You Know I’d Never Talk About the Weather

Right now it’s 58°F and storming, which means I can’t open the windows. I can’t open the windows for multiple reasons. First, I’m terrified of lightning. I’ve gotten better over the years, but I still can’t allow drafts when there’s even a trace of thunder. It started in 1994 when lightning struck our house, which wasn’t uncommon, but this particular time it shot through the electric lines and hit my aunt who had been holding the refrigerator door. She was pregnant and had to be taken to the hospital to be checked. Everyone survived. I also got to experience ball lightning because of that event, which I didn’t realize was what I saw until I looked it up on the internet many years later. The second reason is that I can’t stand being in unnecessary humidity. So I’m sitting in the office with the air conditioner on, freezing. Why do I always talk about the weather?

Moving on. I ordered two new Fitbits in a misguided attempt at motivating myself to get back into a proper workout schedule. Kind of like how you’d possibly buy new shoes if you decided to take up running again. Or is that just me? It could be me. I have way too many reasons for buying new shoes. Anyway, most of the time I use the Fitbit to monitor my sleep, which is often terrible, but the Charge 2, unlike the original Flex, also monitors heart rates, has breathing sessions, and can display the time and text messages. There’s nothing like reading some text messages to get you pumped for the elliptical, amirightyouknowimright. If you happen to be interested in your own, there’s a sale through the 16th, I think. I mean, I was just there, but I can’t remember. Brains.

The storm is picking up. Time to head to the living room and hide under the blanket.

Title From:
Summer In Dixie
by Confederate Railroad

On Wobbly Knees

Well, that was fun.

Not long after my birthday, back in March, I woke up from having fallen asleep on the couch unable to walk properly. It started with a tightness in both my calves which felt as if I had run a marathon on my tip-toes. Then, because I was hobbling around, my knee started to hurt. Then, because I was hobbling even worse with my new injury, my right hip started to hurt. When the pain hit my hip I was no longer able to walk without crutches. It took months for things to improve. Right now I have a renewed hip pain because I’ve been walking slightly off because my calf is hurt again. I don’t know what is going on, but I’ve really had quite enough.

I’ve tried resting, spending way too many hours on the couch watching YouTube videos of people falling down. I’ve tried forcing myself to walk properly, regardless of the pain. Now I’m going to try working out on the elliptical. I won’t be vigorously trying to conquer the mountain program, but I’ve got to do something. I’m bored with sitting around. Reminder: I need to recharge my Fitbit since there’s really no point in exercising if you can’t count your steps.

Because I was unable to stand for any prolonged length of time, we’ve had pretty much nothing but take-out since March. Working out a little will definitely be a benefit, even if it doesn’t necessarily get rid of this traveling pain. Full disclosure, I’m writing this while Brian is out picking up our pizza and beer for this evening. Don’t judge.

In other news, the weather here has been amazing. We’re still occasionally getting rain, the river is flooding, and the grass remains a beautiful green. Temperatures have been perfect. Today was 76°F, I believe. Nights are still cold enough to warrant use of the heater; tonight will drop to 47°F. Although, it doesn’t matter that two Mondays from now is forecast to be 90°F because we bought a new air conditioner, which keeps the whole place chilly even on the hottest days. It’s the first time we’ve had truly comfortable, even a little too cold at times, temperatures in the house during summer here. In fact, I think it’s the first time we’ve had truly comfortable temperatures during any summer since we had central air in our house back in Iowa City, Iowa, in 2011.

Pickwick may be leaving us. He’s been loved by the owner of the ranch behind our property. She’s taken him in for the winters, and now he doesn’t want to go outside much. She’ll be moving soon, and he may go with her. She offered him to us, but Levee would definitely kill him. She calls him Billy Bob.

There is another new cat around though – one of the prettiest I’ve ever seen. It has a very Siamese look about its face and body, but its tail is dark and striped like a tabby. However, it runs when I speak to it, and after the years of fussing with Muggabee, I don’t feel like dealing with another skittish animal. Of course, I’ll still put out the food. Someone has to feed the neighborhood.

Title From:
Run For The Roses
by Michael Martin Murphey

Oh, Lookie There, I’ve Got a Bite

Recently, I’ve spent all my free time tying flies for fly fishing. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years, even though I don’t fly fish. For Christmas, Brian gave me an Anvil Atlas rotary vise and I’ve been hooked, figuratively and sometimes literally, ever since.

