Wednesday, March 28, 2007

So, what are you doing for Easter?

Is it too early to ask? Well, not for us .. we have been planning Easter for over two months, and now it’s nearly here.

Norm and I (along with Peanut, of course) are heading to Florida! We will be leaving on Sunday the first.

Norm has had his nose in the Atlas for months and has our route planned pretty well but we can change it day to day as necessary or desired. We are starting out by going through McGregor, Iowa, to see some close friends, then staying at Dubuque Sunday night. From there, I’m not sure where we go, but Norm knows, sort of.

We ARE going to go through mountains ... Smokey, I think ... no, Blue ???? Appalachians? We are going from Knoxville to Pigeon Forge and then down that mountain range. I know the name but then forget it ... hopefully by the time we get there I will have it firmly in my head. Since I’ve never been in that area, they are all the same to me, although my brain says they are different and in different places!

We will spend some time with Joy and family for Easter and some time after that, then head home another route. Through the Everglades and to New Orleans and then up.

I wish we were going through places that housed some of my internet friends, but it doesn’t look like it.

I will be taking my computer along and most places will have internet services, so I can post pictures as we go.

On another note, my folks are here for a few days. They were with Candy yesterday and then with us today then leave for home on Thursday. A short visit but since we won’t be here for Easter, it’s a nice time for a spring visit. We have enjoyed them for the short time they were here.

They took all four of us out to eat at the Eagles’ Club in town ... best place for great steaks (thank you, folks!)...

It has been foggy and misty all day – tomorrow should be mild and showers, again. After the folks leave, I am going to over to play with Candy – we are going to dye 30 ounces of yarn that I’m going to give to Joy to knit for a sweater for my niece, Brook. I have been spinning this on and off for a year or so, and finally finished it because I finally had a use for it, not just for demonstrations.

It looks to be a beautiful day tomorrow. You have a beautiful day!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

It’s amazing! It’s unreal!!

Friday the temperature got up to 65º!!! Last week we had snow! Friday was warm – even hot – and sunny and NO WIND!!!! I had windows open all over the house, getting fresh air into a too-long stuffy place!

A wonderful day to spend most of it outside getting outside work done!

My baby girl was here (sorry, Jill, had to say it!) .... she and her hubby came to spend a day with us. They live in Washington State and are here in Minnesota for about a week. They brought their new baby, Remy, with them as well; it was great to meet my grandpuppy, finally!

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Sweet Remy

That afternoon, after one of Jill’s favorite lunches, fried noodles, we went to see the llama man ... I needed more straw for the barn – I can now clean the hen house out since the bedding is no longer frozen to the ground.

Jill had never seen a llama up close, so it was a thrill for her to be able to touch and hold and lead Caramel. This is the world-famous boy who has been led by such celebrities as granddaughters Ashley and Jessica and grandniece Erin.

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Eric is hiding behind Bill ... he's a tough one to catch on film!
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No, Jill, you can't take him home!!!

We spent most of the day outside; Norm finally listened to me (with the encouragement and back-up of sister Candy – who had come to see Jill – and Jill herself) and fenced the chickens in.

Now, I love seeing chickens wandering around, but I don’t like chicken poop in my mud room (if I leave the door open for fresh air) or on the driveway or all over the yard for hound dogs to pick up. I have, for the most part, gotten Peanut to stop eating chicken poop (yuck), but Remy thought it was candy and we couldn’t stop him fast enough. After all, Beagles (and Dachshunds) ARE hounds and have their noses to the ground 99% of the time!

So Norm started putting the fence back up and we helped or wandered or just soaked in sunshine.

I wanted to take Peanut with me for a walk on the hedgerow to see if the hedge was doing well, but she doesn’t like long grass – even that which has been squished down with snow, so she headed back to the house. Norm walked with me and we found that all the plants have made it; the honeysuckle looks great but the flame willow must be deer candy because the plants are pretty short, but are still alive and starting to bud out.

Friday night we had dough-gotts for supper – another favorite of Jill’s. These are our family’s name for fried bread – with butter and syrup (or, in Norm and Eric’s case, peanut butter and honey). Really healthy, right?

