2020/2021

Last year at this time, I was declaring that 2020 would be a year in which we would enjoy a year free of toxic/abusive people, a year of peace and quiet and enjoyment, a year in which we would work on re ccovery and healing. Well, it didn’t exactly turn out that way. 2020 was the craziest, most insane year that I think any of us have ever experienced. I feel as if we should all get “I survived” medals.

Heading into this year, I am making no declarations about what I personally expect, hope for, or am working towards. I do have hopes, expectations, and goals, but I’m not declaring them. I will mostly see what unfolds each day and try to adjust.

As 2021 begins, we are trying to determine if there is a problem with our heating system. We have a geothermal system, which means that heating and cooling is done by exchanging heat with the ground. We have propane backup so if the outside temperature drops below 20(F) degrees, our house is heated with propane. Our house is cheap to heat if it uses the geothermal heat, but if it switches to the auxiliary system, it tends to gulp propane, which is why we keep the house a bit cool. We shouldn’t have a problem with our geothermal system since we just replaced it two years ago but it seems as if our auxiliary heat is kicking in before it should. EJ keeps checking the thermostat, trying to determine if there is a problem or not. Hopefully, there isn’t a problem with expensive repairs. It really feels as if every time we start to build up a little bit of savings, there is some “emergency” that drains it away. Every. Single. Time. The good thing is that we usually have just enough to cover the cost of the “emergency.” I would like to be able to have more than merely “enough” but it is a blessing to have enough. We have never been homeless, hungry, cold, or unable to pay our bills, and we have sometimes been able to buy a few extra things. The need to live frugally has also helped us become creative. So there is that.

On New Year’s Eve, I made homemade pizza while EJ drove to the local grocery store for a variety of chips for our “celebration,” which actually just involves eating and watching favorite movies or television series all day. In addition to the pizza, I also tried my hand at making homemade pretzels for the first time. They turned out well enough although I didn’t think they would because I didn’t think the dough rose enough–whether because, even in the best of times, we have trouble finding a warm enough place in winter to raise dough or because kneading dough is more difficult for me since I fell on the ice a couple of years ago and broke my wrist. We have begun using the dehydrator as a “proofing oven,” putting the temp at its lowest setting with a bowl of water in it to keep the dough moist. When EJ is available, I ask him to knead dough for me.

I told EJ that I ought to get a machine to roll out a sheet of dough for me–like those fondant machines I’ve seen on the Food Network. It would make rolling out dough for crackers more consistent and easier on my hands. Yesterday I thought, “Huh. I wonder what such a machine would cost?” Just for fun, I went looking at Amazon, and surprisingly, a simple model didn’t cost that much. In fact, such a device is actually a pasta maker so we could use it to make our own pasta as well as a sheet of dough for crackers. We could easily save for it. Making our own crackers and pasta would be cheaper and healthier in the long run than buying it from a store.

Then, since I was dreaming, I went looking for peanut butter makers. I have wanted to make homemade peanut butter for a long time, but machines are usually waaaay to expensive. I googled “best machine for making peanut butter” and the best noncommercial option was actually a powerful model of food processor, which several reviewers said they used to make a variety of nut butters. Again, making our own would be healthier. The recommended food processor wasn’t very expensive and we can save for it.

EJ said, “Look up air fryers for our Instant Pot.” He told me a co-worker has an air-fryer and LOVES it. I had trouble finding an air-fryer lid for an 8 quart Instant Pot so I went looking for an air-fryer appliance. I found a cool one that is an amazing 10-in-1 air fryer, toaster, convection, rotisserie, and dehydrator oven combo. The price was reasonable for what it is, but would take longer to save for.

I now have a list of dream machines.

I never considered myself much of a cook. Although I think my Mom was a good cook, she never really taught me or my sisters to cook when we were growing up. And when JJ was young, my time and energy went into homeschooling him. So cooking has been, for me, mostly a duty rather than a joy, even though EJ said he considers me a good cook. But I have had so much fun during the last year learning to use our Instant Pot, experimenting with different types of foods that I think it would be so much fun to have these other items and expand my home cooking horizons.

Tunisian technique.
Photo from tylcblog

For several months, I have been searching for a nordic pattern so that I could make various types of scarves. The patterns that I like require a technique called Tunisian. I thought it was merely a different type of stitch, but it’s actually a completely different branch of crocheting that I never knew existed. In normal crocheting, a person stitches a row, turns the work, and stitches the next row. In Tunisian crochet, the work is not turned after each row. Instead, each row consists of two “passes,” the first pass involves putting loops on the hook going from right to left, and the second pass involves taking the loops off from left to right. Because the loops for each stitch of a row stays on the hook–if there are 50 stitches, there are 50 loops on the hook–a longer Tunisian crochet hook is required. As a beginner, it seems very complicated to me but fortunately, there are how-to videos to show me how to do it. It might take some time, but these are the types of patterns I’d like to learn to create:

I bought this scarf pattern by Hayley Joanne Robinson.
I hope to learn this Tunisian technique, stitches, and patterns.

It appears that even though I’m trying not to have hopes, expectations, or goals for this year, I actually DO have them. Hopefully, I can accomplish these better than I did last year’s. Although, honestly, although 2020 was much crazier than expected, EJ and I have actually worked on recovery and healing so it wasn’t as unsuccessful as it appeared at first glance.

HOLIDAYS

I hope you all had a very nice Christmas despite the challenges of this year.

