Sunday, December 29, 2013

After a brief respite, winter has returned...

 And I'm telling is COLD out there.   A frigid 26 degrees with wind howling like crazy.

 These are the kind of days when our ancestors huddled up in the back of the cave with the fires burning hot, hoping they could survive yet another winter.  The kind of days where people like me curse having to go out and check on the chickens that they love.  The kind where you thank God you have gas for your heat and a roof over your head. It's grey and dreary and cold as a well diggers...well--you know.   And because we keep our heat around 68 degrees,  sometimes I'm wearing long johns for days at a time.

  I seem to be getting colder easier these days. I know somedays the weather really affects my joints and I feel old man winter in my bones.  Those days I feel  my age and then some.  We just had 2 days in the mid fifties, and that doesn't help either. Seesawing, zigzagging temperatures mess up my internal thermostat.  The contrast between yesterdays sunny beautiful 56 day and today are enough to throw a body into a tailspin.

 I opened a jar of turkey and broth, threw in a couple of handfuls of egg noodles, added some dried onions, carrots, celery and peas and made  a casserole for lunch. It was good old fashioned comfort food, no doubt about it. Hit the spot.  The Irishman is taking the dogs out to the reservoir for a run...first one and then the other.  He always takes Bella first (the youngest) because when he doesn't she sits here and howls and drives me crazy.  Molly just gets bewildered, because she knows SHE'S the Irishman's favorite. lol  When he brings Bella back and takes Molly, Bella is a pain in the butt because she always wants to go, even if she just came back, but at least you can tell her to be quiet and she will. But she'll sit here and squeal and squeak until they return.  Which is also annoying, but not nearly as hard to take as the howling.  lol 

  The chickens are seriously indignant about this change in weather. I need to go look through my produce drawer and see if there are some errant greens I can take out to them. Or maybe I'll cook them some oatmeal--they always like that. I went out to check for eggs (yes-they're laying again, thank goodness) and they all hustled up to the fence clucking angrily. It's not me they're angry at, I know.  But they left the warm shelter of their coop to see what I was bringing out to them, and I had nothing in my hands. (I'll be back in a minute--I'm going to cook some oatmeal for them).


  As gt in the middle there.  The Irishman got home with the last dog when i was getting ready to take the oaties out to the chooks.  He was ready for popcorn and a movie,so we watched the remake of Total Recall with Colin Farrell. The after that, we watched Signs (Mel Gibson) and had supper..a light one, of lunch leftovers.  Now himself is off to bed and I am back at the computer.

 The chooks were delighted with the oaties,  I went inside the run and put them on the ground behind the windbreak. It was cold all day...never getting above 26 and tonight is heading for 10.  I'm sure having something warm in their bellies was a treat. 

  Had a long long phone call with a friend this morning, and it really made me feel better.  We talked and talked about so many things and feelings and astral events going on.  (She's very knowledgeable about all that.)  She soothed my battered spirit...and that's what friends do, isn't it?  And we talked about things that I know, but needed to reminded about.  And we empathized with one another about our age and about life and about how much things are changing on the planet. It was just awesome.'s evening and the cold is setting in and the animals are all in and sleeping about. I guess maybe I'll call it a night soon myself.  There's so much flu and sickness going around in these parts that I need to make sure my immune system is fully functioning and I get enough rest.  I've been not going to bed the past week or so until after 1 AM...and that's just too late. 11:30 is about best.  I talked with my SIL with the brain cancer today, and she is finishing up a week of chemo and feels pretty awful...she rarely complains and sometimes I look at her and I think YOU have nothing to complain about, missy. We talked a bit and laughed a lot and I told her to go back to bed if that's what she felt like.  I hope she did.  We are all going out for my nephew's and my birthday next Sunday...and his wife and daughters birthdays too. We're all around the same time--his and mine are the same day. I think his daughter is the day before and his wife is the day after. Or vice versa.  So, that will be fun...we're going to meet at Cracker Barrel at noon.

  Still haven't put away my Xmas decos. Probably won't until after my birthday next Monday.  Then it'll be time for a massive clean-up.

(Who am I kidding?  It'll be a wonder if I can even get just the decos put away!!!!)

  Love your life. Enjoy the prosperity.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Christmas, burning bright, in the forest of the night...

 So, it's mostly over.  Gifts exchanged, food eaten, messes cleaned up.   It was a bit of a thin gift giving around here this year, but that's okay.  We had a friend over on Christmas Eve for supper, and then today we ate leftovers, and easy food, and watched movies.  We did NOT watch A Christmas Story or The Grinch or It's A Wonderful Life.  (We have those movies, and we usually watch them, but not today. lol)  I'm not sure where the day went, but now it's late and everyone except me is sleeping.

 And I'm a little melancholy...thinking about things that I can't change or do anything about.  I feel like a silly old woman.  I didn't hear from a one of my siblings today.  I didn't call them either. So, as much my fault as theirs I guess. They all have kids and grandkids and all that goes with that, and  a couple of them have big extended families as well.  I didn't want to barge in on any of that.  So, instead I'll just sit here and feel sorry for myself.  lol  And I've really had a pretty good day. I'm tired and sore from all the cooking I did yesterday. But the food was good and I didn't kill myself cleaning or anything ! lol  I made a pretty rustic meal and my guest thought it was rather gourmet.  So that is always a good thing. 

 It is such a stressful time of year for so many people. Not for me so much...because I just don't get all up in it like some people do.  A friend of mine's mother died last night. That will probably color her holidays forever.  Anothers child got really sick today and she was frantic. Yet another had to race her mother to the hos[pital Christmas morning with a stroke. I have a habit of getting a little sad at Christmas...a habit born of all the years I didn't have my son when he was small.  When I was still drinking, I would just stay drunk until it was all over.  Once I sobered up, everything changed.  I finally got him back when he was almost 16, but by then the habit was ingrained in me. Call it regrets, fears, cell memory... even now it affects me. It's not horrible or debilitating. It's just a sadness that washes over me,  usually mild. It wasn't even happening this year until tonight, when everyone was asleep and everything was done.  Probably because I'm tired. 

