Entries to Win Afghan

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

It's a Snowblower

Well, the big storm we were supposed to get was pretty much a fizzle. The wind blew a lot but we had very little snowfall.

Nevertheless, I wanted to run the new blower in the daytime for the first time. I wish I could tell you it's just wonderful and such a joy compared to the old one and blah, blah. But, it's a huge snowblower that is difficult to deal with just like the other one. But it moves snow.

It's also really hard to take a picture while operating it!


In other news: I got a lot of the formatting done for the paper copy of DMS Druggist. Very good progress, in fact. Handbell practice and writers' group.

See Exchanging Red for Orange
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Monday, December 11, 2017

I Wanted Scones

I was in a mood for scones. Yummy scones. There was a little cranberry-orange relish left. There were some too-dry currants. Mix them together, add to scone dough.


Oh yeah, they are good. And festive looking as well.

In other news: Got gas for the snowblower and filled the tank, because we are supposed to get a major storm tonight. Worked on formatting DMS Druggist to upload and got that done for Smashwords (two to go). Took tomorrow off. So there. The world will not end at the paper without me.

See In the Mood
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Sunday, December 10, 2017

It's B-b-b-back

Remember the nature alphabets? Remember the letter B? It's now almost unreadable.

the letter B in pine trees

The top of the B has gotten fuller and taller. The serifs are growing.

Here it is in 2010.

the letter B in pine trees

Here it is when I first used it as the letter in 2009

the letter B in pine trees

I like the white pines so much. I planted all of these myself. The tallest were less than a foot high when I put them out in 1992.

This clump has started producing babies on its own. There are now three little ones beside my trail that I did not plant. I first found these in 2014, but now they are clearly seen above the grass.

baby pine trees

In other news: I skied yesterday and today, but the snow was much better today. Other than that it's been all editing. I'm over 2/3 of the way through Dead Mule Swamp Druggist for what I hope will be the last time.

See The Letter B and its Serifs
See Surprises in My Kingdom
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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Best Chrismas Pageant Ever

Tonight I went with friends Sue and Martin to Manistee. We met up with Ramona at the Bungalow restaurant and ate dinner together.

friends in restaurant

Then Martin, Sue and I (Ramona had already seen it) went to The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, put on by the Manistee Civic Players. This was staged at the high school, rather than their usual venue at the Ramsdell.

I'm sure most of you know the story, so let me just say this in introduction: this is the sort of production that community theater is all about. The cast is largely children. I'm sure anyone who has organized a typical church Christmas pageant can feel the irony oozing from this play full of children about a play full of children. According to the program, this was the first stage experience for a lot of these kids, some as young as six years old. And they did a great job. I could understand almost all of their lines- certainly no worse than many plays where the actors are all adults.

I'll just hit the highlights of the plot. None of the other children like the Herdmans. Those kids are mean and dirty. In fact, one boy admits to liking to go to church because it's the one place no Herdman will go.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

As Christmas approaches, Mrs. Armstrong breaks her leg and can not direct the Christmas pageant. She gets Mrs. Bradley to agree to take over. But almost no one wants to be in the Christmas pageant because it has become familiar and boring.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Meanwhile, Charlie Bradley makes the mistake of telling one of the Herdmans that there are lots of free refreshments after Sunday School. Consequently, the Herdman's show up and immediately volunteer to take on roles in the pageant, no matter that they don't even know the Christmas story.

Here are Imogene and Ralph Herdman, fighting over the doll that is going to represent baby Jesus.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Mrs. Bradley reads the Christmas story, and these unwelcome kids who have never heard it before add lots of "Shazam," and they ask interesting questions.

Imogene decides she wants to be Mary, and here's the result as she absorbs the power of the familiar tale.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Imogene and Ralph after the wisemen visit. Wiseman LeRoy Herdman (or maybe Ollie, I'm not sure) brings the gift of the ham from their welfare basket.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Finally, I just have to show this picture. This is one of the "baby angels." What else can I say... angelic.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Lots of fun! Time to visit in the car on the way, too.

In other news: I am working on the last editing of Dead Mule Swamp Druggist.

See A Tuneful Christmas Carol
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Friday, December 8, 2017

Christmas Tree 2017

This is Omer's contribution to Christmas. He LOVES having a Christmas Tree, and he really does it all. I helped only a little to get it in the stand.

I do like how this picture is a bit soft and fuzzy. I didn't use flash or turn on more room lights because I hoped to get the glow from the tree lights. That worked! You can call it a lousy picture, or you can call it artistic.

Christmas Tree

One of the fun things is that no matter what window you look toward, when it's dark out, there's a reflection of the lights. This one is like a regular mirror.

Christmas Tree

The one at the other end of the house in the kitchen has distorted things a bit. I like this one a lot.

Christmas Tree

And that's it for today!

I wrote a little bit in The Secret Cellar, but am struggling with separating the contents of chapters 10 and 11. I'll get it eventually. Tomorrow, after I wake up, it's back to Druggist for the (hopefully) final read-through.

Meanwhile, another Friday night looms ahead of me at the paper.

See 2016 Christmas Tree
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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Things Look Good on Skis

It's the just-like-all-the-others picture of the first skiing of the season.


We have about 5 fluffy inches. Not much, but more likely to be provide opportunity to ski than snowshoe. And it wasn't sticky, which it often is on the first day. Did my loop out back and my 4 little hills.