And then Eric showed me some of what he is doing in his school work – he’s going to school for some kind of computer graphic thingie ... I still can’t understand the differences between what he’s doing and what I THINK he’s doing! A fine line, I guess. All I know is that he’s made a cute little dinosaur that walks out of a door. The wallpaper, the carpet, the chair, the door jams ... all are pieces of their home ... pictures of carpet were miniaturized for Dinnies’ carpet, a dresser is miniaturized for the chair wood, etc. He and Jill took lots of pictures of THINGS out here – broadleaf grass, dead from last year, texture of one of my rose quartz stones, etc. The best picture, we all agree, is of the excelsior stuff that was in a mattress .. Norm took it out, burned the mattress and used the stuffing to cover the garlic ... he took it off and Jill grabbed a picture of it.

Then Eric turned to my computer with shock to realize that I hadn’t upgraded the Windows’ stuff since I got it over two years ago. So he set it to look for upgrades every week and we downloaded two years of updates and upgrades and repairs, etc. (It took all night!) I had never done this because of paranoia, I guess ... who knows what Microsoft is going to stick into an upgrade and will it ruin my computer? But, Eric, I will have to admit that you were right (as usual when it comes to computers) ... I like the upgraded Explorer, now that I have found the buttons I need!

Saturday was a rainy day and “only” got up to 55º – Jill and Eric and Remy headed to the cities in fog; Norm and I followed them to go to the second hand store to drop off a bunch of junk-to-me-treasures-to-someone-else and pick up some stuffed toys for Goldie to tear apart.

I got some fist sized toys and Peanut claimed a small Eyore for herself. Goldie grabbed a larger bunny as “My Precious” but spent the first 30 minutes trying to decapitate it. I wonder if she objects to the stuffing in these toys, as once most of the stuffing is out, she just carries it around. It think it might be safe to sew the head back on Bunny. He looks like Nearly-Headless-Nick, only cuter! (Sorry, Nick!)

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My Pressssssssssssssssscious!

On a side note, if you can read Swedish, pop over to Vikktoria’s web site. She is Norm’s cousin 2ce removed – or 3rd or 4th or 23rd.. if I have it right, her father and Norm’s father were 2nd cousins. It’s a nice LOOKING site – wish I could read Swedish! But we Americans are so sure of ourselves that we don’t teach a second language in grade school like most European countries do ... but that’s another story or post!

So, today is drier but windier and already 57º! It looks to be a beautiful spring day ... you have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Happy Spring!

Well, the first full day of Spring! Finally here and feels like it, too! It got up to 55º with rain and fog and all kinds of nice Spring stuff.

Norm and I went to Sioux Falls for a routine 6-month check up for Norm. We went early enough to do shopping before we went to the appointment.

On the way down, we had F*O*G!!! The top visibility was about ¼ of a mile until we were almost to Sioux Falls – a whole two hours of driving in the fog.

I took Peanut and we went shopping for her new bed – found a cute one and she approves, but isn’t in it right now because of her other present. There are real bones that are big and are stuffed with some kind of marrow that the dogs love. She is hiding from Goldie and chewing on her bone.

I got Goldie a small squeaky toy – she loves them and keeps stealing Peanut’s from her. She met me at the door saying “What do you have for ME, Mommy?” I gave her the toy and she ran to a corner, then kept coming back to show me that she was still carrying it. But soon came back for her bone (she could smell them). When I went down to the family room to watch my daily dose of StarGate SG1, I found her cute little squeaky guy all ready shredded and only the head and some of the body was left ... there was fluff and body parts all over the place!!! I only hope there is enough for her to carry around and be happy with.

So now the rain is over, there is a pretty sunset (not spectacular) and the wind is not blowing too much. The chickens are out enjoying the mild weather and so is Peanut.

It looks to be a beautiful day tomorrow. You have a beautiful day and a great Spring!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Hoping to win!

Sweetnicks posts pictures of dogs on the weekend so I am putting few pictures of Peanut here in the hopes that she visits me and posts one on her blog.

Sorry about the blatant appeal for notice – but I personally feel Peanut is so cute that she needs all the attention she can get.

