Are you hunkered down inside the house on this gloomy Saturday? The weather sure isn’t conducive for trekking out to buy the vittles for Thanksgiving dinner and I’m sure no one is working on the outside Christmas trimmings either. Despite the ice, which wasn’t so nice, the Wyandotte Christmas Parade went on as scheduled. Of course, Santa was right in his element as were his helpers and trusty reindeer. I know as I watched the recap online from the comfort of my kitchen. As for me, what a treat to sip coffee and listen to the freezing rain pinging the blinds and patio roof. It is a good day to be thankful for your warm house and food in your stomach. I’m not much of a cook … the easier the fare, the better. Some of my Facebook friends snap pictures of their culinary creations and another friend of mine will share details of her daily gourmet menu, all which sound pretty fancy-schmancy and rather complicated to me, but I’m sure they are a gastronomical delight. Last weekend a friend posted that she was stirring up a big batch of sloppy joes and it got me thinking that I was going to make some for myself the first Saturday that I had a little time … today was that day. When I was growing up, my mom made a big dinner every night of the week, including weekends. No rest for her in the kitchen –ever. Sundays were often roast beef or a chicken, with lots of clean-up as I recall. I never remember having easy or fun food on the weekend. No pizza or T.V. dinners, which made me feel a little deprived sometimes, though I certainly never went hungry. It was all practical food that was good for you. When I got to junior high, the school menu had daily hot lunches. My mom packed me a brown bag lunch, four days a week, but a big deal for me was Mondays as they had sloppy joes, corn and potato chips, so my parents gave me lunch money every Monday for this treat. Well, I thought I was in hog heaven. Back in those days, moms rarely worked outside the home, so most of my peers similarly brought a bag lunch but also got to buy the sloppy joe special every Monday. So, I recreated that lunch today which made me feel like a kid again … a kid from some forty plus decades ago. Even though I skipped the potato chips, I had bought pretzel buns which were a bit of a decadent treat. I browned the meat and poured in the Manwich sauce and I kept sampling the mixture while it was simmering on the stove. Mmmmm, and the kitchen still smells wonderful … whiffing that aroma, while I closed my eyes, I was standing in the line at Huff Junior High’s cafeteria, pushing my plastic tray along the rails, my lunch money in my plastic change purse. All I needed was the small carton of chocolate milk with a straw to complete the whole flashback meal. Who says you can’t go back again?
Sadly, Winter does not officially arrive until one month from today. I didn’t miss anything at all by not going outside yesterday; in fact, it might have been a little depressing had I gone. This morning I went outside to run the car and mail a letter. The driveway already had glaze patches on it. There were countless jagged icy ruts on the City sidewalk forcing me to take baby steps in some spots in order to walk to the mailbox at the end of the street. Can it be a mere week ago when I confidently pounded the pavement as I headed to Council Point Park, then walked loops around that Park? While donning my snow boots on the landing before heading outside this morning, I felt a small pang as I saw the bag hanging from the cellarway railing, filled with Ziploc packs of peanuts, handy to take with me on my walk. I wondered how my furry friends at the Park were doing and hoped they were not patiently waiting on me to come to give them treats. Mother Nature put a very sudden kibosh to the walking and I sure am grateful I made my goal last weekend, since it looks like a smorgasbord of weather issues are looming large on the horizon. As I stood near the garage door while waiting for the fumes to dissipate after running the car, a flock of Canada Geese startled me out of my reverie with their loud honking overhead. I wanted to call out to them: “y’all should you have started out earlier!” but I didn’t want to rub it in.
