Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The day after turkey day Grandma, who is 87 years young, the grandkids and I went to cut boughs for wreaths.  We filled the back of the car with them and then hauled them to the basement to the wreath making workshop.  They turned out great!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

How about a Smoky Friday?

The alternative to Black Friday.

Burn a brush pile.  We had a firefighter to start the fire.

Once you have started the fire, then you spend a lot of time standing around the fire or you pack more wood to the fire and clean up Retired Mountain Man's forest.

 Maggie is doing her best to keep Dylan from adding fuel to the fire.

The big cousins spent the weekend helping the little cousin.  Card games were played along with a round of Apples to Apples, Trivial Pursuit and Mexican Train Dominoes.  There was all that good food and few leftovers.  Football and football and football.

I never did get a photo of everyone sitting at the table.

We had so much fun!  The house was full of little kid squeals and laughter.  Yes, lots of chaos here and there, but that's how it should be.  The rest of the time it's just Retired Mountain Man, Mollie and Maggie  and me.  Pretty quiet.  Now we look forward to Christmas and  New Year's Eve.

There's no time for Black Friday here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Puppy exhaustion. Last June I would have said it will never happen.

Am I still on schedule for the Thanksgiving Holiday?  The dogs think so.  They have both had their bath and been groomed.  Maggie has followed me around the house, up and down, in and out of every room as I make up beds and clean bathrooms.   She is pretty sure that some of the beef stew is for her.

They look exhausted don't they?

Bring on the pumpkin pie, please.

Burkhart Bambi

This is one of our Bambi's.    There were five of them in the field last night.  This one came right in the yard and started eating the leaves off the apple tree.  This morning there was a doe under the plum tree.

Why are they hanging out here?  Our deer dog has no clue.  One of them shook her head at Maggie and she came back to the house on a dead run.  Then we realized that we did not pick up the plums that fell off the tree this year.  The deer are doing it for us. This could become a serious problem.

One of the Most Dangerous Jobs

When the snow on the north side of the house finally warms up enough to start to slide off.  Drastic measures must be taken.  The icicles are touching the windows.  "Someone" must go outside and knock them down.

And if someone is not careful, this can happen: 

OSHA, where are you?  Now he wants workman's comp.  I don't think so, buddy.

Now it has to be shoveled off of the deck by "someone".

Monday, November 21, 2011

Winter sounds

Yesterday on our walk we had three black and white border collies, as Thompson joined us for the walk.  Mollie is the oldest, 11; Thompson is 4 and Maggie is 8 months.  There was a lot of running and playing in the snow.  It was so much fun to watch.  They were having a great time!  Running, sliding and chasing each other.  The fluffy snow was flying. Mollie is the queen and does not participate much.  She just watches and rules. 

It is very quiet walking in this snow.  It is still dry, light and fluffy.  No hard crust yet.  Well, it is quiet except for the happy puppy noises. 

On another note:

We have another dripping sound but it's not a faucet. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Boredom, Tyler, Boredom

We walked up to West Spring Creek Road to pick up our newspapers today.  It's a really nice walk.  Only about a quarter of a mile and a gentle slope halfway up.

Although walking up our road is easy, sometimes driving our road is not.

Delivery people, such as UPS, Fed Ex, and the US Postal Service, are afraid to drive on Spring Creek Road and Old Cougar Road. 

USPS refuses to even deliver mail to us.  We are on a first name basis with our UPS and Fed Ex drivers.  In the winter they call us to find out if they can make it up Spring Creek and then in and out of our driveway.

It doesn't look too steep in this photo.

We do not mind the Old Cougar Road Challenge.  We prefer it this way.  It makes daily life more interesting if each morning that you wake up you are not certain that when you drive around the first corner of your driveway, you will not end up with your car stuck in the ditch.

If you pass that challenge, then there is always the dreaded "hill" on Spring Creek Road.  Long, steep, narrow.  You hope you don't meet another car trying to make it up the hill when you are driving down.  Or the snowplow.

Retired Mountain Man and I use this phrase often when facing the challenge.

"Boredom, Tyler, boredom."

It's a line from the movie, Never Cry Wolf.  Rosie, the bush pilot, is flying a small plane over mountains in Alaska to take Tyler to a remote area to study wolves. The plane engine dies.  He tells Tyler to take the wheel and fly the plane while he crawls out onto the wing struts to use a wrench to beat on the fuel line.  He says that people who live in the lower 48 are bored, so they go to Alaska for excitement.  "Boredom, Tyler, boredom". 

