Walking in Sunshine

I lay in bed this morning, watching the sunrise, listening to an essay titled The Beautiful Institution. We often have a streak of brilliance to the east until the sun rises above the mushroom cloud that is our special birthright by location close to the lake. This morning it kept rising and rising into clear cerulean atmosphere. When I got up, Olivia had already staked out the sunny corner of the couch to ease into her morning reading. It didn’t take long for the more northerly windows to light up too, spreading a palpable benevolence into the room.

After I had gotten the girls started with school, and seared a pork butt to slow roast with chipotle peppers for our supper, and cleaned up the kitchen, it was time to go check on my hens. Fellow sunshine lovers, they were milling in a beseeching crowd at the door of the coop. When I take them table scraps, they think they are getting treats. It feels a little cheap to me, considering what they give in return. Today there were bits of pork fat mixed in with banana peels and stale crackers. The bossiest among them grabbed a sizable piece and dashed for a private spot behind the tree, with two others in hot pursuit. They came to their senses pretty quickly, mashed on the brakes, and tore back to the smorgasbord where there were plenty of good bits for everybody. Whenever I watch my chickens snatching and refusing to share, I do not admire their character. Pecking order is a very sorry way to rise to importance. But this morning there were five eggs, beautiful pearly things, nice and clean because the mud is frozen.

The Most Entitled One With the Cheeks and The One Who Thinks She is Boss

I put the eggs into the capacious pockets of the old blue Columbia coat that I got at the thrift store because it was actually made with capacious pockets and a hood and large enough sleeves to wear a sweater layer. Sure, the lightweight down puffer coats retain heat so well that you don’t need the sweater, but what about when you get where you are going and want to take your coat off and then you don’t have your sweater? Or what about when you take your dog on a walk through the jaggerbushes to see what the creek is doing these days and you snag the fragile fabric on a multiflora rose that is reaching out over the trail? And where are you supposed to stow the eggs in those tiny pockets?

Lady found her ball and laid it at my feet in supplication. I don’t pick up drooly balls, but if she places it right where I will trip over it, I will kick the ball obligingly and she will retrieve it with unbelievable energy, once more nudging it at my feet. We played this game for a while with a fun variation as the ball bounced in unexpected directions on the frozen ground.

I took the garbage out to the shop and then we did our inspection of the property. The trail down to the creek was crossed and recrossed with rabbit trails. All these prickly bushes are perfect for them when they want to evade predators, although we have little evidence of any except hawks and occasional foxes moving through. On the other side of the creek is where the wild things are, where we hear the coyote chorus and occasionally see signs of mink or bear.

Lady switched to a stick instead of her ball. I took it from her and threw it immediately, my gloved hand contacting the stick about three seconds, and yet she found it without fail, even when I accidentally threw it into a thicket of similar sticks. I wonder how distracting life would be if I had that capacity for scent. This dog is speedy! I can’t throw the stick far enough to keep her occupied for more than the time it takes to walk a few paces. We made our slow way down to the water: throw stick, walk ten steps, throw stick, walk another ten steps.

The creek was chuckling clear and fast, but low enough to cross if your boots are watertight. I didn’t risk it, not relishing the feeling of ice trickling down to my feet if I misstep. Lady was not deterred in the least and splashed in willy-nilly if she thought there might be something interesting in the water. At the edges the bushes that trail twiggy branches had icicles accumulated in fantastic crystal bobbles. They dipped in and out, in and out of the water under their own weight, reflecting the brilliant sunshine like magical chandeliers.

I followed a rabbit trail to the spot where the Japanese privet has volunteered into an untrimmed hedge. I like these bushes, even if they aren’t native. They are bare, straight shoots now, but in spring they will bloom white, with bright waxy leaves, and I can hardly wait! I use the leaves for foliage in bouquets all summer, and then in fall they turn rosy, purple and rust all on one stem, with deep blue berries. The berries are all gone now, harvested by birds who do their best to spread the seeds. I don’t mind these mildly invasive bushes. They aren’t prickly or ugly or stinky, so I won’t be destroying them like I would Japanese barberry or Bradford pear.

