Monday, December 28, 2009

the deer are back!

The deer, who disappeared about two weeks into hunting season, leaving the corn put out for them untouched, leaving no foot prints, have finally returned.

Not skittish at all, since they let me stand at the kitchen window and take pictures, where before I've had them bound off as soon as I raised the camera.

They did watch me closely, though.

There were actually three of them, but I never managed to get more than two in one shot.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

How I spent December 25

and most of today, as well. Ahhh, warm feet.

(It took three tries to catch the flames, and they don't show up much at all.)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

our clients love us...

...and they want to fatten us up. This is my share, among the ten of us, of all the non-perishable food items we were given. (We ate the fresh-baked cookies, the bean dip, the fruit and the cakes and the fudge that arrived earlier. That foil wrapped object? That's a whole Lane cake that was brought in yesterday, our last day open. I just got lucky.)

Monday, December 21, 2009


Not me. The stove.
I spend an amazing amount of time for someone of my generation being grateful for all the modern conveniences and neat technology I have, but I take pains to avoid being dependent on them.
Turkey soup and dry underwear without using any electricity: points for my side. (Notice how the clean laundry is raised so it won't be casually rubbed against by the dog. Win.)

Friday, December 18, 2009

problem of the day

How to drive west safely while watching the dawn color the sky in the rear view mirror? I managed to stay on the road somehow.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

door decoration

I gave up waiting for a sunny day, and did the best I could to be a human tripod.

My uncle the florist sent us this wicker door decoration, complete with pine cones and foliage, sometime between 1961 and 1964. We used it off and on for years, renewing the greenery and ribbons as necessary. This is its second year at the new house.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

not exactly a decoration

but The Mirror finally got hung after spending a year waiting in the basement just so it could get seen on the House Tour. It hung over the fireplace (only heat source) in my grandmother's living room, and I don't have any idea where it came from, but it looks older than she was. It was always called "the mirror" without any other details.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

going overboard

Even though the House Tour isn't a decoration contest, the tour organizers kept asking me (when trying to schedule pictures for the paper) if I'd done any decorating yet, and I kept saying no, because I wouldn't have time until the five days off over Thanksgiving, so I had put a few things up but not much. All this nagging had me going overboard. My usual decoration runs to a tree and a door decoration, and a centerpiece for the table. But gilding the bird's nest got me started.

I put pine cones in things.

I put the cedar I cut off the bottom of the trees in a washtub to keep it from drying out until I could use it, and when the tour organizers brought me the sign-in sheet and looked over the house they liked it and told me not to throw it out. I hope the guests liked it. I thought it was a bit back-country.

Then I put a tree up in what's now the guest room,

in addition to the main tree

and I put pine and cedar in things

and around things

and on things, combined with lights and ornaments as a sort of horizontal tree

Everybody liked the bird's nest, and a great many people walked in and exclaimed "Oh! You have a real tree!" in surprise and pleasure.

Monday, December 7, 2009

first snow

Not very much snow, but the first.

Enough to need sweeping off the walk...

...since my plan to let it melt off has failed.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I survived the House Tour

The house tour was as much fun to host as it is to go on, except that you don't see everybody else's house. I talked for five hours without a break. I will report later, with pictures of decorations, when I have regained my so-called sanity.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

NOT a Christmas tree

I went out to cut two Christmas trees this afternoon, and I did, but on the way I found something else. There was frost this morning. Brave? Confused?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

grateful cooking

I spent today at work listening to my co-workers and a number of our clients complaining about how much work Thanksgiving dinner is, or stating happily that they were going to eat out. I think what I'm most thankful for at the moment is not seeing it that way. Three of my grandparents came from large families, where just the people in the household were around a dozen, and they were hardly ever without guests, expected or otherwise, so I grew up on stories of meals with three meats and seven vegetables and four breads.

I just realized that one reason it doesn't seem difficult to me is that those stories made me aware early on of "modern conveniences." It's not difficult to wash and salt a turkey that's already cleaned and dressed, and stick it in an oven that has a thermostat, so I don't have to carefully feed the fire to keep a steady heat. I have a refrigerator (and a freezer!) so I cooked the dessert yesterday, and today after work I made the sweet potato pudding, and fixed the turkey in its roasting pan ready to go in the oven in the morning, and since due to work conflicts we're having the dinner on Friday, when it has cooked I'll put it back in the refrigerator. There's running water, too, a wonder I never tire of. So preparing a feast for somewhere between seven and twelve people for a time not yet determined on Friday does not intimidate me.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

hair FAIL

I was delighted to find, when I checked Locks of Love's web site (, that now you're allowed to cut your own hair if you follow their instructions. I've been cutting dog hair for nearly eleven years now--how hard could it be?

Well, it turns out that cutting my own hair while looking in the mirror is even harder than taking a picture of the back of my head in the mirror. (Third attempt up there.) I tied the hair with string before I cut it, as instructed, and cut it off, and discovered that the left side of my hair was the length I meant it to be, but the right side was about five inches shorter. What you see above is after my attempts to even it up looking at my reflected back in a hand mirror. Sometimes I didn't even get the hair into the scissors; I'd be cutting the air.