We have had a Koselig holiday season. Koselig is a concept that is deeply rooted in Norwegian culture. It is the feeling of coziness and being comfortable. It is about being content and creating a pleasant environment. it is about intimacy and warmth.

Our “big” gift to each other was the Bibles that we gave each in early December for what we call Hanukkah-mas-ary because Hanukkah, Christmas, and our wedding anniversary are all celebrated in December. However, just for fun, on Christmas Eve we went to Goodwill to see what treasures we could find. I bought a few books and warm sweatshirts. EJ didn’t really find much this time. Sometimes he finds the treasures, sometimes I do, and sometimes we both do. It doesn’t really matter what we find–the treasure hunting is what we enjoy.

EJ has about 11 days off work for Christmas–from December 24th through January 3rd. We have mostly been hanging out together, puttering around. I made homemade crackers a couple of times. I’ve never made them before, but I thought I’d try it so we could just make more if we ran out rather than depend on the stores. I’ve been trying out different recipes, trying to find the one I like best. I’m also working on my technique. As the quote goes, “Practice makes perfect” and practice is yummy when it involves food. The first recipe I tried, the crackers turned out pretty well but the dough was rather stiff and difficult to roll out. I got distracted when making the second recipe and I forgot to include a key ingredient–the butter. Oops. The crackers turned out ok, but I would like to make the recipe with all the ingredients.

I was thinking about making rock candy but we have had trouble finding the Lorann oil flavors that we like. Cinnamon and spearmint are my favorite flavors. EJ found cinnamon but he couldn’t find spearmint. He said there weren’t many flavors left at the only store we have found them at. He chose butterscotch for himself, but accidentally got Butter Almond. Sometimes I chuckle when I think about making candy because I remember my sister saying she couldn’t make candy one year because we didn’t have enough snow. Our Mom used to quickly cool the candy by placing the pan it was in into a larger pan filled snow that she had scooped from the yard. My sister didn’t consider that the snow was just a convenient method and the candy could be cooled in other ways. Laugh.

I was thinking about also trying my hand at making homemade pretzels. I have never made pretzels before, except years ago when we had a bread machine. The bread machine only lasted a few months and we never replaced it when it broke down.

My homemade suet

The wild birds have eaten most of the suet I made them so I made them more yesterday. I used the deer fat that EJ rendered. The birds like it. 🙂

Besides cooking, I organized the closet in our bedroom. I’ve also been working on a crocheted hooded scarf of my own design. I hope to make either the finished scarf or the pattern available for sale.

One of my hens died. 😥 I am not sure what she died of or even exactly when she died. The chickens all have favorite places in the coop where they like to roost. We have a fancy coop and a wooden dog house inside the 12′ x 10′ shed that is our coop. Most of the chickens like roosting on top of the fancy coop and dog house, but several like roosting inside of them. Anyway, I only count the chickens at night to make sure they are all safely inside and I assumed the hen was sleeping in her favorite place waaaay back in the lowest level of the fancy coop. I only got suspicious on Sunday night so I checked back there Monday afternoon and she was still there. We pulled her out and, yup, she was dead. 😥 I hate losing chickens, although I know that it happens sometimes.

The ring on the back of Hannah Joy’s harness that I attach her leash to broke. I can still attach her leash to the ring on the chest of her harness but she doesn’t like that as much because she tends to get tangled up in it. I’ve ordered her a new harness, which is scheduled to arrive tomorrow. I chose a blue one for her which should look good against her pretty reddish fur.

We’ve had a very mild winter. We only got measurable snow a week or so ago. The temperatures had been relatively warm, but now they are cold enough that I have to bundle up when I go outside. We keep our house a bit cool to save on heating costs so I keep warmer by wearing sweatshirts/sweaters, covering up with a lap blanket, and holding and drinking hot coffee or tea. Hannah Joy likes to sleep on my lap under the blanket, and her body heat also helps me keep warm. However, whenever she hears a noise–a loud vehicle out on the road, the cats having a tussle, or any other noise she finds interesting–she suddenly erupts out of the blanket and my crocheting, the book I’m reading, or the cup I am holding is totally disrupted. I’ve had to change and wash my clothes–and the lap blanket–the last couple of days because Hannah Joy’s eruption splashed my coffee all over me. Silly dog.

<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">It is our custom on New Year's Eve to make homemade pizza and eat a variety of chips, Fritos, and Doritoes. I will make the pizza tomorrow and EJ will probably go shopping for the salty snacks. In the evenings, we always binge-watch a TV series or many-part movie (such as LOTR). EJ and I have been re-watching one of our favorite TV series on Amazon Prime called Stargate SG-1 for the last week or two. It is leaving Amazon Prime on January 1 so we are trying to get through it. Yesterday we were only on Season 6 so we started skipping to our favorite episodes and we are now on Season 8. Hopefully, we can finish the remaining seasons tomorrow night before the series disappears forever. It is our custom on New Year’s Eve to make homemade pizza and eat a variety of chips, Fritos, and Doritoes. I will make the pizza tomorrow and EJ will probably go shopping for the salty snacks. In the evenings, we always binge-watch a TV series or many-part movie (such as LOTR). EJ and I have been re-watching one of our favorite TV series on Amazon Prime called Stargate SG-1 for the last week or two. It is leaving Amazon Prime on January 1 so we are trying to get through it. Yesterday we were only on Season 6 so we started skipping to our favorite episodes and we are now on Season 8. Hopefully, we can finish the remaining seasons tomorrow night before the series disappears forever.