It’s no wonder the birds are so diligent at the feeder these days. As I walked back to the house, I saw that the rosehips are gone and I doubt there is much left in the sumac seedpods after all that diligent mining the chickadees have done. There was a Carolina wren on the back porch, and I marveled at the persistence of such a tiny creature that prefers to eat insects to survive. Where do they find their food? Not only that, they roost in pairs to keep one another warm, which means if one dies, the other will have a very difficult time to make it to spring.

Just before I went back inside the house, I took a picture of a young sycamore with a cluster of fantastical seed pods against the blue sky. This is definitely a day when I will force my girls to go outside for recess, no matter how they may demur!

In the Doctor’s Office

My appointment was at 9.

I was 15 minutes early.

The nurse brought me in promptly and here I sit.

She mumbled through her mask.

I couldn’t understand what she was saying.

Are you here for your annual?

My annual?

What even is that if I was here two months ago?

I felt like a dimbulb.

She weighed me with my shoes on.

That’s not fair.

She left a gown and a sheet and whisked out the door.

It’s now 9:20 and I’m noticing that I have forgotten how to breathe in a mask.

There’s not enough air in this room.

There’s not enough air, but this office is chilly.

I put on the gown that strips me of uniqueness.

It is soft and worn by washing, not paper, thank the Lord!

Hundreds of others have worn it and felt the same way I do.

This thought cheers me.

There is a large gap until I find an extra tie that I missed.

My feet are cold.

They are always cold at doctor’s visits.

The window is so high I can only see grey sky.

Lake Erie is right out there and I wish I could see that.

There are posters all over the walls.

I don’t like to look at images of innards.

I prefer to have everything be ok.

I prefer never to go to the doctor.

I don’t see the point of annuals.

Well, I see it, but I don’t feel it.

My husband is a nurse.

He says I should go anyway.

He says they catch things early that way.

I would rather not catch anything.

But that’s the way it is.

I guess he’s actually right.

I do make my own decisions though.

I try to be nice, but I always have a lot of questions before I agree to anything.

I wonder what they keep in all those drawers.

Instruments of indignity, no doubt, but they mean well.

I would be dead without a doctor’s help many years ago, so there is that.

I sure am glad I left my socks on.

Oh, here’s the doctor tapping on the door now.

Well.

I waited a half hour and that appointment took ten minutes tops.

The doctor looked young enough to be my daughter.

She was kind and answered my questions.

She advised me about this stage in my life.

Wacky hormonal stuff.

I asked what she would do if she were me.

That was funny because she is closer to puberty than to mid- life.

She deflected the question smoothly.

She did say the supplements I am taking are a good idea.

And these are my decisions.

It’s up to me.

She asked about scheduling more routine screenings.

I know I am fortunate to have good healthcare, but no thanks.

Make an appointment for an annual next year, she suggested.

Well, at least that makes sense.

Next year sounds annual.

Call or message if you have any questions.

Have a good day!

Readathon Monday

It started when the girls were protesting a few years ago about never taking off school on snow days. There isn’t really a point to taking a snow day when you’re at home anyway, but we devised a plan for an annual reading fest.

This morning was our day. The snow was sifting down lightly, blanketing the earth that was bared by yesterday’s warmth and rain. It was so fine that you couldn’t see it unless you looked toward the dark pines, and it accumulated very slowly, just enough to compel the salt trucks and plows to make regular passes on the road.

Rita’s bird feeder was a place of constant motion, little birds all puffed up, flitting from the poplars down to the black oil sunflower seed buffet whenever there was even a small gap in the traffic. There’s a big cardinal population, the startling red flashes all around in the jaggerbushes which is northwestern PA speak for briars. These cardinals are supposed to be territorial, unless there is so much food that they don’t need to fight each other for it. One day we counted twelve at the feeder, so I guess there’s plenty of food around here.

