Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Done at last!

Finally! A month after impulsively signing up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I'm done! Through! Finished! A few minutes ago, I crossed the finish line with precisely 50,000 words.

I've done NaNoWriMo several times in the past, but I tell ya, it was like pulling teeth this time. I felt like I was wallowing in molasses much of the month. But the whole idea of NaNoWriMo is to slam through and get the bones of a story in place. Fleshing out can come later.

But I’m glad this flirty little flight into fiction is finished (how’s that for alliteration?). I have a magazine article due on Thursday and a column due on Friday. Time to get back to work

Who else crossed the finish line?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Battening down the hatches

For some time now, we've been anticipating the first significant snowfall. We had a dusting a while back, but nothing big. But yesterday's weather called for a dump of the white stuff.

And although it threatened here and there to make that dump imminent...

...it didn't really start snowing until about midnight.

So yesterday I took the opportunity to do some cleanup around the driveway area. We know from past experience how annoying it is to have the ground covered in snow for six months, then after it melts find missing tools, assorting boards, and all the other flotsam and jetsam around a farm.

I started by scrubbing out the cows' water tank. This had gotten overgrown with muck sliming the sides and bottom.

This tank had a float valve on it all summer and fall, a handy device that keeps the tank perpetually full. But we can't use it in the winter because the hose connecting to the water tap will freeze.

I drained the tank and gave it a good scrubbing...

...then filled it with fresh clean water. We'll also put in a tank heater to keep it from freezing.

I went around the area picking up random assorted debris. Some if this is trash, some goes on a burn pile, and some gets piled near the shop so we can chop it into burnable lengths for the woodstove.

This is stuff for the burn pile. We'll burn next spring.

This old rotten hay bale probably weight 150 lbs from all the water it had absorbed. It got pitched on the burn pile too.

I anchored things that could get flipped in the wind with heavier objects.

I drained and coiled all the hoses, and stacked them in the barn. Don and I also folded and put away assorted tarps.

Despite a freezing wind, I also went out and picked the peas that were ripe.

Yes, these amazing peas were still clinging on. I just had to accept the fact that they weren't going to ripen any further.

It was a fairly small haul for a second planting, but hey, it was an experiment. I'm happy to get any.

This morning we found it had snowed about four inches. For Younger Daughter, who is working in Coeur d'Alene, it was her first time driving in snow. She left when it was barely light.

As is typical, the chickens didn't know what to make of all that white stuff on the ground. The half-grown birds, particularly, had never seen snow before. They refused to leave the coop.

Everything looks very wintery now!

The snow is quiet and pretty and peaceful. Yesterday's cleanup efforts seem far away and even unnecessary (though I'm glad they're done). Until the snow melts, we'll enjoy the transformed world around us.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving cooking monster

Like millions of people (mostly women) across the country, this week I turned into a Cooking Monster. I long ago learned the wisdom of doing most of the cooking for Thanksgiving the day before, leaving me unstressed on Thanksgiving Day itself.

So on Wednesday, I cooked.

I started out with wild rice stuffing.

...and bread stuffing.

Lydia was, of course, very attentive during this process.

For dinner rolls, I used a recipe from our neighbor Enola Gay's The Prepared Family Cookbook:

Called "Angel Biscuits," they're a light but flat dinner roll. Very good.

I made two blueberry pies and one pumpkin pie:

And, as usual, I made a huge mess.

By the time everything was cleaned up Wednesday evening...

...75 percent of our feast was made.

Thanksgiving Day dawned without rain, which is something of a rarity lately. Since snow is expected in the extended forecast, Don decided to take advantage of the weather and cut some firewood.

Then he split...

...while Younger Daughter manhandled the rounds over to him.

Meanwhile I put the turkey on to bake...

...whipped some cream...

...and cleaned the house. We were expecting two sets of neighbors for dinner.

After Don finished splitting the firewood...

...Younger Daughter loaded it in the wheelbarrow and dumped it on the porch, and I stacked it.

She also set the table.

The bird came out about the time our guests started arriving. Don's the expert gravy-maker, so he busied himself with that, as well as carving.

The guests brought so many dishes -- mashed potatoes and green bean casserole and deviled eggs and bottles of wine -- that we couldn't fit it on the table and had to use the counters for a sideboard. What a blessing indeed!

We had just the loveliest dinner and visit.

Afterwards, I put the turkey carcass in a pot of water with a splash of vinegar...

...and I'll can up turkey stock today.

Just a bit of Thanksgiving humor:

Above all, we remember this as a holiday expressly for the purpose of giving thanks to God for His glorious bounty. We cherish not just the food, warmth, and shelter He's provided, but the bounty of our friends and family as well -- which is why an essay entitled Why Thanksgiving is Inescapably Theological, sent by reader Rob, is extremely apropos.

A blessed (post) Thanksgiving to everyone!