February Photos

Monday, December 26, 2016

Journal: Merry Christmas!

Last Tuesday found me (again, still) working on the photo-music movie I wanted to burn to DVDs for my friends for Christmas.  I’d have been done with the original Monday, if Movie Maker was up-to-date (latest one, the one I downloaded onto my new computer, was a 2012 version), and more compatible with my 2016 laptop, and if the program itself had more memory.  Sooo... Tuesday night I redid it all on my old laptop.  And then... I clicked ‘Save as .wmv’ (there is no option to save it as an .mp4 file) and held my breath.  That was where it hung up on the new laptop, every time.  Frustrating.  I shot six songbirds and kicked a cat, trying to get that dumb thing to work.
Not... really.  (I always have to add that, for those literal-minded folk who read my letter.)
Leaving the computer working, I went to bed.
Wednesday morning, I clambered back out of bed, went to check on the movie – and it was done
If the 2011 version of Movie Maker can do it, why can’t the 2012 version do it??
Guess I need to look for a different movie maker.
I clicked ‘Play’, scanned quickly through it, found no problems, and so transferred it via external hard drive to the new computer to turn it into a DVD.  If I could just get that first DVD burnt, I could start the duplicating!  And the Christmas service was that very night.
I pulled up the DVD maker and started the disc burning without issue.  It didn’t ask me for title or cover or anything, as the old program had done, and I, expecting it to do so, neglected to look at options for title cover and prologue music.  Well, what happens, happens, I thought, and scurried off to wash and curl hair, hoping it wasn’t throwing in a default of Up On The Housetop, as an old program once did.
Maybe if I used these programs a little more often, I’d get a little smarter at it!
By noon, the duplicators were spinning away.  One burns five discs at a time; the older one, just one.  As soon as the first five were done, I used one of the newly burnt ones in the single dupe (it’s a good word) and there we were then, with six burning at once. 
Hmmmm... the single duper (another good word) must be high-speed; the multi-dupe must not be.  Or at least, it isn’t set on high-speed.  If there is such a setting.  I’d plugged empty discs into both at the same time, and when I checked a few minutes later, the single was on 56% done, while the multi was only on 19%.  I don’t recall that being the case last year!
But then, I don’t recall what I did last week, so who’s to say?
‘Multi-dupe.’  I went to school with one of those.
By 1:00 p.m., 20 DVDs were done, and 6 more were burning.  90 more to go.   I needed to put one in each of the Christmas cards I was taking to our service that night.  Could I do it?  Could I DO IT??!!!  If the dupers would just hurry... hurry... hurrrrrrry...
While the next set of discs burnt, I took deeper seams in the bright red Pendleton wool suit jacket Lura Kay had given me, as it was a bit too big through the midriff.
Half an hour later, I stuck more discs into the duplicator.  While it worked, I clipped and ironed seams and sewed the lining back in.
I took out finished discs... inserted blanks... and tried the jacket on.  Just right!  It fit perfectly.  I dashed upstairs and grabbed the pleated skirt, then rushed back downstairs to press the pleats back sharply into it.  You’ll recall perhaps that I got the skirt on eBay, and then had to run it through the dryer with Dryel (spray and wet cloth treated with dry-cleaning chemicals), because it positively reeked of mothballs.
On the bright side, there are absolutely no moth holes in it.  In fact, I’m pretty sure all wool-eating moths not only in my house, but also in all the neighbors’ houses fled for dear life, the moment I opened the package.
**Just doing my part for mankind in Middle Cornland.
Problem:  ironing those pleats back in resurrected the Eau de Mothball fragrance.  :-P
Fortunately, by the time we were heading to church, the scent had faded almost entirely.
An online quilting friend, in answer to a post I wrote with the above query, “Can I get all this done in time?!” responded, “If you just weren’t so lazy.  It is all the idle time of doing nothing that is slowing you down.”
That made me laugh right out loud.  The cats in the vicinity turned and looked at me.
Wasn’t it Mark Twain who said something on the order of, “All men are lazy; some are just lazier than others”?
I admit to this, and this only:  I work hard – on exactly what I want to work hard on.  Some of my friends who love to work in their flowerbeds and gardens would take a look at mine and mutter under their breaths at how very lazy I am, because sometimes the weeds outpace the flowers or strawberries or tomatoes.  Others who daily wage valorous warfare on dust would look at my end tables, headboard, dresser, or bookcase and shudder.
But the dishes are washed, the floor is swept (even mopped!), the carpets are vacuumed fairly often, and things are where they belong.  Ahem.  Most things are where they belong.
I decided to find out exactly how long it took to burn those discs, so I pulled up a stopwatch and checked it out:  The single duplicator does a disc (these are full discs, with an hour and 29 minutes of music and photo-slideshow) in 8 minutes and 23 seconds.
The 5-slot duper (good word, yes?) does 5 discs in 17 minutes and 27 seconds.
So now we know.
By a quarter after 4, there were only 8 more discs to go, and 5 of those were half done.  When I saw I was going to make it, I started sticking the finished ones into envelopes and sealing them.  Around 120 DVDs... finished and stuffed into cards and envelopes by 5:00 p.m.  It was time to don my glad rags.
