ice out, ducks in

This is usually the first lake to lose its ice in spring, which is a huge advantage for Duck Fans. Waterfowl come in all colors and shapes. They do mating dances and posturing to see who’s getting the female with the best attributes — whatever those look like to a male duck.

For years, I’ve wondered how the male mergansers keep their eveningwear so white. Perhaps they’re looking for the female with the laundry detergent that’s best at getting dinginess out of their tuxedos. For the ducks somehow maintain brilliant white feathers while swimming on the tannin-colored water beneath them.

Every year is different

Yesterday the lake had a small dark spot along the opposite shoreline where the ice was starting to open up. Today there are large, clear puddles and ponds on most of the surface.


That first day in March when the temp reaches the 40’s is worth the whole winter.

rake roofs not leaves

Nightmares of collapsed roofs dancing in my head, I took the garden rake roofside– just to make up for my lawn negligence. (In my defense, Treehugger gave me permission to not rake.) It hasn’t really snowed that much yet this year, but it’s only January. The house isn’t all that big, but somehow lifting the roof out of the living room sounds like something to avoid.

Besides. Ice dams. They are rumored to be busy under the snow lifting each shingle and sliding their frigid fingers into the recesses of roofdom.

It was above zero yesterday so outdoor activities resumed. Ice dams begone.

See that coil of heating wire? Don’t go outside with that. It’s really unruly even at 30 above. I had part of it attached to the roof when I realized that I would never convince the circular memory of this stuff to let go of the past. So, with it still partially attached to the roof, I took the roll inside allowing the attached end to feed through the cracked-open patio door while I talked it into going straight. Are coils addictive? You bet they are.

This worked and I soon had the north eave of the roof covered.

Does it work? Well there aren’t sheets of water coming off the roof, the ice dams are still there, but the house hasn’t burned down.

Advice to my Future Self: Put the heat cables on before it snows. This is helpful not only for curling issues, but also because the shingles are ice-free. Attaching those sharp little clips wearing chopper mitts is a bit clumsy. Hands are so much more efficient when they’re naked.

adventures in the propane trade

How dare I trust that wacky gauge on the propane tank outside. That rascal has betrayed me before.

On Saturday I checked and had 30% left in the tank. Sunday morning I woke up to no heat. When the stove wouldn’t light either and I suspected foul play did I dash outside in my pajamas and untied boots and wade through a foot of snow in subzero temps to check the tank? Of course I did. It said 0.

So, I ran to town (clothed) and bought a couple of space heaters from the hardware store. I already had a couple, but the forecast was double-digits-below and I wanted to be sure the water pipes against the outside wall didn’t even need to ask for sweaters. My plan was to call the propane company first thing Monday.

So this cheap-but-remarkable rascal has been hanging around Libby’s for many years. Note the cellophane tape holding the glass in the door. The brackets for the glass have long since broken off, as has the cute door handle and many other features. But here it is, heating away.

Which I did. And want to apologize to Julie (I think she said Julie?) in Bismarck who had the misfortune to be the designated Monday Morning Phone Jockey for a heating company on the Northern Plains of the United States in the middle of January. Customer Service: the most abused employees on the planet. Sorry I was crabby when you said it’ll be $645.99 and the delivery will be sometime in the next ten days. I asked if I could call someone else. Answer: not legal for anyone to fill another company’s tank. Within 10 minutes of ending the call, I had myself convinced that the propane truck would be here today. Any minute in fact.

I bought this at Ace Hardware. The box on the shelf was so light, I almost asked whether it was empty. Plastic heater housings seem counterintuitive, but it if helps me store it in the imaginary rafters in my hypothetical garage, well, let’s go.

That was Monday. Today is Wednesday. Meanwhile, I discovered that there’s an online Order Page where I can see when/if the truck is out for delivery. This is helpful in keeping me from pacing and listening for the telltale beep as the truck backs in.

Picked this one up at Hardware Hank to keep the shower pipes from freezing. Has this design been around since the ’40’s or is it my imagination?

I had an indoor wall thermometer at one time, but I think it was a victim of the Mighty Purge last fall and I didn’t think to grab one when I bought the heaters. So I borrowed the outdoor one and hung it from a magnet on the fridge. It’s a balmy 70 degrees in here. And outside it’s a balmy 30-something. Beats the hell out of 20 below.

please describe in your own words

The weather report said blustery. I love it when the National Weather Service goes all creative on their descriptions. And they called it right — snow blowing sideways across the lake.

Meant to be

So, I was heading to the checkout at Salvation Army in Hayward and got a glimpse of this hat. Nice enough. But I walked around the corner and caught the other side.

This definitely goes into the Buy of the Week category.

How long until opening day?

of bitters and meandering mosaics

Bitter meandering?

I’ve been searching the World for the sweater knitting pattern with a Greek motif along the hem that I KNOW I saw somewhere — the picture is in my head and I doubt I made it up. But I searched all of Ravelry, my knitting stash and the knitting books I have and the pattern never revealed itself. Where did the idea come from then?

So in my meandering search through all my files as well as all of Google’s Wide World of Web, I finally stumbled upon the NAME of the pattern in my head. It’s called Mosaic knitting. The specific pattern is a meander. And, there are tutorials. So, I made a swatch. This was quite satisfying, since I’d spent the better part of the rainy (supposed to, but didn’t rain) day. So, now I know how to do that meandering mosaic pattern.

Meanwhile, I have a fridge full of fruit and have wanted to try making more iterations of Bitters. You know, as in Angostura. Last year I made Blueberry from the organic blueberries from Bashaw Valley. This time I wanted to try several flavors, so I spent ANOTHER few hours combing Google for techniques and recipes.

Blueberry Bitters from 2020.

Stumbling Upon is the funnest part of Google and I finally tripped over High Desert Botanicals, which sells some of the weird roots and barks that make bitters bitter. Voila! I have some barks and botanicals on order. High Desert also generously supplied a pdf booklet of recipes, which I promptly downloaded.

Just plain cherries (with pits) from the grocery store. I cut them in half or thirds to better extract the juice and flavor

So today I made Cherry Bitters, Rhubarb Bitters, Blackberry Bitters and Ginger Bitters using 190 Proof Vodka. They’re in the cabinet (a dark place) steeping as we speak. Now I have to remember to Shake A Day for a couple of weeks.

A herd of bitters bottles in the process of steeping.

Diamond Delights

There I was, trying to take an afternoon nap to shed the persistent headache that’s been muffling my brain for a week. I’d just made the muscle-jerk that portends a fine session of afternoon power sleep when my mind drifted back to the Cubs inning that had just ended.

I started to laugh. And laugh. And laugh. So hard that the cat, who can smell a nap the minute it becomes an idea in my mind, jumped off the bed. I gave up. It’s physically impossible to nap and laugh at the same time.

Javy Baez IS magic and here’s why:

The part that makes me laugh uproariously is when Javy takes a minute to give the safe sign (he’s not an ump, remember) before he sprints back to first.