Addy built a fire in the fireplace, stacking up scraps of 2x4s and wetter wood on top. She’s an accomplished little fire-maker, and the crackling was so loud that I hardly noticed when the teapot burbled its boiling sound.

The one rule of our readathon day is that the reading is for pleasure, which means chatty people must be quiet. We settled in with cups of tea and our favorite current books. Olivia has been reading the Ranger’s Apprentice series, and could not find the fourth one at the library. I noticed that she succumbed to reading the fifth one today, though it pains her orderly self to read them out of order. Rita is reading through the Mysterious Benedict Society, in a story grip that I rarely see in her. Her choice of reading tends to be nonfiction, nature guides, and survival manuals, but I guess these stories could count as survival tales. Addy’s following right behind her, reading the first big book in the series, and woe be to us if she catches up. The scrapping over shared books can be bewildering at best. (That’s my bookmark and she moved it!)

Addy settled into her chair with an entire pot of peppermint tea on the stand beside her, pouring cup after cup, sipping with a satisfaction that caused the older girls to roll their eyes at me. But they stayed quiet, except for occasional shoving matches to establish territories on the couch.

The parakeets chirped and the pillar candles on the mantle sputtered, giving off a delicate sugar cookie scent. I bought them on clearance without checking them properly, but the scent is almost vanilla, so we could bear it. Periodically I threw some large logs onto the fire to keep it going, resettled into the recliner with my feet toward the fire. I could read a page in my book, feel the warmth on my feet, and look out the window at intervals. It was the best of all the worlds.

Rita broke the silence with occasional monologues about things like how annoyed she gets when people say, “Shake your head yes.” Addy snitched my seat when I went outside to feed the chickens and she wiggled on the squeaky leather chair. A lot. The only noise Olivia made was page turning and nose blowing, and “Be quiet! I want to read!”

And that is how the day went. It was utterly delicious. My aunt and I have been having some dialog in past comments about enjoying winter properly. I think she would approve of this day. ☺️

Buy the Tulips, a List for Winter

I’ve been thinking a lot about surviving during the long, dark days of winter, even thriving. I have a short list of things that do NOT help, and the top of the list is

  • Aimlessness
  • Accumulated dirt
  • Staying housebound
  • Disorganized snow gear
  • Too much screen time
  • Strict dieting
  • Overwhelming projects
  • Navel-gazing about all the things that are wrong in my life
  • PollyAnna chirping, “I’m so glad I’m not being exposed to harmful UV rays”
  • At the end of the day, the weariness of winter is a thing, the brain fog is a thing, and the temptation to sin with my attitudes is a thing. Facing the challenge and admitting it is not a sin, however. When my mom gave me a stack of notepads from my Grandma’s stash, I found one with this poem on the back:
Grandma lived in Wisconsin and every year she faced this battle.

My list for coping skills is long and detailed, because I have given it much thought over the years, and probably written about it before. I have tried to condense it so I don’t fatigue you with my lofty thoughts.

  • Keep rhythms, but let them be slow
  • Plan fun things like tea parties and game nights
  • Put lights everywhere, twinklies, candles, full-spectrum bulbs
  • Eat sensibly; embrace comfort foods and bright flavors
  • Buy fresh herbs, vegetables, and fruits
  • Go to the library often
  • Make gardening plans and order seeds
  • Have spots of color around your house: quilts, throw pillows, pretty dishes
  • Wear cheerful clothes
  • Buy proper gear so that you can
  • Get out of the house every day and
  • Go skating or sledding or just walking in the fresh air
  • Simmer potpourri
  • Play upbeat music
  • Collect houseplants for your windowsills
  • Feed the birds, learn to identify them, keep lists
  • Make things with beautiful yarn or paints
  • Take supplements for the vitamins and minerals you lack
  • Spend unhurried time with friends
  • Bring home some tulips from the grocery store
  • Accept: this is a season and it will pass

That list is what rises to the top when I think about leaning into wintertime. It’s customized to our household. Not everybody is blessed by quilts and bright yellow teapots. I’m sure you have your own coping skills.

