Sunday, April 28, 2013

Daffodil watch kicks into high gear!

So this is what the lawn looked like on Friday night when I headed out for my walk- still snowy but inroads are being made..........

HOWEVER, by Saturday afternoon there was a path to the flower garden and THIS IS WHAT I SAW!!!

I knew they were there lying in wait!  I have to resist the urge to uncover them, I HAVE to wait a few days for the dirt to dry out and all.

And it will be a JOY to get in there and get my hands dirty!!  :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Snow Day and other late April oddities

So yesterday was a little strange-ish.  I mean, face it, it is unusual to have all this snow left and unusual to have a snowday so late in April.  I mean on top of snow, snow and more snow.  It was pretty, I have to say, but I'd rather be looking at green.  I'm so over white right now.  I don't think mother nature should be wearing white after April 1!

Feed me!

So what did I do yesterday?  I sat most of the morning and read my book club book!  It is a collection of short stories by Alice Munroe called "Dear Life".   It was ok, I have a lot to say at the discussion that is indeed NEXT TUESDAY!!  YES, I went into book club and realized, myself, before I even got in there, that probably it was next week.  It is the last Tuesday of the month, and this May finds 5 Tuesdays.....  Oh well.  I'm ready for next week!  Probably, our fearless leader, Cat, was snowed in up in Glidden anyway!

Other than that, I did some cooking!  I had found a recipe while perusing my Pinterest Vegetarian board, and knew I had all the ingredients or at least most.  Other than fresh ginger, which I picked up on my way to the gym.  It took determination and aggressive driving, but I got OUT of my driveway!  lol.  By the time I left the house at 11 or so, the roads were fine- just the driveway was a problem.  It is a quinoa and lentil crockpot stew- I will be blogging that later.  I think the flavors are going to be better today, so I want to know before I write about it.  I also made some roasted chickpeas- technique also will be blogged and some Lara bars....  Nice to have some extra food around, so I don't have to cook much this week!

It was a low key and enjoyable day- I got more Ella pictures!!  YAY!!  Only 10 days until I can actually see, smell and hold that little thing.  Gramma is coming sweetie!!

I LOVE this pic!!  She is thinking- what ARE these people doing to me??

Lotsa hair!!  

With her daddy!

I also woke up at midnight with the hiccups!  Now I haven't had the hiccups in YEARS and YEARS!  IDK what the heck that was all about. AND THEN the full moon shined in on our bed and almost blinded me- it wasn't a real restful night sleep.....

So I have a short week coming up, which is kinda cool!  REALLY short as we have an early dismissal day on Friday- good for the kids, sometimes somewhat painful for us.  Who knows what meeting we are going to have to sit through.  Hopefully something useful...... we shall see.  I'm holding off judgement!

On to Wednesday now!  And hopefully it will be full of some unexpected joy! (and no snow!)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Grand daughter update- gonna be a girlie girl!

You knew this was going to happen, right?

The cutest little Ella evah!

Just wait until gramma Debi gets there!! :)

It'll be a joy!

Maple syrup sort of an afternoon

The supposed "spring" that we are having is making things difficult for most of us.  We cannot get out and rake our lawns, plant our gardens, ENJOY OUR DAFFODILS, clean up our flower gardens.....  For most of you, I am not giving you any surprising news here.  However, the nasty, cold, wet weather IS good for at least one thing- and that is for making maple syrup.

Bag of partially frozen sap

The outdoor kitchen where the syrup making process occurs
You see the very conditions that make us whine and carry on, are the conditions that are ideal for the spring sap run.  And a long sap run it is turning out to be.  I do NOT claim to be any sort of an expert on maple syruping, I am merely repeating the information that I have gleaned from the fine folks up here who do it, most notably the Mad-friends- Jane and Rog.  HERE is a link to a previous post that Jane and Roger appeared in 2 years ago!  

