Monday, May 22, 2017

An Eminently Quotable Book


It's been a few years now since A. sold the last of his sheep, and not a grass-growing season goes by that he doesn't mourn the waste of fine forage with no animals to set upon it. He gets particularly voluble on this subject when he has to mow grass that--in his opinion--sheep should be eating to provide him with lambs for the freezer.

Personally, I could happily go my entire life without ever docking another lamb's tail, but for A., that would be no kind of life at all. So I'm resigned to the fact that someday we will have woolly dependents again.

But I haven't forgotten what a pain in the ass they are. No, indeed. And a book that A. brought home from the library and I started reading is bringing it all back.

The book is Country Life: A Handbook for Realists and Dreamers, by Paul Heiney. It's published by the wonderful DK Publishing Company, which has my eternal gratitude for producing non-fiction books about every imaginable subject for children that both the children and adults can enjoy and learn something from.

Do you know how hard it is to find really good non-fiction books for kids? DK does it every time.

I'm digressing, though.

I started having reluctant-shepherdess flashbacks in the section with instructions for proper fencing. He notes that while a fence with three wires should be fine for cows, sheep will probably need five wires. And this is because, as he goes on to say in the section with advantages and disadvantages of all types of farm animals, sheep are "Famed escapologists."

Now you're singing my song, Paul.

He also lists the following for sheep diseases: "Blowfly strike, foot rot, and countless other diseases, the first symptom of which is often death."

Or, in the words of another well-known and very alliterative saying about sheep, "Sick sheep seldom survive."

The only thing he lists as a special need for sheep? "A good shepherd to keep them out of trouble."

As long as that good shepherd is A. and not me. I don't qualify. Maybe that's why ours were so much trouble.

Anyway. You should read the book if you can, even if you're not really into farming. If nothing else, Paul Heiney has a distinctive dry humor that makes the book fun to read.

P.S. Though not specific to sheep, I did also appreciate this nugget of wisdom: "Farm animals do not make good pets. If you can't kill them, get a dog or a cat and grow vegetables." For realists, indeed.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Motorcycles, Microgreens, and May Sprinkler Play


It's been an exciting Saturday for us. We kicked if off by driving all the way to the small city 45 minutes away to pick up a rental car for A.'s upcoming out-of-town trips this week*.

Well, technically I suppose we kicked it off with apples and peanut butter for breakfast and fighting over Star Wars toys when the kids woke up, but we'll skip that part and get to the exciting stuff.

When we got to the small city, A. decided he wanted to stop in at Harbor Freight--home to massive quantities of very cheap tools--to get a couple of sawhorses. The Harbor Freight store happened to be right next to the Harley Davidson dealership, and they had set up their parking lot for some kind of rally. Which meant there were motorcycles everywhere.

Much as my sons enjoy running wild through tool stores, the lure of shiny machines was strong. Therefore, we went to tour the motorcycles while A. got his sawhorses. Eventually we made it into the actual showroom, where a very enthusiastic lady swooped down on the boys with bandanas, helium balloons, and cookies. And then she tied the bandanas into do-rags on their heads.


Possibly my favorite picture ever of my sons.

Unfortunately, that photo captures the shining moment of happiness just before it all fell apart. Specifically, before we left and Charlie lost his balloon in the parking lot. He watched it floating high up into the sky, and when he realized he could not get it back, he was absolutely inconsolable. It was very sad. Not even the fact that Jack also lost his as I was getting him into the car could make Charlie feel that the loss of his beloved balloon was anything less than tragic. He cried for several minutes.

But after we picked up the rental car we took them to a playground and let them play for over an hour--despite the deceptively sunny but cold weather that made A. and me really wish we had brought our sweaters--so that cheered everyone up.

Also, the fact that Cubby popped his balloon accidentally in the car on the way home made Charlie feel as if balloons really are ephemeral delights to be enjoyed for a fleeting moment in time before they fly off to their inevitable end.

Or maybe something less philosophical.

Anyway.

When we got home, I decided it was time to thin the plants in the garden. The children's enthusiastic help with the planting of tiny seeds had resulted in what can only be described as clumps of seedlings coming up. Not so much with the careful spacing. But that's okay, because after I had thinned a few rows of radishes and arugula that had been planted by Cubby and Charlie, I was left with a large quantity of fancy-pants microgreens.


See? Fancy-pants.

They're not careless gardeners; they're foodies. 

I had to wash those greens a total of five times before they were clean, but it was worth it. I dressed them with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. The kids ate theirs just like that and, amazingly, actually ate them. Cubby even asked for seconds, and Charlie--Charlie who doesn't even like pizza--announced, "Our greens taste best."

Damn straight.

I added some pickled beets and feta cheese to mine and it was delicious. Also pretty, though I don't have a photo for you because, well, I wanted to eat it, not take a picture of it.

I do, however, have photos of the post-dinner sprinkler playing. And the reason I have photos is I wanted to document how insane my children are. It was 58 degrees. God knows how cold the water was. But A. turned on the sprinkler for the garden while he was planting some shallots and onions, and I couldn't convince the kids it was too cold to run through it. So they did.




They only stopped when Cubby announced he was so cold he couldn't run anymore and Charlie announced he was so cold that the rock he was standing on was shaking. Jack didn't announce anything except "ha ba," which means hot bath and told me everything I needed to know.

After their hot baths they went to bed. I can only hope that all the excitement of the day will mean that they sleep soundly and long. I'm certainly planning on it.

* A. very kindly conceded that perhaps he shouldn't leave me without a car for several days this week while he was gone. He knows I'm not down with the bike-as-substitute-car idea.

Friday, May 19, 2017

A No-Car Family


We still haven't replaced the dead minivan, which means that we're currently a one-car family. This is actually not a big deal for us, as A. works from home and I, uh, don't leave the house. Like ever. Sharing a car between us is definitely feasible.

But what happens when even that car isn't available? We found out.

See, A. had scheduled some maintenance work on the Subaru at the mechanic's shop in the village, and he really wanted to get all this little stuff taken care of before he was required to get the state inspection done next month. He had been meaning to buy a bike for himself anyway--because we bought bikes for the kids and already an adult has to have one too to keep up with Cubby--so he figured he could ride his bike to drop off the car and pick it up. It's only seven miles from our house to the mechanic's shop.

Well. Distance becomes a much different thing when one is on a bike. Seven miles in a car is not at all the same as seven miles on a bicycle. Especially, ahem, if one has not ridden a bike in approximately 20 years.