Once nattily clad and coiffed, I had enough time to iron about half of the tea towels I needed to embroider.  I had big ideas about coming home after the Christmas service and getting started on those.  But I waaaaaaay overestimated my ambition and want-to, and seriously underestimated my fatigue from a week or so of 4- to 5-hour nights.
And then, wonder of wonders, Larry got home early!  He dawdled about until we were almost not early, but we managed to get to church in time to put our cards into the appropriate families’ bags.  Uh, into the families’ appropriate bags.  Well, something was appropriate, anyway.  ’Cuz we bagged ’em!  Yeah, we done it, instead of leaving some other poor chump to do it after the service, when everything gets into quite the hullaballoo, on account of latenics like us leaving some other poor chump to do it.
Somebody gets a whole volley of those big brown paper grocery bags, and then people write family names on them with markers, and the bags are set on tables in alphabetical order.  So if one’s cards are also in alphabetical order, one can really make tracks, trotting around those tables and dropping cards in bags.
Trouble is, my printer spews out envelopes so fast and furious, it inserts newly-printed envelopes between previously printed envelopes in the stack it makes.  Always something to foil one’s need to hurry!
We had a wonderful service, first singing several Christmas carols, then listening as my nephew Robert, our pastor, gave a sermon from the first chapter of Luke about Zacharias and his wife Elisabeth, parents of John the Baptist, forerunner of Jesus.
The band and orchestra played, and the children sang and read verses or recited poems.  We do so very much love to hear the children sing and play their instruments, and we love the wonderful old Christmas story.
We came home with a big bag stuffed full of cards and pictures from our friends.  Those are my favorite things – pictures of our friends’ families and children.
We stopped at the store before coming home to get more ear-mite medicine for Tiger.  Last week, he clawed a big, bad sore in his ear because of those mites; I evidently hadn’t been treating them aggressively enough.  It got terribly infected, and we had a hard time getting him over it, even though we put triple antibiotic on it several times a day. 
The sore is all healed up now, and the mites don’t seem to be bothering him much at all.
I sat down to look at Christmas cards and pictures.
((... yawwwwn ...))
Problem:  the coffee pot was empty, and the butler had already gone home for the night.  I made myself a cup of the Legends of China white tea Loren gave me.
Thursday, I would embroider!  Machine embroider, that is.  
In the morning, I got up, trotted into the bathroom for bath and shampoo, and turned on the radio to listen to the news.  There was a sad story about a young farmer who lived about 10 miles to our north; he was killed when the tractor motor he was working on exploded.  A tragedy at any time, but sadder yet when it happens at Christmas time, I think.
I soon had my head under the faucet, thereby becoming a bona fide ‘captive audience’, as it were, to the very most stupidest rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas I ever did hear in my whole life.  Bah, humbug!  I wanted news, not idiots who considered themselves singers.  No, artists.  It’s ‘artists’, these days.  ‘Artists’.  Haha!  (In the most sarcastic sense of the word.)
I made a pot of coffee.  I didn’t measure the coffee grounds.  Larry and Caleb never measure, and their coffee is always yummy.  (We won’t discuss Victoria’s coffee(?)(!) at this time.)  The bag was getting empty... the back of my hand gets grounds on it when I reach waaaay down into the bag... so, I did it Larry and Caleb’s way:  I just dumped it out.  When I had approximately the right amount in the filter, I peered into the bag.  It was almost gone.  Might as well use up the rest.
That coffee didn’t taste like anything I usually make, and it certainly didn’t taste like Larry and Caleb’s, either.  I’m telling you, that ‘rest of the bag’ idea was baaad.
I’m going to be looking surprised for at least a week.
Just call me ‘Sarah Let’s Add More Water to That Lynn.
For a good 45 minutes, I kept drinking half an inch out of my cup, grimacing, and then filling it with hot water.  Drink, fill.  Drink, fill.  It was finally alllllmost bearable.
Oh! – I supposed I heard a little downy woodpecker...  thought, He’s LOUD! – looked out the window – and instead of a downy on the suet feeder, it’s the bigger and rarer hairy woodpecker!
You know how to tell the difference in these birds, when they’re way across the yard?
Well, do you?
You glue rulers to all your trees.
I told this good advice to a friend.  She looked at me blankly, then asked, “What good does that do?”
So I told her, “Well, the birds can sit next to the rulers, see how tall they are, and then they can tell you which variety of woodpecker they are.”  ((...pause...))  “’Course, you’ll have to split their tongues first, so they’ll be able to talk.”
Hair curled, I was ready for breakfast.  What should I eat? 
A truck came rumbling down the lane – it was the UPS man with an order of groceries from Wal-Mart.
Mmmmm!  I was ready for Raisin Crrrrrunch cereal!
Please pass the milk.
....  and suddenly, an old memory surfaced:  Me, saying to my mother (just to bug her, you know), “Seelp sap the klim.”