Often I don’t realize that my hands are hanging down and my knees are feeble until the slump has gotten hold of me (about the 75th cloudy day in January). It becomes a spiritual battle; I spread it before the Lord, and He graces me with ideas and resources to deal with what is here, this very day, in this place I am called to be. As a keeper of my home, I have choices. I can ooze into the mud or look for the light. And slowly the days get longer and hope rises.

Buy the tulips, my friends.

Noticing: From the Window

Our neighbor is just leaving for work in his white van with a ladder on top. He sidles out of his driveway, past the garbage workers who are dumping the contents of his trash can into the maw of their truck. Unless the snowplows push it into the ditch first, the empty can will sit there at the end of the driveway until their son comes home from school to trundle it back up the lane.

The truck turns at the end of the street, passes again to clean up the right side of the road. “Think Green. Think Clean.” I wish they would bend their rules and pick up the two enormous TV’s that another neighbor set out beside the road before Christmas. We have not subscribed to garbage pickup here. All our recyclables collect in bins in the shop, and once they are spilling over suitably, we bag them up for the recycling place. Cardboard gets saved for my mulching purposes, and the rest we burn. It’s shocking how much garbage our family produces even with all those green-ish things we do.

This office window looks out through the sunporch to the front yard and the road. Right now the window is very dirty. It must have been overlooked when the sunporch windows were last cleaned. In the summertime the bushes outside make a complete screen of Rose of Sharon and lilac bushes, and in winter there is no sun, so there is rarely any reason to sit in the sunporch. I hanker to take off the awnings all around, but Gabriel thinks it might get too hot without them. Also, they protect the very old single panes out there. Thirteen windows, and four of them have an old fashioned hinge to open wide to the breezes. We hung strings of lights out there and installed a stained glass light fixture we found at a thrift store. There is an old sofa along the wall where Addy likes to sit all wrapped in blankets and listen to her audiobooks. Rita keeps her broom corn in a loose shock in the corner. She has not made the brooms she planned, but her rabbit loves the broom corn, eating his way all along the stalk, out to the sweet grains at the end. Dessert after all his vegetable fiber.

There are hooks for jackets, and a tray for boots, but we don’t use that entrance much. Somehow it seems easier to track snow and mud in through the kitchen. We do store firewood on the porch, and today would be a great day to use some of it in the fireplace. The snow is fuzzing down, and I am so blessed by the whiteness blanketing the world. When the ground is pristine, the spirits lift around here.

The view would be improved if I stowed the Christmas decor in that tote on the table outside this window. I used dried hydrangeas and other seed pods to decorate this year, painting some of them with silver and white spray paints. I was pleased with the result, but my family snickered politely about my “sad beige” decorations. “What’s wrong with holly and pine and berries?” they wanted to know. The big idea was to decorate with what is available around here, and then throw it away, but I can’t bear to pitch the hydrangeas so there they still are in my sunporch.

My twenty minutes of stream-of-consciousness writing is up, thank goodness. This window doesn’t have an ample view. Something happens, though, when I really zoom in on a smallish spot in the house; I notice things that I could do to improve things, which is always a housekeeping triumph when the brain is sluggish. That tote will be taken to the attic, even if I haven’t wrapped up the strings of LED lights yet.

Slow Start: Noticing

I sit here, thinking about the day. Always the weather forecast. Snow, then rain.

This tiny cup of regular coffee, the last 4 ounces in the French Press, is really pretty great. I don’t feel well on coffee, so I limit my habit to decaf or miniscule amounts. I picked the smallest mug in our cupboard, the pink one with glaze drips and a heart on the front.

I am in my office. My son is clomping through the kitchen in his leather boots, opening doors. “Thanks for making me a sandwich, Mom,” he calls.

I see the neighbor’s kid dawdling at the end of their lane, hands stuffed in pockets, beanie pulled down tightly, waiting for the bus.