Like you, I’ve been following the horror stories of the historical snow event in Buffalo … and, it is still snowing. The first decade of my life was spent in Ontario in Canada’s snow belt – our weather mirrored that of Buffalo, with never-ending snow most of the Winter. We lived right on the bend of a cul de sac and some black-and-white pictures in the old family album will attest to those mountains of snow. There was my father’s VW bug parked in the driveway, looking like an igloo, awaiting dusting off – no, make that shoveling off, so he could make his long commute to work in Toronto. I don’t really remember there being snow days for work, or for school either, but I do recall layers upon layers of clothes to go out and play in the Winter time. That’s probably the reason I’m no snow bunny and dislike the snow so much now. I guess we have it easy here in Michigan, though, from the sound of this morning’s traffic and weather reports it didn’t sound so great outside here either. Leaves still litter the lawns in our neighborhood. No one wanted to rake in the blustery weather last weekend, and, after all, we had until Thanksgiving week to get our yard waste hauled to the curb for the season. The leave-raking expectations don’t look too rosy this weekend, especially if it rains or we have freezing rain. Nothing like trying to rake glazed leaves. My handyman was supposed to come clean the gutters yesterday but phoned to say that job would require a pick axe so he has to defer the visit ‘til it warms up a tad. I follow “The Farmer’s Almanac” on Facebook and their weather folklore prediction is “if on the trees the leaves still hold, the coming Winter will be cold” … what joy! And, as to outside chores … for years it was great to wrap them up and put a bow on them before Thanksgiving and have a few weeks to relax before the snow shoveling drudgery began. At least I wrapped up the outside faucet last weekend, amid some grumbling, frozen fingers and though it is on there a little cockeyed, I think it will do the trick to get through this interminable Fall-Winter weather. So, chin up everyone. This quote by Lilly Pulitzer says it best: “Despite the forecast, live like it’s Spring” … so there!
Here is a warm fuzzy for this cold, Winter-like evening. Tonight, in the snowy Rochester, New York area, an 8-year-old girl is snuggling up with a fuzzy little Tuxedo kitten courtesy of my friend Carol.
My high school friend, Carol, now lives in Honeoye Falls, New York. The edge of her backyard is a large wooded area where deer often appear in the morning looking for food. Carol caters to the wild birds by feeding them and providing a birdbath as well, plus she fosters many feral cats all year around. One Mama cat ensures each new litter of kittens stays on the deck where they can partake in unlimited kitten chow and fresh water. Like she does each Fall, long before the snow and brutal weather arrived, Carol placed her heavy shelters on the deck for Mama and her little ones to live. The shelters are lined with heated warming pads, and food and water is placed in heated dishes nearby. When Carol is satisfied her charges are warm and fed, she goes inside the house to tend to her own three cats: Smudge, Harley June and Dudley.
The neighbors all know that any cat or kitten on the loose must be one of Carol’s feral gang, so often they just drop ‘em off. Sometimes she will come out on her deck in the morning to find a new face … still another mouth to feed.
On Devil’s Night there was loud knocking on Carol’s front door and she answered to find a neighbor with a tiny Tuxedo kitten in the palm of his hand. “Here” he said as he handed it over … “I found it on my porch and I don’t know what to do with it” and then he turned and left. Well, Carol shut the door and set to work on this tiny kitten. It was weak and not very responsive. She wanted to keep it segregated from her own cats, who are not allowed outside except in their kennels or on their harnesses. She wrapped the wee one in a blanket, then pushed two old cat carriers together for a makeshift kennel and put a donut bed inside with a few layers of fleecy blankets. Next, she filled a small baby bottle with canned milk. Cradling her charge, she got the kitten to finish most of the bottle, and it fell asleep in her arms. She placed it in the carrier and shut the light, saying a prayer it would last the night, then wrote about this event on Facebook.
The next morning Carol unzipped the mesh opening to the carrier and out bounced the kitten. She played and cuddled with it and then gave it a bottle and a toy and posted the good news on Facebook.
Within a few days, the kitten was 100% healthy and very energetic and playful. We all were regaled by its antics and Carol posted the above picture to show off the cute little boy and asked for names for him. We all applauded her efforts, contributed a name or two and suggested Carol might as well welcome him to the family. She responded with a resounding “no way” and reinforced that statement by calling the nearby Lollypop Farm Humane Society to advise she was fostering a healthy kitty named Dewey that was soon ready to be adopted.
