A pox on everyone who sings "LET IT SNOW"

 Startate: (Dec 26 10:44 AM) 

Celebrating xmas in Chicago this year. We drove up, eating at Amerigo's in West End (I won a gift certificate on Twitter!) and then driving up towards Seymour, IN to spend the night at a canine-welcoming Motel 6 since the dogs came with us.  In the morning, we progressed towards Chicago, stopping for a brief visit with Kelly's Auntie Norma (at the residence of cousins Brian & Jan) in Indiana on the way.

Staying at his parents' home is very comfortable. Kelly and I sleep in his old room when we're here, and I pretty much get to cook whatever I want! *grin*  In fact, since Kelly's birthday was Tuesday, he asked for a tagine with couscous, and I made that for dinner on our second night here.

There was a "girls-only" dinner at Bonfire, a local restaurant, which included all the female mothers, aunts, cousins, sisters, etc.  The place lived up to it's poor ratings on Yelp: the French onion soup tasted like sucking on a Wyler's bouillon cube, a few people had the perch said it was so riddled with fine bones they couldn't eat it. Those who got the cedar planked salmon liked what they ordered.  I didn't find anything that looked interesting so i ordered an appetizer of calamari as my entrĂ©e. (pre-frozen, pre-battered, deep-fried...how could they screw that up?)  thfbbbbt!    The server, however, was wonderful, and if i lived here, I'd have happily invited her to work for me.

So, for those of you who want to know the latest progress on the Bed & Bistro...

I've been fluctuating between "i can't wait to get this started!" to "phooey let's scrap the whole thing".

At this particular moment, i'm in the fugheddaboudit stage.  To build the first cottage will be exactly like building the house: pour more concrete, put in a new post foundation, dig for & install a new septic tank, run electricity to it (new pole), run water to it (new meter), install plumbing, roofing, etc., etc.

Kelly is suggesting that we put it on the farthest, most remote corner of our property, which means that everything's got to be run out there 'from scratch' just as we did for the house, so the expenses are going to be comparable to what we spent on the house.  We don't have the financial resources to build another house, and seeing as how we don't have any mortgage on our current house, I certainly don't want to take out such a large loan for an endeavor that may-or-may-not be a profit-making business.

As far as the restaurant part is concerned, we can't make our home be a legal restaurant, as our current septic tank wasn't approved for a business. I thought I might do an occasional underground restaurant, but I don't think that it would be worth getting in trouble with local authorities, or risking fines and (gasp) litigation?

Right now, if it's just me, Kelly, the mutts and a few chickens, I guess that would be okay.

Today I learned: I'm becoming extremely sensitive to smells, such that every time I move to a new room, my eyes water, my nose runs, and I have a sneezing fit. Maybe it's being indoors so much?  Maybe I've grown especially accustomed to the exceptionally clean air at home in TN?

The grass is greener on the other side of the ...country

hi there!  long time no write.   man, the holidays can really come up fast when you're busy.

Kelly had another business trip to Los Angeles, and this time I went with him.  I called "Auntie Rebecca" and kelly and I dropped by on the way to the airport to hand off the doggies. 

Visiting Los Angeles is weird. When I'm at home in my tiny corner of Tennessee, i'm free to idealize and only remember the good parts, like lots of ethnic grocery stores with all kinds of interesting products and lots of fresh, beautiful produce. Every kind of restaurant, of every caliber, within just a few minutes' drive. Friends who used to think nothing of going out on weeknights. Funky, cool shops that offer endless possibilities for browsing. And I miss my friends.

That most recent visit, however, really reinforced of all the negative things that hide in the shadows of the golden glow Los Angeles always has in my minds eye.  The traffic really is unbearable. Finding a parking place can be murder. The constant drone of noise really gets on your nerves...  Instead of the milk of human kindness, it's more like pus:  People revel in their anonymity and think nothing of being selfish, inconsiderate, and even flat-out rude.   Many of my close friends have also moved away from L.A., and the ones who are there still have jobs, and they still have their day-to-day obligations, so they can't hang out all day. Then there's the weird feeling of wanting to contact friends I'd really like to hang out with, but either I've simply lost touch with them (my fault) or we weren't really that close, so it might seem weird to get an out-of-the-blue invitation to coffee or drinks. 

I couldn't wait to get back home, which surprised me a little.

I'm sure all those negative things are in all big cities. The concentration of people must intensify the impact of all those slightly irritating interactions that occur in the average day, when my new status quo has me interacting with only Kelly, the mutts, and the chickens on a day-to-day basis.

When we lived in Littlerock, CA for 2 years, the pace was slower and the people friendlier. I didn't appreciate it then...  nor would i have imagined that I'd be craving it as i do now.

Today I learned:
Change is often unwelcome, even when it's going back to where you were.

An Unexpected Snow Day

I woke up at sunrise this morning to witness the first snowfall of the season. At first I thought it was a heavy layer of frost, but when I stepped outside to release the chickens from their protective coop, I saw the flakes on everything.

This is a view to the east...

...and a view to the west toward the pond.

The water in the various drinking bowls outside had an inch of ice on top, so I had to break it out and refill with fresh. Like a real farmer!

Yesterday, I was working in my home office, and I saw something running through the woods - and it was too big to be chickens or Trixie. I stepped up to see better, and there I saw another buck. This one was probably a six-point, but it was hard to tell from the distance and through the trees. He was probably chasing a doe, but she was out of sight by that time.

Today I built the winter chicken house. It is made to be more air-tight than the summer dwelling, so hopefully it will keep the birds warm on cold nights. It even has a glass window which faces south to help warm the inside of the coop on sunny days. I'm hoping it will be predator-proof, too, since we will be leaving the birds on their own while we travel during the holidays. As I was building the coop, I heard the chickens making a squawking racket like I'd never heard before. I got to the side of the house where the noise was coming from just in time to see a big hawk come sailing out of the forest as Rooster Man and one of his girls ran/flew to safety. I found all 7 of our birds huddled close to the house with no sign of injury. They stayed in that spot for about an hour, and then finally wandered away back to normal. Now that the hawk knows what's here, I'll bet it will be coming back.

Today I learned: Using screws to build an improvised structure using spare scraps of wood is better than using nails. A screw can be un-screwed, but a nail can not be un-nailed. Once a nail is hammered all the way in, you're screwed.