Merry Christmas

Whatever is beautiful. Whatever is meaningful. Whatever brings you peace and joy. May it be yours this Christmas holiday and throughout the coming year.

Hanukkah-mas-ary

I swear that time has become timey-wimey-wibbly-wobbly. I blink and then find that a month has gone by without me noticing. It feels as if time speeds up faster and faster as we get older.

I have mostly spent the last month crocheting gifts for dear friends. EJ went to the post office on Friday and mailed them for me. All but one, which is headed to Canada. I wasn’t sure how much that one would cost to ship, and I feared that it would be terribly expensive. I’ve been shocked at how much it costs to ship items to other countries. EJ asked the postal clerk how much it would cost and it wasn’t that bad so we will ship it as soon as we can–probably Monday.

Our wedding day 30 years ago.

On December 1st, EJ and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. He said that the traditional 30th anniversary is a pearl, but I don’t care all that much for jewelry so I told him that the traditional gift is a new Bible. “Are you making that up?” he asked. Of course, he knew I was. I replied that I had decided that it is the tradition in OUR family. Mostly I said this because I had already gotten him a new Bible–one that I knew he had been wanting. He also got me a Bible that he knew I was wanting.

I called our Bibles our “Hanukkah-mas-ary” gifts because it’s a combination of Hanukkah, Christmas, and Anniversary. We don’t need a lot of things.

Hannah Joy and Hanukkah

Hannukah just ended a couple days ago. I love Hanukkah–both the beautiful candlelight and the meaning. Hanukkah is basically about not letting the dark overcome the light, which seems very appropriate for this crazy year.

We adopted Hannah Joy on December 23, 2017. Her name is a combination of the Hanukkah and Christmas holidays,

Early in December EJ made venison sausage and baloney for the first time ever. It is tasty but a little too salty. However, I’m sure he can make improvements the next time he makes it. EJ rendered the fat from the deer and I used it to make suet for the wild birds. It’s very easy to make suet for the birds. There are many recipes, but I use this one from Audobon:

• 1 1/2 cups shortening (I used EJ’s rendered deer fat)
• 3/4 cups nut butter (any kind)
• 3 1/2 cups wild bird seed
• 1 cup quick oats
• 1/2 cup cornmeal
• ice cube tray (I use square plastic containers that fit my suet feeder)
(I also put in some berries)

1. Mix the dry ingredients of birdseed, oats, and cornmeal together and set aside.
2. Combine the shortening and nut butter in a separate bowl and melt. Stir until completely combined.
3. Pour the melted mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until combined.
4. Spoon mixture into the ice cube tray. 
5. Freeze for one to two hours and place in your suet feeder!

The wild birds really like the suet–and so does Hannah Joy. When she’s outside, she always eats the seed/suet that the birds have knocked to the ground. I told her that if she keeps eating the seed, she’s going to turn into a bird and start tweeting. Then I will have to open a Twitter account for her. The threat doesn’t seem to upset her very much.

December 12th snow

Our Winter has been very mild so far this year. I like winter, but I don’t mind getting a mild one every now and then so we don’t have to worry about keeping our driveway plowed or getting stuck in the snow. Not that we have to worry too much about clearing our driveway–for the last couple of years, our neighbor has been doing it for us with his tractor snowblower. He is such a blessing!

Last weekend was actually the first time this year that we got any measurable snow that stuck around. I think we got around 8 inches. When I went out to do my chores this morning, I noticed that it’s warm enough that the snow has begun to melt. It’s not summer-hot outside, but it’s warm enough that I don’t freeze without hat or mittens.

If I blink and find that another month has gone by without me realizing it….I know that this year has been been very difficult but I really hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and that the darkness does not overcome your light.

Happy Thanksgiving

It is early, the sky is still quite dark, but before the day gets busy, I would like to wish all of my fellow Americans a very happy Thanksgiving Day. And everyone reading from other parts of the world, I hope you have a day of great blessing. Thanksgiving is more a thing of the heart than a meal on the table. But the feast is awesome too.

EJ making venison burger

Yesterday EJ did a little last-minute shopping. We were hoping to get another turkey to put in our freezer for a later time–turkeys are always on sale at this time of year. But we waited too long and they were all gone. Oh, well. EJ brought home two deer from his hunting trip so our freezer will be filled. EJ has done his own butchering. He saved some meat for venison steaks and has been turning the rest into burger. Buying a meat grinder a few years ago was a good investment. EJ ran the venison through the grinder once so far, but he will do it again several times to get it finer. He said he would like to try to make venison sausage this year. He will buy supplies after Thanksgiving.

Mincemeat pies

When EJ finished shopping and we got all the groceries put away, EJ prepared the pumpkin pie filling while I prepared pie dough. We made one large pumpkin pie, one large mincemeat pie, and several small mincemeat pies. Mincemeat is my favorite kind of Thanksgiving pie. EJ had bought two different brands of mincemeat to see which we liked best–one was our regular “Nonesuch” brand and the other was a cheaper brand. I used both. The cheaper brand was not as good as our regular brand so we won’t buy it again. It was soupy with fewer chunks of goodness. I never put a top crust on a pumpkin pie (does anyone?), but I used a variety of cookie cutters to make pretty decorations on the mincemeat pies. I was going to freeze some of the small pies but then I thought, “Who is kidding who?” and I baked them all. We will have pie for breakfast.