I got really good – and fast – at saying each of the words in a sentence backwards.  Just to bug my mother, you know.
That day, I embroidered designs from a set by Carol Endres called Willow Woolkeepers.  I have no good guidelines for coloring other than a poor-quality, small picture I found on the Internet.  The small, black and white screen on my embroidery/sewing machine sometimes makes it hard to tell what part of the design is going to be stitched next.  I muddled along, trying to make edjeeecated guesses (as Rufus says, in Gasoline Alley).
Sooner or later, I’m going to stitch out a purple face and a flesh-colored hat. 
Each design takes at least an hour and a half, not counting thread changes or husbands coming home from work, hungry and looking for food. 
We had chef salad for supper, along with fruit and nuts given to us at church after the service.  I put a Schwan’s apple pie into the oven for dessert. 
That night, I finished another tea towel.  This one is called ‘The Hoer’ (as in, ‘person who hoes’). 
I clipped the thread, cut new pieces of stabilizer, inserted stabilizers and the next tea towel into the hoop, and pressed ‘Menu’ to go to another design.
It was blank.
I pressed other options, went back to Menu.
Still blank.  I pulled the card out, put it back in.  Blank.  I rebooted the machine.  The card remained blank.  What in the world? 
I stuck in a different card, and everything immediately went back to working crackerjack.  Evidently the files on the Willow Woolkeepers card have somehow been corrupted. 
Rats!  I only used three designs on that card, and the dumb thing cost about $25.  Furthermore, I can find nary another card like it anywhere on the Internet.
Friday, my machine toiled away, and I left it now and again to wrap and bag gifts.  If I get too involved with something else, a thread invariably breaks, or the bobbin runs out.  Just another of Murphy’s Laws.  The new machines stop when that happens, and a little beep sounds.
Oh! – now there are two kinds of nuthatches on the feeders at the same time! – the red-breasted and the white-breasted.  The red is smaller, at 4.5”; the white is a full inch longer, at 5.5”.  The red-breasted has a black stripe through the eye; the white does not.  Not until a few months ago did I ever see the red-breasted nuthatch in our vicinity.  Nuthatches are such funny little birds, spiraling headfirst down tree trunks or the rebar that holds our feeders.  They pound their little beaks into the suet quite a lot like the woodpeckers do.
I’m having fun using all the pretty Sulky embroidery thread I got from a lady on SewItsForSale.  The thing is, a collection of thread can look like ever so many colors ---- but when you actually start embroidering all sorts of designs, you discover you sho’ ’nuff could use a whole lot more! 
It’s really amazing (to me, anyway) watching my machine embroider such things as these puppies, especially the ‘fur’.  First, it does a stabilizing stitch over the area... then it fills it in entirely with horizontal stitches.  Next, it heads back over the works, doing zigzags long and short, this way and that, until it really does look like fur.  Sometimes I could be doing other things, but I’m entranced with watching the machine work.
Saturday, Christmas Eve, U.S. Security issued a warning to churches to be on the watch, as ISIS (or some offshoot of the terrorist group) has sent out a list of churches for their zealots to target over Christmas.
Why does some of the world think we should tolerate such murderous, godless heathenistic infidels?!
Larry and I seem to have gotten a touch of food poisoning Friday night after eating some take-out from Runza.  I suspect it was the onion rings.  I only ate a couple, because I didn’t like them; they didn’t taste quite right.  They’re usually pretty good.  The runza itself tasted scrumptious.  It was only after eating the onion rings that we felt a little queasy.
After feeling sick most of the night, we were fine and dandy again by Saturday afternoon, or almost.  That makes it all the more likely it was food poisoning, since bona fide stomach flu (or, to be medically correct, gastroenteritis) usually lasts longer than that.
Larry bought himself a Christmas gift that morning – a new tool chest.  A friend asked, “What are YOU going to buy as your Christmas present?  A new sewing machine?”
Ha!  The sewing machine I want would be about twenty times the price of Larry’s tool chest!  :-O 
“For now,” I told her, “I’ll just be thankful that we were able to go buy all the grandchildren’s Christmas gifts.  I’ll get all crabby and think I really need new machines (notice the plural) another day.”
As it turned out, the day wasn’t even over before I wondered if I might have to get another sewing machine.
When we got home from our shopping spree at Wal-Mart, Larry went off to see if he could find some venison walking around on the hoof.
I set my machine to embroidering another tea towel while I snacked happily on beets, a banana, cottage cheese with half a pear on top, fresh raspberries with a little bit of peach smoothie poured over the top, and Tropicana orange juice.  I had a slice of apple-fritter cobbler bread for dessert, with steaming Caramel Drizzle coffee to wash it all down.  Being hungry, I’d dished up at least twice the amount I could actually eat.  That wasn’t just a snack; that was supper.  Light on the vegetables, though.
That evening, the sewing machine locked up.  I rebooted it, oiled it, put a new needle in it, repositioned the embroidery design, and started stitching again.  The machine didn’t sound quite right, but it was stitching.  I went on embroidering.
