Monday, November 28, 2022

Our Thanksgiving

Yesterday (Sunday) was our Thanksgiving. We weren't able to have our feast on the official day since I was working Thursday (and Friday and Saturday).

Our preps began last week, when we began the lengthy process of defrosting the bird that's been living in the freezer for the last two years.

The key to a stress-free Thanksgiving, of course, is to do as much in advance as possible. Having surveyed the family about their meal preferences, on Friday night I made some blueberry pies.

Once cooled, I covered the pies and put them in our "outdoor refrigerator" (the top of the chest freezer).

On Saturday, I made two types of stuffing. My personal indulgence is wild rice stuffing, and since no one else likes it, I can add all the onions I want and no one can complain.

Don and Older Daughter prefer bread stuffing, so I made some bread ahead, then sliced it.

Since it was just the three of us for dinner, I only made one pan of bread stuffing, but was a bit flummoxed on how to divide it. That's because Don likes onions in his bread stuffing, and Older Daughter does not. What I finally did was use a bit of foil to divide the pan. I was insufferably proud of myself for this solution.

Oddly, it's times like this I desperately miss Younger Daughter, who used to snitch the uncooked bread stuffing as I would make it, since she loves the flavor. (She's coming home to visit in January, by the way.)

Older Daughter made pan rolls. Ready to bake...

...and hot out of the oven and brushed with butter:

Here's our "outdoor refrigerator" put to use.

We skipped church on Sunday morning because we foolishly believed the apocalyptic weather report that promised dire amounts of snow and wind and hazardous road conditions. Pffft, we could have gone.

The turkey was enormous, 20 lbs., so I got it in the oven early.

Ironically, as I was washing and drying the bird, I looked out the kitchen window and saw a flock of wild turkeys strolling by, in blissful ignorance to what was going on to one of their own behind these walls.

While the bird cooked, I whipped some cream for the pies...

...and Older Daughter made her fabulous green beans in oyster sauce.

The turkey came out golden and beautiful. We put it on the wood cookstove to "rest" while we got everything else ready.

Mr. Darcy, needless to say, was conspicuously underfoot all afternoon. Guess who got the (cooked) giblets for his treat?

Meanwhile the weather finally rolled in. We had sideways-blowing snow for a while, but nothing like the dire predictions the forecast promised. (We're actually getting far more snow today.)

Older Daughter set the table, folding the napkins in a fancy way.

At last the feast was ready: turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, bread stuffing, wild rice stuffing, green beans, and rolls.

We're grateful beyond belief for all the blessings God has given us.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Silly but satisfying

I was coming back from town a few days ago when I happened to notice our car's odometer:

Well, whaddaya know. I kept an eye on it as I drove. Next mile up:

I pulled over to take a celebratory photo of the Big Turnover.

Ta da! Silly but satisfying, y'know?

Thursday, November 24, 2022

No Thanksgiving for us today

We won't be celebrating Thanksgiving today, for the very simple reason that I'm working and will be too slammed to do anything else.

We'll have our feast on Sunday. Already I have the turkey defrosting in the refrigerator (it's been living in our freezer for literally two years).

We'll also spend this weekend counting our blessings, of which we have so many it's hard to know where to start.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers! Check in and let us know how your celebration went.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Three is two, two is one

Last March, if you recall, I went for a long-overdue exam with an optometrist and got a new pair of glasses.

I am absolutely blind without my glasses, and wanted to make sure I had a pair in reserve ... y'know, just in case.

But everyone knows the Rule of Three: Three is two, two is one, one is none. With only one pair of backup lenses, I wanted to get another spare pair.

But holy cow, glasses are expensive – especially glasses ordered through an optometrist. I know I got hosed on the pair I ordered, but at least it meant I got an up-to-date prescription.

In fact, that was something I insisted upon – having my prescription written down. They were a little reluctant to provide it, because doubtless they knew exactly what I planned to do; namely, order glasses online. I took the prescription card home with me and carefully stored it in a place where it wouldn't get lost.

The one measurement every optometrist will always deliberately omit (when providing a client with their prescription) is the pupillary distance – the space between the pupils of the eyes. This allows the manufacturers to add the correct nose bridge to bring the proper focus for each eye. Presumably they omit this critical measurement to discourage ordering glasses online. Aha, but Older Daughter had already looked up online how to do this.

So Don found a form online, sat me down, and measured the distance between my pupils. He measured twice, just to be sure.

Then I logged onto Zenni Optical, selected some frames I liked, input my prescription ... and was kicked off. It turns out the particular set of frames I liked wouldn't accommodate a prescription as dramatically bad as mine.

Okay, onward. I found another online eyeglass provider called Eye Buy Direct and repeated the process. Select the frames, "try" them on the virtual models provided on the website, and input my prescription details. Bing, bang, boom – done. The cost (including shipping as well as a case) came to about $80, dramatically less expensive than the pair I got through the optometrist. But were they any good?

The glasses arrived literally within a week, and the answer is yes, they're great!

"Order another pair," Don urged, so I did. This time I got a discount for ordering a second pair, and my total came to about $50.

Now I have three spare pairs of prescription eyeglasses, which gives me great comfort. And kudos to Eye Buy Direct for an excellent product, cheap prices, and fast turn-around.

Monday, November 21, 2022

All bark and no bite

For two years in a row, as you recall, I foolishly tried growing garlic in a water tank I thought was filled with dirt and topped with bark. It turns out the tank was completely filled with bark.