This morning EJ will cook the turkey in the roaster oven. He offered to make the green bean casserole as well. I will make homemade dinner rolls and prepare some of the other dishes, such as yams, stuffing (from a box), and so on. We enjoy cooking together, especially big dinners like Thanksgiving. Hannah Joy has volunteered to help with cleanup. She lies in the kitchen where we trip over her and gobbles up any morsel of food that accidentally falls to the floor.

On Tuesday, two days ago, Hannah Joy got her stitches removed. The assistant was the one who took the stitches out. She put a muzzle on her to make sure she doesn’t get upset and bite. Hannah Joy trembled while EJ held her close and I cooed comforting words to her. The assistant said that Hannah Joy had pulled out one or two stitches, but everything looked good. I would have been surprised if Hannah had not pulled out a few stitches. She had left her incision alone at first, but I’m sure it began to bother her as it healed. We kept a close eye on her and stopped her if she started licking, but then she started sneaking into the bedroom to covertly lick her owie. At first I was like, “What are you doing in the bedroom, Hannah Joy?” because she usually cuddles with me and only goes into the bedroom when she’s eating something she knows she’s not supposed to eat. Hannah Joy would look at me with her innocent-guilty look that said, “Me? I’m not do anything. I’m not licking my owie.” She makes us laugh. Anyway, it just took a few snips and the stitches were out and then she got lots of lovings from the veterinary staff. I liked our vet downstate, but I like our current veterinarian and her staff even more. They are very caring. I kind of wish I could have them for MY doctor.

In my “free” time, I have been busy working on crocheted gifts for friends for “Hanukkahmas,” named because it depends on which holiday they celebrate. LOL. I don’t know if I will get the gifts done in time–I should have started sooner, but I kept adding to my list and the projects are a little ambitious and are taking time. I had to ask most of them to tell me their favorite color and I’ve had to buy yarn. Well, I will work as hard and fast as I can….

But today I will feast.

“Woof!”

EJ arrived home yesterday at about 3:30 pm. I’m glad that he can go hunting every year, but I sure do miss him when he’s gone! I had intended to make homemade pizza for him, but I didn’t have any tomato paste so I made chili instead. It’s a good dish to make because I can warm it up whenever he gets home.

EJ took Hannah Joy and me out to the truck to see his deer. Hannah was very excited about them. I pulled her back into the house, and EJ drove the truck around to the side door of the garage, pulled the deer inside, and hung them from the rafters. I helped him with the doe. He fasted the rope to her and pulled the deer up, while I held the other end of the rope taunt so the deer didn’t slide back down while he pulled again. I tried not to look at the deer that was inches from my face. Venison is tasty, but I don’t like to see dead things looking at me. EJ fixed up a pulley to pull up the buck so I didn’t have to help him. He got one of the deer skinned today before he went to work.

Hannah Joy kept dragging me outside to the truck in hopes of getting another glimpse at the deer. She sniffed all around the truck. She didn’t know the deer weren’t still inside.

Shortly after he arrived home yesterday, I said EJ, “We were supposed to get some snow but, as you can see, we didn’t get any.” He replied, “Do you want to know where the snow is? It’s about 3 miles east of here.” Sometimes that happens. Sometimes the snow just misses us and sometimes we are in the center of the bulls-eye for the heaviest snow. Throughout today we got flurries, but there’s only a light dusting on the ground. EJ read that we could get about 4 inches of snow. We shall see.

This morning Hannah and I had a conversation. When it was just barely beginning to get a little light outside, just enough to make out the faint outlines of trees, Hannah Joy suddenly leaped up and, alertly looking out the window, said, “Woof!”

I asked, “What do you see?”
She said, “Woof!”
“Do you see the neighbor’s car coming down their driveway?” In the winter when the trees are bare, we can often see the headlines of the neighbor’s car as he drives from the top to the bottom of his hill. Hannah always barks at them.
Hannah replied, “Woof!”
“Or do you see deer?”
“Woof!”
“Do you see a cougar?”
“Woof!
“Do you see a bobcat?”
“Woof!”
“You know, I think you are not telling me the truth.”
She gave me a Look, and silently lay back down next to me on the couch. The conversation was over.

Hannah Joy is licking her incision so I put my Lord of the Rings t-shirt back on her. It didn’t stay on very well because she has ripped it to tatters. EJ said I could put one of his old white t-shirts on her, which I did, but she’s already ripped a large hole in it. Human t-shirts are not a good fit for dogs. I put her harness on her to keep the shirt on her, but I’m not sure how well that will work out. I told Hannah Joy that if she doesn’t stop licking her incision, the veterinarian is going to scold us both.

Speaking of which….the veterinarian called this afternoon. She said the report came back from the lab and the mass is a benign tumor. Whew! We will need to keep an eye on Hannah in case more she gets more tumors, but so far, so good.

This afternoon a pileated woodpecker came to eat the suet I put out this morning. Pileated woodpeckers are the largest of all woodpeckers–about the size of a crow. I think they are beautiful and interesting.

Hannah and the Box

We made it through last night without losing power again from the high winds. Yay! We didn’t get any snow overnight but we could get some tonight.

EJ texted me that he is on his way home! Whoo hoo! I am glad that he was able to get away to go hunting, but I really missed him.

