Thursday, December 27, 2012

days of work

Don't even think you're going to get a sensible post today or tomorrow. Time is so tight that I passed on coffee at Paul's and lunch anywhere. I sit focused on one thing only: exam reading.

Breakfast is the exception. There must always be time for breakfast. I'll spare you the photo. (It was granola.)

After, I send Ed and Isis off to their work stations (the sheep shed)...

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... and I dig in. If I can finish by tomorrow -- that would be grand. If not -- well, life will go on.

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Late at night, after the last of the oysters, the last of the chicken soup, after one bad library movie, half watched while I tried to pay bills and attend to the bureaucratic details of life, after a bunch more hours reading and rereading papers, Ed suggested a walk. Just up and down the country road.

A rabbit scurried, a plane went by. We studied the trees that were cut back today to make room for the electrical wires. And then we went home. And I played some sad music to help me pick up the work papers again.

winter day

Take away the sunshine and the landscape changes entirely: it becomes an almost Pollock like canvas of black and white. I cannot emphasize this enough: winter on a cloudy day is a thing of stark contrasts -- without a hint of color.

I took an hour's break from grading to ski with Ed up the road again, by Lake Waubesa. A handful of photos surely prove my point (they are not photoshoped for color):

First, driving down, we have to pause for the gang of wild turkeys that always roams these parts:

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Okay, we're at the park. A mere two miles from the farmette.  We step outside. Brrr... Even though it's some ten degrees warmer than yesterday (we're in the mid twenty range), without the sun, it feels cold. The wind doesn't help. I always admire men (it's almost always men) who choose to spend their free time sitting on frozen water, buffeted and whipped about by the biting winds, waiting for a tug on a line submerged through a hole in what has to be still thin ice.

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What color you see is what the fishermen bring to the scene.

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Otherwise -- a canvas of black and white. Beautiful, to be sure. Pollock like, no? Just without color.

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And with the snow still clinging to one side of a tree trunk, it's as if someone inverted the black and white, to create a photographic negative.

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Still, it feels good to be outside, to be moving, to be warmed up by the exertion, to be part of the game of seasonal change, not just looking out at it from the indoors. Isis, I say to the cat. Embrace winter! Isis ignores me. When he's not sleeping on the bed, he's sitting at the very edge of the night table, tail wrapped around his toes, with his back to the world of ice and snow.

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Inside the farmhouse, on the other hand, we have an abundance of warm tones and pungent cooking smells. On this day, there are a few additional surprising twists to the usual fare. First of all, one daughter inspired me to reconsider granola (perhaps tiring of the repetitive photos of oatmeal for breakfast?). I can never fall in love with the stuff that's at the grocery store -- it always has too much of something I don't want. But she gave me a small pouch of good stuff for Christmas and it made me think -- I can do this myself. Make the good stuff right here. And so I do. If you want a fantastic fragrance for your winter home, bake granola! (This one has oats, bran, honey, blueberries and a touch of coconut and of course -- cinnamon.)

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Which then creates a slightly different breakfast image. Granola! With yogurt and fruit.

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The other surprise is also daughter inspired. My younger one gave us a bagful of one our favorite treats: oysters. Ed had to take on the shucking -- it's not easy! (Why is he in his jacket? It takes him a while to warm up after skiing. Possibly he'd do better if he wore something in addition to his t-shirt and year-round-all-weather jacket that has, according to me, zero warmth value. The man never wears sweaters or scarves. His concession to really frigid days is to switch from a t-shirt to an ancient cotton turtle neck. There you have it: his full spectrum of clothing accommodations.)

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We arrange the oysters on a plate, throw together a mignonette sauce (to which we like to add grated horseradish) and we are set for a very special treat indeed.

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Of course, that's just an appetizer. Dinner? That's easy: yesterday's roast chicken is today's chicken soup. We're using up all things in the refrigerator in anticipation of our Saturday departure. So the soup's with spinach!

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You'd never know from reading this post that the day was spent mostly on grading exams. Fact is, it felt almost like a holiday despite the tall stack of papers before me. Good food, a good hour on the trails and I can almost forget the tedious stuff that made up the bulk of this day. Almost.