A few hours later, it locked up tighter’n a jug, making good on its earlier threat.  So I did what I do best:  I hurried upstairs calling, “Larrrrrryyyyy!!!”  I told him what kind of screwdriver we needed to take off the sewing machine cover to the left of the take-up lever (“an end with more thingies than a Phillips”), as I was fairly certain there was thread caught inside it somewhere.
He found a screwdriver... took off the cover... and indeed there was a large glob (technical term meaning ‘clump, chunk, hunk, and wad’) of thread all tangled around the spring for the needle bar, and more thread back where we couldn’t see.  I pulled most of it out with my serger tweezers, and then Larry vacuumed it out.  He oiled it in places where I have been unable to reach, being careful not to get it on the electronics.  We rebooted the machine and started it running slowly, then a little faster, until the oil worked its way into tight spots.
I think it’s fixed now.  I sure hope so.
I finished four towels that day. The large strawberry design wound up with permanent marker dots for seeds instead of embroidery thread, because that was where the machine quit.
Sunday, Christmas Day, we had unusual weather.  It was warm, with a couple of loud thunderstorms.  About a quarter ’til 5, I suddenly realized that while the rain was coming down and the skies were a dark cadet blue, the setting sun was also shining very brightly from the west.
I knew what that meant, or hoped I did.  I dashed for the eastern window, peered out – and yesirree, there was a brilliant rainbow, and this one was a double!  I ran for my camera. 
A few minutes later, the sun went down, but it was still shining on those puffy cottonball clouds (scientific term meaning ‘puffy, cottonball-shaped clouds’), making them all salmon pink and gold against a dark blue sky. 
I never before saw a rainbow and a cottonball sky on Christmas Day! 
My cute little knitted slippers are still soaked, because I knew I had no time to waste, and grabbed camera and dashed out on the front porch without bothering to either shed the slippers or don shoes.  The porch was covered with half an inch of water.  I went splatting out, and Tabby, who was sitting on a dryer corner of the porch, turned around and stared curiously at my feet. 
She’s getting her socks wet, he was quite clearly thinking. Why would she do that?!
He’s the cat who shakes his paws merely from standing in the doorway watching me mop the floor, even though not a drop of water has touched those little feet, silly kitty.
Last night there were 60-80-mph wind gusts.  The wind blew Loren’s camper off the block he had the hitch sitting on, and backed it uphill on his drive about four feet.  It took down his internet dish and smashed it on the ground, and tore trim from his front window.  It removed a piece of siding from Larry’s garage and blew sheets of insulation around.
Our neighbors lost a big, nice Austrian pineWhy couldn’t it have blown down the dead tree, instead of the healthy, pretty one?          
Nevertheless, we still have roofs over our heads – and I got these photos!
Here’s one where you can see the second rainbow reflection a little more clearly.  Mists rolled over it quickly, and soon the second one faded.  The main arc stayed bright for a good fifteen minutes.
Our Christmas dinner with our church members was today at noon.  We had roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, carrots, onions, green beans, freshly baked bread sliced and buttered hot, lettuce salad, pickles and olives, strawberry jello, chocolate or white milk, apple or orange juice, coffee or tea, and a variety of cheesecakes.
Afterwards, we went to Wal-Mart for a few photo reprints, and I spotted an Extreme SD card, which I’ve been needing for my camera ever since I got it a year and a half ago.  It takes high-definition movies, but if it doesn’t have the Extreme card, it can’t record fast enough, and the movie turns off.
When we got home, I gave it a try – and it woiks, it woiks, it woiks!  The camera went right on shooting a movie, and didn’t turn off until I decided to turn it off.  Wheeeee!
We also got a couple of Marie Calendar’s pies at Wal-Mart – cherry streusel and peach.  I’d gotten full at church and hadn’t had any cheesecake, and was feeling downright deprived over it.  I baked the cherry streusel, and we later had a slice with frozen vanilla yogurt on top.  My piece was too big, and within a scant few minutes I went from pieless to whatever the opposite of deprived is.  Overfed.  Overstuffed.  Overflowing.  Too full!
Larry went hunting again, and this time he got a deer.  He cleaned it at the shop.  Soon our freezer will be full of venison.
“They’re prettier when they’re alive,” I commented, when he sent me a picture of it.
“They taste better when they aren’t,” he replied.
This evening, I designed a table topper in my EQ7 program.  The pattern is called ‘Storm at Sea’, though the color variation makes it look considerably different than the classic ‘Storm at Sea’.  I’m planning to make it for the upcoming wedding – upcoming next Sunday, in fact.  I won’t get it done in time... but I don’t suppose anyone will string me up by the toenails, read me my last rites, feed me a final meal, and shoot me at daybreak if it’s late.  So... late it will be.  I probably won’t be able to start on it until January 3rd.  With any degree of success, I should have it done before the happy couple returns from their honeymoon.
I’ll stick a note in the package telling them that it’s their own fault the gift is late, for deciding to get married right after Christmas, of all things.  heh

