3-4-2015 Grammar Day

DSC01806  I won’t have much by way of pictures this week, I have misplaced the battery charger for my camera. Oh well. But the gradually receding snow is gorgeous. We can now see the top of the post that marks the well in the backyard start to poke out. I especially love the view when the sun is coming up and going down leaving long shadows. It’s pinkish in the morning, but really, I don’t see that often as I tend to stay up late reading, and in the morning, like Zoloft on my feet, roll over and burrow back into my furs for another few winks.

When driving around the berms are beginning to get dark and dingy, and I have to say that I  have come to admire the work of road crews who make sure one can see around corners when the piles get high. Since I’m in a van, I imagine it must be worse for those in low cars. Six foot high snow piles at corners are not at all unusual. Up here at least, the road crews are quite busy carving the snow back further even when there is no more coming down.
We are grateful that this storm system (Thor) while having stretched across the country is not dumping much on us at the moment, as the girls are off to Vermont for acupuncture. I have vivid memories of driving down 89 from Kirk’s last year when we were picking Willow up at Manchester after her trip to Florida. It is well to have good wipers and full reservoirs at this time of year!
Last night we had a bit of snow- enough to make the ice on the driveway look like it wasn’t there, when Douglas and McKensie came over for “tea”. They are Kat’s friends, but I had a hard time leaving them to her as they are so much fun! Willow made cucumber sandwiches, I made madelines (I’m such a show-off!) and we pulled out the leftover cakes- almond covered mocha cakes and the cream filled cake- so it was nearly a proper Scandinavian tea party. Douglas had made and brought a chocolate ganache pie as well. (One doesn’t expect that of man well over six feet tall.) By the time we were done, I felt like if I tasted one more sweet thing I was going to yak. I’m still not quite over that this morning. (and so enjoying a nice pastrami on rye with mustard). I am sure I will recover my sweet tooth by the time they come back!
I’m afraid, as you noticed with the “leftover” cake at the tea party, I have been baking a lot this week. It’s what I do when it’s this cold. It cheers me up, and  the kids don’t mind having a “bit of cake around the house”. I’ve never really been into cake, (cookies are my passion) but it seems that I’m an aberration in that area, an “outlier, and not to be counted”. And I enjoy making them. As I told Doug last night, I like playing with my food- and everyone else’s. Given the number of food shaping devices I have accumulated over the years, it’s a good thing!
I’m afraid I’m going to have to re-organize the pantry though. When we rebuilt it, there was a fanciful theory that everything we’d taken out of it would fit back inside, although what we’d done was take out the shelved cupboard that opened into the dining room, and the pantry had had grey metal shelves arranged as stacks into the center of the room. Having put in floor to ceiling cupboards, around the entire walls, Wally was sure they’d hold everything. Sadly, when we moved the dishes (from the dining room shelves in) and some of the cooking equipment from the back hall where we’d stuck it during construction, the back hall was and still is pretty full of what wouldn’t fit. The problem is that much of what got left out there, hasn’t responded well to the sub freezing temperatures.
We don’t mind that during the winter the pantry stays at about 38-40º, that makes it basically a walk-in refrigerator, which is convenient. Sadly, the back hall tends to go lower, and not all the foods (bottles of vinegar, wine, etc.) we left out there are capable of dealing with those temperatures. I didn’t think they were going much below freezing, but apparently they were. Oh well. So next spring, if we can, I hope to clear out the back hall (HOW I do not know!), and put some shallow shelves along it. (It probably wouldn’t hurt to put in some sort of insulation as well, but I’m not sure how.) If the cooking gadgets (more than a half dozen different bundt pans, innumerable shaped pans, waffle irons, etc.) could be kept out there, and the foods kept in the cupboards where it was only cool, I’m sure it would be better. Still, The cupboards under the counter are deep, and the worst problem is getting things lost behind other things, so I’d rather not put anything in those cupboards that wasn’t large- and food tends to come in small packages. I prefer not having anything behind something else if it’s not a duplicate, so I love shallow shelves. (Can you imagine how difficult a library would be if the books were in several rows behind each other?) It’s easier to send someone else to find something if it’s all visible, and easier for me to find things if whoever put something away in the “wrong” place (meaning, not using MY preferred organization) when it’s immediately visible.  Aside from convenience, I love the display so every time I look at the shelves I think “look at all the cool stuff I have!” Part of me thinks I should be ashamed of that, but I counter that feeling by being willing to share my toys if anyone else wants to use them.
We made the filled cake on Sunday when Steve was up. Once again I used my new cake slicer- this time only cut it into four layers, not seven, and filled it with pastry cream and mixed fruits. (I WISH the camera was working, it was lovely!) As I assembled it, we watched The Book of Life, which was visually gorgeous and weird. I will probably always associate the movie with berry tinted whipped cream. I noticed back when I was in school that when I doodled in my class notes, the content of the lecture was as likely to come back to me by looking at the sketches as it was from the written notes, and since then I have the same experience with embroidery, painting and other projects that take long enough that I have something on to keep me interested while my hands are busy. Whatever my mind is on gets locked into the stitches or brush strokes. I wonder if this happens with other people?
I’d like to report something more interesting, but frankly, February seems to have passed without more than snow and slow recovery from the illness of January. Seems like a waste of a month, but I probably have something tucked away in my mind that only needs more snow and ice to trigger it’s return.
We went out a couple times- Willow and Kat had some things to get for their projects. Kat’s commission is nearly done. She’s working on a matching bonnet for the lolita dress now. Willow is making yet another triforce blanket. She picked up some more jewelry making supplies, including a duplicate set to keep in the house for quick repairs, since most of her tools are in her workbox out in the hall (or trailer- either way, hard to get to until we thaw out).
We are still having some minor leaks over windows- in theory Steve LaPlant will come shovel the roof, I’m just now sure when.
DSC01808
I am sad that my fun idea of sending valentines to friends didn’t work out as well. I’m still getting them returned. Since it’s been two or three weeks, that does indicate that they TRIED to find the recipients. It is nice to get something aside from bills and junk mail in your box.
We went to the dentist. This time they said I had no problems, but they want me back so they can check my “pockets”- you know, when they stick a sharp pointy thing as far down into your gums as it can go to see how soft they are? Or perhaps (I wonder unkindly) if they are “checking my pockets” to see how much money I have. They assured me that most dentists take X-rays every year, they only want to do it every 18 months. I told them that lacking either pain or visual indication, we’d forgo the X-rays. I see no reason I should pay for their search for more to do. I’m sure they mean well, but at the same time, it seems that because dentists (as so many other areas) like to be able to fix the real problems of the people who don’t come in, they do more than they need to on those they can get their hands on.
We got girl scout cookies. The cute little scout who came to the door last year didn’t come back. She must have moved, or maybe the snow caused problems for her mother bringing her around, because I know that we, at least, bought twice as many as usual because she was so adorable. Luckily for our fondness for the thin mints and coconut cookies, there were some outside the grocery store on Saturday.
Solitude     We keep looking, but haven’t yet found a stand to put up the Wii again that will match the space we have available for it, and the style of our admittedly rather eclectic house. I got a royal daulton figurine to go with the ones of my mother’s. While looking for a Top of the Hill, which was always all of our favorite, but everyone couldn’t get it, I spotted this one: Solitude. A girl with a book and a cat was SO me! and I found one for under $30, so as Willow said, I now have a “dust catcher”. The cookware is useful- in the broadest sense. I’m not sure I really use each of them even annually, but other than looking at them and thinking “how pretty” what can one do with a china figurine?
Monday Kat an I spent way too much of the day going to the Apple Store. Admittedly, part of that is because we choose to live in the boonies and that adds an hour each way at least to get anywhere, so since it’s our choice I shouldn’t begrudge it. Both of our computers were having problems. Kats turned out to be her power cord. Her computer is six year old (I’m amazed, it doesn’t seem that long!), and they don’t make the parts for it any more. Sigh. We’ve ordered a new one on line, and hope it will work. Mine had gotten some malware in it somehow, and they cleaned it out, (and told me to upgrade my operating system). Apparently a computer becomes obsolete when the hardware will no longer be able to accept upgrades because we expect more from them than we did a few years before. How spoiled we have become!
John has been exploring his new kindle. So far he has been enjoying games,