A. dropped the Subaru off on Tuesday morning and biked back. It took him about half an hour and he said it wasn't a bad ride at all.

The car was supposed to be done that day, but the mechanic called to say that when he test-drove it, he discovered a brake problem. Okay, said A. I can pick it up tomorrow.

We didn't really need it that night, and then he wouldn't have to make the bike trip again on the same day.

On Wednesday, the mechanic found more issues when he was working on the brakes and had to spend some time tracking down a used part. So the car wouldn't be ready that day, either. But A. had to go to the post office in the village to mail some documents for work.

No car, so that meant another trip on the bike. He left at 3 p.m. and called an hour and a half later to say he was at the post office.

I guess the heat (84 degrees), the hills, and the wind (15 miles an hour with stronger gusts) had a bad effect on his time. Just a little.

And then I compounded the misery by reminding him that I needed some sunscreen to send in to school for Charlie the next day for his "beach day" (sprinklers and popsicles on the soccer field). So he had to go up to the store just a bit outside the village. This seems like a trivial distance in a car, but on a bike, that long incline out of the village becomes much more noticeable. And it added another two miles to his trip.

Sure hope Charlie enjoyed that sunscreen.

In the end, he got back three hours after he left, after riding about 16 miles. His legs were done for. He took a really hot bath with Epsom salts that night.

The next day was just the same weather--hot and windy. And he had to ride back into the village to pick up the car. But at least this time the car was actually ready, so it was only one way.

I suspect that the drive home, sitting in a cushioned vehicle whizzing along at fifty miles an hour, has never seemed so luxurious.

At least now A. knows it can be done. He said he didn't mind it that much, it was just a little bit of a trial by fire to do so much riding so suddenly. But he does plan on sometimes using his bike to go to the post office on nice days.

I, however, am not planning on cycling merrily off to the grocery store with Jack in a trailer or something. A one-car family I can handle. A no-car family? No, thanks.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Of Fried Chicken and Unseasonable Heat


For various reasons, A. decided not to do his big fried chicken adventure on Mother's Day. So he did it yesterday instead. And it was definitely an Event.

There was a cutting up of a whole chicken, which then resulted in me making chicken stock with the leftover bits and then chicken salad with the resulting bits of meat from the stock making. There was brining. There was shaking with cornstarch, coating with buttermilk, and dredging in cornmeal*. And then there was the frying. In two pints of lard.

And after all that, there was the straining of the lard so it can be saved, filling the dog's bowl with all the miscellaneous greasy residue, and the dishes.

A. did the dishes. Good man.

It was really good chicken. Everyone enjoyed it. Well, except for Charlie, who objected to the crunchiness of the cornmeal coating and required removal of said coating before he would eat his drumstick.

Good old Charlie.

But was it worth it? Eh. Maybe if you're really into fried chicken. A. is, so he thought it was worth it. I'm not, so I certainly wouldn't do it again. Then again, it's really A. doing it--with some assistance from me in actually finding and assembling all the ingredients and equipment--so I guess he can have at it. Especially if he does the dishes.

I kind of wish he had made more, though, so we could have the leftovers for dinner tonight. Then I wouldn't have to cook. It's going to be 80 degrees, and I don't want to turn on the oven or stove.

I know. That's not exactly Georgia in July weather--and thank God for that, because I would just die--but it's hot for us. We could turn on the air conditioner, I suppose, but that seems sort of frivolous in May.

Maybe I'll just make some tuna salad and call it a meal.

It's really too bad we don't have any fried chicken left, though . . .

* We used this recipe, which definitely worked, but was also a pain in the ass. Both outcomes were expected, because it's from America's Test Kitchen.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

A Happy Mother's Day Interlude


We're not much for Mother's Day around here. I'm not entirely sure how one would really celebrate it, anyway. Going to brunch or out to dinner seems to be a popular option, but I like the food at home way better than anywhere else. There is also the point that eating in a public place with my three hellions is not my idea of a celebration.

Breakfast in bed is another seemingly popular tradition that I just can't get behind. I have zero interest in eating on my pillow.

So this morning I got up and had my pancakes just like any other Sunday. A. always makes sourdough pancakes or waffles on Sundays. I like pancakes better, so that was my special Mother's Day request. I did get the requisite and always-appreciated Mother's Day gift made at school by Cubby and Charlie. In Charlie's case, a craft proclaiming that he loves me to the moon and back, enhanced by glitter. In Cubby's case, a list of why he loves me, which includes the gem, "I know my mom cares about me because . . . she fills my water bottles."

But mostly it's been business as usual. Lots of preparing and serving of pancakes. Arbitrating disputes over the Tinker Toy pieces. Continuing Jack's toilet training, which involves spending a good part of the morning watching him like a hawk and racing him to the bathroom, where we then camped out until he produced a satisfactory result and was then rewarded with a chocolate chip (or two, depending on the, ahem, result).

You know. Mom stuff. Because if there's one thing you learn quickly with motherhood, it's that it never stops. Not ever. Best to accept that and find your happiness where you can. It's not always--or, uh, ever--going to be grand gestures and all-day extravaganzas.

But there will be moments. My moment today came courtesy of the fact that Cubby woke up with a cough yesterday and requested soup for lunch, which meant that I had my favorite cool-weather lunch on hand today: homemade soup and sharp cheddar cheese. Combine that with A. taking the older two to church and Jack going down for his nap, and we have . . .


The solo lunch with a book is indeed a thing of beauty and a joy forever.

You know my love for a quiet meal with a book. That's what feels like indulgence to me. Beats overpriced and underwhelming food at a crowded restaurant, for sure.

Plus, A. is going to make fried chicken tonight and I'm not planning on cleaning up the resulting mess. Happy Mother's Day to me!

And Happy Mother's Day to my sisters-in-arms, whether on active duty, retired, or waiting for the call-up*. I hope you get to do whatever makes you happy today.

* Particularly, of course, my very own mother, who is a pretty sterling example of motherhood and deserves much more than a footnote at the bottom of a post all about me. I don't think she'll hold it against me, though, because she's good like that.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Farewell, Old Van


Three years ago almost exactly, I was agitating for a minivan.

There are words that several years ago I never thought I would string together. Such is the mindset induced by the imminent arrival of a third child, however.