  At any rate...tomorrow will come soon enough. I have to take the insulated bibs back that I bought for the Irishman and exchange them for the next size up.  They're just a tad too snug.  They go over the top of his work clothes.  Hopefully they will have some still...and have the size I need.  My son was thrilled with the granola bars I made for him and put in a Xmas tin. We also gave him a couple of pairs of heavy boot socks, some house slippers, a dvd and a book of wild mushrooms in Illinois.  I "owe" him a batch of granola too. I just didn't get that made.  The Irishman got a pair of slippers, the bibs, a dvd (Where The Wild Things Are) and a new nice leather wallet.  I got some perfume,  2 dvds (Contagion and Water For Elephants), a sweater from my inlaws and a sweater from my husband. Oh, and a cooks scraper...I don't know what to call it...the straight edge metal scraper that you can chop with or cut dough.  I've wanted one, but just never got it for myself. I always can make do with something else. lol  We had a nice breakfast of ham and eggs and I made a batch of cranberry/blueberry/almond muffins.  It was a nice morning.  And it was all downhill from there.  I roasted a small turkey breast and put the small piece of ham in the oven too. Around 2:30 ,  I sliced that stuff up, put out some cheese and crackers and small slices of leftover multigrain baguette from the night before, got out the platter of pickled stuff from last night too, and we feasted while watching a movie. Just pretty much grazed the rest of the day.  lol  I offered to reheat some french onion soup from last night, but nobody was interested.

 All in all...a good Christmas.

  Hope your was the same.

  (I didn't get this finished last night after  But here it is)




Sunday, December 22, 2013

The First Days of Winter

It snowed for about a nanosecond this morning.  Mostly it is cold and raining and looking to get down to 17 degrees this evening. That will certainly change the game.

 There's a strange phenomenon out started yesterday and is continuing into today. The roads are not iced. The decks are not icy. But ALL the treetops are like filigreed lace, and even the little maple in my front yard has iced branches...from the middle up. Today's high is forecast to be about 32, so it certainly feels like winter.  Tomorrow's high: 21.  With a low of 3.  Yikes.

  The hens have presented me with 5 beautiful eggs today.  They have finally started laying again, and we have eggs...if we can get them before they get pecked and eaten. A couple of the hens are all broody, which is what saves us, because once they get an egg or 2 under them, they refuse to budge. And so, save them for me. Yippee.For the first time in a long time, I have over a dozen of my own eggs in my fridge.

  Last night we attended the annual Solstice Celebration at La Vista, and as usual it was wonderful. Great people, great snacks and hot drinks, great program.  The 2 young girls that turn the sun staff every winter are growing up before my very eyes. We have been coming to these for about 8 years, and they have been doing it for 10. The older one is a freshman in college now!

 Evening time now. And frigid cold.  We went to the 2 o'clock matinee to see The Hobbit so we would be out while it was still light in case the roads got bad.  Arrived home around dark, and everything was fine...except that my car wouldn't start so we had to take the Irishman's truck. Anyway, got back here  and marveled at the beauty of the ice laden tree branches and bushes.  Made a nice supper and ate and then watched the first disc of the Season 1 of The Newsroom.  Even when we did have tv, we didn't have HBO (ever).  So this is delightful.  Thanks, Netflix.  BTW,   The Hobbit was great, Peter Jackson once again did a great job.

  I finished up making and sending out Christmas Cards this morning. At least, I think I did. lol  We'll see how many more trickle on through. I can't believe it's only 3 days til Xmas.  We have a friend coming over for a Christmas Eve supper, so I will be cleaning house all day tomorrow and then cooking all ay Tuesday. All my gifts are wrapped, although I do still have a basket left to make up  and deliver. I've done all I can or want to do as far as gifts are concerned.  I'm sure that by Tuesday night, I'm going to be ready for a couple of days of down-time.  So I'll be trying to get everything tidied up (it's kind of a mess right now...)  and caught up and cooked up and ready set go.  lol   Haven't really thought about what I'll be doing for Xmas Day food...some leftovers, I suspect. For supper Tuesday, I'm roasting Cornish Game Hens and serving them on a wild rice and mushroom mixture.  I'm going to make a sweet potato dish (because we have lots) and a nice green salad and perhaps a cranberry orange salad. and a dessert of some kind. Creme Brulee, perhaps.  I'll make an antipasto plate with pickled vegetables and cheeses and crackers.  I will make a seafood chowder to start off the meal and have enough leftovers for Xmas day, hopefully, so I won't have to do a lot of cooking. Might make something like a dish of scalloped potatoes with ham, and then just gorge on all that dairy.  lol  I was also thinking about maybe a French Onion Soup instead of the chowder...keep it more of a peasant meal and not get too fancy. Just real down to earth food. Hmmm...  Oh well. I'll just make it up as I go--that's what I always do anyway.  lol

  Okay--it's getting late and I'm ready for some sleep. 

  I hope you are all listening for the blessings in the silence of these long nights and short days...and have a Merry Christmas, each and every one.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

6 days til Christmas...