So for the sap to run, the weather conditions have to be slightly warmish (read: above freezing: 40 would be nice) in the daytime and freezing at night.  It is important for both of these conditions to be in place, because if it doesn't drop below freezing the sap will stop.  I am not going to get into the exact reasons, but basically if it doesn't warm up in the day, the tree thinks it is still winter (and these days the tree would be right) or if it doesn't get cold at night the tree thinks that it is time to produce leaves pronto!!  (The tree would be seriously delusional this year).
Jane in the middle of sap gathering

So this inbetween time is the time when the sweet maple sap runs through the tree and a clever person can put in a little metal tube and stick a covered  bag on it and collect the watery stuff that runs up the tree.  This does not hurt the tree, so don't worry and the taps come out easily, so they don't stay in place forever.  In fact, if the taps are in a long time (like this year it is a month!), they start to heal up and push the taps out!  

Dumping the ice out of the sap bag
The basic plan is that one trudges through the woods with buckets (the old way way to put bucket under the tap, but the bags are easier to cover, as you really don't want extra water in the sap) and pour out the sap and hang it back on the tree.  After the buckets are full, you lug those back to the cooker, which is manned by our handsome host, Rog. Our lovely hostess, Jane, was the main sap gatherer!
Once the sap is at the cooker, one filters it, puts it into the sap tank, get it into the cooker, cook it down to a certain sugar level (science and measuring the sugar is involved here), pour it off and "finish" it, with bottling to follow.

The cooker/evaporator

The upper tank and waiting buckets.  Sap goes into the lower tub, through the filter on top and gets pumped into the upper tank where it awaits being drained into the cooker

On this particular day, we were there at a time when only the gathering and first round of cooking was going on, as the day before was snowing and super cold and NASTY out.  And the trees had quit running for that day.  But as the glorious sunny day went on, the sap began to run again, and there was some liquid in the bags from the little bit that had dripped out since Thursday evening. The sap in the bags were partially frozen to totally a block of ice, but as we went the super frozen ones thawed a bit.  INTERESTINGLY, the stuff that stays frozen the longest is the water and the liquid is the more pure, sweet part of the sap. The evaporation process is partially done if you can leave the ice chunk behind!  It took a while, but we poured off the sap, opened and dumped out the ice, reset the bag and on we went.  The Mad-Art Teacher and her friend Jane had a great time catching up with life, as it has been a while since we touched base!!  After a while the MA and the Barber (who tagged along on this trip) joined in the sap gathering whilst Rog manned the cooker.  Of course it is the easiest and fastest if the sap doesn't have to be frozen into an ice chunk!  But Mother Nature is just not being particularly cooperative in that regard.
Bucket-lugger and bag emptier

The second squad of sap gatherers

Anyway, we got the sap back to the outdoor kitchen, which is such a cool setup, and Roger got the sap into the upper tank and began the cooking process.  In the meantime, while allowing the evaporation to take place, we had coffee, treats and really good coversation!  The sun was warm, but the wind was NOT!!  And we were rewarded for helping with a lovely, amber bottle of syrup!  YAY!!!

The icy, cold day- sunny though!!

part of this years harvest

One batch of syrup was not filtered for calcium- lots of minerals in the sap this year.  The rest of the syrup has been filtered to remove the calcium.

A bag that is a picture example of what this year has been like!

Strong sun on the snow makes for interesting shadows you just don't usually see

Interior of the cooker

The barber enjoying coffee, conversation and the entertainment of watching the water and snow fall off the metal roof. It was more entertaining than you might imagine!

The frozen remains of the sap buckets- This excess water remains frozen a long long time and makes for an interesting ice sculpture

I wish I could have shown you the rest of the process- the finishing and bottling, but that part will take place today!
What a NICE day it was!

Talk about joy givers!!!  THANK YOU for the lovely afternoon, Jane and Roger!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Friday, April 19, 2013

Grand daughter from heaven!


Here she is.  

A perfect, lovely child -  daughter of two perfect, lovely people.  

If I do say so myself!

Arriving at 12:56 pm on April 19, 2013

8 lb 12 oz

21 inches long

No name yet, so for now she is christened Little Debi! JK!

My little sunshine baby girl grand!

She looks so so much like my boys, I am amazed.  Jon says that she looks a lot like Sarah too, but I see Oswald (well, technically- Kutz!)

I'll blog those pix tomorrow, I want her to have her very own post today, because as you can imagine, we will see more of this little girl!  :)  The first Mad-grand!  I think I am going to be crying again.....

OH-- this just in...........

A pic of the happy family- better ones to follow, but this is just fine!!

