Fridays Weekend Column
Trudging Along Through the Winter
by James Glaser
Trudging is wearily walking, and that is how it feels up here about this time of year. We need a break from the cold and the gray days. There are a couple of bright spots though. The days are getting longer (about a minute longer in the morning and in the afternoon) and I can't think of the other bright spot.
It is mating season for the gray squirrels and they are having a gay old time, well maybe "gay" is not the right word, but who knows as those squirrels all look the same to me.
We do have plenty of snow this year and the snowmobilers can not complain, although they do, now they are saying it is too cold. You can't win with those folks. They even complain when it gets warm. Then they say the snow is too sticky.
Today is like a dark gray day and it is windy and cold. This is the perfect day to bitch about how long this winter has been. Yesterday it was bright, sunny, and warm and I would never have been able to complain about anything as I was too busy enjoying the outdoors.
But today, it is like the whole of Mordor moved in next door on the east side of me. I can see Mount Doom and Saruman rising into the clouds and the Dark Power has taken over the Northland and until the sun returns we will all be in the doldrums. On the west side of the house I thought I saw Orc tracks and I think someone said Saruman the Magnificent, moved in down the road from me and named his place Isengard, Hey, what can I say, it has been a long gray winter and the mind starts to drift.
Of course if I sit by the sliding glass door, with a cup of hot cocoa in my hand and watch the birds eating at the thistle feeder and the squirrels running after each other on their way to my black sunflower bar, my spirits start to lift. Yes, it is gray, but that is because we have a low cloud cover and there are good things about gray days.
Number one, a low cloud cover means that it will stay warmer and today is in the teens above zero. If it was bright and sunny with a beautiful blue sky like yesterday, it would seem warmer, but most likely it would be a lot colder. Of course Mother Nature plays games with us all the time and some bright sunny days are real warm and some gray days are down right frigid.
Another good reason to have some gray days is that you get a lot more done on a gray day. If every day was sunny and bright, we would be playing all winter and you can imagine how terrible that would be. Day after day of bright uplifting days would be hard to take huh?
I must confess that it was so gray this morning that I needed something to perk me up, so I went to town and had a cinnamon roll the size of a dinner plate with gobs of frosting and a big slab of butter. If the church was open I would have gone to Confession for the sin of gluttony. Oh, it really was so good and in a week or so after I lose the weight I put on with this one indulgence, I will still feel good about doing it. There was this skinny guy next to me and he was eating the same and when he was done, they brought out his breakfast. I hate people like that.
It is 5:19 PM and it is starting to get real dark, but when I think about it, it was about this dark at noon. All day it looked like it was going to snow and I can tell by the pain in my hip that it is damp out. Those "old people" who can forecast the weather by their aches and pains really can. Like I said it was clear and bright yesterday and I couldn't even feel my hip at all and today it is a constant reminder, so I would bet on some sort of storm coming this way.
Of course there is always the chance that because my hip felt so good yesterday, I did a lot more with it and made it sore, but I'm not buying that one.
I have all the tongue and groove pine up on the ceiling of the main room down stairs and it looks great. I have a triangle looking alcove on the lake side with three picture windows and I have to finish that ceiling. The floor joists in the alcove I am nailing to, run parallel to the T&G I put up in the main room and I was going to run the wood ceiling here perpendicular to what I had done already. However the are both the same height and so I am putting in 2x4 blocking between the joists so I can continue the ceiling.
Of course there is one catch. When you do tongue and groove, you start so that you are putting the groove over the tongue and nailing just below the tongue, so the next groove covers the nail head. Now because I decided to continue on in the other direction, I will either have to make a two groove board or nail in the groove. I tried nailing in the groove and it does work, you just have to be real careful and seeing as I only have 14 rows of boards to do, I think I will do it that way.
I have all the walls sheet rocked, taped, and painted, but now I am thinking of putting wood on everything. It will look like a cabin down there and will seem a lot warmer. The wall facing the lake is almost all glass, so it is bright and cheery. At least it is bright and cheery on sunny days, on gray days it is like a dungeon as is every other place up here. That is why the electric bill is so high in the winter, even in the day time we have lights on all over the house.
I almost forgot about the fudge experiment. None of my testers have dropped out yet and this week they were waiting for their "fix' and were so happy I got there before coffee time. I made a 1933 recipe by Carol Farnsworth, of Vermont, which was sent to me by her grand daughter. It is called Creamy Chocolate Fudge and it is. I made two batches, with two different chocolates, Hershey's Baking Chocolate and Callebaut's extra bitter 70% Baking Chocolate. The only difference in the two was the chocolate and it really made a difference in taste, but they were both great.
The cooking directions are really easy, but you need a strong arm to mix it and stronger still if you do two batches. I confess my second batch didn't get mixed that well, but it turned out just fine.
Grease an 8x8" square pan with butter. Grease a heavy-bottomed saucepan with butter. Grate the chocolate into the pan and add the sugar, milk, and corn syrup. Stir over low heat until chocolate is melted and sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and boil mixture until it reaches soft ball stage (240F) stir just enough to prevent scorching, remove from heat and add butter stirring it in. Cool to lukewarm (110F) without stirring, add vanilla. Beat until candy loses its gloss and becomes thick enough to hold its shape. This will take 10 minutes if you use a heavy electric mixer and longer by hand. Immediately pat into prepared pan. Cool and cut into squares. Yields 36 pieces.
That is 36 pieces if you cut them small. I think I got twenty pieces and the best part is eating the warm fudge out of the pan with the spatula. Of course I had to do that twice, because I made two batches. Anything for science eh?
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