Mice, cheese, and Perihelion

. . . and other things to celebrate

Sunday, Dec 29

Happy to awake this morning — 4 years after my heart valve replacement surgery. We should have thrown a party – but no – we drove to town to meet a friend to exchange some merchandise I got off the Buy Nothing Kittitas County site– that is stuff freely shared. What came today is a nice vase in which I put my dried wheat to remember my horse Frosty by, although he didn’t ever have wheat, at least while living with us. He did get a few rolled oats and these look somewhat similar. I have a tiny bale of hay somewhere I will find to put beside it. Meanwhile, the photo below shows the before and after photos of the grain in a can (John’s idea of class) and then in the “new” vase. I am putting both in for comparison, because the left was taken with a flash, and the right was not. [John says: We get bales of wheat straw to spread around places where the ground is more dirt (when wet = mud) than grass. There is still lots of grain in the straw and, what birds do not pick up or the dogs trample, produces a small crop of wheat; maybe 2 or 3 pounds. Most I leave. I clipped these last fall and they have been in the kitchen. So how many folks have seen a field of ripening wheat blowing in the wind?]

left photo of a dozen wheat heads in a can; right same in fancy container with a red rim and a blue flower on ceramic
Not so classy versus classy vases

Two other things in the bag of free goodies are gifts for others. One is a set of nice place mats from Pier One Export, reversible for blue or brown, with a centerpiece. Bamboo sticks fit into some loops on either side of the place mats, except for the centerpiece. I will give them to my friend, who sews for me, and who borrowed some linen napkins from me to use and others my mom made — she wanted to use as a pattern. Another item in the package is a chicken-shaped planter that I will give to my friends for their patio. They have larger ceramic chickens in their kitchen on the top of their cupboards. While in town we bought a few food-stuffs and stopped for a quick lunch at Burger King. Also, we brought home two BBQ rib sandwiches ($1 each). The meat was a small flat slab with zero resemblance to a “rib” and didn’t look promising but we removed the raw onion and pickles and replaced with Havarti cheese, caramelized onions, and put them in a hot oven for 3 minutes.  With some canned peaches, we survived. I am still (again) working on music for next week (which will last our group for 2 months). Finally, have Buffalo Gals in with the chorus first and four verses at the bottom. We had three different versions and weren’t doing well at all; in addition, our words in the lyrics for the audience did not match our music score. I need to figure out the time spent on each to get it to a finished product ready to mail. Then I will have to print some for people in the group who do not have access to a computer (or one with a printer).

Monday, Dec 30

A day of catch-up, not catsup or ketchup! First emails, then music, then clean up some stuff in the house for recycling or re-homing items. Plans for a few other chores. Yeah, best laid plans of mice and men. I am skipping a trip to town the next 3 days. Our group plays again the day after New Year’s Day. This day has largely been spent on music. I am down to making a .pdf of the 10th of 20 songs, at almost 6:00 p.m., but we have eaten dinner. It is now 10:45 and I just finished the last. Nothing is printed yet, but all the .pdf files are created, with big blue chords written on the music.

Tuesday, Dec 31 New Year’s Eve

I spent a bunch of time working up music for the group. At 14 minutes / page, that’s 4.6 hours, and that doesn’t include the time put in on re-doing some of them, such as Buffalo Gals, Swing Lo, Sweet Chariot, and Leaves in my music software (SongWriter). More were needed, but I worked on old copies (Xeroxed, manually-entered ones), and checked the chords (some of which were incorrect). So, for thinking I was making my life easier by picking two old lyrics books, I failed. Now they are done. I’m mailing the corrected list out with the key and the order, so people can put their music in order, and NOTIFY me if they need something. Meanwhile, I will run copies for the people coming who do not have a computer, and I will email the .pdf files to anyone wanting them, starting with our new pianist, our friendly first violin player who may make it this Thursday, and to ANYONE else with a printer who might wish to have the whole packet. I have 20 files with notes, chords, and words (some more legible than others). All are old time music pieces.  The folks in the places we play grew up with these tunes. Just before dark we got a call to see if John could help with loading a horse at a friend’s.  He did not like the set-up so after a brief attempt they postponed this activity until tomorrow. Tonight we will have to worry about fireworks and gun noise around us that for some reason upset two of our hunting dogs.  I have never understood this New Year thing – isn’t it just a made up date with no real significance? So why the guns and fireworks? Here is a long article we have only glanced at but have a look. The bottom line is that humans have fussed with calendars and use different ones.  Have a look here at the “Year of the Wood Horse”.  But, Happy New Year!, anyway. We are having a “quiet” night at home, trying to calm the Brittanys from several neighbors’ incessant firecrackers. We have the radio on for background to dilute the sharpness of the blasts from outside (nearest is about 100 yards away). It’s not working very well. Dan is lying at my feet, happy to be touching me. I scratch his back every so often. When we stopped going to field trials we stopped training – including introductions to noise, especially guns. Big mistake. The youngest, Annie, becomes a real pest. Finally, we closed her in a large crate. The others are all right. John “threw” together some brownies and I put the final caramel sauce on–smells quite good. Today for brunch, he fixed hashed browns, an omelet, and I helped finish cooking some bacon. This afternoon he baked some chicken hindquarters until they were very tender. I heated some green Lima beans. (We used to call them butter beans when I was growing up). He baked a small potato, and we shared a can of pears. I found out today the sad news that the large Buck mule deer I photographed met his demise at the hand of a local neighborhood archer, south of us, 1/4 mile. He was taken legally, but it was not kosher, IMHO. He should have been left around our area to upgrade the gene pool. John saw a smaller one this week with 3 does.