Carol took Dewey yesterday for his first shots and tonight he went to his furever home … Carol packed up the whole kit and caboodle, which included all of Dewey’s possessions he amassed in 2 ½ weeks: a donut bed, a scratching post, a leash and harness, his favorite kitten chow, and … oh yes, all the toys he liked to play with during his stay at Carol’s. Lots of love went out to this lucky little guy.
Little Dewey’s life was spared a few weeks ago thanks to one kindly nurturing soul named Carol McCrellias and now his good fortune will continue with a little girl who will cuddle him and call him her very own.
You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
… and I did, in fact, walk those miles and sleep in this morning – a little later anyway. I’ve been running myself ragged the last few weeks, both trying to get errands done before the bitter cold and snow settle in, and all the while attempting to get to my 500-mile walking goal and I have done it. Yippee! I realize I could have paced myself a bit slower, but with the advent of snow and all this cold weather, I could just picture the walking scenario ending up the same as the tail end of 2013 … just scrambling around and walking loops at Memorial Park to get ‘er done. Looking back at my November 2013 blog posts, I note last year’s weather has mirrored this November’s blustery, cold weather. Only too well I remember the slick and snowy conditions that kept me housebound over Thanksgiving weekend, a weekend which I fully intended to finalize last year’s walking miles goal. So, this past week I pushed myself and walked a total of 28 miles since last Sunday. I am happy to say I now stand at 501 miles for the year 2014. If the weather turns ugly and the walking becomes more sporadic, I have at least surpassed my 2013 mileage amount. I’ll post my total miles at year end – I hope to get some more walking in, weather permitting. I’m still ahead of my car mileage for 2014 – double the walking miles in fact; I only drove 247 miles in the car so far this year. Here is another picture from our excursion to Elizabeth Park yesterday – the Canada Geese grazing with the picturesque bridge in the background.
The hunters are in their glory as firearms deer season began at the crack of dawn today. With all that snow in Northern Michigan making it easy to track poor Bambi, the hunters will have no problem taking out their prey. Bucks: better watch your backs! I thought of those poor deer as my friend Marge and I drove along West Jefferson in Trenton past a rural area where the deer hang out, but were conspicuously absent today. We trekked out to Trenton to The Lighthouse, a large lamp and light store. We visited with Angus, the Springer Spaniel store mascot, who greets everyone at the door with a smile … er, wagging tail. After the sniff test, if you pass muster with him, Angus promptly heads back to his perch, a large counter next to the cash register.
From The Lighthouse, we went to Elizabeth Park for an extended trip around the perimeter of that scenic Park. As we got closer to the entrance, I wondered if the blustery winds the past few days wreaked havoc with the beautiful trees, stripping them bare and sending their leaves in a downward spiral to carpet the ground. Well, we were pleasantly surprised to see many trees full of leaves, still cloaked in their beautiful Fall colors. We rounded a bend and Marge suddenly whipped out her camera and took this photo above. The scene reminded me of one of my mom’s jigsaw puzzles. How magnificent those trees looked and so picturesque on a sunny, but bitterly cold, Saturday morning.
We continued to take in the sights as we made our way slowly around the Park. Up ahead, a small car was pulled over on the shoulder on the left-side of the asphalt road. We pulled in behind after seeing a crowd of squirrels gathered in the wooded area near the car. A group of squirrels – numbering about 30-35, were sitting around munching contently on peanuts, with the occasional brave Blue Jay zooming in for a nut, then lifting off and returning from whence he came, only to repeat the process with a few of his counterparts a few minutes later. As we drove past, we saw the driver watching us – another kindly soul, enjoying her afternoon and eager to help the critters tuck away a few goodies for the long Winter ahead. It was a peaceful and idyllic scene. The sun warmed the front window and it felt so good basking in the sunlight, capturing the picture in my mind’s eye to churn out during those chilly months ahead.
