Saturday, December 23, 2017

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The last snow is beginning to curl over the eaves like old-fashioned Christmas ribbon candy - not as colorful but they are still black and white pretty. I gave up years ago trying NOT to include a dog in photos. My ubiquitous canines. That's my wonderful Kria in the first shot below. Clicking on photos enlarges them.

Two big snowfalls happened this past week so I lost both internet and phone for a while but still had electric. DTE has been estimating my bills, they're separate - one for the house and geothermal and the other one for the pole barn, which they call a business, for over six months. The house bill was fairly accurate but the pole barn was significantly underestimated which means that one of my Christmas presents was a large pole barn electric bill. Property taxes also come just before Christmas and this year I got almost a thousand dollars less, yes, less, in social security. Why is that? Insult to injury? Sigh.Do NOT get me started on politicians.

I'm grateful that I can pay everything but it leaves me a little short. Still, it's been a good year, dare I say a great year. The Christmas trees (I call them Jul Trees and I have two here in the house) are up; the lights are pretty.

I drove in the snow to Sandusky yesterday for groceries and supplies; it took a little longer because of the snow and the snow plows but it's always a great feeling to know I have supplies in case the next snowfall is a biggie. The chickadees have found the suet already. Maybe this year I'll just do suet for the woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, brown creepers, etc. Hmmm!

Walking in the garden with the dogs this morning I saw animal tracks coming into the yard by the gate. Was it a feral cat, a skunk, a raccoon? I'm guessing a cat. I have a wooden porch on the north side of the house with a space under it. I'm thinking it might go there for some cover. I bought a cat-house - no, not that kind - that's by the pole barn. I don't know if any cat has ever used it but I know a pregnant raccoon gave birth in it last year - not happy about that. I chased her away and she took the newborn pups with her. I wonder if I should feed the feral cat? If I do will the raccoon benefit too? Will they fight over the spoils? How do you encourage or at least tolerate one and discourage the other? LSDL! (Let Sleeping Dogs Lie - or in other words, forget about it.)

I've had this cyclamen (on the right below) from the Royal Oak Farmers' Market for about five years; it flowers continuously but there are more flowers in the winter. It does set seeds if I let it and the plants are easy to grow from seed so I have a few more now too. The color makes them look Christmasy, doesn't it.

Last year I started some Hosta from seeds. They, the seeds, are small, black, and tissue paper thin. They don't look like they could possibly actually grow. However, last year's plants did well and are now outside doing their first winter rest. Those were an experiment and came from an old fashioned green-leaved species (Hosta ventricosa). I've heard that if you want a variegated plant grown from seed then the parent plant also has to be variegated. So this year I saved seeds from one of my favorites; it flowered late, the seed pods were slow to mature, and failed to open. So after a couple of frosts I harvested a couple of seed pods, opened them, and scraped the small seeds out and into a bonsai pot. I chose that plant to save seeds from because the leaves remained attractive all summer and fall, didn't show any insect or slug damage, had attractive flowers on short stems instead of long ones, and, perhaps most importantly, survived running dogs. This past week several seedlings showed their first leaves. Very cool, eh? (They are really small.)

I have been working on a new book about Icelandic Sheepdogs with Outskirts Press for several months now and we're probably close to publication. Jamie, Kirsten, and Brenda have been very supportive and have helped me enormously along the way. I have proof-read the copy for the third and final time, have selected many photos for the cover and interior, and agonized a bit about what to leave in and what to omit. I have expressed some opinions knowing full well that some people may not like my views and I have grown comfortable with that. We'll just have to agree to disagree - hopefully. Outskirts press is what I would call a vanity publisher because the author pays for the publishing. It is expensive. I know the book will never make money because not many folks will be interested in the topic. Regardless, it is almost finished - probably. Perhaps after the first of the year it will be available. I will sell copies myself to begin with - cost plus shipping and handling. I realized that if I didn't do this soon, I would most likely not be able to do it at all - time and creeping age.

Today is David's birthday and he is still very much missed. I am a gregarious introvert and he kept me grounded. With no new friends and all my other friends gone, it is a totally different existence for me now. Every couple eventually becomes "single". No one cautioned me about that.

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