EJ is coming home with TWO deer, a buck and a doe. He always refers to bucks that he shoots as “Rudolph” and does as “Clarisse.” He’s got a slightly skewed sense of humor. One of the things I love about EJ is his sense of humor.

I ordered three 40lb containers of pretzels from Amazon. They are good for work lunches and night-time snacks. They arrived today. We have a box at the bottom of our long driveway that delivery people put packages in. I call it the “Magic Box” because I find good things in it every now and then. When I got a text that the package had arrived, I walked down to retrieve it. I took Hannah Joy with me because I knew she couldn’t lick her incision site if she came with me–and she hadn’t been out for a while. I knew the box would be somewhat large, but light, and I figured that I could handle it and Hannah at the same time.

I had forgotten that because Hannah Joy sometimes gets packages in the mail–and she got one recently–she tends to think that EVERY package is hers. She knew a package was left in the Magic Box before I even opened the lid. She quickly grabbed hold of the box and growled as she began ripping it apart. I tried to lift it out of her way, but when Hannah wants something, she doesn’t let go. When I finally got it away from her, I had to lift it high to keep it out of her reach. She finally left it alone as she went off to sniff interesting smells and we were able to make it up the hill and into the house without the box being totally destroyed.

Hannah Joy is so funny. She keeps me laughing

Today I received a message with sad news. I felt a trifle sad that I didn’t feel more sad about the news, but I had felt deeply sad about it for many years, and I have no more sadness left in me with which to feel sad. I felt slightly irritated with the guilt-tripping tone of the message, but I didn’t expect less so I dismissed it. I briefly considered responding, but I knew that anything I say–nice, truth, explaining, or defending–would not make a smidgen of difference. I owe the messenger(s) nothing and they can think what they want. I am glad that I don’t feel I have to respond. It shows me that I have moved on and these people no longer have power to hurt me, as they once did. I have chosen to live in freedom and happiness.

And that is all I will say about that.

Recovery

Hannah Joy was very subdued when we brought her home from her surgery last Tuesday. She is a total cuddle bunny and hates to be away from us. She even always sleeps on our bed, but our bed is high and the veterinarian said she wasn’t supposed to do any leaping or jumping so I planned to sleep on the couch for a few nights while she recovered. I figured she could either sleep on the floor or settled on the couch with me.

Hannah Joy has always been extremely intelligent and observant and she knows our routines. At night, she will run and jump into bed when she sees me beginning my bedtime routine, but on the weekends when EJ is home, she will first run over to him to get her goodnight kiss before heading off to bed. Tuesday night, my routine was a little different. She watched me pull a blanket off the bed and spread it on the couch. I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth, etc., and when I came out, I found Hannah already sitting on the couch, as if she realized that we were sleeping there that night. When I lay on the couch and covered myself up with the blanket, Hannah crawled up on my chest and we snuggled…for awhile.

The couch isn’t very comfortable and I didn’t sleep well. Hannah Joy didn’t either. In the bedroom, I always shut the curtains at night and shut the door to keep out distractions, including the cats. Sleeping in the living room, Hannah Joy grumbled at the cats who were prowling about or went to the window barking at the wildlife she sensed was outside, which, of course, woke me. Finally, at about 7 am, she got up for some reason or another so I got up to use the master bathroom. When I came out, Hannah was sitting on the bed, waiting for me. “You aren’t supposed to be jumping up on the bed,” I told her. But since she was there already…I shrugged, grabbed the pillow and blanket from the couch, got into the bed, and we both got the best sleep of the night. I have been keeping the bedroom door shut during the day to keep Hannah Joy from jumping on the bed too much, but at night we’ve been sleeping in the bed as normal.

Lord of the Rings shirt

We had brought home a cone but the veterinarian had said we could use a t-shirt–or nothing–if Hannah left her incision alone. I put an old favorite t-shirt on Hannah at first, but it was long and she kept getting caught in it even though I tried to pin it up out of the way. So Wednesday I just took it off her. She didn’t start licking the incision until Friday so I put a smaller t-shirt on her. It was an old Lord of the Rings shirt that has a hole in it, and which I never wear anymore, but it was such a favorite t-shirt that I didn’t want to get rid of it. I didn’t mind donating it to Hannah. She did much better with the smaller shirt, and I cut it a little and pinned the sides up so it didn’t hang down. It mostly kept her from accessing her “owie.” She somehow wiggles out of it at night, so I’ve begun taking it off her when we go to bed. I wake up whenever she starts licking her incision in the night so I can stop her.

I think dogs must have a magical ability to heal faster than humans. If I had surgery like Hannah’s, I would have been taking it easy for days, but she has quickly bounced back, acting very much like normal. She’s been a bit of a rascal.

My friend sent Hannah Joy a “get well” gift. It was delivered by UPS on Thursday. Hannah was very excited to get it, as you can see in the video.

Hannah’s new toy
Tin of Treats

Hannah Joy is such an aggressive chewer that she quickly destroys all but the toughest toys. I had to throw her new toy away a few hours later when she started to eat it, but she enjoyed it while it lasted. Hannah didn’t want to give up her toy, and we had a fierce tug-of-war. Holding on to the toy that she was gripping with her teeth, I was able to drag her over to her tin of treats. I put the opened tin on the floor, hoping she would let go of the toy in favor of the treats. She did, but then I had a struggle to get her head out of the tin before she ate all the treats. Hannah Joy is a stubborn girl.

