Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The other side of the winter solstice

Let there be more light! Not because the days are getting noticeably longer yet, but because of more visible sun. Our long rainy spell has ended, and the end of this year and the beginning of next is supposed to be clear . . . and chilly. This morning the leaf litter was decorated with the most frost we've seen so far.
The bird feeder was a popular place, with the frosty deck railing serving as a waiting area.
Meanwhile, rain or shine, work continues on the lot next door. There's now a track hoe decking logs and creating giant piles of branches, giving the dogs more reason to bark.

The sheep are busy growing wool, and hopefully a couple bellies full of lambs. Photos ops haven't been plentiful, so here is a puzzle for those who need a little sheep fix:

Finally, here's a little fiddle tune for toe-tappin', from Brian's last lesson of 2015:

That's it for today from . . .

Sunday, December 27, 2015


We had a lovely, quiet Christmas Eve. My husband acquiesced to my family's European tradition and we opened gifts then. I was blessed to receive some things I've long wished for,

and some things I didn't know I wanted but absolutely love!
Then we did chores and watched a Christmas movie before retiring, awaking Christmas morning to the beautiful day I shared in my last post.

On Christmas Day we ended up giving an unplanned gift. Across the lane from us lives an "interesting" family, as my dad would say. When we moved here in '95 it was a woman and her two teenaged kids; now it is that woman and two of her grandsons. The boys, one or both, come over often to see if Brian can play; in fact, they will follow our car through our gate and down our driveway to ask. Many times Brian has school to finish, violin to practice, or chores to do (yes, we believe that old adage that "idle hands are the devil's workshop"), so they will hang around, hoping Brian can play when he is finished. The younger brother sometimes comes by himself (his older brother has a girlfriend and isn't always home), and has taken to sitting on our deck and looking through our windows, watching the family life the likes of which he apparently hasn't had. It is sad, a little creepy, and very uncomfortable for this introvert. He hung around or played here all afternoon Christmas Eve, and was at the front door Christmas morning before Brian was out of bed.

We have maintained certain boundaries for a variety of reasons, not the least of which are the difficulty of keeping Brian focused on his homeschooling and other responsibilities, the known problems of the neighboring family, and my own struggles to keep up with all the challenges of my life. But the heartbreak of seeing a kid acting like a homeless orphan, starving for action or interaction, at Christmastime no less, broke me. I told Brian to invite him in, and they could bake off and decorate the sugar cookies I had chilling in the frig.
Oh, they had a fun, messy time of it. I kept an eye on them while constructing the dishes we would take to our church's potluck Christmas dinner. The neighbor boy would ask what I was doing and comment on how good it all looked, hinting broadly that he might like to go with us. So I finally told Matthew he could go ask his grandma for permission, and invite her and his brother (who had shown up after a sleepover), too. In the end, only Matthew went with us. He was warmly welcomed by the group, got a lot of good food, and seemed to enjoy himself.

Now for a couple "gifts" for you. Sara over at Punkin's Patch has been generating jigsaw puzzles for her readers. I've been enjoying them so much that I decided to generate some of my own. So here are the inaugural Boulderneigh puzzles for your (hopeful) enjoyment, showcasing our Christmas gift of sunshine. (If you click on the bottom right icon of each puzzle, it will open to a full-screen version.)

Friday, December 25, 2015

Gloria in excelsis deo!

After 24 days straight of measurable precipitation, our Christmas gift was this beautiful day from sunrise to sunset, to moonrise.
(Sorry; that was the best I could do with the lovely moon tonight.)

There is more to share about our Christmas Eve and day, but for now I'll leave you with my current earworm. I've looked up and listened to several versions, but this is my favorite one to watch:

Merry Christmas to you and yours from . . .

Monday, December 21, 2015

High seas

After getting a heads up email from Brian's violin teacher this morning, we turned the news on and watched the weather forecast. It was a wild, wet one out there already, and it's supposed to get worse mid-day. Between the high winds predicted and our sodden ground, downed trees are likely. How sodden IS our ground, you ask? (You didn't, but I'll tell you.) Measured at the Portland airport (as these things are in this area), December 2015 is now the wettest MONTH on record, with 13.46" so far and a wet week and a half to go! We have also had measurable rain for 21 straight days, another new record.