You can see the trail on one of the hills just below the pines, going up one side and down the other.

ski trail

Here's my best hill. Not today, though. Needs a little more snow to get smooth.

ski trail

It's hard to beat snow sticking to evergreens (this is Scot's pine) for winter beauty.

snow on pine tree

I was out about 30 minutes, my typical first time. The sun was going down, and looky, looky.... we got a bit of a sun pillar. It showed more clearly to the naked eye than the camera, but it's there.

sun pillar

In other news: laundry, some misc stuff, forgot to tell you that I mailed 5 books yesterday! I hope to write a little bit yet tonight, but I have to hang up the wet clothes and do some paperwork. We shall see.

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Exchanging Red for Orange

Remember I did some hinting about a big expenditure? Well, it was delivered today.

The old snowblower is indeed dead. Dead. Engine blown.

old snowblower

It didn't really owe us anything. It was 23 years old. (Now that's scary, since it feels like a part of my relatively new life.) I figured out it cost less than $100 a year to keep the driveway open with it. Since we have often been charged over $100 just for one plowing, I think that's a pretty good bargain. Of course, it means I have to get out there and do it, but so far, so good.

This has been a great blower. 10 HP, 30" scoop, two-stage. It has handled this driveway, which is saying something.

old snowblower

I've been looking for its replacement. It's hard to find models that are big enough for this driveway. They all have about the same features, but what sold me on this one is the handlebars could be lowered. That means I don't have to haul a machine around that's made for someone a foot taller than I am. OK, it's probably still not made for someone 5'1" , but it is easier to move around.

Features all the brands have that have improved in 23 years: heated handlebars, separate free-wheel controls for easy turning (now there's a concept I can get behind), taller tires, LED lights, lighter weight.

I had planned to shop around locally. But I'd already done a bunch of research on line. There I stood... liking the handlebar frame that adjusted. Hating to shop. Extra year of warranty free and a $50 rebate. Said to self, "Why are you going to keep looking? Just buy it."

So... here it is. I bought a Husqvarna. (And he took the old one away- SO worth it to me. I still don't have a utility trailer.)

new snowblower

I'll let you know how it works out. Obviously, not enough snow yet to test it!

In other news: I didn't do much at all after work- just a few odds and ends. Free day!

See Machines Can Make You Crazy
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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Frost Shadow

This actually happened Sunday morning. The past two days it has been raining as the sun came up.

When I first looked outside that day there was frost completely covering the ground. Not enough to make the trees white, but all the grass. As the sun came up, that began to melt. However, in the lee of this apple tree the heat wasn't strong enough to melt the frost at the same rate. Result... frost shadow.


Although the crystals weren't long, they did make some nice sparkling edges on the blades of grass.



In other news: I have worked super hard the past few days and have the first run-through editing of DMS Druggist done. Now I need to let it simmer while the heavy-duty work days thru Friday night take over. Then I'll go through it one more time, and then do the formatting. I thought I wasn't going to get it done on time, but I ended up not having to work a couple of hours this morning and that was just what I needed.

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Monday, December 4, 2017

The Nativity Scene This Year

I wish I could tell you that I get this set up every year, but I think it didn't happen last year. Holidays have become sort of lost in my mind.

The "rule" is: it has to be set up differently every year. Who made this rule? Me, when I was about seven. Can I just break the rule because it's more work? a silly rule? not a rule at all? Nope.

Sometimes I go traditional, sometimes modern or thought provoking or...

nativity scene

Just as a reminder for new readers, the figures (all except the dog and sheep) come from my mother's childhood. I do love displaying this for all the layers of meaning it represents.

Link below will bring up other arrangements of these same pieces.

That's about the extent of my holiday decorating participation.

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Sunday, December 3, 2017

As Good as the Memories?

I grew up 20 miles from Ithaca, New York. That was a significant distance to travel in the 1950s. We went there about once a month for shopping that couldn't be accomplished in the tiny town that was only two miles away.

My favorite thing about the shopping trips was going to Rothchild's Department Store. I never cared about the actual shopping. What I liked was the pneumatic tubes that handled money. Some bank drive-throughs still use these. The cashier would put your money or check in a cylinder, then close the end and place the cylinder in a clear tube through a little door. There would be a vaccuum-y noise and the cylinder would shoot up the tube to disappear into the ceiling. A minute later your change and receipt would woosh back down, and be handed to you.

Woolworth's was usually on the list of destinations too, as I recall.

My next-favorite thing was eating at the Home Dairy after we finished all the errands. I found a picture of the building on line (I've stolen it from an Ithaca High School reunion page). They closed forever in the 1960s. when the founder, Robert Avery, died in 1997.

Home Dairy restaurant
The restaurant was all cafeteria style. You picked up a tray and walked around selecting servings of things you wanted to eat. I think I recall that you could eat a whole meal for under a dollar- when I was small, anyway.

I remember two of their offerings. They had a creamy macaroni and cheese. It wasn't baked with a crunchy top (which I like best), but this was made with some kind of white cheese and was all soft.

The must-have item, however, was a half-moon cookie for dessert. This memory all came rushing back when the historical society posted the authentic recipe for these cookies. I had to try it.

Home Dairy half moon cookies

It took me a couple of tries to get the size the same- about four inches across . I thought they weren't right when they came out of the oven. The cookies were crisp, not soft like I remembered. But the next morning they were soft and chewy- the texture was just right. Somehow in my memory the circles were more perfect. Perhaps my memory is faulty, or they had a pan that was recessed with exact circles, because some of mine are really round and others aren't. A restaurant would need near 100% perfection to serve them.

Got them frosted, and I have to say they really are just as good as the memories. I admit the "half-moon" part is basically a gimmick. It's just a frosted chocolate cookie, right? But sometimes that little tiny bit of extra effort that made everyone remember Half Moon Cookies is all it takes.

Here's the recipe as posted. I made my own frosting with a little Crisco, 10X sugar, and milk.

Home Dairy half moon cookies
In other news: I've been editing all day. Hard brain work.

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