1-14-15 Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day

January 14, 2015
When I woke up it was snowing- just a bit, but the weather had not predicted it- darn. This week has been bitchy cold, with occasional flurries, but not much accumulation. This is a problem because it doesn’t seem worth while to spend time clearing a half or three quarters of an inch of snow, (whereas 4-6 inches you know you have to). The problem is, of course, that it tends to compact, and freeze, so when we get a real snow, we’ll be digging down to ice. Feh. When it’s predicted to be going below zero at night, John’s been firing up the kerosene heater in the cellar to keep the cellar above freezing. We don’t need frozen pipes again, “been there, done that.” Sadly, the house does smell of kerosene a bit.
This, I think, has created a tickle in my throat. Or maybe I may be catching the cold Willow’s had all week. I hope not. John’s started it now. Willow’s in that dangerous period where she feels fine in the morning, but if she does anything, the energy fades away. I’m sure you know my usual rant about health not being binary (sick or well), and we need to be aware of the necessity of recuperation, so I won’t rehash that one. It is SO hard not to plunge into “catching up”! This morning she went out- and maybe shouldn’t have done. She rested when she got back and is now in the cellar with expandable foam, filling holes. We got it to fill in a hole behind the stove where the wind came through- and mice. Clearly the mice had taken a smaller hole and expanded it for their own use. We also found about a dozen mouse-traps that we had set in the stove (I THINK they’re investigating spilled food, but they may appreciate the warmth), that they had dragged out of the oven and under the stove. Well, now the hole is full of expanded foam insulation, so that entrance is closed to them! And it won’t be so cold!
The woodbox needs filling, and John isn’t doing it, so I’ll have to (I’m so spoiled!). I am loving my “humidifier”- the lovely dragon my sisters got me that sits on the wood stove and steams.DSC01742
Right, I should tell you why Willow was out. Yesterday Kat and I were doing errands.  We had to chip the ice out of the door handle so we could open it before Kat could get in, and my window was frozen shut, so I figured I’d have Kat drop the mail in the box at the PO instead of approaching drivers side. Sadly, I couldn’t quite see it as I approached and hit the anti-rain extension that comes out of the mailbox, shattering the window on the side door! How embarassing! For the rest of our stops, when I’d go into the store, Kat stayed out to attempt to seal up the window. It was about 20 degrees out, and we were motivated.
We immediately called Willow and she did the internet search, found a repair place in Nashua and made an appointment for today. She took it in because she isn’t as frustrated waiting for something as I am, bless her. Aside from library and grocery (the traditional “OJ, oranges, & chicken soup run”), we were headed out to pick up the “board” for the stove, and the chainsaw, which is now fixed (I hope it’s been tuned and sharpened, that’s what I took it in for, but it got broken while rolling around in the back of the van for a week). Also we wanted the expanding foam insulation, and we picked up new duct tape since the cold stuff wasn’t working at putting cardboard on the van window. Also we had to get new batteries for Kat’s computer mouse. Isn’t it amazing how a little thing like that can stop your work in it’s tracks. When that happened she switched over to ruffling black lace for the lolly she’s making, but the ruffler isn’t working, so since we were out we picked up some pre-ruffled black lace.DSC01743
My big present for my birthday (coming up in about three weeks) is a new propane camp stove- including an oven. This will be really cool at long camping events, although not fun in the way period cooking is. We opened the box and set it up because we had no idea how long it was going to be until the new board came in, and the thought of no baking bugged me. I actually haven’t gotten around to trying it though. Given that the woodstove is constantly hot, it’s too tempting to cook stove-top meals, like corned beef, and wonderful soups, especially with patients in the house.
Have I told you my clever idea for extremely easy chicken soup? Take one of those $4 rotisserie chickens from the store, cut off the wings, legs, and breasts. I let the kids eat the meat off the wings and legs, but save the breast for later. The bones and everything (including the skin) and a chopped onion get covered with water. Boil for an hour. Throw away the bones. You can salvage as much of the boiled off scrap meat as you care to, but I’ve found that it TASTES like you’ve boiled the flavor out of it. Chop up and add the breast meat and some noodles, and you’ll probably need some salt. It’s great, and so easy. I like the idea of chicken stock, but frankly most of the stuff in stores has so much artificial stuff in it, I don’t dare.

