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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Moving it indoors


Yesterday a small tornado, apparently, touched down on the street where we lived before moving here -- about eight miles away. That's a reminder that many things we think can't happen can. Today, we had a longish area-wide power outage -- just a bird in a substation, poor thing, but another reminder. Our winter storms have come, and I and many others get to hunker down, unlike our utility district's heroic line workers.

We have put up firewood, water, kerosene, gasoline and food, lucky us. But some of that ability to save ahead came from a simplified routine. We build our own fences and barns, combine trips, staycation, do without cable, entertain ourselves with reading and conversation and even contemplation, and don't have a smoking habit. I won't belabor you with et ceteras, except to say that, if you put your mind to it, you can generally fix a leaky toilet yourself and apply the savings to any outstanding debt.

Ask those still alive from the early forties how they got by. They will tell you things that are not impossible for most of us to emulate.

These simple practices, plus jobs that we managed to hold down, helped wipe out car and mortgage debt, just in time for the triage that's now going on. As we see it, we have helped others by preparing not to be a burden to them. That sounds like libertarianism, and maybe it is a little, but we also believe in paying our taxes to spread the safety net beneath our neighbors. After all, something could still happen to us at any time -- a tornado, say, or failure of the retirement system.

Meanwhile ... I'm home. For once, I got up the storm windows in good weather, swept the chimney, and did a lot of caulking. For the last three years I've been distracted by the need to be three thousand miles from here -- as an only whose parents were failing -- and, in the eternal balminess of Florida, often lost track of the northerly cycle.

Now I am remembering! Darkness early and late. Cold air seeping round the doors. Rain-soaked adventures letting out or putting up the poultry. This is our season for drawing in and sitting by the fire. I have rearranged some furniture accordingly:


This is the spot for November through March; and there is enough light from the double glazed dining room window for shelling beans, mending, reading, and -- ahem -- blogging. The stove is shown in its busy mode, making hot dish water, cooking beans and hissing up the kettle for tea.

Indoor projects also include making up the cider, wine, and beer. This is beer making -- Weizen, with porter notes, this year, using our own hops:


Canning was not a huge undertaking this year, but we did put away some blackberry preserves, apple sauce, apple butter, apple pickles, cucumber pickles, tomato puree, and salsa. There are still chutneys and pickled beets, etc., from last year.


A big success in this enterprise is the direct canning of apple and grape juice from the apple press. We discreetly add these juices to soups, breads, pancakes, meat dishes, and even quiche, along with our dehydrated veggie foliage flakes.

But we also take time to enjoy the traditional mulled cider. Especially when there's company.


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