Photo EJ sent me from his shack.

Today is the first day of deer hunting season. EJ left Saturday afternoon to go to his usual hunting place on the other side of the state–his friend’s parents’ 100-acre woods. EJ has known the family for so long that he is considered an honorary member of the family. There are several heated hunting shacks throughout the forest so each has a cozy place to hunt, which is good because we are having a rainy day with high winds, which is forecasted to turn to snow later. EJ texted me this morning that he had shot Clarisse. He always calls any doe he gets “Clarisse” after the girlfriend of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. 😥 EJ is still out in his hunting shack, hoping for another deer.

Propane heater

Meanwhile, here at home in our Enchanted Forest, the high winds knocked out our power this morning. When I called the power company to report it, their recording listed multiple counties without power. I got out our little propane heater but did not set it up because it was still relatively warm outside (low 50s). I, myself, have set up the heater so seldom that I’m never confident that I will remember how and I always make EJ give me a refresher lesson at the beginning of each winter, which we haven’t done yet this year. Fortunately, we were only without power for about an hour today. Hopefully, our power will remain on so I don’t have to worry about it.

The most annoying thing is that for some reason our fire alarm started squealing when the power went out and it wouldn’t shut up. I would have simply taken out the battery if it had one, but the alarm is wired in, and I couldn’t figure out how to shut it off. I’m not sure how it could be sounding with the power off? I considered yanking the stupid thing out of the wall or smashing it with a hammer, but instead Hannah and I went into the bedroom and closed the door. When the power came back on, the alarm stopped its clamor. Whew.

EJ returns home tomorrow.

Hannah Update

I had to wake up at 5 a.m. this morning to give Hannah Joy some meds. Usually, I feed her as soon as I get out of bed each morning, but she wasn’t supposed to have anything past midnight. She kept reminding me it was time for breakfast, and couldn’t understand why she wasn’t getting it. She acted like a cranky toddler.

We dropped Hannah Joy off at the animal hospital at 8 a.m. It was very difficult to leave her, but our compassionate vet said that the injection they gave her would put her to sleep within 5-10 minutes. When we arrived back home, both EJ and I went back to bed to get more sleep.

We picked up our Hannah Joy at 12:45 pm. The vet said that everything went perfectly. She’s going to send the mass to the lab to analyze to see if it is cancerous. Hopefully not.

Hannah Joy is still rather groggy and unsteady on her feet so she is sleeping a lot. The vet said that we could try putting an old t-shirt on her to see if that will be enough to keep her from messing with her incision site. We brought home a cone (of shame) to use if the t-shirt doesn’t work. I hope the shirt works because she looks cute in it, and I really hate seeing a dog stumbling around with the stupid cone on her head.

Hannah Joy is a cuddle bunny and loves to be with us at all times. She usually sleeps with us in our bed. Our bed is high and she isn’t supposed to do any jumping until she heals so I plan to sleep on the couch for a few nights. It’s lower and she can sleep on the floor next to it and still be close to me. Or if she wants to cuddle, she won’t have to jump to be with me.

Hannah is our baby.

Prayers for Hannah Joy

On Friday afternoon, we took Hannah Joy to the veterinarian because we had found a growing lump on one of her nipples. The vet said that it would be best to remove it because, at the very least, it was pre-cancerous.

Although our veterinarian is actually pretty booked through the next month, she didn’t want to wait to remove the lump. So she squeezed the surgery into her schedule. We have to drop Hannah Joy off at 8 am tomorrow morning.

I know there are much greater concerns that people are struggling with, but if you could, please keep Hannah Joy in your prayers tomorrow. Hannah really is our joy and we want her to remain in our lives for many years to come.

The Golden Time

Our very enchanting forest is at all times, in every season, very beautiful. However, there are two times in every day that are so magical that it takes my breath away. I call it “the Golden Time.”

It happens every sunrise and sunset. At those times the sun’s light hits the trees in a certain way and lights them up so they blaze with breathtaking beauty. Sometimes it looks as if the trees are lit from within. I’ve watched the light touch the tips of the trees in the distance and then move to light up the trees of our forest. The effect lasts only for a few minutes and then it’s as if a spotlight has been suddenly turned off. The trees then return to their normal level of beauty.

Most of the photos in the slide show below were taken during this morning’s Golden Time but I’ve included a few from other seasons as well. None of the photos were enhanced in any way. The trees are more beautiful than even the photos can show.

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Day of Endless Rain

Early yesterday evening I looked out the window and saw large clouds moving ponderously from right to left and small wispy clouds speeding from left to right. Weird. Shortly afterward thunderstorms moved in. I was surprised by the first flash of lightning because I thought it was too chilly for a thunderstorm. Apparently not. Sometimes the thunder was loud with bolts of lightning streaking through the sky; sometimes it was a low rumble, but it never stopped. Usually, thunderstorms pass through quickly but it began thundering at about 7 pm and continued until well after I went to bed after 11 pm.

And the rain! It started to rain during the afternoon, and it rained and rained and rained through the night and all day today. The US National Weather Service for our area said this morning that we had gotten 4-5 inches of rain with another inch expected today. There were flood warnings issued. I’m glad we live high on a hill where we don’t have to be concerned about floods.

With all the rain, the chicken yard is even muddier than it was. The cats were both out in the coop when I went out to gather the few eggs the chickens are laying. Theo came out with me when I left, walking on the walkway I put down for them.