 And I am...lazy. Contentedly so...putzing around not doing much of anything and little bits of everything. Winter.  Hearing about all my pals who are so excited to be coming up on breaks from their jobs and school and all...and I am [jokingly] bummed that I don't get a break too.  Bad news: when you are retired, there's no such thing as a vacation or holiday break.  lol

  Woohoo--UPS just pulled up. Wow. They never get here before 5 PM when I have ordered stuff. It's another Christmas miracle. lol  I ordered some stuff for my brother-and sister-in laws. And my son.  Not a lot of stuff...just a few odds and ends. Books, dvds, cds. Oh.  It was only one of the dvds.  That's weird. lol  The rest will come later today. I did notice when I looked at my order tracker that they had sent one dvd separately for some reason.  Oh well...

  I have been doing nothing but cruising around the old world wide web this morning...haven't even eaten  breakfast yet. I'm going to run into town and buy some gas treatment for my car and some bacon from my little market. Maybe getting out and moving around will get me going.  lol  I have some major errands (not really) to run that I can just do here in town, but tonight I have to go down into the city anyway and pick up a couple of women and take them to a meeting, so I'll just go a little early and do those first.  I might run to another little town about 12 miles from here and see if they have those duck bib overalls for the Irishman. They were in their sale paper for about 20 dollars off, so it would be a good time to get him a new pair. Even then, they're still 50 bucks.  It will be his main gift. He needs a new pair, so...I already got him a nice leather wallet and a dvd he's been wanting,. and that's really about all the shopping we do.   Something to wear, something to read, something he wants and something he needs. Boom. lol

   Need to do some housekeeping. Need to get that little bathroom painted. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe tonight. Who knows. Nothing critical.

  see? This is my problem.  When I weigh the importance of anything I have to do, it comes down to...critical ?   No  ?   Back to lazy.   lol

  I'm telling myself, it's the holidaze.  It's the weather.  It's the season of short daylight.  It's my delicate sensibilities. lol  Nah..just lazy.  Eating too much sugar (after being of it for 5 months).  Eating too much fatty stuff (butter).  Drinking too much caffeine.  Well...Jan 1st (or so,) I shall get back on track, but I'm not fooling myself that it's going to happen until Christmas and New Years are over.  So, I'll just enjoy the ride for now.

  Yesterday I made caramel popcorn and peanuts.  And a big batch of granola. I was going to make some things today, but lazy kicked in and I didn't.  And now it's lunchtime and too late to start anything.  I stayed up too late last night, chatting with a friend I haven't seen in a while. So, I slept a little later than usual and have been about 4 steps behind ever since.  Behind what? you might ask.  Aren't you retired??  LOL  My self imposed schedules, my darling son tells me, are ridiculous. And I should be slowing down a little and enjoying life.  If only he knew. I do, I DO enjoy my life.  I love the householding. I love the animal husbandry. I love the gardening and canning and cooking. And nothing gets in the way of my doing all that stuff anymore. No job, no timeclock, no boss.  Lucky, lucky me.

  A few hours later and I am back from a run to town for bacon and gas treatment for me little acting up car. And since I was out, went ahead and drove down and got the insulated bibs for the Irishman's Christmas. A little misunderstanding, and the bibs that I thought were going to cost 49.99 were 89.99 and I nearly swallowed my tongue.  After some debate with the manager, she knocked another chunk of money off them and we were both happy.  They are better quality than the others, a notch up. And regularly 89 and I got them for 60.  WooHoo.

  I cooked up some bacon and the son and I had sandwiches and talked of ancient civilizations. I got the ribs started for supper and got the kitchen all cleaned up.  I'm rearranging my schedule for today and will not be leaving here until after 6 instead of 4. I don't have to do all that stuff today...tomorrow is open too, after lunch with the girls for a little impromptu Christmas party, if I even go. I'll see how I feel tomorrow.  We have another weather front coming in, this one promising floods and tons of rain (which will melt the remaining snow). It's supposed to start raining around 8 tonight.  We'll see. I can handle rain...

  The bibs are all wrapped and pretty under the little tree. That table is kinda loaded with  stuff already, although a couple of them will be shipped off tomorrow.  That is assuming the rest of the Amazon order comes today like it is supposed to. And that I get them all wrapped and ready. I am going to ship all the Minnesota/Wisconsin stuff off together to one sister and let her distribute them.   That will save me a lot of shipping and postal grief.

  Okay...I might go take a nice leisurely bath. Light some candles, soak in some Epsom Salts and lavender oils.  I'm pretty achy from all this crazy weather and that just sounds like a good idea. Even if it is only 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Ooooo...decadence....

  Happy Thursday, y'all.  Enjoy every last second of it.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Snow Came...

 It came, it snowed, it conquered.

  We got about 6-7 inches all together. Enough to slow things WAY down for a day or two. Nice.  And it was really beautiful. When I'm in the middle of dreading snow and ice, I forget about it's magical beauty.  And the Must be the insulating factor of the snow combined with the way it stops the world for a bit. At any rate , it's magnificent.

  And it's been on a steady warm up ever since. Slowly but surely. Today is supposed to hit 40 and by Thursday it's supposed to be in the low 50's.  Crazy. Then it will begin to slide back down into real winter temps again.

  My son is bringing my new (to me) gas stove in right now. It's been in the garage where he's been cleaning it up and stuff.  After it warms up, he'll pull the old one out, put this one in and we'll all pray that the oven works. No way to know until it's all hooked up to the gas. And--it's got that same damn electric igniter on it. Why oh why do they make those??  I just hope that you can still light the burners with a match. Otherwise you might as well have an electric stove in a power outage. It's an older Frigidaire. This is a great Xmas present to me.