We exited the Park and drove along West Jefferson, pausing briefly to look for deer near the site of the old McLouth Steel Plant. Usually the deer come out of the bushes to feed at a place where people often leave bales of hay or toss their carved pumpkins after Halloween is over for the deer to feed on. Oh dear – the deer were absent today. I hope that no one was taking pot shots at them somewhere so they ran for cover!
We continued along West Jefferson, through downtown Wyandotte, and on to Bishop Park. It was so beautiful there today – the sun was high in the sky and a freighter was lazily gliding by while the seagulls kept watch from the sidelines.
I hated for our trip to come to an end, especially since I had some outside chores to do. Though it was a pretty day, the sun belied the frigid temps. I got a very brief walk in as well, and, but for the interlude of outside Winter prep chores, it was a perfect Fall day.
Well, this morning’s walk in the Park was no “walk in the park” as that expression goes … it was downright cold, and, when I opened the door to go out, it sure was not inviting in the least. But I am “this close” to finishing up my goal for the year, so off I went, after piling on even more layers, including my early Christmas present from Buddy. I bought myself a rather frivolous gift the other day, convincing my frugal self, that it was Buddy’s Christmas present to me, so it was therefore allowed. After fumbling to remove my gloves to take a picture last weekend, then essentially missing the shot by a mile, I decided to buy a pair of convertible fingerless gloves, with flip-up mitten tops. They are no doubt created for the younger set who text all the time, but they will work super for me when using the camera on those frosty mornings at the Park. I decided it was cold enough to wear them this morning and they sure were toasty … the rest of me – well, not so much.
The cold temps and yesterday’s snow flurries have descended on Council Point Park big time. As I walked on the perimeter trail, I saw loads of frost-encrusted leaves and a heavy layer of frost on the grass. In some places, the Creek already has a thin veil of ice covering portions of the water. Where there was no ice, the ducks were silently gliding along, stopping occasionally to alight on a log to preen themselves, or, intermittently plunging their pretty iridescent heads into the water in search of breakfast. They made me all the colder watching all that dunking in that chilly water. The Glee Club was out in full force. What is the Glee Club you ask? Often, when I start on the trail, I will see the various squirrels stop in their tracks, sit up on their haunches and then scamper over to see me from all parts of the Park. It puts a smile on my face, and, I must say, sometimes the look on their collective faces is one of pure glee in that they know a treat is coming … sustenance for them, but a good feeling for me. I wonder just how they will survive the elements sometimes because the berries are gone and I don’t think I’ve seen any Oak trees from which they might glean acorns. Perhaps they stray to the nearby neighborhoods to work their magic on the homeowners there. So, I gifted the Glee Club as I walked along the trail the first time, then revisited again on my second time around, and, of course by then, the peanuts were already eaten or stashed away somewhere so they came over to me once again. I may be in the poorhouse for my good deeds, but it warmed my heart to watch their antics on a frigid cold day like this one.
Weather folklore is great – after all, what would we do without Punxsutawney Phil predicting how many weeks are left in the Winter season? Naturalists say that an abundance of acorns littering your lawn means a bad Winter is on the way. Oh-oh … I’ve seen more acorns than usual on the City sidewalks this year. And “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” tells us a Woolly Bear caterpillar, like the one I saw on the Park trail back in late September and pictured above, is a good way to tell what is in store for Winter; the wider the light-brown band on its body is, the more weeks of Winter, because supposedly each segment represents one week of Winter. Well, this guy looks like three equal-colored segments to me. Folklore and urban legend tells us that squirrels gathering and stashing nuts in a hurry will cause the skies to flurry, and, also we can tell if the Winter will be wicked by how furry a squirrel’s tail is – the furrier the tail, the worse the Winter. Well my furry friends at the Park are gathering nuts aplenty and flicking their ample tails quite a bit so I guess we stay tuned and hope for the best. Whether we are predicting this Winter’s weather by studying squirrels’ tails or relying on Grandpa’s tales, I think we’re going to take it on the chin either way.