This was shortly after Big Red left us and A. wanted to get another pick-up truck. I wanted a minivan. He thought I could manage all three kids in the Subaru. I told him the Subaru is technically mine, and if he wanted to get a pick-up, that was fine with me, but I would trade in my Subaru for a minivan.

About two days after that conversation, A. called me from work to tell me he had bought a minivan.

Oh. Surprising, but YAY!

It was only eight years old, but he bought it for just over $2,000 (from a private seller) because it was rusty.

Kind of a lot rusty, as it turned out. But it also turned out to be an exceptionally good vehicle for us. We've had to do very few repairs on it in the last three years, and it never once actually broke down to the point that it was undrivable.

But still. Rusty. And that is a problem that is not improved by all the salt used on roads in upstate New York in the winter.

Finally this spring, we decided it was really time to look for another vehicle. A. has been looking around online, but the selection is pretty limited in our vicinity. Especially because the coming fourth child is going to mean that even a minivan won't be very big with all the seats in use. The cargo area in the back isn't big enough to hold the dog.

(Actually, the selection is mostly limited because we won't go to a dealer and pay many thousands of dollars for a new vehicle. That's not our style. Our style, apparently, is to buy a rusty van for $2,000 and drive it for three years as it slowly disintegrates. Works for us.)

So A. has been trying to decide if we should get a Suburban (which doesn't really seem that much bigger than a minivan, frankly), or a full-size, no-messing-around, 12-passenger van. With the van, we can remove the back row of seats and have a big cargo area.

I think we should get the big van, if only because I can't see our need for space in a vehicle decreasing in the coming years as the children grow ever larger. I mean, I don't particularly want to drive a small bus, but these are the results of choosing to have a family of six people and a dog.

Anyway, this debate will shortly be closed, because we need to buy another vehicle right now. Last night as I was driving Charlie and Jack to a T-ball game, I felt something go wrong with a wheel when I turned and then could hear (and smell) some serious friction thereafter. Luckily, I managed to make it home. This morning A. diagnosed a fatal suspension failure due to rust. It could be fixed, but when the undercarriage is as rusty as this one was, what can you attach a new part to that won't fail pretty soon itself?

So we called the local mechanic to come haul it away for us (both Randy and Andy showed up, which amused me to no end), leaving us with $120 in cash and only the Subaru as the family car* for the moment.

Guess A. got his wish of three kids in the Subaru after all. For the moment, anyway. And now the hunt is on for the next family bus. Should be exciting. Stay tuned to see what we end up with . . .

* But only after some serious cleaning out. A. does not maintain a car in a fit state for family use, as you may recall. In fact, when I remarked during my cleaning that there has been some irrevocable damage to the hatchback carpet, he admitted, "Well, there's been a few carcasses back there over the years." Indeed.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

I Feel a Ramble Coming On


Let's start with today and work our way back through some random photos of the past week or so, shall we?

Yes. We shall.

It snowed off and on all day yesterday, and this morning I woke up to this.


I may have said out loud, "You must be kidding me." Except I didn't say "kidding."

But now I have some black-eyed peas simmering away on the stove, so I'm making the most of what I hope is the last snowy day we have for a long time. I know, it's not New Year's Day and therefore it will not do much perhaps for my happiness in the future, but simmering stuff helps to warm the house up. Plus, they taste so good they'll ensure happiness for the duration of dinner anyway. And I had half a bag of dried black-eyed peas to use up. So there you go.

Speaking of Food I Make (which I usually am) . . . behold, the only sushi just south of the Canadian border.


Well, maybe my neighbors eat this all the time, but I really doubt it.

They were very easy to make. I ordered most of the ingredients from Amazon, as my local stores don't carry anything like nori (the dried seaweed sheets everything is wrapped in). Honestly, the hardest part was getting the nori sheets out of their bag without catching them on the edges and tearing them.

So what I did was, I made the rice as instructed on my bag of rice and seasoned it as suggested in this post. While I was at it, I also made some quick-pickled carrot and cucumber sticks loosely based on a recipe from here, but with a little salt added, because a pickle without salt? No.

I did not use raw fish. There is no sushi-grade raw fish anywhere within two hundred miles, I'm pretty sure. Well, unless I had A. catch me a fish, and then I froze it to guard against worms or something, and sliced it reeeeally thinly, and . . .

Yeah. I used imitation crab meat.

I made a test roll with pickled vegetables and green onions in it and ate it all myself with pickled ginger and soy sauce while everyone else was either at church or sleeping. I found that even my relatively dull and cheap chef's knife sliced just fine, if I cleaned it off sometimes.

Test completed successfully, I then made one sheet with pickled vegetables and the, ahem, "crab," and one with those plus minced green onions. Then I made a sheet with cucumber and cream cheese, and one with those plus green onions.


My very professional equipment. I declined to buy a bamboo sushi-rolling mat.

Each rolled sheet resulted in about eight pieces. We had no trouble eating all 30 or so pieces I ended up with (not counting the test batch already in my belly).

Everyone except Charlie loved them. But then, Charlie told me last night that he doesn't like (homemade!) pizza, so you can't trust him.

Cubby ate most of the crab ones himself and brought the few leftovers to school for lunch the next day. I mostly ate the cream cheese and cucumber ones, which are my favorite. Jack and A. ate everything.

It was fun. They were good. Good thing, since I have about 45 nori sheets left.

And last but not least, baseball/T-ball season has begun!


And I have a really blurry picture to prove it.



Marginally better, if shaded.

This is the first year either of them has played. Cubby LOVES it, and shows promise of being a good player. Charlie . . . well, Charlie is "saving his energy for soccer."

He doesn't love it*. Not that I blame him because, let's face it, four-year-olds can't actually play T-ball, and it's about the most boring thing ever standing on the field watching eight kids in a row swing and miss or whack the T or hit it all of two feet or whatever.

Anyway.

Two games a week for both of them for the next month means a lot of time spent on ball fields for all of us. I guess it really is spring. Despite the weather.

* You may be asking yourself, "Does Charlie love ANYTHING?" Good question. The answer is: Not much. Though he was very enthusiastic about the desperation meal of scrambled eggs and tater tots I made when I was sick last week, so I guess that tells you a lot about Charlie's preferences. He definitely landed in the wrong family.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Oh, What a Relief It Is


This morning was the first morning in six days that I've awakened not feeling ill. I celebrated by having my single cup of beloved coffee with chicory. And now I've started preparations for making sushi rolls for the first time.