Next time--in eight or ten years--I'm going to divide my hair in two, and pull the two sections over my shoulder before I do any string-tying, and cutting, so I can see what I'm doing. That is, if I don't have cataracts or some worse vision problem than bifocals by then.

But the tied-off pony tail in its zip lock bag looks usable, and as soon as I find the right size padded mailer I shall send it off.

Monday, November 16, 2009

getting creative

Not long ago I found this bird's nest.

Since I have to decorate my house much more than my natural tendency because it's going to be in the House Tour this December, I decided to put it to use.

I sprayed it with a little gold glitter spray, proceeding cautiously, adding only a little (which doesn't really show up in this picture.)

Then I added more. I tried the red glitter, too, but I seem to have a defective can of that: it doesn't show up on the nest or on the pine cones I tried it on.

So I kept on building up the gold glitter.

After three days it's a lot more glittery than shows up here. I tried both red eggs, and gold-and-clear eggs; the red were definitely best.

Then I decided it needed a bird.

The eggs must be ready to hatch, since the bird is watching over them from a distance. Will the chicks be red glittery, or gold?

Having finished that project with such pleasure, I did a few more things that won't dry out like the greenery and the trees.

The red basket was painted by a friend of mine some years ago when she went crazy for painted baskets. The pine cones are a few of the ones in my driveway.

Then I got out all my dog ornaments, finding that there aren't really very many, but they do fill up a small window sill, and hung the Santa wreath that a former roommate and I found on the street and added a few things to.

Then I stopped, because it's almost three weeks until the tour, and everything else I have planned involves fresh greenery. Now I must concentrate on putting away all the things that haven't really been unpacked in the past almost-year, and hanging at least a few more of the pictures. In less than three weeks. Yikes.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

a few things

optical illusion

On my way to work this morning, before the sun was all the way up, I saw a black and white cat that appeared to be floating in mid air. It was sitting on a fence post, and the post was nearly the same color as the soy bean stubble in the field behind it.

back to normal

I passed the place where the steer was on top of the hay bale, and now there are two steers, and three goats. One of the goats has horns. Guess who was on top of the bale today?

stove gloat

Last night I put a piece of wood in the stove about an hour before bedtime, and closed the damper when I went to bed. This morning the stove was still warm (not unusual) and I saw there was still some wood unburned, so I opened the damper and the flames woke up, and I got to drink my coffee by the fire. Then I closed the damper when I left, and when I got home ten hours later there was nothing left but ashes, but the stove was still warm. Three pieces of wood put out heat for eighteen hours. Color me impressed.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

coyote sighting

Yesterday on my way to work (in daylight!) I saw something run across the road ahead of me, and I thought "That tail is awfully plumy for a dog..." and as I drove nearer it stopped in the field and turned and looked at me.

Since the move out ten miles from town I've heard a lot of coyote voices, and caught glimpses of things disappearing from the side of the road that might have been coyotes, but this is the first clear look at one I've had. How can something standing in a field of corn stubble across the road from a house and barns look so wild?

Friday, November 6, 2009

role reversal

(Or should I say "roll reversal"? When round hay bales were new, some people called them rolls to distinguish them from square bales.)

Since the time change means I'm driving to work in daylight again, yesterday morning I was able to see the pasture occupied by a young steer and some goats. They usually have a bale of hay. This time, the steer was up on top of the bale, and the goats were all eating from the bottom.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sunday morning coffee by the stove

There was frost Sunday morning. By the time I got the fire going well again, my second pot of coffee was ready. Warmth inside and out. What could be better?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

not through a window

Today's weather was almost summer-ish, so I sat out on two of the porches to read. I was struck by how a window always frames the view for you, but in a different way so does a porch, so I took the camera around the house and shot some of those frames.

Going around the house from north east:


Northwest from one side of the front porch:

North east from the other side:

I wasn't the only creature enjoying the weather today, but the lady bugs just didn't want their pictures taken:

North east from a different porch:

And south east from the same porch:

South from yet another porch:

And south west from that one:

West to end the afternoon.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Saturday my hunters delivered some of this wood, and cut up what I had left from last winter into sizes that will, I hope, fit my stoves better. Spread out like that it looks like as much as I started with last winter, but it's all shorter, so I can't really tell. I only used about half of the approximate cord that I had, but last winter I was far more lavish with the radiant heat since my father was alive and old enough to have poor circulation, and of course it was his pension paying for the electricity. For myself, I've turned all the thermostats down to 60F in the rooms I keep warmest, and below that in others. I'll need the stoves if I'm going to feel toasty warm on cloudy days. (Remember, the solar gain has meant the heat has only run once so far, the night before the first frost.) I won't be home to feed the fires five days a week, though, so I hope this will last me.