has been having some tough times the last week. We got hit with one heck of a snow storm, as mentioned in a previous blog
. The snow was of the stereotypical Sierra cement
variety and broke many tree limbs and downed many power lines. We were actually without power for almost five days. Because of the outage, we lost all of the CSA produce that I had put back in the freezer, including casseroles and pasta sauces that I had cooked up in preparation for a long, cold winter. We saved our turkey by putting it in a cooler and packing snow around the bird, but everything else was a complete loss. The power didn't come back on until Wednesday, so there wasn't enough time to make an entire meal, pack it up, and bring it down to my Charles' dad. Instead, we ordered a Marie Callender's feast. I don't know how it was because we never got a chance to eat it, but that's too sad a tale for this little ol' blog.
There were many happy things about getting back to basics, getting a terrific core workout from shoveling high drifts of powder, and living in candlelight. I got to read since regular chores were out of the question. I read three books last week -- awesome!. Also, our little Bodie dog is quite the snow puppy, so he was stoked with Mother Nature. It made us slow down, which was a blessing.Since we still had a turkey, my Charles and I decided to do Thanksgiving dinner last night. I brined it as planned, though if I had to do it over again, I would have brined the turkey in two bottles of wine instead of one and cooked it a bit less. I always forget that free range turkeys cook more quickly. I made our favorite green beans, sans uber expensive pine nuts. I made some amazing mashed potatoes from the last surviving bit of our CSA, and I threw together a quick pumpkin pie. It may have been a bit late, but my Charles and I enjoyed the meal. We paired it with a Navarro Gewurztraminer (one of our favorite wines from our absolute favorite winery). It was a lovely meal, and I got to share it with my favorite person in the world.I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and even if it ended up being a little late or had some pitfalls along the way, I hope it was satisfying in the end.
The first time my Charles and I had these green beans for dinner, we were hooked. We love it so much, it's become a side dish favorite. In fact, this will most definitely be on our Thanksgiving menu. Lemon Butter Green Beans Serves: 2 Ingredients
Directions Trim off the end of the green beans and then cut them in half. Add to roiling, boiling, salted water. Boil for three minutes. Drain into a colander and immediately drop beans into an ice water bath. When no longer warm, drain green beans well and pat dry. Heat the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly to keep from burning. Add the pine nuts and cook, stirring, for an additional minute. Add the green beans and toss to coat evenly. Cook just enough to warm through, about 1 minute. Add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper and toss to combine. Remove from the heat and serve immediately. *For a vegan option, try a rich & robust extra virgin olive oil. **Since organic pine nuts are like a gazillion dollars a pound now, I’ve also made this recipe without them, and it’s still pretty darn tasty. Recipe adapted from Food Network.
- 1/3 pound fresh green beans
- 1 tablespoon butter*
- 1 tablespoon minced shallots
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts**
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- Pinch salt
- Pinch freshly ground black pepper
The promised snow came a little early. It began yesterday right around 5:00 p.m. and hasn't stopped. This is one of the evergreens by our driveway. I feel really bad for the deciduous. They haven't lost their leaves yet, and this snow is so wet, the poor limbs are all bowed practically to the ground.
Leaving for work this morning was a bit hairy. Thank goodness they had plowed, but it had been a couple of hours, so the road was icy with new snow building on top of it. Hooray for our trusty Subaru! It got us down the hill in one piece. This first winter storm is so moisture rich, we actually saw a transformer blow from the weight of the snow.
I hope you all have a safe, and WARM, weekend!
Thank goodness I've always been good at the balance beam. I needed those mad skills as we finished the deck.
The next step was nailing the joists into their new homes. We used the level on each and every one, making sure that they sloped away from the house at the same level. Then we measured them to make sure they were the same width apart from each other.
We opted to use a collection of new and old joists. We reused old ones that were still in good shape. They may look a little funky, but they're still sound. In fact, I kind-of like the banding that's happened with the weather. It gives it an interesting look. (You can also see my friend the 2X4 that I used to bridge the gaps as I walked across.)
