Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fitting Weather

It's fitting that on the day I post about Snoranges that the skies would also open up with another of my word inventions: Snail.

Yes, it "snailed" for a few moments today. Have you figured it out yet?

Snail is like hail only instead of little ice balls, it's little snowballs.

I love it when it's snailing. The little white snowballs coming down from the sky sound more like rain than hail. They're softer than hail and their sound is more muted. And it's fun seeing them accumulate on the ground, the porch and steps. They remind me of those little white styrofoam balls you'd find in bean bag chairs. Minus all the static electricity.

So, how fitting is that? That on the day I post about Snoranges, it also Snailed and I could tell you about both in the same day?

Snoranges and Snow Cream

On our honeymoon, in the dead of winter, my husband introduced me to what we later came to call "snoranges". It's an orange juice slush using snow. The name came to us around the time of a particular dog treat commercial. Remember Snausages? I think they're still around. "Snacks" + "Sausages" = "Snausages." So.... "Snow" + "Orange" = "Snorange".

Since we've had so much snow this winter, we've been having Snoranges. They're really good. The only problem is that they'd be much better in July than January. But using snow, it just doesn't work that way. That's OK. In July, we just make them with ice and a blender. And they don't have to be made with orange juice, though no other juice works quite so well. We've tried them with grape juice, with ginger ale, and various other things. Apart from orange juice, the best ones are made with fresh fruit, particularly strawberries. Even though these summer treats are minus the snow and often minus the orange juice, they're still Snoranges to us. It becomes a Strawberry Snorange, or a Raspberry Snorange. We love Snoranges.

A couple nights ago I remembered what my family friend, Cindy H. (now Cindy B.), taught me along time ago. When Mom and I spent Christmas with them when I was in 7th or 8th grade, Cindy taught me how to make Snow Cream. I tried it a couple nights ago after we got a fresh 4 inches of the lightest fluffiest snow I've ever seen. I understand there are a number of recipes for Snow Cream, and I'm looking forward to getting online and checking them out. I just made mine up based on my memory of Cindy in her kitchen back in Birmingham, Michigan that Christmas.

I took a 32 oz plastic tumbler and packed it full of fresh clean snow. I dumped that into a bowl, stirred in 1 cup of milk, 2 heaping soup-spoonfuls of powdered sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. I mixed that all up and it turned out more like a milk shake (too much milk). It was lightly sweet and very fun to eat with a spoon. I use real vanilla, which is pretty dark. The final result looked more like mashed potatoes than a sweet frozen treat, which made for a rather wierd and contradictory sensory experience. But it was good.

I tried it again last night, after a day of sunshine, and was very disappointed in the icy results I experienced. I've learned that fresh snow is definitely the best. Perhaps someday I will become a conosuier of Snow Cream recipes as I investigate them. I'm sure there are some really good recipes out there created by folks way more talented with food - and snow - than I.

Now I'm HOPING we get some more snow this year! Not that 85 inches isn't enough, mind you.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Scanning Dogs

I'm finally able to scan on my computer. I got online to HP's Help Chat Center and figured out that I had a bad USB cable. I'm very happy that I can now scan!

What inspired me to address this longstanding and mysterious problem is a little photo contest that Ree, The Pioneer Woman, is having. Ree has several facets to her blog and she has thousands of followers. She's does little contests in a couple areas of her blog. Sometimes it's a trivia quiz and now she's also doing photo contests. She offers a prize, something she herself buys with her own money and just gives away for fun. I've never entered one of her contests before but the current one captured my interest. It's a Dog Photo Contest.

It's been six years since I had to put both my sweet dogs down. Some of the best photos I have of them are pre-digital. After they passed, I found a perfect little photo album. It opens up to include two halves, each with a frame for that half. I was able to put photos of Keezie on one side and Rooster on the other.

So, I thought I'd finally figure out what kept me from being able to scan and see if I could get some photos in the computer to enter Ree's little contest. After spending a couple hours getting the problem solved, learning how to save the scan to a file, exploring the various features and getting the hang of it all...I managed to get three photos scanned to my liking. I'm off to a good start.

And, of course, I thought I'd share them with you.

Here is little Pipsqueak.