Let the good times roll*.

* Definitely no pun intended, because that would be terrible. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Now That's Appreciation


This week is Teacher Appreciation Week at Cubby and Charlie's school. The school sent home a flier with helpful ideas of what we could send in to the teachers for each day of the week.

I don't much like to be dictated to, but God knows, I certainly appreciate the fact that those teachers deal with my children and many others all day long. So for Monday's "Send your teacher a healthy treat!" (there are lots of exclamation points on that flier), I decided to send in some granola I made on Sunday. Personally, I would way rather get granola than a banana or something.

I skipped over the subsequent days, including sending in a favorite drink (as if I know the teachers that well), writing a note expressing appreciation, and I forget what else. Mostly I didn't do these things because I got sick. Some kind of generally minor but still nausea-inducing digestive issue.

Whee.

I've been sick now and subsisting mostly on rice and scrambled eggs for three days, but I pulled myself together enough today to make the big finale for Teacher Appreciation Week: "Send your teacher a sweet treat!"

I could have gone with my standard oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies, even though the teachers didn't remove any snow for me. Instead I made hot fudge sauce*.

I mean, which would you rather have? That's what I thought.

I made a double recipe, to make sure I had enough for three half-pint jars for the teachers (Charlie has both a teacher and an assistant teacher) and some left for us.

There was a lot left for us. Like, more than a pint.

That's a lot of hot fudge sauce.

The end result of all of this was that I made hot fudge sauce for the teachers, with a lot left over, that I didn't even want to eat.

You're welcome, teachers. Never let it be said I don't appreciate you.

* I use this recipe. It's delicious. Duh.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Construction Crew


What's the best way to keep kids entertained for a long time? Water and dirt. Preferably together.


Mixing mortar.


"More dirt!" commands Cubby the Supervisor to his crew.


Mighty walls from tiny piles of stone grow.

Friday, April 28, 2017

A Happy Ritual


The day when I can clear out the depressing accumulation of winter boots, coats, hats, mittens, gloves, scarves, and snow pants that plagues me in the entryway right next to the front door all fall, winter, and into spring . . .

Well, that's a good day.


This is a sight that calms a clutter-averse mind.

Out with the winter apparel mess, in with lemonade on the front porch.


Happy boys on the porch; happy mom behind the camera.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

On the Kindness of Neighbors


Remember the super-plow that swooped in after the monster snowstorm and plowed us out? Well, we never did get a bill. And then when we were visiting Ms. Rita's chickens and rabbits just last week, she happened to mention that she had seen the tractor go by after the storm and wasn't it nice of the farmers to plow us out.

Who?

Turns out, it was one of the two bachelor brothers that run a small dairy farm on the corner of our road. I had never seen that particular John Deere tractor out and about, but I took a close look in their farmyard and saw the very same tractor that had plowed our driveway.

Oh. Well, don't I feel like an ass.

I mean, he plowed us out over a month ago and we never even said thank you. Granted, I've never met either of the brothers and didn't even know their names. But still. Some gesture was in order.

So I made them some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. That appears to be my go-to "thanks for removing snow for us" token of appreciation.

I brought the cookies over this morning and met the brother that was currently working in the barn. He wasn't the one who did the actual plowing, but he was happy to take the cookies. We had a nice chat about his farm and taxes and the future of dairy farming. His retirement plan consists of selling his 70 dairy cows and instead just producing small square bales of hay for sale.

Not many retirement-age people are planning on baling hay in their golden years, but I suppose if you've spent your entire life milking cows twice a day in this climate, haying might seem like a restful second career.

Anyway.

Also on the topic of neighborliness, there was a surprise in our mailbox yesterday. It was a self-delivered envelope from Emma-Friday, the dog that wasn't a stray. Actually, it was from her owner, Joe, but he had addressed it as from Emma, which I thought was really funny. Inside was a thank-you note from Joe expressing his appreciation for our kindness to his dog, and a $20 gift card to Tractor Supply*.

This was very unexpected. Nice, but unexpected. I mean, we did find and take care of his dog, but we also found her only a mile from her house, then drove her 250 miles away and kept her for a week. I was actually sort of embarrassed about that, and I was thinking if I was Joe, I might be kind of irritated about the situation. And here he is, dropping off a thank-you note and a gift.

Way to be, Joe. And Mr. Dairy Farmer. We lucked out on neighbors with this move, for sure.

* Tractor Supply is a farm store. It's like Target for country people.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Entirely Delegated


Well, the garden has been started, and no thanks at all to me.

Because of debilitating but hopefully temporary back pain, there was no way I was going to be hoeing, raking, and planting seeds yesterday. Luckily, I have three willing helpers.


Jack would have helped, but he was napping. Just as well, as the help of a two-year-old is negligible at best and destructive at worst.

A. was willing mostly because he would be happy if I never again announced that I needed to drive to the Big Village for perishable food. Or, as he so eloquently put it, "I'll do it if I never have to hear about you driving 50 miles for five calories worth of leaves."

The man does have a way with words.

Whatever the reason, he did all the work, with Cubby and Charlie's enthusiastic if inexpert assistance. I sat in a plastic chair outside the garden and managed the operations.

In the end, the work itself was laughably easy. Accustomed as we are to the heavy, clay-based soil in the garden at Blackrock, which is choked by weeds even at this early stage of the season, prepping the light, sandy, and almost weed-free soil here seemed like a game instead of a chore.

At least, that's what A. tells me. I didn't actually wield the rake myself, but it sure looked a lot easier. He didn't even use a shovel to turn the soil over. Before I knew it, there were several rows planted to carrots, radishes, lettuce, arugula, snap peas, shelling peas, and "a lot of that gross-ass kohlrabi."

That was A.'s comment anyway. He just doesn't have the soul of a true vegetable gardener. Probably because he would always rather eat a lamb than a vegetable.

Lucky for him, I happened to have a large quantity of lamb already cooking for dinner that night (hooray for after-Easter sales!), so he was suitably rewarded for his labors.

And I will be rewarded for my excellent labor management skills by many pounds of fresh vegetables right outside my door in just a few weeks. Yay.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Spring Tonic . . . with Bacon


On Friday morning, the day after we got back from our trip to Blackrock, I was sitting there watching Jack mess around outside and idly wishing I had more vegetables in the house. I had used up the more-perishable stuff before we left so it wouldn't go bad, which left me with carrots and cabbage and not much else.