Oh!  There’s a great horned owl hooting, right outside my window!  I hope little Tabby has enough sense to get himself under cover, if he’s out there somewhere.

,,,>^..^<,,,       Sarah Lynn       ,,,>^..^<,,,

Photos: Driving Home from the Christmas Dinner

Rain instead of snow at Christmas time has produced scenes like this:

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Photos: Christmas Rainbow

Just look at the sky we were treated to this afternoon. I never before remember seeing a rainbow on Christmas day -- and this one was a double rainbow. A few minutes later, the sun went down, but it was still shining on those puffy cottonball clouds (scientific term meaning 'puffy, cottonball-shaped clouds').

All this, after an unusually warm day, and a couple of loud thunderstorms. Tonight we've had 80 mph wind gusts. Our neighbor lost a tall, beautiful Austrian pine. My brother's camper was blown backwards uphill on his driveway about 4 feet, and his Internet dish was blown off the house and smashed.

Nevertheless, we still have roofs over our heads -- and I got these photos!

Here's one where you can see the second rainbow reflection a little more clearly.  Mists rolled over it quickly, and soon the second one faded.  The main arc stayed brilliant for a good 15 minutes.

And my cute little knitted slippers are still soaked, because I knew I had no time to waste, and grabbed camera and dashed out on the front porch without bothering to either shed the slippers or don shoes. :-D  And the porch was covered with half an inch of water.  I went splatting out, and Tabby, who was sitting on the corner of the porch, turned around and stared curiously at my feet.  She’s getting her socks wet, he was quite clearly thinking. Why would she do that?!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Journal: Movie Maker & Other Troubles (& the Jeep Comes Home!)