My own school-kids are still sleeping. I hope Olivia’s cold is better this morning. The other two are cocooned in sleeping bags in their camper/playhouse. They were going to cook soup on the hot plate for their bedtime snack last night, and I feel certain they took enough provisions for breakfast too.

Oh, there’s the bus. How our lives would have to skitter into high gear if we needed to catch a bus! I savor the calm: only the whoosh of the furnace forcing hot air through the ductwork, and my felt-tipped pen making tiny scritchings.

This office is a mess. Everybody stows homeless things in here and shuts the door. Somebody really should do something about it. That Christmas wrapping paper- is it worth storing for a year? There is a stack of thrifted books, titles we love and some we never read but they have familiar authors. The shelves are full, but for a quarter a piece I have no resistance. There’s also a pile of Dr. Seuss and P.D. Eastman, because we have had short visitors recently. Then there is the yarn basket, shoved in here for safekeeping from the short visitors, and the completed tests that need to be filed, and the hamper full of extra blankets from overnight company in December. Really, somebody should do something about this stuff.

In my office there is not one pen I do not like. I fire them into the trash can if they so much as falter or sputter. I burn nice candles in here, not too highly scented because the room is small.

On the walls I display my children’s art- the detailed zentangles my oldest son gave me and the block prints the girls made in art class. There’s the cellophane-wrapped watercolor Gabriel brought me from Puerto Rice, with that brilliant tropical street, and the acrylic painting I attempted at a ladies’ activity. It’s not that good, but it’s the nostalgic view I had out my kitchen window in Osterburg for years, my garden and Gabriel’s barn.

I should organize and declutter in this room. It is the least-finished of all our remodel projects, but it’s my spot and the pens are good.

I pick up my empty coffee mug, slip out, and shut the door.

Noticing

I am in the middle of doing a writing course by Rachel Devenish Ford called Write From the Heart. Right now we are practicing noticing, and jotting it down. All those tiny sights and sounds around us, as well as the big ones. They all make up life, and I decided it might be fun to do it here. It’s not going to be profound, but it is a good thing for me to do in these days when my default mode is creeping about with a cup of tea, trying to look productive. Here’s yesterday’s twenty minutes of observing.

First thing I look at the forecast, and it is too dismal for my soul to bear. Ten solid days of clouds. I know in my head that it can change daily, but my heart is dismayed.

I arrange a bright quilt on the back of a chair, fill the teakettle, light candles all through the house, and sit down to write, far away from my phone.

A spoon scrapes a cereal bowl, and pages turn as the breakfast eater reads while she eats Life.

My son reads quotes from a Babylon Bee article and mutters that this leftover coffee tastes like old tires, but he drinks it anyway.

The parakeets chirp shrill good mornings as the first bit of light filters into the schoolroom upstairs.

Tires crunch on the lane as my son heads off to work; the tracks on the lane are frozen this morning, an improvement on the squelching mud of the past week.

I glance out the window, see the chickens in the slight glow of the light in their coop, scratching, scratching through the straw. I am hopeful that the fake daylight will urge them to greater egg production.

The world outside is lightening slowly, but monochrome. Trees hold their undressed limbs to the sky, and I can tell by their bones that this one is an oak and that one is a cherry, and the other one is a walnut.

Only the tin signs on my husband’s shop reflect any color: “Pepsi, the taste that beats the others cold,” and “Atlantic Motor Oil,” and the neon yellow “No Outlet.”

My candy cane tea is brewed just right. I pair it with a spiced raisin cookie, iced on top. I smell the cardamom that I ground in my daughter’s mortar and pestle. A morsel of sweet.

Broth and Citrus

That is always what I wish to eat in this week when we are sated with cheese and chocolates, only this year we did it backwards forwards (literal translation from Dutch) and had our broth and citrus in the weeks before Christmas and our chocolate and cheese after. As did many others, we picked up a nasty little bug that laid us low, one by one. Only Gabriel and Gregory escaped unscathed. In the middle of that drama, I also had a troublesome tooth extracted, but that is all behind us now, and we are back to feeling well, although not quite as robust as we would wish.