  My chickens have started laying again (thank you, Jesus).  I have almost a dozen eggs in there from the past 4 days.  They started laying just in time for me to have to tramp through snow up to my knees to gather them.  Go  But still, I am grateful. I have had to buy eggs from some neighbors and they aren't nearly as beautiful as my own eggs. Still better than store bought, but my eggs are deliciously orange yolked little orbs of beauty.  (Okay, so I'm prejudiced).  lol

  I am having a hard time getting myself motivated this morning. I need to clean my aquarium, it's a holy mess. This time of the year, when the sun changes angles, it gets a terrible overgrowth of algae and requires more maintenance.  This hobby has turned into a job. lol  (I say this every year).  I have enough time to at least get the  aquarium cleaned before I have to leave, if I could just quit stalling. lol  Winter makes me tired. And lazy.

  That said...back to the holidays with all their decorating and cooking and baking. I need to stop and pick up some honey today on my way out of town, as I'm almost out.  I get it from a little country store right here about a mile from my house. I buy it by the half gallon, and that works out pretty good for me. PLUS--I have these great half gallon sized jars for pantry storage. I have to make granola and granola bars--2 batches each.  One batch if for my son for Xmas presents, which, along with a book on edible wild mushrooms of Illinois, is what he's getting from us. The other batch is for the Irishman's breakfast and lunch.   Both recipes use honey. 

   I made a batch of Martha Stewart's Old Fashioned Lemon Sugar Cookies the other day and they are really good. I might bake a couple of more times, especially if I have a full sized oven to do it in.  I really hate baking maybe only one batch of cookies and some bars.

  Put up a few more decos around the house a few days ago.

And so it is upon us...and soon it will be the year's end and we will be ringing in the new and I will be celebrating my birthday a few days after that. And then it's on to the doldrums of the midwinters. And the thing that will save me is that the seed catalogs are already starting to arrive. Well, one anyway, the beautiful Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds which is a work of art and a pleasure to behold.

Well, my son just brought in some 5 gallon buckets so now I have no reason to not get off my lazy duff and filter that aquarium.  Sigh....

  Wishing you all a happy Full  Moon.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

OH, LOOK!! A new baby !

Yes, the Gifting Stag has a shiny bright new baby.  Found him at the Goodwill last week.  lol

  Other than that, no news at Honeysuckle Hill. At least not about babies. That ship has sailed, baby!

On a bright note, the Irishman appears to have survived the plague and is actually OUT OF MY HOUSE  this morning and hopefully (if he doesn't relapse again) this afternoon.  I love that man, but a whole week of him sick and under my feet has been rough. At one point I thought about putting a pillow over his face while he slept...just, you know, so he wouldn't have to keep suffering like this.  Good lord.  If I have to hear one more word out of him about pooping or cramps or his stomach gurgling- I will kill him dead.

  Marriage.  A nice Sunday post about marriage I think may be in order. Just to remind myself that I don't really want to hold his head under the water until the bubbles stop. To remind myself that there are lots of good things to be said for being married to man like him. If that's what you have to do. Although I must admit...I have been having lots of dreams about being in a women's army and being married to a woman lately.  And it all seems really peaceful. (Well...not the army part).  But still...

 Rereading this, I sound a little crazy. But I'm not going to delete and rewrite it, because I am a little crazy, after all.  And I am gender diversified. And I have a theory that maybe we all are, to some extent. But that's another story.

 In my dreams, I have been recently released from the women's army, and one of the retirement benefits is that they provide you with monthly rations of food. The catch is that you have to find it, and then figure out which part of it is yours. It was exhausting. The storage containers looked like big trash dumpsters. They were scattered all over at the edges of towns and in the woods. (Doesn't this sound like the Hunger Games? lol) The food inside (hams, turkeys, etc.) all had codes on them saying who they belonged to. I was a good code breaker, so it was easy enough to figure out mine, but the other women trying to figure out theirs kept asking for my help. Of course I had to help them. It was part of the women's army code.  I was later rewarded for being so helpful.  LOL

 It's a wonder they don't lock me up, isn't it? And last night a young girl posted on my FB page that I was a "wonderful woman" or something like that, and I thought--no. No I'm not... Why are we like that? So quick to dismiss kind words and compliments. So guilty for all the nasty thoughts I harbor sometimes, all the pissy feelings I have about people now and then. All my selfishness and gluttony and  oh hell--the list just goes on and on.  But for some reason, there are some people who like me.  lol

 Okay. Marriage.  I heard someone say once that they had a good solid 50-50 marriage. I had to laugh. I think it's more like 110-110 most of the time. Living with another human being day in and day out can be trying.  It's about picking your battles. And not sweating the small stuff. And compromise EVERY SINGLE DAY OF YOUR LIFE.  If you're lucky (like I am) you find someone who is the least objectionable person there is. And I'm sure there are a lot of them. (Why they get involved with ME is another matter).  If you're lucky, you have lots of things in common. Interests and values and ideas.  For instance, any man (or woman) who is married to me had better be a serious reader.  Had better have a sense of justice. Had better not be worried about getting chicken (or dog or cat or bird) poop on his shoes.  Just sayin'...  And really had better be able to laugh and make me laugh. 

 Even with all this, it can be hard sometimes. We live in a world where serial monogamy is the norm. It's as easy to  get unmarried as it to get married. The world is getting smaller and smaller and it isn't like it used to be, where you looked around you and no matter how small the spousal pool, your choices were limited to what there was.  Today you can pursue resumes in online dating sites.  You can see and know almost everything there is to know about someone in about 15 minutes. You can weigh the pros and cons.  Not like when I was young, and you had to keep going to bar after bar looking for Mr. Right.  lol  (kidding--I actually met this guy  in AA)... lmao  You can meet people online from halfway around the world.  The possibilities are limitless.

  There's only one problem.  Human nature. And I don't care how much you read about someone, you will never know them until  you live with them a little bit.  And maybe you luck out and you're compatible...and maybe you're not.  Shake it off and start over again.  And again and again and again, sometimes.