Last Monday evening, the Schwan man came.  I ordered frozen vanilla yogurt and several kinds of frozen fruits, and we have since been having some quite scrumptious fruit smoothies.
That day, the school children – all approximately 100 of them – sang Happy Birthday to Lawrence, and my nephew Robert, our pastor, recorded it, then emailed it to Norma.  Lawrence was very touched.
You’ll recall the Jeep wouldn’t start a couple of weeks ago?  After trying all sorts of things, Larry finally got it to start, and quickly took it to Columbus Motors Thursday.  And there it stayed for a week.  Every time the mechanic tried to start it, it started just fine; they could find nothing wrong with it.  Meanwhile, I drove one of their courtesy vehicles – a Dodge Grand Caravan.
One of the online quilting groups to which I belong is planning a Quilt-Along for the weekend after Christmas.  The pattern everyone will use is called ‘Storm at Sea’.  I’ve been planning to do this, and make a table topper for some friends who are getting married – one of our sons-in-law’s brothers, to another of our sons-in-law’s sisters.  I figured it was good timing, since I knew they’d be getting married around the first part of the year.
Well, it’s the first part of the year, all right – the wedding date has been set for January 1!  Furthermore, our family get-together is December 31, the previous day.  I’m running late with Christmas preparations and gifts on account of some of my own projects taking longer than expected, a few customer jobs, new babies having the audacity to show up at the busiest time of the year, and other inconsiderate souls having birthdays and clamoring for attention. 
Not that I didn’t know all that was going to happen; so I guess the blame really falls on the aforementioned proj-------------- oh!!!!!!  How could I have forgotten!  It was that wedding that caused all the troubles!  Haha!  I knew it wasn’t my fault.  It was Victoria’s fault.  And Kurt’s, for asking her to marry him.
There.  Having got that all processed and blame appropriated properly, I shall continue.
What were we talking about?
Oh!  Yes!  Quite so!  (in a Winnie-the-Pooh tone)  The ‘Storm at Sea QAL’.
Anyway, I do intend to join – but I might be a day or two late.  I just looked it up, and I see that there is some etiquette advice out there saying that one has up to a year to give newly-married couples a gift.  Hmm.  By that time, some of them might need a diaper pail!  Ha!  I suppose it would be okay to give them a set of dish cloths and towels, since they might have worn out any previous sets.  Okay, I don’t like that advice.  Here’s some better guidance:  “It’s best to send the gift within one month after the wedding, two months at the most.”
That’s straight from the Huffington Post.  With a name like Huffington, that ought to be good guidelines, don’t you think?  Sooo... if I don’t get the table topper done until the happy newlyweds are two or three days into their honeymoon, nobody will string me up and shoot me at daybreak, right?  Right??
Tuesday I worked on my Christmas letter.  The big box of Christmas pictures – ours and also my blind friend Rita’s – that was supposed to arrive Wednesday arrived a day early.
As if there aren’t enough stray cats around this joint, that scaredy-cat little black cat came sneaking in the pet door that afternoon, all crouched down ’til he was only about two inches tall.  He tiptoed toward the laundry room, all stretched out long and low, craning his neck to see around corners before he actually had to go around them – and then suddenly spotted a big stuffed teddy bear seating high on the barber’s chair. 
He threw himself backwards so fast, his hind feet skidded underneath him and made him sit right down THUMP on his rump.  I yelled, “Get out!!!” at about the same time, which made him skid and slide, trying to turn around and run for the pet door.  But he’s brave enough to stall out, halfway through the opening, wondering if he could just turn around and sneak back in – and he doesn’t have any idea that his long black tail is still on my side of the door.  I gave the tail a little boot, and he rapidly pulled it on through after him, and scampered for the opening under the big garage door.
So there were the boys (or boy and father, as it were), sprawled on the ground, staring in dismay at Mama’s honeysuckle.  I walked out on the snowy deck to view the shambles. 
“Tell her you broke your leg, tell her you broke your leg!” one of them hissed to the other.  “Maybe she’ll spare our lives.”
((rolling eyes))  Boys!  (Or men, as it were.)
Come to think of it, that sounds suspiciously like something Larry would say.
* Ah could hold bettuh grudges, iff’n ah had bettuh remembery!
Honeysuckle is called ‘evergreen’ ... and indeed the leaves do stay green most of the winter.  But they never get so brave as to actually bloom, up here in our arctic breezes.
My new computer opens my programs fassst, even the memory-hogging PaintShop Pro.  I’m as tickled as a leftover Elmo!  (Or at least I was, until I’ve been trying to save this movie I finished today.  It has to be in an mp4 or wmv format in order to work on a DVD in a player.  I’ll complain more about that in a little bit.
Last Wednesday, I put my friend Rita’s signature sticker into the Christmas cards I got her:
Can you see the Braille under the signature?  She signed her name on an index card that had Braille on it.  I should’ve just printed the signature right on the cards, rather than the stickers; but I didn’t realize the cards would go through my printer until I tried some of my own, and they went zipping through, crackerjack.  So I wasted stickers.  Oh, well...
Do you know Braille?  I learned it when I was 9 or 10, and Penny gave me a slate and stylus.  I’ve forgotten it a bit, but it doesn’t take too much trouble to remember the letters and a few shorthand symbols again (P is for people, l is for like, th is for this, etc.).  But I don’t read it with my fingers; my fingertips aren’t sensitive enough for that.  I read it by sight – and I can do it best from the back side of a Brailled paper.  That used to make my blind friends laugh.
Thursday, I printed my Christmas letter.  In the middle of one print set, I went out to fill the bird feeder, and scared away a little downy woodpecker that was on the suet feeder.  He made a loud, protesting CHIRP!!!  as he flew to the peach tree. 
After the Christmas letter finished printing, I printed labels for the pictures and stuck them on the backs of the photos, ran envelopes through the printer, then inserted letters and pictures into cards.  I sealed envelopes, put return address stickers on them, and raced to the post office, arriving minutes before they closed.  One of the postmen locked the door behind me as I exited. 