This photo was taken during construction of our home/cabin. When we bought our land, it came with a huge blessing: a 12x50 mobile home. Though it had no running water or electricity, we were able to live in it very comfortably while we built. In this photo, Rooster is sitting in the doorway catching some rays. I love the look on his face. It's like he's soaking in all the warmth of the sun, getting sleepy, just lovin' it. I also detect a little remnant of a "surveying his kingdom" look. I love his rolly polly pudginess, too.

And then there's Keezie. She was beautiful. A Keeshond.

I caught this photo of her in the same doorway of our trailer. I love this photo of her. (And if you'll notice, it also includes a little Pipsqueak checking things out from a lower vantage point.) I love how Keezie is framed on one side by the white door with peeling paint and on the other side by the trailer wall. I love her look. She was so pretty.

I didn't get the third photo uploaded to this post before I had to shut the computer down and get on my laptop. The laptop uses about 1/3 the power as my desktop. When the sun goes down and I'm not done on the computer or internet, I switch to the laptop. Only problem is, it doesn't have all my files.

Now that I can scan, I have about 100 hours worth of things I want to scan, to preserve. I want to scan everything! The dogs. House building. My Mom! Old family photos from my growing up years. Family photos from generations past. Make that about 1000 hours!

But what a blessing that it's possible...and that even I can do it now!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Opening My Heart - Disappointed and Enlightened

Tonight I was browsing through my blog "drafts", things I wrote but never posted. As time goes on and other things get posted, the drafts get sort of lost in the chronological filing system of my Posts. I scrolled way down the line and came across this one, not even remembering it. Sometimes I will jot down a thought or idea and save it as a draft to add a picture to or expound on later. Or it might be something I was too chicken to post, like this one. Tonight, as I re-read it, I decided I'd go ahead, be brave, and post it. (Could it have something to do with the fact that I just a few minutes ago finished reading "Bo's Cafe" (I'll work on getting something posted about this awesome book.)

The post was written during my quiet, greiving, summer. I had just moved back home after Mom's death, and just returned from five weeks in Alaska. I'd had a whirlwind of it for the five or six months prior. I was adjusting to being back on the mountain, away from close friends and longtime church family, and real family. I was alone, recovering, resting, breathing, greiving, and trying to get my balance after a long period of emotional and physical upheaval. I found myself perfectly content to stay in isolation. Here is what I wrote...

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Yesterday (July 8, 2009) I had an interesting experience. A couple weeks ago I was invited by a friend I ran into at Wal-Mart to a Thursday night "home group", a Bible Study of sorts. I decided I needed to go; I need to re-connect here. It turned out to be a perfect evening for jumping into such a re-connecting effort. Several people were absent and it ended up being just four women: myself, two whom I knew, and one I didn't. Because it was their first meeting after several weeks off and because it was just the girls, all we did was chat and catch up. Perfect.

So. This week. I was planning all along to attend again, though I am always somewhat uncomfortable and insecure going into such things. I had a number of reasons for the twinge of anxiousness I felt: the rest of the group would likely be there, more new people to meet, it would be more formal, I would be expected to "join in" the discussion and prayers (if not expected by them, then by myself), the men would be there adding a different dynamic. But I had decided to go and I was planning my time around it. I wanted to leave at 6pm last night. I was on top of my time pretty well until at 5:30 I was just getting ready to take a shower.

Suddenly the thought hit me, "Hmmm. Maybe they changed their minds and aren't going to meet tonight. I think there was some question last week. I should call." But - I don't know why - I often just plain dislike using the phone. (Mom was the same way. It's totally weird and probably fits quite nicely into the definition of a dysfunctional idiosyncrasy.) So I hesitated.

ENTER TEMPTATION. Maybe you should just stay home. You could pop a movie in, do some knitting, go to bed early. Besides, the house will be really hot when you get home because you can't leave the windows open while you're gone.

THE BATTLE. But you know you really should go. You know your tendency to isolate, to not open your heart to people, to not let them in. You know you need to deliberately choose against that. You need to re-connect up here. Do you want to become a hermit and have no friends!?