The Old Cougar Road Challenge....................

(This photo shows the first half of the driveway.  It then has a ninety degree turn to the right and goes up the hill to Spring Creek Road.)

Have we ever been stuck in the ditch on our corner?  Yes.      Was there boredom?  #@*! No.

Have our neighbors been in the ditch? Yes.     Were they bored? #@*!  No.  One of them, I won't say who, has a particular fondness for that corner.

The UPS driver stuck?  Oh yes.  He was not a happy camper, but he wasn't bored.

Have our sons ever driven our car or truck into the ditch on Spring Creek Road? 

I won't even bother to put the profanity symbols here.  Retired Mountain Man was usually out of breath by the time he was done.

"How the !@#$%  did you do that?  You were driving too fast!   #$%^!!?  yelled Retired Mountain Man to Jamie or David.  #$%!  #*!! Pul-ease???   "Boredom, Tyler, boredom", sounds much nicer. 

Jamie's 1968 Toyota Landcruiser that had many adventures on Spring Creek Road.
I don't think Jamie or David would say that growing up on Spring Creek was boring.

I think I am getting off track here.  Back to walking up the road.  It was a beautiful morning.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Winter Storm Warning, Hazardous Weather Advisory

 Yes, we have snow.  Twelve inches.  Yesterday, it snowed the entire day.  Tonight the weatherman says our temps go to around eleven.  It is going to be a close call for closing the windows in the bedroom. 

 It's "the end" for the last two pots of petunias.  Poor babies.


Maggie hasn't really figured out just what all this white stuff is.  In this photo she is a little concerned about how she is going to get back in the house. 

Retired Mountain Man is already tired of shoveling snow.  Boy is he ever in for a long winter. 

School was closed, cars were in the ditch all over the place.  Semi's jack-knifed on the interstate.  Our neighbor, who plows our driveway, had very bad luck as his truck broke down early yesterday morning.  Fortunately, we do not have to drive anywhere for a couple of days.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Time is up!

As I am blogging this morning we probably have at least another inch of snow.  It is snowing hard and it's those big white flakes that add up really fast.

Notice the satellite dish on the left side of the photo?  It's almost covered with snow which means it won't be long and I won't have Internet or TV unless "someone" puts on snowboots and walks down there to clean off the dish.  I wonder who "someone" could be?

Nope.  More coffee and guitar.

Happy Birthday, little brother!

 He's only thirteen months younger than me.  Yep, my mom had her hands full with us!

He was probably born with one of these in his hands.  He picked up a guitar when he was 14 and he hasn't put it down since.  At least that's what his wife, Linda says.  He can really play that thing. 

Now it's officially winter in Hope

 Six inches of the heavy, wet stuff. Perfect for building a snowman.  I wish my grandkids were here to help me make one. 

The wine has been racked and tasted and moved to cold storage.  All three tastings were good.  The elderberry wine is an improvement over last years.  A lot more flavor.  Both of the white wines already have a very nice delicate dry flavor.  They are now in the cold storage room (our bedroom) where the temperature is currently 49.7 degrees.  The windows stay open unless the temperature drops below 10. 

Today we transform the pantry into an elegant guest room for our Thanksgiving visitors.  Who knew the room could be so versatile?  The guests sleeping in the pantry must be patient individuals who do not mind a little sleep deprivation, because once I have guests sleeping there, every single item I need is, in the pantry.   "Of course", as Ben would say.  Therefore, the people with the two-year-old should sleep in the pantry.  They are already used to sleep deprivation.

The rest of the guests will be in the basement room which is one large area that can sleep seven to ten.  Those sleeping there must be able to tolerate a lot of loud snoring and children who might wake up during the night.  They are also in charge of "putting another log on the fire", in the furnace room to keep us all warm.  It is part of the Burkhart Holiday Experience.  

But first, more coffee and guitar.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


On another note, it is a mess outside today.  We have about an inch of very wet snow this morning.  Maggie did not care for it and wouldn't even step off the porch.  She spent the first 20 minutes just hugging the door and begging to come back in.  I can't blame her, it did seem kind of nasty out there.  I wouldn't step off the porch either.

They say dogs are like their masters which seems to be true in this case. 