Once all of the joists were in place, we walked around to the outside of the deck and secured them against the outside support rail. Using a corded drill on a steep slope is a major feat! Once they were all screwed in, it was time to lay the decking. It ended up being like a huge jigsaw puzzle. My Charles had numbered each plank, but many of the numbers had smeared off. There was much twisting and sliding of the deck planks as we tried to fit them into their old spots. As we put them back, we noticed that some of the planks were warped. I'm so glad that we had already decided to replace the whole structure next year! If we hadn't, we may have felt a bit discouraged, but since we had, we recognized it as something that would later be fixed but was currently fine. As we laid the last board in place and fastened them to the joists, the sun began to set. The trees glowed with a swell of golden light.
Then a double rainbow stretched from the corner of the completed deck all the way across the sky, and Yosemitebear wept behind us. It was so intense.
Okay, maybe not that last part, but we have a completed deck, just in time for the first snow of the season this Saturday. We're done with the outside, at least until next Spring.
that I found it enjoyable to whip out the red pen?
Putting the deck back together is a lengthy process, to say the least. We have about 700 square feet of deck, a third of which has been pulled up.
Our first step was installing flashing. This wasn't done originally and is the reason for the dry rot against the house. The hardware store only had 3 inch L flashing. We needed 2 inch, so we made do. My Charles trimmed it down with our metal shears.
We then slid the flashing underneath the siding and attached the bottom siding beneath it. You can see a couple of the galvanized nails sticking out of the siding, waiting to be hammered into place. (You can also see part of the totally awesome plastic we're using to seal the sliding glass door until we can replace it.)
Siding set, the horizontal beam was put in place. This is the piece that braces against the house. Eventually, we'd like to have more of a floating deck, if it's possible with our slope, in order to not have to worry about water collecting close to the house. If it wasn't actually connected to the siding, we also wouldn't have to worry about installing siding across the rest of the house.
Then the lag bolts were put in place. It wasn't that hard to get them good and set, actually. My Charles drilled pilot holes and then took out the socket set, found the right attachment to fit the bolt, and after a few cranks, voila -- bolt set.
We also had to strengthen the structure a bit, as we discovered part of a footer missing and also that some of the boards are getting a bit spongy. Next spring, we'll be replacing the entire deck, and we'll be using composite thank you very much, but for now, there are a few more steps to get the deck back together and strong before the snows come (this weekend, eek!).
No matter how poor I may be, I always feel like I should leave at least a dollar for buskers. They're creating beauty after all.
Currently, this guy is playing incredibly gorgeous music outside of the store.
I had a dollar in my pocket. It's his now.
Less than two weeks ago, my Uncle Pete passed away. I called him my guardian angel as there was an occurrence when he probably did save me. A few days before Uncle Pete left us, one of my college professors also passed away. George was my magazine class professor and also my adviser when I was the editor in chief for The Osprey, HSU's magazine. Since I'm a writer, the best dedication I could think of was to run a story I wrote about Uncle Pete for one of George's classes. This is for you both. I'll miss you.
I hadn’t understood why my mom had been so adamant about the way I walked back to the babysitter’s after school. I hadn’t known at the time that she had scouted out the neighborhoods around my elementary school and gotten a queasy feeling in the pit of her stomach when she had passed a particular house nestled on the corner behind my kindergarten classroom.
I was a slightly spoiled child, headstrong and independent. I didn’t always get my own way. Pouting was a sure-fire way to get my mom to send me to my room, but I was used to making my own decisions based upon my extremely egocentric take on the outside world.
Every year, 114,600 non-family abductions are attempted and 3,200 to 4,600 are successful, according to U.S. Department of Justice statistics.
So of course, one day I didn’t walk home from school on the path my mom had set for me. My best friend Teal walked the opposite direction than I normally went, but we had been having so much fun telling secrets and giggling and gossiping about the little boys in our class -- who all seemed to be in love with us.
Teal was a small girl with straight, sun-bleached blond hair usually pulled back into a pony tail. She had intelligent green eyes, a snub nose sprinkled with freckles, and an infectious laugh. I was also a small 5-year-old. My head was covered in a mass of mahogany hair that curled in ringlets. I had large, defiant eyes the same shade as my tresses and a tiny rosebud mouth that was quick to smile. My aunt had described me best when she told me in later years, “You’re pretty now, Mellisa, but you were an amazingly beautiful little girl.”
I had tingled with excitement when I walked with Teal that day, knowing I was doing something forbidden. It had made the world vibrate with detail. I was young and intensely alive, being naughty and bold. The air was crisp with the promise of winter. Small breezes teased the fallen leaves. The atmosphere sparkled with the joy of two little girls who were enjoying themselves with every atom of their beings.