What I really wanted, though, were some greens.

I was planning on going to the grocery store in the Big Village the next day to stock up on the exciting things they carry there that aren't available in the small grocery store in our nearest village. Things like the good cottage cheese*. And loose-leaf lettuce**. So, no greens until tomorrow.

But then, my eye fell upon the small dandelions just starting to grow in the rocks around the front steps.

Bingo.

I had remarked to the MiL when we were at Blackrock that I hadn't seen anything forageable (I think that's not a word, but you know what I mean) at our house. Not even dandelions. The dandelions were in full effect at Blackrock, of course, it being 250 miles south and therefore about three weeks ahead of us in spring growth. Also in full effect was the garlic mustard, which I used in some pasta sauce I made one night when we were there.

I suppose the week we were gone was enough to get the dandelions started here, though, and I had fortuitously brought up my bag of garden tools. So I grabbed my weeding tool, gave Jack a trowel to play with, and we went foraging for dandelions.

This takes awhile, as you have to wander around to find ones with good leaves, and then pick through them for some time to remove the bits of grass and leaves that always end up in there, and then de-stem them some. Plus the washing. Always multiple washings for anything that grows low to the ground like that.

After chopping them all up, I ended up with maybe 3/4 of a cup of greens. Not much on their own, but added to bacon, onion, carrots, frozen green peas, and a few of the last frozen tomatoes . . .


Vegetables (and bacon) for the win.

I mixed that with some of the rice leftover from the night before to make a kind of pilaf for lunch and man, it was good. I even shared it with everyone else, and they all thought it was very exciting to have a cooked lunch.

Well, except for Charlie, but I don't pay any attention to him anymore. And he ate it in the end.

Today we're going to do some planting in the garden, including lettuce, arugula, and radishes. Which means salads will soon be just feet from my door, rather than many miles.

Hooray for spring and growing things.

* The good cottage cheese is Daisy brand. It's the only one that doesn't have gross added stabilizers and junk, so it's the only one I'll buy. Too bad I have to drive 50 miles roundtrip to get it.

** The small grocery store does carry some bagged lettuce, but I won't buy that. It always tastes like bleach to me, and I'd rather go without lettuce than eat that crap. You may have realized by now that I'm really picky about food. Yup. My taste buds have been spoiled by too much good food to settle for a sad imitation.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The New Dog That Wasn't


Do I know how to set up a cliffhanger or what? Not intentionally, though. I just got busy with our wild spring break at Blackrock* and never sat down to tell you about the dog.

Now I will.

A. took all three boys for a walk on Friday after dinner while I was doing the dishes, and when they came home, Cubby burst in to announce that a brown dog had followed them home. The brown dog was shortly thereafter in my house, because Charlie let it in.

Woah there, cowboys. What just happened here?

What just happened was that this lab/pit bull-ish mutt more or less moved into the family.

We assumed it was a stray. It wasn't wearing a collar. It had been running on a road near us literally on the Canadian border that's pretty unpopulated. We thought it had been dumped.

The dog certainly was happy to be part of our crew. It played with the kids as long as they were outside before bed, so we had the opportunity to note that it wasn't aggressive in the least, which was good. When the kids came in for bed, it sat on our front steps for a couple of hours, then started scratching at the door.

A. felt sorry for it--"it" was actually a female, so "she"--and gave her some dinner. When it was time for us to go to bed, A. decided to put her in his garage/office, because it was going to be near freezing and the dog didn't have much of a coat.

The next morning, I let her out hoping it would find her way home, if home was nearby.

She didn't.

I made up some "Found Dog" signs and posted them at the dump, the post office, and the general store. We knocked on a few doors on the road the dog had been on, but there was no one home anywhere. When it was time for us to leave at 3 p.m. for Blackrock, no one had called, the dog seemed unwilling to go anywhere, and A. didn't want to leave her to fend for itself.

So we brought her along to Blackrock. By this time, the children had named her Friday. Because she was found on Good Friday. Also, like Robinson Crusoe, though they didn't get the literary reference. What are they teaching kids in school these days?

Friday the dog seemed quite happy at Blackrock, as all dogs are. She and Sky became fast friends and played non-stop. She found some ancient deer bones to gnaw on and sniffed out some rabbits in the hollow.

And then, on Monday, her owner called.

Turns out he lives on the road she was found on. He said the dog runs off a lot (which begs the question of why the hell he doesn't put a collar with tags on her). And then A. had to tell him that yes, we still have your dog, but, uh, we're 250 miles away. And we took her with us.

Kind of embarrassing.

Anyway. Friday's name was really Emma. The children were sad to hear that Emma-Friday would not be a permanent member of our family. I was not too sad when her owner came to pick her up after we got home today. I really don't feel the need for another dog at this moment. Although I'm afraid this whole episode may have accelerated our timeframe for getting another dog.

But at the moment, I'm enjoying the peace of having only one old dog to deal with. And the old dog is pretty happy about that, too.

* It really was wild. One night A. and I left the kids with the MiL and went to dinner at a Turkish restaurant. At this stage of our lives, that's equivalent to tequila shots in Rocky Point.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter at the Madhouse


Happy belated Easter, my lovelies! Did you all have a pleasant day filled with chocolate bunnies, hysterical children, and even more hysterical dogs? No? Just me then.

I do not have photos (sorry, Mary in MN and Mom), but let me paint you a word picture and you will perhaps understand why.

We acquired a new dog on Good Friday. This is a long story that will be told soon, but the end result was that we made the 250-mile drive to Blackrock on Saturday in a minivan crammed with two adults, three small children, and two dogs. Because of some work A. was frantically trying to finish up, we didn't end up leaving until mid-afternoon, which means we arrived at Blackrock around 9 p.m.

After throwing the children in bed, I assembled Easter baskets--the contents of which were brought in the Minivan of Insanity, with additional items provided by the MiL--and fell into bed at 10:30 p.m.

At 6 a.m. the next morning, A. got up to go to an early Mass in the Small City and I got up to hide the Easter eggs that the MiL had kindly purchased, boiled, and dyed for me.

I mean, that the Easter Bunny had left.

But then I did a mental full stop. Because how was I supposed to hide the eggs outside with three dogs running around out there, all of whom were hungry and would probably very much appreciate a hard-boiled egg breakfast? But if I didn't do it soon, the kids would be awake. But maybe they would sleep in (HAHAHAHA--I'm so amusingly optimistic sometimes) and then if I shut the dogs up to hide the eggs they would have to stay shut up for too long.

