Wednesday, December 28, 2016

That Year End Wrap Up Post

2016 started out hopeful... kind of went straight to hell from there but ended on a decent note.  I gained many experiences.  I'm going to trust that the ones I didn't enjoy and don't see the reason for are truly needful in some plan bigger than me.

So just what did I do?

I started saying "YES" to the adventures that presented themselves.  I went out and explored myself instead of waiting for a human companion.  I took more pictures because this world is an icredibly beautiful place.  I talked to strangers and listened to their stories of how life led them from where they were to where they are now.  I healed my soul a bit more and got a little closer to actually being me again.

I experienced some firsts. Even at my age there are lots of first times left!

  • visited 13 states - AL, SC, VA, MD, WV, and PA for the first time
  • tasted hominy, sauerkraut, bok choy, fish sauce and persimmon
  • tried some new combinations of food - kidney beans and potatoes fried together, turnips cooked with beef, potatoes, onion, celery and carrots in a pressure cooker (I'd always eaten them raw from my Dad's garden before), a Pennsylvania Dutch dish called Slippery Pot Pie, and Vinegar Cake
  • lived without running water or electricity for 3 months in a semi-remote mountain setting
  • showered at a truck stop (I didn't even know you could before this experience!)
  • drove a box (moving) truck
  • had to ask for a jump when I ran my car battery out
  • gave a jump to a stranger who was stranded alongside the road having done the same
  • made blueberry jam (never lived where a bush grew in the yard before and I'm too cheap to buy them!)
  • got the car stuck, and luckily unstuck, in the mud a few times
  • learned to clip the dog's nails by myself

I also did some things again that I hadn't for a long long time...

  • bathed in a creek
  • pooped in an outhouse
  • shot a pistol
  • observed wildlife up close - mostly deer, wild turkey and a variety of other birds
  • blogged a bit more regularly (at least toward the end of the year)
  • picked enough wild blackberries and black raspberries to make jam
  • experienced a Ward/Stake split/reorganization at Church
  • took a course where I struggled hard to learn the material (thinking I will go out of  my way to avoid using it forever more - it was that hateful!)
  • read the Book of Mormon
  • forgave someone who was very hard to forgive

And I even did one thing that I'd sworn never again... moved to a place where winters are cold and snowy.

I've marveled repeatedly at just how adaptable, accepting, and forgiving my dogs are... troopers through thick and thin. They amaze and inspire me daily to try harder and do better and grow up to have their attitude about just taking life as it comes.

I failed friends.  Circumstances changed suddenly and I didn't/couldn't do what I promised and I'm still scrambling to get that set right. And friends failed me. Different ones in different ways. It hurts but I still love them and want them in my life so I'll get over it.

I've been scared. And sad, And lonely at times. I've had people worry about me. And I've wondered myself if I'm ever going to get me put back together and rebuild an entire life and future.

I've also felt peace and love and hope and connection.

And, again, declared the coming year to be THE YEAR OF ME!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Random Stuff

Here's some stuff I've decided to share but none of it is really enough for a full on blog post by itself... so today, you get this week's odd random collection.


I saw something sort of like this on Pinterest a couple of months ago and when it led to a pattern for purchase, I decided I could probably knock it off.  I did. It's not an exact replica but it's close.  I'm happy with it and so I present you my version of a Napping Kitty Christmas Ornament!

To make your own, ch 4 and sl st in first st to form a circle.  Round 1: Ch 1 and make 11 sc in circle, join with sl st. Round 2: Ch 1 and make 2 sc in each st except the last one that would complete the round.  In this st, ch 2, hdc, dc, *ch 2 and join in first ch (this makes an ear)*, 3 dc repeat *  *, dc, hdc, ch 2 and join with sl st. Round 3: Pull loop from sl st through to front  of kitty at appx 3 o'clock position and ch 2, sc in first sc of Round 2 and in each st until you come to the kitty's head, sl st to join.  Form a loop to hang ornament and tuck tails (no pun intended) neatly.  I used a G hook and the Sugar & Spice cotton yarn to make this cute calico.


Kitchen Dog was showing his skills off today.  He went to the kitchen with Jason's Mom while she was putting some icing on a Vinegar Cake and bumped her elbow when she was adding powdered sugar to the bowl.  He proudly sported this look for a couple of hours before the sugar worked it's way off his face...

But back to the Vinegar Cake.  She told me it was a recipe from the WWII-era when things like flour, sugar, eggs and butter were rationed.  This is a way to have a cake without butter or eggs.  I was a little skeptical that the vinegar taste would come through and be a little weird, but the cake is really very good.

And it's been discovered.  A simple search on Pinterest found the recipe posted on sorts of websites and blogs under names like Crazy Cake, Wacky Cake and Depression Cake.  Rather than retype it yet again here, I'll just provide you with a link to someone else's recipe.

But seriously... look it up and give this cake a try!


Jason had some time today to run around and show me Mount Savage, Frostburg, Cumberland and some other adjacent towns in Maryland.  We took the boys to the dog park in Frostburg.  It's not anything spectacular, just a big fenced in open area where they could run off some excess energy.  Kind of plain but it does the job. And oh boy!  Did they take advantage of a chance to run freely!!

