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Well, it’s been a cold week here at the Harn.

Hmmm… I feel a bit like Garrison Keillor.  How strange.

I have had the thought, “What was I thinking… coming to the Harn as winter comes on?!?”  But I am truly grateful.  We’re finding all the holes to plug so winter will be warmer than this chilly end of fall. With the past week of truly cold temps, it’s hard to believe that winter has yet to arrive.  And I’ve been able to, thus far, convince the critter trying to dig through the wall to cease and desist.  I’m guessing if I wasn’t here, he’d have chewed through and made himself at home inside the Harn.  He was chewing again Sunday, after an eleven-day hiatus, and I yelled and banged and he stopped.  Unfortunately, he was back today.  I hope I’m hearing each time he comes and that I someday will be able to determine his entry point to block it.  So far, there seems to be no entry from outside.  I can only assume he has residence in the attic or was stuck in the wall when I blocked the outside access.  If he’s in the attic, he needs to stay there!  Of course, if he’s in the attic, I may be fighting this chewing as an ongoing battle.

Several times this past weekend Dan reminded snowpants-2016me, “it’s a dry cold!”  This was the coldest weekend of the year and, indeed, it was dry.  But that does not help but when it’s so bitter… -25°F.  You just do NOT want to stay outside for long.  It’s just f-ing cold!  I got a lovely heated bird bath from Fran and Ed last week and just getting it plugged in was enough to teach me about wet cold.  Snow melts when it touches your fingers and, once wet, the fingers are fair game for the death the cold air can bring.  No worries, my digits are fine.  But even without wetness, I have learned that I need to wear gloves when I go out and it’s below zero.  I can no longer live the lackadaisical way I did in Indiana, shunning a coat until well into January or February.  Minnesota North Woods, I’m learning, can deliver a deadly cold.  My comprehension of cold has been a bit of a shock.  But I now always assure I have boots, hat, coat, and gloves on or in the car.  I’m considering adding the snow pants to that inventory!  I did find snow pants as we unpacked and they are so toasty!

The week involved lots of fires and running the space heaters overnight but I’ve been able to stay warm so far.  We continue to plug leaks and I found a breeze coming in from the closet so this weekend we insulated the concrete slab in there (which we didn’t think to insulate from the rest of the slab which is in the cold garage…  Hindsight is amazingly brilliant!)  The floor insulation helps but it’s still only about 40F in there with this heavy cold so the breeze persisted.  It amazes me that a 20-degree temperature difference can create such a strong airflow at that entryway!  We closed off the room with another piece of insulation and that stops the breeze.  The pump room stays warm with the heat lamps so I’m feeling relieved that one of our plans appears to be working well.  And it does seem like we’ve seen the last of mice in that area so – winning!

first-dinner-guestsWe did entertain our first guests for a meal – Char and Wyatt!  Made a chicken and red lentil soup and some cornbread.  It was a simple meal but good to see them both.  They have been a huge blessing to me and Dan.  For me, it’s great to connect with Char for so many reasons.  She’s a knitter and has a yarn store – so it’s nice to have a crafty gal close by – and she raises her own food and I hope to learn much from her in the coming years.  Plus she’s just adorably funny and the sweetest gal you can know.  I think Dan and Wyatt are hitting it off too.  Wyatt did our concrete work in the garage and Dan reciprocated in part by helping Wyatt with his electrical work at their place.  And they are finding more in common as we go – turns out they are both album fans.  Yes, vinyl!  They both have turntables and record collections, and, though Dan’s is much smaller than Wyatt’s, I believe Dan will be expanding his collection.  They’re both good and handy guys so Char and I feel pretty lucky in our picks!

I was able to read a couple books this past week: Out of the Woods by Lynn Darling and Siddhartha by Herman Hesse.  I’ve now started The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey – can’t believe I haven’t read any of his work until now!  What a character.  I love his description of State Police in his opening paragraphs as it reminds me of the officers at Standing Rock.

The proud tough sensitive flunkies of the rich and powerful.  Armed and dangerous.

As I watch Trump fill his cabinet, I fear, will continue to see the use of government forces in collusion with the goals of the rich and powerful.  And I have a foreboding sadness for those who voted for him in the hopes of finding a better life as I believe they will soon find the same disillusionment I felt when Sanders was ousted.  It’s a bitter pill to swallow and often makes you feel like swallowing many more bitter pills in hopes of ending it all.

