Saturday, November 27, 2010

It's Beginning to Look

I'm thinking about dragging all my Christmas decorations out of the garage this weekend.

Friday, November 26, 2010

White Thanksgiving

Several inches of new snow fell over the course of the day.  Of course there was no snow in the forecast, but sometimes that dartboard the forecasters use is a little off.

All's well that ends well.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Freezing River

The temperature was 15 below this morning and is now climbing its way toward a forecast high of 3.  The East Fork has thickened up nicely, though it's still flowing in little channels through the ice.  Tonight's temps should drop under 20 below, so it's just a matter of time before solid ice silences the river.  The silence is profound, after being accustomed to the sound of the river all year, to go out and hear nothing.

 A deer got a little impatient here and tried to walk across.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Snow-Made Ice Cream

If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  If life gives you day after day of snow, make ice cream.  The basic recipe is embarrassingly simple, but it makes good ice cream.

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Snow (dry, powdery snow is best)
To make it richer, I used 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of half and half (which I suppose makes one cup of three quarters and one quarter, but that's not important).

In a large bowl, mix the milk, vanilla and sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Carry the bowl and some sort of snow-scooping device (I used a 1 cup measuring cup) outside and find the cleanest snow you can (I scooped the top three inches of snow piled up on my deck railing).  Scoop snow into your mixture, stirring constantly.  Add snow until you get the thickness you want.  It should take about four or five cups. 

Ice Cream! (I know it looks more like mashed potatoes or tapioca in this pic, but it's ice cream)

Enjoy.  Try not to hurt yourself by eating the whole thing like I did.  I'm going to have to take up cross-country skiing.

This is just the beginning.  Imagine all the stuff you can add: berries, caramel, crumbled Reese's Cups.  You can take a hammer to a bag of Oreos and make cookies and cream.  And if you want to cut out the fat from all the dairy, there are plenty of good sorbet recipes on the internet.  That's what I'm making next, blueberry sorbet.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Arctic Express, Going Down

This is an excerpt from a story out of today's Missoulian, cleverly combing the weather forecast with talk of this weekend's big football game between the two in-state rivals.

"Coming out of one tunnel, your Montana Grizzlies. Out of another: the Montana State Bobcats.  And, coming out of Canada, an arctic cold front, accompanied by snow and winds gusting to 30 mph.  All of them should collide at about the same time Saturday. . . We're talking 15-below-zero in some places in western Montana by next week, according to the National Weather Service, which is warning of potentially dangerous wind-chill values in the days and nights leading up to Thanksgiving.  'It's not the coldest arctic front we've ever seen, but it's one of the colder,' said meteorologist Corby Dickerson, who reviewed the arctic fronts that have come through western Montana in November over the past century, and predicts 'this one will be in the top three or four.'  High temperatures in the single digits-to-teens Sunday and Monday are expected to plummet even further come Tuesday and Wednesday, with lows dipping well below zero."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It Sifts From Leaden Sieves

by Emily Dickinson

It sifts from Leaden Sieves —
It powders all the Wood.
It fills with Alabaster Wool
The Wrinkles of the Road —

It makes an Even Face
Of Mountain, and of Plain —
Unbroken Forehead from the East
Unto the East again —

It reaches to the Fence —
It wraps it Rail by Rail
Till it is lost in Fleeces —
It deals Celestial Vail

To Stump, and Stack - and Stem —
A Summer’s empty Room —
Acres of Joints, where Harvests were,
Recordless, but for them —

It Ruffles Wrists of Posts
As Ankles of a Queen —
Then stills its Artisans — like Ghosts —
Denying they have been —

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Winter has arrove

(I know that's not grammatically correct, but it seemed too formal to say "winter has done arrove.")

After a long, unseasonably warm fall, winter is here.

Several inches of snow fell overnight, but the temps were slightly above freezing, so the snow kept falling off the roof in clumps, sounding like someone was outside stomping on the deck.   I had to stifle a "you kids get off my lawn" type of reaction several times.  Ah, the sounds of winter .  . .

The East Fork is still a river.  This time last year it was full of ice.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A light snow

Apparently, this means women need to change their toes.  I didn’t know there was such a science to women's toenails.  LDB and Mari have been having an e-mail conversation about their pedicures, and they’ve been kind enough to copy me.  Apparently brown toenails are the mandatory style for fall.  I don’t get it.  It looks like they stepped in something.  Mari’s color is a deep glossy brown called “Suzi Says Da,” which I said must be short for Suzi Says Da(wg Doo Doo!).  Why brown?  I asked LDB if her toenails are white in winter and green in spring, but I got “Oh my gosh. It's red for winter and pink for spring. You're hopeless.” . . . followed by “My toes are ‘You Don't Know Jacques’ but maybe it should be ‘Cliff don't know Jacques about toenail polish.’”  Indeed.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Wild Montana Skies

This was at sunset last Saturday.  It's snowing now, so the skies are all gray.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Random Thoughts From Sula

  • I don’t think I’ve used loose leaf notebook paper since high school, just like algebra.
  • On second thought, I may have used it a couple of times in my college English Composition classalgebra, not notebook paper.
  • Does everybody have a “picture face” they practice in front of a mirror? Most people I know have the exact same expression in every picture taken of them, but it's not how they look in real life.
  • Years ago I had an ongoing debate with a friend about whether, at the end of the Beatles song Norwegian Wood, the guy lights a fire in the fireplace (my friend’s position) or burns the girl’s house down (my position). My argument was only half-serious, but it was apparently correct (scroll down to "Lyrics").
  • Speaking of songs, when I was a kid, I thought He Stopped Loving Her Today was a Christmas song because “they placed a wreath upon his door.” My bad.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Voting in Sula, Montana

It's easy to vote absentee in Montana, but I passed on that so I could savor the rural voting experience. 

My polling location is the Sula Clubhouse, about 12 miles from my cabin, a mile short of "downtown" Sula (the Sula Country Store). 

Not much traffic for Election Day.

Approaching the polling location at the Sula Clubhouse.

I got there at 11:00, but they weren't going to open until noon.  I think the pony express hadn't yet arrived with the ballots.

I had an hour to kill, so I went riding around.

I returned a few minutes after noon, along with a few other voters.  There were no obnoxious people outside handing out fliers, as happens in some locations.  (The comedian Mitch Hedberg said when someone hands you a flier, it's like they're saying "Here, you throw this away.")
When I left, there were twice as many vehicles than are shown here.  I'd never seen that many Sulans in one place. I think this already qualifies as strong voter turnout for Sula, and the voting day was just getting started.