The fifth season of Downton Abbey was in the latest library exchange. I am eager to watch it, and sad that this is going to be the end of it. I suppose there may be other wonderful shows out there I’ve never seen, especially as we no longer have over-the-air television. Still, I am pleased that people recommend their favorite shows to us. I think it’s the movies, books and shows we have in common that create modern communities, more than living in proximity.  Waiting for that we’ve gotten  up to disc 20 in Upstair’s Downstairs (four to go until that’s over). I am going to gripe a bit more about the Downton Abbey Cookbook. One wonders if the author even watched the show more than once. If I were going to do it, I’d go through the series, noting down every dish that was mentioned by name, then add ones that I could spot on tables, and then research the period to see if I could find holes in the research of the show’s writers, and perhaps fill it out recipes that seemed to fit the theme. There does not seem to be one souffle in the book, and yet, there appears (from conversation) to have been one in every meal. (Hmmm, I haven’t made a cheese souffle recently…) I loved that Mrs. Padmore seemed to have a “savory” with every dessert- which makes sense to me, and those don’t appear in the cookbook either. Feh! Douglas and I talked about how much fun it would be to create a re-enactors feast like that. I’m reading Pickled, Potted, and Canned: How the Art and Science of Food Preserving Changed the World. Fascinating stuff. I watched I, Frankenstein, the most recent offering. Lovely special effects, but the war between the demons and the gargoyles is pretty stock in fantasy tropes. It seemed to be about needing to accept where you came from to be able to accept yourself. I suppose that in this modern world when so many people reject their families of origin that’s a theme that needs to be acknowledged.
I’m on the last book in the Dragon Knight series (the Fair Maid of Kent), once again melancholy that Angie never got a baby- one does get involved with fictional characters. In my head canon, she does. I would love it if someone finished the next unfinished book, but 14 years after Dickson died, it seems unlikely.)
After that I’ll be dipping into Hayao Miyazaki’s favorite books , at least the ones our library can get hold of. I’m also nearly done with listening to Greece and Rome: an integrated History and am about to start in on The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes. The last forty years I seem to be filling in all the “corners” of what they left out of history in school. I suppose other people are pursuing unfulfilled curiosity about science, literature, or maths, depending on their disposition.
Ah well, I’ve got about an hour to prepare for the show tonight. I’m doing psychic self defense, or at least shields.  I am afraid having decided to “take a year off” and do nothing but art and cleaning has left me feeling a bit edgy. I’m having a hard time cleaning enough to do art, and when I think of not going out to any events, I get depressed. I suppose I should plan to go to something occasionally.
Tchipakkan
“It is good to vary in order that you may frustrate the curious, especially those who envy you.” Baltasar Gracian

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