In case you haven’t guessed, I LOVE Peanut .. she is my first really small dog – she weighs in at 10.5 pounds (as of this week) ... I do have to watch her weight – but I think a lot of her weight gain (from her 9 pounds when I got her in September) is because she has “bulked out.” She isn’t eating too much, gets no people food but she is able to run and play and chase chickens and rabbits outside. She was a breeder in a kennel and I doubt if she got to get out and move those muscles much while there. Most of her bulkiness is in her chest – Dachshunds have large chests in comparison to the rest of the dog breeds. I had to open up her harness as it did not fit any more around the chest. But her tummy isn’t fat. And the doctor said she was in great form when I had a micro chip implanted this week so if she gets lost it will be easier to find her!

I got Peanut some steps this past week. She is too short to get up in her favorite chair, so she comes to me and asks to be put up there (and how, do you ask, does SHE ask? She comes over to where ever I am, bounces and jumps, then leads me to the chair .. can’t everyone understand dog language?). I got the steps and taught her how to climb up and down. She has her favorite squeak toy in her chair so Goldie doesn’t steal it; I can tell when she’s in her chair, now, because I can hear the squeaky toy as she chews on it.

So here are the pictures. I have a group picture of Peanut and Goldie on the steps leading into the (messy) studio. I don’t want to leave Goldie out of the picture – she would have her feelings hurt.

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Then Peanut in her bed – this was taken when I first bought the bed last fall – we were at Joy’s so Peanut was having breakfast in bed, trying out the new bed (which she loves –so I’m going to get her a second one for beside the computer – she’ll like that better than the pillow I have now).

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I have a picture of Peanut covered up on a very cold day – she loves being covered with fleece blankets.

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And her chair (mine, too, when I sit down) – with the stairs, a fleece blanket and her squeaky toy.

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It’s a beautiful day today – 34º and sunny – although windy (again). They “promise” rain or snow this afternoon. Our snow is almost all gone because of the warm weather we’ve had for over a week. You have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A to Z on the Homestead

I borrowed this from Fran in Scotland. You are welcome to copy it and put it on your blog!

A = Apples! We have 3 old apple trees and an old crabapple tree. Norm wants to plant some Braeburn apples, too, his favorite.

B = Berries! Someday!!!!

C = Chickens! I love chickens!!! I love chickens!! I love chickens!! In the warm weather, I can sit and watch them for hours!

D = Dogs! What homestead is complete without dogs! Goldie keeps the bears out of the garage (at least SHE thinks there are bears around) and Peanut keeps the chickens in line – if they aren’t chasing HER!

E = Eggs! I love eggs! I love eggs! I love eggs! But not to eat! I can collect, wash, store, cook, fondle, look at but not eat!

F = Fruit! We have the apple trees (see “A”) but we also will have more – chokecherries, elderberries, apricots, plums, currents. New bushes / trees this year, and hopefully more in the future.

G = Green! Grass, leaves, gardens ... I love green around me.

H = Happy! That’s what I feel most of the time here on Ash Lane Farm.

I = Internet! What would I do without it and all my Internet friends!! Thank you for being my friend!

J = Joy! (Well, besides my daughter, Joy.) Joy in the morning when I look outside! Joy in the afternoon when I go outside to collect eggs. Joy in the evening when the sun goes down in a beautiful sunset. Joy in the middle of the night when I look out the window or take one of the dogs out. I am not running around joyful all the time (that would be un-natural for me) but there is joy when I stop to think WHERE I am, WHAT I am doing and HOW much I love my home. (A side note – Joy was named because she was “Joy of the first born! And, Jill, YOU were named “Jill” because it means “Little Girl” – another treasure!)

K = Kitchen! I love my kitchen – it has old-fashioned drawers and a flour bin and cupboards with slide-ie outie shelves so it’s easy to get to the back of the shelf!

L = Looms! I have a few in the studio – only two of them dressed for weaving, but I’m going to get back to work and get two more ready, soon. I own, if we must count: one rug loom (forty inches wide), one floor loom (forty-four inches wide), one table loom (thirty-six inches wide), one table loom (fifteen inches wide) and three demonstration looms (twelve inches wide). Is that enough?

M = Many crafts! Many crafts have I but am I any good at any of them?

N = Norm! The mainstay of my homestead! The wings beneath my wind!