I woke up a week before Christmas and thought about the fact that there was not one cookie or piece of candy in the house, and then I rolled over and didn’t care about it at all. We had the ingredients, and I figured eventually one of us would muster some effort. I knew Gabriel had to work anyway, and as it turned out, church was cancelled due to extreme cold and we just stayed home and played games.

One of my most beloved holiday traditions has been to attend a Handel’s Messiah concert every year. I only missed two or three in twenty years, even taking Alex when he was two weeks old. Over the years Gabe and I took turns singing in the choir and those glorious pieces run through my head as music whenever I read them in Isaiah. Twenty-twenty tanked our small town concert in Bedford and they have decided to fold for good, more’s the pity.

Last night I dreamed that I was finally able to attend a Handel’s Messiah concert in Pittsburgh. The venue was decorated with the Steelers colors, but I didn’t mind. It was bliss until the bass soloist started ad libbing during “The People That Walked in Darkness.” He just made up whatever words he wanted. It is one of my favorite pieces, and I was flummoxed, then outraged. When he walked off the stage in confusion, the orchestra and the choir gave up and followed him. I thought surely they would pull it together, but when I looked around me, the audience had all gone home. The only ones left were my children, and they were throwing bounce balls in the concert hall to see if they could hit the stage. That’s when I woke up and gave it up. No live performance of Messiah this year for me, not even in my dreams.

This week we went to my sister’s house on Monday, and my parents and Alex joined us there for celebrations and cheer. My parents made up for our lack of Christmas chocolates and Rachel made an epic cheese fondue and the kids played in the snow for hours while the guys carved. Things may have turned out a little topsy turvy, but we were most grateful that we got our flu bug out of the way before the holidays.

I can’t wrap my head around the fact that this is truly the end of the year. I should probably make some resolutions, or at least some plans. I know I have to do the taxes for the pottery biz, and that is the looming frog of my life every year. I might as well eat that frog first and then the year can only get better. It helps that my husband is a numbers whiz and could easily be my accountant, but I am determined to figure it out. It also doesn’t help that the accountant is my exceedingly patient husband, if you know what I mean. I do not know how it is possible to snarl the numbers the way I do, even with the invoicing software and apps I use, but there it is and there I am feeling stupid, even though I know I am not stupid. I keep trying, but I expect to go to heaven long before I get proficient with tax stuff.

I also need to take a long look at the second half of our school year, make sure we are on track to get where we want to be. Spelling. I don’t know how to instill/teach it, and that would be a good place to start. On a test I checked today, the child who shall remain unnamed had written, “Britton, Britten, Brittin. However you spell Britton.” Clearly, she knew none of them looked right, but it wasn’t coming to her either and she moved on to more important things.

It doesn’t feel like a neatly wrapped year, even though it has been a good year on the whole. There are always private sorrows mixed in with the surprising joys, burdens to carry with courage along with the lighter duties of ordinary life, and people who are hard to understand even though you love them.

It helps me to accept that this is a design feature of life, not a fatal flaw because I am somehow missing the mysterious component that makes it all better and pretty. This life is always going to feel to some degree like a garment that doesn’t quite fit right. You don’t always know if it needs alteration, or if you need to gain some muscle here, lose some weight there, but the coat isn’t tailored perfectly. When I am troubled by a split seam, it doesn’t mean that I am not casting all my cares on him. It means that this is a broken world, and still I can live in the kindness of the Father. I absolutely love that passage in 1Peter 5: 6-11. There is no safer place than “humble, under the mighty hand of God.” There is no brighter promise than “after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.”

A friend asked me why I make mugs with “The Best is Yet to Come” on them. That is why. I believe it with all my heart, and I’ll swing into the new year on that.

Blessings on your new year!

Sadly, we couldn’t coordinate a photographer with a weekend when Alex was here, but this is us, missing him.