  When my innocent young grandmother got married in her mid teens, she had no idea what she was in for. And once in, never out. So she lived a life of hard work and misery and found happiness where she could. And just kept on keeping on.  And died when she was 60.  MY mother, who didn't know she wasn't the marrying type, married a nice guy and got pregnant every time she rolled over into him and hated her life and couldn't figure out what to do for a long time.  And when she did decide to take action, took all the wrong actions and wound up dead of cirrhosis of the liver at age 55.

  You can understand my reticence.  And, like cats who are always drawn like magnets to the people who don't want them around love me. And want to marry me. And  unfortunately for me, there has never been a shortage of men in my life or marriage proposals or promises of a Wonderful Life of Bliss. So anytime I was vulnerable (or drunk)  one of them would propose and I would say yes and...there I'd be.  Okay-that's not entirely true. I haven't been married as many times as ,say, Elizabeth Taylor.  But certainly more than once.  Or twice.

But I digress...I used to be really embarrassed by all this. And the older I got the more I heard this same story from people who made a life path of getting married and divorced. Searching,  And although it still makes me uncomfortable,  I do realize that I'm not the only one in the world that has spent a great deal of time searching for that partner that would be the ONE, and making a lot of mistakes along the way.  Still--I just said to myself, aloud--there's no way in hell I'm going to publish this posting.  LOL  

 So...I have married and divorced and moved and lived all around the country...always looking for ...something.  Contentment. With a healthy dose of self respect. And a lot of forgiveness along the way for all the stupid things I do.  And security (although I don't know if you ever really have that in this world).  And a feeling of usefulness.  And, I'm not so jaded that I don't want to be loved.  But I have had love. I have love now.  And today love is a myriad of experiences and actions and thoughts and deeds.  It's not riding off into the sunset on the back of a horse with Prince Charming. It's more like somebody holding my hair back when I'm vomiting or cleaning up after me or helping me grow, and understand myself better.

  It's getting a glimpse of myself through someone else's eyes now and then, and feeling beautiful.  Because that person sees the real me. The inside me. The one I have  finally let that one person get close enough to really know.  That me that is only me because of the helping hand I have gotten for the past 21 years...a hand in learning about me, why I am the way I am,  a hand to pull me up out of the darkness now and then. The history we have after 21 years of this.  A hand to quietly lay on my arm while we are on the couch reading on a cold winters night, silence and comfortableness settling on us like a heavy quilt, woven around our life like a tapestry that tells a story whose ending  I would never have guessed.

  I think he'll live another day.


Friday, December 13, 2013

Damn you, Norovirus Fairy !

 That's about what it feels like around here.  My poor husband is sick as a dog. Starts feeling better, then WHAM ! down for the count again. He has been home almost every day this week. He tried to go back to work on Thursday, but wound up coming home at noon.  I told him that starting tomorrow, all he gets to eat is oatmeal, since it seems to be the only thing he can tolerate. Vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, achiness and slight fever. Headaches. Probably from low blood sugar. Trying to keep him hydrated, giving him sips of water, diluted gatorade and weak peppermint tea. And he sighs a lot. Loud. Drawn out. lol...and I am just so ready for it to be over. 

 And it has been freezing rain for the past 5 hours or so, and everything is slick as glass. Not it's starting to snow. No matter...we'll not be going anywhere soon. They're forecasting 3-5 inches, but we'll see. We've got everything we need laid in and all the outside stuff done and ready. The kerosene heater is all ready to go if the power goes out, so we'll have a good heat source. Just wish he wasn't so sick.  And so praying I don't catch it. Those noroviruses that cause stomach "flu" are highly contagious. I spent a good part of today cleaning both bathrooms with a bleach solution...toilets, floors, soap dispensers, sinks, faucets, handles. So far I am okay...I made a tea of several "weeds" that are known to have antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. Chickweed, dandelion leaves and violet leaves.  The dandelion leaves are also anti-nausea. I've been sipping it today off and on...he tried but didn't get much of it down.  It really just tastes like the water from cooking fresh spinach.

 Did a little tiny bit of Christmas shopping on Thursday. Like I said, we don't do much.  The boy has been working on my new (to me) gas stove and it is just about ready to be put in. That means (fingers crossed) that I might have a full sized oven again.  Which means I might get busy and do some baking.  lalalalalala

  I'm not sure why I'm posting tonight...don't really have much to say.  All the critters are in out of the cold, even though one cat is insistent about going out. Last time I let her in, she ran through the house with a mouse in her mouth.   Sigh... never a dull moment on Honeysuckle Hill. She ran into my bedroom with it when Pat came out after his shower to say goodnight. Ran immediately under the bed, of course. He somehow got it from her and got rid of it. And now she's in there hollering to go back out...undoubtedly to replenish her stash of dead mice.  lol

  I think I am going to spend tomorrow doing some artsy stuff...maybe making some Christmas Cards...I spent enough of today cleaning...vacuuming floors and furniture, which I couldn't do all week  because he's been so sick and in bed.  I got the laundry all caught up and did some other things that I needed the computer for in case we lose power behind all the ice.  Got the chicken coop cleaned and refilled with new fresh straw.  Got those bathrooms cleaned. Got my kitchen straightened up too.  SO...tomorrow is going to be a lay around and take it easy day. A play day.  Yippee...

  Okay. Enough for now. Maybe I will make it to bed early tonight and stay rested.  Methinks that would be a good thing.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

WHAT ??? 15 days til Christmas ???

Are you one of those people who start getting ready for Christmas before or at Thanksgiving?

Not me. I'm lucky to be ready for Christmas BY Christmas.  I pat myself on the back every year if I have one gift or the decorations up by Christmas Eve. It's kinda my Christmas Miracle.  lol

Yesterday The boy brought some boxes out for me from storage. Most of the major stuff. Enough stuff. I went through boxes, pulled out things and got busy.  Not too busy, don't get me wrong. I put up some minimal decorations and made the house a little know, the big Santa wreath

The little Santas--only a few of them. There must be close to a hundred by now.