Back at the Harn… I have continued putting up trim so the place is looking a bit more finished.  I was also able to get a laundry cabinet hung.  Almost had a major issue with this as I did not thoroughly plan the process before I got started.  I hung a board on the wall on which the top rail of the cabinet back would rest.  Then I put up the cabinet and put one screw in the bottom, not assuring I had a ladder at hand to reach the top screws… When I tried to let go of the cabinet to grab a chair or ladder, the top of the cabinet pulled away from the wall and off the rail.  I realized this before letting go but was left standing there holding the weight of the cabinet and unable to reach for something to get high enough to put in a top screw.  I looked about and ended up pulling over a box of books that was within reach.  I was able to stand on it to get a couple screws in the top rail.  Then I got the chair to finish the rest.  Lucky break!  Looks good and feels sturdy now.  The cabinet was a $30 find at the ReStore.  I decoupaged the exposed end and hung a picture on it and I think it looks pretty good.

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I was able to get down to Alex for my U-Group meeting and it sure was nice to see so many people I love. 🙂  Got to see Momma and Tom and that was great too, though Mom had some disturbing news.  I was able to help her through it to a great degree and that felt good.  I think she was more concerned with how the news would affect me than she realized and, when I took it OK, that helped her relax about it quite a bit.  I will say that some things are just too strange to understand and you have to just let them be and not try too hard to unravel them as there is likely to be no comprehensible explanation.  It did help to talk with my good friends Steph & Lee about it and I am grateful that I have them.  They have lived through similar circumstance in their own lives and empathy is the greatest of soothers.  Of course Danny was his steadfast self in keeping me on track about it all.  In the end, I’m just moving on, doing my best to be myself and loving everyone.  I have a peace about it all.  While in town, I did get a chance to sneak by Cherry Street Books to see Shawn and KP and I stopped by ABE @ ATCC to spend a bit of time with Minerva which was delightful.  I have missed our ESL time each week and am hopeful that we’ll be able to connect on Skype sometime soon.  I gave her a book we can use to practice pronunciation and a bar of the homemade soap I made and she astounded me with a lovely red, white, and green beaded bracelet and a pair of earrings with Frida Kahlo on them!  That I would receive a gift depicting an artist is such an inspiration to me.

I had some mail delivered to the door – three packages!!  I was on the phone with Steph when the driveway alarm went off so I kept her on the phone as I wasn’t sure who it would be.  Was exciting to meet Chad, the fill-in mail dude, but when I checked the packages after getting off the phone with Steph several minutes later, I realized they were not for me!  The address wasn’t even close!  Actually, there were two different addresses for the same recipient.  Oh, geez.  Another round of weirdness with the Post Office.  I left the flag up with a note to let them know but have not seen them yet.  When I got to the mailbox today, the flag was down, more mail was in the box – this time for me! – and the note was gone.  I dropped off the packages when I headed south today.

So with all the recent cold, I am super happy to be in the 20’s this week.  It’s a heat wave!!  I’m thinking my buddy Plumbob (who moved to MN from IN a couple years before I did) may prove to be right in saying, “26 below ain’t as cold as you think!” as 20 now seems balmy. I needed to gather more wood for the stove so this heat wave came at a good time.  I like seeing a rack of wood that will keep me ahead in the heating game.  I have a wood stash closer to the mandoor to the Harn but my stockpile had gotten quite small!

With the warmer weather, I’ll be burning less but it’s nice to have the wood ready.  I’m guessing this load will get me into the new year.  I’m hoping so but I do plan to get out in the woods this week and gather more wood while the weather is nice.  That’s a nice way to get outside, get a bit of exercise, and also get some much needed work done.  I took a brief walk out the back yesterday and gathered a small handful of sticks for kindling as I went.

The best part of the recent work at the Harn was being able to get some big moving done and the craft room is starting to take shape.  It will be an ongoing job to unpack but I am feeling closer to being able to get crafting again and that will make winter much more productive.  Yippee!

So my Christmas is looking like it will be a happy one.  Though I feel I have done little along the way of presents, I am finding a joy in hearing the Christmas music on the radio – something in years past I would turn off quickly.  Not sure what this means…  but I hope all your Christmas dreams come true.  I believe we are going to have a white Christmas here… 8-12” deep!   Lucky will remain in his new favorite spot on the Rocket Mass Heater.

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