person.

Because you know, all homeless people raid their local giant hardware store before they erect a homeless person village in the woods.

Of course they do.

And you know, homeless people are all criminals.  So of course I was planning to steal the contents of my cart, wheeling it madly away cackling, dirt flying off my filthy clothes.

Of course that could happen.

So I smiled sweetly, and said nope, I was doing just fine.  I wheeled off, with my entourage following lamely behind, and wandered through Christmas Land for a little while.  I kind of lost them in there, whether because of the blinking lights throwing them off, or because all the people in there shopping for holiday inflatables before snow arrives on Monday caused them to lose sight of me temporarily.  They picked me up again when I browsed the bow and wreath aisle, but when I made for the checkouts, they seemed to realize...

Oh.  She's just a dirty slob, not a weirdo bent on stealing tarps and t-posts and LED lights to decorate a New Age Hooverville in the scrub woods behind the store.

Usually, when I'm in the shop and NEED to find someone, they all vanish, leaving me to ponder the merits of various odd shaped fasteners with my pathetic building skills all alone.  I'm going to remember to dress in my rattiest clothes next time--you sure get a lot of people offering to help that way!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Happy Things

Things are still pretty crispy around here, although progress is being made wading through the insurance claim's such a delightful thing, I tell you.  Overall, the insurance folks are playing nice thus far, so I have hopes of a quick resolution, repairs happening smoothly, and the process of replacing my charcoaled lawn & garden gear starting soon.  While I wait, to distract myself, I've been watching silly things on YouTube.  Check out this gem:

Eww. LOL.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Last night, I got a text in the middle of dinner out with friends.  Apparently, someone saw a picture on Facebook that my house was on fire.

Needless to say, I didn't get dinner.  I drove home at 90 MPH, praying that my house was NOT on fire, that my dogs were NOT dead.  About three blocks from the house, I could smell smoke.  Disgusting thick smoke heart just sank into my shoes.

When I pulled up in a screech of brakes, it was to fire.  Evidence of a rather impressive one in the yard, but the house seemed ok.  The lights were on.  The yard was crispy.  Oh, and no one was here.  No note on the door.  Nothing.

After running inside, calling the dogs and finding them smoke-stinky but ok, and then becoming a complete hyperventilating mess for a bit, it took a call to 911 to track down the fire chief.  And then, I had to make a call to the power folks because no one had called them, even though the meter box was scorched.  And then, there was a lot of wandering in the dark, crying and peering at things with a flashlight.

The lookie-loos started very early this morning.  One in particular (a truck of guys with a deer lamp at 1 AM) really stands out in my mind.

When it finally got light, I was able to take some pictures.  It still stinks of smoke outside.  My wood pile is gone.  My bike melted.  My little shed in a box is all warped, burned, and melted.  The side of my house melted.  A window cracked.  My neighbor's siding on a corner of his monsterous garage got warped.  But the sun still shines, the cats are happily wandering around, and everyone is ok.  The rest of it?  It's just a hot mess of burned crap.  I know it'll be ok...once I stop shaking.

It could have been so, so much worse.