Saturday, December 28, 2013


 Frozen freezes on the trees and bushes every day. If the sun should come out, it "rains" down for a few minutes so at least we're getting some moisture. But it looks like we'll be setting a record for the driest year EVER (well, since they've been keeping records here starting in the 1880's)   
I've tied up some branches of the rose tree (using old pantyhose) to keep the limbs from snapping off under the weight of the frozen fog. Since I haven't worn pantyhose for years, I'm gonna have to wait for a sale on 'em and buy up a few pairs for the coming gardening season. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013


Here are my three favourite pets...all in the same spot, kicking back after a hard day in the office. Izzie is perched on the drawing board because Chase got to Mr A's lap first. 


 As is my tradition for the last 10 years or so, I fix a pot of minestrone soup for "Boxing Day" as the Brits have named the day after Christmas. I've already ladeled out 2 full bowls of the good stuff and still have plenty for the rest of the week...Jack always says that I cooked enough for a threshing crew!
Combined with some nice crusty garlic french bread from Costco and you have a great, tum-warming meal for a foggy day. Yes, we're in the doldrums of high pressure, which means freezing fog every morning and a sun break in the afternoon for about 30 minutes if we're lucky.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


 With the snow melt came the UPS man (on foot down our slippery long driveway) with my newest addition to the kitchen armament collection...a 6" cleaver. This beauty is a Henkel Twin Works brand, but made in Espana, not Germany as the Macy's website states...But it IS NOT made in China like so many knives are these know how I feel about stuff "Fabrique en Chine!"
 "Why does one need this killer instrument," you ask? 
Well, for years I've used cutlery scissors to part out a bird, but it takes a long time and with my "arthuritus" it became harder and harder to do it. And if you buy chicken these days, you've no doubt noticed that you can buy packages of one cut, say breasts or thighs, but finding an entire cut-up chicken is more and more difficult. My theory is that most of the chicken stuff comes pre-packaged these days from the bird works and most chain stores don't want to hire "real" butchers to hack and wack birds apart. Costs too much, so they don't. That leaves us with buying whole birds if we want a variety or buying several packs and doing a mix and match repackaging, so you end up with all the various parts. Sometimes in the summer I can find a "grill pack" which is 1 and 1/2 chickens cut into halves. Whoopti dooo!
 So how much time and effort did it take to cut this chickee up? About 5 minutes, very little effort. And I wasn't don't want to rush with this instrument, you sorta want to be in a zen-like moment...just you, the cleaver and the bird. Slowly, with fingers well back of the intended cutting site, you place the cleaver on the bird and wam! I always use my index finger to feel for the joint before I place the point wacking through a bone if you don't need to.  
 The other test for my new baby is rough chopping. It does fine as long as you remember to push forward with the blade. Nice clean cuts...makes it easy to quarter an onion for the soup pot! And I noticed that the handle gave me more leverage than a regular knife. 
So do I think this cleaver is a worthy addition to my knife collection and does it warrant the $60 price tag? I think so...and maybe in 5 years of hacking and wacking whole birds I'll pay for it with the price of whole birds usually at least .75 cents to $1 a pound cheaper than pre-packaged parts. And when I googled "meat cleavers" I was amazed that you could spend upwards of $600 for one (27 layers of hand hammered metal, by a Samuri sword maker)! Good grief! And yes, you can spend as little as 24.95 for one as well...and you know where it is made!
Because all my knives are Henkel brand, and are 25 to 45 years old...still going strong, I feel it's worth it to buy a relatively good one. And who knows, I might find other uses for it! 

Thursday, December 12, 2013


 The greenhouse temp is hovering around 80 degrees this morning, while the outside temp is a balmy 24 degrees. The greenhouse heater keeps it at 55 degrees basically, (making the meter spin a bit faster) and the sun does the rest. The plants are happy and so am I!
 Meanwhile certain fur clad parties have been enjoying a romp in the snow, barking at the Downy Woodpeckers and big old fat Robins that dare trespass into his territory. For a dog raised in the southern San Joaquin Valley, he surprisingly loves the snow. Wish I could say the same! 
 He also likes to lick it! Yummm...?
Yeah, I'm talking about you, Chase! 
Meanwhile, we made our first foray out of the wilds and into Medford over the frozen roads in the 4WD Subaru Brat. Our main road remains closed because of the ice on the hills so we detoured down an equally hilly road that gets more sun and has thawed partly. Saw several BMW's that couldn't make it up the hills parked in the snow banks. Hee hee! These are the same folks who can't wait to charge around you if you drive any where near the speed limit! The tow trucks won't even come up here to get them out. Likewise school buses won't run up here, along with garbage trucks.  
So we got to the Post Office and to a crowded Trader Joe's. After 6 days stuck at home, it was like getting out of jail. We were hoping for a chance to go dance today but they are predicting freezing rain this afternoon, which will definitely add injury to insult! So much for the weather guessers prediction of a "warmer and wetter winter!" Oye! Just can't catch a break!
Usually our snow only lasts a couple of days and melts off quickly. Did I mention I'm sick of snow? And it's not even officially winter yet! Good times! 

Monday, December 9, 2013


 We're having a cold wave, an artic blast cold wave...(sung to "We're having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave...") About every ten years or so, we get a hideous cold air mass down from Alaska on the Jet Stream. Not quite as bad as 1972 when it got down to -10 in Medford, but still pesky. The good news is that the gas line from Albany didn't freeze up like it did in '72, so we have heat and the electricity stayed on. We haven't left the house for town since Thursday and the roads are still frozen, with many of the main roads closed. They've just concentrated on keeping Interstate 5 open most of the time. Luckily I have a full freezer, so I don't need any food yet. 
I am hoping that my evergreen clematis hangs in there...time will tell. The snow is so dry that it's like shoveling powdered sugar. Our total was about 8" for this storm, which is 4" more than our average for the year. Today the sun is out and it has warmed up to a balmy 30 degrees for a short time. Looks like we won't get out today, so cabin fever may set in soon. The neighbor kids used our driveway for a sled run. It's a perfect downhill slope away from the road. 
We've missed a couple of dances this weekend and may not get out to dance tomorrow either. Schools remains closed and lots of things are cancelled. It's more than enough winter for us!

Monday, December 2, 2013


 Just before the first winter storm came in, I decided to paint our neighbor's hideous fence that runs along our driveway. It's the first thing you see when you turn into our parking area. This is perhaps one of the World's ugliest fences and we have to look at it every time we go out front. It all looked like the far right and the far left panels...multi color cedar boards.
I just wanted it to disappear into the background so I went to my favorite Miller Paint...and bought a gallon of "Storm" stain in "wet sand." The young clerk tried to talk me out buying it...He said, "You should wait until spring to do that!" He had several good reasons why.
I looked at him and said, "Look, you might as well learn this lesson early in life...never try to talk a woman out of something when she has the bit in her teeth to do it." The more mature male clerks at the counter just nodded in agreement.
So I got two nice, 55 degree hours in full sun for the painting and several more hours for it to dry. It did soak up the paint so I still need another gallon to finish this section off and then do a second coat. I also plan to add a horizontal 6" green stripe running the full length near the top of the fence, just because. Now all I need is another nice day...Stay tuned...