You know how all those diet experts tell you that once you start doing an exercise you will love it and want to keep doing it?  Nope!  Not me.  I do like going for walks/hikes once I am out there, am I antsy to go out there and do it?  No, I crave dark chocolate.  Do I want to go outside when it is cold, windy, rainy, and there is slushy snow on the ground?  I tell myself that I am going to exercise indoors today.  Strength training or something like that. 

Motivation... where are you?

Coffee and guitar.

Cougar Creek Winery 2012 Preview

Today, the plan is to rack the three carboys of wine.  "Racking" is siphoning the wine from one carboy into another.  It helps clear the wine as there are usually tiny acid crystals or other sediments in the bottom of the carboy.  At each step all the equipment must be sterilized with potassium metabisulfite.  The process isn't too bad once I get started.

Of course there must be taste tests of each carboy.  I am hoping that my elderberry wine tastes better this year.  I used more juice this year and very little water.  After the wines are racked into clean carboys, they will be moved to cold storage for the winter.  The colder temperature also helps remove the acidity as the wine ages.  With some luck we will have our 2012 Cougar Creek Pear Nouveau on New Year's Eve.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What is important in life?

 I have been working on the tablescape for Thanksgiving weekend.  Jon and I had a short discussion about how important tablescapes are.  Notice I said "short".  Thanksgiving is special as it's about family and friends.  Good food, playing games, crowded sleeping situations (sometimes the beds are not too comfy), lazy mornings with lots of coffee and conversation.  Of course there is football and it looks like there's going to be enough snow for sledding and a fire at the top of the sled run to keep warm. So, do we really need a tablescape?  My granddaughter, Rylee, and I think so.  It's part of what makes the Thanksgiving holiday special.  I have started working on it and when Rylee gets here, she is going to help me finish it and other decorations for the table.

It is 16.2 degress this morning and an official warning that snow is on the way and winter has begun in Hope, America.  At 7:45 a.m. the sun is just now shining on the top of Middle Mountain.

I do have other things to do today besides the table scape.  I am going to cook the base for the beef stew and freeze it.  Practice my guitar, of course  (As my 2 year-old grandson, Ben would say. He has learned the words, "of course" and uses them frequently)  Take the screens off the windows and store them! Sorry, it's been on my to do list for quite some time and I keep forgetting.  (sometimes I have to yell at myself)  Drink coffee and play my guitar in-between all tasks.

Thanksgiving prep schedule:

Monday:  make the beef stew for Wed. night dinner, drink coffee, play guitar

Tuesday:  Guitar lesson, Thanksgiving bath for both border collies (always an interesting task), cook the yams, make the stuffing, drink lots of coffee, play guitar

Wed:  bake pumpkin pies, scalloped corn and oysters, and apple crisp,    Dang.  I hope I have time to drink coffee and play my guitar

If you are hosting the dinner you already know there's also quite a bit of miscellaneous stuff in-between, just too boring to actually put on a list.

Thursday:  Turkey Day- Dinner for twelve. We will have a full house.  I love it!

Some photos of last year during Thanksgiving weekend.

I may have had too much coffee already this morning.....

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dusting.....the kind that I like.

This morning we have our first real dusting of snow.  The weather man  says we are probably going to get more this afternoon.  We will see.  I am ready for snow even though I don't have all the leaves raked. Oh well, they will be there in the spring or maybe they will blow away.  Wishful thinking.

I love to take my walk when it's snowing.  It's so quiet in the woods. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Renewed Quest

My friend, Ann, and I are trying to keep our creaking bones and shrinking muscles from totally fading away.  We have vowed to meet each morning at 8:30 and walk down Old Cougar Road.  We take two border collies with us, Thompson and Maggie.  Mollie has a problem with her knee so she has to stay home and sleep on her rug. 

Yesterday we took a little side trip and did some searching for oyster mushrooms.  We found only a handful.  Last year was a mushroom bonanza and this year is a mushroom bust.  Looking for the shrooms makes the walk more interesting. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pressure Canner Retires for 2011

The last batch of salsa comes out of the canner for 2011.  Batches number 5 and 6 are done.  That's it!

 I have one more project, grape jelly, and this season's canning and preserving session is over.  Remember the pickled tomatoes?  It is time to taste them.  The flavor is very nice but they need more salt.  I am going to add a teaspoon of salt to each jar and wait three more weeks. 

