Saturday, December 20, 2008

Wreathiness - Saturday 12/20/2008

Ooh! Hearth and Lights sent us a beautiful L.L. Bean wreath for Christmas. It dresses up our gate nicely.

These two stood up with us at our wedding, and in the past couple of years we've attended their sons' weddings. It's good to have old friends, even if you live 2,000 miles apart. (sniffle.)

Friday, December 19, 2008

All Winter in a Day (or Two) - Friday 12/19/2008

A touch of cabin fever may have helped to inspire me to drive down to Toluca Lake to work today. The road in front of my house was still a bit icy as I started off.

The holiday party was postponed because I wasn't there. Nice of them. I wanted to see my coworkers before the break.

Stopped at the post office to (at last!) get my packages in the mail. I was already behind before the snow storm.

I love the Acton Post Office. There were only a few people in line, but we were all swapping snow stories. The P.O. was closed yesterday!

Amazing. There's still snow all around my neighborhood, but just 10 miles away, on the 14 near Agua Dulce the only sign of snow is on the roof of that SUV up there.

Nice day at work. Finished up what I had on my plate and helped a couple of my coworkers with theirs. Was behind this person with multiple Trader Joe's bags on his arm. Um. I'm not sure you're getting home with those full, buddy.

Ahh! This is about 5 miles from home sweet home. I am still digging the snow. (But thank goodness, not literally anymore. Yesterday's bout with the 10-inch-deep driveway after the hike left me fairly sore.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hydra Dances While Rome Becomes Snowbound - Thu. 12/18/2008

The suspenseful buildup.

The promising first act.

The titillating second act, wherein the conflict deepens.

The triumphant finale!

The crowd goes wild!

There's Got to be a Morning After - Thursday 12/18/2008

Ooh! It's still here! Usually when we get snow, it's gone the same day. This is the view from the bedroom window. Wow!

The full effect in the back yard.

Papyrus with snow.

Not sure what the temperature actually is because this daity garden thermometer is frozen in place.

It's just lucky that I'm not homicidal, huh? Because the perfect weapon is hanging from the eaves of my house.

Or...? Um...? Have I read a few dozen too many episodes of crime procedurals and murder movie scripts?

We have not only snow, but drifts! Gorgeous drifts around the 4 foot high peach tree. The steps are nowhere to be seen, so we'll start our hike elsewhere!

Down the road in front of our house we go. Adventure!

Intrepididity - Thursday 12/18/2008

As we ended our hike, we passed a couple of kids heading out. With a laundry basket as a make-shift sled.


Hydra told them that we'd scared off the polar bears.

The little one looked at us, and the hill, and home and said, "I'm going back!"

His big brother soldiered on. Though I think he'd have done better sliding on a garbage bag.

The Morning After Hike - Thursday 12/18/2008

Our neighborhood nestled in the snow, from Hydra's mountain.

Fire and ice. Remnants of a yucca burned in the last fire.

It was so amazingly quiet with a blanket of snow over everything, that when this snow plow came along on the 14, we could hear it grumbling along for quite a distance. It was amazing to see the 14 empty, but it was closed for about 20 miles west of us and 40 miles east of us.

Since moving to California I've missed how everything gears down a little in the winter, but this year I'm getting a good taste of it.

Bunny highway.

We've read that amongst birds, only parrots have two front-facing toes and two back-facing toes (other's have three forward, one back), so we were concerned when we saw these tracks in the snow. We followed them for yards and yards, to a juniper bush where they paused.

Coyote tracks approached the juniper, circled it, and then went on. The bird tracks went in another direction. We picked them up, wondering if there could be a little grey lost out there somewhere.

Down around the side of a hill we plunged, up to our knees in snow.

Finally, Hydra saw it nestled in some scrub at our feet! It was a roadrunner!

As soon as I lifted my camera, it bolted and flew down the hill. We had no idea we were really that close behind it.

There was a lot of tracking drama up there... bunnies and jacks crisscrossing with coyotes.