DSC01745So, this week we’ve been cleaning and putting away the Christmas stuff. I got three new ornament holding boxes. I’m of two minds- with these, each ornament isn’t individually wrapped in tissue, which makes packing up faster, but you can see in them, which makes it easier to remember to handle them gently. There are also several other boxes in the stack now: “long ornaments”, “Cat level ornaments” (the less breakable ones”, “Christmas pyramids”, “tree shaped jars”, Still to come are the lights bin, and the “precious home-made ornaments”  box (there’s a box for it around here, nut I’m not sure where). I’m trying to decide whether the Christmas movies should go to the attic. There’s a box with lights, and assorted other ornaments. In the kitchen I’ve been collecting all the holiday tablecloths, napkins, aprons etc. The long box at the bottom of the pile is tubes of wrapping paper. I like to stock up on things when I find something I like on sale. I think, however, that I’m set for wrapping paper until,… say 2030!
DSC01747We’ve chopped up the tree, which will make most excellent fire starter for the next few weeks, and vacuumed the rug. Perhaps that’s what tree-skirts are for, to catch the needles and keep them off the carpet. We can only hope none got tracked in.
In theory, this should clear the way for me to move the dining table into what has been the living-room/parlor, and the chairs into the room with the computers (and TV/games). Since that would involve moving the rug, I am dubious. We really have more furniture now than fits in the house, and it’s a challenge to decide what to get rid of.
The “kitchen” tree, has gone outside, which should give us a very welcome square meter of counter space. As soon as I put away the candy containers that were kept under it. As it’s all edible: cookies, popcorn, cranberries, etc. It has been hung out for the birds. So far we haven’t seen them. Perhaps there isn’t enough snow cover. There’s more than I’d like-we were pretty much snow free last week, and I was hoping to get the husque back before the January/February snows covered the tree Raven cut down last summer again. Since it had leaves when cut, it should be beautifully dry, but since we couldn’t start the chainsaw, we haven’t cut it to lengths yet. I’ll have to try soon, there are no major storms on the extended forecast.DSC01750
The Holly tableware are (almost all*) put away, and we’re using the blue plates, along with the “snowflake” set- that only has soup dishes and salad plates. We also have snowflake pattern glasses, so while the holidays are over, we can still feel that we are celebrating something. Quietly. The way to celebrate snow is for it to be outside, while you are snug INSIDE.
* we keep discovering a stray salt shaker, cream pot, etc. around

DSC01749I was a bit non-plussed when the appliance place called to tell me that our part was in, but they don’t install them anymore. Not to worry- there are instructional clips on Youtube. Well, that’s true. I watched it and felt much better. The biggest snag we had was that they show them removing the back by unscrewing, and ours had these weird hexagonal things. I stopped at Harbor Freight and got something I don’t remember the name of that let us do it. Willow did the actual pull out the old board, stick in the new one. The big advice was to remove the “ribbon wire”, then change the boards, then take the wires from the old one one at a time an put them into the new one. I daresay I’d have gotten mixed up if we’d taken them all out at once and tried to figure out where they went! But the last step was plug it in and check, and when we did, it worked. We are feeling so competent! I guess if customers have watched repairmen do that very much, they’d probably think “I could do that!” and not want to spend $75 for a service call.  (If you look at the picture you can see the collection of mousetraps we’ve lost over the years.I always wondered where they went. My best guess was that I’d forgotten it was in there, preheated the oven and turned it to cinders. But that didn’t explain where the wires went. Now I know.