The mental effort of thinking about all this made me too tired, so I didn't do anything. Except I did put the eggs in the shop so I could sneakily grab them at some later point and hide them when the kids were distracted and the dogs were inside.

Is this sounding far too complicated for a simple Easter egg hunt for 11 dyed eggs? Yes. Yes, it was.

In the end, the kids woke up 10 minutes after A. left (OF COURSE) and I didn't hide the eggs until they were getting ready to go outside awhile later. The MiL was preparing to feed the dogs, which meant they were all inside, so I ran out to the shop and grabbed the eggs. Jack followed me out, letting the new dog out as well.

I herded them both back inside and told Jack to help Grandma feed the dogs. Then I ran back to the shop to get the eggs again.

Charlie came out next, letting Mia out at the same time. I shooed them both back in and told Charlie to help Grandma feed the dogs. And I grabbed the eggs yet again.

This time I managed to frantically throw some eggs around the flower beds before racing back inside to intercept the children and casually mention that hey! You think there are any eggs outside?

And just as I was getting everyone's shoes on to go outside, there was a dog fight in the kitchen (my fault--I hadn't told the MiL not to feed our two dogs in the same place) and poor old dog Mia ended up with a bloody ear.

Anyway. The children found the eggs, and while they were showing Grandma their eggs outside, I hid their Easter baskets inside. And cleaned up the drops of blood on the kitchen floor.

So that was our Easter morning. You can maybe see why I wasn't prancing around happily snapping photos of our photo-worthy egg hunt.

Holidays at Blackrock may be crazy, but they're never boring.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Sweet Freedom


I'll tell you one thing about living in a place with a long and severe winter: That first day when you can send the (my) kids out to play in just rubber boots and a light jacket is very exciting. Especially if it's sunny with no wind and all you (I) have to do is sit there in the sun on the front steps and watch* them. Maybe plant some basil seeds, too.


They made a catapult, and, this being the far north, there was still enough snow in the snow mountain for ammunition.


Dorky hat, sunglasses, and a big spring smile. Whee.

* Mostly to make sure Jack doesn't decide to go walkabout on the road. A good decision this morning, as our mail lady stopped to deliver mail and also handed out lollipops, which resulted in a free-for-all at the mailbox. I've never lived in a place where the mail person somewhat regularly leaves candy for kids. It may not be the most nutritionally sound gesture, but it sure is nice. Of course, our mail lady is also the kids' principal's mom, so basically it's all like one big family around here.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Sugar and Spice/Snips and Snails


Oh hey, guess what? It appears I can make a girl baby after all!

This fourth baby (due, incidentally, on October 16) is a girl. Sugar and spice, here we come! Though with three big brothers, I suspect she won't be able to avoid the snips and snails* part.

* A not-very-definitive explanation of what "snips" might actually be is here if you're interested, which I was.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Promise of Garlic

Last October, I planted a couple dozen cloves of garlic. I had no idea if that's standard procedure in this climate, or if the cloves suffer from the cold, or what. All I knew was that it was fall. Fall is when I plant garlic. So I did.

I managed to scavenge enough dead plant material from irises and so forth to mulch the bed, in the hopes of protecting the cloves from the severe winter weather.

We certainly got the severe winter weather, with a vengeance.

A couple of days ago, A. announced that he saw the first shoot of garlic poking up.

Yesterday, Cubby came inside complaining that it was too hot to play outside. So A. told him to take off his shirt. He did.

It was 61 degrees.

Today it is 73 degrees. Jack is in a short-sleeved shirt, which is very confusing to him. He keeps trying to pull the sleeves down to cover his arms.

He helped me rake the mulch off the garlic bed today. We found that at least three-quarters of the plants have sprouted. I expect the rest will make an appearance today.

My faith in the garlic has been repaid. Spring is really here now.

Amen.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Ain't This a Kick in the Head


Spring on the Canadian border looks an awful lot like . . . winter.


All you can do is laugh. Possibly until you cry.

Not to worry. Seventy degrees coming our way on Monday. Take that, stupid snow.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Field Trippin'


Charlie is supposed to go on a field trip today, for the very educational purpose of seeing the Smurfs movie at an actual movie theater. Since he's only been to a movie theater once in his life, he's very excited.

There might be a small problem, however, in that the movie theater is 40 miles away from the school, and it's supposed to dump snow and sleet most of the day.

Sucks being a country mouse in the North Country sometimes.

So we'll see if they actually get to go. If they do go, though, I feel like I should buy the teachers a drink at the end of the day. I mean, can you imagine sitting on a bus with 35 three- and four-year-olds for a total of almost two hours, and then sitting in a movie theater with them for another hour and a half? If anything deserves a bottle of alcohol, that would be it.

I don't know how much a preschool teacher makes, but it probably isn't nearly enough to compensate for that.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Shredded Beaver Tacos


Yes, that's beaver, not beef. And yes, that is what we had for dinner tonight.

Hold up, you say. Beaver? Who eats beaver?

Well, people that trap them, I guess.  Like A.

Long back story there, but the upshot of it is, A. caught a beaver in a trap yesterday and brought it home.


Don't worry, it was dead. We weren't trying to give Jack a ride on a live bucking beaver.

Now obviously, beaver hides are valuable, and that will certainly be saved, but what about the meat? Can you eat beaver?

But of course.

I mean, you can eat anything, really, the question is, will you want to?

Well, let's find out!

First Cubby requested that the tail be frozen for future roasting over a campfire, as described by Steven Rinella in his book Meat Eater. (Good book, by the way.)

Roger that. One beaver tail is now in the freezer with the raccoons*.

And what about the rest of the meat? Well, according to the all-knowing Internet, beaver meat is more or less interchangeable with beef.

Sure it is. 

I always have my doubts about those claims, but I was willing to try it. So A. cut off the front and back legs and the backstraps, and put them to soak in salt water last night.

This morning I dumped out the salt water, dried the pieces, browned them, and simmered them for several hours in a mixture of tomato juice, onions, and garlic.

When the meat was coming off the bone, A. stripped the meat off and we tasted it. 

A. thought it tasted like a cross between beef and dark-meat chicken. I think it's more like the dark-meat chicken, but it's definitely not exactly either of those. It tastes like . . . well, like beaver.