I can't wait to see her

Welcome to my newest JOY

Our lives will never be the same

My first "baby"  and his wife had a baby today.  They have no idea....

They have no clue how much this little girl will change their life. They have no idea how much she will infiltrate their minds, their hearts and their soul.  They have no comprehension of the joy, the worry, the pain, the tears, the love and the laughter.... the amount of sheer time they will spend thinking, wondering and considering this child.  Even after she has left home the connection remains, the concern continues and it is the hardest thing in the world to let them go to do their own thing in the world.

BUT she just arrived, so we can't let go yet!

Jonny texted last night to ask for a few pictures to use for comparison of the little one.  So I had a pretty good time looking through the photo album and finding some shots of him as a tiny infant.  Wow this was a long time ago, in some ways, though, it wasn't all that long ago at all.

Interestingly enough, the Kutz genes are very strong (sorry Oswalds!) and so there is a good possibility the little one resemble Jon, but you just never know.  They change a lot as they grow- an understatement if I ever typed one!

I couldn't resist!!
So a child is born and some parents, Grandparents, aunties and uncles are also newly arrived.  And are we ever excited!!

So welcome Baby Girl Oswald.  Grandma Debi is so happy and so anxious to meet you!  And, wow, are we going to have a good time....

I look kinda tired!

Pictures WILL follow!

And that will give me more joy than you can imagine

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

It MUST be almost Spring! Here's proof!


And the first one is PUSSY WILLOWS!

Yep, the pussy willows don't care how much snow is left on the ground, they must be responding to the longer days and increasing sunlight.  Pussy willows are apparently very optimistic, like me!

I went for a walk last night (4.2 miles, so it took an hour) and only had a sweatshirt on.....  it was a bit cold, but I warmed up quickly.  This was after leg day at the gym and then (lordhavemercy) ABS class.  However, as soon as a saw that it was staying sunny, I was all over that walking thing!  

Along the way I had a spring Mad-Accountant spotting!  That's right kids, it is April 16 and you know who has out the chain saw!  Of course he is bundled up like it is mid-winter (he has been known to not be quite as optimistic as I am- hehe), and why in the world he decided to put on his dad's helmet liner from Grandpa Oswald's army days, I just am not sure.  I don't ask.

I AM sure that after spending the last 4 months in the office (the last 2.5 months without a single day off), it just felt good to be out. This is the only the 2nd time or maybe 3rd since we moved up here a LONG time ago that he hasn't been able to rake the lawn on April 15 or 16. 

So off I went on my walk, and noticed a lot of water running, grass patches expanding and the pussy willows popping out.  SUCH an awesome thing to see.  I can't even talk about the forecast for this Thursday night.....  

So given a choice of where I want to walk, of course I headed west to the Stone House, it is a 4.2 mile walk round trip- perfect for an hour plus of exercise.

Grass is showing!  ALMOST to the point that I can head up the ditchline to get some closeups

Beautiful blue skies
And so it goes in northern WI, you just never truly know what each day let alone what each year will bring.  Fortunately, the clues are there if you just keep your eyes open.

And finding them brings me a lot of joy!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

sunrise, sunset

Hmm, I am unintentionally setting up my posts with song lyrics and titles.  Oh well.  I have a lot of posts in me today, apparently, but I really need to get going.  So pancake Sunday is out of the way, and now I have somethings to do before I hit the gym at 10....

However, I need to post these photos, proving to myself and others that there is indeed the potential for warmer weather, or at least an occasional sun sighting.  My optimistic outlook on life prevails, no matter what internal and external forces are involved.

Beautiful sunset
I saw an amazing sunset last night, and in fact Rob from Channel 9 put it on the weather last night!  That never fails to make me smile.  And then this morning I was surprised to see not only was there no snow in the air, but indeed there was a sunrise to be admired, of course there were some clouds encroaching, but this was good!

Equally lovely sunrise
So sit back and admire the view, especially if you are in this upper tier of the midwest.  Rumor has it that May is only a few weeks away.

Frosty sunlit trees

Somewhere under there are my daffodils


Encroaching clouds

And so it goes in Wisconsin....

Live your life in spite of everything...... and certainly in spite of the snow.

And find your  joy!