I always want to paraphrase Anne of Green Gables and write at the end of my Christmas letter, “I know you think this is long; but if you knew how much I wanted to say and didn’t, you’d at least give me credit for that!”
Larry’s red and white pickup was sitting in the drive – he’d driven his white pickup, because the red/white has practically no brakes.  A few days ago, a hose blew off and all the transmission oil leaked out.  When I went to get the children from school, I discovered his pickup over on the shoulder of old 81.  Trouble is, the white is rusted out on the bottom and on the exhaust, and Larry was getting gassed good and proper.  So he worked on it late, to make it safe to drive.  (By the time he thinks he’s getting gassed, it’s baaad, believe me.)
Here’s Little Gray, who likes us better than his real owners:
I placed an order at Wal-Mart.com that’s supposed to arrive next week.  I wonder how late I can order Christmas gifts, and still have them arrive before our family get-together on the 31st?  I order most of the grocery items I need from Wal-Mart.  Shipping is free when the order is over $50.  Rarely do I get anything from the actual store other than dairy products and fresh produce.  I get frozen vegetables and meats from Schwans.  Sure is nice, not having to haul heavy bags all the way down the walk, up the steps, and into the house.  Larry has had to pull the delivery man’s truck out of the snowy ditch two or three times, though. 
I started working on the photo/DVDs that night.  When one is going through pictures, choosing and eliminating – and then discovers one is about 200 pictures farther into the folder than one thought, on account of falling asleep with one’s finger on the right arrow button, one should go to bed, right?
And I should’ve, of course.  Of course I should’ve.  But of course I got sidetracked, this time with youtube videos of big trucks crashing in snow and ice.  Nice bedtime stories.
Friday morning, Larry went to pick up my Jeep.  I hope, hope, hope it’s fixed now.  We got it back just in time, too.  The roads were getting covered with freezing drizzle, which was expected to keep up until there was a quarter-inch of ice.  (As it turned out, it was more like an eighth-inch.)  Then it would get covered with an inch-and-a-half of snow, they said.  (Again, they overestimated.  It was closer to an inch.)  Next, the wind would pick up, and temperatures would drop to possibly -15°, creating wind chills of up to -35°.  In that, they were spot on.
I like my Jeep!  That van I was driving didn’t have near the traction of the Commander.  It spins at the drop of a hat.
I didn’t notice it spinning,” said Larry, when I mentioned this. 
Yeah, well, pffft.  Maybe he doesn’t spin the tires as much as I do... but I get there quicker.
Soon it was time to go get the grandchildren at school.  It was the last day of school until January 2nd
It was slick out there by then; the back deck was treacherous.  After pulling out of our lane and onto Old Highway 81, I alternately braked and accelerated to see just how slick it was.  The Jeep refused to spin or slide.  Now, if it will just run properly, without any more computer/ relay/rolphgidget conniptions!
The four-lane was clear – well, clear of ice, anyway.  But a mile before reaching Teddy and Amy’s corner, we came upon an old Suburban going 30 mph in the fast lane.  AAAaaaaaaa!  People who don’t have any more sense than that cause accidents!  Most people were going about 60 mph.  To suddenly find a 30-mph vehicle smack-dab in the way – and in the fast lane! – can be disastrous. 
Teddy and Amy’s front walk was so slick, it was like trying to walk on a well-greased cookie sheet with oiled vinyl skids on one’s feet – and the children needed help carrying little gingerbread houses, plates of cookies, several gifts, and all their books and papers into the house. 
I chatted with Baby Elsie for a moment or two – she’s gained almost a pound a week in the last month, and now she’s a month old.  She gazed at me intently – and then yawned hugely. 
I affect her Grandpa the same way.  Maybe I should bottle my chatter and sell it to insomniacs.  We’d get rich!
Home again, I made myself a piping hot cup of French Hazelnut Latte from one of the packets Lydia and Jeremy gave me for my birthday, and went on working on the photo/music movie.  Mmmm, that was good stuff.  I save them for when I’m hungry, and could do with a little snack – because there’s 180 calories in one packet.
Once the movie is done, saved, converted to a wmv or mp4 file, and then burnt to a DVD, the other 114 DVDs are a piece of cake – I got a six-slot duplicator last year, and still have the single duplicator, too.  And once the duplicating begins, I can do other things in the meanwhile.  Namely, alter the suit jacket I plan to wear to our Christmas service Wednesday.  And then, finally, I’ll get back to embroidering tea towels and maybe even get a fleece blanket done for one of the grandsons.  At least, hope springs eternal!
Do you like to play with online quilt puzzles?  Here’s a fun one:  Forca Barca Puzzles.  You can make it as easy or as hard as you like.  Here’s the quilt you will be putting together:  Forca Barca QuiltWhy do they send me these things when I am running so far behind, there’s no hope of me ever getting everything done in time???  I’m so far behind, it looks like I’m in first place!  But I think everyone else on the racetrack is about to lap me.
I used to get things done ahead of time.  Somebody has sped up clock and calendar!  Don’t tell me they haven’t.
That evening, we went to Jeremy and Lydia's house for Jonathan’s 3rd birthday.  I found a little Tonka bucket truck for him, which delighted him, since his Daddy has recently purchased a couple of bucket trucks.  And I found a soft little stuffed doggy that looks a lot like his dog, Sawyer.
Home again, I went on plowing through pictures from last Christmas through this year.  I throw in all the photos I want... and then I go back through and delete, delete, delete.  A 1 ½-hour movie of still shots shouldn’t have much more than 4,500 photos, or they fly past so quickly it’ll give everyone a bad episode of ADHD, even if they never before in their lives ever had any attention or hyperactivity troubles.  
Maníaco nervosismo on steroids.
I downloaded Movie Maker 2012; Windows 10 on my new laptop didn’t come with it.  Booo, hissss. 