Some garland here and there...some ribbons and some candles.  The little 3 ft. fiber optic Christmas tree I bought about 10 years ago when I finally surrendered to cats . Cats who love nothing more than to knock decorations off the tree from the ground up to about 2 foot from the ground and then climb up the inside of the trunk and sleep in the branches. IF the tree doesn't fall all the way over in the meantime. Sigh...

  So, just enough decorations. Looks mildly decorative, but not like Father Christmas came and threw up all over everything.  Enough.

  I even came in and put a small wreath of silver baubles and holly on Buddha's head and some holly garland around the table. This is a bad picture of him, but it is titled Buddha Celebrates too.

And so it is...the celebration begins.

*      *     *     *     *     *     *

 It has been cold cold cold here.  This morning is 12 with a wind chill of 0.  We got a dusting of snow, but nothing like surrounding areas got. The ground is still white, because even though there has been some sun (and this morning is VERY sunny) it's frigid. Enough snow to look pretty but not enough to make the roads bad. yay.

  I am heading south this evening with a carload of newly sober women to go to a potluck and speaker that will  feature Yours Truly.  I agreed to do it weather permitting, because it is about an hour and a half south of here. At night. It will be fine, nothing predicted for today but sunshine and Arctic temperatures.  I do have to get off my lazy duff soon and get a spice cake in the oven. I will make a chicken and rice casserole for the Irishman's will cook slowly all day long and make the house all nice smelling for him when he gets home. I will be long gone by then.

  I have a recipe that I got when I was first married from my childhood neighbor, Mary. I got it because  1) she knew it was my favorite  and 2) because it is one of those old farmwife cakes that you ALWAYS have the ingredients on hand for.   It's an Oatmeal Cake. It has a brown sugar, nuts and coconut broiled icing on top.  I make it every once in a while when I can dig out the recipe for a potluck and there is never any of it left to come back home. That's a successful potluck dish, in my book. 

So...we don't buy a lot of Christmas gifts. I make some things, but not a lot. I donate to a couple of charities this time of year...the Women's Shelter or something local that  "adopts" a family or two for the holidays.  Like most people, we don't have a lot to spend...unlike most people, we refuse to go into debt buying for Christmas, so nothing gets bought unless we have the extra cash in hand to pay for it. And extra means after the bills are paid. lol  But at this stage of life, we don't really need anything, and have most things we want.  So it's not like this is a big sacrifice on our part, don't get me wrong.  It's not.

  The older I get, the more the nature of this winter holiday changes.  I kind of like that.  We will usually get each other a book or two and maybe a dvd. Something we both like, usually. Although one year I got a great deal on a boxed set of John Wayne for the Irishman who loves him. Me--not so much.  lol  It's simple.  We eat well,  we relax and we stay grateful for the little things in life that keep us contented and happy.  And on either Christmas Eve or on New Years Eve (usually the latter) we splurge on a big expensive meal of steak and lobster.  I buy the stuff and make it here, with a fancy dessert (Creme Brulee) and sparkling grape juice for an extra touch of special.  And it reminds us that we really do have the finer things in life, right here on Honeysuckle Hill. And THAT, my friends, is the best gift of all.

  Well, the husband just walked in the door (9 AM)-- he is sick...vomiting and horrid. Home from work after being there less than 2 hours.  Poor most men, he doesn't do sick well. Hopefully he'll just go bed and stay there. I thought last night as we were watching a movie that he felt hot when he leaned against me...he said he was fine then.  Not today apparently.

 Better go see what I can do...


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Let the games begin...

LOL.  We are indeed under a winter storm watch.  First they said it would start at 9 AM...then 2 PM. So far, it is bitterly cold, but not much else.  Oy...

  I did get a lot of outside stuff ready for it, thanks to my son for all his help. Got the windbreak up on the chicken run. Got any and all tools that were out put away.  Got the AC condenser unit covered up tight. A bunch of little things for the big snow and ice apocolypse that hasn't happened. Oh all needed doing.  And this thing is supposed to be going on through Friday too. It could happen. This IS the midwest, and it IS December.

 I have a big pot of pinto beans and ham hocks simmering away on the stove. Decided ham and beans and cornbread would make a great supper on a night like this.  I threw together a pumpkin crunch dessert too, since we finished the last of the German Chocolate brownies finaly.  lol  Can't have a storm with no sweets.  (Can I get an AMEN ????)  lol 

An earlier picture of cornbread...all made yummy with buttermilk and honey and organic, non-GMO coarse ground corn meal. Guess I'm going to have to take pics when I make it today, because I seem to have no photos in my archives of a skillet of baked cornbread !  Sheesh...

Got some laundry going...and the cats (bless their furry little hearts) knocked my last full gallon of bleach off the dryer and of course when it hit the floor it popped the lid off and over half it of poured out all over the laundry room floor. Smells nice and clean in there now.  Sigh...but there's enough for the laundry and I have a couple of small bottles under the cabinet. I'll be okay until I can get out and buy a couple more cases of the gallons. No big deal, just a small hiccup in the everyday stuff at Honeysuckle Hill. Anyway the last load of wash (nasty work clothes) is in the washer and the dryer is running and 2 loads are already washed and dried and put away. 

  The cold is making me hurt today. Back hurt so bad when I got up that I had to put on a pain patch.  My knees are stiff and sore and I'm hobbling along like a little old woman. So it goes. I made my to-do list and immediately divided it in half...the other stuff I'll do tomorrow.  Mostly vacuuming and mopping and cleaning the bathrooms. I have a feeling I won't be going anywhere today or tomorrow, so there's plenty of time for everything.

