Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Things are clearer in the light of day - and weird stash.

When I get up at my usual 4A, it is dark.  The dogs go tear-assing outside to protect us from whatever lurks and I am always worried that there will actually BE something to attack out there in the dark.  A couple of mornings ago, Bertie came charging in with something rather large in his mouth.  It was also dark inside, as I may get up early, but I need to approach light (and waking up) gradually...  I told him to drop it, which he did.  Then I did a dumb thing - I bent over and grabbed it.  In the dark.  It was stiff, cold and furry.  ARGLE!
I ran to the nearest lamp and switched it on.  Of course, now that we have all these wonderful energy-saving bulbs, it takes some little time for actual light to appear.

I wondered where my other best mitten went.  Apparently, a good bit of the top either went down Bertie's gullet, or I may find the remnants in the spring thaw.


How much snow did we get?  Well, take a look-see at my neighbor plowing my drive:
It was his medium tractor

I have tractor envy.
Yes.  That much.
All this forced inside living has given me an excuse to make progress on my latest pair of socks - destined for my other sister. 
Melanie's "Maple"
It's been a little hard to focus because Melanie appeared at our Knit In on Saturday wearing cabled leg warmers that I immediately coveted.  What a smart thing!  I am always getting snow in my boots.  I went rooting around in my stash and came across some Noro yarn that is....well, weird.  I have a love thang going with Noro yarn.  My late and dear Kate despised it - it is  Apparently, this colorway of super bulky yarn was not selling (oh, do tell) so I must have taken a look at the price and pounced on it.  I imagine the yarn store employees were snortling all the way to the cash register.
It's like knitting with organic matter.  Cool-ish.
HOWEVER, I do believe they will make a fetching pair of gaiter/leg warmers.  They look rather like lichen-y, mossy, barky things.  I better make sure I keep moving when the dogs are around me...

Monday, February 13, 2017

Cabin Fever

I think it's stopped snowing for about an hour since early yesterday morning.  Cabin Fever is setting in.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Snow Day!!

This really has been a stinker of a winter.  We had pouring rain a couple of days ago, then we got over a foot of snow yesterday.  BUT...I got a snow day!  As usual, our office did not 'officially' close, although no one could get in.  That ensures that they do not have to pay you an extra day and you have to take a vacation day.  I don't care.  I'm all over a day off.

Bertie is now known as Plow Boy.  For a dog that has never seen the snow, he is loving it.  He plows through the chest-deep snow, full of joy.  The Gazelle (Lovey) is right behind him, although she needs to be wearing her fleece jacket.  In a distant third is The Pepperoni.  I'll give him credit - he chugs right through snow that is up and over his back.  Until he's had enough, that is.  Then he stops, turns a mournful (and slightly accusing) eye to me, lifts a paw which shakes violently, and waits for me to trudge out and pick him up.  I. cannot. resist.

I was happy to discover that the snow was of the dry, fluffy type as I shoveled my way through my quarter mile paths.  Since it was snowing heavily all day, I fed the sheep in the barn.  The chickens refused to come out and the ducks were sorry they did.  I shoveled enough outside of the front door to make sure I could open it, then hunkered down for the day.  I had a loose plan of knitting, knitting and more knitting, but then The Chorus started - "Really?  And with all those other things that you keep putting off still waiting for your attention?"

I am nothing, if not my mother's daughter - I fold under guilt quite easily.  While I did allow myself some knitting time - as well as diving into a new library book - I also checked a few niggling things off of my inside list:

Polishing the brown shoes/boots (plus a quick fix to my black boots)
Like new!
Step One in cleaning the oven (my very least favorite job - obvious by the state of my oven)
Finished my ironing.  I say 'finish', although I started it weeks ago...

(No photo - I figured the pics of shoes and a dirty oven were enough excitement for today)

I also performed triage on Bertie's favorite toy - for the third time; mended my favorite flannel shirt; laundered the alternate sofa cover; vacuumed and swept.  All in all, it was a very satisfying day 'off'.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Weekend Adventures and a (late) Winner.

Firstly, let me apologize for not posting the winner of the alligator scarf on Friday.  In my defense - I couldn't!  I do all of my posting on my (ssshhh) work computer because Blogger on my phone now refuses to let me post.  And my work computer was not working last Friday.  That being said, CONGRATULATIONS SANDRA FROM CALIFORNIA!  You are the winner!  Please email your mailing particulars to me and I will send it off.