I really like the chutney and salsa recipes that I tried this year. The chutney really spices up a bland meal.  You know what I mean, the skinless chicken breast, low calorie thing you are supposed to be eating. 

It is now time to start getting ready for the holidays.  I decided to be ahead of the game by hanging up my Christmas lights before we have three feet of snow on the ground and the temperature is 15 degrees.  Yes, I know it takes all the fun out of it.  Normally, I would have lights in several places but this year we are limited by Miss Maggie's chewing habit.  The one thing I don't need is an electrified dog.  So, all Christmas lights and cords must be out of her reach.

Then there is the menu to plan for Thanksgiving dinner and of course, the decorating of the table.  I am lucky as I have granddaughter, Rylee, who loves to help with the decorations.

And we have Mexican Train Dominoes to play..... 

Yes, I have a very busy schedule.  Time for another cup of coffee.

Made in America! Installed in Hope, America

 My new stainless steel kitchen faucet.  Hooray!  No leaks!

My plumber remains anonymous as he says he has all the work he can handle but you wish he lived where you live.  

He replaced two faucets and the outside frost-free faucet (which was leaking in the basement).   He was here for two and a half hours and the bill was $112.50.  A bargain!

 Just look at this shiny faucet.  The old one was installed in 1980 when we built the house.   We got our money's worth. 

Moen Faucets are Made in America!

Bear Dog? Deer Dog? Moose Dog? Spoiled Dog?

Yes, we had snow and the dogs got to sleep inside.  They are supposed to be keeping the varmits  from eating my fruit trees and flowers, but the old dog can't hear anything and the little dog has no clue about what she is supposed to do.  She just does whatever the old dog does. 

A dog's life on a snowy night.  The old dog is content to sleep on her rug.

Moose Hamburger Helpers

On Saturday we went to Tyler and Laura's to help Trav cutup his moose for the freezer.  The hunters have an excellent setup for cutting up the meat.

These guys are the pros at cutting the meat.  They cut the steaks and roasts.

 At this table we have the hamburger helpers.

Hamburger Helpers

Next, we have the hamburger grinders:  The first grinder is the coarse one, the 2nd the fine grind.

We have wrapping station number one:  Jim and Lena:

Jim, was also helping with cuber along with Adam and Dale.

This is the wrapping station:  Wrappers and labelers were:  Lyndsie, Leslie, Taylor, Chris and Zach.

It took about 5 hours to cut up and wrap 400 lbs. of moose meat.  I can remember it taking Jon and I an entire week to cut up a beef on our kitchen table in 1976.  We did not have an electric grinder for the hamburger.  The other story in 1976 - how I ended up with my table broken in half with a half a side of beef thawing out on my kitchen floor.  It had something to do with Murphy's Bar, smoked kokanee and politics.  Also a possible divorce. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Purely Primal

I tried this recipe from the following blog:  Purely Primal  The sauce is awesome.  It would also be great on a grilled steak.

Casey, Purely Primal author, is the son of our good friends, Tom and Kathy, who are so lucky that they get to live in both Idaho and Montana!

Salmon with Huckleberry (Blueberry) Sauce

  • 1  - 2 lb Salmon Fillet
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 to 2 cloves minced garlic
  • Pinch of allspice, sea salt
For Sauce:
  • 1 cup blueberries   (I used 1 c. huckleberries)
  • 2 tbsp of fig balsamic vinegar
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot powder
  • 1/2 tsp Herbes de Provence
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp butte
  • (I added sweetener to taste as the huckleberries are pretty tart)  You may also need to adjust the amount of thickener
Sauce:  Begin by mixing the juice of the lemon with the arrowroot powder.  Then put all of the sauce ingredients into a saucepan except the butter.  Simmer on low for 20 to 30 minutes until thick (while simmering, prepare the salmon as instructed below).  Once sauce is done simmering, stir in butter. Remove sauce from heat. Cover with lid to keep warm.

When you get a chance, check out the recipes on their blog.   I think I am going to try the coconut/chocolate bars. 

La Nina is returning.......

Snow is in our weather forecast for the next seven days.  Possible chance, possible chance, possible chance.  I am trying to get the leaves raked up before the first chance hits us.  

It's time to start thinking about traveling to one of these locations.

 Belize 2006

Galveston 2006

Sunset 2006

Leaving Cabo San Lucas 2007