awe, humility, hope and a few other things I might notice


Winter DIY projects

Happy Solstice!
I recently heard a northern Vermonter say that it has been winter since fall and it will be winter until summer. So, the date of Dec 21st only marks the longest day of the year here up north, but not necessarily the darkest nor greyest nor certainly the coldest.
Rather than lighting a candle or some meditation on the light, I finally did something I have wanted to do for about 20 years.
I made a gingerbread house. So I just went at it, internet instructions in hand, with repeated consultations to veganize things and then I didn’t have corn syrup so more instructions, and for not being too well planned it turned out solid if not crafty. From another perspective you could say it looks like a haunted gingerbread house, but it’s all mine.
I made the gingerbread, candy coated the cashews with reduced beet water for fuschia and used tumeric for orange. What a mess! I ran out out of the “mortar” of my vegan frosting and made my own sugar syrup twice. This just goes to show that DIY is not always the best way, but still fun.
I will need help to eat it of course. Although the ingredients were mostly healthy, based on what we had on hand; nuts, raisins, dried cranberries, dates, etc. The icing coats all of it
in sticky sweetness. The fuschia looks like it should be so tasty.

I will build again and I hope to have some friends or family with me next time. With a little advice on how to do miter cuts and more frosting on hand I think we can do a lot better than


But wait, there’s more.
Other recent DIY projects that were, ahem, more productive than well made;
pajama bottoms- I did some patch work to make up for the fact that I didn’t have enough material. Let’s just say I won’t be wearing these out to the mailbox.
Deodorant- I was sick of paying $9 for aluminum-free stuff or “crystals” that only portended my inevitable stinkiness by 11am. Turned out pretty well actually, but then again it is on average about 10 degrees F (-12 C for my metric friends) before the wind chill.
My own refrigerator chart conversion table of F to C and C to F. An absolute necessity. Sent hubby off with a two pager version (he needs large print these days).
Lip balm- this meant just stuffing room temperature coconut oil into my mostly used lip balm stick. Works well, until summer or 75 F, whichever comes last.
Seasonal decorations for the door- this involved cross country skiing, a backpack and finding a variety of downed trees. Very few trees were injured in this endeavor. At least I already had the skiis.
Call me a crazy nutball environmentalist anti-captilistic cheapskate, but I feel a certain attitude of independence and resourceful ingenuity and more than a little humble for the results of my efforts. If nothing else, I will laugh at myself all winter long.

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I have not been able to focus much these days. I could blame it on the move, but that would be too generous. So instead here are some snippets, flurries if you will.

My husband and I rarely eat out. Even having coffee out is atypical, especially for me, minor coffee snob that I am. So we had this additional challenge of reticence and unwillingness to add to our lack of variety and choice when we found ourselves without heat, stove or refrigerator during our recent move. In our moving and heatless environment, we used a propane camp stove and made vegie burgers and pita bread for a satisfying hot home cooked meal for 2 days. But before we found the camp stove, we established that Tim Hortons minestrone soup can get you through a lot too, though it felt odd becoming a regular. I am from the States after all. I think I had finally been able to swallow the heart burn inducing yet curiously still weak Tim’s when, just my luck they introduced their dark roast. It felt like it was my birthday.

If necessity is the mother of invention, I am still glad that we have engineers because my necessary inventions have a very short shelf life. While the camp stove use demonstrates our pluck, it was not the most creative act of our adventure. In the move our coffee grinder also decided to die on us, as if the move was just too much change. I found my husbands old Betty Crocker mixer, a fragile looking thing, and inserted the infusion blender attachment as a coffee grinder. I won’t reveal my as yet unpatented secret for controlling the flying beans, but I will say that I have mastered the technique and for a few moments actually thought I was brilliant.

Are you wondering what happened to the ghee? Sigh. The ghee was the only other casualty of the move. We did not break any glass or even chip the furniture, but one of the boxes of ghee somehow heated itself to a more liquid state. This despite the fact that the mercury, er Celsius/Farenheit… the temperature did not budge above refrigerator cold #2. So I am theorizing that then the liquefied ghee was receiving some G’s and moved towards one side of its containers which then led to some escapage and then some greasing of the box and the box underneath it and the truck floor beneath that. We only lost a pound or so (er milliliters…kg???) and had a small mess to clean up. It was like the blob, but luckily we controlled it in time.

The local library is loud. I mean there is no whispering, at all. At full voice the librarian explained the differences between the Kobo and the Ipad. Although both the patron and said librarian were well into their 60’s they had a far greater understanding of the situation than I do. I also found out that a neighbor was ordering their snow tires online from the U.S. and driving out to the border to pick them up. Now that’s a bargain hunter. So I felt fine joining in and asking about local cross country trails and recycling regulations and was dutifully and with a librarian’s exactitude educated about all. The hardware store is also a highlight of local experience, although my questions were notably answered with a less precise, but predictably mechanics mindset of, “well, if that’s what you want.”

The library is loud and familiar and the hardware store is near but the bureaucracy of government and large agencies of the province are beyond recognition and more reminiscent of the border control meets the Vogon’s. I could hear the evil smile rising on the car insurer’s face (over the phone even) when she heard some unfortunately slipped excess of information. She nearly asked for my social security number. I think she wanted to track me down. But they will never find me or my U.S. license plate. Never.

Day 5- it’s 4 degrees or something. I feel cold.
Day 15 or something- it’s 1 degree and it is not so cold when you walk around.
Day 27- whatever the temperature is, it is Peak time for Hydro, so big blanket and two pairs of pants. I hope the cats appreciate the fact that I gave them a blanket too.
Day 35- it’s 11 degrees or something. I feel cold. I think it’s colder inside than outside.
Day 35 and ½- I think all nice Canadian women sound alike, and not just their vowels which I cannot imitate no matter how hard I try, its their inflection, their well moisturized smile…