My weekend was the usual mix of too much to do in too little time.  I have been trying to hold the number of errands I run down to eight on Saturday, but sometimes it's impossible.  My list on Saturday morning was:  town clerk (Bertie's license), library, transfer station, monthly grocery run (two stores), gas, parents, feed.  I had the logistics worked out until I had to add a trip to the vet to pick up more antibiotics for B - he is still coughing.  I called around and found a neighbor who was going to the same feed store, so I begged them to pick up my feed.  That saved me quite a bit of time, as it's in Massachusetts - and a good half hour south of where I'd be in Vermont.  I also have been trying to go NOWHERE on Sunday.  In the end, I relegated the trip to the transfer station to Sunday morning.  The good news is that I was able to come in under my $75 monthly cap for groceries!  The total was $67, and $5.50(+ tax) of that was cat food.  Woohoo!  The bad news is that I picked Super Bowl Saturday to do my shopping - both stores were clogged with people loading processed cheese dip ingredients into their carts.  There were millions of them!  From the looks of the contents of the overloaded carts, the stores weren't the only things heading for clog-dom - look out arteries!

I made it back home by 3 and did a quick vacuuming - my knitting night with Melanie is now Saturday.  Bertie is in love with Melanie.  He steals her yarn, tries to climb in her lap, leans heavily while looking up with adoring eyes.  It's a hoot.  After a very nice evening of conversation, wine & cheese (she brought refreshments!) and a crackling fire in the fireplace, everyone collapsed in their various sleeping places and snored through the night...until I woke up at 3:30 because I was cold.  And I was cold because the furnace was not on.  Sigh.  Melanie and I had just been talking about her running out of fuel oil, so I put on six layers and went out with my flashlight - the gauge said half full.  It's been wrong before.  I put in a call to the oil company's emergency line at 4:20A.  The technician finally arrived at 7:45A.  I would have been in bad shape, had I not had alternative heating sources.  He got the furnace going quickly and his reasoning on it not starting was shaky - even to me.  He replaced some connector wires and went on his way.  I will be switching oil companies - if I'm going to be ripped off, I'd rather it be by a local company that will at least arrive quickly.

During the three+ hours it took him to get to us (there were no other emergencies, I learned and he came from less than 20 minutes away), I did what any frugal gal would do - having turned the oven on for warmth, I baked.  I made Blueberry Breakfast Bars, Granola Bars and a quiche, and put a sweet potato chili in the crockpot.  I finished my laundry, folded Saturday's, did three crossword puzzles, knit some more, swaddled the dogs, and stoked the fireplace fire.  I was plum worn out by the time the serviceman left.  I set up my menu plan for the week and managed to get everything made that was on my list.

We also squeezed in a couple of walks, a lot of romping and I put away 150 lbs of feed.  By 5 o'clock, I was dragging.  It seems that, in my mind, I am still 40, while, in reality, I am not.  Luckily, we were ALL pooped last night.  I fell sound asleep in my chair (so, no, Sylvie, I was not at a Super Bowl party...), woke up at 10 and shuffled off to sleep in my nice, warm bed.

On an interesting note, I realized how important it is to be tuned in to your body.  Late afternoon yesterday, I started to get debilitating leg cramps.  I did what any red-blooded Twenty First Century person would do - I Googled it.  Rheumatoid Arthritis?  No.  Over-use?  Not close.  Dehydration?  Bingo!  While I know how important it is to drink water, I don't.  I avoid water like the plague and I'm not sure why.  So I quickly downed a few glasses of water and - voila! - leg cramps went away.  Geez.  I have now added "Drink More Water" to my growing list of good habits I need to develop.  Why is it that good habits are so difficult to develop, while I can glom onto a bad habit like nobody's business?

Monday, January 30, 2017

Frugal knitting, a giveaway, when "good for you" is not good, and rassling.

After knitting like mad (with a worried eye on the ever-dwindling ball of yarn), I managed to eke out my project.   Voila!  Pink!  This is one of my favorite patterns - it's just complicated enough to make it interesting, but not so much that I throw up my hands and walk away.  I am offering this pink alligator scarf as a giveaway - to any ferocious little girl (or boy), any fashionably confident man or woman.  It's only open to the (former) US and Canada, however - postage constraints, you know.
Just leave a comment about how pink fits into your life (or not - but, then, why would you want a pink alligator scarf?) by midnight Thursday.  I will announce the winner on Friday.  Bon chance!
A pink hedgehog?
Pink 'gator!

