Friday, January 13, 2017

Settling In for Winter

"Hard" winter has arrived here in the North Country.
Yes, we had a few days of 30s to 40s with some rain, but that was just Mother Nature letting us take a breath before she got down to the real business of Winter.
People don't panic up here. Snow tires were put on in October, fuel oil ordered at the same time (or perhaps earlier in September) and firewood cutting and stacking is a year 'round occupation here.
I work in a grocery store and the weatherman's predictions never alarm residents to the point where we have empty milk coolers or a bare bread aisle.

You still live with the rhythm of the seasons here.
You look forward to the first snow and the holidays, but after the New Year is past, you hunker down.
Plastic or insulation is put up on most windows (if you are in an older house).
You buy a little extra on all your shopping trips starting in September...a few extra cans of soup, an extra bag of flour, some extra stew beef to stick in the freezer...just the little extra you'll need in case you don't feel like shoveling your car out one morning.
Farmers laid in extra hay and feed by the end of October as they tried to calculate how severe the Winter would be, Farmers Almanac as their guide with a bit of advice from the National Weather Service predictions.
Every household has their snow supplies...shovels (always more than one!), many have snow blowers...the elderly have phone numbers of people will to shovel them out (cheaply or free of charge). Everyone has salt or Ice Melt in a bucket near the door. Gloves and mittens have a spot near the door as well.....multiple pairs (matched or not). Extra boots, in many cases.
Flashlights and extra batteries are in a designated location in case of power outages and every bed has extra blankets at the ready.

The North Country is prepared.
Not to be *preppers*, not to be cutting edge or fashionable or *on trend*.
The North Country is prepared because that is simply the way it is.
If you are not prepared for Winter up here, you won't survive.
This is Old School preparedness, something the *Prepper Movement* is still trying to get a handle on. It never went away in The North Country because Mother Nature was not defeated by modern technology up here. She still holds sway every Winter and will continue to do so.

"Hard" Winter is here...and we are ready.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Little Culture Shock....

So, having decided that here in The Great North Woods is the place for me, I have fully immersed myself in working here, living here, being here.
Having lived in a lot of places, but mainly in The South, I was interested in the customs/superstitions surrounding holidays and other notable dates *up nawth*.
Down South, it was ham or turkey on Christmas. Here, anything goes basically. Usually family tradition or preference. Lasagna, prime rib, roast beef, meatballs, etc.
I can deal with that....my problem comes with the supper you fix on New Years Day.
Folks up here had never even heard of Hoppin' John!
Hoppin' John Recipe
You absolutely HAVE to have Hoppin' John on New Years Day. And collard greens.
I mean, who doesn't have that on New Years?
Alas...I am even having problems locating a can of collard greens up here!
I will also make southern fried cabbage ( a favorite of mine anyway, regardless of the day!) and cornbread! Gotta have cornbread!
After much investigation locally and a an hour so of googling, I have come to the conclusion that north of the Mason-Dixon Line, there are no traditional New Years Day foods!
Talk about *culture shock*!
The only recipes or suggestions I found were all SOUTHERN foods that apparently have been appropriated by these Yankees. Black-eye Peas, cornbread, collards, etc.
So....going to have to look around and see what I can find to make a traditional New Years Day dinner here!
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Another *culture shock* item that I have discovered is that the majority (like 80%) of people up here are heavy drinkers. As in, a minimum of a fifth of hard liquor a day (usually more) with a 30 pack of beer or "Twisted Tea" as *soda chasers*.
I work in a grocery store, I sell the beer and other alcoholic *sodas* to the locals. Ninety year old ladies come in and buy two gallons of wine. Daily. Or a 30 pack of beer. We have had to refuse sales to some because they were visibly *snockered* when they came in to buy it!
People I talk to don't seem to see the *problem* with this.
I don't drink. The friends I live with don't drink. The majority of the folks I hang out with don't drink.
With a notable exception.....
A neighbor of mine who is a great guy and an excellent carpenter is a heavy drinker.
A half gallon of vodka a day. Plus beer and *Twisted Tea*.
He has been hospitalized (including a couple of weeks ago) from the cumulative effects of his habit. His heart, his liver, his whole body is failing at this point. He is diabetic now and his feet are constantly dark purple, almost black. His hands and feet are always cold. Last time he went to the hospital, I went to visit him. A doctor came in, looked at his chart, talked to him a bit and told him "I doubt you'll be here come Spring. You'll probably be dead by them."
My friend was in ICU for two days and then checked himself out.
The day after he got home I went by to see how he was. He was sitting at his kitchen table, drunk, with a half gallon of vodka on the table in front of him.
And there are many more like him up here. It is really sad.
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I got myself a Christmas present....
You can order it here:
http://www.rareseeds.com/the-2017-whole-seed-catalog-u-s-canada-and-mexico/

It is "garden porn", hardcore style!
I WANT ALL THE SEEDS!!!
Yeah, it sort of has that effect on you.....

Friday, December 23, 2016

Still Here and Better Than Ever!

     I am still in The Great North Woods. Health is still great. Still working at the grocery, getting plenty of hours.

And....I have the house and property back. All mine.
The ex and I came to an agreement. The property is mine. He has moved out of state, thankfully.

Right now, I am renting a room from friends Timi and Jim in town. I have to do some fixing up out at the house since the ex (in February) and his kids moved out (in late May) got all of their things out (late November). I changed all the locks, etc.
I inspected the house and wanted to cry....such a damn mess. But then I cheered up...it IS MY house, after all. I can clean it and fix it up.
May have to replace plumbing. Again....sigh.

But....mine.
So, making plans, looking at options, etc.
I'm not selling.
I will find a way to make this work.
Frippery Farm will be a reality.
Frippery Farm IS a reality!



Yeah....I'm back, baby!