Not bad, though. Certainly no gamier than venison.

I mixed the shredded meat and some of the tomato juice mixture with more onions, garlic, chili powder, and cumin and we ate it in some corn tortillas. 

Everyone ate it and enjoyed it. Cubby and Charlie even gave it two thumbs up, and Cubby had two helpings.

So, can you eat beaver? Yup. You just might have some trouble procuring one . . .

* People have asked if we eat the raccoons, and the answer is, so far, no. I know you can, and people do, but I'm always a bit wary of eating something even the dogs won't touch. Maybe someday we'll try it, but I'm in no hurry.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Forget the Baby--Let's Talk About Fish


Do you know what yesterday was? Yes, April 1, which is popularly known as April Fool's Day. For A., however, April 1 means only one thing: Opening Day of Stream Fishing.

Better than Christmas, you know.

I am not exaggerating when I say that A. looks forward to the opening day of stream fishing starting about, oh, early December. Which happens to be when deer hunting season ends. There may be some desultory trapping and small game hunting in the winter, but nothing compares to the thrill of getting back out to fish the streams in the spring.

That's what he tells me, anyway. I must admit that I don't feel the thrill myself.

So A. loaded up Cubby and the fishing gear in a state of high anticipation yesterday morning, despite the fact that it had snowed six inches the night before and kept on snowing off and on all day.

The North Country says, "Here's your spring, suckers."

Anyway.

The fisherfolk returned after only a couple of hours, which surprised me, because I was pretty sure A. would not give up until they caught something. And he didn't. Give up, that is. He did catch something.

A. came bounding up on the porch and ordered me to go get the camera. "I have to get the tape measure!" he said.

Okay. So that must have been a successful excursion.

Indeed it was. With the aid of the camera and the tape measure, we were able to document that A. caught a 24-inch brown trout.


That is a damn big trout.

For those of you (me) who aren't sure how big a brown trout in a stream might usually get, let me just assure you that they very, very rarely get this big. This is by far the biggest fish A. has ever caught in a stream, and would probably have been big enough to earn him a New York Angler Achievement Award, had he brought it to the hardware store to get it officially weighed*.

He didn't do that, though, so he just has to be satisfied with the personal knowledge that he caught a giant fish.

A. was practically hysterical with excitement, which of course got the kids all worked up.


Obligatory group shot with enormous fish.

The fish was then borne inside with all due reverence to be gutted and cleaned at my kitchen sink.


With a captivated audience to the bloody mess.

I overheard the following from my spot on the couch, out of view of the disgusting proceedings:

Cubby: Hey, look! Its heart is still beating.

GROSS.

A.: Hey, cool! Some of the bugs in its stomach are still alive! Look, kids! See those hellgramites that are moving around?

SO SO GROSS.

Charlie: Can we save the hellgramites?

A. Sure. Put 'em in a jar of water. Mother, can we have a jar of water for the hellgramites?

Charlie: Yeah, it'll be like Cubby's eel! I'll keep them forever.

WHY MUST I BE A PARTY TO THE GROSSNESS. IN MY HOUSE.

The butchery thankfully ended shortly thereafter, and even more thankfully, the hellgramites didn't even make it to bedtime. I announced that they were dead at the bottom of the jar of water and therefore had to be dumped outside.

Sorry, Charlie.

Anyway. That was a big-ass fish that A. is justifiably proud to have caught. And it has now all been recorded for posterity on the permanent record of the Internet.

The end.

* It would have been pretty funny to walk into the hardware store with an enormous slimy fish and ask to put it on their scales, though I'm sure it would hardly be the first time they've had that request at that particular rural hardware store.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Feeling Poetic, Part 4


Here are Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. And now, Part 4 . . .

Still with that girl named K.,
Still married to that boy named A.
They thought, "Our three little boys
Don't make enough noise."
So now there's another baby on the way.

Hi. I'm pregnant. Again again again.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

It's Yay Time


Sometime in the past few months, dessert after dinner started being referred to as "yay time" in our house. This is because Jack learned that when everyone finished eating dinner, he could get dessert*. So as soon as he saw me getting up from the table, he would shout, "Yay!"

Of course, if I have to get up for some other reason, or I get up before someone else is done, we have to tell him it's not yay time yet.

Hence the designation.

I suppose there are people who would tell me children shouldn't get dessert every day because of nutrition (I dare you to challenge my children's nutritional intake) and childhood obesity (I also dare you to find a roll anywhere on any of those children to pinch). I see the validity of these points in some cases. But you know what? I think we can all use a little more yay time in our lives. And so I will keep doling out the marshmallows or applesauce with cream or yogurt with maple syrup. Even the occassional M&Ms.

Unless they get three strikes during the day because of inappropriate behavior or language, and then no yay time for them. Dessert is also a powerful incentive for good behavior, you know.

Yay for Mommy.

* Not that he always eats his dessert. I have never seen a child less interested in cake or pudding than he is. I guess it's just the idea that's exciting. Whatever. I get to finish whatever he doesn't eat. Yay indeed.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Raddest Snow Fort


When heavy machinery does the plowing after a monster snowstorm, the result is some monster piles of snow. Mountains, really.


A. helped Cubby dig out a snow cave at the base of this mountain.


And then Cubby added a drop-down hole from the top.


Their continuous climbing on it has resulted in paths along the sides and a flattened place on the top from which to survey their domain. And blow bubbles.

Every child's dream, right there next to the house.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Oh, It's Spring?


Great. That means I can banish the dog to the barn at night. Alleluia.

Lemme 'splain.

See, there are many coyotes here. Many, many coyotes, who run the woods freely at night, yipping and howling and generally making their presence known. Now Mia, who is normally the most mild-mannered of dogs, absolutely loathes coyotes. In her younger days, when she was part of a pack, she would actually hunt them. Now that she's old and crippled, and also has no pack except us useless humans, all she can do is bark.

So she does. Any time she hears the coyotes. Which is all. night. long.

I can't really blame her. I mean, there are howling wild beasts out there. She's a dog. She alerts us to their presence. Not that we need alerting. The damned things are often so close they wake us up.

Unfortunately, Mia's barking wakes us up more.

If she's in A.'s garage office at night, which is her customary bedroom, it keeps us awake because the garage shares a wall with our room. It's also right over Jack's room. No good.

If she's outside, she stands on the front porch to bark, which is about twenty feet from our bedroom, and so, of course, it keeps us awake.