The late morning wasn't too bad; very little rain and glimpses of blue through the scudding clouds. But the wind has picked up and occasional gusts are rattling the house; I'd better post this while I can.

Praying for the trees 'round . . .

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Ready to roll

Leaving this morning on a day trip to Western Washington to see family. Travel knitting is a second pair of Nalu fingerless mitts in Browning handspun. Brian's travel entertainment is a fun new game my sister sent us as a family Christmas gift. It came early when I wasn't home and he didn't know the box was supposed to go under the tree, but the timing is perfect for this little trip. Seasonal serendipity!

That's it for today from . . .

Friday, December 18, 2015

I'll take it!

Dawn this morning may not look like anything to write home about, but that modest touch of color was like a party in the sky compared to what we've been experiencing. The sun never really came out, but at least the rain gauge stayed empty after Brian dumped out the 5+ inches (it was overflowing). Fewer dog towels were required, and I squeezed in a ride on my horse. All in all, it was a good day at . . .

Monday, December 14, 2015

There is hope

Did you read the Yarn Harlot's post today? There is hope.

That's it for today from . . .

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sheep shots

This morning after chores, I decided to take care of some needed sheep maintenance. Blaise, Vienna, and Bramble got bigger coats and shorter toes, and I got a fleece fix in exchange. Here are a few photos in case you need a sheep fix yourself!

That's it for today from . . .

Friday, December 11, 2015

Playing "20+ questions"

Blame Mama Pea and Susan. ;-)
  1. Do you like bleu cheese? Not particularly. My taste runs to aged cheddar (tho' I rarely indulge).
  2. Have you ever smoked? ACK! NO!
  3. Do you own a gun? There are several firearms in the house. Not my choice; not my source of security.
  4. What flavor of Kool-Aid is your favorite? I think Cherry makes the prettiest dye, but I do like Grape-scented wool.     ;-)
  5. Do you get nervous before dental appointments? I'm a white-knuckle patient.
  6. What do you think of hot dogs? I feel sorry for them, make sure they have water and shade, hose them off if necessary....
  7. What's your favorite Christmas movie? White Christmas, hands down (and toes tapping!).
  8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Caffe D'Vita mocha cappuccino.
  9. Can you do push-ups? I had to check; the answer would be ONE (military-style).
  10. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? Does my work-issued FitBit count as jewelry???
  11. What's your favorite hobby? Too many to list; whichever one I'm currently doing.
  12. Do you have ADD? No.
  13. Do you wear glasses or contacts? Yes; aging has been harder on my eyes than any other body part. :-(
  14. What's your middle name? Rose. And now that you know, I'll have to kill you.
  15. What are your thoughts at this minute? Is Brian staying on-task?
  16. Name three drinks that you regularly consume. Water, mocha, herbal tea.
  17. What is a current worry of yours? My son's character development.
  18. What do you currently hate? Nothing.
  19. Where is your favorite place to be? On my horse.
  20. What do you plan on doing on New Year's Eve this year? Nothing planned; that could change. Sometimes our church plans a get-together; I'm sure my son would love to throw a party. Me, I'd just love a good night's sleep!
  21. Where would you like to travel? To Shetland and all over the British Isles; to Sweden and Germany, the birthplaces of my grandparents.
  22. Name three people you think will do this questionnaire on their blog. Haven't a clue.
  23. Do you own slippers? I have a pair of Keen slip-ons that are my dedicated house shoes. Must have arch support!
  24. What color shirt are you wearing? An old teal long-sleeved mock-turtleneck tee.
  25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? Didn't when I tried them once; might like them better now in menopause!
  26. Can you whistle? Not like Roger Whittaker, but yes.
  27. What is your favorite color? Depends on my mood and the location of the color!
  28. What songs do you sing in the shower? Very occasionally an ear worm; see #7.
  29. Would you be a pirate? No, I've never aspired to be a crook. Plus, like Susan, I get seasick.
  30. What's in your pocket right now? Nothing.
  31. What's the last thing that made you laugh? Dozer dancing for his breakfast.
  32. What vehicle do you drive? A 2009 manual Volkswagen Jetta TDI. Yes, one of those. I love it.
  33. What's the worst injury you've ever had? Thankfully I've never been seriously injured; no broken bones or surgeries, just bumps, cuts, and bruises. But I hurt my back when Brian was a baby; that and labor caused the most pain (intensity and length) I have ever experienced.
  34. Do you love where you live? Yes! Would love to have more acreage for the critters and buffer from the neighbors, but love this area and am thankful for our place.
  35. Would you change your first name if you could? Anyone can if they cough up the money and jump through the hoops. Me? I'll stick to Michelle.
That's it for this windy, windy day from . . .