O = Oyster shell! A necessity for egg shell strength and also for the corn stove to keep the clinkers at bay.

P = Peace! What I feel in my heart (as well as joy) when I contemplate what I have (a great thing) and what I could have had (not a good thing)!

Q = Quiet! Around here we have road noise once in a hour or so, maybe. Except for harvest time. If I have my radio or CD player on, there is noise, but if not, there is only the sound of the stove, the birds, the roosters and the dogs barking once in a while.

R = Roosters! Nothing sweeter, to me, than hearing a rooster crow! Or watching one strut with his harem following him.

S = Spinning Wheels! Right now, if you look in the studio, you will see four of them – one not working – and there is a fifth one stored upstairs in the wool / costume closet.

T = Trees! We have lots of trees, but are getting more. Mountain Ash, Burr Oak, Hazelnut, Chestnut, Weeping Willow, much more!! Making a better wind break on the north and east sides and shade on the west.

U = U! U, 2, can join us in the list!!

V = Victory! I’m almost done with this silly list!

W = Why? Why am I doing this instead of being more constructive and combing some wool? Perhaps because it’s fun?

X = X marks the spot! Now, if I had an X, I’d have a treasure!!

Y = Yellow! The color of the warming sun ... the snow is melting and the sun is very warm!

Z = Zebras! No Zebras here!!!

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Snob No More

I have been a Merino snob for many, many years. “There is nothing like Merino wool for spinning” says I.

For those who are not fiber oriented, Merino wool IS the softest sheep’s wool in the world. Of course, to get that softness, you have fiber that is fine and short and easily felted.

For years I have struggled to get the Merino processed as easily as I can and have resisted people telling me that I COULD get soft yarns out of other fibers.

However, I have learned my lesson and have learned to admit my mistakes and will go on from here. In Watertown, I told you that I had purchased some purple mixed wool from Kelly and Marie (Natural Colored Wool Studio – see side panel for link). This had Mohair and Icelandic blended together. I really did enjoy spinning it and am spinning for my daughter, Joy, to knit me a shawl of some kind.

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Notice the pile of washed, unprocessed fiber at the left.

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How fluffy it is after being combed
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Rolled in a "nest" and ready to spin

So, I am going to change from Merino for awhile. I have two batches of my best merino that I will send off to get commercially processed for spinning lovely soft shawls, but I will buy raw wool from Marie and Kelly for processing myself. A snob no more!

The rest of the weekend was wonderful, as well. We were assigned spots this time and we didn’t like where we were assigned, so were allowed to move. They gave us one table, and we are technically allowed two, as we are two demonstrators with two different crafts. We got a corner and spread out – the bar behind us was not open, so we used it as a “spare room” to store our mattresses, our cooler and other non-period things.

Norm’s spoons were popular, as always .. and my spinning always gets comments and looks.

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Marie (on the left) sells fiber - Molly sells pincushions and writing tools, Ole sells himself (as a speaker)

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Wally and Katie at their booth

We were asked to come back to Big Island (Albert Lea) in October – and signed a contract. We were also asked to demonstrate for the Memorial Day weekend in Cannon Falls.

Normally, there has been a banquet and a dance on Saturday night – and we in the basement would have to tear down our tables for this. Also, unless we wanted to stay up until after 1:00, we would have to find a corner in the upstairs to put our beds for the night.

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Our beds setup under the table (sort of)

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Getting beds ready at the end of the isle

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Beds in an isle (sorry it's blurry)

This time they cancelled the banquet (not that hot anyway) and cancelled the dance. So we in the basement were able to keep our tables up and put our beds down anytime after 5:00 ... well, closer to bedtime worked best! So Norm and I were in bed, with lights out, at 10:00 in a quieter, no-smoking basement (the bar upstairs allows smoking and it oozes all over the upstairs). And no one to trip over us, as we were in a safe corner!

Sunday was confusing because of Daylight Waste-ing Time. We had to get up earlier, get ready earlier for “flatlanders” to come look around. And we were done and ready to tear down before we started (or at least it felt that way!).

Candy came down for a few hours to look around and see what New Ulm’s Trade Fair is all about. She enjoyed it and wished she had MORE money --- there is so much stuff that is waaaay cool and needs to be purchased!!