 Alright...smells like the pumpkin dessert is ready to come out of the oven. And I think I'm gonna make a cup of tea and snuggle with my furbabies on the couch and read. Am  reading The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo  by Peter Orner..a lively tail set in Afrika. One of those days...good smells, warm house and supper cooking. It doesn't get much better than that.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

December 1, 2013

And here it comes...that slow slide into the bowels of winter. That dark heaviness that we try to combat with colored lights , excessive baubles and  food.  The time of celebration and contemplation and all things in between. Grey days generally, which are offset by days of brilliant sunny cold. Today is freakish. Supposed to get to 51 today and 55 tomorrow. Before we know it that will be a memory and the snow will come and the early darkness will have me in bed by 10 PM, instead of my usual midnight or later. The nights have been  painfully clear and beautifully cold.  I stood in the backyard last night after putting up my chickens and stared into the night sky, at once awakened and silenced by the sight of gazillions of stars.  Blissful.

I've been here alone mostly for the past 5 days.  It has been an interesting time of reflection for me. I ventured out a couple of times- to my brothers for Thanksgiving and then to the feed store on Friday (bad timing) because I ran out of chicken  feed.  Not sure how that happened, as I usually keep a backup of 2 bags in the garage.  Then I went to a birthday meeting after the shopping spree because it was right down the road from there.  Nice, because I saw some women I haven't seen in  quite a while. The boy was in and out, mostly out.  He came home last night to tell me that it looks like he is getting his dream home...a little cabin on 20+ acres that he's been lusting after for about 4 months. I know he needs to go. I probably need him to go.  But it felt (for a minute) like just one more thing. Today I am back to being grateful for this time I have had with him. It's been a blessing.

 Thanksgiving Day was good...lots of great food, babies and nieces and nephews.   I come from a big family, the oldest of 6 I am.  Even though this was only about a third of the family, it was still a houseful.  There is no turkey at my house this year.  Nothing like this time a year ago.  lol

  If I find turkey on sale, I'll be getting one to cook, otherwise I guess not. I still have about 12 jars of canned turkey and stock from last year, so I have done a pretty good job of using the stuff in my pantry.  I was thinking about getting some Cornish Game hens to cook for supper tonight when the Irishman gets home, but I really don't want to drive anywhere.  I still might, since I need some fresh fruit for lunches and I have pretty much depleted my flour supplies. I have a little whole wheat pastry left and some spelt. And lots of coconut flour.  I don't know how much I want to do, Sunday being the day of rest and all.


  I'm thinking about painting my front bathroom today. Thinking. About. It.  The boy got the new vanity and sink in and the floor tiles replaced and everything newly grouted so it looks wonderful. The wall around where the old vanity came out (new one is smaller) needs painting it and the whole bathroom is going to get it. I have another whole gallon of the stuff I used in the big bathroom remodel.  Why not? Clean and brighten it up.

  Unfortunately, the boy just brought in a magazine for me to check out called The New Pioneer, and it looks like something I want to read.  So now I'm thinking that might use up a lot of this day, lol.  I might run to the store and grab a piece of red meat to make a stew and then use up the leftover rolls I brought home after Thanksgiving  (herbed, with dried tomato and onion) and maybe go pick enough small lettuce,  kale and spinach to make a salad to go with.  He'll be hungry after the long drive, I'm sure. It's about 8+ hours from northern Wisconsin to here. Guess there might be news about the possibility of moving when he gets's hard to tell.

  So there you have it...all the boring news of a quiet Sunday on Honeysuckle Hill.  It's still a little chilly here in the house this morning, but warming up nicely outside. I need to go check the chickens, look at the cold frame and be thankful that I'm alive.

 Hope everyone is enjoying their Sunday after the shopopacalypse.  I'm thinking about baking some cookies. Maybe.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

On the cusp of the High Holy Day of Gluttony

As you may have surmised from this picture, I am in charge of the rolls and some baked goods this year. This is the first of 3 pans of ginormous yeast rolls.  One is an herbed bread, full of this:
Organic home grown dried tomatoes and onions, along with fresh organic home grown rosemary and parsley. It smelled so divine...

The other two are a honey oat roll with a little flax seed thrown in for good measure.

 I have also baked 
a lovely home grown peach pie.  And 2 loaves of applesauce spice  bread and 2 loaves of persimmon bread. The pie is made with some of the peach pie filling I canned, with another pint of sliced peaches thrown in because it never looks like enough to me. The applesauce is chunky sauce I canned 2 years ago. You know all about the persimmons. I have a jar of canned pumpkin setting on the counter...I originally thought I would make pumpkin bread as well, but that is probably not going to happen. I am tired.

I have yet to bake a pan of corn muffins and a batch (especially for my brother) of mom's cinnamon sugar angel wings.  She always made these of leftover scraps of pie dough, but in our old age we don't fool around. We make  whole batch of pie crust just for this. They are sweet and crispy and rich and wonderful. And so SO bad for you, but who cares? On the High Holy Day of Gluttony, all bets are off.


The Irishman has gone off to the north to be with his family.  I am alone here today/tonight with the dogs and cats, who have been a tremendous comfort to me. 
PoPo snoozing in the sun, filtering through the office windows. He is slowly getting better, but is still a little wobbly from the ruptured eardrum. 

  Miss Molly has been down too...and is better and up and moving around, but sill taking it easy in between. Is she spoiled? Uh...yes, that's her private fleece blanket. The cat kept trying to share it with her, but she was having none of that.