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Silent night

By the light of a blue Christmas bulb, you can't tell that this collectible ornament has been twice broken and twice glued.

That's it for tonight from . . .

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Sanity savers

Last night, an Oak Ridge Boys Christmas concert. This afternoon, a lovely ride through the woods on my pony, followed by a walk down to the neighbor's to pick up a package with time for photography.

Tonight, a redecorated Christmas tree.

Feeling refreshed at . . .

Monday, December 07, 2015

I need a rainbow

I started this post yesterday with the title "O Tannenbaum." If you're guessing that things went south, you would be correct. Actually, things went northwest....

Yesterday Rick's mom came out for Brian's birthday breakfast, then we launched a successful tree-hunting expedition. Our neighbors who have let us cut trees on their lot for free went south this winter, so we visited another neighbor's lot – with very reasonable prices, fortunately. It always takes awhile when you have four different Goldilocks all searching for "just right," but we finally settled on a full, 15' Noble fir. It has two tops but no matter; my beautiful glass spire tree topper was destroyed in 2013's disastrous Christmas tree crash, and I haven't found a satisfactory replacement. Collectively holding our breath worked; the clouds held their rain but for a few drops here and there. That, combined with a stiff wind earlier, meant the tree was dry enough to bring inside and decorate together as planned.
My new porcelain Breyer ornament from the Christmas party the night before

Then, although the weather was still holding and I was desperate to get on Lance one last time before this,
Brian required motivation and guidance to catch up on some school subjects and violin practice. Thus began a long, slow slog of an evening. Bedtime came and went, and the grind continued. Finally, I announced that I was heading to the barn to feed the hungry, waiting herd. I was still in the garage donning chore coat and boots when Brian came tearing out yelling, "Mom! Mom! The tree fell!"
"Shatterproof" isn't, necessarily. :-(
After we removed the wet area rug, mopped up the water, righted and secured the tree with guy-lines, rescued what ornaments were intact or repairable (that new horse ornament broke a leg), swept and vacuumed shards of glass from hardwood and carpet and couch, I fell into bed around midnight – physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. Feeling as bleak as the weather had become, my thoughts and emotions lashed about like the wind and rain outside and kept me up for a good while longer.

Good thing I emptied the rain gauge of last week's three inches yesterday before this started; it's collected more than two inches already.
This morning's view from Lance's paddock

As my mother says, life is a battle and a march. I know I am here to learn perseverance, to "endure till the end." I need to face these lessons with determination instead of quailing – just like I want my son to do with his responsibilities. Funny how we both struggle in our spheres with the same challenge!

That's it for now from . . .

Saturday, December 05, 2015

What's outside your window?

(I dare you to click on that last one to biggify, and not laugh!)

That's it for today from . . .

Friday, December 04, 2015

Warm hands, warm heart

Before blocking, on Brian
Yes, they're done, blocked on tall glassware and drying in front of the woodstove as I type. They are for a "cutthroat" gift exchange tomorrow night; I hope someone will be thrilled with them. Perhaps a fellow knitter, since no one appreciates handknits like a partner in craft....
I know whereof I speak. ;-)  There was a soft, brown parcel in yesterday's mail. I recognized the name of a Canadian blogpal in the return address, and wondered what Deb could be sending me. Inside were this hat and fingerless mitts – for ME! (Sorry for the poor photo; I got what I could from the resident adolescent.) They are colorful, warm, and soft, guaranteed to warm my hands, head and heart each time I wear them.

That's it for now from . . .