Non-calendar Season

End of January. By now you should have received all of those official financial forms. You know the ones–the numbers necessary for that most dreaded of all seasons……

Tax Season!

Early in an afternoon next week I’ll gather papers together, make stacks on the kitchen table and chairs, brew a very large cup of tea — and attack.

I like to think of myself as an organized person. Well, that will be tested.

I’ll make a list, put numbers in columns, and do the math on a calculator. (That’s not a guarntee I’ll get the numbers right but it increased the odds tremendously.) Then since I’m too cheap to hire a professional I’ll fill in the forms – in pencil.

Let sit for up to one week. 

Then go back and check all the math. Re-read the directions for the part that’s new to me this year. Double check the routine stuff – transposing digits in a Social Security Number brings trouble.

Then comes the trip to the library to make copies, post office to mail them off to federal and state with a prayer.

I’m thinking wine with supper tonight!


Is it Broken?

Have you broken it yet?

How is that shiny New Year’s resolution?

If each word of each resolution I’ve ever broken was a scrap of paper I’d be up to my neck. Am I that old? Or just that poor at keeping them?

Take heart — you’re certainly not alone in still eating dessert. Or avoiding excercise. Or putting off that letter to a friend, visit to a relative, or volunteer hours at your favorite charity.

You could start new.  How about a new month resolution?  That gives you twelve chances a year for progress.  Let’s see… if you keep January’s for one day, February’s for two….. by December you’ll make it twelve days! That’s almost two weeks!

Good habits come only with hard work.

Why do the bad ones form so easy?

Well, I’m off to do one of those nasty little tasks I always resolve to keep up with.

Good luck to you!   See you on August 8 as I finally keep at it for more than a week steady.




Winter Artist

What’s the weather doing?

It’s January. You can skip a comment about temperature and get right to the heart of the matter. Has it snowed? How much? Dry and fluffy? Heavy? Does it pack?

The world lies quiet under a blanket of white. Fresh. Clean.

Adults come and clean sidewalks and streets. They run like dark ribbons between ridges of white.  Wait….I see a path, crooked and widening across the lawn. Another. And another.

Follow it to the end and find a favorite winter work of art. The popular with all ages – snowman!!!!

A photo album guards a black and white snapshot of my father and I with our pride for the day. Mr. Snowman stands shorter than dad and taller than his five-year-old helper. Lower body, upper body, and head. Firewood arms and bits of wood and bark for buttons and facial features. An extra hat from the house and we called mother to record our work.

A generation later two boys and their mother construct another one. Quick…we live further South and the construction material will not last. No photo, only a memory of the squat, white figure with a long yellow scarf on the lawn.

Sun resistant friend

Cold Beauty

It rained last night. Well, part of the time. The temperature hovered over and under the freezing point – that magical space between liquid and solid.

Drivers, highway maintanence, and emergency responders dislike nights like this. Cars slip and slide when direction or speed changes. Right into signs, trees, or each other. Messy!  Expensive!

While the morning coffee brews I step out onto the patio. Into a world of sparkling branches as the winter sun glints off branches, fences, and even trash left outside during the night.

I’ll take a moment. Drink in a little of God’s workmanship with my coffee. Icicles are a fleeting thing.

Icicles and friends

Winter Play

Decades ago and 400 miles due north of my current residence, winter play outside was a favorite thing.

Part of it was a determination to keep up with older brothers. I want a sled! I got tired of sharing the vehicle at an early age as we swished down the hillside behind our house. Christmas brought the gift one year. And it saw lots of action on the worn route down the hill, past the garage, along the drive and into the snowbank at the end.

The two of us took a few side trips also as young hands learned to steer. (It’s good to be flat when going under a barbed wire fence.)

Our family moved. The terrain didn’t suit sledding so much. Chores replaced play as the years passed.

Last year we had more than usual snowfall in this city. The tiny park in view of my window filled with children on snow days. They rode plastic saucers, snowboards, and sheets of cardboard. The sled with two narrow runners is an antique now.

Vehicles change. Snow continues to call the young.  Young bodies engerized by cold air and a spray of snow remain from generation to generation.