I have always played my cards pretty close to the vest. Those of you who know me mostly in print, will be surprised at this, I know. It's way easier in print than in person for me. I can write a whole lot better than I can talk. When it comes to sharing my heart, I am much more comfortable with a keyboard and computer in front of me than a real live person. I have learned to fake it fairly well by walking the line between revealing things about myself and actually being vulnerable and trusting someone with my heart. Now, a blog is a whole 'nother thing! (Ever notice how we say " 'nother " but that's not really a word at all? I only became aware of it when I first tried to spell it years ago. The acceptable way is to simply write "that's a whole other thing" or perhaps "that's another thing entirely/altogether/your adjective of choice". However, I can't seem to shake the need to say it like I say it - 'nother. But this is a whole 'nother topic and I've digressed.)

Where was I? Oh yes, a blog. A blog is a strange mix of vulnerability and anonymity. I'm not anonymous to you, but in some ways you are to me. I don't exactly know who out there reads this blog of mine. I know of a specific few. Maybe it's the very nature of writing, as opposed to face to face speaking, that lends itself to the notion of a general anonymous audience, thereby making it feel "safer." Maybe I'm just a simpleton when it comes to my own thoughts and emotions and require the time and deliberation that writing requires. Maybe that's why writing is more comfortable to me.

Anyway... I was always shy as a child. Shy and afraid. My mom told stories of me hiding behind her legs when I'd meet someone new. I think I was born with a sensitive, fear prone nature. Then there's life experiences thrown into the mix. A more important ingredient in the recipe is how I chose to deal with those life experiences. My common choice was doing whatever the shyness and fear told me to do. Choice after choice, I either didn't know how to deal with something or I simply didn't want to. That's how habits are formed. Each choice made makes the same choice easier the next time. And the next, and the next. Mine became more like a reflex, almost instinctive, to the point that I didn't even realize I had a choice.

I often tend to "see" and feel things in my being rather than cognitively recognize, identify, and articulate them to myself. While this can be kind of cool in some ways (like how it opens up a whole new concept of praying to God), it can be the source of a lot of confusion, too, making it easier for me to stay within myself and not articulate my heart to others. And as we've seen, that's a fear based tendency of mine anyway.

Well, I hemmed and hawed for a few more minutes, in this battle of whether "to go or not to go" to this new Bible Study. Suddenly I "saw" a surprising truth: I had already made up my mind to not go. While I was still cognitively doing battle with the choice, I had actually already made the choice in the deeper places of myself. It was as if my heart had decided without telling my mind. But there it was plain as day, the reality that I had committed my heart to the choice to not go.

So what was my continued hemming and hawing about? Am I so disconnected with own self that I was just slow to catch on, slow to realize I had already made the choice? Quite likely. Was I just pretending (to myself!) trying to make myself feel better? I really tried. See how long I went back and forth? See how I struggled? I was trying to talk myself out of my discomfort, trying to choose the right thing for myself. Trying to choose against my old habits of barricading my heart behind the walls of withdrawal and isolation. I really tried! Maybe there's some truth to that, too.

Well, I didn't go. A few minutes later, I was in the kitchen and my thoughts wandered off to the days of my week so far. Something wasn't adding up. Wait, what day is it? Is today Thursday or Fri...? I checked my cell phone. It was Friday! The home group is on Thursday! All this battle went on an entire day late! I laughed out loud even as I recognized it was not for naught.

I realized what a valuable experience I'd been given. Two things stand out as important observations/lessons.

#1 Oddly enough, the cozy evening at home with my knitting in front of a movie wasn't so enticing now. Isn't that revealing about the nature of sin and temptation! When we're tempted by something that's not in our best interest, something that for us in that particular situation could be be defined as sin, it is very enticing indeed. Often times, apart from that battle, we can take or leave the enticing wrong. It's the same story through all of history. Tell someone "don't" and they will suddenly want to do it more than ever! The Bible tells it like it is when the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 7 that he would not have known coveting if not for the Law against it and that "sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind." The book of Romans especially reveals that God's Law (the Ten Commandments and more) was not ultimately given to keep us in line. It was given to show us our desire for doing wrong, our hopeless inclination to sin and rebelliousness. Now, that may be larger in some than in others, but it is in all of us. Most importantly, it was given to show us our helplessness against sin and our need for a Savior, Jesus, to provide the way back to relationship with God since we can't do it ourselves.