I haven’t spent a lot of time following established patterns, so I don’t know if anything I’ve made would actually catch a fish, although we used to fish with hot dog pieces, so I’m pretty confident “these dogs will hunt.” I’ve considered selling them at shipping cost to those who do fly fish, just to see how they fare, but I may wait until I’ve improved a bit.

Title From:
I’m Gonna Miss Her
by Brad Paisley

Good Things Just Keep Comin’ Our Way

Friday afternoon, December 23rd, Brian commented that he had “just a tickle annoyance” in his throat. I probably repeated, “Are you sure you’re not feeling sick?” two dozen times, worrying that yet again we would be ill over our vacation. No, he wasn’t getting sick, he assured me repeatedly. Saturday morning, December 24th, I rolled over, smiling, ready to announce that there was just one more day until my sister and her family would open the huge box full of glitter and presents we sent, but before I could get beyond my smile, he said, “I think I might be getting sick.”

Do you ever want to face-palm another person or is that just me?

So, of course, I got sick the day after Christmas. We had prepared the best meal in years, grilled beef tenderloin with salt and pepper, glazed carrots, sage stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes, bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers, brie stuffed mushrooms, and pecan pie. It was the best meal in years because it was just a couple weeks before Christmas when we finally decided to buy an oven thermometer and realized the reason everything had been burning was because our oven was ONE HUNDRED DEGREES HOTTER! than whatever we set it to be, which explains why I couldn’t season a cast iron pan without massive amounts of smoke. Alas, most of the leftovers ended up in the garbage because neither of us had an appetite.

I’m only just now getting my voice back, and coughing has finally stopped ripping my ribs from my body. It’s been a rough couple weeks, but it’s looking up. Tomorrow we’re going replicate some of our Christmas dinner and start the year off right, albeit a bit late.

Glitter Box Recipe:

1 can spray adhesive
1 bottle Elmer’s Glitter Glue (regular Elmer’s glue is fine) – optional
4 (or more, depending on how much you want) tubes glitter (used here: red, green, gold, and silver)
1 roll packing tape
1 box large enough to fit any gifts, plus room for packing peanuts
1 garbage bag
enough packing peanuts to fill every void

Carefully tape all open seams (sides/corners too!) with good packing tape. Trace amounts of glitter will escape the box and adhere to the tape; using a solid color tape will provide a bigger surprise. Make sure whatever tape you use is of good tackiness. You don’t want it to release at all, revealing and/or wasting your glitter.

Spray one panel of your box at a time with the spray adhesive. Immediately sprinkle with some of each color glitter. Continue until all panels, including the inside of the top panels, are completely coated in glitter.

Using the Elmer’s Glitter Glue, draw or write images, messages, etc., then immediately sprinkle with glitter. Knock any extra glitter off writings/drawings into the box. Allow glue to set.

Place packing peanuts into a garbage bag, sprinkle with remaining glitter, twist shut, and shake, shake, shake, shake.

Pour a layer of packing peanuts into the bottom of the box. Top with presents, layering packing peanuts if there are multiple items. Add remaining packing peanuts! (Try not to put TOO many packing peanuts in the bag that you can’t use them all. Most of the glitter will be at the bottom, so you’ll want to be able to dump all that inside your box.

Seal up, ship, and prepare for retaliation.

Note: Please, protect your gifts! Glitter has a way of invading every crevice. Securely wrap anything that may be harmed by the glitter with baggies or cling wrap or whatever you have that will make sure your prank doesn’t end with your PlayStation 4 Virtual Reality gift not working because glitter has made its way to the innards.

Title From:
Ragin’ Cajun Redneck Christmas
by Duck Dynasty Cast

The Snow Beneath My Boots Would Glitter and Squeak

This picture is old. It was taken behind our farmhouse in Iowa after a blizzard. It may feel over-exposed, but it’s not. That’s exactly how everything looked. The world was so incredibly white it was difficult to look at for any length of time.

The world is white again, though not to that extent, which I had never seen before and haven’t experienced since. The snow right now is squeaky, compressing down into ice with each step, making every path treacherous. The temperatures are missing. As I sit sipping my iced coffee (What is wrong with me—hot chocolate in the summer and iced coffee in the winter?), it’s 2°F, which is quite a bit nicer than the -11°F it started out as this morning. These aren’t windchills I’m talking about either.

Going outside is dreadful. I haven’t wished for thermal underwear or snow pants since I was eight, but these days I’d trade every pair of shoes I own for some proper blizzard gear.

Title From:
Montana
by Dave Stamey