And us!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snow Day - Part 2 -Wednesday 12/17/2008

As evening approaches, the snow's still falling and the front yard is filling with snow. You can see just a little of the brick wall on the right that is 20 inches tall...I think we got about 9 inches, but it drifted.

Hydra dutifully shoveled the snow from the walk between the house and garage. Sundry provides her usual respectful color commentary!

While Hydra diligently shovels, Sundry busies herself with the important work of a snow day: building a snow something. Can you see it? It's a snow bird!

The tree in front of the house looks verrry Christmassy now.

Snow's still falling after dark, but the lantern outside the back door has accumulated about as much as it can handle.

Snow Day - Part 1 - Wednesday 12/17/2008

I went out as soon as there was even a little light to get photos of the snow in case it didn't accumulate much or last long. Boy, was I in for a surprise!

The yard outside our front door and the wall Hydra built a few years ago, dusted in snow around 7 a.m.

Hydra is about to free skiiing bear of some of its snow.

The power went off around noon and stayed off for a couple of hours, so we went out to the garage and brought in all the dry firewood. This is from the inside of the garage looking out through a little drift that I knocked with my foot on my way in.

We walk down to the mailbox where--surprise!--there's mail! I'm a little excited about the snow.

Back in the house, our Internet connection does not return when the power comes back on. Sundry is frustrated not only in her attempts to telecommute but--more importantly--to upload photos to her blog!

We continue our walk...with video! (In which it is confirmed that Sundry will never stop sounding like a Midwesterner. Hoosier pride!)

The Story of Little Tree - Wednesday 12/17/2008

There's this little pine tree that sprouted up outside my studio window. It's the offspring of our fabulous big pine tree.

We had snow in Acton! So exciting. Dodger's watching it dust the little tree. Beautiful.

Dodger and I begin to fear for the little tree around 9 a.m.

Hydra takes pity and frees the little tree from the burden of snow when we venture out later in the day. I'm working from home, except that the power and Internet connections keep coming and going. He has a full on snow day.

Aw shucks. A couple of hours later, it's still snowing and blowing and the little tree is in a fix again!

We had some snow storm. It snowed for at least 12 hours and dropped 7-8 inches. There are so many pictures for me to choose from. I was in heaven!

I'll post more. It's bee so frustrating not to be able to get to my blog!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tree in the House - Monday 12/15/2008

We put up our tree yesterday. One of my favorite parts is looking at all the decorations we've bought or been given over the years.

My first tree of my own, I decorated with little bundles of cinnamon tied in red ribbon and fuzzy brightly colored hair ribbons. I think I bought one fancy decoration in the museum gift shop across the street from my apartment. It was a mirrored apple that reflected a lot of light, which I still have. I strapped a yellow stuffed Woodstock doll to the top instead of an angel.

I found out today that it's hard to take photos of ornaments. Either they're too reflective or it's too dark. This may end up being a project!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Beast Stew - Sunday 12/14/2008

This year I've been making a real effort to cook ahead most Sundays or Mondays. The beginning of every week seems to be so hectic, and it's great to know there are a few fresh homemade meals to start it out.

It's probably a little silly in this day and age and in a household without kids, but when I cook, I often feel like I'm doing something important. Engaging in an activity that people have pretty much always needed to do, and which I have the luxury of having fun with.

Cooking is the very definition of the sum being greater than the total of the parts. No one would sit down to eat a bowl of flour, a cup of sugar and stick of butter, but offer Scotch shortbread and it's a whole 'nother story.

For this beef stew, I basically followed the recipe from The Joy of Cooking. Next time I might make it more soupy and a little less stewy, just because we like broth.

I used my deep cast iron pan and it came out really well. Used 2 cups of beef broth and 1/2 a cup of red wine, and then added maybe another cup of broth along the way.

It takes a long time. About an hour prep because you have to brown all the stew meat in batches. Then cooking time is about 3 hours beyond that.

I'll do this again, but not as often as our simple chicken soup, just because the soup only takes about an hour and a half.