Does this look like cat camo or what?  This box has an old mattress cover in the bottom of it, but since it has gotten frigid again, she kept trying to usurp Molly's spot. I didn't have another fleece blanket, but then I remembered I have an older fleece robe that I don't wear often because it's shorter than my favorite one, which goes all the way to the ankles. I dug it out and lined her box and now she's happy as a clam.  I took 3 other pictures of her in the box, but you could barely make out what was cat and what was robe. lol


We had a wonderful meal of comfort food for supper...chicken and dumplings. was so good. Everybody got some and I ate a nice bowl and there is still some left over. The weather has been ghastly the past couple of days...temps at night in low teens with wind chills of single digits. Yesterday didn't get above 18 degrees and today wasn't much better. I think it finally hit 22 with a wind chill of 14.  It's only supposed to get down to 20 tonight and zoom back up to 40 tomorrow. I'll be heading out to my brothers around 8 tomorrow least that's my plan.  I'll stay there til about 3 and then try to be home before dark. The Irishman took my car for the trip, which means I have to drive the beast. I don't have a problem driving the truck (it's a Ford Ranger) unless it's icy and the back end is empty. During the winter, he usually keeps sandbags or logs in the bed of the truck to keep it from sliding around as much.

I have to come home and get some housecleaning down tomorrow night as I have guests coming Friday morning at 10:30. I'm praying that I'll have some of the fruit breads leftover so I don't have to bake muffins or something. but if I have to I can.  :)    I also need to try to remember to pick up some coffee creamer.  I am going to try to get a little housecleaning done tonight, but no promises.  I just need to do a little dusting and a little vacuuming.  I'm kinda pooped from being on my feet all day baking...amazingly enough, the kitchen is not too bad (I usually clean up as I go). 

Alright. I do need to get up and get those angel wings made at least.  ( Although, I am seriously thinking about setting the alarm and getting up real early to do it in the morning...only because I will eat some of them, and when I eat cinnamon at night--it gives me heartburn. Every time.)  

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday tomorrow surrounded by the people you love.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Not so bright and shiny at Honeysuckle Hill today...

 Little Miss Molly McGee is a sick pup last night and this morning. She is a tad better this day, but still not okay. I suspect a stomach bug or something.  If you've ever been owned by a Jack Russell, you know what drama queens they can be, so I hope that this is just something that will pass quickly.  Her daddy is very worried about her. But not so worried that he couldn't take off this morning.  Typical.

 She's sleeping comfortably, all snuggled up in her own personal fleece blanket. Yes, it has cats on it. That's why she loves it.  lol   But she's not her usual self and is very lethargic.  Her eyes do look much better this morning...

 I am wandering around like a zombie. I am tired (JRT in our bed all night, so I couldn't stretch out and sleep like usual)  and it was 14 when I woke up this morning and felt like 4.  My bones hurt. I was out in it a bit last evening, and the cold and wind went right through me. I never did warm up, and slept in long underwear and socks.  lol  Naturally, then I kept getting so hot I would throw the blankets off and lay on top of them until I was cold again. This went on all night. And I didn't go to bed until after midnight either.  Ya, ya,ya...

 This weather has gotten so cold the past few days, even for November. It seems like only a few  days ago it was back in the 70's, and I think it's this see-sawing weather change that makes it even worse.  I'm thinking, let's just get this winter over with !   Do it, and be done with it !!  But...nobody listens to

  Was supposed to go to a trivia event last night that I really didn't want to go to anyway.  Didn't go. Did go visit my old neighbor on Friday at her new house. It's beautiful and they are slowly settling in.  It's going to be SO much easier on her, and I am so glad for that. It was good to go there and meet another of her friends and see her mother again. There was an interesting little thing that happened as I was leaving that I am not going to share until I talk to her again and tell her...but it was something very sweet and it made me smile.

  Had lunch earlier in the week with my SIL and niece and we planned the Thanksgiving Day menu.  I am going to bake some sweet potato rolls and some other rolls or breads to take and a couple of pies. I will probably also take a relish tray with lots of my pickled goodies.  I can do the rolls through the week upcoming, and freeze them after partially baking.  The pies I can bake the day before. That way it will be easy enough to manage.  Not looking forward to the holidays this year, but am trying to whip myself into a better attitude about it all. Wish me luck.

 A beloved author and storyteller Anne McCaffrey died this past week at the ripe old age of 85.  She was an extraordinary and prolific writer who charmed millions of readers with her tales of dragons and magic. RIP, Lady Dragonholder...she was the first author I read in that genre, besides Isaac Asimov, which is an entirely different arm of science fiction that her lovely tales were.  I fell in love, as did many others, and it was the beginning of the end of my reading snobbery.

  And so life goes on, and the horrid cold is tempered by the stark and brilliant beauty of the hoarfrost on the ground and trees.  It is warm in the house, and I'm going to get some bread going in the bread machine this morning. The smell of bread baking is about as good a spell as I can conjure this day.  I am also trying my hand at making oat milk, a non-dairy alternative to the expensive stuff we buy. If it's halfway palatable (only use it on granola) I may never buy the rice or almond milk again. I always have tons of oats in my pantry, and it's looking like a total of about 50 cents a quart compared to 3 dollars a quart to buy the other. I'll let you know. It might be there are a lot of recipes out there for it. I put the oats into the hot water last night and refrigerated them after mixing well. Today they will go into the blender with a little more water, be blended and then strained several times. Then add sweetener (which I added last night into the warm mixture since I was using honey and it mixes better in hot stuff) and a little vanilla and salt.  We'll see.

  Please keep me in your prayers these next few days, those of you who are so inclined. I need all the good energy and vibes I can get to make it through this coming week.  There may be some really big changes coming up in my life soon...and it makes me tired just thinking about it.  I am reminded that Mother Theresa said once :

"I know God won't give me more than I can handle.  I just wish he didn't trust me so much."

  Kinda how I'm feeling too.