Wednesday, Jan 1 HAPPY NEW YEAR – 2014

Today we (John) helped a neighbor by loading their horse into our stock trailer, and transport him back to his home 7 miles or so away. John took care of that and got in a little horse training too, maybe 1.5 hrs., before the horse would enter the trailer. When he arrived home, I had set him up (with his truck) to do a good deed for two more people. I went with him on this trip. One family was giving away a twin size day bed (they lived in Kittitas), 10 miles from us, to another family in Ellensburg, about 7 miles back to town, and then another 11 miles home. About $15 of gas to accomplish these deeds – 2 gold stars on the first day of the year. If we keep up at this rate we’ll be broke by summer. Actually, the horse thing will earn us a meal later on.

Thursday, Jan 2

Filled day. Morning house and email chores as usual, plus an added search for the set of one of the lyrics books I couldn’t find. Checked both cars, front back, under sweaters, coats, and pillows, and found them hiding in the house. Phew. Then John decided it was too cold to work outside and we needed to shop for some stuff in town. So, he dropped me and all my paraphernalia off at the closest nursing home to us, and he went another couple miles to and around town to the bank, to pay bills, go to the Dollar store (for waxed paper and old style mouse traps). [Most local stores sell rolls of waxed paper for about $1.80. The $1-Store sells the same thing for, well, a dollar. Explain that?] Someone invented a plastic-enhanced type of old fashioned spring loaded mouse trap.

2 mouse traps; left has a yellow plastic tray for bait; right has a copper tray
Plastic versus metal bait tray

These (left) work very poorly, but we could not find the original type (right) the last time we needed one. $1 Store had wood ones (but made in Taiwan by PIC) at 4 for a dollar, so out with the new and in with the old. Field mice sometimes make it through the gauntlet of feral cats and into the garage. One came on into the kitchen last fall – remember the broken broom story? The inside cat can only get into the garage if we open a door for him but a mouse can get into the kitchen via holes for pipes and wires. The new-old traps are just another link in the necessary defenses against the rural environment.

Friday, Jan 3

We went to the Adult Activity Center for the potluck today. It was excellent — ribs and coleslaw they provided, and people brought various good side dishes and desserts. Once done, we delivered a few packages around town, and picked up some ourselves. At one place we were today to deliver a package, they sent back a birthday card and some homemade cookies for us. Another place we stopped gave us more cookies, and me 4 new pairs of socks, plus some toe warmers to use for my feet at tomorrow’s outdoor dinner. Another friend loaned me her lined Thinsulate boots, so I expect I shall be toasty warm. John has done the afternoon chores and the wind has been blowing, giving us a chill factor of 30°; nowhere near some of the temps across the states. I think he said tonight they were expecting just above zero in Cleveland, OH, where his sister lives, and about the same back in PA where many relatives live. Farther north it has been and continues to be very dangerously cold, so we shouldn’t complain – this week. We will get this posted Saturday morning and then leave. It is John’s birthday and Perihelion, but our trip is to celebrate the proper pruning of the vines last spring and a successful harvest of wine grapes at White Heron Cellars & Mariposa Vineyard. We will have, like last year, a pruner’s field lunch called a Raclette. You can look it up or await with bated breath our description next week. It does involve cheese – one of the elements of this poem:

Sally, having swallowed cheese
Directs down holes the scented breeze
Enticing thus with baited breath
Nice mice to an untimely death.

[Geoffrey Taylor, 1933, Cruel, Clever Cat]

Bated versus Baited – get it?

Hope your week was fine.
Nancy and John
Still on the Naneum Fan