As I am trying not to eat my way out of January/February, I am trying to both hold it down on the carbs, while introducing healthier grains into my diet.  This is a challenge for my weekend baking - for the barn crew, who appreciate sugar, fat and sugar.  And fat.  Did I mention sugar?  I've tried to sneak in some gluten-free treats and some have been met with approval, while some are just not mentioned.  This weekend I made some gluten-free chocolate chip cookies with low gluctose sugar (palm) and 'healthy' flours - teff, sorghum, hemp.  As I mixed the sandy mass, I could tell it was not going to be good.  Maybe good for you, but not good.  No, not at all.  Besides the sandy texture, it was held together with sunflower oil.  So, now we had a sandy, oily mixture.  And thanks, I am sure, to the hemp flower, there was a definite aroma of burlap.  Argle.  I tried a very tiny bit and, while I did not gag (maybe mentally), they were not good.  I put them aside, where they cooled to the consistency of a hockey puck, and whipped up an applesauce spice cake.
Lovey and her sidekick, Baby Hippo, continue to romp madly.  There is less snarly bits now - and they even sleep very close together on the sofa.  I think she is very happy - other than having to share me - having someone to play with.  I continue to adore the hippo, with the exception of his refusal to remember that he's housebroken.  He doesn't seem to mind the cold at all, which surprises me, seeing that he's from southern Alabama. 
Cinnamon and vanilla
Their favorite game is Red Light/Green Light:

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Winter of No Sun, More Pinkness and the Adventures of the Baby Hippo

This has been the gloomiest winter in memory.  On Sunday, January 22, there was 15 minutes of sun.  I dropped everything and hustled outside so that I could sit on the deck steps, close my eyes and soak it in.  All 15 minutes and no seconds of it.  Then it was gone.

It may surprise some of you that I wrestle with depression.  Yes, yes, that positive, chirpy exterior sometimes is a brittle fa├žade.  It does not help me one little bit when there is no sun for days, weeks and weeks.  I pump up the D3 during winter and eat as much dark green, leafy vege as I can shovel in, but we're barely breaking even this year.  Then there was the loss of my 'boy', Scrappy.  Even though I knew it was coming and had been bracing myself, the reality is a whole other plane of heartbreak.  Still, I am the poster girl for stiff upper lips, so - one foot in front of the other.  I manage to keep an even keel by focusing on all the good things - and there are plenty.  There are my family and friends.  There are my dogs and cats, chickens and ducks, sheep and llama.  There is the faith I have that kindness, compassion and honesty will overcome all the anti-light-giving crap that we are currently experiencing.  When I need an extra boost, I don my bright pink PussyHat.
(Pardon the blurry pic.)  The plaster cast of one
of my father's sculptures proudly holds the
pinkest of PussyHats until it is needed.
Speaking of pink... Although I have come to embrace the power of Pink, there is only so much of it that I am willing to clasp.  After knitting three hats, I still had quite a bit left of the skein of bubblegum pink yarn - what to do....  We all know that I am adamantly against waste, so it must be used!  I think I've come up with a plan.  And it involves a giveaway...details to come when it's finished.
Bertie continues to make progress.  He is a tater tot of a baby hippo, with the most endearing folds and wrinkles under his chin.  Gah.  I do have to keep reminding myself that he is still a puppy, even though he has an old man's face.  Lovey was also two when she came to me, but she was a whole nuther banana.  This one is very self-confident, has extremely limited focus and was born to chew.  I managed to rescue an ill-placed hiking boot before it was unwearable, and I have been finding most all of my mittens, ear warmers and scarves outside.  Until he gets the house rules under his belt/collar, Bertie is crated when I am not around him.  It works well, as he needs to be kept quiet for a while until his kennel cough is better.

Bertie is gradually meeting the rest of the inhabitants - he met Linden through the fence, nose-to-nose.  It's Linden's duty, as Head Sheepie, to check out all newcomers.  He took a sniff, snorted and did a hasty retreat.  Bertie barked his head off.  There are crows and squirrels.  There are chickens.  There are ducks.  There are crunchy treats.  As we work him into our routine, there have been some 'bumps'.  When I get home from work it is dark (surprise...not).  I let everyone out of various crates, put my boots on (careful to put my work shoes on the table), then we all pile out of the back door and out into the chicken yard.  While Lovey was never brave enough to squeeze through a dark, open chicken door, Bertie has no such qualms.  I managed to snag him before he was totally inside.  I left them to run around while I went in the person door and checked for eggs.  There is no light in the coop, with the exception of my headlamp.  I left the coop, shut the door and headed over to the duck house and closed them in.  As I walked toward the deck, I heard some kerfuffle from the coop - nothing new there.  I called Bertie.  And called.  And called.  No Bertie.  (Sound of the other shoe dropping)  Coop!!!  I beat a hasty path to the coop and there he was - having silently slipped in behind me - with chicken in mouth and one on the floor.  OMG.  I shooed him out and checked the hens - both were alive but damp and more than a bit traumatized.  I put one hen in a nesting box so she could recover and the other hopped onto the roost, apparently no worse for wear.   In the morning, both were fine.  He is not a vicious dog, but he is very BUSY.