If she's in the house, she barks anyway, which of course wakes everyone up. And then we have to let her out to run around and bark until she's cold and tired or the coyotes move along.

This has been making for some bad nights for me and A. Really bad nights.

So last night, after a remarkably warm day, and when I realized it was going to be above freezing all night long, I hauled her bed and water bowl out to the barn and shut her in there for the night. The barn is far enough away that if she did bark, we wouldn't hear her. It's entirely insulated and enclosed, though not warm enough if the weather stays below freezing for awhile.

But last night? To the barn you go, Mia. I hope you enjoy your night. We certainly will.

Of course, "spring" doesn't mean the same thing here that it does in many places, so it's going to be three degrees tomorrow night. Which means Mia will be in the house again. I can only hope the coyotes play elsewhere.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Well-Used Kitchen



Four loaves of bread, twenty-four cupcakes, a Spanish tortilla in the oven, some clean dishes, and some dirty.

I'm out.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Miracle of Machinery


This morning after traversing the snow tunnel along the length of the driveway to get Cubby and Charlie out to the road for the school bus (HOORAY FOR SCHOOL!), I took a good look at the buried Subaru near the house. And the vast field of snow in front of it that A. would have to dig out if he wanted to use his car anytime in the next month or so.

When I got back in the house, I suggested to A. that perhaps we should call the plow guy our landlady used.

Now, you should know that it has been something of a point of pride for A. to never in his life call a plow guy. Even at Blackrock, which had a very long, steep driveway that got snowed in somewhat regularly, he always shoveled it by hand.

But this amount of snow? This is a bit much. Even for Supershoveler. A. agreed this would be the time to call in the heavy machinery.

So I called the plow guy and left a message asking if he could plow our driveway sometime in the next couple of days. I figured he would be really busy, and maybe he'd get back to me sometime today to set up a time to come tomorrow.

A. and I took Jack for a walk right after that (HOORAY FOR SUNSHINE AND NO WIND!), and as we were coming back, we saw a John Deere tractor drive by that we didn't recognize. We thought maybe the farmer on the corner had finally gotten rid of his 1960s-era tractor and upgraded. But when we got home, we saw that a small part of the driveway in front of where the van was parked, as well as a space next to the mailbox, had been plowed.

Still, we thought maybe it was the town road crew, which had been busy with heavy machinery this morning widening roads and pushing around snow ridges.

But about fifteen minutes later A. came running into the house for the van keys, because the John Deere tractor was in our driveway, plowing.

I have to assume it was the guy I called, although he never called back to say he was coming and never got out of his tractor to talk to us or even to get paid. All he did was plow.

And did he ever plow. His tractor had huge back tires fitted with snow chains and a front loader that shoved all that snow around like it was nothing. This dude's not messing around with any rusted pick-up truck fitted with a puny plow on front.





Twenty minutes later, he had cleared the entire driveway and an area in front of the house big enough to turn a Mack truck.


I'm assuming, since he drove off immediately after finishing, that he's going to send us a bill. I don't actually know what he's going to charge us, but whatever it is, it's totally worth it.

A. and his back agree.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Breakfast Gamble


If all three boys disappear downstairs with cardboard swords for a great battle while I'm making my breakfast, the question is: Will I have time to finish cooking it and actually eat it in peace before someone comes screaming upstairs because he got poked in the eye?

This morning I got lucky. There were no casualties before I finished my eggs, which meant I got to eat sitting down at the table with no one hanging on my chair whining for my food, demanding arbitration for an acrimonious dispute involving the mini-Transformer, or requesting food for himself.

On this, the third straight snow day off from school, I'll take all the unexpected moments of peace I can get.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Superpost for the Supersnowstorm


Cubby and Charlie were dismissed from school at 11:30 yesterday morning and arrived home on the bus around noon in a pretty good snowstorm. A few hours later, about the time they would normally be arriving home from school, there was an honest-to-God blizzard out there.

At 8 p.m., I opened the door to let Mia out before bed and was confronted with this.



Why the people that built this house didn't enclose the porch is a mystery for the ages.

Mia took one look and turned right around. I couldn't really blame her. There was at least a foot of snow on the ground already. So I put on my outdoor gear and shoveled a path for her to get to the grass, and a little open area to serve as a latrine. She did actually go out after that, but just stood there on the porch blinking in the blowing snow and waiting for me to let her back in. So I did.

This morning at 5:30, I opened the door to this.


Talk about Sisyphean shoveling.

Once again, I grabbed the trusty snow shovel and went out to shovel out the path and the latrine for the dog, this time fighting my way through three feet of snow. Once again, Mia stepped out, walked to the end of the cleared area, took a look at the walls of snow surrounding her on all sides, and came right back in the house.

She did eventually use the facilities, I suppose. 


She also started blending into the environment after about four minutes outside.

When Jack woke up around 6:30 a.m., I went to turn the thermostat up and realized the furnace wasn't running. I realized this because the thermostat was set at 61 degrees, but it was 59 degrees in the house. After checking to make sure none of the monkey-children had flipped the power switch on the furnace, I formed the hypothesis that the furnace vent, which is only about a foot off the ground, was covered over with snow and the furnace was turning itself off as a safety precaution.

I suppose I could have brought Jack out with me to shovel the vent out, but instead I got A. out of nice warm bed so he could go out in the storm to shovel it out.

He did. And when I was in the shower, he got all three kids dressed to go out with him to do some more shoveling.

I took lots of pictures, at A.'s request.


Here Charlie is standing on a path A. had shoveled, and that big hump of snow behind him is the Subaru.


Jack stuck close to Daddy as he extended the snow tunnel to the plowed road.


When I walked out the door after my shower to take pictures, the slamming of the front door resulted in a snow dump on my head from the accumulation on the roof.


Mia gets in everyone's way in constricted areas.


There's my sad and marooned minivan way up there by the road.


A. had to clear a path to his garage office. Another mystery: Why the hell, in this climate, wouldn't you have the garage open into the house?


Cubby tunneled away like a gopher, frequently getting buried in snow (it was very light, so no worries), but persevering nonetheless.


This is the view from our living room onto the porch. Cozy.


Mia more or less hasn't moved from this spot for two days. Can't say I blame her.

It's still snowing. It's supposed to snow all day today, and a little tomorrow morning. I suspect our total will end up being somewhere in the vicinity of four feet.

And that's the snow update. Over and out.