Archive for December, 2010

Family Togetherness

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

surfing.jpgI get pretty tired of the stuff I read about how the internet is tearing families apart; how instead of interacting as a family unit that members go into their separate rooms, shut the door, and surf the net. How people blog all night when they could be enjoying a conversation with their loved ones. Bosh! Since we’ve installed wireless in our home (a gift from Steve and John to me,) you can see that we are spending more time together as a family.

woodcarry.jpgIt was warm today… into the mid 40s. It looks like we got our January thaw in December this year. Steve and I worked together to carry firewood, and it went very well. I usually poop out after half a dozen trips, but with Steve and Franco to keep me company, we kept going until both indoor racks were filled. Let it snow now!

My other memorable achievement today was to break my all-time losing streak in Spider Solitaire. Previously hovering at 27 losses in a row, I now stand at 29 losses in a row. A remarkable achievement, it I say so. You have to be slightly mad to continue playing after 25 straight losses. It is best not to look at your statistics too closely when you dip so deeply into the negative territory.

All Loaded Up

Monday, December 27th, 2010

pickup.jpgThe guys loaded up the pickup yesterday after Steve and I built some side racks to increase its capacity. They finished loading and left around 2:30 this afternoon for a quick trip to Chicago to get mostly moved in. They plan to return tomorrow. It sure is great to have all their energy in the house, but it is eerily quiet right now. The dog is asleep, Alice is quietly working on a project, and the kettle on the woodstove is simmering. That is it.

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I do believe in using things until they are no longer useful. My poor Carhart jacket has had a rough life. I have no idea what caused the pocket to rip out, or both sleeves to shred like they did. For Christmas I got a replacement.

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Besides being new and not having its stuffing hanging out all over the place, this jacket is a bit warmer and came with a snap on hood too. I used it for our after supper hike tonight, and it performed admirably. I wouldn’t have been surprised if “Country Living” magazine showed up with a photographer and writer, but they must have been delayed by the snowstorm out east.

Christmas Day

Saturday, December 25th, 2010

We had a very nice turnout at the Little Brother’s event at the Doelle Senior Citizen’s Center in Tapiola today. The volunteer crew preformed admirably, and all the guests seemed to have a good time. Being a part of an event like this give me faith in the human race. We have a very nice time working together, and put out a very credible party. I’ve surely been a part of events where everyone grouches and no one has a good time that also puts out a credible product, but I SO much prefer the former.

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When guests come in the door they are greeted by some of our young people and given a name tag.

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Coats are put away and friends are sought for.

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The Senior Citizen’s Center has some nice areas for people to gather and enjoy each other’s company.

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Things are pretty well setup and the food is almost ready.

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The desserts are being prepared.

Christmas Eve

Friday, December 24th, 2010

It has been a good day. One of my favorite parts was the getting of the tree. We all walked out to the back field and scrutinized several of them.

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Alice helpfully suggests the tree ahead has merit. She is immediately shut down.

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Maybe this one will do. Nah.

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Alice looked so cute I had to take this one.

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Once we’d made our choice and cut it down, Steve carried it back to the house.

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The decorated tree with Steve serenading it.

Christmas Tree

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

tree.jpgToday some friends came over to cut a Christmas tree. The weather was in the 30s, so we got wet being out there. We looked at a lot of trees until we found the best one too. I always enjoy this process and am rarely disappointed. It is nice just to get outside in the beautiful snow. Franco likes it too. For some reason known only to him, he prefers a variety of stick throwers, rather than standardizing on just one. And his insistent looks melts the hearts of most reluctant throwers.

I looked at the potential lunar eclipse last night about midnight, and was disappointed to see some high clouds that fogged the whole thing. I went to bet hoping to wake up as usual around 2:30, but didn’t wake up until 4:30. The moon had moved, but the clouds had not. Even with binoculars I couldn’t make out any hint of an eclipse unless I used my imagination. You win some you lose some.

Walking around I see more and more big spruce trees are dying, and I really need to get out and get them cut down and skidded to the sawmill. It would be a shame to lose all that good material to rot.

Cold

Monday, December 20th, 2010

It was clear and cold again last night, and just below zero this morning. It is days like this I really appreciate all the effort we put into building a weather-proof garage. It is so much easier on the vehicles and on us.

There is a beautiful full moon this evening complete with a moondoggie (a ring around the moon.) This often means precipitation is coming. I’m hopeful I’ll have enough energy to get outside at least once tonight to look at the eclipse. It looks like we’ll have a clear sky for it.

