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Saturday, January 18, 2020

Snow whomp

Whew, what a snow whomp we got over the past week!

It was no surprise when our driveway got drifted shut numerous times.

Ditto with the road leading in.

Don and the rest of the neighborhood men joined forces to clear the snow with tractors and plow blades. This photo is of our neighbor D., but everyone else pitched in over the last week as we got dumped on again and again.

Darcy did his part to "melt" some snow.

On one particularly dramatic afternoon, Don and Older Daughter and I took Darcy out walking during heavy sideways-blowing snow.

Can you see the white-on-white snow blowing beyond the tree?

We found out later that, at the height of this storm, our neighbor's cow finally had her calf.

Knowing this baby was due to be born at the exact wrong time of year, they had set up a cozy shelter for mama and baby, complete with heat lamp. The little bull calf is doing fine.

The neighbors' ducks seem to like the snow.

For some reason, the snow has triggered geese flying south. We've seen dozens of formations with hundreds (or thousands) of geese flying out in the last week.

Taking Darcy walking in the field once more required snowshoes.

After walking, it's easier to leave my boots strapped to the snowshoes. I had the bright idea to cover the top of the boots with plastic bags and rubber bands. As it turned out, that was wise.

Much of Darcy's twice-a-day exercise has been chasing snowballs, which means bounding over the fields.

This results in massive "jingle balls" of snow on his fur, some the size of cantaloupes.

Then he drags these into the house and spends the next hour chewing them off his fur, while we periodically scoop up the snowballs and dump them in the sink.

Right now the snow is about 15 inches deep.

So it's a winter wonderland out here, though we're on a slight warming trend. We'll see what the next couple of weeks are like.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Late or early?

Are you someone who is chronically late? Or are you someone who always arrives on time or even early?

We all know those annoying people who insist on rushing out of the house because they're obsessed with punctuality. Similarly, we all know those annoying people who are chronically late for any and all appointments.

So what gives? What makes someone obsessively punctual or habitually tardy?

A recent article in The Guardian entitled "Beat the Clock: The Surprising Psychology Behind Being Perpetually Late" didn't offer much by way of explanation. "There are probably as many reasons for unpunctuality as there are habitually late people," the article begins, and covers such possible motives as early childhood training, passive-aggression, a feeling of unworthiness, a reluctance to change gears, a sunny and optimistic disposition, or a sociable nature that enjoys chatting with anyone with whom they cross paths (thus making them late).

Those who are rigidly punctual in their behavior have been termed the "uptighterati" and "schedule obsessives." Such people are often counseled to slow down, dude. The author of this article describes herself "as an early person with my own set of neuroses" for whom being late would make her "ill with anxiety."

In another article (by a different author), the writer found herself in the casual professional atmosphere of Brazil, where the concept of timeliness was far more fluid. This came as a culture shock in more ways than one. "To members of the Uptighterati, like me, it’s almost impossible not to interpret the Brazilian attitude to time as a form of laxness, however enviable. But that judgment masks an unexamined assumption that punctuality is obviously the only meaningful temporal standard, which different cultures observe or ignore to differing degrees."

This author says "there’s something odd about the punctuality principle, which involves first mentally conjuring an abstract timeline, then trying to make reality conform to it. The alternative – often mistaken for slacking – is what scholars call 'task orientation' ... in which the rhythms of life emerge from life’s activities themselves. It’s less that Brazilians are failing to abide by a timetable, than that they’re successfully abiding by something else."

Here in the Lewis household, we tend to fall on the side of the "uptighterati" spectrum -- but that's only if we have someplace to go, which we often don't. When we're at home, working at our own pace and our own schedule, we're definitely in the laid-back camp.

Perhaps that's why I've always liked the old story about the successful businessman, vacationing in a foreign fishing village, who starts lecturing a younger local man on the secret of success. Instead of whiling his life away fishing and drinking and playing music with his friends -- the businessman says -- he should expand his fishing operation, hire employees, make millions, then eventually retire‚ so he can spend his days fishing, drinking and playing music with friends.

So what end of the spectrum do you hit? Are you early or late? And what's your logic/reasoning/motive behind it?

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Cheesy potatoes

One of our favorite family recipes is cheesy potatoes. Here are the steps for the perfect version.

I recommend a nonstick pan.

Start with potatoes. How many? That depends on your pan size, how many people you’re feeding, and how hungry everyone is. Three medium potatoes usually fills our particular pan.

Peel the potatoes, then grate them.

Then – and this is a critically important step – squeeze the juice out of the potatoes before putting the shredded mix in a bowl.

Next, grate some cheese. How much? That depends on how much cheese you like. (Despite the vagueness of these measurements, you’ll learn how much cheese you prefer through experience.)

Mix the grated cheese and the grated potatoes together.

Melt some butter in your pan.

Pack the potatoes into the pan, pressing down to make everything compact. Add salt and pepper to taste. Do not cover the pan.

Now here’s the hard part: Cook the potatoes on LOW heat. It takes something like 15 minutes to cook one side, but if you turn up the heat the potatoes will get too dark while leaving the inner parts uncooked. Be patient!

When the potatoes are browned on one side to your satisfaction, it’s time to flip them.

I slide the half-cooked potatoes onto a plate and add a touch more butter to the pan.

Then I flip the potatoes and let the other side cook. This takes a bit less time, perhaps 10 minutes. Don’t forget to salt and pepper (to taste) the second side.

The result is a delicious, crisp, cheesy plate of potato goodness.

A friend with many children who uses this recipe modifies it a bit. She has a griddle on her stove, and spreads a lot of grated potato/cheese mix across the griddle. This way she can feed all her kids at once.

However you cook it, enjoy!

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Winter wonderland

Well, as predicted, we got a big snow dump yesterday.

We had about an inch of snow on the ground already, which caused no trouble at all. The snow started falling on Friday morning around 10 am, lightly. By 3:30 pm, when I took Darcy for his afternoon walk, we already had three inches or so, and the mountains were hidden behind curtains of snow.







To Darcy, snow is nothing more than a huge chew toy.

It snowed all evening and most of the night. I got up early this morning -- around 3 am -- and the full moon behind the clouds lit the nighttime landscape so brightly that, from our bedroom window, I could easily watch two deer as they emerged from our woods. They jumped fences across the driveway and into the pasture. I was even able to watch them through binoculars, it was so bright. If I'd had my camera, I would have tried for photos.

This morning, our neck of the woods was converted into a winter wonderland.

I'm guessing we got about seven inches in the last 24 hours or so. We also had some drifting, which put the snow knee-deep in spots.

This morning Older Daughter and I took Darcy running in the woods. We went slowly, wading through the snow. We were pretty winded by the end of the walk, since we're still recuperating from this croupy cough.

Here are prints from one of the deer I saw early this morning.

The snow made the bushes look like cotton plants.

Pictures really can't do the scenery justice.

Darcy, of course, just romped and romped and romped.

Older Daughter made a tiny wee snowman.

Don, meanwhile, started pushing snow around before the next dump could put us in even deeper.

We have dribs and drabs of more snow predicted over the next few days, as well as colder temps. I guess winter is here at last.