Tuesday, November 13, 2018


I've been watching Band of Brothers.

It's difficult to describe the feelings I have between this and Veteran's Day. One of my customers fought in WWII. The interviews at the beginning of each episode with the men being depicted in the show brings it to life more than any other method. Normandy was bad enough, but Bastogne...something about observing the cold, hunger and fear while I sit here listening to the wood burning in the stove and knit a hat; indescribable.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Well, poo

That was a very short adjustment time for the onset of winter. There's a layer of snow on the ground and the wind chill is -11F right now. I didn't realize it was so cold while I was doing chores and thought I was just being a wimp.

The chickens were not pleased and opted to stay inside their coops. Outside the pen, my yard is a crisscrossing maze of rabbit tracks. At least I know they can't reach my fruit trees and strip the bark off.

On the positive side, this hard freeze will let the farmers get out and harvest more of the corn.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Adjusting for winter

Yesterday rained; all.day.long.

Today is gray, cold and windy. The forecast is cloudy or mostly cloudy for the next week and today is one of the warmest days with an expected high of 35F. I know this is better than dropping straight down to single digit temps, but it is so hard to stay upbeat.

I need to put away 300 lbs of chicken feed now. Brrrr

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Errant Thoughts Story, Part 30

Iris humphed crabbily at the television before fumbling at the remote control for the power button. "People are too soft."

Susan climbed to her feet, resisting the urge to groan; scrubbing the floor was her least favorite chore. "What do you mean, Iris?"

Her charge turned away petulantly, "Where's Grace? She would understand."

Moving to sit so she could converse at eye level, Susan reminded her, "Grace has a doctor's appointment this morning. She promised to stop by as soon as she comes home." Noting the hunched position of Iris's shoulders, she decided not to wait. "Did you see something disturbing?"

"Fools! Crying about not having some thingy that they can't live without. They don't know..." her voice trailed off weakly.

Seeing a tear trace down the wrinkled cheek, Susan shifted closer and patted the elderly woman's hand. "What don't they know?"

"If we didn't work, our family didn't eat. It's so hard to sleep through hunger. We tried drinking extra water before bed." Even as the vague look returned to her face, Iris shook her head, "It didn't help."

Later, Susan mentioned the conversation to Grace who closed her eyes with a pained expression, "Yes, they had that talk show on in the waiting room. Women with familes were being interviewed. So indignant at having their benefits cut back, but insisting they couldn't work because of the children.

"I'm afraid that I agree with Iris; people are too soft and protected. They think they are poor when they still have smart phones and cars and a place to live. Real poverty is hunger and cold, no doctor when ill, giving up school to work."

Susan knew she would be haunted by the bleak expression that accompanied Grace's explanation as she finished, "Worst is the despair when months and years scrape by with no hope of escape. People don't understand how bad it can be and they don't see the edges of society's safety nets are fraying."

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Random Stuff

I was sick on Wednesday and the lingering effects mean I have little appetite and feel queazy after eating. I wish I could keep the low appetite for weight loss. :)

Strange thing happened Friday: after work in the evening, my foot started to hurt. On the top towards the outer edge it became swollen and the pain became worse as the evening progressed. At 3 a.m. I got up to take half a pain pill (left over from back pain years ago) being unable to sleep. I had to wear snowboots to do morning chores because shoes were torture. After a day of ice packs and elevation, the pain went away and now my foot is back to normal. Weird.

I just read a feature on the BBC website about the Crazy Horse Memorial here in South Dakota. While Mount Rushmore is worth a visit, unless you want to see the museum, don't bother with Crazy Horse. There has been no noticable progress in the last 20 to 30 years on the monument and it can clearly be seen from the road. The general belief by those of us who live here is that the family have no intention of ever completing it. Originally estimated to take 30 years, it's been over double that.

I am finally digging up my gladiola bulbs for the winter. There are a few other things I could do, but mostly I'm ready.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Three bears...

Too hot, too cold or just right?

Out of curiosity I've kept a digital thermometer out to see what room temps are comfortable to me.


Chilly: 61F/16C
Good: 65F/18C
Warm: 70F/21C

The fire went out last night and it's 61.4F inside this morning. Cool enough to make restarting the fire a priority. Eventually I will have to turn on the furnace to keep pace with the dropping outside temps, but doing so feels like giving in to winter. Yuck.

How warm do you keep your home in winter?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Errant Thoughts Story, Part 29

Susan paused in front of the Job Services building, drew a deep breath and squared her shoulders before entering for the last time. After this week, she would have exhausted the available time on unemployment benefits. So many times she had wished there was a way not to come back to this depressing building that reinforced her feelings of failure, but she needed the money too much to give up on the process.

Today she had an appointment with her case-worker; basically, a pep-talk on keeping on with the job search and all the ways they could still help, except without any money. As she waited in line to let them know she was there, a familiar voice drew her attention across the room. In amazement, she spotted Diane, former co-worker and best friend, turning in job applications. Sensing her gaze, Diane looked up, flushed and shifted so her back was towards Susan.

Mind whirling with conjecture, Susan barely heard a word during her meeting and walked home in a daze. There was no time to go to the library and search for news of her old company before she would have to start Iris's supper. Grinding her teeth in frustrated curiosity, she ran upstairs for a quick shower. It wasn't until she headed back down that she laughed out loud at the realization that Diane had done her an unwitting favor by providing a distraction from her thoughts about the looming loss of most of their combined incomes at the same time.

Meanwhile, Dave finished his afternoon work at the church and went straight to the home of one of the elderly parishioners where he had been helping garden all summer. Most of the gardens had produced bumper crops, but the August heatwave and diminished stamina of the aged gardeners meant that without help, much of the bounty would have gone to waste. This evening he was helping Mr. Haskell with more salsa. Together they had already put up dozens of jars, but the plants were still in full production and Dave had learned that most of these older people considered food waste to be a sin.

Fortunately, between his youth and a summer of constant physical work, Dave had all the stamina needed to spend his evenings in hot, steamy kitchens, following directions and learning everything he could about canning. "Mr. Haskell, what are you going to do with all this salsa? There must be enough to keep you eating it everyday for years."

"Ah ha! That would be telling," waggling his bushy eyebrows expressively, he relented. "Oh, all right, I'll tell you. Everyone knows I make the best salsa so I let it slip I'd have plenty to trade. That way, nobody else bothers making any and cans the foods I don't have. For example, Joe Coutts has a grandson with a farm. He gets all the sweet corn he wants and was ready to can enough for everyone. That's easier to can so I can trade one jar of salsa for three of his corn if it was a good year."

"Sweet corn? I wonder if he would like some help with that."

Mr Haskell nodded in approval, "I'll ask him. By the way, I talked to Hank and he's agreed to pick up all your jars as you make the next food boxes delivery."

Dave sighed happily; he was being paid in jars of preserved food and had worried about how to get them all home safely. The jars of pickles alone would be a big job to move.

The older man's mood shifted and he sounded morose when he said, "I'm worried, Dave. The time might come when the church won't have food to hand out and a lot of people never had to scrimp and save every penny before. I wish I had planted some winter squash or pumpkins."

"I know at least two gardens with pumpkins. And the church is growing acorn squash. Don't worry about that, at least." Even as he spoke the reassurances, a knot of dread tightened in Dave's gut at the thought of any of these good people going hungry.

Part 30