#2 Last night, I saw my choice. I saw that my heart had chosen without my mind really knowing it yet. I'm glad I saw it. Maybe now I will catch myself doing more things behind my back! Maybe now I will actually see my choices before I make them, and actually do the right thing more often. I am learning this surreptitious way my thoughts are thought, and how I "see" and feel a scenario first without really articulating it to myself. I am seeing that I have wasted a lot of years not pushing past those impressions and interpretations on to articulation. It has kept me befuddled and added bricks to the walls of natural introversion.

I was very disappointed in myself for choosing what I knew was choosing poorly for myself. Disappointed that I gave in to my weakness again. But I remain enlightened and eager to know myself better from now on. Eager to choose better.

Now for another aside. (A whole 'nother aside?):
Where the heck did we get the word "disappointed"? Is it the opposite of some old English version of "appointed"? Did it come about when someone missed an appointment and the one left waiting was dis-appointed?

And for that matter, where did we get the word "discombobulated"? On a very efficient day, have you ever felt quite combobulated? What about overwhelmed and underwhelmed? Have you ever felt just plain whelmed? (to quote a line from The Princess Diaries.) What is whelmed?

I got a million of 'em.

Not really. That's about it, actually.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Facebook Super Bowl

My 18 year old niece, Kelsey, posted on her Facebook:
Super Bowl Sunday!!! Go Colts!!!! :)

Her dad, my brother Paul, commented:
Go Saints!

Her mom, Barbara, commented:
Super Bowl?????????????

I love it. Now, there's a well rounded family.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Snowy Walk About

I liked this shot from Our Driveway Road. The open space of land still looks to be buried deep with snow.

One of my favorite things is seeing animal tracks in the snow. I'm not sure what made these. I like how time and wind has subdued the tracks, broadening their imprint into sublte impressions.

Bunny tracks. I love bunny tracks.

I liked this ridge of snow left by tire tracks.

Wednesday morning was foggy. The fog turned into a very fine and constant snow all day long, both in town and (we presume) at home.

Solar Panel Update

Remember our buried solar panels? Snow is melting around them as this photo shows. (You can actually see them.) And the ground snow has melted a feet or so, too.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Snow Road 2010

Here's what we've been dealing with as goes our road.

It's definitely a 4WD experience: rugged, rough and bouncy. You have to stay in the tracks or, in some spots, you'd get pulled into and bogged down in the deeper stuff. The snow in many spots is iced over and very packed. The hard packed trench walls remind me of those antique cars at Disneyland. They had a metal guard rail running down the middle under the car to help keep you on track. As a kid, of course I didn't know how to steer real well. I'd go rolling along steering wildly, and my tires would bounce into the guard and then back again. That's how it is for us boucing against the snow track walls.

This is near the corner turning onto our property. That is, turning onto "Our Driveway Road" from "Our Road". ........ Just wait. It gets worse. See that big bush sticking out into the road?

This spot is right at that bush. Pretty nasty.

Here's the same spot with the rest of Our Road heading out to the The Big Road.

Looking back.

Another view looking back from past the bush.

Here's more of the rest of the road as it reaches out to the big road....where our van is parked... because it can't get in. No way. No how.

We went into town yesterday to meet some new friends for lunch. We didn't know if we'd be able to drive out in the 4WD or if we'd have to end up walking out to the van. My husband told me it was likely to be a rough ride as he wanted to maintain some speed so as to not get bogged down in any troublesome spots. Boy, he wasn't kidding. We were bouncing all over the road and inside the truck. The snow and tracks were throwing us all over the place and he was really exerting some effort to keep the steering wheel doing the right thing.

I said to him, "I can't believe people do this on purpose for fun!" Not my cup of tea.

However, we are thankful we could get out. We won't be taking any spontaneous frivilous trips to the general store or into town, but it's nice to know we can get out if we need to or REALLY want to.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Must Be Pride

Well, I must admit, while I absolutely love the Winter Wonderland Squared photos I recently posted, I am a bit squirrelly that they are my husband's photos and not mine. Up until this point, all of the photos on my blog have been mine. He's the REAL photographer between us but I've been pretty darn happy about the fact that I can get some good shots, too.

Must be pride.

Alas, pride does not a good character make.

So I can no longer say that all the photos on my blog were taken by me. *sigh* Oh well...

Besides, I am totally diggin' the new banner photo!
Wish I had taken it.