I was able transfer the Sothink DVD Movie Maker from the old laptop to this one, thankfully; it cost $40.  (I haven’t discovered whether or not it will work, though.)  When I upgraded the old laptop to Windows 10, Microsoft wiped out the DVD maker that was on Windows 7. 
♫ ♪ Thanks, thanks a lot.  ♫ ♪
The Movie Maker download came with Photo Gallery, which I’ve used and liked for 4 ½ years and was sorry to find missing from my new laptop.  So now I have it back again.  It doesn’t do everything PaintShop Photo Pro does, but it’s a quick and easy tool for lightening shadows, darkening too-bright areas, sharpening, cropping, turning, and suchlike.
Despite the fact that the temperature was 10-15° below zero Saturday morning, and the wind chill was anywhere from 20-35° below, Larry rode his bike somewhere out in the boonies, down a cow path out in pastures and trees – with bow and arrows strapped to his back, to see if there was any sign of deer around.  I found this out ----- when he posted a video clip of his bike ride on Instagram.
I’ve sometimes wanted a gun...  a cute little one for protection, not to shoot the local fauna.  I’m a good shot.  Larry thinks I’m trigger-happy, haha.  Whatever could’ve possibly made him think such a thing as that?!  He says I’d shoot the cats (thinking they were possums coming in the house)... the birds (thinking they were bats)... and him, thinking he was an intruder!
Well, I’m not that trigger happy.  If it was a possum, I’d grab my camera first.  If it’s a bat, I duck, and then I open doors so it can exit (they eat lots of mosquitoes, after all!).  And if it was an intruder, well, I would want him to suffer first, for invading my airspace ---- so I’d bean him over the head with the marble rolling pin first, and then jab him with the meat fork as he went down.
See?  I’m perfectly safe!
I toiled away that day, standing at the kitchen table.  I put my ergonomic keyboard on a thick neckroll pillow and the mouse on a little wooden stool to get them to the right height.  Then I can exercise as I work.  If I sit at computer or sewing machine too long at a time, I wind up stiffer’n a poker.  The coffee mug warmer was near the kitchen window – and it couldn’t keep my coffee warm! 
The temperature got up past 0° that afternoon, but by midnight it had sunk back down to
-11°.  The wind chill was -27°.  But it’s 4°, with no wind chill, way up in Barrow, Alaska, for pity’s sake!
After church last night, we had a late supper of pulled pork on 12-grain bread fresh out of the oven, and Schwan’s frozen green beans.  Well, I did cook them before we ate them.  They taste garden-fresh – like an entirely different variety of vegetable from canned green beans.  For dessert, we had smoothies of frozen vanilla yogurt with raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. 
Today I’m doing laundry, including bedding, even the big wool/velvet/corduroy quilt that was on the bed.   The cats have been sleeping on it, and it not only has cat hair on it, but it also has a vague aroma of cat.  Ugh, I can’t stand that.  Sorry, cats; the door is going to be shut after this.  It doesn’t matter how many times I wash that quilt, I always have to throw Color Catchers into the wash.  And even so, there is a certain piece of once-white wool that collects more red coloring every single time it gets washed.  Fortunately, it is doing it uniformly.  I now pretend I made it that way.
The cats are all betwixt and between:  “We want in the bedroom!”  “Ma!!!  Why is the door shut?”  “That’s our room!”  “Let me in!!!!” 
They don’t want in nearly so much, when the door is open.
The uneasy truce Teensy has with the newcomer and the Johnny-come-lately (Tiger and Little Gray, who belong to nobody and to the neighbors, respectively) has failed, and he sometimes slinks around in a frightened mien, looking for lions behind every corner, and emitting low-pitched growls if those feline usurpers get too close to his airspace.  Poor thing!  It was his house first, after all.
Little Gray doesn’t quite know what to do with himself, because his favorite perch in his pet bed atop the dryer is a little too nerve-wracking to suit him, what with the washer and dryer going at full velocity, and sometimes shaking the rafters with their heavy loads.  I put his pet bed on the hope chest in the living room, and he tiptoed all the way around it, looking at me now and then with Bambi eyes.  “Put it back, won’t you?  Pleeeeze?  And turn off that rattlin’ dryer, pôr fąvör?”
Teensy decided my lap was the safest place he could find – but, unbeknownst to me (for a few seconds, anyway) his paws were muddy.  (How did his paws get muddy, when it’s below freezing outside??)  So I changed my skirt and put the muddied one in the now empty hamper.  Bother!  I just washed all the clothes!
Tabby sits quietly at my feet until my brain is in a deep calculation of how many minutes and seconds three particular songs will take up, and which picture will song #1 end on, and where should I start the fade ----- and then he stands up and pats my kneecap.  “Excuse me, but I need my food, and you can clearly see I’m starving!  Mee!  Meeee!!  Mmmeeeeeee!!!!”
Now it’s suppertime, and the photo/music slideshow is all put together.  I’m watching it all the way through before I ‘publish’ (save) it – and eating steaming hot chicken casserole as I watch and listen.
The fleece/Sherpa blanket is almost dry; soon I’ll be able to put it on the bed and put the wool/velvet/corduroy quilt into the dryer.  In fact, the dryer just buzzed!
A little earlier, I got the bottom lining seam taken out of my Pendleton wool jacket – so now I have to alter it (or at least, put that seam back in) before wearing it Wednesday evening.
Larry is picking up more DVDs and envelopes for me; I only have 52, and need about 120 or so.  If the video publishes all right, and the DVD burns all right, it’ll be smooth sailing from here on out.  Well, on through the DVD duplicating, that is. 
It is now a quarter ’til nine.  I just had a few moments of dismay when, upon saving my movie, Movie Maker informed me that it didn’t have the proper files to do a save.  It gave me a few options to look at... but they are set correctly.  I tried again... and it informed me that I needed to remove one of the pictures, because it was ‘corrupted’.  Then, as I watched, pictures started getting replaced with blank boxes with yellow triangles with exclamation marks in the middle of them.  Instead of creating more of a panic, this made me realize, Oh.  It’s just doing its old thing of going unresponding, like it’s been doing while I was watching it.  So I did what I’ve been doing – I closed out, pulled up Movie Maker again, then my project, and clicked Save again.  This time, it actually gave it a little effort for a few minutes before informing me that files for this movie are missing.
Okay, I am now getting worried.  I’ve closed out... pulled it up again – and this time I will scroll slowly through all the pictures – 4,370 of them (can’t imagine why the thing keeps croaking) – and let everything load first before I try saving again.  Wonder what the next step should be, if it refuses??  Aarrgghh.
It’s nearly midnight.  Movie Maker refuses to work.  A little popup box tells me there’s an error... and I can’t save the movie as wmv or mp4 either one.  I’ve tried different qualities... nothing works.  I suppose because there are too many pictures in it?  I looked online and see that other people have similar problems, and the general consensus is that it’s a memory problem within the program itself.  Also, the latest version of Movie Maker is 2012 – and my laptop is 2016, and maybe ‘ne'er the twain shall meet’.
Larry brought home 100 DVDs and 100 envelopes.  What good will they do me, if I can’t even save the movie??!  I’m transferring files to the old laptop; I’ll do it on that machine if it doesn’t work this time.  And one of these days, I’ll look for another movie maker.
I have presents to make... presents to buy... presents to wrap...
One year after Christmas, Hobby Lobby had some felt giftbags on sale at about 85% off.  They had little felt snowmen, mittens, Christmas trees, reindeer, snowflakes, etc., glued onto them.  I used them the following Christmas for the aprons I’d made my friends.  They were duly impressed, thinking I’d made the bags, too ----- until one of them found the tiny gold sticker on the bottom of the bag that read, “Made in China.”  haha
Here’s Kurt, playing table hockey with Jacob.

,,,>^..^<,,,       Sarah Lynn       ,,,>^..^<,,,