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Marie, modeling a work shaw that I want Joy to make
So, we got home in the daylight for once and unpacked before dark ... strange feeling Peanut was good but missed me – I missed her, too. Sister Candy took care of Peanut and Goldie and the chickens. .

It was a beautiful day today – it got up to about 55º and snow is melting all over the place!! You have a beautiful day!

Friday, March 09, 2007

My daughter’s handiwork

I got a picture just the other day of a shawl that my daughter just finished knitting. This is with commercial yarn, not what I spun, but I think I’m going to have her do mine (with the yarn I’m slowly spinning) in the same general pattern.

This shawl is about 7 feet wide and 3 ½ feet wide – a big one!!!

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If I might brag, my daughter does wonderful work!!!

Today we are going to New Ulm. It’s the annual indoor rendezvous / trade fair. It’s like a big sleep-over!! We are allowed to sleep in the building (not like in Watertown in January) so we won’t freeze our toes-ies off. Everyone takes bedding of some sort and sleep under their tables or in the walk-ways. Kind of cool, in a weird sort of way! It will be better for us this year, as the format of the weekend has changed. They did have a formal banquet and dance on Saturday night, so those in the basement would have to tear down their tables for the evening and set them up again in the morning. Now the banquet has been canceled, as well as the dance (no one danced, anyway, except the families / guests of the band, which had gradually morphed into young locals trying to make it big – and failing). So we can set up and actually sleep in the basement, rather than trying to find a quiet spot upstairs.

Upstairs are the serious traders and no demonstrations; downstairs are the demonstrators who hope to seriously sell! Norm does his spoons and sells quite a few of them. I spin and weave but normally don’t have much to sell. In the past few years, since my thumb operations, I have been doing less spinning and more visiting ... I used to sit and spin for eight hours with hardly a break, but now it’s only about an hour before I break, take a walk, visit friends, see what I can purchase, and then back to spinning.

I am taking the rest of the wool for my niece’s sweater, the lovely purple wool for my shawl and some grey that my SD friends are going to help me card on the drum carder.

I have had a drum carder for years, but have never figured out how to use it properly, so it usually sits in a corner. I am also taking my English combs in the hopes they can teach me how to do them, too. I am mostly a hands-on learner, rather than a reading learner. I need to be SHOWN.

So, we are heading out this afternoon and will be back Sunday ... it looks to be a beautiful weekend. You have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

My taxes are done!

I’ve been rather quiet this first part of the week – been working on taxes – oh! How I hate finances. However, strange as it may sound, doing income taxes are easy (in comparison) ... I have finally learned (after how many years?) to put all the tax information in one box. Then when it’s tax time, it’s all there.

And, I have used, for the past two years, an online program called called TaxACT Online. It was very simple and even (gasp!) fun! So our taxes are done, we have ‘e-filed’ them and requested they be send by electronic check to our bank account. Ah! The joys of modern technology.

But my question is this: Since I hate finances and would kill Norm if he suggested I sit at the table and do the taxes (his job until his accident), why do I almost enjoy doing it on-line??? Strange!

On another note, the weather continues to be mild-ish, now that the storms are over. We have about 25º right now with very little wind. (Do you get the idea that we have a lot of wind?)

The snow is still very deep. We had our knight in shining white armor come with his snowy white (excuse me, red) steed to dig us out of the yard. It would have taken Norm 3 days to dig out of the driveway and lane with the snow blower.

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Once we could get out of the driveway and lane, then Norm was able to go to work on Monday – Shalom Hill Farm and all it’s snow was calling. However, before that, he plowed a path to the barn so I could go check chickens easier. Peanut approved of this plan ... it was possible for her to go to the barn, as well – her favorite place to go!

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Goldie approves of all the snow – she can roll in it – her favorite thing to do!

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We have lots of snow on the trees – and the snow is still difficult to tramp through. However, the mild temperatures and sun are slowly melting it down.

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How many saw the partial (or full, depending on where you were) eclipse? Norm caught the information on the news, so I ran out and got a picture of it ... and then it was a full moon that night. The first night with stars in over a week!

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I also took some pictures of the sunrise and sunset on that beautiful day!

