Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

We've had an enjoyable Christmas Eve.

This year Julie and I decided not to exchange gifts and we don't decorate so Christmas is much like any other day. Rather than exchanging gifts we try to do something together. I prefer this approach.

Julie baked bread this afternoon which I took out of the oven and photographed. She's been using her grandmother's dutch oven which was manufactured in Holland -- a true Dutch oven. The bread has been excellent.

Bread and Dutch Oven

A loaf of bread Julie baked in her grandmother's Dutch oven.

I worked on the greenhouse much of the day. I had to move a water hydrant which I installed a few years ago in what I thought was an out-of-the-way location. The addition of the greenhouse resulted in the hydrant being located just outside the doorway. The digging was fairly easy after breaking through the top six inches of ground which was frozen. I knew I had buried the waterline well below the frost line. As I dug I discovered I had buried it about thirty-six inches deep.

Greenhouse Shadows

The shadows of rafters on the north wall of the greenhouse and the shadows of studs on the south wall on the ground.

Today I installed the first piece of polycarbonate. Fortunately there was only a slight breeze because the panels are six feet by twelve feet in size. I had hoped to install on Thursday or Friday but the weather didn't cooperate. I need one more day of calm weather to complete the enclosure before beginning on inside tasks.

Julie and I worked most of the day and walked almost five miles for exercise but it was a pleasant day of leisurely work.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Day 5 of 18

Today is the fifth of eighteen days off work. It's been an enjoyable five days.

Last weekend we hosted supper for friends one of whom celebrated her sixty-forth birthday the day before mine. I didn't anticipate a gift but she gave me a puzzle. For several years I looked forward to winter in anticipation of assembling a large puzzle. It's been at least five years since I last had a puzzle so her gift was appreciated and enjoyable. Next time I'm in town I'm going to purchase another puzzle.


Gift Puzzle.

The weather has been nice. The high temperatures have been in the thirties and forties with sunny or mostly sunny skies and little or no wind. Today I worked outside wearing only a long sleeved tee shirt.

My main project at the moment is the attached greenhouse. I've finished the north wall, framed the south wall and cut all the rafters. Tomorrow I'll frame the east wall, nail the rafters in place and install blocking. On Thursday I hope to install the polycarbonate. By the weekend it will be finished on the exterior and I'll be working inside. Exciting!

I'm itching for another backpacking trip. Some how, some way I'd like to squeeze in a short trip before I go back to work but I don't think there's time. Regardless, the next thirteen days will be good.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

For Childhood Hunger Instead

I received an email from one of my sisters with the the following enclosure. I think she and my brother-in-law have a wonderful plan.

December 2011

For Childhood Hunger Instead

It is so extremely sad and distressing to us to know there are children actually dying of starvation across the world. We find it incredible and very troubling that there are hungry children in our own country. How, in this country, can there ever be even one? To us, that is unconscionable.

For the last two years, in memory of our little granddaughter, Natalia, we have made contributions to charitable organizations that benefit children; at Christmas time, for her birthday, as well as any other time of the year we might have been buying little things and celebrating with her.

Our plan was to do the same this year. But we decided to expand the idea by adding an ongoing “project”, at least through December 2012. We’re doing two things to save money to contribute to organizations that specifically fight childhood hunger. First, we are taking the amount of every “savings” and putting it aside as a contribution. This means any discount, any difference between a sale price and regular price, etc. Secondly, we are not doing some things or buying some things that we might normally. We certainly can do without some of the things we want, knowing that there are many, especially children, who don’t have what they need just for survival. So those “saved” monies are also being set aside as a contribution.

To help towards our goal, both this year and next we are only sending Christmas cards to certain individuals, such as elderly friends and/or family who are now much more confined in how often they can be out and about and friends and/or family who are alone or do not have computer access. The money we would spend on cards and stamps is instead to be used as an additional savings for our accumulating contribution. It has been fun and uplifting to see how a dollar or two, even a few pennies here and there, are adding up!

Unfortunately we did not come up with this idea at the beginning of 2011. So at year’s end we will contribute what we have saved thus far and begin again January 1st of 2012. That way we will know how much can be saved to contribute in one entire year.

In the past we have contributed to both the World Vision and Stop Hunger Now organizations. We will continue to make our contributions to them. We know the contributions go to feed children both in our country, as well as Africa, of course; or anywhere across our world where hungry children might be found. For Stop Hunger Now there have been two initiatives at our church. From those two drives we were able to pay for over 90,000 meals! A gym full of people gathered both times to package the meals, making them ready for immediate shipment to any area of need. And that packaging was completed in less than 3 hours total! With World Vision, in addition to contributions to feed hungry children, monies can also donated for much needed clothing, shelter, and/or educational materials for children.

What better thing could we do in Natalia’s memory than to concern ourselves with the needs of children, especially hungry little tummies? We feel comfortable that friends and family will not only understand, but cheer us on. They are that kind of people. We also feel comfortable that they know we wish them an especially blessed Christmas and a healthy, peaceful 2012!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


During the night I put wood in the stove and took a few minutes to gaze out the sun room windows. The snow was shining and the moonlight painted shadows beneath the trees. It was tempting to feel my way to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee or tea in the dark and return to the sun room to watch the still quiet beauty outside.

Snow and fog

Snow and Fog.

In the last part of the night the moon disappeared and fog hid all but the closest parts of nature as the sun tinted the sky. It was beauty cloaked in a warm cloud.

Saddle crater above the fog

Saddle crater above the fading fog.

Before we left for work the fog began to dissipate and the snow turned brilliant white under a blue sky.

I had to work today so there wasn't time to play. Friday begins eighteen days off work. Hopefully there will be another snow, another sunny morning and time to walk and explore the beauty.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Almost Finished

The current phase of the remodel of the house is almost finished.

I have perhaps 2 hours of work remaining to complete three trim items that I pushed to the end of the project. But these will wait. Julie's daughter, son-in-law and son-in-law's sister will arrive in about two hours for a week's visit.

Next weekend I want to finish these items and return to the attached greenhouse and attempt to finish it over the Christmas break.


Kitchen. We installed the cabinets a year ago and left the breakfast bar until this phase of the project. Note the unfinished window to the left of the microwave.

Dining Area

Dining Area. We have ordered a larger dining table and chairs which are scheduled for delivery the first week of January. Note the unstained piece of trim on the left end of the breakfast bar.

Sun Room

Sun Room. The doorway leads into the dining area.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

First Week of December


Snow under low clouds that hid the hills. Any form of precipitation is always welcome.

Maggie on a cold evening.

Maggie on a cold evening. We had a fire in the stove as the temperature dropped to two degrees. Maggie slept contentedly on Julie's lap.

House remodel

The current remodel project is almost finished. We have the flooring installed and much of the trim completed. All that remains is to install toe kick on the pantry, a few pieces of trim, some other miscellaneous items, touch up some paint, store the tools and plan the next project.

Spy Device

This little device merits an entire article. We did not request it but received it from an insurance company. It plugs into the ODB port on a car, records driving records and transmits them to the insurance company via cell signal. It's an example of corporate research, manipulative marketing, spy technology, big brother,animal husbandry of humanity and a few other bad things. I took this photo before returning the device.