Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

 December began as a very mild month, weather-wise. In fact, on the first day of the month, Caleb and Tiggy decided to set up a swimming pool out in the yard.

As you can see, there was no snow, but it really wasn't warm enough for water sports.

In fact, the "swim" session lasted only a few moments before they made a mad dash for the indoors. Tiggy got there first and felt it would be great fun to lock Caleb out. I'm not one for such low-brow humor---unless I have a camera in my hands, that is!

But you wouldn't catch any of us swimming now! This month has seen temperatures that dipped down to -30 and snow is everywhere. The snow is still shallow enough that we've been able to indulge in a more traditional winter activity, ice skating.

The drainage pond out back is frozen with over a foot and a half of ice---plenty thick enough to be safe. This year we even thought to bring a chair out. Now I don't have to get my butt wet when I change in and out of my ice skates.

Caleb just walks out there with his skates on, but I prefer to keep my ankles, thank you very much!

Removing the snow from the pond. It's way more work than you'd think! Snow looks all cute and fluffy, but I'm pretty sure it's made of lead. We need a Zamboni!

I still can't get over having my own ice skating rink to play on. It's so luxurious to walk out back and enjoy one of my favorite activities while watching the sun set across the fields.

In my mind, I transform into a beautiful figure skater, alive with poise and grace.

Until Caleb gets my camera and I find out that I look like a Giant Panda on stilts. (I won't even let you see the ones he took from a distance!)

And this is what it looks like when a Giant Panda on stilts starts to fall over backwards...

From beginning to end, December has been a very special month for us---as it should be. We took the time to have fun, which is not something I'm really good at usually.

Now it's time to gear up for a new year stuffed with lots of new challenges and new blessings. I'm beginning two part-time jobs, one as a substitute teacher, and one at the local Tiny Box Store (as opposed to Big Box Store---get it?). I'm looking forward to them, as the bloom is somewhat off the cleaning-lady rose. It will be nice to earn money doing something that doesn't involve cleaning toilets.

Yes, the new year will be an adventure.

It always is.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Bromance

 Finley is the apple of my eye, my pride and joy. He's also a big stupid head when it comes to other dogs. An aggressive coward, he feels he must attack first or be dismembered. Or something. The dogs he know, he gets along with quite well. In fact, he's been very lonely since his sister died over a year ago.

But no longer.

We have a special friend visiting for the holidays. His name is Cooper and he an English Setter. He is also is Very Excited to be here!

Cooper has never been an Inside Dog before! He has no Manners!

He likes to Put His Feet Up On Counters! To see what's Up There! Because it smells Good! But at least he is Good With Cats!

Finley is Not Sure About All This!

Finley in The Bedroom
 In fact, Finley is pretty sure this is a Bad Idea!

Finley thinks Cooper should Go Home!

Especially since Finley has to spend a lot of time in The Bedroom now! Howling! While Cooper gets to Wander Around The House! Even though Cooper Peed On A Chair! (Cooper regrets this little error. He was Excited!)

But things are Looking Up! They are considering an Uneasy Truce because Finley is getting Very Tired of The Bedroom!

Peace on earth! 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Pine Forests and Prairies

When photo cards were first coming into style, I used to hate the ones that had autumn photos on them---you know, orange leaves, golden colors, the whole bit. Autumn? Come on, folks---Thanksgiving is over with. What I want to see is Christmas trees, poinsettias, and snow.

After some years of doing my own cards, I now understand those autumnal themed offerings. There are only a few options for the photo card enthusiast...

  • You can set up a false indoor scene sometime during the summer or fall and swelter in sweaters to look fakely festive.

  • You can procrastinate and take the indoor pictures once you get your decorations up, leaving you only days to finish up your Christmas card list.

  • You can procrastinate until it gets snowy and do beautiful outdoor  portraits that capture the exact moment you got frostbite. You still have only days to finish up your Christmas card list, but now you have no fingers to write with.

  • OR, you can take a nice autumn portrait and mash it up with a Christmas-themed card template.

I understand why the last option has always been so popular!

But the well-traveled road has never been my style, which is why yesterday found me and the kids out shivering in the snow while my mom---who looked like a singularly well-insulated polar bear with a bad attitude---took our pictures.

The setting was a very peaceful one. A little farm-country cemetery with some pine trees planted along the edge for shelter----hey, around here you go where the trees are!

It might look like we were in the middle of a pine forest, but 10 steps to either side brought you to the wide open prairie again. Another illustration of why I love the deceptive abilities of photography!

I love this one. It's so sweet to see them enjoying each other's company in positive ways (those of you with teens know a little of what I'm talking about!)

 It was a lovely, lovely day. There are few things I enjoy more than indulging in an afternoon of unrealistic beauty and style, not to mention unnaturally well-behaved children!

So from all of us, have a very merry Christmas. Spend it making memories with the ones you love.

And that love you.

Those are the moments that matter.

(And if you can do it while looking really cute and rocking really great hair, so much the better!)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas in the Arctic

Last night we finally got our Christmas tree put up. We're a little later than usual this year because I haven't been able to find our big tree. It was used for Vacation Bible School during the summer and never made it back to the attic afterward. You'd think a giant tree box would be hard to lose!

But you'd be wrong.

So we put up the little one I bought our first Christmas in North Dakota. Usually it languishes unwanted in the attic because it is much too small to hold all our ornaments, but not this year. This year, it's turn has come!

Hmmmm. Maybe I should be suspicious. Can Christmas trees order hits?

It...it...looks so innocent!

 We tried to get a photo in front of the tree with Finley in it, but he purely hates having his picture taken. All we managed to get was a black-and-white blur as he frantically tried to escape. So I gave up on that, but tortured him later with some pictures of him by himself.

Besides ruthlessly torturing Springer Spaniels, I've pretty much been occupied lately by trying to stay warm.  As everyone knows, the cursed jet stream has dipped south and allowed arctic air to escape where it belongs. Like all of us, once given the chance to vacation in warmer climes, the arctic has been loathe to return to it's rightful place.

Meanwhile, we've been dealing with temperatures down into the -30's---a temperature range where, oh, just about EVERYTHING stops working right! The water pipes froze up, the propane stopped working, and I've been running every possible heat source just to keep the house at 60 degrees. We had a whole 48 hour period where inside the house was only 50 degrees. But hey, once you throw on a few parkas, you can be quite comfortable lounging about the house at that temperature..

But today marks the end of our cold wave. It's going to warm up and stay warm for the foreseeable future. "Warm" in this case meaning "less cold". We will be luxuriating in temperature all the way into the twenties some of the more tropical days!

But before the arctic leaves and goes back where it belongs, I grabbed a few pictures of what "freezing" looks like. Our sunrise this morning at a warm and balmy -17 degrees....


 It was very pretty out, but somehow I didn't feel like lingering long for more pictures.

 Evidently, an artistic nature is another thing that stops working at sub-zero temperatures!