Into the Cold

How are your New Year’s resolutions doing? Are you dieting? Exercising?

The radio announcer wakes me with a temperature better suited to snuggling under the quilt than getting up for a morning walk. Must they give the wind chill?

I pull on my new boots, tug my knit hat over my ears and zip my jacket up to my chin before I step outside. Oh, not as bad as they said here sheltered from the wind on my porch. I step away, and feel fresh, cold air kick the lungs into action. The tread on the boots gets tested where the water crosses the sidewalk and freezes. But in general it goes well, as long as I watch my step and not the sway of tall trees in a winter breeze.

Drivers swish past on their way to work. Electronic signs remind me of time and temperature or name the shops in the small plaza. My breath forms a little cloud that stalls and bathes my face on the next step forward.

Cedars, pines and spruce display a spot of green among the bare browns of their tree companions. Short-haired dogs wear bright coats, (gifts at Christmas?) over their usual white, brown, or black hair.

Winter walk is over. I open the door to a warmer house and the promise of hot coffee.


A Teen Favorite

When you think of teens do you think of food? And the speed at which it disappears in their presence?

Today I want to offer a dish that ranked only a few spaces below pizza when my boys were growing and attempting to eat anything not tied down.

We called it Shephard’s Pie – but it’s actually a dressed up meat loaf.

Prepare your favoite meat loaf recipe. (The ones without ketchup or BBQ sauce work best. I like sage in mine.)

Press meat loaf mixture into a pie plate and bake. Approx 10 minutes before it is done remove from oven. Drain excess grease.

Sprinkle with grated cheese. Add a layer of mashed potatoes. Top with more grated cheese. Also a sprinkle of paprika for color if desired.

Return to oven and finish baking. Cheese should melt but not burn.

Add vegetable, salad and bread for a complete feast.


Warm me Up!


A cold winter wind shakes the trees outside my window. Will it rain? Snow? Sleet?  Brrr.

Time for something warm and cozy. A nice flavor to fight off the winter blahs and the beginnings of a cold. Ahhhh — chicken soup. Good for the throat, digestion, attitude and soul.

The simple, quick way is to find the can opener, follow directions and warm.

The longer, slower way with the added benefit of a good smelling house is to make it yourself. I offer below an alternate to the usual chicken noodle – this one emphasizes vegetables and doesn’t have a noodle or grain of rice in sight.

Chicken – one whole, cut up fryer, or approx 3 lbs. parts

Cut chicken into large pieces and place in soup pot with one medium onion (cut up) and 4-5 stalks celery (diced). Add salt and pepper to taste and fill pot with water.  (Mine holds about 8 quarts.) Bring to a rolling boil then turn down to a simmer for 2-4 hours, until about 2 inches of water has boiled off and meat is falling off the bones.

Remove from heat. Let cool until comfortable to handle. Remove large pices of chicken from pot with slotted spoon or ladle. Separate meat, discard bones and skin.  Strain broth through colander to remove solids. Remove small bones from colander, return onion, celery, and chicken to broth.

Bring to a rolling boil. Add vegetables. The following is a guide – you will want to vary by taste and availability. One can diced tomatoes. One or two cans mushroom stems and pieces. Two bags frozen cut green beans. One or two bags frozen mixed vegetables. Bring back to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for at least one hour.

Freezes well to supply you through several stormy days or attackes of the sniffles.

Chicken Vegetable Soup

Comfort and Ease

The New Year swept in and brought Winter along.

Brrrr to cold winds, late sunrise and early sunsets. A perfect time for comfort food – the sort that makes us feel all warm and cozy on the inside regardless of the wind chill on the other side of the door.

Today I’d like to offer a dish of comfort and ease. Chili – can you smell it rich and spicy? I suspect you have eaten many different types for the recipes abound. Allow me to present one more.

One Chili:

Into a slow cooker or crock-pot put one of each of the following:

Can of diced tomatoes, can of light red kidney beans, can of dark red kidney beans, can of tomato sauce, can of tomato paste, pound of lean ground meat (beef, turkey, venison, or buffalo), envelope of chili seasoning mix.

Stir once, let simmer on low setting for 8-10 hours. Serve with your favorite bread or crackers.


One Chili