Saturday, January 06, 2018


We're scaling the thermometer today, one baby step at a time. By late afternoon, we will have reached great heights: 12F (-11C). Like I said, baby steps -- but more importantly, they're steady and full of promise.

But the morning is bristly cold. When I walk out to the barn, the cheepers hover by the barn door. Why are you so late? (I'm not late. The cheepers exaggerate.)

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Here's a rare close-up of the single-footed girls. (It's nearly impossible to have them all face you and not move about.)

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I give them leftover pizza crusts, chicken feed and corn. Enjoy!

The early morning walk back to the farmhouse is always beautiful. I've done my task. I can turn my attention to what I see along the path. We've had some bitter cold these past weeks, but I surely appreciate the copious amount of sunshine that has come our way. I'll take cold and sunny over warmer and dreary any day!

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Ed and I have sort of a working breakfast in that we talk about various work issues (his more than mine as, in case you've forgotten, I am no longer employed).  Hence the computer at the table.

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Mornings like this are precious: he hasn't work calls streaming in all day (it's the weekend after all), and I am in no hurry to get things done. Indeed, I spend the entire morning chatting with him as I put together a birthday present for Snowdrop.

It's a Playmobil toy that I did not have time to assemble in advance. The target age for the whole Playmobil stuff is 4 plus and initially, I wasn't sure she could handle the tiny parts that require delicate precision as you play with them, but I tested her on smaller sets and she was both fine and, more importantly, patient with herself when things didn't initially stay in place in the way that they should. (Playmobil figured prominently in my daughters' lives as well, which I suppose adds support to the idea that you buy for your charges toys that you yourself don't mind incorporating into your hours of play with them.)

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In the afternoon, Ed suggests that, given the heat wave, we should take a walk.

I hesitate. I applaud the upswing in temperatures, but calling it a heat wave is perhaps a bit of a stretch.

We'll do a quick loop and head back.

He's right, of course. We've been dealt a double whammy: weeks of cold and too little snow. Despite the winter weather, we haven't been able to use our cross country skis once this season. And there are no great snows in the forecast. We need to fins pleasure in winter hikes again.

Okay, let's walk.


In fact, once we get going, the movement and the sun combine to make it an exhilarating set of minutes!

We head out from our county park onto Lake Waubesa.  Ice fisher people (well, I've only seen men so let's call them fishermen) have been drilling holes and hauling in fish for a several weeks now, but I have to admit, I always feel a tiny bit knotty in my stomach when we head out onto the lake. There is ice, sure, but below that sheet of ice, there is water. Well yes, trucks and RV's have sped across it, but might it crack anyway? (No it can't, but still, when you see the deep crevices and fissures in the ice, your imagination runs wild.)

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As we continue to chat in our walk toward the fishermen (who seem to fish in clumps), it suddenly strikes me that we are the only ones talking. We switch to a whisper.

Could it be that the beauty of a quiet afternoon on the lake is what ice fishermen really long for? Even more than catching something of substance?

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A selfie: this is about as bundled as you'll see us.

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Back on solid ground... Longing for more snow...

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Appreciating the beauty of the shadows cast by the great oaks that line this portion of the lake...

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The inland pond (where the turtles hang out in the summer) is, of course, frozen as well. Here, the tracks are only of animals...

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A final loop toward Ed's favorite tree. Yes, Ed has a favorite tree: it's an old oak that bends and leans this way and that. He claims it is full of character!

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At the farmhouse again. I make a wee cup of milky espresso and cut myself a pice of birthday cake.

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One of you asked if this cake was, in the end, a success.

I'll give a qualified yes, in that Ed and I both love it. A thin slice is enough to have you appreciate the subtle flavors -- of the cake, the caramel, the ganache (I used way less ganache than they suggested). But when you bake a cake, you have to think of your customer. Just to put it in context: you'll not find this kind of cake in a French pastry shop because it looks too... plain. If you're going to spend long hours on creating a pastry for a party (even a small party), visual effects matter. This really isn't a cake I'd push for a birthday party for a little kid. Snowdrop liked it enough (as she would any chocolate cake). She liked the strawberries that I placed around it equally much!  Still, Ed and I are the ones stuck with the leftovers, so perhaps on balance, it was a good use of baking hours!

 A quiet evening, a happy evening. Cake and a promise of better weather. Were I a cat, I would purr.