While there is definitely more work involved, now that Bertie is one of us (the hall rug must be scrubbed this weekend, shoes and boots are no longer handy by the door), he is definitely worth it.  I am hoping to get a video (then garner enough technical skills to upload it to the blog - haha) of the two dogs playing.  It's like watching a baby hippo on a mad trot, chasing a gazelle.

Potato Leek Soup is on this weekend's menu - leeks were sliced and frozen from my organic bonanza at the best farmers market EVER in South Portland, ME.  I'm having a friend over for dinner on Sunday, so I am fishing out a small turkey breast, making mashed potatoes from my stores, and creamed corn from my frozen corn.  I've got lots of bits and bobs in the freezer that I need to use up, so this week's meal planning should be fusion at its weirdest!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Where to begin...

On Saturday, I drove a half hour southwest because I was expecting a special delivery.  This package came all the way up from Alabama.  It was a rather surprise package, as I hadn't planned on delivery for quite some time and I had no (well, a little) idea of what this package would contain.
NOT from
Meet OnceBennyNowBertie.  He had the same foster mother as Lovey.  That woman can be persuasive.
Where the heck am I?
Needless to say, things were interesting on the LLF this weekend.
Introductions were a little spastic, but once I got Bertie and Lovey on leads and out the door, all friction was forgotten and both noses were going gangbusters, side by side.  Overall, it was a very smooth transition - The Pepperoni was introduced through his crate door (he is still recovering from his near-pneumonia), Bertie ignored the cats, and, aside from the occasional all-show-showing of teeth when competing for my attention, it was great.
Then Bertie developed Kennel Cough.  It's like Whooping Cough for dogs.  I can tell you the exact moment it manifested itself - 12:33A Monday morning.  I am glad I had planned to take the day off because there was another trip to the vet - where we were ushered in through the back door, Typhoid-Mary-like.  It's very contagious.  Now I have two dogs on antibiotics but at least Bertie manages to get his Robitussin down without drama.  Lovey got a booster on her vaccine and we are hoping it works.
We love Bertie.  Love him.  He is a difficult dog to describe - part Basset (short legs), maybe some Lab (lethal tail, chunky body), and then some Heinz 57.  He came to us as Ben, but did not respond to his name at all.  My vet and I were trying to figure out a good name, when the vet tech said, "He looks like a little lion, ala Bert Lahr."  I said "Bertie", and he looked up.  It stuck.  Kennel Cough and all, he is a delightful playmate for Lovey, has an endearingly lovable personality, and is different enough from my beloved Scrappy to not cause my heart to break every time I look at him.
Needless to say, not a lot got done this long weekend, although I am still sticking to my meal planning and it is going along swimmingly.  I had so much leftover soup that I didn't have to make any this weekend - a plus, considering - and I tried a new salad recipe that I really like: Citrus Rice Salad with Parmesan.  It lasts and gets better with age, paired well with a nice piece of broiled Ahi Tuna I found in my freezer, and will be a quick dinner fix.  I also delved into my Moosewood cookbook collection and made a Tunisian Frittata with Spicy Tomato Sauce.  Good!  Also has a good rate of keep-ability, so that will interplay with the salad for dinner/lunch over the week.  I whipped up another batch of Strawberry Cheesecake Oatmeal - using the last of my strawberries - and made a batch of granola.  Am I the only one who feels both euphoria and dread when using up something out of the freezer?  I am half thrilled to be using something up, while harboring a dread that I will go hungry because I am using up my food. 
The weather is...weird.  We have had the longest stretch of unseasonably warm, gloomy weather that I can ever remember in January.  The sun came out - finally - on Sunday and lasted for 15 minutes.  I dropped everything and sent out and sat on the deck steps, faced it and closed my eyes.  I sat there for the full 'duration'.  Then, starting last night, the temps dropped and I woke up to two inches of sleet.  It was quite a shock for Bertie, but he is a stalwart fellow and, after a brief pause on the doorstep, charge out into the cold unknown.
I wore my pussyhat all day Saturday and cataloged a variety of reactions - 95% were positive and supportive.  5% were the expected nasty comments.  Bertie put the brakes on when he first saw me.  After all, when I do pink (finally), I do bubblegum pink.  I guess he figured that it wasn't any more alarming than two days in a crate in a dark truck, emerging into foreign everything.  The sheep froze, backed up slowly and stared at me.  It is currently resting atop the plaster cast of "Don" that my father did and gave me for my 40th birthday.  It will be a constant reminder of the mindfulness that I need to practice to safeguard my - and every woman's/human's/animal's/planet's - rights going forward.  PussyHat!  Hear me roar!