“Stanger-kidnappings” account for 24% of cases. Family members account for 49%, while 27% are acquaintances, according to Justice Dept. statistics.
Too soon, Teal and I reached the spot where we had to part ways. We lingered by a cute little house surrounded by a fence covered in late roses. I was quite taken with the soft, pink blooms, the only thing that still seemed to be growing in a land of dormant trees and gray skies. I had bent over to fill my nostrils with the sweet scent of all those tardy flowers when a man began to speak.
He was standing on the other side of the laden fence. The man seemed extremely interested in talking with us. He was a short, balding guy, quite unremarkable in his physical presence. He was kind of funny, but I didn’t like the way he looked at me and kept licking his lips.
Then Teal said that she had to go home. The man wanted to keep talking to me, but he was beginning to make me feel nervous, so I said that I had to go too. As Teal left, I began to regret my impulsive decision. I was alone and still had quite a ways to go before I got back to my babysitter’s house.
According to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, 840,279 people were reported missing by police in 2001. 85% to 90% of those missing were kidnapped juveniles.
Still, the day was quite winning with its smell of frost to come. I shuffled my feet in the leaves and plowed up big piles of brown, gold, and orange as I slowly made my way to my destination. Behind me, the man had quietly opened the gate and was following. I hadn’t been aware that he’d been closing in behind me or that another man had walked up to him and stopped his forward movement. Quite innocent of what was going on at the house of roses, I continued to shuffle through piles of leaves until I made it safely to my babysitter’s house.
The only reason that I had ever become aware that the man had been a threat was because I got in trouble that evening when my mom came to pick me up. “Why didn’t you walk home the way I told you?” my mom asked me. “I don’t know what would have happened to you if your Uncle Pete hadn’t felt like he needed to keep an eye on you today.”
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that most non-family child abductions are sexually motivated.
When I was older, I learned that my grandma had awakened that morning feeling that her eldest grandchild was in danger. She had called her brother Pete and asked him to go with her on what ended up being a guardian-angel mission. They had sat in my Uncle Pete’s car and watched as I walked with Teal. They’d grown very concerned when the man had started to talk with us. When he came after me, Uncle Pete had gotten out of the car and given the man a few choice words, and probably a few choice threats.
Neither Teal nor I ever saw that guy again. He never emerged from his house when we were walking home from school. Only once more did I walk the wrong way back to the babysitter’s. It was early spring. The roses around the house were dead. I felt guilty for walking the wrong way and was afraid that I was going to get in trouble. I didn’t, but I also never went that way again.
Pic taken by my coworker Josh after he found a super-cool setting on my point & shoot.
One of those things about aging -- hairs start growing out of places unanticipated and in lengths never before experienced. Case in point -- a recent white hair removed from my forehead. It was even flapping around in the wind. Ugh!
Tomorrow, unless there are some unforeseen circumstances, my Charles and I will be putting the deck back together as it is the first Sunday in quite some time devoid of water falling from the sky. Finally, some pictures of house-in-progress again.
And yes, Chris actually does look a bit like BC
I wanted to write a bit about my friend, Chris. Chris is a genius. I knew that from the first moment I saw him pick up a pen. He is truly, an artist. He breathes it. I don't think he's ever gone a day without drawing something.Chris is also a genius with finding the humor in anything. He makes life fun because he finds fun in life. Chris is also like a younger brother. (He's even the same age as my brother, Eric.)
We have always interacted like siblings who were fond of each other. I love him. He's my friend.
And this bad boy to the left is what he painted for me recently. It will soon reside in my office -- once said office is finally finished. (I don't want it to get construction dust on it. It's too awesome to risk being hurt.) Now, many of the design blogs that I read would probably shudder at the idea of hanging a black velvet painting anywhere outside of a bar. I have more of a sense of humor about my space than that. I like my house to be lovely. I also like it to be fun. Besides, have you looked at that picture? It's freaking amazing.Chris is also on Etsy, under his artiste nom de plume, Christiano Enrique.
He just put some new art up for sale. It's a pop culture extravaganza. So if you want something to make you smile whenever your gaze happens upon it, get yourself over to his shop
and purchase yourself a BVP.