The Annual Slightly Strange List

of things we are thankful for. These are contributions from various members of the family.

  • Gregory: When I get up and discover that Mom already packed my lunch. (This is the kid who this very morning packed popcorn, Takis, and a dry sandwich from yesterday, ignoring the yogurt and fresh fruit scattered around in obvious places.)
  • A heater to keep the bedroom warm where a window got broken in an exceedingly odd and thoughtless manner.
  • A big brother who brings a replacement window pane and installs it in ten minutes.
  • A garage to park my car, even if it is a primitive one with a dirt floor and no garage door opener.
  • Olivia: Just five minutes without anyone doing anything gross. (Is that too much to ask?)
  • A plant collection on the windowsill, especially the dolphin succulent and the string of pearls, and let’s not forget the baby cacti growing from seeds.
  • Yogurt, mashed potatoes, and all the soft foods because braces…
  • Rita: A heated waterer for the chickens so that I don’t have to constantly haul water for them.
  • Enough turkey to snitch bits while it was being carved the day before Thanksgiving, then eat all I wanted, then have leftovers to put into my pot of Ramen noodles.
  • Addy: Books with other worlds, AKA imagination.
  • A fireplace so I can make fires in the house whenever I want.
  • Siblings to fight with and do stuff.
  • Mine: the desperate person who cracked open a squash with a sharp rock, and discovered it is edible.
  • Rita’s income from her mouse trapline is drying up, with the count standing at sixteen.
  • Seed heads in the garden, so pretty in a monochromatic sort of way that they look good in a vase.
  • Three deer to process for the freezer, and all the scope for learning to make bologna, jerky, etc. etc.
  • Kids who spin clever puns endlessly and who have Opinions About Life and push back and keep me on my toes.
  • Instructional DVD courses for my child who is doing Algebra 1 because I really dislike teaching it, and in fact have forgotten what I knew about it which wasn’t ever much.
  • A husband who puts driveway markers all along its edges so that we can remember through weeks of mild weather that snow is coming and the brown world will be beautiful again.
  • Online shopping, because I love getting packages.
  • Cheese. I am grateful that most of the cheese was not moldy.

Gabe was at work when I quizzed the children. I could sit here for another hour and continue this process of picking things I am thankful for, but right now we need to get going with our school day, which itself is a privilege. Depending who you ask and which day you ask it, of course. 🙂

Have a good one! If you feel like it, tell me something you are thankful for that is not on the approved Sunday school list.

Errands for the Birds

We’ve run into a small snag with our poultry operation. We finally got the temperatures that we expect in November, which is to say frigid, which also means that every morning the water is frozen in the chicken tractor. Addy lovingly takes warm water out for the flock and by evening it’s frozen solid again. So this morning I decided to slog the weary (two) miles to the Farm and Home store. Across the street I would have the option of a Tractor Supply, and if I go one mile further I can go to the Ace Hardware.

I asked my son to start my vehicle when he went outside, and a half hour later I looked out the window and noticed little puffs of exhaust coming from my Suburban. Oh. It would now be toasty warm, although outside it was 25° with a brisk wind, but I was dressed for it. When I parked at the Farm and Home, the guy in the car next to me got out and strolled nonchalantly by, Carhartt unzipped, munching on a Klondike bar. Granted, he had a beard impressive enough to cover the space where his coat didn’t close. I shivered in my down puffer and fur lined boots and dashed inside.

There was another lady in the poultry aisle, and we did some quick bonding over which heated waterer would be the best in my situation. I was grateful for her help and we shared a laugh over the pumpkin spice supplement blocks for chickens. Then I did the hilarious thing and bought one. Shouldn’t my hens have Thanksgiving too?

As I breezed past the bird seeds, I snagged a large bag of sunflower seeds. At home Addy hung the feeder on a branch where we can see the activity from our living room windows. Winter can now commence. We are officially ready.

And that’s how one spends eighty-nine dollars for the birds. 🫣