I got William Kamkwamba’s book, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” for Christmas last year. It languished on the bookshelf until recently. It is a great book that I’d recommend to anyone. He captures the curiosity of youth and the natural tendency of experimentation very well. The section of his family’s survival of famine in Malawi is riveting. Such hard choices to be made by someone so young.

Breakfast

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

To celebrate Alice’s last day of Fall Semester, we treated ourselves to a breakfast out on Friday. We went to the Feedmill in Tapiola. Now that I’m retired and a bit more active in the community, I know a few more folks. One that I’ve gotten to know is the owner of the Feedmill. Just about every time we eat there, she’ll come over and sit with us for a spell.

feedmill.jpgThis visit, she got to telling us about the old Doelle school and what a shame it was that such a nice building was just rotting away in downtown Tapiola. As we were talking about the old landmarks in Tapiola, she asked us to come over and look at an old picture she has on the wall. I got a big kick out of Alice and her talking over old times in Tapiola. I tried to get a decent picture but this was the best I could do.

On our way home we talked about what a valuable thing community is, and how it is worth working toward. We’ve been in this little community for well over 30 years, but out social center has really been in Houghton and Michigan Tech.

We spent a big chunk of yesterday and today on the holiday cards, and got most of them in today’s mail. We agreed we worked well together on the project this year. I developed a draft, which Alice edited and suggested several more potential topics. I added a few more topics and made most of the changes she suggested. Then we decided which pictures we wanted to add, font, point size, margins, etc. There was quite a bit of back and forth, and in the end we came up with something we both liked pretty well. Some years we just grind through the process until we are so tired of working on it we just gave up and sent out whatever we had. This year’s is available on this web site in pdf format. Just click on Christmas Newsletters and choose 2010.

Butter Fat

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

butter.jpgToday’s chores involved making Christmas goodies, and good they were. I made a batch of Russian Tea Cakes… you know those spherical powdered sugar coated one-mouthful wonders? Do you know why they taste so good? Butter. One batch wasn’t enough when I got to distributing them to all the places they were to go, so I made a second batch. Of course, you can’t give a gift away without trying the batch for quality. I also made another batch of fudge today. That makes 10# so far this holiday season. I have no idea if it will be the last. We still have some gift boxes to make up yet.

I wonder why people gain weight this time of year? The days are so short that I’m not out and about like I am in the summer. And for some reason, butter, in all its forms, tastes better in the winter. Less activity and more fat in the diet. Hmmm. The countdown to the shortest day of the year has commenced. In case you like to celebrate this yearly miracle like I do, this coming Winter Solstice occurs on December 21, 2010 at 6:38 PM ET and 23:38 UTC (Universal Time.)

Boiling Water in the Air

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

This morning was our first well below zero. It reminded me of the first time I tried the boiling water trick you can do with cold mornings like this. If you boil a cup full of water and quickly take it outside and throw it into the air, it will flash to fog before it hits the ground. It also makes a satisfying hissing sound too. The first time we tried it that I can remember, Steve was in grade school. Getting out of bed and getting going on those cold dark winter mornings wasn’t on top of any of our lists, but I do remember us thinking the boiling water trick was pretty cool. Of course we pitied all the poor children in Florida that could never experience this. Sniff.

Today Franco and I concentrated on inside projects until it warmed up outside, and warm up it did! By lunch time it was in the mid 20s. I was able to go outside and fill the bird feeders in my sweatshirt and slippers. We also walked out to the garage and got a fire going because we planned to work on the Scout this evening.

Ah yes, the continuing Scout saga. My mechanic friend did come and worked some more. He suspects that the part I had purchased and installed in the distributor is bad and needs re-replacing. So I plan to call the place where I bought it and get another one coming, and see if they’ll take the defective one back. That means another several days wait until the replacement part comes. I hope it doesn’t snow again… I really prefer to move snow with the Scout. Whine whine whine

Errand Runnin’ Fool

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Today reminded me of what my life was like when I was still working at MTU. I ran from one appointment to the next all day, barely making it in time for each one. I got everything done, and feel pretty good about it I guess. There is still lots to do, but it is nice to check a few things off the list. And I can report that my last FOLK newsletter is at the post office, and maybe finding its way to homes all across the country as we speak. That gig was a nice run, and I’m happy to have done it. I feel like a 30# monkey just jumped off my back, though.

It’s been cold all day, and I’ve been stoking the fires in response to it. My favorite thing on days like this is to be outside doing something or another, and come in and feel that blast of comfortable warmth. It is satisfying to know that I had something to do with that warmth too. I honestly do think about it in the summer when I’m sweating and swatting bugs; “I’ll appreciate this wood come winter,” I say. Appreciate it I do.