We spent today running errands. First we dropped off our bags of garbage at the waste treatment place. We found that it is actually much cheaper to drop our garbage ourselves than get curbside service. Curbside service charges us a monthly fee no matter how few bags we have. When we take it in ourselves, we pay only for the bags we actually have, which isn’t much.

After we dropped off our garbage, we drove to a farm store to buy a few more bales of straw. Eric wants some straw for his garden, and I want a few more to insulate the coop for winter.

Next, we went to another farm store. We have about four farm stores that we go to because each offers different items we need at better prices than the others. The first store we went is a good place to buy straw. The second store is a good place to buy wild bird seed. The store puts together its own seed mixes at better prices than other stores. We bought 40 lbs of black sunflower seeds, 40 lbs of deluxe mix, and 25 lbs of split peanuts–all for about $68. I was at first uncertain whether to buy the seed today or wait for another paycheck or two, but we decided to get it now. We expect things could get a bit crazy after the presidential elections so we’d rather get all we need for the winter now so we can stay home and wait for things to calm down.

Apples from the farm market. The squash is from our garden.

We stopped at a farm market on the way home to buy apples. EJ bought me a small bag of my favorite Gala apples. I like to dip them in melted peanut butter. Yum. He bought a half bushel of mixed “seconds” to make pies and other yummy desserts. All these apples were only $12. They wanted cash, but we were $3 short because we tend to pay for most items with our debit card. The woman said, “No problem.” We could just put the $3 in their dropbox the next time we drove by. I thought that was amazingly generous of her.

Although we were just running errands, we had a good time together. The drive through the autumn forests was beautiful. We are past the peak and the trees are getting barer, but it is still very beautiful.

Lothloren

I’m sitting here sipping hot tea on a chilly, rainy, autumn afternoon as I watch the birds feast from the birdfeeders just outside the window. Hannah Joy is dozing next to me. She is the cuddlest dog ever. I’m feeling very cozy.

In the last couple of weeks, we’ve had sunny days with deep blue skies as well as days of rain, rain, rain. Maybe I say this every year, but this autumn has seemed especially beautiful: The yellow, orange, and red leaves are so vibrant that the very air turns golden. I feel as if I am living in Lothlorien, the forest in Middle Earth where the elves live. Here are some photos I’ve taken of our enchanted forest. None of these images are enhanced.

We’ve had some blustery days that have ripped the leaves off the trees in a golden rain. We still have a lot of leaves on the trees, but they are getting a little sparser. The days are also getting a little chiller. I’m still wearing a jacket, but any cooler and I may switch to a coat.

Muddy chicken yard with a pallet walkway for the cats

Last week it rained every day. It rained so much that the chicken yard became extremely muddy. The mud slurps and sucks at my boots as if it is a monster trying to eat me. The cats obviously didn’t like walking in the mud so I made a walkway for them across the mud with pallet pieces. I can tell that they are very appreciative of it. With the rain today, the mud has gotten even deeper.

Last weekend we harvested the last of the garden crops and then we let the chickens in. We keep them out of the garden from planting to harvest season, but we let them in the rest of the year. During the cold snowy winters, they tend to stay snuggly in the coop, but right now they are enjoying wandering through the garden, eating the leftovers. It’s pleasant looking out the window and watching them wander among the fallen leaves.

Some of our canned goods

As I wrote in my last post, our little grocery store has a canned goods sale every autumn. We’ve been participating in it for the last two years–ever since we learned about it. I always contact the store on Facebook at the end of September or early October to ask when the sale begins because I’m never quite sure of the exact date. This year they told me that they weren’t going to have the sale because they weren’t quite sure if they could fulfill the orders during this unbelievably crazy year. We thought, “Ok. It’s disappointing, but understandable” and we were willing to just accept it. But later they contacted me and told me that they’d special order the canned goods that we wanted and give us a price break on it. It took them two tries to fulfill our order, but we were able to get all the canned goods we wanted for the year. What a unexpected and awesome blessing!

EJ has been switched over to working on the mill instead of the lathe at work. As he has explained it to me, lathes spin the material a person is working on, with a cutting tool that stays stationary. Milling machines spin the cutting blade while the material remains still. Of course, he knows how to do both–it’s all part of machining. He said he is enjoying the work. I am always happy to hear that.

October Birthday

Note: WordPress has totally changed their format and I’m struggling with how to understand and use their new way of writing posts. It might take me some time to learn. I really wish sites would leave well enough alone. Ugh.. End of rant.

Today is my birthday. Usually we celebrate my birthday on the weekends when EJ doesn’t have to work. Actually, my birthday occurs at such a beautiful season that we end up celebrating for several weeks–enjoying the sights, scents, and flavors of autumn. My gifts are always the memories we create. Last year we drove to an area of the state where elk roam wild. We didn’t see any elk, but we enjoyed driving through the beautiful remote wooded areas. We were going to go looking for elk again this year, but with all the craziness, I told EJ that I would prefer to stick closer to home. We are surrounded by such beauty that home is a nice place to be.

Usually in late September/early October, our little local store has a canned goods sale. We stock up on cases of canned goods for the year at this time. I didn’t see any advertisements for the sale so I contacted them on Friday to ask. They said they aren’t really doing it this year because they weren’t sure if they would be able to get the canned goods in. BUMMER! Oh, well. We will manage. The only thing certain about this year is the uncertainty.