Lightning made an escape.  And Jason took off in a hot pursuit that would make ol' Rosco P. Coltrane proud and got a successful capture.  Coming back to where I was waiting by the gate he took a shortcut on a dirt access road that looked rather like an old rail line had been pulled up, someplace it was probably never intended he should be, and got stuck when the front driver's side tire broke through the ice on a massive pothole and dropped about 15 inches.  Sigh.

When it proved to be somewhat rather less than easy to get unstuck, he walked Lightning down to me and I put him inside the park where Jack was waiting on him with great anxiety. Then I walked across the grass to see if I could help, even if it was just to add some weight (don't think it let alone say anything!) to the back of the vehicle to help it gain traction.  That plan didn't work.  Bigger sigh.

Before long a nice man came along and offered to pull us out.  Not before someone else passing the dog park saw my 'unattended dogs,' decided they'd been abandoned and called the police though...  The officer was nice and found our explanation of what happened satisfactory and left with a hearty chuckle and wishes for a Merry Christmas.  Whew!

Yes, folks, this is how my life goes.  You seriously cannot make this stuff up!!

Friday, December 9, 2016

This Place is Trying to Kill Me!

I swear it is!

Let me tell you about the string of mishaps this past week.  First off, we've had about 10 days of mostly wet weather so the ground is quite soft and mushy. Again.  Mud is my constant companion.  And enemy.  I've decided I dislike mud almost as much as snow... slimy, slippery, oozing over the top of my shoes mud everywhere.  I don't have a single kind word to say about it and after it introduced itself to my bottom (clad in clean pants no less!) a couple of times I refuse to even try to find kind words about it!

It's made the main drive into what I now refer to as Deathtrap #1.  There's a part of it where one side is a steep 4 or 5-foot embankment, the other drops off 10-12 feet to a tributary creek, and the part where your car needs to be is... mud.  It's only that way for a few yards but a few yards is plenty!  My back wheels find absolutely nothing to grip through here so I fishtail wildly.  Usually falling short of making the top, I slide backwards down the hill until  my tires can grab on some stray bits of grass convinced that if that drop off doesn't kill me I will be injured badly enough to wish it had.  By the time I make several tries and fling enough mud to crest that little rise and roll on up to the cabin, my hands are shaking and I've screamed a rather creative string of profanities.

As an alternative, Jason showed me where to turn off by one of the natural gas wells and come up the back way through a pasture.  A couple of days ago, that presented itself as Deathtrap #2.  There's a specific spot where the car is tipped so far to the side that I'm scared I will roll so I've been going around it, just a few feet lower around some young trees. I spun out there and slid backward down the hill.  By the time I got the slide under control, my back wheels were about 6 inches from the edge of the high creek bank.  It took 45 minutes of inching forward and back and desperately trying to convince God this was not a good day for me to die to get the car turned sideways so I could back up enough to find a different angle to get up and around that corner of the fence. I did it!  Mud put up a heck of a battle that day, but I won!!  And when I got to my parking spot next to the cabin, I sat there for a few minutes shaking and saying a prayer of thanksgiving.

I also have to tell you about Gizmo's new habit.  He has taken to grunting when he wants something.  It's a deep, gravely, irritating sort of grunt and then he raises his little eyebrows and stares off into space with a coyly innocent expression while I try to devine what it is he wants.  Outside, food, water, a treat, a R-I-D-E to the P-A-R-K... it all gets the exact same grunt.  He woke me up with the grunt a few nights ago.  I figured out that he was going to barf pretty quickly and struggled to get Jack and Lightning off me so I could jump up and open the door.  The doorknob fell off in my hand.  And Gizmo did not get out in time...  Is there anything more disgusting than cleaning up a giant dog barf in the middle of the night?  Unfortunately, yes.  There's the part about fighting him back from eating it, as if round 2 is going to sit any better in his tummy, while you clean it up.

After a half hour of fidgeting around I did get the knob to slide into place but it's still coming off about every third time I need to open the door.  Mostly that's just a nuisance but it has potential to make a real problem into something even worse.

Like last night.

I was feeling rather pleased with myself for beating mud at its own game 2 days in a row and wanted to sit down and peacefully sip a cup of cocoa before bed... I put a pan with some water on the Coleman burner and proceeded to put the hot chocolate mix in my cup.  I've said before that thing ain't right... but Jason can't find a problem and dismisses my discomfort with using that flaming little burner.  So I grit my teeth and so far have managed to cook a few meals on it. I still say that thing ain't right!  I think it might be possessed and whatever is in there sure as heck doesn't answer to "Genie!"  It flamed out. Again.  This time worse than ever before... It spit up fuel like a fussy baby which caught fire all over the top of the dry sink and nearly lit up my sleeve while I tried to shut it off and smother the flames with a damp towel. The flames jumped to the floor this time so I did a little dance stomping them out. And I managed to burn a dishcloth, too.  Not just a little singe on the edge either... half the dishcloth is a gaping black hole.  And the cabin is filled with the acrid and ever attractive scent of Eau de Ashes.  Or is it Charcoal #5?

I think it's time for a new adventure.  And this next one really must include a hot shower, a real indoor toilet, and a fully functioning kitchen!  I've proved I can survive an off-grid prepper sort of existence.  Maybe not thrive in it, but I can survive.  And that's good enough for  me.