Not a great growing medium for garlic (or anything, for that matter), and I was disgusted with my rookie mistake.

So as part of our general fall cleanup before that seven-inch snow whomp, I wanted to get rid of the bark, both the stuff in the water tank and the collected bark from two years' worth of splitting firewood. That pile of bark was "disturbing my wa," as we like to say.

So I pitched all the bark from the pile into our little 4x8 trailer and prepared to take it to the county's organic refuse dump. It filled the trailer to the absolute brim.

In fact, the trailer was so full, there was no room for the bark contents of the old water tank, so I figured I'd pitch it into the back of the pickup and bring the double load to the dump.

But then a funny thing happened. The bark in the water tank was several years old (we don't know how old exactly), and it was in the process of breaking down into beautiful mulch. So, rather than get rid of it, I pitched it into the wheelbarrow and dumped it onto the compost pile. Next spring, it will mix beautifully when we install our garden beds.

A few days passed, and I didn't get around to taking the trailer-full of bark to the dump. But in pointing out the older semi-decomposed material, Don and I decided not to get rid of the bark after all. Why not give it the same opportunity to break down into compost several years down the line? Waste not, want not.

So we assembled a quick cage made of field fencing...

...and pulled the trailer alongside it. I started pitching.

Within half an hour, the cage was full.

And there it will sit for the next several years. We're not in any hurry for it to break down. In fact, it's the first of what we hope will be an extensive composting system as we develop the property into a workable homestead.

As far as we're concerned, waste management should be on everyone's radar in the days ahead. Composting bark is just one aspect of that goal.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Clothing blindness

Recently I plucked a book off the shelf I hadn't read in a long time: "30 Days to a Simpler Life" by Connie Cox and Cris Evatt.

Re-reading this book was amusing simply because it's so dated. Published in 1998, it touches on the marvels of a newfangled form of communication called "email" and other trendy technology.

The book goes through all the usual simplicity advice popular in the 1990s, including a great deal of guidance on how to handle one's packed wardrobe and cleaning out one's overstuffed clothes closet and otherwise minimizing one's overflowing clothing options. Once the surplus is weeded out (we are advised), then the pared-down closet can be organized efficiently into categories such as skirts, shirts, slacks, blouses, scarves, belts, accessories, shoes, handbags, and other so-called necessities.

I found this advice both hilarious and unnecessary for a very simple reason: I have clothing blindness.

What do I mean by clothing blindness? It means I am utterly indifferent to fashion. It is invisible to me. I literally never notice what someone is wearing. Clothes bore me to the nth degree. It's been that way for as long as I can remember.

My wardrobe consists of the following:

• Black T-shirts

• Gray sweat pants

• White socks

• Thrift-store sneakers

• One pair of sandals

• One skirt/blouse combo for church (worn both summer and winter)

• A couple pairs of shorts

• One each of necessary winter wear (sweater/gloves/heavy coat/scarf/boots/etc.)

And that's it. I have a few more clothes, but they were packed away during the move and I haven't seen them in two years, so I may as well not own them.

I wear the same thing day after day. I have "day" clothes (for dirty work) and nearly identical "evening clothes" for after I've showered. I wear my clothes, literally, until they're rags (I wash them, of course), at which point I toss them in the burn barrel and move onto another identical set of T-shirts and sweatpants. Isn't it great?

To my way of thinking, that's the ideal thing about living the home-based rural lifestyle we do: I never have to think about clothes. I don't have to impress anyone. I don't have to dress for an office environment. I can utterly indulge in my innate clothing blindness.

As for what others wear ... well, I suppose I'd notice if you were wearing something outlandishly inappropriate, but outside of that I wouldn't pay any attention. If you were to tell me "Quick! Close your eyes and describe what I'm wearing," I couldn't do it. My husband is sitting behind me at his computer at this moment, and unless I turn around and specifically look, I couldn't tell you what he's wearing. His clothes are always worn by the man I love, so who cares what they look like? (Ironically, he can easily tell you what I'm wearing: a black T-shirt, gray sweatpants, and thrift-store sneakers. Easy peasy.)

Clothing blindness. It's a real thing.

Friday, November 18, 2022

What's with all the pheasants?

It seems we are dripping with pheasants lately. Everywhere we turn, we see them.

These are ring-necked pheasants, originally from Asia but introduced into North America in the late 1880s. They're popular game birds.

We had occasional pheasants in our last home, but here they're abundant as anything. They're extraordinarily cagey during breeding season (even the males), but come early winter, they're so casual that it's hard not to run over them with the car, even while creeping along at 2 mph on a dirt road.

Like most game birds, females are a bland and cryptic brown.

And even in their off-season, they're shyer than the males, scurrying across open areas and preferring less exposed locations.

But the males are beautiful and showy. During the off season, they're much bolder.

In late October, I heard a commotion and looked out the window to see some pheasant up in a blackberry bush, gobbling the dried-up remains of the season's fruit.

See the female?

They're such ground birds that I've never seen them even in a bush, so those must have been good berries.

For obvious reasons, the females are easier to spot when there's snow on the ground.

I was driving out one morning and had to wait for two handsome boys to cross the road. They moseyed to the embankment on the side and just stood there watching me. "Fine," I said, grabbing my camera. "I mean, if you're going to pose..."

A few days later, the same thing happened. C'mon, boys, move....

Why did the pheasant cross the road? Now we know.