I ended up reorganizing the kitchen cabinets over the weekend. They tend to get in disarray over time. This time I didn’t just straighten items on the shelves. I moved the baking dishes–rolling pins, bread pans, cutting boards–to a cupboard that was higher up so EJ wouldn’t have to bend so much to get the items he needs when he makes bread. He has chronic back pain and bending is a problem for him.

Birthday Pizza

We made homemade pizza together on Saturday. It was a lot of fun and I told EJ that it was part of my birthday gift. I made the dough and the pizza sauce while EJ cut up the meat and then we both put the toppings on. On top of the sauce we put a layer of a mix of different types of cheeses, then we layered it with four different types of meat, onions, green peppers, olives, mushrooms, and ended with another layer of the cheese. The pizza was so full and filling that I struggled to finished one piece. It was the best birthday pizza ever.

This morning I glanced out the window and saw two deer grazing on the other side of the garden fence. I love seeing the wildlife on our property. The weather was beautiful with a cloudless sky and vivid autumn colors. Later I walked down the driveway with Hannah Joy and we enjoyed the autumn beauty. I made meatloaf for our mid-day meal with potatoes and squash from our garden. Another yummy birthday meal.

Yesterday I started washing the outside of the jars that my herbs and spices are in and I finished this evening. I removed the old labels and replaced them with bright new ones that I made on the computer and printed off. I have a lot of herbs and spices. Some are ones that I grew myself and others we bought.

I told EJ that this next weekend I’d like to celebrate my birthday by driving to the farm store for a winter’s supply of wild bird seed. There are many different farm stores in our area, and we like each one for different reasons. We always buy our bird seed at one particular store which puts together it’s own seed mixtures–and at a cheaper price than other stores. We will meander there and back home again. We live in such a beautiful area that it will be a wonderful autumn drive.

30 Pounds of Peanuts

We enjoyed a week or two of warmer weather with temperatures in the 70s (F) and at least once even reaching up to 80 degrees. But we have returned to cooler temperatures with highs forecasted for the low 50s and overnight lows dipping into the 30s. I’ve turned the heat back on.

We’ve also had several days of rain and are expecting several more. The chicken yard is soggy and I am trying to be careful not to slip and fall in the muck. Once was enough. LOL.

When we finally get another sunny day, I plan to take the screens out of the windows for the winter. I don’t think we will get too many more warm days.

Last week I was lost in thought and I didn’t see Hannah Joy sleeping on the floor. I tripped over her and fell on the floor HARD. As I felt myself falling, I thought, “Oh, crap! I hope I don’t break my leg!” Fortunately, all I did was groan in pain for a while. I told a friend about it and she said, “I thought people only did that in stories”–you know, get lost in thought and trip. I said, “Nope. It really happens because it happened to me.”

Hannah Joy has learned another bad habit. For quite some time, she has been stealing and eating Kleenexes from my pocket if I leave my sweater within reach. But a couple weeks ago, she began to steal them while I’m wearing the sweater. She will get up on the couch next to me to cuddle, but then I will feel her nuzzling my pocket. If she is successful at stealing a Kleenex, which she often is, she runs with it onto the bed to eat. If asked what breed of dog she is, I say, “She is a pit-pocket.”

With the Lockdowns and everything, our local bank has just the drive-thru open. Hannah Joy quickly learned that they give her awesome dog treats. So now when we go to the bank, she starts trying to crawl over EJ to the window (even though she has a seatbelt on) and she whines and cries until she gets it. She acts like a spoiled toddler, but she is still adorkable.

Monday afternoon a flock of about 20 turkeys came wandering through our yard. Most of them were young ones born last summer. Our cat Theo watched unconcerned on the patio table on the deck. Hannah Joy barked a bit, but surprisingly calmed down after I told her “Shhhhh!”

Monday evening, I was walking through the garden to the coop when I heard a large crashing in the wooded ravine on the other side of the garden fence. My first thought was that it was deer running off. I sometimes startle them. However, it sounded as if the sound was made by a much larger animal. My heart leaped into my throat as I thought, “Could it be a BEAR???” I’ve never seen a bear on our property, but there have been reports of them as near as a mile away from us. I heard the noise again, but I also recognized a flappety-flap and I realized that the turkeys I had seen earlier were flying up to the trees to roost for the night. Turkeys usually fly up to the trees by ones, or twos, or threes and I constantly heard them as I counted the chickens to make sure they were all safely in the coop, and as I found Theo and Mille and carried them into the coop, and shut them all in safely for the night.

A few days ago I ordered 30 pounds of roasted peanuts from an on-line store. Peanuts make a good snack, especially when mixed with chocolate chips and raisins. EJ sometimes takes nuts with him to work to eat for lunch. I had never ordered nuts on-line before, and I have never ordered 30 pounds. The peanuts were delivered by Fed-ex today. They put them in the delivery box at the bottom of our driveway. I was glad EJ was still home so I didn’t have to lug the heavy box up our long, steep driveway. We drove down in the truck to get them.

I scooped the peanuts into four large containers to keep them safe from the dratted mice. EJ has caught a couple mice in the traps he has set, but there is always another at this time of year. Hannah Joy often smells them in the night, and she wakes me up barking to be let out of the bedroom so she can go after it. Hannah is a better mouser than the cats, although she hasn’t yet caught (and eaten) this last one.

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