This weekend Kat, John and I went out and saw the third Hobbit movie Battle of Five Armies. It’s nice to have it concluded, and it’s not a BAD movie, but it would have been better if they’d stuck to the original simple story and made a single movie- without the 3-D action sequences and additions from the Silmarillion. Actually I did enjoy watching Gandalf, Saruman, Elrond and Galadriel kicking butt in the extended part. It must have been fun for them. Sadly, I think the people at “Honest Trailers” (in their  Desolation of Smaug) expressed it best, although they didn’t make fun of the gratuitous action sequences as much as I think it deserves. I enjoyed the movies, and am glad I saw this on the big screen.
Have you noticed that if you buy a movie these days it’s usually got at DVD, Blueray, and a thing so you can watch it anytime on your phone. Really? After all they do to make it exciting in a theater- what are you going to experience on a screen the size of your tongue? It does occur to me that I “watch” a lot of movies while I’m working, and only occasionally look at the screen, so perhaps having it playing on your phone while you ride the subway or other brainless activity is a similar exercise. Anyone who gets it like that is probably not seeing it for the first time on the tiny screen.
I finished Hercules my Shipmate, I probably read this when I was in high school (after discovering his Greek Myths, I, Claudius, and the White Goddess.) Actually, I can’t remember it specifically, after all, I already know the story (since it’s based on a myth), you just read it to see how the author spins it. I always loved Graves’ perspective on the myths, how he explained how they came to exist in self contradictory forms due to misinterpretation of iconography, and traditions from different places. I also even enjoyed the actual book. It was an old one from 1945, with nice thick pages, and the right smell and feel for a book.  I loved that he talks about reading the various sources for the Argo myth – in Greek. I adore the new information we’ve gotten through archeology, but now that they don’t teach Latin and Greek as the fundament of learning, I think modern scholars may be missing a lot. After all, look where Schliemann and Gibbons got just by reading the originals. And you hear the people from the 6th or 8th century BCE in their own voices (or the voices at least of the writers). I kept looking through my historical atlases to try to follow the route of the Argo. Apparently Graves had an Admiralty map, or some military map, to plot his story. But the map in the book only was of the Aegean area. Once they’d passed Lemnos, I, like the Argonauts, was in Terra Incognita.
I also read the book Divergent, on which the movie was based. Having seen the movie first, I was really impressed at how well it represented the book. I also read a few more of the little American Girl books- one of them was about archeology, and that appealed to me.
Kat took out the first disc of Downton Abby, and suggested I’d like it, and I have to say I was hooked within the first fifteen minutes! Wonderful characters! I am looking forward to watching through the first four or five seasons as quickly as I can get my hands on them. I’ve been doing hand-sewing in the evening while watching movies and liking it. Meanwhile, I got Guarding Tess, something that had been in my queue for quite a while. A lovely little film, based entirely on the characters. And apparently I requested an old horror double feature: Shock, with Vincent Price, and the Devils Messenger, with Lon Chaney Jr.. Shock was a surprisingly good thriller from the 40s. Price would have been an ingenue if that’s what they called men, young, attractive, and rather generic. He played a psychiatrist who accidentally killed his wife, but was manipulated by his girlfriend to cover it up, to protect his practice. The murder was observed, and the witness went into shock. They then tried to hypnotize her into forgetting, then convince people her accusation was because she was crazy. Finally they decided to eliminate her with adrenalin shock therapy, but in the end, the doctor could kill in passion, but not in cold blood. It was amazing how well it read after 60 years. It’s still very hard to differentiate between the symptoms of mental illness, and the side effects of the treatments.  On the other hand, the movie I probably was curious about- Satan as a businessman convinces a suicide to work for him to collect more people for his work (her bait is getting even with the guy over whom she killed herself). I like the premise, also that since suicide isn’t a crime of hurting others, she gets a tribunal- sadly after stooping to revenge, one doubts it will go well for her.

Well, poot. Now not only is my throat sore, my nose is runny., I guess my body thinks I should take a few days off.
It’s been a heck of a week, but as Willow pointed out, if the beginning of the year is setting the pattern for the rest, it looks like we’ll be able to deal with any problems that arise- and that’s not a bad pattern.
Another thing one of the girls shared with me was something from one of their lists. There’d been a discussion going on about what certain groups of people should be called. Someone contributed that as a cat owner, she’d noticed that while boxes are a lot of fun when you get in them yourself, if someone else tries to put you in a box, it’s not happening. I love that analogy; it translates SO well!
Until next week!

– A man isn’t really poor if he can still laugh.

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