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It’s been a beautiful week – and a beautiful day – you have a beautiful day!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The view out my window

It’s sunny out and 11º right now ... BUT blowing up a storm – the visibility is great but there is mega ground drifting.

I took some pictures out my windows (I ain’t a goin’ out THERE until it stops blowing). I bribed Norm with fresh cookies if he watered and fed the chickens .. I was afraid that with 3 feet of snow that I would not be able to walk out there ... The snow is crunchy on top but not hard enough to walk on. When you are only 5 feet 2 inches tall, 3 feet of snow is MASSIVE to walk through!

So, here are some pictures out the windows. Please forgive the screens in the windows .. we don’t have enough storms for them so most windows are still screened.

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Looking northwest .... down our lane which is impassible by vehicle

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Well, I DID stick my nose out the door to show you how much snow is in the driveway

Our county road has not been plowed, even yet, and we got no mail again today. There are no tracks (according to brave Norm, who walked out there to check the lane depth) on the road at all. We have requested that a neighbor come with his huge tractor and blower to blow us out. Otherwise, it’s a little bit at a time with the snow blower until Norm gets the truck out.

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Out the bedroom window ... you can see the 6 foot clothes line pole to the right

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Peanut's comment about the snow and cold!

Fortunate us who don’t have to go anywhere!!

On a side note, I have two Downy Woodpeckers visiting my suet feeders ... the birds are slowly starting to come!!

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One woodpecker on the suet feeder, one at the base of the tree

It’s a beautiful day, even if it IS snowing and very cold! You have a beautiful day!

Friday, March 02, 2007

An Update

Tonight was the first time that I saw SKY through the clouds ... I think our snow is over for awhile. And I saw the MOON tonight for the first time in over two weeks!!!

A full moon, as well. Have a beautiful moon-filled evening!

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Here we go, again!

Another batch of snow and wind – we had the storm last weekend and now we have another one that started Wednesday morning and is still "cooking.”

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Goldie is enjoying a bone before the BIG snow starts - notice her "grin"

Sister Candy says she thinks we’ve gotten about seventeen inches of snow – we can’t really measure anywhere because we have more wind than they do when it’s from the north. But we have LOTS and it’s been snowing and blowing very seriously since sometime early yesterday morning.

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My favorite trees (before the BIG snow)

Yesterday was Norm’s birthday – he spent the morning bundled up in the cushy chair watching the weather channel and the Minneapolis news channel to find out how terrible the conditions are, not only here, but around the area. It was so bad in this area that one of the small towns near us pulled their snowplows off the road by noon.
But our mailman made it, yesterday! Norm bundled up and walked to the mailbox to get my pills – I had to order them mailed from the drug store because we knew we couldn’t get to town until at least Sunday!

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Snow drift this morning - snow fence is four feet hight

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The barn with it's drift

The snow in front of the house is so deep that it’s up to Goldie’s tummy if she goes past the spot that Norm dug out yesterday. And Peanut – well, even in the dug out spot, it’s past her tummy and almost up to her back! She has to plow through to do her duty just a foot from the door!

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For Norm’s birthday, I made him egg custard instead of a birthday cake. And for supper we had stuffed pork chops – a favorite of his – stuffed with an apple and bread stuffing.

On another note: the other night we watched a movie recommended to me called “A Beautiful Life.” It is called a tragi-comedy; I didn’t realize it was Italian, with subtitles . and wondered if Norm would even be interested because of the subtitles ... but he “enjoyed” it as well as I. It’s the story of an Italian Jew in Itally in 1939 who falls in love with a woman and convinces her to fall in love with him. They have a child. The man, son and uncle are arrested by the Germans and sent to a concentration camp. The mother finds out and follows them to the camp. During their stay there, the man convinces the boy that they are playing a game – the winner will win a real tank. It’s funny, sad, tragic and awesome.

The sun is starting to shine, now!! First sun we’ve seen in over a week! And the snow is slowing down. Now if the sky would clear at night so I could see the moon!!!

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The mailman did NOT make it today! The snow plow hasn't even been down the road yet today - perhaps tomorrow?

It’s a beautiful day, even if it IS windy! You have a beautiful day!

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